Most of us music lovers have listened to Indie music and haven’t even realized it. The genre is so broad and its lines are so blurry that we can put The Beatles and Iron & Wine under the same roof. (I know, that’s almost unacceptable, for BOTH parties.) By its own definition, the genre is basically unboundable. There is just no way one can know for sure what to look for when it comes to this relatively new genre.The instruments in use can range from Acoustic guitars to full-on Epiphone 1984, from classical piano to Conga drums, and even some new age synths.
The whole movement started in the UK in the late 50’s and early 60’s as a rebellion against giant commercial record labels, like WMG and UMG. Artists thought these record labels have way too much power and influence in their hands that they control the artistic outcome of an album or an E.P., which was, and pretty much still is, true.
What started as a movement, along the way, turned into a vague genre, and I say vague because there is no way to distinguish it from its mother genre. Yes, Indie music has a mother genre, to be exact, mothers. Artists who raised against major record labels were from different backgrounds, and preformed in different styles. In the early 80’s, what was considered a movement turned into multiple sub-genres to their respectable genre: Punk Rock for Rock music, Dream Pop for Pop, Post Grunge for Grunge … and so on.
By the start of the new millennium, Record shops just started to brand all of them as ‘Indie’ (In the UK) or ‘Alternative’ (In the USA), Artist and music lovers from all over the world started to establish some kind of pattern that distinguish the new so called Indie music from other genres. And lo and behold, Indie Music was born.
Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s difficult to establish a link between an artist and this genre. In most cases, artists self-proclaim it. But again, there are pattern to look for when it comes to Indie music. That led me to gather a list of 5 artist and bands from all over the world and from different periods. These artists may or may not be famous, but their music is sure should be.
The Cure: I don’t know about you, but I really don’t think I should insult their memory by having to present them to you guys. The Cure is basically a cult, there isn’t a music lover that haven’t heard about them. You can hate them, you can love them, you can even not care about them, but sure in hell you know them. From Seventeen Seconds to Pornography, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me to Disintegration (which is, by the way, my personal favorite.) their sound is distinguishable to every rock lover. Listen to Disintegration and think about life and whatnot.
R.E.M.: formed in 1980 by Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry. It gained early attention because of Peter Buck’s arpeggiated guitar style, the guy was a genius in terms of spreading out of sync notes. Michael Stripe’s unusual voice went pretty well with the out of sync guitar notes to the point of perfection. They were one of the first American Alternative Rock band to ‘make it’. The album I want you to listen to is Automatic for the People. You’ll thank me as soon as you get to the last track.
Coldplay: There isn’t a band in existence that screams Indie and Alternative as strong as Coldplay. Mylo Xyloto is a definite purchase to every music lover out there. Charlie Brown got to be one of their best songs ever. I’d recommend listening to Safety EP to get a glimpse of their early work and how Indie music developed during the 90’s.
London Grammar: I’ll admit, I added London Grammar to this list for the sole purpose of me being a huge fan. Hannah Reid, the vocalist, has the most amazing voice that can be heard these days, just listen to Wasting my Young Years from their If You Wait album, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
AURORA: This is one of my most recent discoveries. A friend of mine sent me Runway by her. I didn’t expect much as I’ve never heard of her. As soon as I pressed play on her Spotify profile, her voice blew me off. The way she sang in sync with the music, the lyrics, the mixture of sadness and excitement in her tracks made me press replay more than I can remember. Her music videos remind me of Bjork’s, which is a good sign despite what the mainstream media would tell you. I strongly recommend Runaway and Murder Song. Be aware though, tears will fall, emotions will be brought up and memories will be remembered.
I have intentionally put the list in chronological order so you could analyze how this amazing genre developed through the years. Of course, there are many other artists and bands out there that are amazing to say the least, like Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkin, Beck, Muse, Lana Del Rey, Twenty One Pilots, Modest Mouse, Tori Amos, Pixie’s, Jane’s Addiction…. Etc.
I can go all day back and forth from great bands to more recent artists, famous acts to underground bootlegged bands, but I can never put this genre under a defining umbrella, all I can do is appreciate whatever my hands, or ears, can reach. And by the use of a great invention called the internet, and a little something called Google (or Bing, no one is judging) you can find a lot of resources. You can start with this sub-reddit or this one. Indie Shuffle, a recently created website, is a great source for recent Indie music too.