Mar 032009

Townsman dbuskirk‘s recently shared thoughts on The Birthday Party reminded me of my half-baked theory that Rockabilly and Goth are subtly related subgenres, serving a similar set of audience expectations and needs. That may be too much to get into just yet, but as a way of discussing the expectations and needs we perceive at the root of any number of subgenres, how ’bout we play a little Subgenre Association Game?

For each of the following rock-related subgenres, briefly list the main audience expectation or need that you feel that subgenre promises to satisfy. Feel free to be more creative than “Reggae: Pass the dutchie.” I know you’re a bunch of deep thinkers and – I won’t tell anyone – even deeper feelers. Shine a light, OK? But do so from the gut!

  • Rockabilly
  • Power Pop
  • Singer-songwriter
  • Heavy Metal
  • Prog Rock
  • Goth
  • Punk
  • Post-Punk
  • Hardcore
  • Ska
  • Garage
  • Alt.Country
  • Electronica
  • Indie Rock

I look forward to your responses.


  13 Responses to “Subgenre Association Game”

  1. dbuskirk

    Rockabilly- I wish it was the 50’s again

    Power Pop – I wish some girls would chase me like the Beatles

    Singer-songwriter – I”m sensitive, fuck me

    Heavy Metal – I wish it was the 70’s/80’s again

    Prog Rock – I’m brainy and I rock

    Goth – a family friend touched & I couldn’t see a psychiatrist

    Punk – jocks won’t stop picking on me

    Post-Punk – I like funk without the feel

    Hardcore – I want to be somewhere sweaty with the guys

    Ska – I like white groups that make black music for white people

    Garage – I wish it was the 60’s again

    Alt.Country – I’m afraid of hicks

    Electronica – I’m a robot, sort of

    Indie Rock – I only buy records my girlfriend likes

  2. thanks dbuskirk, you said it all, so now this post is completed

    …really, that was damn funny!

  3. Mr. Moderator

    jungleland2 may be onto something. Can it be, Rock Town Hall’s first “perfect” answer?

    “We’ll see about that,” I can imagine some smartypants saying at this moment.

  4. mockcarr

    Not gonna top buskirk’s. My gut is sensitive about the drums for some reason.

    Rockabilly – I need the bass to be bigger than the drums
    Power Pop – I need the guitars to be louder than the drums n’everything
    Singer-songwriter – Who needs drums as long as she puts out later?
    Heavy Metal – I need the drums to remind me when to move my skull
    Prog Rock – How many drums is that dude playin’?
    Electronica – What, no it’s a machine…
    Goth – What are “drums”?
    Punk – I think I can play drums better than them
    Hardcore – I AM THE DRUM KIT, slam maim crush
    Post-Punk – I think they made those drums themselves
    Ska – tight snares, tighter attitudes, looser limbs, but hey, the horn players are back
    Garage – these are the same drums my dad played!
    Alt.Country – if you wait long enough, a drum might be there
    Indie Rock – oh sure we have drums, it’s the bass player we didn’t wanna pay

  5. hrrundivbakshi

    Rockabilly — I get to look tough without sacrificing any of my brainiac cred

    Power Pop — I get to suspend my disbelief in the beauty and purity of everything without sacrificing any of my brainiac cred

    Prog Rock — I get to showcase my brainiac cred

    Singer-songwriter — I get to feel a direct connection with somebody else’s raw emotions, hopefully finding a few of mine reflected in what I’m hearing

    Goth — I get to feel all “fuck YOU” and shit

    Punk — I get to feel all “fuck YOU” and shit

    Hardcore — I get to feel all “fuck YOU” and shit

    Heavy Metal — I get to feel all “fuck YOU” and shit

    Post-Punk — I get to feel all “fu– hold on, that’s my phone. Yo, dude… Djoo hear about Tanya? Yeah, man, she, like, totally busted Spencer at the party. You know, like, when he was snakin’ on Britney? It was AWESOME.”

    Ska — I get to dance — with CHICKS — without sacrificing any of my brainiac cred. Also, I get to play dress-up without it seeming totally gay.

    Garage — I get to satisfy my need to collect and catalog shit, ultimately arriving at a point where I know more that YOU do about music.

    Alt.Country — I get to “graduate” from complicated forms of music that always made me feel insecure about my musical cred — without losing any hipster points

    Electronica — I get to act more modern than you

    Indie Rock — I get to turn off the sound on the TV, fire up the bong and get nice and high. (RIP, E.P.!)

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    I’d like to add a few:



    Free Jazz

    Sunshine Pop


    Jam Bands

  7. saturnismine

    Rockabilly: poodle skirts
    Power Pop: youth
    Singer-songwriter: insights and herbal tea
    Heavy Metal: girls girls girls
    Prog Rock: brains
    Goth: nihilism
    Punk: nihilism and durgs
    Post-Punk: nihilism, drugs, and sex.
    Hardcore: release.
    Ska: cool clothes
    Garage: MY youth.
    Alt.Country: escape from the city for urban indie rockers.
    Electronica: catatonia
    Indie Rock: commiseration.

  8. 2000 Man

    Rockabilly – Beer drinking fun!
    Power Pop – To sniff around The Power and Glory of Rock, occasionally deliver it, but all in a pink bow.
    Singer-songwriter – Beat up girls.
    Heavy Metal – To give male fans an acceptable outlet for having better hair than their girlfriend.
    Prog Rock – To show off the awesome stereo in mom’s basement.
    Goth – Exists solely to keep psychiatrists that specialize in interventions employed.
    Punk – Beer drinking fun!
    Post-Punk – To provide a soundtrack for skateboarding movies.
    Hardcore – Exists to provide someone to listen to Henry Rollins.
    Ska – Makes reggae fun for the rest of us.
    Garage – Beer drinking fun!
    Alt.Country – Whiskey drinking fun!
    Electronica – I think it’s just supposed to stay in Europe so we don’t have to hear it.
    Indie Rock – Term exists so classic rockers can sneer at “new music” without even listening to it, and wasily lumping everything they don’t know anything about into one nice, neat label.

  9. 2000 Man

    wasily? I think I meant easily.

  10. Rockabilly: trebly twangy, slapback guitar!
    Power Pop: catchy melodies drowned out by obnoxiously loud guitars
    Singer-songwriter: acoustic guitars! hey, why are there tears in it?
    Heavy Metal: stupidily shaped guitars!
    Prog Rock: guitars that don’t kick any ass, ever.
    Goth: lots of guitar, most of them don’t do anything though! some of them echo!
    Punk: guitars that sound like chainsaws, or a dying bird!
    Post-Punk: see goth! or ANGULAR and MODERN trebly guitars!
    Hardcore: drunk sweaty guitars playing FAST
    Garage: Guitars that aren’t cool enough to be punk or hardcore, typically found in some dad’s attic.
    Alt.Country: look at me guys, i can use guitar swells!
    Electronica: that’s not a guitar! that’s a keytar. laaaaaaaaame.
    Indie Rock: the guitars here are either really interesting, or not at all.

  11. Rockabilly – How’s my quiff?

    Power Pop – How’s the mop-top?

    Singer-Songwriter – How’s my ponytail?

    Heavy Metal – Dude, is the mane bitchin’?

    Prog Rock – My hair? Please, I’m practicing my Locrian & Dorian modes.

    Goth – Can I use some of your ‘Bleakly Black #13’? My mom took mine away.

    Punk – Anybody got a fork, man?

    Post Punk – People! I need some Product!

    Hardcore – Hair? What’re you, a pussy?

    Ska – How’s the buzz?

    Garage – Yeah, but, It LOOKS like I just woke up, right?

    Alt. Country – Excuse me, but would anyone possibly have any pomade I could borrow? I left mine in my book-bag after women’s studies class.

    Electronica – Yes, I had it permanently laminated into this asymmetrical shape. It’s an homage to Frank Gehry.

    Indie Rock – I want it to be, like, the visual equivalent to an out of tune vocal, ya know what I mean?

  12. Oh, I forgot. Kudos to dbusk; mofo out-gunned us all, straight outta the gate!

  13. dbuskirk

    Thanks for the kudos, it shows you, often the things you think about now posting are the best received. I worried about looking too judgmental or dismissive but hey, I like all those genres too.

    I was “the only punk in my town” too but I’ve never been too comfortable matching my wardrobe to my taste in music. It reminds my too much of a guy I knew in San Francisco, who when I met him was complete “flying the flannel” grunge poster boy. I few years later he had completely re-made himself into a hip hop guy, adopting an accent like he was educated in Bronx public school. That’s enough to creep anyone out.

    I always connect the rockabilly revival with my generation’s devotion to Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzerelli.

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