Day 5 of “Intro to Indie Music!” This will be my last post this week, so before I get into it, today I’ve got some links about indie music to keep you satisfied and smilin’ until Monday morning.
“What Exactly is Indie?” on Relevant Magazine – Defining indie music from the point of view of the largest indie festival in America – Pitchfork.
Bored-Again Christian Podcast and Blahg – Just Pete hosts this hour-long podcast / blog with all sorts of indie music. I think he’s a Christian guy putting up mostly Christian stuff, but it’s fun either way.
“Indie Music” on Wikipedia – If you haven’t used Wikipedia yet to answer the question “What is Indie Music?” shame on you.
Paste Music Store – Interviews, articles, music to buy, and free MP3 downloads of independent artists, many of them Christian.
Daytrotter – On-line magazine with articles and interviews with indie artists. Free live in-house recordings of tons of artists.
So that should keep you satisfied until Monday, when I go over some more indie stuff. But right now, I still have to give you the next on my list of what makes indie music indie!
and the next one on the list…
5) Pushing musical boundaries
Indie artists, some to more extent than others, are constantly pushing boundaries musically. Without a big label prompting indie artists to play what’s already popular so more money rolls in, groups on independent labels can take music in the direction they want to take it. One of the things that happens is that indie artists push the musical boundaries and explore things that are “weird” or “experimental” compared to what’s being played on the radio.
Sure, there are times when pushing musical boundaries gives you The Beatles and you score big, but usually if you’re experimenting with new, crazy sounds you’ll find only a small segment that actually enjoys what you’re creating, at least at first. So, I totally understand why big labels don’t want to venture into too much experimentation and boundary-pushing. There’s just not money in it. Most bands who try new, bizarre sounds aren’t gonna be The Beatles. They’ll be Half Japanese. And if you don’t get the reference, look it up on Wikipedia.
I personally really like experimentation in music, even to the point of absurdity. I get bored with the same sounds, so I’ll take a Half-Handed Cloud, a Deerhoof, a Soul-Junk, or a Danielson almost any day. Just do something different or weird and I’ll probably like it. Sing about God and I’ll like it even more.
I first heard Anathallo a while ago and I thought, “Hey, this is OK,” but I wasn’t amazed. It wasn’t until seeing them perform live that I truly appreciated them as musicians. The group of 7 musicians on stage played together more like a synchronized jazz orchestra of vocal harmonies, instrument-swapping, rhythm changes, and pop hooks. They switch time signatures throughout their songs. They stop at awkward moments and shout all in unison. They hop around the stage and switch up what instruments they’re playing, in the middle of the songs. They sing interweaving harmonies of words, oohs, and ahs. They use unusual instruments like xylophones, chains, velcro strips, pipes, bells, horns, and Japanese drums. And once in a while they throw in a regular pop-sounding guitar hook. Their live show is just amazing, to see it all happen at once.
The recordings capture much of the eclectic spirit, but without the coolness of seeing it unveiled in front of your eyes. Listening to the MP3s is sort of like listening to an ever-changing soundtrack for your emotions.
Members of the band are all Christians (read an interview here about it) but they prefer not to be lumped into the category of “Christian music.” Some members grew up on the mission field in Japan (I can’t remember which ones though), which explains why their latest album, Floating World, is taken mostly from an ancient Japanese piece of folklore.
Though Anathallo isn’t the weirdest band out there, they’re pushing musical boundaries by bringing in unusual instruments, bizarre time signatures, etc. and I thought you’d all enjoy that. See you next week, when I’ll have the second half of “Intro to Indie Music” going for ya’ll.
The Blah Blah – serving up the best in Christian music MP3s… and pushing boundaries blogically
Note: all MP3s will be removed after one week