Off the Wall and Out of This World


Gorgol Bordello brought the unique blend of Romani music and punk rock known as Gypsy Punk to a wider audience.

My search for new music is never-ending. Combine this mission with my eclectic music taste, and I end up down some really strange rabbit holes.

I’ll tell you all a little secret though: some of the best music is hiding down there, waiting to be discovered.

Maybe it’s because we live in an age where everything needs a specific title, but some crazy subgenres exist out in the music world. Below are a few such subgenres that you probably have never heard of, but don’t let their intimidating names scare you away. There’s some great music that fits into each category.

Pastel goth

Goth has always been associated with lots of black, leather and dark fringe hairstyles. However, the subculture of goth is extremely diverse. It includes everything from faerie goth to Victorian goth and all that’s imaginable in between, including pastel goth.

The easiest way to describe the aesthetic of this genre is “goth lite.” As the name might suggest, lots of pastels (including the trendy hairstyles) are in, with a mode of dress that is much more pop mainstream than goth, but anchored with cutsie gothic accessories.

What kind of music falls into the category of pastel goth? You may be surprised to find some hit mainstream artists make the list (Alessia Cara, Ryn Weaver, Lorde, Halsey). This subgenre is particularly unique because most of the bands that fall into this category are not purposely writing in the genre. They all have commonalities that run through and connect them.

First, they are songs about outsiders for outsiders. Secondly, they have a definitive pop sound. Halsey’s appearance and songs are as close to pastel goth as one can get without officially belonging to the subculture.

Those who like pop instrumentation and mainstream style, but connect with the feelings of being out of place or pushed around, are perfect candidates for this genre.  

Bands: Andy Black (Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides), The Chemical Brothers, Marina and the Diamonds, Melanie Martinez   

Gypsy punk

Intriguing name, right? Gypsy punk first began to draw a sizable audience with the Romani punk band Gogol Bordello in the late 1990s.

A subgenre of punk rock, gypsy punk blends traditional Romani music with use of such instruments as saxophone, fiddle and accordion, with punk phrasing.

The lyrics sometimes take a political stance (not unlike other punk bands) as the Romani people are essentially famous for being rejected by countries throughout the ages. An example of such a song would be “Immigrant Punk” by Gogol Bordello.

If you are a fan of early punk, you may really enjoy this niche subgenre.

Bands: Gogol Bordello, Crash Nomada, Drunken Balordi, Mount Righteous

Nerd rock

Nerd rock is basically punk rock with “nerdy” subject matter. The first band to become a self-proclaimed “nerd rock” band was Nerf Herder in the 1990s. Their song “Mr. Spock” is a great example of the subgenre, and a song you will only understand if you are a Star Trek “Trekkie.”

This subgenre proves nerds (like myself) can still rock, but with an added sense of irony and specific subject matter we will only hear.

There are even further subgenres of nerd rock with specific fandoms such as Twi-Rock for the Twilight series, wizard rock for Harry Potter fans, and Time Lord rock for the “Doctor Who” crazed. It is refreshing to have a whole genre full of nerdy references instead of putting Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” on repeat for the “The Hobbit” reference.

Bands: Nerf Herder, Thundering Asteroids!, The Ataris, The Dead Milkmen, They Might Be Giants, Harry and the Potters  

Doom psychedelic

It may seem farfetched to create a subgenre where the depressive dirge of doom and mind-bending brightness of ’60s Psychedelic combine, but surprisingly it works out quite nicely.

What lurks in this subgenre are bands with musical arrangements largely flavored as undeniably garage rock with classic rock and psych elements. Synthesizer use helps create space-themed sounds to layer in the tracks. As was often a trademark of psychedelic music, songs are usually longer than five minutes.

The element of doom rock or doom metal comes in with heavy use of low bass and the dirgey lyrics. Black Sabbath are considered to be the beginnings of the genre of doom metal.

For those who like heavy, masterful instrumentation with a tinge of nostalgia, doom psychedelic is everything they are looking for.

Bands: Ruby the Hatchet, Salem’s Pot, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, Kadavar, Witch, Wolfmother      

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