Monday, October 3, 2011

Indie Rock: Countering the noise from the music world

The English music scene these days is quite varied from pop to pop punk to punk rock to alt. rock to hip hop to country music etc. etc. A person could do a whole dissertation on it. But talking about the Rock Music scene in particular, what has become evident is that no more does a band need to be dependent on big labels and production houses to put their music out to the world.

From 1990s there was a whole movement of Alt. rock music that developed and soon from that developed the Indie rock scene or Independent Rock. The Independent Rock scene has its origins in the 1990s when the alternative rock bands entered the mainstream music world, these bands originally started off as underground bands playing across venues to a small following and avoiding linking with major labels as they desired to have total control over their music and production of it.

And then soon after one of the biggest changes that came across for not only the indie rock scene but the whole music industry was the development of the internet and digital technology that enabled the lesser known bands to put their music out to the world. Many of the well-known bands that we know of these days started off as indie rock bands but gained mainstream prominence because of their ‘MySpace page’. Bands like Arcade Fire, Weezer, R.E.M, and Death Cab for Cutie etc.

There is no one single characteristic of indie rock unlike heavy metal or pop or hip hop. Allmusic defines it as, “too sensitive and melancholy; too soft and delicate; too dreamy and hypnotic; too personal and intimately revealing in its lyrics; too low-fidelity and low-budget in its production; too angular in its melodies and riffs; too raw, skronky and abrasive, wrapped in too many sheets of Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr./Pixies/Jesus & Mary Chain-style guitar noise; too oblique and fractured in its song structures; too influenced by experimental or otherwise unpopular musical styles.”

The bands because of the relative freedom they enjoy from major labels are free to experiment and include various genres of music to their sound, which in itself leads to the creation of a new sound. These bands achieved success mainly because of the internet.

There are many of these bands that achieved mainstream success like Nirvana, Death Cab for Cutie, R.E.M etc. But some of the lesser known ones are in my opinion the best ones like Neutral Milk Hotel, The Shins, Explosions in the Sky, Sunny Day Real Estate and City and Colour etc.

Not all music is pleasant and most of it nowadays can be just termed as noise, but then again music is a very personal choice there is never really any consensus as to which is the best kind. For some, music is the beat and the lyrics that make them want to dance or think of something or somebody. And to some music is an experience. There is this own personal joy in discovering a wonderful new band that inspires its own sets of emotions. Music at least for me is about the experience, experiencing the melody and the environment that it creates.

One of my favourite indie rock bands is Neverending White Lights; I have never come across a band or singer about whose music I could say that I like every one of their songs. Their music is such that every song is a different experience. Every song is very much different from the last but still there this is this invisible thread of similarity that runs through them that makes them a recognisable product of one single band.

The band is not really a band it’s more of musical collaboration where the lead is Daniel Victor who writes the lyrics and plays the instrument for most of the songs but gets some of his favourite musicians to sing them, hence, having different singers enhances the feeling that every song is different.

I download music, I don’t pay for it. I confess. But if there is any musicians CD that I would love to buy and not consider it a waste of money would we Neverending White Lights. They deserve that much.

Some of their songs:


The Living

Dove Coloured Sky

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