Tag Archives: Landfill Indie

The Great Musical Divide

Iron Maiden Book of SoulsA couple of tweets from an acquaintance about the ubiquity of Iron Maiden and other classic rock and metal bands as background music in bars in Romania shows how mainland Europe has a quite different relationship with rock and metal compared to indie-dominated Britain. An equivalent bar in Britain would be playing Oasis or Ed Sheeran.

Especially in Eastern Europe, how much is this down to former Communist countries first encountering the music in a completely different context, such that it doesn’t carry the same cultural baggage as it does in Britain?

I know this is a recurring theme for me, but a big problem with British music is a critical establishment that defines every kind of popular music in terms of its relationship towards punk. A handful of snotty three-chord bands, or rather the pseudo-intellectual scribblers who worshipped them ended up casting a long shadow over everything that happened not only after 1977, but the years before. A lot of the narrative is revisionist nonsense, but it’s become the orthodoxy, endlessly repeated by those two young to have been there at the time. Anything that doesn’t fit the narrative risks being written out of history.

Eastern Europe experienced none of that. The fall of the Berlin Wall bought a flood of Western music, such that the cheesiest hair-metal of that time is revered in the same way the 1960s British Invasion is revered in America. Songs like Europe’s “The Final Countdown” and The Scorpions’ “Wind of Change” have a status that’s hard for people in Britain to imagine.

Although this doesn’t explain the huge popularity of metal in Scandinavia. So perhaps there’s another explanation?

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The Sound of Corporate Beige

This video, which appears in Alexis Petridis’ splendidly snarky two star review of their album, seems to epitomise everything that’s wrong with the mainstream music industry.

It’s what passes for “rock” nowadays; but to anyone who’s old enough to remember bands like Thin Lizzy, it’s just laughable. It’s the sound of nothing, corporate beige music which apes the shape and form without any of the substance.

The “Music Industry” whines that there’s no talent out there. Yet they give their hype to dross like this when acts like Panic Room or Halo Blind or Mostly Autumn or Chantel McGregor or Karnataka exist, all completely off their radar. The only rational response is hollow laughter.

This is why the major labels need to be burned to the ground. Kill it! Kill it with fire!

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Is Pop’s Sausage Meat escaping?

The major labels think there’s a British pop talent crash:

One response, if you are a major, is to send your entire A&R department around the country to find out what people want to listen to (and, more importantly, buy). The label doing this, which can’t be named, has instructed its team to speak to promoters, club owners and others connected to local music scenes, until they have an idea of why new acts aren’t connecting. It has been spurred by the fact that this is the time of year when the frontrunners for 2017’s next-big-thing polls should be gathering at the starting gate. However, according to another insider, there is an unprecedented lack of viable hopefuls, let alone those with the potential to be the next Sam Smith, Adele or even James Bay.

“There’s nothing on the horizon, no music scene at the moment. It seems to be that the talent isn’t out there, [or if it is] they don’t know what to do with it,” says the label source.

Now, I know the major label industry prefers artists who are both under 25 and conventionally pretty, and much of the best music is made by people who don’t meet either of those criteria. But is there really a shortage of talent out there, or just a shortage of talent willing to work for the major label sausage machine under the major label’s terms?

Are these gatekeepers even still relevant? Yes, there are still people out there who don’t listen to anything that hasn’t been endorsed by those gatekeepers, but the relative failure of the ridiculously-hyped Jack Garratt suggests that even these people aren’t willing to swallow any old rubbish.

As readers of this blog will know, there are many acts out there who blow most of the overhyped major-label hopefuls completely out of the water. The commercial mainstream has never heard of these people. Perhaps the reason they’re not ubiquitous stars is because they don’t actually want to be?

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Radio Men and Motors

XFM, which always was Radio NME, has decided to dumb itself down, rebranding itself as “Radio X” recruiting former Radio One DJ Chris Moyles to become a “male-focussed entertainment brand“.

Alexis Petridis’ one-star review of also-rans The Pigeon Detectives famously described them as “Not so much ITV indie and Granada Men & Motors indie. With the talk of “New car smell” and “Great Britain needs great banter”, this is Men & Motors radio.

As for “fresh music”, with a playlist including Kasabian and Noel sodding Gallagher, who do you think are you kidding? This is the musical equivalent of stale socks, lowest common denominator landfill music for people who think Later With Jools Holland is far too edgy and alternative.

I know it’s unsporting to wish failure on any business endeavour, but this one needs to crash and burn for the sake of our nations’ culture. As my good friend HippyDave said on Twitter, Kill it! Kill it with fire!

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Got to love this accidentally-hiliarious “Where are they now” feature on the NME’s indie darlings from ten years ago.  As for the first one, if being a software developer is really more creative and exciting than rock’n'roll, it does rather suggest your failed indie band were a bit rubbish.

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Noel Gallagher: More Devastating than a points failure?

So Noel Gallagher said to be working on ‘seismic’ new album

On the day it comes out, Virgin Trains won’t be able to cope with all the people trying to flee the chaos,’ says Mark Coyle, who co-produced Definitely Maybe.

The trouble with that analogy is that all it would take to stop people being able to get out of Manchester by Virgin Trains would be a points failure at Slade Lane Junction.

But “Noel Gallagher’s album: More devasating that a points failure at Slade Lane Junction” is hardly a killer slogan…

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My local rock venue is advertising a gig by “The Oasis Experience”. I can’t help feeling that they are effectively a tribute band of a tribute band. Has pop now eaten itself?

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An A-to-Z Guide to Making Your Indie Band Not Suck in 2014

From VICE, an A-to-Z Guide to Making Your Indie Band Not Suck in 2014

Indie dudes in indie bands: This A-to-Z is for you. Read it. Or just keep on staring out of the window, composing lyrics about your ex who won’t give you your skateboard back, while coming up with chord changes that even that bald Mormon sex-case Will Oldham would have thrown away for being too insipid. The choice is yours.

The whole thing is laugh-like-a-drain funny, especially if you don’t actually like generic landfill indie music.

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My Mercury Music Prize Predictions

My predictions for this year’s Mercury Music Prize nominations

  • Half-a-dozen similar-sounding and unchallenging “indie” acts, all signed to major labels.
  • A couple of very mainstream pop singers.
  • Token jazz and folk entries who have no chance of winning but are there to make the list look less beige than it really is
  • As usual, no rock, metal or blues.

I may be pleasantly surprised, and be completely wrong. But somehow I think it’s unlikely. I can’t imagine something like Maschine or Steven Wilson making suitable soundtracks for the middle-class dinner parties which are clearly the award’s primary target market.

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Since it’s that time of the year again, it’s time to ask that same old question. Why does the BBC always give blanket television coverage to the indie-dominated Glastonbury and Reading Festivals, yet completely ignores festivals like Download, Cropredy or High Voltage? Do they never realise that rock, metal and folk fans are TV licence payers as well?

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