Archive for May 19th, 2009

Indie Rock vs Alternative Rock

I have spent enough hours in the past few days to find more free, legal music downloads, in order to comprise an ultimate top-100 of such music. Having listened to hundreds (thousands?) of available songs from many labels and band sites, I’ve come to realize that most of the music out there is actually indie rock (as in the genre, with the U.S. meaning), rather than alternative rock.

For example, there are way more copycats of Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes, or Arcade Fire, than there are of AFI, The Strokes, The Offspring, or Green Day. Thing is, both myself and JBQ are more at the alternative hard/rock side of things than the folk-inspired indie rock that the independent scene is filled up with. There are really not many unsigned bands out there that sound like the kind of music we listen to San Francisco’s alternative FM station “Live 105.3“. The few bands that seem to be able to write such music are snatched immediately by the big-4 majors.

Two things are happening here:
1. The musicians that are able to write the kind of music we want to listen to so we can bang our heads and still keep the melody in-tact, are very few.
2. The world is moving towards a different style of music, and the indie scene is the one that’s driving it. In that case, JBQ and I are just old, and we don’t get it anymore.

There are of course unsigned bands that style-wise are in the middle of these two kinds of music, e.g. Ag Silver, The A-Sides, Capital Lights, The Crash Moderns, Death In The Park, Drist, Longwave, Magnolia Sons, The New Frontiers, Seabird, TV/TV, We Shot The Moon, Wiretree etc, but these good ones are also few. Funnily, these guys aren’t as easily snatched by the majors, and yet their music is — to me — much more accessible than the folk-style indie rock that the internet is filled with.

Finally, there is something very interesting I noticed about me these past few days while digging for good music. The kind of “alternative indie rock” Northern Europeans create is much more pleasant to my ears than the one American musicians do. For example, The Raveonettes, The Caesars, The Sounds, Lykke Li, sound to me much more pleasant than Flight of The Conchords, or The Decemberists do. Maybe there is something to be said about the music influences someone is growing up with, and maybe that’s the reason we don’t like the US-style of folk-sounding indie rock.

Sure enough, we can’t stand country music either. Ok, except the Blitzen Trapper, a band that defies categorization to this day.