Think of your favourite indie bands? I doubt any of them emerged in the last two or three years. Now I don’t want to get all nostalgic, but I’m pretty sure that’s not just because I’ve not been paying that much attention. The quality is just not as good.
Don’t get me wrong; the music climate has changed quite drastically over the last few years. People aren’t listening to music made with guitars. They’re listening to music made by kids on MacBooks, inspired by sounds taken from gameboys. Not only this but the introduction of streaming services, although not quite as revolutionary as the iPod, has made the way that bands break pretty foggy.
Music is great at this moment in time. There’s a plethora of electronic music available, perfect for any time of the day, and some great artists are breaking through on a global scale. Look at Disclosure, I mean their record ‘Latch’ with fellow worldwide phenomenon Sam Smith went platinum. That’s just ridiculous. But the problem is, most of the gigs that kids will want to see are 18+. Granted, the most successful ones run of all ages shows, but that will only be a small handful.
When I was 14/15, I didn’t have to go clubbing to hear the music that's current and vibrant. I was heading to academy venues to kick fellow teenagers during mosh pits, to tracks like Foals’ ‘Two Steps, Twice’. I was fortunate that bands were constantly breaking new boundaries and I mean, there was still a hell of a lot of landfill. But what was good, was very good.
Firstly I had Bloc Party. That was my first proper gig in a dingy shithole in Wolverhampton. It was blizzard-like conditions outside and I was wearing only a t-shirt. Was I queuing for the cloakroom? Was I fuck. It was amazing. Hearing ‘Helicopter’ live was one of them life defining moments that you have when you’re coming of age.
Then there were bands like Friendly Fires, Foals and Mystery Jets, all of whom have their own different variations on the basic indie music model, which provided the same moments that I now get from hearing Four Tet drop ‘Where’s Your Head At’ at 4am in XOYO.
Lastly, there were The Maccabees, my original favourite indie band, who I traipsed around the midlands to hear them play the same set over and over. No matter what they did, I was sold. As I aged with them, I witnessed a progression from a rough, more stereotypical indie sound then to a more refined and more produced textured soundscape which just aided there ever-improving live show.
That’s not all though, I had the post-Libertines bands like The Horrors and The Cribs, the later emerging stars like Bombay Bicycle Club and The Vaccines but then now what?
A couple of years ago there were a small flutter of bands hovering around the surface, probably the best being Peace, Swim Deep and Palma Violets. They all had potential but I’m still feeling a bit 'meh' about all of them – did they really cut it? I’ve managed to see all three of them live. Palma Violets, the more traditional rock band of the lot, tended to get the crowd rowdy but offered little when it came to substance in their tracks. Swim Deep played a fun live show which a featured a cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Peace made probably the most complete record, but when you put these guys next to the likes of The Maccabees and Foals, they just don't really have a leg to stand on.
In terms of mainstream, I suppose Bastille and The 1975 could be put sort of in the indie bracket that have emerged over the last year or so. The 1975 sounded ok at the start, more poppy than indie, but they seemed pretty genuine. Then they released an album that featured the same song played over however many times. And then Bastille – well what can I really say?
If you look below this Radio 1 friendly major-label waste gash what else is there? I can’t find all that much. I’ve heard smatterings of stuff, from bands like Famy, LSA and Jaws, but I’m still waiting to here a special track that features swooning vocals and an angry guitar rift that makes everyone fall in love again.
Young teenagers need good, proper indie music back. I'm not talking record label manufactured tripe. I don’t want it to try and sound electronic and current and I don’t want bands to only be successful because they’re Mum owns a well-known PR company. I want an indie group to appear that just puts a smile on my face, and thousands of kids’ faces across the country.
Yes its nostalgic. Yes my viewpoint is looked at through tinted glasses. And yes there probably are some good new bands that I’ve over looked. But are they good enough? No. So for the sake of all the young teenagers and everyone else that misses good indie music, someone please release a fucking good album that we can all connect to.
So, here’s my letter to indie music as a whole:
Dear good indie music,
You were my first love, and you'll probably be my last love. You always there for me and I spent as much time with you as I could. Yes, sometimes interests weaned but you were still always my priority. I know electronic music has always been my mistress and every so often I have a little fling with rap but I always needed you. Now you’ve disappeared. Sometimes I still see the old you, but I want to know the new you. What’s changed? What new things have you done? Where have you been?
Please come back soon, properly,