Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

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Eardrums Knut
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Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by Eardrums Knut » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:14

I am afraid that I will get my head and butt kicked for posting this, and I may not even be found worthy of wearing my anorak anymore. If I hurt any feelings... that was probably intentional... and if your feelings are hurt, I guess you needed the kick in the butt. (Whoah, I'm BAD!)

In the early days of Eardrums, when some indiepop band contacted me, asking if I could mention them on the blog, I often felt the "should" feeling inside. I "should do this". "There are better bands out there, but I have to support indiepop-bands". "The singing is a bit off key, the drumming is off the beat, the keyboard is not tuned, but...". Indiepop-reviews were often made very positive (that meant that I liked it) or they were written in a neutral way, more like a presentation than a review (which either meant that I didn't like it very much, ...or that I was too lazy to do a review). I rarely see negative reviews of indiepop-bands on indiepop-blogs. I see them in Pitchfork. ;-)
I've heard people running small labels say that they hate saying no to bands, because they feel that they should support the small indiepop-bands. I've felt this myself, both on the blog and on the label.

If a band sounds like The Smiths or The Field Mice or The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, that seems to be a good thing among indiepoppers. What does it really say? Lack of personality, lack of creativity, rip off. Or good impersonation-skills? I once had my music player on shuffle, and heard a Morrissey-song I had never heard before, "Wow, Morrissey is actually good on this one!", I thought. It wasn't Morrissey. It just sounded exactly like him, but with a better song than any of his.

I often hear bands that repeat and repeat things that are done thousands of times before. Are there ANY indiepop-bands that have completely avoided starting their song with "dom-domdom-psh"-drums, or guitars that go "dam, damdam, damdam, dam, damdam, damdam" all the way through?
It's like the heavy metal-riffs. A good thing can not be said too often. Or? Metal fans seem to support metal because it is metal, - they do of course have favourite bands, - but the fact that a band play metal means that they're better than bands that don't play metal, even if they're crap at playing metal. That is how I feel some indiepop-fans are thinking as well. (If I haven't got a kick in the head from you already, I guess the metal/indiepop-comparison killed me...)

I don't think you need to be great at playing or have done singing-classes to make good music, - I even think mistakes and errors make the personal and interesting touches that a good song needs -, but you have to MAKE GOOD SONGS, and you should work hard at finding your own way of doing it. You should be good ENOUGH before you release anything, - even before you give away a free mp3 on your website.

Why should we support bad indiepop? Why should we promote bands that haven't got good songs? Wouldn't the good support of these bands be to say "NO! You're not good enough. Try harder! Write better songs!"? I think so.

My "NO!"s have been hard to say -, and at first I really felt bad - and purely evil - when I rejected a band. I tried to camouflage my no, so that it almost sounded like a yes. Today, I am sure that saying no in a very direct way, would be the best way. A thumbs up or a pat on the back doesn't always make you better. Sometimes a kick in the butt is the best thing.

Do you support bad indiepop? Honestly? Should we?

Ok, now it is the time to shoot me.
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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by lloydybwoy » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:50

I totally agree Knut - blindly sticking to an agenda of 'if it's indiepop then it's good', even when it's not, is a surefire way of looking ridiculous. And whilst there's nothing particularly wrong with being ridiculous it doesn't help the occasional feeling of cliqueism (fairly certain that's not a word but hey) that can surround the indiepop world. There are a fair few bands out there who have done pretty well purely by having a twee (urgh) indiepop sound and conforming to a particular aesthetic despite not really having any tunes - again, not necessarily a problem in itself, but there is definitely some selective blindness from time to time and the more often it happens the harder it is to take seriously. Plus, whilst it's an issue for punters and bands, I can't imagine what it's like for labels and promoters - putting something out or putting someone on because of where they fit within a particular genre rather than because they're, y'know, ace, isn't something that we should do but it does happen. So kudos to you for pissing people off!





Mind you, this is coming from someone who would quite happily have all his songs sounding like direct Trembling Blue Stars ripoffs, so maybe I'm not the best person to judge...
Last edited by lloydybwoy on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:00, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by Trev » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:56

I agree - at least 80% of indiepop is RUBBISH!
not really here

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by islandhopper » Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:52

Is it bad of me to think that some people just stick a whole bunch of fuzz/buzz/feedback on a track for some instant credibility. It's sometimes masking the fact that there's not much going on underneath but I get even more annoyed when there's a great tune going on but I can't hear it properly!
I've just never really liked that sound though so maybe it's my prejudices coming through.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by Ben » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:02

Trev wrote:I agree - at least 80% of indiepop is RUBBISH!
Indeed. As Theodore Sturgeon said way back when - 90% of everything is crap.

Rule #1 of being a music fan type person should be to never, ever express false enthusiasm for music that's not really doing it for you. Once people start doing that, their words mean nothing, and the distinction between what's actually good/worthwhile and what's just space-filling grift tends to vanish.

However, part # 1:
Eardrums Knut wrote:"The singing is a bit off key, the drumming is off the beat, the keyboard is not tuned, but...".


I can't help feeling that these are extremely bad reasons for disliking anything. In fact, specifically re: indie-pop, it's stuff like this that usually functions as a sign for me to start paying attention and/or a reminder why I liked the whole thing in the first place.

Also: do keyboards need to be tuned..? Well you learn something new everyday.

However, part # 2:

Eardrums Knut wrote:It's like the heavy metal-riffs. A good thing can not be said too often. Or? Metal fans seem to support metal because it is metal, - they do of course have favourite bands, - but the fact that a band play metal means that they're better than bands that don't play metal, even if they're crap at playing metal.


Sorry, but I'm afraid that is actually true. I think it's been proven in scientific tests or something.

Actually, vis-a-vis point # 1 above, I wish that "metal played by people who are crap at playing metal" was a genre. It's often the slick professionalism that puts me off modern metal, so I think that would make for a great night out. Just noise and stupidity and failure - beautiful. Well, actually I guess it would probably all sound like Venom. So... brilliant! What are we waiting for..?

Sorry, what were we talking about again?

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by Tomb » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:10

Trev wrote:I agree - at least 80% of indiepop is RUBBISH!
That low?
Ben wrote:Indeed. As Theodore Sturgeon said way back when - 90% of everything is crap.
Sounds about right!

I haven't listened to that much indiepop this year. I used up my emusic subscription this month on recommendations from indiepop blogs and so far it's been a disappointing return to say the least.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by thomasintrouble » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:14

You don't like a band.
Even though other people do.
Fair enough.
So they shouldn't play until they make songs that you like.
Not quite as fair.

Support *and criticise* what you like, and let others do the same. Don't expect that everyone has the same taste as you though :-)

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by RITH » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:15

Because I'm lazy (and at work), I'll quote myself:

Candy Twist fanzine #2 wrote:A disturbing proportion of music listeners defines music and taste purely by sound. They're pledging allegiance to a genre instead of pledging allegiance to quality. I say 'disturbing' because it can have a weird and quite unnatural effect in two extremes: they seem to feel obliged to like almost everything that falls within that genre and they're automatically suspicious of music that doesn't.
and
Candy Twist fanzine #2 wrote:In issue #1 of this zine I wrote about how indiepop is ‘the sound of happiness’ to me and how, defined that way, almost everything can be indiepop. I didn’t mention, because it’s obvious, that there’s good and bad indiepop, like there’s good and bad music in every genre. A good song has a soul. You’ll recognize it when you hear it. It's the same as the difference between a living person and a dead person. The soul is hard to grasp, no one can locate it or define it, but to ignore it is to deny the very existence of life itself. Like with people, music that’s not alive isn’t really worth spending too much time with.
...but on the other hand I think that it's good to stimulate everyone to do what they love, even if they're not very good at it (yet?). If I look at myself, for example, I know I'm not a fantastic writer, but I will never be. Should that mean that I'm not allowed to write a fanzine? I personally don't think so. The same goes for everyone. The decision is up to the listener; I really don't think it's up to us to say a band is not allowed to play/record/publish their songs. One typical way to improve is by practicing, isn't it?

I never write a negative indiepop review because I only review music that I like, and I have a feeling that goes for most bloggers.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by Elvistears » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:42

Sometimes the ramshackle approach is the thing I like most of all. The Deirdres spring to mind. I don't think they would have claimed to be particularly slick musicians, but so wonderful - and in my opinion pretty distinctive. And a big part of that was the joyously homemade feeling.
I think you pointed out in the intro to the thread that it isn't just indiepop that can become derivative (and is being derivative the end of the world? That first Pains of Being Pure at Heart album didn't exactly disguise its influences, but was still great).

I get the thrust of your argument, and don't entirely disagree. It does feel crueller to reject a band who are (presumably) doing it for love of creating and sharing stuff, rather than a band who are doing it to get filthy, stinking rich. I think that explains a lot of why people hold back. I don't know to what degree the "I like it because its indiepop" thing is a bit of a stereotype, but the observation that people might criticise a little less seems valid. Is that entirely a bad thing? I don't know.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by lloydybwoy » Fri Jun 29, 2012 13:18

I do think it's important to distinguish between musicianship in purely technical terms and songcraft - as has been suggested, I think the indiepop scene has a habit of almost paying too much attention to the former in an inverse snobbery sort of way, and will happily clutch a band to its bosom because they sound ramshackle and amateurish; for me there needs to be something else going on as well.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by Trev » Fri Jun 29, 2012 13:33

islandhopper wrote:Is it bad of me to think that some people just stick a whole bunch of fuzz/buzz/feedback on a track for some instant credibility..
I happen to like that stuff - but my default setting is fuzzy ;-)

(edit - but I don't actually like everything that is fuzzy, just a lot of it!)
not really here

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by Trev » Fri Jun 29, 2012 13:39

Kudos to Ben for bringing VENOM into an indiepop thread!

They were great!
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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by MJHibbett » Fri Jun 29, 2012 13:43

Eardrums Knut wrote: Are there ANY indiepop-bands that have completely avoided starting their song with "dom-domdom-psh"-drums
This is like saying "Are there any football teams that have never scored a goal". Of COURSE there aren't - all bands, of any description, are obliged to do one song with that drum beat. It's the LAW.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by Trev » Fri Jun 29, 2012 13:44

Ben wrote: It's often the slick professionalism that puts me off....
This applies to most forms of music to me....
not really here

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by indiehorse » Fri Jun 29, 2012 14:04

My suspicion is that few (or no) Anoraks support bad (in their opinion) indiepop.

You tend not to see bad reviews on blogs, because a lot of bloggers would prefer to concentrate their efforts into blogging about the music they like. They're not giving good reviews to bad music; they're not giving bad music reviews.

As far as liking bands that sound like other bands one likes, I think that's fairly self-explanatory.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by iainmayfield » Sun Jul 01, 2012 16:10

indiehorse wrote:My suspicion is that few (or no) Anoraks support bad (in their opinion) indiepop.

You tend not to see bad reviews on blogs, because a lot of bloggers would prefer to concentrate their efforts into blogging about the music they like. They're not giving good reviews to bad music; they're not giving bad music reviews.

As far as liking bands that sound like other bands one likes, I think that's fairly self-explanatory.
If that's the case, then why do some people continue to heap undue praise on certain bands that clearly aren't very good. The number of times I've read a great review of something and then listened to the tracks and thought "Jesus!". (not in the Biblical sense..)

And that's me saying that with sincerity. All praise to the Eardrums stuff that has been put out over the past few years. You are right when you say its 'songcraft' that matters.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by joanny » Sun Jul 01, 2012 16:25

Why should we support bad indiepop? Why should we promote bands that haven't got good songs?
I really don't see the point. You said in your post that you felt that you should support or write about every indiepop bands just because they asked you to, even if you didn't like them. Well I really don't feel this. If I don't like a band I won't lose my time writing about it. If I really like a band I'll do my best to promote it. That's all.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by SophieC » Sun Jul 01, 2012 16:34

all musical taste is almost entirely subjective, but on the other hand cannot be divorced from the historical context, culture and methods of production it springs from.

we can stop now
When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called 'the People's Stick.'

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by a layer of chips » Sun Jul 01, 2012 16:37

JamieC wrote:all musical taste is almost entirely subjective, but on the other hand cannot be divorced from the historical context, culture and methods of production it springs from.

we can stop now
I once said something very similar to this during a job interview for a postman. I didn't get the job. Not for the first time communism failed me.

There's a lesson here for those who order their awfully bad indiepop records by mail order.

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Re: Awfully bad indiepop rules!!!

Post by SophieC » Sun Jul 01, 2012 16:39

a layer of chips wrote:
JamieC wrote:all musical taste is almost entirely subjective, but on the other hand cannot be divorced from the historical context, culture and methods of production it springs from.

we can stop now
I once said something very similar to this during a job interview for a postman. I didn't get the job. Not for the first time communism failed me.

There's a lesson here for those who order their awfully bad indiepop records by mail order.
serves you right for talking about shit indiepop in a post office job interview. you should have shown how good you were at pushing paper into a slot.
When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called 'the People's Stick.'

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