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Is indie/alternative music shit at the moment?


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I have to admit I do not spend as much time listening to new music as I used to. Don't get out to as many gigs as I've got older.

But even the fairly mainstream stuff - that I hear on Radio 1 seems to be getting worse and worse.

Just 10 years ago when I was a teenager it seemed like the bands that were making it big were better. I know everyone probably thinks this about the music they "grew up" with, but there don't seem to be anthems like pulp, oasis, nirvana, supergrass, the verve, smashing pumpkins, radiohead etc were bashing out in the 90s and kept indie discos heaving. This was all fairly mainstream stuff obviously, but even though guitar based music seems to have a much bigger share of the market these days... most of it sounds crap and samey to me. Is this just due to an ongoing process of commercialisation? There doesn't seem to be any sort of social/political/ anti-establishment element to guitar pop music these days, is that part of a general malaise led by Coldplay and their ilk? Guys like James Blunt and David Grey obviously have made shitloads of money by mixing a bit of indie/acoustic flavour to their soulless whining. And to be honest I don't find The Killers that much more inspiring.

What songs get everybody on a mad buzz at the student disco nights like The Stone Roses, The Cure, The Smiths etc used to when I was at uni?

Fuck I think I'd even take Ocean Colour Scene or Kula Shaker over just about anything thats been big since The Libertines.

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Yes, it's shit.

There is most likely vast amounts of good stuff out there but none of it is amazingly popular like the dirge is.

Vaguely current acts that don't suck include Flaming Lips, Grandaddy (now split), Muse, Ben Folds, Trail of Dead, Magnetic Fields, British Sea Power, Dresden Dolls, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Postal Service, Wilco (probably). But they're possibly more 'alternative' and less 'pop-rock anthem' than the stuff you're talking about.

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The stuff that the NME and Radio 1 would like you to think is independent and alternative is mainly shite. I would suggest that the resurgence of "indie" music and the subsequent commercialisation of it has created a "false" Indie genre that isn't that much different to any other mainstream shit.

There's still plenty of brilliant stuff out there.

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These topics always baffle me a little.

If anything, there's too much good music out there, it's constantly and always saturated. Every genre imaginable has recent good stuff. Yes, especially slap bass Jazz Gospel Metal.

Your best bet is Last fm. Let it get a few thousand plays off you then click your neighbours and grab whatever they've most listened to that you've not heard of. Guaranteed greatness.

Otherwise, 120 minutes every night at 1AM on MTV2 is a constant goldmine.

That should do you.

Anyone complaining about a lack of good music just isn't looking hard enough.

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Oh, I dunno about the last.fm thing. It'd better than Amazon's "if you like x you'll like y" but it's still not 100%. You can preview tracks though, which is nice. If only pandora still worked, eh?

Indie/Alternative music seems to throw a really wide net these days, including acts that never would've been called that just a few years ago. The Fratellis. Mika. The Kooks. This can give the impression that it's dying off a little, but there's still some good stuff if you want to dig.

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It's been a great year for music, I've heard so much great stuff. My take on it is that indie has become such a catch-all genre, you have your mainstream indie and slightly-more underground indie music. You're certainly not going to find it on Radio 1 or XFM. So what LittleJoe said, basically.

I find this folder to be a great source of new music. Half the threads created in here are about some new band.

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There's great 'indie' bands everywhere - you just gotta look around a bit more.

I live in Australia and although I've personally not found quite as many as I did 5-10 years ago when quality artists seemed to be everywhere, they are still out there and just as vibrant as ever. All the genres have so much crossover these days it's hard to really pinpoint a sound as truly independent - but there's still a stack of minor labels backing new talent with EPs or nowadays web downloads etc.

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It's been a great year for music, I've heard so much great stuff.

I find this folder to be a great source of new music.

Agreed on both points.

There is definitely far too much hype around bands that don't warrant it but even the mainstream latches onto the right thing occasionally - Arcade Fire, MGMT f'rexample - but expecting playlisted-to-fuck Radio1 or the Conor McNicholas-helmed image-obsessed NME to point you in the right direction every single time is asking a bit much, neither are the force they were a decade or more ago.

Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, The Hold Steady, Fleet Foxes and many others would have stood out just as much a decade ago as they do now. And it's worth noting that the bands the OP mention span about 15 years of music which is pretty selective. The 90s also gave us Menswear, Gene, Marion, 3 Colours Red and all that shite, after all.

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I too felt music was a bit meh at the moment hten realised I'm in my mid-30s, the oily deposit of cynicism has built up and is now blocking my judgement. The one thing that keeps me going is finding that record every now and again that relights my musical fire. It's what you should live for.

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Does Bonnie Prince Billy count as indie/alternative? He's a bloody genius and nearly everything he touches is pure gold and if not, at least worth a listen. Mclusky were excellent too but split fairly recently, Liars are brilliant and Super Furry Animals are as good as ever. Same with The Fall.

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Go and buy Frightened Rabbit's latest, quirky indie with some fantastic lyrics that could only really be written by a Scot:

<

Why won't our love keel over as it chokes on a bone?

We can mourn its passing and then bury it in snow.

Or should we kick its cunt in and watch as it dies from bleeding.

If you don't want to be with me just say and I will go.

>

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Vaguely current acts that don't suck include Flaming Lips, Grandaddy (now split), Muse, Ben Folds, Trail of Dead, Magnetic Fields, British Sea Power, Dresden Dolls, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Postal Service, Wilco (probably). But they're possibly more 'alternative' and less 'pop-rock anthem' than the stuff you're talking about.

I like most of those bands actually.

I think what I am getting at, is that the alternative stuff is not making the break-through and becoming "pop-rock anthems" like it used to. Blur/ Oasis/ Pulp etc all started off as very indie. Perhaps the bands like this are just not being promoted by the record companies these days, instead they are just concentrating on the whining dirges?

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Anyone complaining about a lack of good music just isn't looking hard enough.

Again, I totally agree. I think its because I don't have time to spend ploughing through music blogs, fanzines, checking out bands I've never heard of when they play locally any more.

I do like Last.fm though. But like I said before, my point is really that the great stuff I hear on there doesn't seem to cross over into the mainstream.

Maybe that isn't such a bad thing anyway? Maybe the mainstream isn't as relevant now as it was 10 years ago, thanks to the huge growth of the internet, myspace, last.fm, new ways of distribution etc?

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I think what I am getting at, is that the alternative stuff is not making the break-through and becoming "pop-rock anthems" like it used to.

Hmm, why would you want it to?

If it's so you have something better to dance to in a mainstreamish club, I'd agree with you in that respect. I was out on Saturday in a rock/indie club and the music was just poor for the most part when they p[alyed recent stuff. Only when they played older stuff did the dancefloor fill up.

Otherwise though, I prefer my favoured bands to stay small. Fame for a band never helps future music from them.

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Maybe that isn't such a bad thing anyway? Maybe the mainstream isn't as relevant now as it was 10 years ago, thanks to the huge growth of the internet, myspace, last.fm, new ways of distribution etc?

I think you've whacked the nail right on the head. It's the same as when people complain that there's no 'event' television that everyone talks about the next day in the playground or office. Everyone's watching, reading, playing and listening to different stuff. I think it's a good thing.

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Back in the pre-internet days, I can remember reading about music that sounded fantastic or hearing an amazing track on Peel or something but if they didn't stock it in your local record shop (my nearest music store that wasn't Woolworths was over 30 miles away when growing up) you were buggered. Now anyone can check anything out in seconds. Would bands like Battles or The Mars Volta have been as successful (however relative) 10-15 years ago? I'm pretty certain they wouldn't have been.

It has led to a more fragmented cultural scene, but I'd take that anyday over another return to the Britpop era.

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It's all well and good there being a great variety for music lovers nowadays, but what if you were a music virgin? You'd be a bit fucked. Radio 1/the charts are both complete shit these days and it'd be hard to know what a recent, really decent album was. Say what you want about those '100 greatest albums!' lists but at least they can give people a foothold. Only thing is, most of those albums out of this decade and that could be a turn-off for the less knowledgeable. Few people they come into contact with will discuss current albums because nobody else wil have said albums (unless you live somewhere like London, I guess). Same thing to people complaining about music being pigeon-holed into genres - at least you've got some vague idea of what to look for!

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Back in the pre-internet days, I can remember reading about music that sounded fantastic or hearing an amazing track on Peel or something but if they didn't stock it in your local record shop (my nearest music store that wasn't Woolworths was over 30 miles away when growing up) you were buggered. Now anyone can check anything out in seconds. Would bands like Battles or The Mars Volta have been as successful (however relative) 10-15 years ago? I'm pretty certain they wouldn't have been.

It has led to a more fragmented cultural scene, but I'd take that anyday over another return to the Britpop era.

Good point. These days most of the "indie" labels are distributed by the big record companies anyway. And bands are given less time to grow; success has to be instant.

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