As an avid listener of indie music, when looking at recent festival line-ups it led me to wonder why there were few new and exciting indie bands on the bill. Of course, bands like The Courteeners and Foals were plastered across many of the posters that have flooded my newsfeed but there was little in the form of original guitar driven music.
In recent years the indie scene seems to have come to a musical standstill, with bands that seem to gain any kind of popularity all having a very similar musical blueprint. It seems to me,indie music has become a victim of its own success from previous decades. Many indie bands that break onto the scene seem to be consistently trying to pinch the attitude of the Britpop bands and pair it off with the sounds of 2000s indie. I understand being influenced by your inspirations, but currently at the forefront the up and coming bands all seem to play this tried and tested formulaic sound with no real innovation like the bands of the noughties.
Two bands come to mind – The Hunna and Catfish and the Bottlemen. Both seem to pride themselves on having a limited sound that offers nothing new to a scene in desperate need of originality. In a recent interview Van McCann, the lead singer of ‘Catfish’, said that he felt bands like Alt J and Radiohead were too leftfield, and instead he wanted to make music ‘that’s inside the box’ and ‘puts girlfriends on shoulders’. I find it rather ironic that the initial pillars of the sound were to be alternative, and yet the popular alternative bands in the modern era pride themselves on being as similar as their forebearers. While I don’t have a problem with big anthemic choruses they could at least try and bring something new to the table.
These bands are guilty of repeating a tried and tested formula, but I think the root of this problem are the fans and magazines of the Indie scene. ‘Dark Fruits Twitter’, the term coined by many to describe these people, seem to crave a return to a time when indie was the pinnacle of mass culture. I would like indie music once again to be as popular as it once was, but unlike a large portion of the fanbase, I want this to happen through innovation of the sound rather than a regurgitation of what made The Kooks successful. Magazines like the NME only seem to compound this problem. They seem to only want to report on either bygone bands like Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys, or only throw their weight behind seemingly average bands that do not sound out of place of a 2006 edition of the magazine. Of course, this is probably because the magazine is increasingly falling in popularity and so naturally harks back to the days when they held sway amongst the musical community.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are pockets of innovation within the indie scene, bands like Tame Impala and Wolf Alice have implemented new sounds and ideas into their discographies and as a result they seem to be carrying the banner as the best in the indie scene. The issue is they are in a minority and until a revolution of the press and fans’ musical desires takes place this will carry on to be the case.