A Guide to Indie in the Next Decade

Indie music has become increasingly popular throughout the decade and will likely only become more popular in the years to come. As the predominant genre on college campuses, indie music plays an important role in every college student’s life. In order to understand where indie music will go in the new decade, it’s important to know its history. The following is a list of the five bands that have had the greatest influence on today’s indie music:

1. The Beach Boys

No band has had a bigger impact on indie music than The Beach Boys. Their haunting yet poppy melodies and rich vocal harmonies can be heard in records by indie icons like Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective. In both the Beach Boys’ “I’m Waiting for the Day” and Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks,” the songs begin with subdued vocals backed by a catchy piano loop. Then, drums suddenly kick in and jump-start the songs’ journeys into pop bliss.

2. The Velvet Underground

As producer extraordinaire Brian Eno once said, even though hardly anyone bought the Velvet Underground’s records at the time they were released, almost everyone who did formed their own band. The Velvets mixed rock music with avant-garde music and created a sonic experiment the likes of which had never been heard before. They delved into New York’s social realities of drug use and sexual kinkiness. The Velvets have become a landmark inspiration to every musician that takes music in new and creative directions.

3. My Bloody Valentine

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s a new genre revolutionized the relationship between noise and pop music. The genre – named shoegaze because during concerts the bands often stared at the floor while playing – was dominated by a band called My Bloody Valentine. Their sound was a peculiar fusion of guitar driven distortion and ethereal melodies. Shoegaze has had a sudden resurgence this year. Among the musicians that have adopted the shoegaze sound is California band Girls. On their debut album, appropriately titled Album, Girls blend shoegaze distortion with lazy California pop to create the consummate summer album.

4. King Sunny Ade

Although most people have probably never heard of King Sunny Ade, his impact on indie music has been substantial. Ade is regarded as the principal innovator behind a Nigerian style of music called juju. Juju is a hybrid of Western pop music and traditional African guitar pop. These sounds coalesce to form sunny and joy-inducing music. King Sunny Ade’s sound has been taken up recently by indie musicians. The most notable of these is Vampire Weekend.

5. Brian Eno

Brian Eno is an innovative producer that has been active in the music scene since the early ‘70s. He has produced albums for some of the most famous bands in music history including U2, Talking Heads, Devo, David Bowie and most recently, Coldplay. Eno’s forays into ambient music were among the first ever and have influenced indie bands like Animal Collective. His work with David Bowie has proved instrumental in the career of TV on the Radio.

December 29, 2009


Thomas Prieto

Contributing Columnist

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