Indie Music is So 80s: Part 3

So a little over three years ago I wrote a post detailing how I thought “indie” music was becoming very synth heavy and coming to resemble the musical aesthetic of the 1980s. In that post (written in October 2012) I joked that maybe Taylor Swift would start using a synth! I’m not claiming to be prophetic, but this is clearly a trend. Then a year after that I wrote “Part 2” where I included links to some synth heavy indie bands I was enjoying at that time. Well it’s been two years since so I thought I would do a Part 3! Below are bands/songs that I’ve discovered in the past two years that stay true to their 80s/hipster aesthetic:

Seasons” by Future Islands

Bulletproof Girl” by Letting Up Despite Great Faults

Diamond Mine” by Pillar Point

Scotty” by Pure Bathing Culture

Golden House” by The Bilinda Butchers

Falling in Love” by Crystal Bats

Memories of the Future” by Handsome Furs

Stumble Back on You” by The Limousines

I Want You Now and Always” by Ice Choir

I Wanna Take You Out” by Part Time

Close Your Eyes” by Bora York

Idea of Happiness” by Van She

Fifteen” by Goldroom, featuring Cheia

Dopamine” by DIIV

San Narciso” by Faded Paper Figures

To The Lighthouse” by Memoryhouse

Faces” by Electric Youth

Never a Woman” by White Sea

That Feeling” by DIANA

I Owe You This” by Chad Valley & Twin Shadow

If It’s True” by Tiny Fireflies

Dream About Me” by The Depreciation Guild

Kaputt” by Destroyer




Indie Music Is So 80s: Part 2

Read my first post and Part 3 on how indie music sounds like 80s music.

So 14 months ago I wrote about how I though the aesthetic of 80s music was “invading” modern indie music. Well I think the invasion is complete. Trust me, I’m not complaining, as my top tracks of 2013 is full of music that is clearly influenced by the sounds of the 80s.

Since my previous post was written in October of 2012, there’s a lot of music that’s been released since then, and I though I’d go through some of that music. If you like indie music with an 80s tinge, check out some of the bands below. Many of the bands appeared on my previous list, but these are new songs from 2013!

Whitby” by The Octopus Project

It’s a War” by Blackbird Blackbird

While I’m Alive” by STRFKR

So Strange” by Superhumanoids

Replicants” by MillionYoung

Closer Than This” by St. Lucia

Mosaic” by Fear of Men

In Vertigo” by Beach Fossils

A Dancing Shell” by Wild Nothing

Still Left With Me” by Craft Spells

No Stranger” by Small Black

Pretty Boy” by Young Galaxy

Oostende” by Keep Shelly in Athens

All I Wanna Do Is Live” by Flaamingos

The Mother We Share” by CHVRCHES

The Aesthetic of the 80s is Invading ‘Indie’ Music

Check out Part 2 and Part 3 on this topic!

Am I the only one that has noticed that the 1980s are coming back with a vengeance? Everywhere I look in youth culture (my culture) I find remnants of and aspirations towards the aesthetic of the 1980s. This post will mostly focus on ‘indie’ music, but even outside of music you can see it everywhere. Mullets, skinny jeans, high pants, denim jackets, neon colors, teased hair, shoulder pads, leggings, headbands, aviators etc…go to any college campus (or Williamsburg) and you’ll easily find an example of the fashions listed above. Granted, it’s not all a copy of the 80s aesthetic, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that it’s all “influence” by the 80s. Nonetheless, I can remember my grandmother telling me that fashions repeated themselves every 30 years, and many people in the 1980s said that their fashion was inspired by the 1950, so maybe the cycle is repeating itself in the 2010s?

However my only claim to hipster credibility is in regards to music, so that’s were I’d like to focus this post. When I was in high school and in my early college years (2005-2010), “indie music,” to me at least, meant mostly music coming out of the post-punk revival of the mid 2000s. Bands like Interpol, Bloc Party, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, The Kooks, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Cribs, We Were Promised Jetpacks, The Maccabees, Razorlight, Cage the ElephantTegan and Sara, and The Strokes all came to epitomize this post-punk sound, and much of what has constituted “indie” music for the past several years has been largely (or at least partially) defined by this post-punk sound.

However over the past couples of years I’ve noticed a change in so-called “indie” music, specifically a shift towards music that is more reliant on electronic/synth-heavy/low-fi techniques and sounds. Instead of extolling upon what I’m referring to, I’d rather give you examples. Check out these bands/songs: MGMT, Animal Collective, Matt & Kim, Passion Pit, The Naked and Famous, Everything Everything, M83, The xx, Foster the People, Say Hi To Your Mom, The Radio Dept, Crystal Castles, Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, Washed Out, WU LYF, Phantogram, Sunglasses, Youth Lagoon, Grimes, Deerhunter, Future Islands, Neon Indians, Craft Spells, The War on Drugs, Little Dragon, Frankie Rose, Mystery Jets, Diiv, Ice Choir, Big TroublesGeographer, Stranger Talk, Nightbox, Yeasayer, Hooray for Earth, Crystal Fighters, Purity Ring, Stars, Twin Shadows, Baths, Generationals, Hot Chip, Freelance Whales, The Limousines and Small Black.

You may have noticed that the list above is in a vaguely chronological order (or maybe you didn’t notice because it’s a stupidly long list and you didn’t listen to the songs)? Most of the songs on the latter part of the list have been released in the past 18 months, and those latter songs are where you really find the spirit of the 80s in full force. Many of them sound so much like 80s songs that I bet you could convince some people they were actually recorded in the 80s. The songs above by M83, Frankie Rose, Ice Choir, Twin Shadows and Small Black are strong examples.

Pinning down exactly where this “resurgence” of 80s-style music is coming from is not clear. It’s easy just to say it’s a cultural zeitgeist, a la repeating music/fashion styles every 30 years (thank you, wise old grandma). But it’s important not to overlook music from the early and mid 2000s that has influenced the music coming out today. The success of bands like The Postal Service, Daft Punk and The Killers certainly has help moved this style along. I even remember when The Killers came onto the scene and people were accusing them of being “just another 80s ripe-off band” (and the like). Now, almost 10 years later, bands that sound much more like 80s music are becoming very popular and are not garnering any criticism (at least that I’ve seen) for their stylistic resemblance to 80s music.

But what’s really interesting to me is that this music, while heavily emulating 80s music, is doing so unironically (and what have hipsters ever done that wasn’t ironic)? There’s no sense (at least among those consuming the music) that this style of music is meant to be an emulation or ironic replication of 80s music. Accordingly, it’s never called or referred to as music similar to 80s music. I may be describing it to you as similar to 80s music, but I almost never hear others refer to it in that way. The music is always called something like “electro-indie pop,” “synth-washed noise pop,” “low-fi electronic indie,” “indie electronic,” or just “indie.”

But how popular will this trend become? Will it swing into full force, perhaps helping to define the sound of the decade? Or will it last only a few years and remain mostly an underground thing? It’s too hard and too soon to say of course, but many of the bands mentioned above are becoming very popular, and could hardly be considered “underground” anymore. And if, at this time last year, you had told me that Mercedes-Benz would be using dubstep in their commercials, I would have told you there’s no way that dubstep would become that popular. So who knows how popular or widespread this aesthetic that’s influenced by the 1980s will become? Maybe we’ll soon see Taylor Swift playing synth? That will be the day…