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Column: Keep it simple, indie rock

Aug. 31, 2010

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

This column can be directed to all you obscure and underground music lovers out there. Those of you who don't consider yourself intense enough to be a hipster, but still judge your music taste compared to others as far superior: Hey, I'm not condemning you for your critical attitude because I too am a part of this group of pretentious music snobs. I dry heave at the thought of people listening to Justin Bieber for the redeeming qualities his ditties have to offer. I don't even want to get into the twisted fantasies I've had of inflicting pain on a certain trio of oddly feminine brothers. I am not here, however, to insult pop music. The real bone I have to pick is with the indie music world.

My issues all started when I attended Pitchfork Music Festival this summer. After admiring the interesting ensembles of the attendees, a guy with a homemade shirt caught my eye. His shirt had the words "More Chill, Less Wave" written with sharpie on it. This isn't the first time I had heard of the genre known as chillwave but it was the first time I had really pondered the ridiculousness of it. It is used to describe some of the newer musical acts like Neon Indian and Washed Out who create an electronic sound with a real beachy feel to it. The music is pretty decent, but the name of the genre is just so overwhelmingly dumb that it deters me from listening to some of the bands. Chillwave sounds like a bunch of bros got together and were like "Bra, I need music that keeps me chill like, ya know, a beach," and thus the genre was born.

Chillwave isn't the only subdivision of the indie genre that is seemingly unnecessary. I decided to peruse my iTunes to see what other bands I had referred to as "indie," but were technically not. I came across many including ambient surf, emocore, indie cabaret, lo-fi, trip hop and a whole lot more. Once listening to the bands in the strangely specific genres and also the ones in the indie rock and pop genres, I had a hard time telling the difference. I began to wonder, what is the point?

I can't really point the finger at the indie music industry because hip-hop, electronic and other genres also have multiple sub-divisions. However, indie music seems to be creating the most superfluous genres in the industry. It really irritates me because continuing to add all these divisions seems a little contrived. I can't help but feel that it is meant to really separate from mainstream music completely. Constantly striving to be more bizarre is tiring and it makes indie music almost inaccessible.

Although I may like some of the music, I can almost feel the pretentious airs all these genres are giving off. Whether it is the artists or the industry, it makes people avoid the music due to its unnecessary complication. I say it is time to simplify the genre naming a bit more. There is no need to make everything so strange and bizarrely different that only people who work extremely hard will gain a basic knowledge of the music. All this exclusion of listeners who don't dedicate their life to finding obscure bands in weird genres seems a bit ludicrous. As cheesy as it may sound, the music needs to become more about the music rather than the labeling process. I say we embrace basic genre titles and deal with the fact that someone can enjoy a Neutral Milk Hotel album and still listen to some Jason Derulo occasionally. Don't pretend like you're too good for the mainstream.

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Article comments

Aug. 31, 2010 at 1:48 p.m.

jeff: where does night bus fit into all of this rambling?

Aug. 31, 2010 at 6:22 p.m.

Jon: It's like Andy Rooney grew tits

Aug. 31, 2010 at 7:42 p.m.

mike: i can't believe cbs didn't stop him

Sept. 1, 2010 at 12:11 p.m.

Kristin: I mean, artists don't create the labels of their music. Miscellaneous Chillwave Band didn't pick up some instruments (or open GarageBand, let's be real) and proclaim, "Henceforth, what I create shalt be deemed chillwave." It's usually journalists (myself included), columnists, Et cetera music critics who make this stuff up. What else are they going to do in their spare time--write music, play in a band? They can't, that's why they're music crits in the first place! I too think chillwave is probably the stupidest term I've ever heard, but I can still listen to the music and not be bothered by the made-up genre someone slapped onto it. Genre of music, like race and the popularity of Jersey Shore, is a social construct. (Thanks Soc 1100!)

Sept. 2, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.

Marcus: Hey bro good article you should check out this dope comic called questionable content

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