Genres Fail Us

I spend a bit of time thinking about how to describe Four Day Beard’s musical style. It’s important for the sake of casual conversation, recruiting musicians or promoting the music to bookers, blogs, podcasts etc. The hope is always to give a brief yet accurate description that conveys a bit of what we are doing musically.

As anyone involved with the creation of original music might agree, it can sometimes be difficult to accurately convey what a band sounds like. Everyone’s taste and knowledge of music varies. Not to mention the fact that what is considered a band’s “sound” tends to evolve and change with each new song that is written.

I am always intrigued to hear what people mention to me when they hear Four Day Beard’s music for the first time. As and empathic sensitive music lover, I think there can be a lot of subconscious influence without specifically setting out to sound a certain way. Like, shoegaze for example.

Genre’s are useful in a broad sort of way, but generally they fail us. I’ve come to realize that there is a bit of a shoegaze aesthetic or influence to some of the songs I’ve written. Especially some of the newer material. While I wouldn’t say Four Day Beard is a shoegaze band, the definition seems to be wide and varied enough, that if you used it to describe some of Four Day Beard’s music (and people have), I wouldn’t kick you in the shins. Even without so many swirling guitar layers, theres an introspective dreamy quality to a lot of the songs. Generally speaking, genres fail us, but they can be useful in more broad sort of ways.

When I mention this to my wife, she inevitably asks me what “shoegaze” means. I usually respond with a list of bands she is not very familiar or maybe only ever has heard their name. Bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, Spiritualized or My Bloody Valentine. Fair enough. For the most part it relates to a specific group of bands from the late 80’s to early 90’s that you would have only heard on college radio. If it weren’t for my older brother, I am not sure I would have ever heard any of these bands or probably a lot of other great music.

So, what is “Shoegaze”?

Pitchfork defines the genre like this: “This music is, above all else, a place to explore the outer limits of guitar texture. And emotionally, shoegaze turns its focus inward.” and “It’s music for dreaming.” I really like that, and it is loose enough to encompass a lot of things while kind of getting specific. As a point of reference, I put together a playlist for my wife. The pitchfork article above is probably a more definitive reference, and if you are interested you should check it out.

Here is my playlist:

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