Cigarettes After Sex: Ambient Pop or Slowcore?

According to the band’s press packet, Cigarettes After Sex is “an ambient pop group based out of Brooklyn, NY.” Isn’t “ambient pop” an oxymoron? Ambient music is supposed to fade into the background, create a mood without calling attention to itself, while pop music aspires to be unignorable, to get stuck in your head.

I think the genre listed on the band’s Facebook page is more appropriate, “slow motion”:

Plus it echoes the label of the 1990s microgenre the band’s sound also evokes, slowcore.

Slowcore crept in this petty pace of Galaxie 500:

No surprise given the band’s name, Codeine played at a drugged, narcotized pace:

Most of Bedhead‘s songs moved at the same glacial pace as other slowcore bands and the vocals always dragged, . . .

. . . but a few of them featured dynamic shifts not unlike Pavement’s as the slow and soft strumming grew faster and louder:

The Velvet Underground, particularly its third album, obviously resonates throughout slowcore. Both Galaxie 500 (“Ceremony”) and Bedhead (“Disorder”) covered Joy Division. Codeine dug deeper for its covers, MX-80 Sound and Unrest.

Perversely, Cigarettes After Sex covered REO Speedwagon, . . .

. . . but slowed the AOR anthem to a crawl.

Thanks, Thom, for calling this band to my attention.

Trying Too Hard To Be Cool

Mark Kozelek‘s voice was coming out of the speakers when I walked into CDepot, probably Red House Painters, maybe Sun Kil Moon; I really wasn’t paying that much attention.  A little while later I recognized Galaxie 500:

However, I did not recognize the indie band playing when I checked out.  I asked the cashier, but he didn’t know either.  He asked the college aged indie chick at the other register; she identified the band as The Aislers Set:

I said I had recognized the earlier Galaxie 500 track and asked if it was a compilation.  She explained it was a mix she had made.  She was polite, not at all snarky, but she had the tone of someone who didn’t expect her listener to understand and wouldn’t know how to begin to explain, even if she were so inclined.  In response, I felt compelled to prove my bona fides, so I asked, “Aren’t the Aislers Set on Slumberland Records?”  She seemed a bit surprised I knew about Slumberland, looked directly at me for the first time.  She mentioned that Slumberland had started “around here.”  I said it had indeed, in Silver Spring, with mostly local bands like Velocity Girl, Black Tambourine, Whorl, Powderburns, Lorelei, . . .  She acknowledged I knew a lot of the bands.  I bragged that I knew most of them personally.

Of course I was spouting all of this random info to show I was still cool, but I was trying way too hard.  If there is one thing cool is not, it’s trying too hard.

I explained that a long time ago, before he moved to San Francisco, Mike, the guy who runs Slumberland, used to work at Vinyl Ink, a record store in Silver Spring where I used to hang out.  She said she remembered Vinyl Ink, but if so, she must have been a little kid, as she was no older than her early 20s, if that, and the store closed well over a decade ago.  Or had the tables turned and she was now trying to prove her bona fides to me?