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Indie rock is a genre of
rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no ...
that originated in the United States and United Kingdom in the 1970s. Originally used to describe
independent record label An independent record label (or indie label) is a record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from thos ...
s, the term became associated with the music they produced and was initially used interchangeably with
alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of that emerged from the underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1990s. "Alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from ...
or " guitar pop rock". In the 1980s, the use of the term " indie" (or "
indie pop Indie pop (also typeset as indie-pop or indiepop) is a music genre and subculture that combines guitar pop with DIY ethic in opposition to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. It originated from British post-punk in the late 1970s and sub ...
") started to shift from its reference to recording companies to describe the style of music produced on
punk Punk or punks may refer to: Genres, subculture, and related aspects * Punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1 ...
and
post-punk Post-punk (originally called new musick) is a broad genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Eu ...
labels.S. Brown and U. Volgsten, ''Music and Manipulation: on the Social Uses and Social Control of Music'' (Berghahn Books, 2006), , p. 194. During the 1990s,
grunge Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground o ...
and punk revival bands in the US and
Britpop Britpop is a mid-1990s United Kingdom, British-based music and culture movement that emphasised Britishness. It produced brighter, catchier alternative rock, partly in reaction to the popularity of the darker lyrical themes of the US-led grunge ...
bands in the UK broke into the mainstream, and the term "alternative" lost its original counter-cultural meaning. The term "indie rock" became associated with the bands and genres that remained dedicated to their independent status. By the end of the 1990s, indie rock developed several subgenres and related styles, including
lo-fi Lo-fi (short for low-fidelity) is a music or production quality in which elements usually regarded as imperfections of a recording or performance are audible, sometimes as a deliberate aesthetic choice. The standards of sound quality ( fidelit ...
,
noise pop Noise pop is a subgenre of alternative ''AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples'' (formerly ''AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Scholarship'') is a quarterly peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluati ...
,
emo Emo is a rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed ...

emo
,
slowcore Slowcore is a subgenre of alternative rock and indie rock. The music of slowcore artists is generally characterized by bleak lyrics, downbeat melodies, slower tempos and minimalist arrangements. Slowcore is often used interchangeably with the ter ...
,
post-rock Post-rock is a form of experimental rock Experimental rock, also called avant-rock, is a subgenre of rock music that pushes the boundaries of common composition and performance technique or which experiments with the basic elements of the genre. ...
, and
math rock Math rock is a style of progressive Progressive may refer to: Politics * Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform Political organizations * Congressional Progressive Caucus, members within the Democratic Party in ...
. In the 2000s, changes in the music industry and a growing importance of the internet enabled a new wave of indie rock bands to achieve mainstream success, leading to questions about its meaningfulness as a term.. In the early 2000s, a new group of bands that played a stripped-down, back-to-basics version of guitar rock emerged into the mainstream. The commercial breakthrough from these scenes was led by four bands:
The Strokes The Strokes are an American rock band from New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2019 population of 8 ...

The Strokes
,
The White Stripes The White Stripes were an American rock music, rock duo from Detroit, Michigan formed in 1997. The group consisted of Jack White (songwriter, vocals, guitar, piano, and mandolin) and his ex-wife Meg White (drums and vocals). After releasing seve ...

The White Stripes
,
The Hives The Hives are a Swedish Rock music, rock band that rose to prominence in the early 2000s during the Post-punk revival, Garage Rock Revival. Their mainstream success came with the release of the album ''Veni Vidi Vicious'', containing the single ...

The Hives
and The Vines. Emo also broke into mainstream culture in the early 2000s.. By the end of the decade, the proliferation of indie bands was being referred to as an "indie landfill",. with the term "Landfill Indie" becoming used by some critics/websites in 2020 as sub-genre for a certain type of 2000s indie band, in the same way Britpop is used for British guitar music of the 1990s.


Characteristics

The term indie rock, which comes from "independent", describes the small and relatively low-budget
label A label (as distinct from signage) is a piece of paper, plastic film, cloth, metal, or other material affixed to a Packaging and labelling, container or Product (business), product, on which is written or printing, printed information or symbo ...
s on which it is released and the
do-it-yourself "Do it yourself" ("DIY") is the method of building, modifying, or repair The technical meaning of maintenance involves functional checks, servicing, repairing or replacing of necessary devices, equipment, machinery A machine is any ...
attitude of the bands and artists involved. Although distribution deals are often struck with major corporate companies, these labels and the bands they host have attempted to retain their autonomy, leaving them free to explore sounds, emotions and subjects of limited appeal to large, mainstream audiences.. The influences and styles of the artists have been extremely diverse, including
punk Punk or punks may refer to: Genres, subculture, and related aspects * Punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1 ...
,
psychedelia Psychedelia refers to the psychedelic subculture of the 1960s and the psychedelic experience. This includes psychedelic art, psychedelic music and style of dress during that era. This was primarily generated by people who used psychedelic dru ...
,
post-punk Post-punk (originally called new musick) is a broad genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Eu ...
and
country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

country
. The terms "
alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of that emerged from the underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1990s. "Alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from ...
" and "indie rock" were used interchangeably in the 1980s, but after many alternative bands followed
Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...
into the mainstream in the early 1990s, "indie rock" began to be used to describe those bands, working in a variety of styles, that did not pursue or achieve commercial success. Aesthetically speaking, indie rock is characterized as having a careful balance of pop accessibility with noise, experimentation with pop music formulae, sensitive lyrics masked by ironic posturing, a concern with "authenticity", and the depiction of a simple guy or girl. ''Allmusic'' identifies indie rock as including a number of "varying musical approaches compatible with mainstream tastes". Linked by an ethos more than a musical approach, the indie rock movement encompassed a wide range of styles, from hard-edged, grunge-influenced bands, through do-it-yourself experimental bands like Pavement, to punk-folk singers such as
Ani DiFranco Angela Maria "Ani" DiFranco (; born September 23, 1970) is an American singer-songwriter. She has released more than 20 albums. DiFranco's music has been classified as folk rock Folk rock is a hybrid music genre combining elements of folk ...
.S. T. Erlewine, "American Alternative Rock / Post Punk", in V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, ''All Music Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul'' (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 3rd edn., 2002), , pp. 1344–6. In fact, there is an everlasting list of genres and subgenres of indie rock. Many countries have developed an extensive local indie scene, flourishing with bands with enough popularity to survive inside the respective country, but virtually unknown elsewhere. However, there are still indie bands that start off locally, but eventually attract an international audience. Indie rock is noted for having a relatively high proportion of female artists compared with preceding rock genres, a tendency exemplified by the development of the feminist-informed
riot grrrl Riot grrrl is an underground feminist punk movement that began during the early 1990s within the United States in Olympia, Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest and has expanded to at least 26 other countries. Riot grrrl is a subc ...
music of acts like
Bikini Kill Bikini Kill is an American punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition t ...
,
Bratmobile Bratmobile was an American punk band. Bratmobile was a first-generation "riot grrrl" band, which grew from the Pacific Northwest and Washington (state), Washington state underground. It was influenced by several eclectic musical styles, including e ...

Bratmobile
, 7 Year Bitch,
Team Dresch Team Dresch is an American queercore Queercore (or homocore) is a cultural/social movement that began in the mid-1980s as an offshoot of the punk subculture and a music genre that comes from punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music ...
and Huggy Bear. However, Cortney Harding pointed out that this sense of equality is not reflected in the number of women running indie labels.


History


Post-punk and indie pop

The BBC documentary ''Music for Misfits: The Story of Indie'' pinpoints the birth of indie as the 1977 self-publication of the Spiral Scratch EP by Manchester band
Buzzcocks Buzzcocks are an English punk rock band formed in Bolton, England in 1976 by singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Shelley and singer-songwriter Howard Devoto. They are regarded as a seminal influence on the Music of Manchester, Manchester music sc ...

Buzzcocks
. Although Buzzcocks are often classified as a punk band, it has been argued by the BBC and others that the publication of Spiral Scratch independently of a major label led to the coining of the name "indie" ("indie" being the shortened form of "independent"). "
Indie pop Indie pop (also typeset as indie-pop or indiepop) is a music genre and subculture that combines guitar pop with DIY ethic in opposition to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. It originated from British post-punk in the late 1970s and sub ...
" and "indie" were originally synonymous. In the mid-1980s, "indie" began to be used to describe the music produced on
post-punk Post-punk (originally called new musick) is a broad genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Eu ...
labels rather than the labels themselves. The indie rock scene in the US was prefigured by the
college rock College rock was the alternative rock music played on student-run university and college campus radio stations located in the Higher education in the United States, United States and Higher education in Canada, Canada in the 1980s. The stations' pl ...
that dominated
college radio Campus radio (also known as college radio, university radio or student radio) is a type of radio station that is run by the students of a college, university or other educational institution An educational institution is a place where people of ...
playlists, which included key bands like
R.E.M. R.E.M. was an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chem ...
from the US and
The Smiths The Smiths were an English band formed in in 1982. Their best-known line-up comprised singer , guitarist , bassist and drummer . They are regarded as one of the most important acts to emerge from the British scene of the 1980s. The Smiths ...
from the UK.. These two bands rejected the dominant
synthpop Synth-pop (short for synthesizer pop; also called techno-pop; ) is a subgenre of new wave music that first became prominent in the late 1970s and features the synthesizer as the dominant musical instrument. It was prefigured in the 1960s a ...
of the early 1980s, and helped inspire guitar-based
jangle pop Jangle pop is a subgenre of or that emphasizes guitars and 1960s-style melodies. The term originated from 's song "", whose 1965 rendition by became considered one of the genre's representative works. Even though many subsequent bands drew ...
; other important bands in the genre included and
the dB's The dB's are an American Rock music, rock group, who first came to prominence in the early 1980s. The band members are Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Will Rigby, and Gene Holder. Although the members are all from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, th ...
from the US, and
The Housemartins The Housemartins were an English indie pop Indie pop (also typeset as indie-pop or indiepop) is a music genre and subculture that combines guitar pop with DIY ethic in opposition to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. It originated ...
and
The La's The La's were an English rock band from Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. Its population in 2019 was approximately , making it the List of English districts ...

The La's
from the UK. In the United States, the term was particularly associated with the abrasive, distortion-heavy sounds of the Pixies,
Hüsker Dü Hüsker Dü () was an American punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a compositio ...
,
Minutemen Minutemen were civilian colonists who independently formed militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force ...
,
Meat Puppets Meat Puppets are an American Rock music, rock band formed in January 1980 in Phoenix, Arizona. The group's original lineup was Curt Kirkwood (guitar/vocals), his brother Cris Kirkwood (bass guitar/vocals), and Derrick Bostrom (drums). The Kirkwoo ...
,
Dinosaur Jr. Dinosaur Jr. is an American rock band formed in Amherst, Massachusetts Amherst () is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Connecticut River valley. As of the 2010 census, the population was 37,819, making it the hi ...
, and . In the United Kingdom the ''
C86 ''C86'' is a cassette Cassette may refer to: Technology * Cassette tape (or ''musicassette'', ''audio cassette'', ''cassette tape'', or ''tape''), a worldwide standard for analog audio recording and playback ** Cassette single (or "Cassingle") ...
'' cassette, a 1986 ''
NME ''New Musical Express'' (''NME'') is a British music, film and culture website and brand. Founded as a newspaper in 1952, with the publication being referred to as a 'rock inkie', the NME would become a magazine that ended up as a free publi ...
'' compilation featuring
Primal Scream Primal Scream are a Scottish rock music, rock band originally formed in 1982 in Glasgow by Bobby Gillespie (vocals) and Jim Beattie (musician), Jim Beattie. The band's current lineup consists of Gillespie, Andrew Innes (guitar), Martin Duffy (m ...

Primal Scream
,
The Pastels The Pastels are an indie rock group from Glasgow formed in 1981. They were a key act of the Scottish and British independent music scenes of the 1980s, and are specifically credited for the development of an independent and confident music scene ...

The Pastels
,
The Wedding Present The Wedding Present are an English indie rock group originally formed in 1985 in Leeds, England, from the ashes of the Lost Pandas. The band's music has evolved from fast-paced indie rock in the vein of their most obvious influences The Fall (b ...

The Wedding Present
and other bands, was a document of the UK indie scene. It gave its name to the indie pop scene that followed, which was a major influence on the development of the British indie scene as a whole. Major precursors of
indie pop Indie pop (also typeset as indie-pop or indiepop) is a music genre and subculture that combines guitar pop with DIY ethic in opposition to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. It originated from British post-punk in the late 1970s and sub ...
included
Postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typically rectangular, intended for writing and mailing without an envelope. Non-rectangular shapes may also be used but are rare. There are novelty exceptions, suc ...
bands Josef K and
Orange Juice Orange juice is a liquid extract of the orange (fruit), orange tree fruit, produced by squeezing or reaming oranges. It comes in several different varieties, including blood orange, navel oranges, valencia orange, clementine, and tangerine. As ...
, and significant labels included
Creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came t ...
, Subway and
Glass Glass is a non- crystalline, often transparency and translucency, transparent amorphous solid, that has widespread practical, technological, and decorative use in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optics. Glass is most often formed by ...
..
The Jesus and Mary Chain The Jesus and Mary Chain are a Scottish alternative rock band formed in East Kilbride in 1983. The band revolves around the songwriting partnership of brothers Jim Reid, Jim and William Reid (musician), William Reid. After signing to independent ...
's sound combined the
Velvet Underground Velvet is a type of woven tufted textile, fabric in which the cut yarn, threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile (textile), pile, giving it a distinctive soft feel. By extension, the word ''velvety'' means "smooth like velvet". Vel ...
's "melancholy noise" with
Beach Boys A summer tourism at the Yyteri Beach in Pori, Finland">Pori.html" ;"title="Yyteri Beach in Pori">Yyteri Beach in Pori, Finland. A beach is a landform alongside a body of water which consists of loose particles. The particles composing a b ...

Beach Boys
pop melodies and
Phil Spector Harvey Phillip Spector (December 26, 1939January 16, 2021) was an American record producer, musician, and songwriter known for his innovative recording practices and entrepreneurship in the 1960s, followed decades later by his two trials and c ...

Phil Spector
's "
Wall of Sound The Wall of Sound (also called the Spector Sound) is a music production formula developed by American record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios, in the 1960s, with assistance from engineer Larry Levine and the conglomerate of session m ...
" production, while
New OrderNew Order may refer to: Politics * ''L'Ordine Nuovo'' (''The New Order''), a socialist newspaper edited by Antonio Gramsci in the early 1920s * ''New Order in East Asia'', propaganda term for Japanese-dominated East Asia announced by Japanese p ...
emerged from the demise of post-punk band
Joy Division Joy Division were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...

Joy Division
and experimented with
techno Techno is a Music genre, genre of electronic dance music (EDM) that is predominantly characterized by a repetitive and hard four on the floor (music), four on the floor beat which is generally music production, produced for use in a continuous DJ ...

techno
and
house music House is a genre of electronic dance music Electronic dance music (EDM), also known as dance music, club music, or simply dance, is a broad range of percussive electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical i ...
.S. T. Erlewine, "British Alternative Rock", in V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, ''All Music Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul'' (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 3rd edn., 2002), , pp. 1346–7.


Noise rock and shoegazing

The most abrasive and discordant outgrowth of punk was
noise rock Noise rock (sometimes called noise punk) is a noise Noise is unwanted sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and p ...
, which emphasised loud distorted electric guitars and powerful drums, and was pioneered by bands including
Sonic Youth Sonic Youth was an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, ...
,
Big Black Big Black was an American punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fa ...

Big Black
and
Butthole Surfers Butthole Surfers is an American rock band formed in San Antonio ("Cradle of Freedom") , image_map = Bexar SanAntonio.svg , mapsize = 280px , map_caption = Location within B ...

Butthole Surfers
.
Swans Swans are birds of the family (biology), family Anatidae within the genus ''Cygnus''. The swans' closest relatives include the goose, geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the ...
, an influential band from New York, is identified as part of the
No Wave#REDIRECT No wave No wave was a short-lived avant-garde music and art scene that emerged in the late 1970s in downtown New York City. Reacting against punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted ...
scene which included Lydia Lunch, and James Chance & The Contortions. These bands were documented by
Brian Eno Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno (; born Brian Peter George Eno; 15 May 1948) is an English musician, record producer, visual artist, and theorist best known for his pioneering work in ambient music and contributions to r ...
on the seminal compilation album
No New York ''No New York'' is a compilation album released in 1978 by record label Antilles Records, Antilles under the curation of producer Brian Eno. Although it only contained songs by four different artists, it is considered by many to be the definitive ...
. A number of prominent
indie rock record labels Indie is a short form of "independence" or "independent"; it may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Gaming *Independent video game development, video games created without financial backing from large companies *Indie game, any game (board- ...
were founded during the 1980s. These include Washington, D.C.'s
Dischord Records Dischord Records is a Washington, D.C.-based independent record label specializing in punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesse ...
in 1980,
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a seaport The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front) ...

Seattle
's
Sub Pop Records Sub is a common abbreviation of words beginning with the prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to ...

Sub Pop Records
in 1986 and New York City's
Matador Records Matador Records is an independent record label An independent record label (or indie label) is a record label that operates without the funding of major record labels; they are a type of small and medium-sized enterprise, small to medium-siz ...
and Durham, North Carolina's
Merge Records Merge Records is an independent record label based in Durham, North Carolina. It was founded in 1989 by Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan. It began as a way to release music from their band Superchunk and music created by friends, and has expanded ...
in 1989.
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
's Touch and Go Records was founded as a
fanzine A fanzine ( of ' and ''magazine'' or ''-'') is a non-professional and non-official publication produced by of a particular cultural (such as a literary or musical genre) for the pleasure of others who share their interest. The term was coined in ...

fanzine
in 1979 and began to release records during the 1980s. The Jesus and Mary Chain, along with Dinosaur Jr, indie pop and the
dream pop Dream pop (also typeset as dreampop) is a subgenre of alternative rock and neo-psychedelia that is characterized for its breathy vocals, use of guitar effects, dense productions, and preoccupation with sonic texture and atmosphere as much as melod ...
of
Cocteau Twins Cocteau Twins were a Scottish dream pop band active from 1979 to 1997. They were formed in Grangemouth by Robin Guthrie (guitars, drum machine) and Will Heggie (bass), adding Elizabeth Fraser (vocals) in 1981 and replacing Heggie with multi- ...
, were the formative influences for the
shoegazing Shoegaze (originally termed shoegazing and sometimes conflated with "dream pop Dream pop (also typeset as dreampop) is a subgenre of alternative rock and neo-psychedelia that is characterized for its breathy vocals, use of guitar effects, dense ...
movement of the late 1980s. Named for the band members' tendency to stare at their feet and guitar
effects pedal An effects unit or effects pedal is an electronic device that alters the sound of a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be cons ...
s onstage rather than interact with the audience, acts like My Bloody Valentine, and later
Slowdive Slowdive are an English rock band that formed in Reading, Berkshire, in 1989. The band consists of Rachel Goswell on vocals and guitar, Simon Scott (drummer), Simon Scott on drums, Neil Halstead on vocals and guitar, Nick Chaplin on bass and Ch ...

Slowdive
and
Ride Ride may refer to: People * MC Ride, a member of Death Grips * Sally Ride (1951–2012), American astronaut * William Ride (19262011), Australian zoologist Arts, entertainment, and media Films * Ride (1998 film), ''Ride'' (1998 film), a 1998 co ...
created a loud "wash of sound" that obscured vocals and melodies with long, droning riffs, distortion, and feedback.. The other major movement at the end of the 1980s was the drug-fuelled
Madchester Madchester was a musical and cultural scene that developed in the English city of Manchester in the late 1980s, closely associated with the indie dance scene. Indie-dance (sometimes referred to as indie-rave) saw artists merging Indie rock, indi ...
scene. Based around The Haçienda, a nightclub in Manchester owned by New Order and
Factory Records Factory Records was a Manchester-based British independent record label founded in 1978 by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus. The label collapsed in 1992 and was bought by London Records. The label featured several important acts on its roster, inclu ...
, Madchester bands such as
Happy Mondays Happy Mondays are an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...

Happy Mondays
and
The Stone Roses The Stone Roses were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compo ...
mixed acid house dance rhythms,
Northern soul Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the second most northern area of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in t ...
and
funk Funk is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although in pra ...
with melodic guitar pop.


Development: 1990s


Alternative enters the mainstream

The 1990s brought major changes to the alternative rock scene.
Grunge Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of that emerged from the underground of the 1970s and became wi ...
bands such as
Nirvana ' ( , , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali: ''nibbāna''; Prakrit: ''ṇivvāṇa'', literally "blown out", as in an oil lamp Richard Gombrich, ''Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo ...
,
Pearl Jam Pearl Jam is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, ch ...
,
Soundgarden Soundgarden was an American Rock music, rock band formed in Seattle, Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil (both of whom are the only members to appear in every incarnation of the ...
, and
Alice in Chains Alice in Chains (often abbreviated as AIC) is an American Rock music, rock band from Seattle, Seattle, Washington, formed in 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney, who later recruited bassist Mike Starr (musician ...

Alice in Chains
broke into the mainstream, achieving commercial chart success and widespread exposure. Punk revival bands like
Green Day Green Day is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, ...

Green Day
and
The Offspring The Offspring is an American rock band from Garden Grove, California, formed in 1984. Originally formed under the name Manic Subsidal, the band's lineup consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Bryan "Dexter" Holland, bassist Todd Morse, guit ...
also became popular and were grouped under the "alternative" umbrella. Similarly, in the United Kingdom
Britpop Britpop is a mid-1990s United Kingdom, British-based music and culture movement that emphasised Britishness. It produced brighter, catchier alternative rock, partly in reaction to the popularity of the darker lyrical themes of the US-led grunge ...
saw bands like and
Oasis In geography, an oasis (, plural oases, ) is a fertile land in a desert or semi-desert environment.indie scene. Bands like Hüsker Dü and Violent Femmes were just as prominent during this time period, yet they have remained iconoclastic, and are not the bands that are frequently cited as inspirations to the current generation of indie rockers. As a result of alternative rock bands moving into the mainstream, the term "alternative" lost its original counter-cultural meaning and began to refer to the new, commercially lighter form of music that was now achieving mainstream success. It has been argued that even the term "sellout" lost its meaning as grunge made it possible for a niche movement, no matter how radical, to be co-opted by the mainstream, cementing the formation of an individualist, fragmented culture.C. Swanso
"Are We Still Living in 1993?"
retrieved February 26, 2013.
It is argued that staying independent became a career choice for bands privy to industry functions rather than an ideal, as resistance to the market evaporated in favor of a more synergistic culture.


Lo-fi and 'slacker rock' scene

The term "indie rock" became associated with the bands and genres that remained dedicated to their independent status. Even grunge bands, following their break with success, began to create more independent sounding music, further blurring the lines. Ryan Moore has argued that, in the wake of the appropriation of alternative rock by the corporate music industry, what became known as indie rock increasingly turned to the past to produce forms of "retro" rock that drew on
garage rock Garage rock (sometimes called garage punk or 60s punk) is a raw and energetic style of rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll, rock 'n' roll, or rock 'n roll) is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with ...
,
surf rock Surf music (also called surf rock or surf pop) is rock music associated with surf culture, particularly as found in Southern California. It was especially popular from 1962 to 1964 in two major forms. The first is instrumental surf, distinguished ...
,
rockabilly Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll, rock 'n' roll, or rock 'n roll) is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to la ...
,
blues Blues is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although in ...

blues
,
country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

country
and
swing Swing or swinging may refer to: Apparatus * Swing (seat), a hanging seat that swings back and forth * Russian swing, a swing-like circus apparatus * Sex swing, a type of harness for sexual intercourse * Swing ride, an amusement park ride consistin ...
. Other bands drew on a
Lo-fi Lo-fi (short for low-fidelity) is a music or production quality in which elements usually regarded as imperfections of a recording or performance are audible, sometimes as a deliberate aesthetic choice. The standards of sound quality ( fidelit ...
sound which eschewed polished recording techniques for a D.I.Y. ethos. This was spearheaded by
Beck is a Japanese manga Manga (Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white recta ...

Beck
,
Sebadoh Sebadoh () is an American indie rock band formed in 1986 in Northampton, Massachusetts The city of Northampton is the county seat of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 United State ...
and Pavement, who were joined by eclectic folk and rock acts of the
Elephant 6 Elephant 6 (sometimes referred to as the Elephant 6 Recording Company) is a loosely defined musical collective in the United States. Notable bands associated with the collective include the Apples in Stereo, Beulah (band), Beulah, Circulatory Sys ...
collective, including
Neutral Milk Hotel Neutral Milk Hotel was an American rock music, rock band formed in Ruston, Louisiana, by musician Jeff Mangum. The band's music featured a deliberately lo-fi music, low quality sound, influenced by indie rock and psychedelic folk. Mangum was the ...
,
Elf Power Elf Power is an American indie rock band that originated in Athens, Georgia Athens, officially Athens–Clarke County, is a consolidated city–county and college town in the U.S. state of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (coun ...
and
of Montreal of Montreal is an American indie pop Indie pop (also typeset as indie-pop or indiepop) is a music genre and subculture that combines guitar pop with DIY ethic in opposition to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. It originated from Br ...
. In the United States, the 1990s indie-rock scene, closely linked to the aforementioned lo-fi movement included bands such as Pavement,
Sebadoh Sebadoh () is an American indie rock band formed in 1986 in Northampton, Massachusetts The city of Northampton is the county seat of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 United State ...
,
Guided by Voices Guided by Voices (GBV) is an American indie rock band formed in 1983 in Dayton, Ohio Dayton () is the sixth-largest city in the state of Ohio and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital c ...

Guided by Voices
,
Built to Spill Built to Spill is an American indie rock band based in Boise, Idaho, United States formed in 1992. Centered around guitarist/lead vocalist Doug Martsch, the only permanent member, Built to Spill has released eight full-length albums since its inca ...
and
Modest Mouse Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington, and currently based in Portland, Oregon Portland (, ) is the list of cities in Oregon, largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the county ...
. The 1992 album
Slanted and Enchanted ''Slanted and Enchanted'' is the debut studio album by American indie rock band Pavement (band), Pavement, released in April 1992 on Matador Records. The album has received critical acclaim, and is seen as a landmark album for indie rock. In 2003, ...
, is considered one of the definitive albums of this era, melding indie-rock, lo-fi and 'slacker rock' characteristics. ''Rolling Stone'' called ''Slanted and Enchanted'' "the quintessential indie rock album" and placed it on the magazine's list of
the 500 greatest albums of all time "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" is a recurring opinion survey and music ranking of the finest album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), Phonograph record, vinyl, audio tape, or a ...
. There were other notable lo-fi releases during this period such as Guided by Voice's Bee Thousand, which was recorded on Multitrack recording, four track machines or other home recording devices. In the second half of the decade, the Washington-based group,
Modest Mouse Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington, and currently based in Portland, Oregon Portland (, ) is the list of cities in Oregon, largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the county ...
continued with the abrasive lo-fi tradition with the 1997 release of The Lonesome Crowded West. Other regional scenes existed during the early to mid 1990s. Spin (magazine), Spin published a 1992 feature about the North Carolina "Triangle" (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill), describing a growing scene of indie-rock bands who were influenced by hardcore punk and post-punk. The Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Chapel Hill college town, once dubbed the "next Seattle" by industry scouts, featured bands like Archers of Loaf, Superchunk and Polvo. Superchunk's single "Slack Motherfucker" has also been credited with popularizing the "slacker" stereotype, and has been called a defining anthem of 90s indie-rock. In
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
, the 1990s DIY scene has been described as a cross-pollination of indie-rock, post-punk and jazz. While this style of music gained traction early on, by the end of the decade interest from both the industry and the public had waned. Critics have pointed to changing music tastes, as seen in the dominance of other pop and rock genres, as a key factor leading to the decline of this scene.


Indie electronic

Indie electronic covers rock-based artists who share an affinity for electronic music, using samplers, synthesizers, drum machines, and computer programs. Less a style and more broad a categorization, it describes an early 1990s trend of acts who followed in the traditions of early electronic music (composers of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop), krautrock and synth-pop. Progenitors of the genre were English bands Disco Inferno (band), Disco Inferno, Stereolab, and Space (UK band), Space. Most musicians in the genre can be found on independent labels like Warp (record label), Warp, Morr Music, Sub Pop or Ghostly International. Examples include Broadcast (band), Broadcast, MGMT, LCD Soundsystem and Animal Collective.


Diversification

By the end of the 1990s, indie rock developed a number of subgenres and related styles. Following
indie pop Indie pop (also typeset as indie-pop or indiepop) is a music genre and subculture that combines guitar pop with DIY ethic in opposition to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. It originated from British post-punk in the late 1970s and sub ...
, these included lo-fi, noise pop, sadcore, post-rock, space rock and math rock. The work of Talk Talk (band), Talk Talk and Slint helped inspire
post-rock Post-rock is a form of experimental rock Experimental rock, also called avant-rock, is a subgenre of rock music that pushes the boundaries of common composition and performance technique or which experiments with the basic elements of the genre. ...
(an experimental style influenced by jazz and electronic music, pioneered by Bark Psychosis and taken up by acts such as Tortoise (band), Tortoise, Stereolab, and Laika (band), Laika),S. Taylor, ''A to X of Alternative Music'' (London: Continuum, 2006), , pp. 154–5.. as well as leading to more dense and complex, guitar-based
math rock Math rock is a style of progressive Progressive may refer to: Politics * Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform Political organizations * Congressional Progressive Caucus, members within the Democratic Party in ...
, developed by acts like Polvo and Chavez (band), Chavez. Built to Spill's 1999 album Keep It Like a Secret helped to shape the indie-rock sound of the early 2000s. Space rock looked back to progressive roots, with drone-heavy and minimalist acts like Spacemen 3 in the 1980s, Spectrum (band), Spectrum and Spiritualized, and later groups including Flying Saucer Attack, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Quickspace. In contrast, sadcore emphasized pain and suffering through melodic use of acoustic and electronic instrumentation in the music of bands like American Music Club and Red House Painters. The revival of Baroque pop reacted against lo-fi and experimental music by placing an emphasis on melody and classical instrumentation, with artists like Arcade Fire, Belle and Sebastian, Rufus Wainwright, Beirut (band), Beirut and The Decemberists. Weezer's ''Pinkerton (album), Pinkerton'' (1996) introduced the Emo genre to a wider and more mainstream audience.


Proliferation: 2000s


Commercial interest and growth

In the 2000s, the changing music industry, the decline in record sales, the growth of new digital technology and increased use of the Internet as a tool for music promotion, allowed a new wave of indie rock bands to achieve mainstream success. Existing indie bands that were now able to enter the mainstream included more musically and emotionally complex bandsM. Spitz
"The 'New Rock Revolution' fizzles"
May 2010, ''Spin'', vol. 26, no. 4, ISSN 0886-3032, p. 95.
including
Modest Mouse Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington, and currently based in Portland, Oregon Portland (, ) is the list of cities in Oregon, largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the county ...
(whose 2004 album ''Good News for People Who Love Bad News'' reached the US top 40 and was nominated for a Grammy Award), Bright Eyes (band), Bright Eyes (who in 2004 had two singles at the top of the Billboard magazine Hot 100 Single Sales) and Death Cab for Cutie (whose 2005 album ''Plans (album), Plans'' debuted at number four in the US, remaining on the Billboard charts for nearly one year and achieving platinum status and a Grammy nomination). This new commercial breakthrough and the widespread use of the term indie to other forms of popular culture, led a number of commentators to suggest that indie rock had ceased to be a meaningful term. Rob Mitchum introduced the idea of indie rock bands being dadrock to Pitchfork (website), Pitchfork when he used the term in a 2007 review for ''Sky Blue Sky'', the sixth studio album by indie rock-alt country band Wilco. Mitchum said that he had heard the term from Pitchfork's Chris Ott, who had seen the term used in the British press of the 1990s when they were describing Britpop bands like Oasis and Kula Shaker.


Post-punk revival

In the early 2000s, a new group of bands that played a stripped-down and back-to-basics version of guitar rock emerged into the mainstream, which some termed a
post-punk Post-punk (originally called new musick) is a broad genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Eu ...
revival, but because the bands came from across the globe, cited diverse influences (from traditional blues, through new wave to grunge), and adopted differing styles of dress, their unity as a genre has been disputed.


Emo

During the 1990s a number of groups, such as Sunny Day Real Estate and Weezer, diversified the emo genre from its hardcore punk roots. A number of Midwestern emo groups started to form during the mid-1990s including The Promise Ring, The Get Up Kids, and American Football (band), American Football. Emo also broke into mainstream culture in the early 2000s, with the platinum-selling success of Jimmy Eat World's ''Bleed American'' (2001) and Dashboard Confessional's ''The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most'' (2001). The new emo had a more refined sound than in the 1990s and a far greater appeal amongst adolescents than its earlier incarnations. At the same time, use of the term "emo" expanded beyond the musical genre, becoming associated with fashion, a hairstyle and any music that expressed emotion. During the 2000s, emo was played by multi-platinum acts such as Fall Out Boy,. My Chemical Romance, Paramore (band), Paramore, and Panic! at the Disco.


Landfill indie

By the end of the 2000s, the proliferation of primarily UK-based indie bands that appeared after the success of
The Strokes The Strokes are an American rock band from New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2019 population of 8 ...

The Strokes
and The Libertines, was being referred to "landfill indie", a description coined by Andrew Harrison (journalist), Andrew Harrison of ''The Word (magazine), The Word'' magazine. Several bands achieved rapid but unsustained success, such as The Pigeon Detectives, Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong and The Paddingtons. As the 1980s idea of indie (referring to a group of self-financed record companies set up by a bunch of 'mavericks' and the bands they liked) was devalued throughout the Britpop-era so that indie ended up describing a form of contemporary guitar-based pop music, a number of new acts started to be associated with the old 'post-punk' term, even though by then these revivalists were 'post-post-Britpop'. Acts falling into this Post-punk revival, category include Editors (band), Editors and Maxïmo Park. There continued to be commercial successes like Kasabian's ''West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum'' (2009), which reached number one in the UK, and Arcade Fire's ''The Suburbs (Arcade Fire album), The Suburbs'' (2010), which reached number one on the Billboard charts in the United States and the official chart in the United Kingdom, winning a Grammy for Album of The Year..


See also

*Independent music *Underground music *Indie music scene *List of indie rock musicians


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Indie Rock Indie rock, 2000s in music 2010s in music 2000s fads and trends