Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ghosts From the Past: “Indie” is a Useless Term

ghostsfromcspastCharge Shot!!! has been around for two years now - amazing, we know! - and in that time we've amassed a lot of posts. Much of our writing is in an editorial vein, simply because we don't have the time or resources to report on every news item that flies across the Interwebs. Therefore, we feel that our output has a better shelf-life than you might expect from some run-of-the-mill news blog.

This feature, Ghosts From Charge Shot!!!'s Past, aims to bring some of this stuff - both good and embarrassing - to the eyeballs of our newer readers, while taking long-time constituents on a trip down memory lane. Enjoy!

This week, we take a look back at one of Jordan’s pieces from the beginning of the year. It talks about the word “indie,” specifically its degeneration into a completely useless descriptor.

Even "indie rock," the most well-known subset of indie music, isn't particularly exclusive. Indie rock, like many genres, has referred to different things at different times. In the '80s, the term "indie rock" referred to punk-influenced distorted pop of Husker Du, the Pixies, and the Dinosaur Jr. The sound of those bands led neatly into the alternative rock of the 1990's, which could be considered the more popular spinoff of alternative rock (at least for a time).

But at some point, indie rock came to refer to lo-fi (Neutral Milk Hotel, Elliot Smith) and jangle pop (the Smiths, early R.E.M.), as well.

Already, then, there's a split in what constitutes the "sound" of indie rock. Is it the abrasive proto-Nirvana of Husker Du and the Pixies? Or the under-produced pop music of Elliot Smith, most clearly influenced by the Byrds, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys? Or maybe just music that doesn'tsound like mainstream pop music (whatever that may be)?