Landfill Indie

Great article about the current state of the UK music scene.

Now, whilst I disagree that the Fratellis fall into this camp and feel it is a tad harsh to blame all of this on the Arctic Monkeys, the article mirrors my current thoughts, largely fuelled by listening to X-FM in the morning commute to work (Not a fan of Radio 2 in the mornings, nor the inane chat on Radio Scotland and Radio Clyde). There seems to be a lack of anything new and original, with band after bland band churning out the same punk-lite, faux gritty, rat-a-tat-tat style tunes.

It’s no wonder I’m reaching for some old favourites every time I fire up iTunes.

You don’t need to read the article to get a basic understanding of what is being said, and I’m sure most people who are aware of the current music scene have already moved on from all those definite article bands (The … ) and are currently enjoying bands such as Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend, but there is one quote that sticks out and I think is worth repeating:

“Scouting for Girls are like the sound of Satan’s scrotum emptying. They’re abysmal.”

Which captures what I’m trying to say perfectly.

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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adventures in says:

It appears that The Independent now allows nostalgia to masquerade as journalism.

As for the music scene?

To quote Talking Heads, “same as it ever was”.

I feel that this is what comes of wishing for a scene to define your musical personality as opposed to allowing your personality to define your taste in music.

Will you like what I like? I don’t know.
Do I like all the music that I linked to? Only I know that.

What I do know is that if you wish to find something ‘interesting’ you need to be prepared to sift.

I’m more than happy to sift, I thought this article was more aimed at the industry itself, shouldn’t it be embracing different music rather than continuing to drive the same “indie” rubbish.

And it may be nostalgia but sometimes times past WERE better… the Britpop scene existed alongside a burgeoning dance scene, there is no reason why that can’t happen again but doesn’t seem to be happening now.

I guess the industry is narrowing in reaction to the broadening of choice the internet brings, and until it starts to cope better, the mainstream music will get narrower and narrower and that is a bad thing.

Mind you, the Mercury nominees are pretty good this year, so, hey, whadda I know??

I thought it was lazy journalism too. Long-standing, well-established labels such as Mute (albeit now owned by EMI, but maintaining an indie ethos), Warp and 4AD continue to produce interesting fare.

The charts have always been full of shit and always will be (alongside genuine pop brilliance like Robyn), the only difference is that some of that shit now wears “indie” skinny jeans and tight t-shirts.

The dumbing down of mainstream music journalism is a real shame though. Particularly NME. You’d think there’d be a demand for something radical these days, but they’ve turned it into a comic.

adventures in says:

Quotey Quotey:

“I guess the industry is narrowing in reaction to the broadening of choice the internet brings, and until it starts to cope better, the mainstream music will get narrower and narrower and that is a bad thing.”

I accept parts of this, but not for the reasons you may think or the reasons you suggest. The industry always narrows its focus. It always works, at least it seems that way, in ever-decreasing circles where it can actively pigeon-hole and re-pigeon-hole. It’s fond of your money, not your notions of artistic integrity. It’s happiest when it is providing the hip young things and you’re following what they are defining. At least that’s how the big-bad man story goes.

The internet may bring choice but I’d argue that it stifles, to an extent, creativity. It has the ability to allow individual artists the freedom to show their product, but I don’t think that it necessarily helps to force the coalescence of a scene around like-minded individuals. No big movements. Everyone beavers away on their own little project satisfied in their own self-important redundant mimicry. Outside of the industry.

Take the discussion on the beloved Indie scene. It did, to an extent, piss me off severely when I discussed with musicians and engineers/recordists younger than myself what they believe Indie to be when they describe themselves as being or belonging to Indie. Invariably they would spew forth what appeared to me to be a reductive and limited set of variables which centre around notions of jangly guitar-pop or something equally recycled or cyclically recurrent.

They don’t belong to the same Indie mindset as me. I belong to the DIY “a means of production and distribution” mindset, they belong to the “style of music” mindset, to quote from the article. Their wish is to be signed, a potentially regressive step in my view, whereas those of my age were concerned about how we get our music out, intact, and preferably get paid. It’s a change in the parameters of the discourse, sometimes the tide goes out, sometimes it comes back in. The technology makes it easy to make and distribute, perhaps too easy.

Tim Walker falls into the trap of being able to see how the parameters of what defines Indie has changed but still choses to ignore those that work away outside of the mainstream (the Indie ethic) so he can lambast a homogenous marketing tool. The fact that he decries Britpop as being one of the straws the bent the poor camel whilst allying this to John Niven’s shit music in Gap experience (for fuck’s sake) makes it all the more ironic.

Ohh look,–james-dean-bradfield-782211.html

Promotion promotion.

I’m with Hg regarding everything else.

The fragmentation of “the music scene” is a very healthy thing, in my opinion. I’m not sure we need another “big movement” at the moment, unless it’s a record industry bowel movement getting rid of all the redundant crap that’s built up over the years.

When the record industry works well, it acts as guardian and gatekeeper, nurturing newer acts and filtering out the less talented and interesting. My take on the industry’s changes in the past few years is that it put business before duty and lost its way.

Maybe I’m an idealist, but I’ve always thought that if they do the nurturing and gatekeeping well, the money will follow. I’d point to 4AD as a fine example. What seems to have happened is that too many labels – mainly majors – started to put profit first.

I like the fragmentation of the music scene at the moment. I like the fact that there are so many little pockets of completely insular, independent creativity. I like the fact that no one’s heard of anyone else anymore. It’s making the whole thing more interesting.

Ooh, I like that article – it mentions the National Pop League! I’ve not been there for about 5-6 years, but it’s good to hear it’s still going strong. My defining memory of that club is: dancing energetically, next to Belle and Sebastian’s lead singer, to one of his own songs, as his girlfriend blocked him from trying to leave the dancefloor so noone would see him dancing to one of his own songs.

adventures in says:

“The fragmentation of “the music scene” is a very healthy thing”.

I don’t disagree with that, I’m just not sure that it’s anymore fragmented now than it has been in the last 50 years. In regards to marketing ideologies perhaps it is, in regard to expressive musical ideologies I’m not so sure. It’s good that musicians can find an easily visible means of self-expression. My worry is that the ‘supposed’ defining cultural movements, though redundant in regards to individual musical expression, cannot happen as there is not enough musicians getting together to share their ideas. Rather than working cross-culturally, they are happy to climb into the box. The counter argument is that there are no boxes anymore because we are all knowledgeable, to a greater or lesser extent, to all musical genres, whether we can identify them or not. Having access to culture and cultures doesn’t necessarily make us more cultured, but it should.

I can now, technologically, work with people on the other side if the planet without physically having to meet them, I can do this with the bloke down the road also. I can also share my viewpoint with, regarding this matter, people I have never met through this comment but still, I feel a little of the discourse has been lost in favour of self-gratification. Do I think that we need a defining cultural moment? No. But in the past I’ve ideologically belonged to some. Old Indie for sure allied, at that time, to Detroit techno. The ideologies were, to me, inseparable. We’ve made some music now how do we get 500 of these made and sold. It still goes on, away from iTunes, away from the internet, sold on CDrs. Those that need to see cultural movements are being denied. I’d argue that for them the world now seems culture-less. That’s their worry though, not mine.

I agree, Hg, I just think it’s a double-edged sword.

Ignorance is knowledge
Knowledge is ignorance

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