New Weird America

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New Weird America describes a subgenre of psychedelic and indie music, often psych folk, of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Origin of the term[edit]

The term is generally believed to have been coined by David Keenan in the August 2003 issue of The Wire, following the Brattleboro Free Folk Festival organized by Matt Valentine and Ron J. Schneiderman.[1][2][3][4][5][6] It is a play on Greil Marcus's phrase "Old Weird America" as described in his book Invisible Republic, which deals with the lineage connecting the pre-World War II folk performers on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music to Bob Dylan and his milieu.

Musical style[edit]

The musical style described as New Weird America is derived mainly from psychedelic rock and folk groups of the 1960s and 1970s, including American performers Holy Modal Rounders and English and Scottish groups, such as Pentangle, The Incredible String Band, Donovan, and Comus.[6] It also finds inspiration in such disparate sources as heavy metal, free jazz, electronic music, noise music, various ethnic musics, musique concrète, tropicália, and early- and mid-20th century American folk music. Another primary inspiration is outsider music, often played by technically naïve and/or socially estranged musicians, such as The Shaggs, Roky Erickson, and Jandek.

Other genre classifications with similar aesthetics are psychedelic rock, psych folk, freakbeat, and freak folk.

The music has been covered extensively by L.A.-based Arthur, which ran in-depth pieces on Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, CocoRosie, Animal Collective, and Six Organs of Admittance, released the compilation The Golden Apples of the Sun, and curated the ArthurFest (2005) and ArthurBall (2006), featuring a variety of artists from the movement.

Associated bands and artists[edit]

This list represents a small cross-section of many different types of music produced within the last ten years.


  1. ^ Chris Dodge (March–April 2004). "Folk Music's New Genre Benders". Utne Reader. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Amanda Petrusich (25 August 2008). "It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Maddox, David (2004-12-02). "Entrance's archival sound serves resistance, not historical re-creation". Arts (Nashville Scene). Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  4. ^ Gross, Joe (2005-10-27). "Weird as folk". Austin American-Statesman. 
  5. ^ Hart, Ron (2007). "Sunburned Hand of the Man, "Fire Escape"". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g James Rutledge (2004-11-05). "Joanna Newsom and the New Weird America". BBC. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  7. ^ Volunteers, Jefferson Airplane RCA Records (1969) (liner notes)