So I’m standing in my local Independent Records and feeling 40. I’m having a conversation with a hip 20-something who has holes that you can see through all over his face and I’m trying to talk to him about stuff that was awesome in the 90’s (trip-hop) and trying to figure out if there’s been anything similar to that that flew under the radar in the last couple of years.

For the first time, the hip 20-something at the record store fails me: he recommends an album that is much more Kid Rock than Portishead.

Next time, I figure that I need to open with “who’s your electronica expert?” and then having a short meaningful conversation in which I figure out if they’ve heard of, say, Tricky before buying whatever it is they thrust in my hands.

But, then again, maybe I’m going about this all wrong. Is there a better way to figure this stuff out? How do *YOU* get your new and obscure stuff?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. I don’t know about “obscure,” but Pandora has exposed me to a lot of new music. Try using Tricky as the seed and see what comes up.

    • I don’t use Pandora myself but from what I understand Fish’s suggestion seems sound.

      If you are looking for electronic music reviews, try:

      The Quietus
      Fact Magazine
      Resident Advisor

      If you want a specific recommendation, anything by Burial. I also like Oneohtrix Point Never, and Ellen Allien is usually good. I can try to think of more.

      • burial yeah, but another option if you like zee downtempos is – they have a lot of label mixes which give you a broad sense of what a particular group offers.

        some artist recommendations along those lines:

        laurel halo
        zola jesus? (probably not but it’s good stuff)

        • I really liked the Ellen Allien/Apparat collaboration, a LOT, (“Orchestra of Bubbles”) but his stuff on its own doesn’t grab me as hard, at least so far (I have a cpl trks off “Walls” and the title track off “Black Water”). EA’s pretty reliable tho.

          I keep reading about Laurel Halo, but haven’t pulled the trigger.

          • BTW, you are gonna either love tomorrow’s music post, or hate it; or, you’ll just think it’s OK (RIP Mitch Hedberg).

            But you get namechecked as the post’s inspiration in part, so you better check in, if only to make sure I’m not unduly libeling you.

          • ellen allien has always kinda felt like a car commercial without a car to me. actually, i have a similar problem with apparat (replace car commercial for thai fusion restaurant) but in terms of what jaybird is looking for, it’s pretty 90s. there’s probably a lot of labels out there making legitimately 90s trip hop stuff, but i’m not familiar with them. i figure igloomag is a good place to try.


            soap&skin is the vocalist for this piece, and some of what she does – according to youtube – maybe kinda like what he’s looking for.

            laurel halo is probably the wrong side of the 90s (warp records) rather than mo wax or acid jazz or stuff like that. i think she’s going somewhere interesting though, or at least will get there eventually. probably not a good recommendation on my part.

            i’m sure you’re not unduly libeling anyone, though i have literally no opinion on mr. hedberg’s body of work. i think i heard it too late or something.

          • Uh-oh, you may REALLY hate tomorrow’s post!

            Ah well. We do what we can.

          • Also, bringing up Mo’ Wax is making me remember…I kinda liked DJ Krush back in the day, though I haven’t listened to him in a long time; so no idea if it’s aged well, but if JB missed him first time ’round he could be worthwhile.

            Meiso and Kakusei were the ones I had.

          • I’m thinking about putting together a post this weekend where I post videos of all y’all’s recommendations with my various thoughts on the songs.

          • I know this is a really obvious one, but I don’t know if we’ve ever discussed it…you do in fact have DJ Shadow’s Entroducing, correct?

          • krush (and dj vadim!) and some wagon christ are kinda portishheeeaaady sorta, but not enough GIRL and NIGHTTIME DRIVING and LOST LOVE.

            i may be taking the requirements too literally though.

            doesn’t everyone have a copy of endtroducing?

          • doesn’t everyone have a copy of endtroducing?

            Heh, I was asking JB. Just couldn’t remember if he’d ever brought it up. If he doesn’t, he needs to get that one posthaste.

            Yeah, forgot about Vadim too. Most of that Mo’ Wax stuff kind of fell by the wayside for me, I need to go dig it up and get it (re) digitized.

            Wagon Christ and most Vibert stuff I found kind of annoying actually. Though I had one record of his with a pretty cool green die-cut sleeve.

          • the only really good vibert work is that 2cd plug album. everything else is kinda pointless. he’s very lazily talented, if that makes any sense.


            Seriously dude, believe the hype on that one. Worthy of sitting next to Loveless or Mezzanine, it is.

  2. You can find a ton of obscure stuff on YouTube, but you might have to wade through a lot of crap.

    • YouTube is my MTV… but I find that it’s only good if I already know what I want. If I’m just hoping to find something? I get stuck in the cat videos.

  3. My younger brothers, Youtube, Amazon, and Spotify (related artists).

    On the subject of recent artists similar to 90s trip hop acts, I enjoy Phantogram. I’m sure there are others, but that’s the first group that pops into my head.

  4. Used to be the kids at the pizza place.
    They turned me on to Genghis Tron, I turned them on to Hawkwind.

  5. I’d need more clues. I presume, if you like Portishead, you’d like Halou, Air and all that in the downtempo part of the landscape. But that’s not particularly new. Swedish House Mafia? Knife Party, maybe. Awolnation is fresh.

    • He created holes in his earlobes (fair enough) and then widened them.

      He did the same to one of his nostrils.

      • It’s when people do it to their lips that really makes me wonder. Doesn’t that complicate eating and drinking?

        • I hate to say something that will make me sound even 40er, but when I was a kid and you wanted to let your freak flag fly, you grew your hair out and you dyed it.

          Your body was in charge of telling you to settle down and get a job by making your long weird hair fall out. You then trimmed it back, you looked respectable, and nobody could tell that you were one of the people 40 year-olds shook their heads at.

    • Well, it’s the obscure stuff that I need to figure out how to better dig up. The stuff that makes it to radio airplay, for example, has already found its way to me. I don’t need advice on how to better find that.

    • Obscurity also often (but not always!) is a proxy for idiosyncrasy; for something that hasn’t been focus-group-tested and fired scattershot en masse out at Middle America along a lowest-common-denominator parabola.

      I realize that sounds snobby, and that’s probably what Kazzy is sort of getting at; but I think a defense can be made for the heightened flavor and, for lack of a better word, “authenticity” to potentially be found by putting in the effort of asking the “locals” and seeking out the occult.

      Like, if I go to Austin, I can find a Chipotle easy. Or, I could ask Chris to recommend a hole in the wall, and probably get a much better burrito. If I go to New Orleans, I can probably get a Po’ Boy and gumbo anywhere; but I’d want Blaise to steer me off the beaten path.

      • Heh. If you want gumbo, I’d sit you down at my kitchen table and feed you better than anywhere in town out of my crock pot and rice maker.

  6. Jay, try local favorite Sister Crayon, and you might like Chelsea Wolfe (acoustic death electronica.)

  7. hmm… well, it kinda helps to know a composer.
    Speaking of something a bit … off the beaten path: US Killbotics

  8. I’ve taken to making all of my ringtones out of contemporary electonica (the last time I got on a ringtone kick, it was all 80s TV themesongs), so I’ve discovered a lot of bands just looking for mostly hip hop-inspired stuff.

    Some of the folks I’ve found (and made ringtones from):

    Ratatat (I’m partial to “Gettysburg”)
    Phantogram (do not listen to “When I’m Small,” or it will be stuck in your head all day)
    Wax Tailor
    The Glitch Mob
    John Frusciante
    Blue in Green (Miles Davis fans, obviously)
    The White Shadow
    Green Street (the Gramatik remix of “Justice” is cool)

    And a few others. All pretty mainstream, but all pretty fun. Also, Apsci, even if that’s a little less electronic and a little more punk and hip hop. I recommend a Gramatik or Ratatat Pandora station, if you like any of these (they’re all on Youtube).

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