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New Garage Explosion: In Love With These Times

Words by Lee Galagher

New Garage Explosion, a feature length documentary about the thriving garage rock scene in the United States has been released on VBS.TV (Vice Magazine’s online TV channel). Garage rock has been about forever but with the resurgence in lo-fi’s popularity as listeners try to escape the grasp of auto-tune and over exaggerated post production techniques on the records they’re being exposed to the scratchy recordings and the energy of the garage scene seem a safe haven from the falsity epitomised by pop music at the moment.


The film is around 75 minutes long and documents different aspects of the garage rock scene, featuring live performances, interviews with the artists about what they love about the independent music scene. It also looks at how there has been a resurgence in the independent music scene and how things have developed over the past 10 years, looking at the bands experiences of touring across the states, the recording/distribution of the records and the sale of the records on eBay.

Garage rock is a term being used to describe rock music being recorded at home and in other such locations and is often done so using lo-fi recording techniques such as reel to reel tape recorders by independent and unsigned bands. The defining features of the garage rock scene such as punishing touring schedules, limited record pressings on independent labels, hard partying and energetic live performance are all discussed during the documentary usually during conversations with some of the prominent artists and label owners within the US indie music scene. The scene takes its inspiration from lots of differing genres of music, from pop melodies to 1950’s rock and roll to rhythm and Blues to puck and thrash, leaving the scene with a very diverse soundscape from which to choose from depending on your preference.


‘New Garage Explosion’ identifies numerous cities within the state that have wholly unique but thriving independent music scenes, such as well known artistic centres such as NY and San Francisco but also identifies areas such as Memphis (Home of Rock and Roll) Detroit and Portland, Oregon where one of the artists featured describes the reason for the growth of independent music as the lack of anything else to do. These areas are the ones highlighted during the documentary but it is clear that this isn’t an isolated phenomenon in these areas but is happening all over the US at the moment.

The movie also leaves the viewer with numerous new artists that they may have otherwise never heard of to listen too, one of which Jay Reatard of the Reatards, who passed away 3 months after making of the documentary featuring heavily with his punk influenced 50’s rock and roll. Other such artists that may be of interest are Black Lips, Girls, Thee oh Sees, Smith Westerns And the Young Lovers being some of my favourites that featured during the documentary, but there are many others featured throughout that might be more to your taste.

You can view the documentary at VBS.TV

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