Remember 311? Well for those who forgot, Nick Hexum (lead singer of 311) is best known for his work on tracks ‘Amber’ and ‘Down’, but recently Nick tried his hand in the collaborating with vapor-wave enthusiast George Clanton.
(Hello, I am the recently converted fan of this genre. But I promise this is more than an arcticle about my recent fandom or bias for that matter.) This is also about the story of the blending of two genres in what I would argue is an artistic and creative way. To be clear this review is not about 311, but it is important to set the stage to understand where music was, where it is now, and where it is going to go. So with that being said, lets set the stage of how a 90’s sensation wound up collaborating with what some have compared to as one of the pioneers of vaporwave.
Much to my and many others surprise, Hexum has been releasing material under the 311 group for many years and as of recently, including album ‘Voyager’ back in 2019. There are still elements of reggae/rap rock you can hear throughout his new album which shows that Hexum has found a way to stay true to his roots. This shows that even out of the spotlight, or at the very least outside of my own radar, 311 isn’t quite focused on remaining relevant. But this is also not to say that 311 hasn’t been innovative in their sound. Like many other bands that have aged through the age of synths/ bedroom pop, there have been attempts to find their place in an everchanging soundscape with electronic influences. Hexum has been known to hunt for new music. (As is anyone with a healthy appetite for music that hasn’t been heard before). And when Hexum learned how much Clanton was a fan of 311, sporting the 311 ‘Tree’ merch, the collab was almost destined to happen. Funny enough George Clanton thought Hexum was joking about collabing on future tracks. But here we are with several tracks that have come out of no where. And thus the beautiful blend of two obscure genres is born.
If you would have told any normal person 10 years ago that a subgenre called ‘Vaporwave’ would exist (an offshoot of meme culture/mixed with 80’s elevator music spliced together with jazz and funky electronic beats), and that it would mix with reggae rock/rap rock, the response would have ended in either two ways. “I want what ever this guy is having”, or “Do you even music bro?”.
But this track and three others released by the duo have achieved a unique sound that is relevant yet nostalgic, innovative and fun in harmony. In the case of this particular track: Under Your Window, it showcases a lackadaisical guitar riff, (probably created by Hexum), dubbed onto seemingly grandiose synthesizers backing and a catchy 80’s percussion beat. The lyrics are nothing to write home about, but with the flowy nature of the song, it makes it feel new. On paper, if you told one of your ‘OK Boomer’ generation friends, they would tell you this isn’t music. But weirdly it works by drawing on all of the right things in their respective genres and soundscapes.
If you are a fan of shoe-gazing, or wall of noise music, you might like this track. If you like vaporware or lazy guitar riffs, or you like people who test boundaries in music, or are a fan of Clanton’s or 311’s work, then you also might like this track. There are so many point of entry you can get behind in this song, and that’s why it deserves to be listened to!
In an age that is perpetually being told that genres aren’t as squared off as they used to be, I am proud to be a part of those who will not settle for the same old same old. And it’s one of the things I personally love to discover in music.
If you liked ‘Under Your Window’ (track above), I recommend you listen to tracks King for a Day, Crash Pad, and Out of the Blue down below: