Chandler, Arizona, United States

There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .

Indie Rock: Soon to be Co-Opted?

Friday, April 18, 2008

this entry brought to you by modest mouse, "fly trapped in a jar"

I like the term "indie rock" a lot, and I liked the term "alternative" a lot, back in 1992 when the word had meaning, which is something that I actually went into depth about a few years ago. What I liked about "alternative" as a word was that it was so perfect a description. It described a mindset, a commonality, versus actually describing the music itself. It was a way to categorize things that were perhaps disparate and to find what made them the same-- a way to say that you liked Bjork, Nirvana, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, and Belle and Sebastian, all groups who sound absolutely nothing alike, but if they were all playing at the same festival, would make sense, rather than be just whatever is the top bands for the day.

Then of course the word "alternative", which used to have meaning, got co-opted. It was being used to describe things like Matchbox 20 and Creed-- what in the hell is "alternative" about that? How did this word, whose literal meaning is "to be different", get stuck to shit that was the definition of mainstream?

The same thing will happen to "indie rock". It's frustrating, but already there are "indie rock" bands that aren't really independent at all. The word is going to be co-opted soon until its completely meaningless, as already seen by bands like Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins, who are starting to become the face of indie rock among mainstream music listeners who went out and bought The Shins when Natalie Portman gushed about them in Garden State, despite not really being, you know, indie.

There's two upsides to this.

1) The term "indie rock", unlike "alternative", actually describes the distribution method used to get you the album. Nowadays things like "labels" are completely irrelevant. Everything is going to be "independent" sooner or later, meaning nothing will be.

2) Indie music, by definition, is underground. Underground music has a way of reflexively reacting against the mainstream. All these mid-tempo bands like Death Cab, The Shins, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, et all, will become more and more mainstream, and reflexively, new bands will form that will be a reaction against it, meaning in a few years will have a few Dinosaur Jr. or Sebadohs making noise and causing ear aches. And then when those bands have gone mainstream, we'll have mid-tempo stuff again, on and on until the sun goes burns out. As long as you keep your ear to the ground, you'll always be happy.

with love from CRS @ 5:57 AM 


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