Indie Doesn’t Bake My Cookie
by Devarsi Ghosh
My mental constitution, I suppose, does not allow me to accept and internalize new music no matter how good it is. No matter how much an artist or an album is championed by Pitchfork and my hipster buddies (sorry!), I can go to the extent of liking them but never loving them. I cannot dig this new music that’s around, all under the umbrella term ‘indie music’. I cannot fall in love with them like I genuinely loved U2, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, REM, Brian Eno, Nine Inch Nails, Massive Attack, pretty much every great band of the 90’s, be it grunge or Brit-pop or alt.rock or nu-metal, whatever.
I don’t know where the problem lies. Either it’s just me OR (it’s plausible) most of the new music that I’ve heard is good to hear, yes, but can’t boast of any memorable hooklines. It’s all fancy mixing. A mishmash of genres and styles without soul. 90’s was all about attitude and soul. There was a kind of sincerity in, say a song like ‘Alive‘ (Pearl Jam), that I rarely find in contemporary music. I mean an Indie ‘rock’ band has to ROCK, right? These new bands seem to be more interested in making experimental (and often, batfuck crazy, like Animal Collective’s work) soundscapes than actual SONGS, and even then hardened ambient/post-rock artists like Steven Wilson, Sigur Ros and Brian Eno kick more ass in that department than any other contemporary act.
I mean really if we are fortunate enough to have revolutionary, game changing albums like NIN’s The Downward Spiral (’94) or Radiohead’s OK Computer (’97) release in this decade, I can be more kind and optimistic about the future of the music industry. I don’t really consider Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or Arcade Fire’s Suburbs as game changers.
Interestingly, the most enjoyable music right now, to me, is mainstream pop, particularly from the guys who redefined pop in the early 2000’s. I really liked Kanye West’s Yeezus and Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience was fantastic. There’s real audacity working in their music – I think that is partly because these guys are pop music veterans and don’t really have anything left to prove. Among new artists, I really like Lana Del Rey, Gotye, Frank Ocean and Lorde (Note: none of that is rock music). Some other artists are, like I said, interesting to listen to but don’t really bake my cookie.