Lo-fi is one of music's more nebulous, ever-fluctuating terms.
Not so much a genre as an approach, the term lo-fi was initially meant as a statement, a reaction against the 90s gloss placed over so much crossover music billed as 'alternative'.
Boombox recordings, shuffling into makeshift studios, what emerged was often a lot more honest, more profound than many professional set ups could have achieved.
Maximo Park's Duncan Lloyd is enraptured by this tag, and has seized upon the influence of Silver Jews, Flying Nun Records and more in his own work.
New album 'I O U O M E' is out now, and it's a fascinating, and highly creative return. To showcase his roots, Duncan Lloyd has picked out a few lo-fi gems you never knew you loved (until now...)
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Microphones - 'The Glow, Pt 2'
If you are into lo-fi, the album, 'The Glow, Part 2', is a must and this song (same as the album title) is a good way in. Phil Elvrum's lyrics are more personal and nostalgic and along with a deceptively loose guitar style, pulls you through his inner thoughts, leaving you with a sense of longing which lasts throughout the record, I highly recommend.
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Smog - 'Chosen One'
From the album 'Julius Caesar', the song starts with, "Well you're a wild horse, on a collision course", the melody weaves up and the song sails onwards with guitars floating in and out of rhythm. Bill Callahan's third record still has one foot in lo-fi and one foot in what was to become the sound he grew into, before the hypnotic baritone kicked in.
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The Clean - 'Dunes'
'Dunes', is from the album 'Vehicle' and it's a melodic gem of song, as is the rest of the record. I heard they influenced Stephen Malkmus and Pavement so being a fan, I investigated the albums they made. This is still one of my favourites, maybe not as lo-fi in recording style but it influenced some of the best lo-fi albums that were to follow it.
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The Bats - 'Afternoon In Bed'
Hailing from New Zealand along with The Clean, The Bats have the same knack for nostalgic melody. I discovered this track through a compilation tape Tom English (Maximo Park's drummer) had lent me and was mesmerised by it. The sliding bass line is like a sedated 'Cannonball' by The Breeders, its sleepy questioning, trying to remember what was said the previous night, drawled out with perfectly warping harmonies. I've ended up naming my own small label imprint after this track.
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Jeffery Lewis - 'Avenue a, Shanghai, Hollywood'
There's something about the short pauses between the delivery on this track I like. I was lucky enough to play a show with Jeffery Lewis in his home city at Gramercy Theatre in New York a couple of years ago. This is another track where his brilliant tumble of words verge from paranoia to the state of his city and surroundings.
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Screen Prints - 'Same Time Next Year'
I was in a Manchester record shop when I first heard this song, it's from the 'Hum And Hiss' LP. They are a three piece from Manchester, other than that I don't know much about them except that they write great lo-fi pop. They have the kind of sound that could be from any era, definitely worth checking out.
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Duncan Lloyd’s new album 'I O U O M E' is out now via Afternoon In Bed Records.