|Cultural origins||Late 1970s to early 1980s, United States and United Kingdom|
Indie rock is a genre of rock music that originated in the United States and United Kingdom in the 1970s.
The term "indie rock" became associated with the bands and genres that remained dedicated to their independent status.
In the 2000s, changes in the music industry and a growing importance of the Internet enabled a new wave of indie rock bands to achieve mainstream success, leading to questions about its meaningfulness as a term.
In the early 2000s, a new group of bands that played a stripped-down, back-to-basics version of guitar rock emerged into the mainstream.
Emo also broke into mainstream culture in the early 2000s.
By the end of the decade, the proliferation of indie bands was being referred to as an "indie landfill", with the term "Landfill Indie" becoming used by some critics/websites in 2020 as sub-genre for a certain type of 2000s indie band, in the same way Britpop is used for British guitar music of the 1990s.
Although distribution deals are often struck with major corporate companies, these labels and the bands they host have attempted to retain their autonomy, leaving them free to explore sounds, emotions and subjects of limited appeal to large, mainstream audiences.
The terms "alternative rock" and "indie rock" were used interchangeably in the 1980s, but after many alternative bands followed Nirvana into the mainstream in the early 1990s, "indie rock" began to be used to describe those bands, working in a variety of styles, that did not pursue or achieve commercial success.
Aesthetically speaking, indie rock is characterized as having a careful balance of pop accessibility with noise, experimentation with pop music formulae, sensitive lyrics masked by ironic posturing, a concern with "authenticity", and the depiction of a simple guy or girl.
Allmusic identifies indie rock as including a number of "varying musical approaches [not] compatible with mainstream tastes".
Linked by an ethos more than a musical approach, the indie rock movement encompassed a wide range of styles, from hard-edged, grunge-influenced bands, through do-it-yourself experimental bands like Pavement, to punk-folk singers such as Ani DiFranco.
In fact, there is an everlasting list of genres and subgenres of indie rock.
Many countries have developed an extensive local indie scene, flourishing with bands with enough popularity to survive inside the respective country, but virtually unknown elsewhere.
However, there are still indie bands that start off locally, but eventually attract an international audience.
Indie rock is noted for having a relatively high proportion of female artists compared with preceding rock genres, a tendency exemplified by the development of the feminist-informed Riot Grrrl music of acts like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, 7 Year Bitch, Team Dresch and Huggy Bear.
However, Cortney Harding pointed out that this sense of equality is not reflected in the number of women running indie labels.
Post-punk and indie pop
Although Buzzcocks are often classified as a punk band, it has been argued by the BBC and others that the publication of Spiral Scratch independently of a major label led to the coining of the name "indie" ("indie" being the shortened form of "independent").
"Indie pop" and "indie" were originally synonymous.
In the mid-1980s, "indie" began to be used to describe the music produced on post-punk labels rather than the labels themselves.
from the US and The Smiths from the UK.
These two bands rejected the dominant synthpop of the early 1980s, and helped inspire guitar-based jangle pop; other important bands in the genre included 10,000 Maniacs and the dB's from the US, and The Housemartins and The La's from the UK.
It gave its name to the indie pop scene that followed, which was a major influence on the development of the British indie scene as a whole.
The Jesus and Mary Chain's sound combined the Velvet Underground's "melancholy noise" with Beach Boys pop melodies and Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" production, while New Order emerged from the demise of post-punk band Joy Division and experimented with techno and house music.
Noise rock and shoegazing
The most abrasive and discordant outgrowth of punk was noise rock, which emphasised loud distorted electric guitars and powerful drums, and was pioneered by bands including Sonic Youth, Big Black and Butthole Surfers.
SWANS, an influential band from New York can easily, but mistakenly, be categorised as noise rock, but are more correctly identified as part of the No Wave scene which included Lydia Lunch, and James Chance & The Contortions.
A number of prominent indie rock record labels were founded during the 1980s.
Named for the band members' tendency to stare at their feet and guitar effects pedals onstage rather than interact with the audience, acts like My Bloody Valentine, and later Slowdive and Ride created a loud "wash of sound" that obscured vocals and melodies with long, droning riffs, distortion, and feedback.
The other major movement at the end of the 1980s was the drug-fuelled Madchester scene.
Based around The Haçienda, a nightclub in Manchester owned by New Order and Factory Records, Madchester bands such as Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses mixed acid house dance rhythms, Northern soul and funk with melodic guitar pop.
Alternative enters the mainstream
Main article: Alternative rock
The 1990s brought major changes to the alternative rock scene.
Bands like Hüsker Dü and Violent Femmes were just as prominent during this time period, yet they have remained iconoclastic, and are not the bands that are frequently cited as inspirations to the current generation of indie rockers.
As a result of alternative rock bands moving into the mainstream, the term "alternative" lost its original counter-cultural meaning and began to refer to the new, commercially lighter form of music that was now achieving mainstream success.
It has been argued that even the term "sellout" lost its meaning as grunge made it possible for a niche movement, no matter how radical, to be co-opted by the mainstream, cementing the formation of an individualist, fragmented culture.
This theory hypothesizes staying independent became a career choice for bands privy to industry functions rather than an ideal, as the principle of resistance to the market evaporated in favor of a more synergistic culture.
The term "indie rock" became associated with the bands and genres that remained dedicated to their independent status.
Even grunge bands, following their break with success, began to create more independent sounding music, further blurring the lines.
Ryan Moore has argued that in the wake of the appropriation of alternative rock by the corporate music industry that what became known as indie rock increasingly turned to the past to produce forms of "retro" rock that drew on garage rock, surf rock, rockabilly, blues, country and swing.
"Indietronica" redirects here.
For a more comprehensive overview of electronic/rock fusion styles, see Electronic rock.
|Cultural origins||Early 1990s|
Indie electronic covers rock-based artists who share an affinity for electronic music, using samplers, synthesizers, drum machines, and computer programs.
Less a style and more a categorization, it describes an early 1990s trend of acts who followed in the traditions of early electronic music (composers of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop), krautrock and synth-pop.
By the end of the 1990s, indie rock developed a number of subgenres and related styles.
Following indie pop, these included lo-fi, noise pop, sadcore, post-rock, space rock and math rock.
Lo-fi eschewed polished recording techniques for a D.I.Y.
The work of Talk Talk and Slint helped inspire post-rock (an experimental style influenced by jazz and electronic music, pioneered by Bark Psychosis and taken up by acts such as Tortoise, Stereolab, and Laika), as well as leading to more dense and complex, guitar-based math rock, developed by acts like Polvo and Chavez.
Space rock looked back to progressive roots, with drone-heavy and minimalist acts like Spacemen 3 in the 1980s, Spectrum and Spiritualized, and later groups including Flying Saucer Attack, Godspeed You! and Black EmperorQuickspace.
In contrast, sadcore emphasized pain and suffering through melodic use of acoustic and electronic instrumentation in the music of bands like American Music Club and Red House Painters, while the revival of Baroque pop reacted against lo-fi and experimental music by placing an emphasis on melody and classical instrumentation, with artists like Arcade Fire, Belle and Sebastian and Rufus Wainwright.
Signs of commercial interest
In the 2000s, the changing music industry, the decline in record sales, the growth of new digital technology and increased use of the Internet as a tool for music promotion, allowed a new wave of indie rock bands to achieve mainstream success.
Existing indie bands that were now able to enter the mainstream included more musically and emotionally complex bands including Modest Mouse (whose 2004 album Good News for People Who Love Bad News reached the US top 40 and was nominated for a Grammy Award), Bright Eyes (who in 2004 had two singles at the top of the Billboard magazine Hot 100 Single Sales) and Death Cab for Cutie (whose 2005 album Plans debuted at number four in the US, remaining on the Billboard charts for nearly one year and achieving platinum status and a Grammy nomination).
This new commercial breakthrough and the widespread use of the term indie to other forms of popular culture, led a number of commentators to suggest that indie rock had ceased to be a meaningful term.
In the early 2000s, a new group of bands that played a stripped-down and back-to-basics version of guitar rock emerged into the mainstream, which some termed a post-punk revival, but because the bands came from across the globe, cited diverse influences (from traditional blues, through new wave to grunge), and adopted differing styles of dress, their unity as a genre has been disputed.
Main article: Emo
Emo also broke into mainstream culture in the early 2000s, with the platinum-selling success of Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American (2001) and Dashboard Confessional's The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (2001).
The new emo had a more refined sound than in the 1990s and a far greater appeal amongst adolescents than its earlier incarnations.
At the same time, use of the term "emo" expanded beyond the musical genre, becoming associated with fashion, a hairstyle and any music that expressed emotion.
During the mid-to-late 2000s, emo was played by multi-platinum acts such as Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, and Panic! , Contrary to this Gerard Way of at the DiscoMy Chemical Romance said the band is not emo at all.
By the end of the 2000s, the proliferation of indie bands that appeared after the success of The Strokes and The Libertines, was being referred to "Landfill Indie", a description coined by Andrew Harrison of The Word magazine.
As the 1980s idea of indie (referring to a group of self-financed record companies set up by a bunch of 'mavericks' and the bands they liked) was devalued throughout the Britpop-era so that indie ended up describing a form of contemporary guitar-based pop music, which would be at home on the airwaves of Radio 2 as it was on BBC 6 Music, a number of new acts started to be associated with the old 'post-punk' term, even though by then these revivalists were 'post-post-Britpop'.
The dominance of pop and other forms of music over guitar-based indie was leading to predictions of the end of indie rock.
In 2010, Canadian band Arcade Fire's album The Suburbs reached number one on the Billboard charts in the United States and the official chart in the United Kingdom, winning a Grammy for Album of The Year.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indie rock.