[A Guest Post from Nahar Mama.]
Hi everyone! Thanks for checking out The Blah Blah’s series on indie music. I’m Jake’s wife, Jessie, and he has asked me to do the “lesson” for today.
Let me give you my quick personal history of indie music. I got into “indie” music back in high school (over 10 years ago) because I had friends who would make me mixed tapes (oh, yeah…remember those days??) of bands like The Promise Ring, Superchunk, Jimmy Eat World (back when they were indie), Sunny Day Real Estate, Cat Power, and so on. Before I met those who were so kind to do this for me, I’d stay up late and watch “Alternative Nation” on MTv just to hear Sonic Youth, Jesus and Mary Chain, Frente!, and all those more popular, non-maintream bands. I had been so bored with music on the radio that these were welcome additions to my collection.
Though I loved all the punk, emo, indie-pop, and ska mixes they made for me, I still had my hippy-granola roots there, so I’d go out and find more acoustic sounds like September 67 and (yes, I used to love her) Ani DiFranco. Once I got to college, I joined the college radio station there as a DJ, got my show’s sponsor, and listened to tons and tons of music and found so many more bands for myself, with weirder and weirder names: Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, Archers of Loaf. Bizarre, huh?
Then I became a Christian, and at first, I was satisfied with CCM because I just loved Jesus and anything that sang about him. Then I grew weary of it–fast. I just lean towards those artists who love making music and who aren’t afraid to have small followings or write about stuff other than hot chicks or going to parties.
So, in review:
Characteristics of Indie Music
1) It must be on an independent label (see here)
2) It’s about the music (see here)
3) Lo-fi good, over-production bad (see here)
4) A do-it-yourself attitude (see here)
5) Pushing musical boundaries (see here)
6) An anti-materialistic attitude (see here)
Today’s chararacteristic: Social awareness and activism!
I don’t know what exactly to say about this point; it’s pretty self-explanatory. A lot of times, grassroots-style artists tend to take a grassroots view of life: helping the community, promoting peace, caring for the limited resources, encouraging dialogue on issues at hand, caring for the poor and outcast, and speaking out against corruption, evil, injustice, giant corporations, big government, etc. [Editor’s Note: we’re not implying that all indie bands are socially active, but many are.]
Today’s featured band, the Psalters, seems to exemplify this characteristic more than most. They have a whole Manifesto on their site about their purpose and mission. Read what they have to say in their mission statement:
we are the cry of the exodus.
there is no home for us here.
we are a nomadic tribe of psalters,
walking in the footsteps of ancients past
to the far corners of the present,
united as one voice against the
oppression within and without.
one more echo in the eternal song of our
First Love, our Hope, our Pillar of Fire.
The Psalters have a long blog posting on their MySpace account describing their visit to Turkey, visits at the refugee camps there, and visits with the Christians in that country. They help with Christian communities like the The Simple Way in Philadelphia and they really have a heart for the hungry, homeless, ill, poor, outcast, lonely people of the world. They seem to embrace the love that Jesus had for these types of people and see Him as the answer to the world’s major problems. They encourage the church to speak out and act on behalf of these people who need us.
Get ready for Part 8 of “Intro to Indie Music” tomorrow!
The Blah Blah – serving up the best in Christian music MP3s… and fighting music oppression
Note: all MP3s will be removed after one week