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Thread: Who killed Indie?

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Who killed Indie?

    Been thoroughly enjoying the Rough Trade "IndiePop" Compilation. If you havent scored a copy of this do. It'll be the freshest most invigorating thing you pick up this year, and easily the best compilation theyve put out IMHO. Actually considering a) they couldnt get even half the tracks they wanted (the list of bands whose stuff they couldnt get is as long as your arm) and that b) much of the stuff comes from the 90s (when you had to be a leper to still be listening to indie ) its quite surprisingly excellent.

    This weekend i finally picked up Stereolab's "Emperor Tomato Ketchup". I've a copy of "Space Age Batchelor Pad" and that rather dampened my ardour (its not that great) and my only other foray into the groop is the (awesome) "Simple Headphone Mind" (but I rather churlishly attributed thats success to its collaborator Steve NWW Stapleton). Side one of ETK left me a bit cold, ready to dismiss them as drinking from the right brews, but failing to do their own thing successfully, but POW the other three sides are excellent. "Le Yper Sound" i especially liked. Actually when I first went into Rough Trade to ask for Neu! in the early nineties (the dawn of my realisation that they were going to be a lot more difficult to track down that i'd thought) the bloke at the counter told me i should just buy the stereolab record... that was the lazy comparison early on wasnt it?

    One of the best tracks on the Rough Trade comp sounds just like Stereolab. The June Brides "Every Conversation" with its funny tootling trumpet, supposedly a big influence on Belle and Sebastian (another band I have to look inot one of these days). A track like this in the late eighties, mate, I would have dismissed it out of hand as twee, pointlessly lacking in ambition etc. The sort of things I liked were Sonic Youth, Big Black, The Buttholes, AR Kane, Loop, MBV (wonder what journalist i was tailing?)- quite portentous music that seemed sort of lofty and other, tuned into a superior frequency range. MBV's early stuff still has this homemade atmosphere, "Paint a Rainbow" for instance off this comp is cut from this cloth. And it got me thinking that the whole C86-vibed scene must have crashed headlong into the kind of expectations that teenager like me had at the time. "We dont want twee music like The Pooh Sticks!"

    If there was one band which, almost singlehandedly collected all that was C86-ish in Indie and "re-branded" it, if you like, but simultaneously gave "proper uk indie" a more glamorous spin. It had to be Stereolab. If you once were an indie fan , then you probably became a Stereolab fan demographically speaking. It seems like the rest of indie went forever buzzcock-power-pop at this same point. In that sense, in this (typically) hastily assembled theory, I reckon Stereolab killed indie. Either that or they ate it alive.
    Last edited by Woebot; 15-11-2004 at 08:31 AM.

  2. #2
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    Stereolab replicates The Shaggs.

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    Space Age Bachelor Pad Music is pants: a much better route into Stereolab is Transient Random Noise Bursts I reckon.

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    I think Yo La Tengo killed indie. Decent, bland, mildly spiky songs, they seem to provide a one-stop shop for that indie vibe- at the same time never bringing anything new to the table.

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    surely acid house killed indie in 88 when it paved the way for the heinous indie-dance

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    [QUOTE=WOEBOT] Actually when I first went into Rough Trade to ask for Neu! in the early nineties (the dawn of my realisation that they were going to be a lot more difficult to track down that i'd thought) the bloke at the counter told me i should just buy the stereolab record... that was the lazy comparison early on wasnt it?

    Jeez , that was more then lazy ...

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    mmmm... the indiepop comp is indeed a real treat. I'm too young to have experienced much of that movement first hand, so I'm really enjoying discovering this stuff.

    I think the two things that killed off the scene were:

    bands like stereolab proving that you can be fey and whimsical but also have high production standards... the public started to be attracted to the more "shiny" schmindie stuff recorded in "proper" studios and the kids with a hissy 4 track could no longer compete.

    and

    as indie moved into the nightclub scene (as the whole music-driven club scene took off in the UK in general) the likes of baggy took over. cos until then there were only a few big uptempo indie tracks ("this charming man" for example) that you could actually dance to.

  8. #8
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    Default Stereolab and C86

    Tim Gane used to be in McCarthy, who i think actually had a track on the C86 cassette. They were an anomaly, an overtly political, leftwing shambling band

    the really great Stereolab album for me is the one they did in tandem with an exhibition in New York, i'm blanking on the title, something like Amorphous Body Music. You went in and looked at these kitschadelic sculptures and put headphones on and each sculpture had a 'Lab track assigned to it. The CD got a proper release at some point. it's the lab at their softest and most French sounding.

    I don't know about killing indie but one of the nicest, coolest swerves out of C86 was Saint Etienne. Their second single was a cover of a Field Mice tune and i think they took a certain anti-rock/ anti-rock'n'roll (not the same thing, actually) sensibility within C86 and developed into this neo-mod/proto-Popist aesthetic. In a certain sense, they were the antithesis of Primal Scream (who also killed indie) although both SE and PS embraced house, sampladelia etc.

    Didn't Oasis kill indie by making Sixties revivalism mainstream?

    i can't believe you bought that comp, matt! have you really exhausted every other form of music on the planet?

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    Yeah, Music for the Amorphous Body Study Center, with the artist Charles Long.

    McCarthy were great - any band with tracks called 'The Drinking Song of the Merchant Bankers', 'Write to your MP Today' and 'Use a Bank I'd Rather Die' is good fun in my book.

  10. #10

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    if you're looking to explore some of the finer moments in indie-pop history i recommend searching out a few key labels:

    sarah records - home to some of the finest british indie pop of the 90s. field mice, 14 iced bears, boyracer, the orchids, the sea urchins, st. christopher, the wake (after they went totally twee)

    all the sarah 7" singles are highly collectible and can be a pain to track down. ltm is reissuing the entire field mice backcatalog in early 2005, so i recommend picking those up, especially "snowball" which should include their "emma's house" 7" which is choice.

    elefant - some overlooked gems on this spanish label. the first le mans album is a joy. they also released singles on colored vinyl by the pop race, union wireless, st. christopher, trembling blue stars, bootby (members of figurine), the lovelies, and countless others.

    little teddy - the bartlebees, who've done work with jowe head of television personalites fame, tullycraft (who've i've never really like, and other lesser known german pop bands were and are active on this label.

    creation - check out early jesus and mary chain singles (upside down, for example) for some brutal pop feedback. primal scream, bif bang pow!, oasis, and a number of other influential indies made their mark here.

    that rough trade comp is a long overdue tribute to a bygone era. there still are a few crucial bands out there. the bartlebees, the legends, the monochrome set...but most of them are long gone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WOEBOT
    The sort of things I liked were Sonic Youth, Big Black, The Buttholes, AR Kane, Loop, MBV (wonder what journalist i was tailing?)
    I'm guessing you were reading 'the maker'? For me it was the blissblogger's review of Husker Du's 'Warehouse' that pretty much kicked things off, musically - something about 'soulboys & tasselled loafers fluttering in the wind - the return of ROCK' if I remember rightly

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    a much better route into Stereolab is Transient Random Noise Bursts
    Yeah, totally agree with that, love love love that album. They'd made serious progress from the excitable indie naivity of Peng- Jenny Ondioline is almost indie-pop remixed by The Orb, new layers emerging from nowhere, the near edible sound-textures becoming a content in themselves.

    Got 2/5 in Q when released, they said it was long and confusing, which was obviously the point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blissblogger
    Didn't Oasis kill indie by making Sixties revivalism mainstream?

    yes although there was a lack of quality in alot of what the baggy boys did, there was still a continuation of the spirit of experimentation that alot of indie proper had.

    i think some people from that kind of stereolab world reshuffled in the face of baggy and also us rawk and took up the mantle of indie proper to a more significant extent though, the shoegazers and the seefeels and post rockers of the world.

    but jesus, oasis, i was a student while oasis were big and i felt like a total outcast as a non fan of retro rock music, and without that whole desire to be a swaggering bowl haircutted replicant for cool britannia.
    Any notion of music making you cool in that situation was completley out of the window, if it wasn't oasis no one cared, or they thought you total freak
    i tended to hang out with the locals.

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    Tony Blair and New Labour killed indie. That whole cool Britannia rubbish. Making friends with Blur and Oasis, people trying to pretend this was like the Stones vs the Beatles, all that crap - everything surrounding that part of history when indie became mainstream and we were all doomed to Travis for the rest of our lives. When the whole point of indie, that it was underground, awkward, anti-establishment, got turned around - the Tories lost, for a couple of years people lost something to resist, the underground became the establishment, spin took charge (find me better spin doctors than the Gallaghers!). You could feel it happening at the time when the records you were buying started to creep into the top 10 - for a while it felt like victory, but it soon turned to ashes.

    Indie kids, be careful what you wish for.

    Or summat like that ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by minusone
    surely acid house killed indie in 88 when it paved the way for the heinous indie-dance
    that must lie at the heart of the matter

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