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658126 Posts in 9262 Topics by 3396 Members Latest Member: - vlozan86 Most online today: 43 - most online ever: 494 (Jul 01, 2007, 02:59:53 PM)
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #50 on: Apr 14, 2008, 11:32:57 PM »

wow, ok, yeah, looks like almanzo, jeb and i all agree on this one. interesting.

oh, and almanzo, i'll defend the second new porns album and even parts of the third one (ok i really just love "jackie dressed in cobras"), but really just the second one. other than that, yeah, you're right on that point too. on the other hand, the breeders still exist. on the other other hand, kim deal is the only original member, so that kinda proves your thesis in the first place.
 
N.B.: This is phrased as questions to Andrew but I welcome anyone's answers/theories.

This is sort of a subject-changing question to ask, but what did the folks in the "1990s scene bands" do before they formed bands/while they were in bands? How did they support themselves/were they college educated/did they come to these musical locales (for lack of a better way of describing the geographical spaces in which the scenes grew), and if so when? The answers to these questions have been sort of key for me in formulating an understanding of current bands, especially those who identify as Brooklyn bands.

that's weird to me because i never think about things like that and don't really even see them as relevant. i don't understand why you do, but i'd love to hear an explanation.

Also would you include Band of Horses in your "yawn list" and if so is there a reason worth noting that they didn't spring immediately to mind (as they would have, for example, for me)?

i guess i lump band of horses in with bands like kings of leon and my morning jacket as bands who straddle the line between alt-rock and alt-country. wilco as well, i suppose. so yeah, not indie rock, at least to me.
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Salkin Red
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« Reply #51 on: Apr 15, 2008, 03:43:18 AM »

But still: Throughout my youth "indie" apparantly was something else than it was for you and I don't think it does to just go and argue "Well you are wrong and wqe are right". I do know that Dinosaur and Sebadoh sound differently but the song that made me find out about Sebadoh - The Beauty Of The Ride - is pretty much a straight (if great) J Masic rip-off, isn't it? I know, that's not exactly early Sebadoh but it's a from a long time ago and if that's when it all went downhill we shouldn't still be here complaining.

So maybe I got started with these things when Indie Rock was already not what it used to be? But then again, the things you are saying now about that genre are pretty much what people from the original hardcore scene said (and, given the chance, still say) about Indoie Rock, when it (as defined be the Sebadoh song Gimme Indie Rock, I guess) first came up?

As I said before, I think it's natural that at times some music doesn't grab you like it would have done at some other point. But I think that, mostly, that has to do with oneself and you don't really get far by sticking a label on it and saying: All those bands I don't really like? They're Indie and that ain't what it used to be. I mean, look at this discussion: Does the music that John wrote about in his original post on the blog even some criteria we came up with for indie? And if that's indie why isn't Wilco? and so on and so forth.
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alistarr*
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« Reply #52 on: Apr 15, 2008, 04:03:46 AM »

if you're going to limit indie rock down into a genre so far as to not include a band like dinosaur jr then you're basically narrowing it down so far as to only include bands from the early nineties peddling a very particular sound, and those bands now who are aping that sound. it's hardly surprising that you're calling it boring.

essentially i feel like you're doing exactly what alex said - excluding anyone who does something different or interesting. the original statement becomes "after fifteen or so years of it, bands trying to sound like mid-period pavement are getting really boring". well, duh.
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difficult
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« Reply #53 on: Apr 15, 2008, 04:27:31 AM »

From where I stand, most of you ragging on indie music spend a decent chunk of time listening to what I would describe as indie bands - I tend to think I don't so much these days, but you could easily make the same case from my listening too.
I think the two things are (1) indie is whatever you think it is, and (2) the connotations associated to it play a role in what you include in the category.
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Salkin Red
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« Reply #54 on: Apr 15, 2008, 04:47:11 AM »

All I listen to these days is Bob Lind and Judee Sill and Husker Du. I have no heart or stomach for the stuff that is out there right now sustaining careers, making lifestyles, and paying bills. It should be harder than it is for bands like The National.

It's a big world though and seeing the years The National spent keeping their day jobs (seeing that the band was nat a career decision), being ignored in the states and using their holidays to tour in Europe (well, France, really, mostly) because that's where people gave a fuck about them makes me think that how "hard" it is really is a matter of perspective, too. I'm not telling you to like them but I really think it's unfair to use a dislike of a band's music (and their listeners, I guess) to judge the reasons why people make music. I've been on the wrong end of that stick a couple of times and I didn't like the feeling (which may be why I'm overly defensive here).
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Sing The Children Over
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« Reply #55 on: Apr 15, 2008, 05:08:01 AM »

From where I stand, most of you ragging on indie music spend a decent chunk of time listening to what I would describe as indie bands - I tend to think I don't so much these days, but you could easily make the same case from my listening too.
I think the two things are (1) indie is whatever you think it is, and (2) the connotations associated to it play a role in what you include in the category.

See this is where my confusion comes from. My understanding of indie relates to the notion of independent labels, particularly those from the 80's onwards, for that reason I've always thought of difficult as an indie guy. Listens almost exclusively to releases on indie(independent labels), gives popular music a wide berth, engages in small subcultures within the community - which I notice a lot of folks who listen to under the radar music do.

My view of indie according to this breaks down when you consider things like Jive were considered independent labels for a long while.

I still feel like Marge Simpson in that episode where she's hassling her kids about what's cool. If someone wants to paste that text and substitute cool for indie that'd be great. Greg Nog?

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Greg Nog
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« Reply #56 on: Apr 15, 2008, 08:00:29 AM »

No thanks, I'm good!

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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #57 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:18:28 AM »

what i've noticed here is that everyone who's on the opposite side of this argument from me is non-american. gotta say, i think this is the real crux of the matter here, folks. apparently in non-american places, "indie" means "everything not major". i've never thought of it that way at all.

and salkin red, i suppose i should apologize for feeling that the solution to our differing definitions of indie is that i am right and you are wrong, but nonetheless, there it is.
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #58 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:22:11 AM »

oh, and...

if you're going to limit indie rock down into a genre so far as to not include a band like dinosaur jr then you're basically narrowing it down so far as to only include bands from the early nineties peddling a very particular sound, and those bands now who are aping that sound. it's hardly surprising that you're calling it boring.

essentially i feel like you're doing exactly what alex said - excluding anyone who does something different or interesting. the original statement becomes "after fifteen or so years of it, bands trying to sound like mid-period pavement are getting really boring". well, duh.

...ok, but why are so many people still into this stuff? also, they appear to particularly be into a sanitized, adult-contemporary-ized, starbucks version of said stuff. so wtf? if you agree that it's obvious that this shit should be boring by now, why isn't it obvious to more people?
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jebreject
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« Reply #59 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:33:50 AM »

I think there was a major misstep in this discussion when it became about defining "indie rock." Actually this entire discussion is possibly a major misstep.
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C of heartbreak
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« Reply #60 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:35:31 AM »

Popular music since the 1920s has consisted of stuff that was boring to the people who originally created it--that's just the way it is. It was a little naive to think the underground rock movement would be any different.

xpost with Jeb: I agree.
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alistarr*
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« Reply #61 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:38:20 AM »

...ok, but why are so many people still into this stuff? also, they appear to particularly be into a sanitized, adult-contemporary-ized, starbucks version of said stuff. so wtf? if you agree that it's obvious that this shit should be boring by now, why isn't it obvious to more people?

i don't know, why do millions of people listen to bad pop-hop? sanitised indie is one of the current brands of pop music, but that doesn't mean that all indie is sanitised indie.

if you're right about the cultural divide with regard to what constitutes "indie" then i find that pretty fascinating - i may well have to re-read half the discussions i've had here which made use of the word.
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #62 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:43:46 AM »

oh i think i'm right. i think you guys use indie to define everything that is NOT a certain thing, whereas we americans appear to use it to define a specific genre that requires various conditions be met before an artist/band will be classified as such. and i think this fact is the entire basis of our current disagreement. you guys just mean something else when you say "indie". it's like the time there was that whole to-do over wally and flapjacks and only later did us americans find out he wasn't talking about pancakes.
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Salkin Red
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« Reply #63 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:46:54 AM »

So, now, what is the northern american idea of "indie", then? (Sorry, Jeb, I don't mean to continue the misstep, I'd really like to know)
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Wally
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« Reply #64 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:48:55 AM »

oh i think i'm right. i think you guys use indie to define everything that is NOT a certain thing, whereas we americans appear to use it to define a specific genre that requires various conditions be met before an artist/band will be classified as such. and i think this fact is the entire basis of our current disagreement. you guys just mean something else when you say "indie". it's like the time there was that whole to-do over wally and flapjacks and only later did us americans find out he wasn't talking about pancakes.

Actually, I think rather than blaming what I was talking about, you'll find that the to-do was over you guys not comprehending that flapjacks are a tasty savoury oaty treat.
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Salkin Red
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« Reply #65 on: Apr 15, 2008, 11:49:38 AM »

(Because I really think that kind of thing is really interesting, just like the differing ideas of PUNK in Europe and the US - but that was in the 70s, without internet and the likes...
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #66 on: Apr 15, 2008, 03:39:19 PM »

So, now, what is the northern american idea of "indie", then? (Sorry, Jeb, I don't mean to continue the misstep, I'd really like to know)

well, but we've already been through this.

first of all, yes, sebadoh would fit under my definition of indie rock, while dinosaur jr wouldn't. in case you haven't noticed, those two bands sound very, very different.

second of all, i'm directly contrasting a scene that in the 1990s produced bands like unrest, seam, velocity girl, pavement, sebadoh, superchunk, yo la tengo, etc. with a scene that now seems most adept at producing unexciting crap like tapes n' tapes, the arcade fire, the decemberists, the shins, the wrens, the national, yawn yawn yawn. none of that stuff is particularly offensive, and i like some of the songs by some of those bands, but they are just UNEXCITING. they don't keep my interest, i don't think of their music when it's not playing, and when i hear people say anything particularly positive about said bands, i always wonder where their enthusiasm comes from.

I agree with this a hundred percent, and I always just come back to the punk/post-punk ETHOS if nothing else is what was driving that first wave of indie rock. I mean, the feeling and vibe and drive behind something like Unrest or Beat Happening is light years away from that of something like the National or the Shins. I'm fond of calling modern independent music "lifestyle music" - it's basically tame, polite mainstream middle-class music that springs from and supports middle-class values and priorities that just happens to be on a smaller-than-big-three label.

And I think here we've finally hit on the dividing line. Indie rock, to people like me, and Andrew, and Almanzo, apparently, carries inside it the spirit of punk rock, and that's what makes it special. Now, clearly I don't have a problem with music that doesn't have that spirit, but it's a little disheartening to have all these bands that are purportedly carrying on this tradition, and really it's complete separate from it. I mean, not that it's really any different than any other genre that's found itself suddenly marketable.
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #67 on: Apr 15, 2008, 03:40:37 PM »

oh i think i'm right. i think you guys use indie to define everything that is NOT a certain thing, whereas we americans appear to use it to define a specific genre that requires various conditions be met before an artist/band will be classified as such. and i think this fact is the entire basis of our current disagreement. you guys just mean something else when you say "indie". it's like the time there was that whole to-do over wally and flapjacks and only later did us americans find out he wasn't talking about pancakes.

Actually, I think rather than blaming what I was talking about, you'll find that the to-do was over you guys not comprehending that flapjacks are a tasty savoury oaty treat.

see, exactly--you think you're right about what flapjacks are, and i'm wrong. i think i'm right about what flapjacks are, and you're wrong. and the reason we have differing opinions is because you're from england and i'm from america. same exact thing that's happening with the debate over "indie".
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Salkin Red
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« Reply #68 on: Apr 15, 2008, 03:58:47 PM »

Which is a nice way to end this discussion which is, in fact, useless.

(Although I still think that the "indie backyard" John wrote about in his original post refers to something different than a music that is punk in spirit but sounding mostly like Sebadoh (and entirely unlike The Shins) - which is what got me confused about all this in the first place....)
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #69 on: Apr 15, 2008, 04:53:16 PM »

well, john is talking about freak folk, which i guess is kind of a spun off genre from indie rock. i see freak folk as descended from punk, though.

the problem i have with bands like the shins and such is that they've pretty much lost any punk or punk-derived elements. and i'm not talking about a musical style there, either, since i see joanna newsom as definitely still having some of those punk-derived elements to her music. but i wouldn't classify joanna newsom as indie rock because her music isn't rock.

ok, and my saying that makes me think of something else--you notice that i say "indie rock" and you say "indie"? i think you see indie as a noun and i see it as an adjective, which is further confusing the issue. like, to me "indie rock" is a subset of the rock genre that can be described with the modifier "indie", and i'm guessing to you "indie rock" is the rock-oriented subset of the indie genre... only indie isn't even a genre to you, it just means that bands aren't on major labels. but in my mind, an indie rock band is still an indie rock band even if they sign to a major label, a la death cab for cutie or whoever. "indie rock" is a sound, and it has nothing to do with being on an independent label (at least not anymore, although that's probably why someone first used that name for the genre).
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #70 on: Apr 15, 2008, 04:55:43 PM »

by the way, none of this is really supposed to be a value judgment on my part--i guess at this point all i'm saying is that the reason this debate about the virtues of the current model of indie rock took the shape that it did is because americans see the phrase "indie rock" as meaning something different than europeans do. i don't think any of us really disagree--unless of course someone is willing to jump into the thread and go to bat for the boring bands i was talking about earlier.
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Almanzo
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« Reply #71 on: Apr 15, 2008, 06:24:06 PM »

the problem i have with bands like the shins and such is that they've pretty much lost any punk or punk-derived elements. and i'm not talking about a musical style there, either, since i see joanna newsom as definitely still having some of those punk-derived elements to her music. but i wouldn't classify joanna newsom as indie rock because her music isn't rock.

That is the heart of my personal distaste for the vast majority of 2008 "indie rock" bands - the complete absence of said "punk" ethos, elements, etc. I basically think of indie rock as being an offshoot of punk, in that a bunch of people took the punk ethos of DIY, touring, releasing, ground-level aesthetic, general approach etc. and decided to make melodic instead of chaotic music. So when I see a band like the Shins, who probably take credit cards at their merch table, record exlusively with ProTools, have merch people on tour with them and have their shirts categorized by size and color, have photoshopped album covers and full-band glamor shots for their one-sheets, and are basically a mainstream AOR pop band that just happens to be on a label that isn't one of the big three, I really can't and don't think of them as an "indie rock" band. It seems that the vast majority of "indie rock" from the old Matador/Sub Pop/Merge standbys has gone in this direction - Nasvhille, coiffed, careerist, middle class, lifestyle, professional.

Which is why I just bought Metal Circus on vinyl again.

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lastclearchance
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« Reply #72 on: Apr 15, 2008, 06:41:27 PM »

TSKS, even setting aside UK/US differences in meaning of indie there are so many different meanings and connotations of "indie" and of "indie rock" just in the U.S. I mean at best you can talk about an underground monoculture in the 80s, (which is certainly not to say it all sounded the same but I'm not sure how else to put it,) but frankly even considering myself fairly well-versed historically I can't make heads or tails of some of the distinctions that you seem to find intuitive. (e.g. how is freak-folk descended from punk as opposed to indie rock? to me it sounds like if you like it it was descended from punk and if you don't it was descended from indie rock.)

Also worth noting: the reason I asked the vaguely class-related questions about the 90s scenes is implicitly laid out in Almanzo's comment just above mine.)

Also TSKS how the hell do you lump the Wrens in with the rest of "indie rock" given their pre-Meadowlands history? Did they pupate in that house in Jersey and somehow emerge as indie rock butterflies?

I have more on this but I'm still decompressing from EMP so I can't quite formulate my thoughts yet.
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lastclearchance
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« Reply #73 on: Apr 15, 2008, 06:46:08 PM »

And now I think you're going to call me out because Silver and Secaucus are totally indie rock. Which fine, but I'm trying to use your terminology here and I find it completely inscrutable. Is it just that I didn't live through it?
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #74 on: Apr 16, 2008, 02:02:13 AM »

i honestly don't know. i just know what seems right to me.

as far as freak folk coming down from punk as opposed to indie rock... that's not what i meant. in my mind, indie-rock is post-punk, but some elements of it these days seem to be so post-punk that the amount of punk left in them is virtually non-existent. i would NOT say that about freak folk, though--i think the line of descent for freak folk starts with punk, moves down through indie rock, but retains a significant amount of the punk ethos to this day. i don't really see the same in the decemberists (although, having read colin meloy's book about "let it be" by the replacements, i'm well aware that he started off as a punk rocker, so i dunno). i also can't really discuss the wrens one way or another because i had no idea they existed until "meadowlands" had been out for a year or so. i've never really understood the context i'm supposed to apply to the wrens. and really, i kinda like "meadowlands", though, as i've argued on here before, i think it's overlong--it's just that so many people FUCKING LOVE it, and in turn make it seem to me to be an overrated album, that i sometimes feel like i need to aim more ire at it than i really feel, just to balance out all the undeserved love it seems to get. shit, you could say the same thing about the shins, the decemberists, and death cab for cutie--all of whom have in common that i liked their first two albums a lot, but liked each successive album less and less, even as they got more and more popular.

really, what my whole beef with indie rock as it currently exists comes down to is the following: indie rock bands do not have enough loud distorted guitars in them. many of them these days are either undistorted or completely acoustic. mannered pop music is not my cup of tea, and if indie rock had not gone in that direction, i would doubtless like it a lot more--i.e. if bands still rocked as hard as superchunk, yo la tengo, pavement, etc did. i don't think that genre had to get tired--i think it got tired because people stopped playing it with any fire behind their eyes.

i do hear plenty of bands these days with loud guitars and great melodies and awesome songs, but none of them are what i'd consider indie rock. it's mostly either alternative rock (the white stripes, kings of leon, the cribs) or post-hardcore/emo (thrice, coheed and cambria, my chemical romance, the mars volta). all that stuff is as mainstream or MORE mainstream than the current face of indie rock, and yet all of it seems to me to have a lot more raw rock n' roll spirit to it than said current face of indie rock, which is way more mannered and pleasant and bring-it-home-to-meet-mom style. and i don't like music like that. it's boring.

i'm starting to get confused about what we're even talking about. and i still don't understand what any of the class issues that are being brought up have to do with anything. as far as i can tell, all of it is the product of suburban middle class white people, so whatever.
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