Monday, April 24, 2006

Shades of Independence 

Like everyone and Everett, I like indie music. 7300 songs worth and counting, if the iPod is any indication.

Unlike Everett, however, who is happy to lump the Beatles and Dylan in amongst his "less cutting edge, straightfowardly "indie" music" downloadable set at All Things Go, I can't tell what makes modern indie music distinct from modern folk music.

(And I'm not alone, either -- see the Wikipedia entry on Freak-folk, aka New Weird America music, and pay close attention to both the mess of a genre-description and the oddly diverse list of acts that follows).

These days, indie instrumentation is raw and acoustic, themes remain subtle and slow, and -- for much of the genre, at least -- stripped down singer-songwriter is the name of the game. Especially confounding is the borderline acts once officially folk-designate, such as The Weepies and proto-genrebuster Ms. DiFranco. Both of whom I've seen at folk festivals. Before they were indie. When their music sounded the same.

Unless it's a very, very slight tendency towards the obscure and morbid found in everything from band names (cf. Death Cab for Cutie) to lyricism (cf Sufjan), it seems the main difference between indie and folk is little more than audience designate -- as if the very fact that bunch of SXSW-hittin' twentysomethings were standing up at a venue made something not-folk.

Which is silly, and a bit like saying that, because adolescents read more fantasy than anyone else, anything adolescents generally read must be fantasy.

So much for post-post--post-modernism. I'm calling the genre fakefolk, or perhaps faux-lk, until further notice. Please join me in designating the very concept of "indie" officially dead.

In other news of impending independence, I've been back at work one day and already we're counting down the weeks (7) until summer vacation. Can I get a whoop whoop for the teachers and students in da house? Thanks, y'all. Now get back on the bus and get those damn white strings out of your ears.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:53 PM |

It's really hard to make claims about what is "indie". The Backstreet Boys, I believe it was, were on the indie charts in Britain before they were pop in the US. And while Ani DiFranco might be considered indie, so might The Flaming Lips or Interpol, who, though they both sound different, are certainly not folk. From my travels, I have determined that what is indie is what folks who claim they are indie listen to. I gather this mostly be because indie is more of a movement than an actual genre of music, one which is anti-popularity like a watered-down old-skool punk, except that old-skool punkers didn't sport hair which is somehow ironic.

I've been trying to figure out indie for months, and that's the best I've got right now. Maybe it'll help somehow.

We haven't spoken since I crashed in your (awesome) camper at graduation; seems like you're doing pretty well, and I'm very glad to see that. If you ever wanna chat, you can get me on AIM as "Evan the Green" (without the quotes).

Sorry to write so damn much. Enjoy the last seven weeks!
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