Each decade after the 70's has had a rock sub genre that supposedly contains the purity and creativity of the art form. In the 80's it was college rock, the 90's alternative and in the 00's it's indie. Indie has become a sort of catch all term for any rock music that is different from the mainstream in an arty sort of way, so I'm using the term in that same way. Now, on with the show this is it.
The New New Wave
The kids discovered the joys of Joy Division and Men Without Hats forming bands that sounded a lot like groups from MTV's birth. Franz Ferdinand's self titled debut (2004) had the angular guitars, Talking Heads style odd sparseness and dance grooves to set the world on fire for a second. Las Vegas' The Killers handed in two great albums that meshed the giddy feeling of synths and grandeur of stadium rock on Hot Fuss (2004) and Day and Age (2008). Meanwhile The National came across as a mildly depressed but not as down as Joy Division on their hypnotic 2007 disc The Boxer. All proof that even now kids still want their MTV...in 1983.
Cool As Ice Ice Baby
What it comes down to is that the indie rock I listen to mostly come from major labels meaning its an attitude more than a literal term. Enter The Strokes, arriving with much fanfare as the supposed saviors of rock music following Is This It (2001). Oddly, it's their weaker follow up Rooms On Fire (2003) that I enjoy the most with its The Cars style synth twists such as on "The End Has No End". Deservedly or undeservedly The Strokes symbolized hype overkill because old folks like me wanted new music that reminded us of something good from the past. The poster child of this scene I would pick to be Jack I'll-Form-A-New-Band-Every-Time-I-Sneeze White. Elephant (2003) by The White Stripes was dynamite with sharp material to support heavy guitar riffage and bare bones drumming. I also will throw in the Stripes Icky Thump (2007) as being just as great. Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot(2002) famously took a circular route from major label to no label and back again with old fashioned strong songwriting and tasteful performance. Death Cab For Cutie was another buzz band that broke through embodying those weepy sensitive guy ways like the excellent Transatlanticism (2003). I feel so much closer.
More Accordion Pleaze
Some bands made their name on unusual sonic templates, like Arcade Fire whose disc Neon Bible (2007) I found dark and moving like an undertow at night. Just before they attempted to be Fleetwood Mac, Rilo Kiley had the likeably low key More Adventurous album (2004) anchored by the mild toned swipe at George Bush Jr and pressure to write a pop song on "It's A Hit". And who could forget the quirky funk of Spoon? The only Spoon album I have is Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga which was a blast of hip shaking weirdness.
Next up...old timers day.