Is There Any Indie that Doesn't Suck?
Yet, as I made my choice for the impending Feldheim submission, I was plagued by the unanswered questions raised in a previous rant by the venerable Ritter. Although not conclusive from Ritter's rant, I got the idea that indie, as a rule, generally sucks. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Indie films usually are crap. In fact, indie films blow more than drunken sorority sister trying desperately to be accepted in the Wolfian neo-sexual revolution, but at the time time saving her love-hole for what will ultimately be an unhappy marriage riddled with difficult, awkward, holidays and infrequent, but scheduled copulation on anniversaries.
lights off always.
Taking this analogy one step further would mean that indie films like sodomy.
Which they do.
But I digress.
Independents of all kinds are shitty. Would you buy an independent car? Or what about a cell phone from an independent carrier? T-mobile's bad enough.
What about independent travel agents? Crap: "Oh sure, we got a you a great deal on a flight to Thailand, but you can't earn Frequent Flyer miles. Sorry we didn't tell you that when you booked. Oh, you're premiere executive 50K? Whoop-dee-shit. My name is Natascha. Yeah, that's three consonants in a row. I barely speak english."
Independent book shops and record stores are fun, and make you feel warm inside, like getting a lap dance from a Ukranian girl working to get her citizenship. But at the end of the day, trying to find that Palahniuk novel or Pantera disc at the resepective locales will be more difficult than trying to explain how that 'no touching' rule doesn't apply to you.
Despite the generally crappy indie products, some light shines through. The Offspring's Smash sold 8 million copies, the most units ever by an artist on an idependent label. "But they're not indie, are they?" cry the hipsters. "They're punk. Now they're pop punk. Meeeaaah."
Indie has pervaded pop culture enough to become a style of its own, a new alternative, punk, or pop. Alternative, was so called because the music offered an (insert Ace Ventura dramatic head nod here) Alternative to the radio friendly pop of the early nineties: Everybody dance now! Dunh. Dunh, dunh, dunh dunh....
That and it sounded better than post modernism.
But alternative began to encompass everything from REM to Soundgarden and one-hit wonders like Soul Asylum and Pearl Jam. Yeah, that's right. Pearl Jam; one hit wonder. You gonna cry about it? Alternative became a style, a mode of dress, and Puerto Rican girls in spandex would ask kids if they were alternative, much like jocks asking punks the same question in the 80's movies.
The problem was that punk, alternative, or even postmodern are nebulous, somewhat indefinable terms. Indie, of course has roots in the word independent, but gay has its roots happy.
If a kid with down syndrome recorded himself shrieking after shocking himself by chewing through the wires on plugged in lamps, dubbed over it with the errant clicks and whooshes of a driving range, added haphazard Reason beats, and released it on Paw Tracks idiots wearing tight jeans and chuck taylors from Alphabet City to San Francisco would gladly turn over their parents' hard earned cash for a copy on iTunes^. Cause he's retarded or something. Now that's indie!
But somehow a hardworking band form new jersey on trustkill is not indie. Why? becasue they have distored guitars? Vocals that are on key? Because a certain 80-year-old woman would (has) buy (bought) their disc? The Offspring proved that a band can be on a independent label and not be indie, but can a band be on EMI and still be indie?
Point is, the Kooks can be indie and still be on Virgin Records*. Being indie is not about street cred, or even atonality, and is as much about independence as homosexualtiy is about happiness. I mean look at Biff? He's fa-lamingly gay and so unhappy he can't even bring himself to post to Feldheim! Sure, to some indie means more about finding a band that no one's ever heard of so you can go to abar with no sign so people you don't know can be impressed.
Indie is a style and I think the Kooks have fucking got it. The music market is inundated with new rock from across the pond, The British invasion part "towe," as I call it. Franz Ferdinand and the Arcitic Monkeys have hit our shores and the public wants more. However, the comparisons between these bands and the kooks ends at their nation of origin. The Monkeys...
Not these Monkees...
Not these monkeys...
Ahh, these Monkeys supposedly didn't know how to play their instruments a year ago. And Franz is well on it's way to being a one hit wonder stateside despite the great ritardondo in Take Me Out.
The Kooks will ease the pain of theblueballs left by other unfulfilling Brit Bands. Inside Out / Outside In is just a fun album. "Can indie be fun?" asks a shaggy 20-something in screen a printed blazer. Yes, and this is it. Songs rip off the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, and David Bowie, so far as to apparently name their band ofter a song on Hunky Dory. The album is rife with syncopated acoustic riffs, blatant mispronunciations of the meaningless boy/girl lyrics, dropped beats, and fuzzed out solos. Tracks sound dirty, a little high on treble, and every minute of of the first seven songs are great.
Is it pop? Is it alternative? Is it just another 60's throwback? Sure. Isn't that what indie is?
^So they could put in on the iPod shuffle: all the image, 1/3 the cost!
*Virgin started out as independent label recording Tubular bells and eventually signed the Sex Pistols before Richard Branson sold it to EMI in 1992 to support Virgin Air.