New Weird American


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New Weird America describes a psychedelic folk musical movement of the mid/late 2000s. 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. It is a play on Greil Marcus’s phrase “Old Weird America” as used in his book Invisible Republic, which deals with the lineage connecting the pre-war folk performers on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music to Bob Dylan and his milieu. The musical style described as New Weird America is mainly derived from psychedelic rock and folk groups of the 1960s and 1970s, including American performers Holy Modal Rounders and English group Pentangle and other psychedelic groups, but it also finds inspiration in such disparate sources as heavy metal, free jazz, electronic music, noise music, tropicália, and early- and mid-20th century American folk music. Another primary inspiration is outsider music, often played by technically naïve (and often socially estranged) musicians, such as The Shaggs, Roky Erickson, and Jandek. Some artists associated with the New Weird America movement have even garnered criticism for projecting an image of mental instability, exploiting the purity and naïveté of outsider status.

Other genre classifications of similar period and aesthetics are psychedelic rock, acid folk, psych folk, freakbeat and freak folk.

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