This year’s Cherry Red boxset Scared to Get Happy: A Story of Indie-Pop 1980-1989 served as a reminder, in case you needed one, that “indie-pop” is a genre, in historical terms: the ragtag, individualistic style of melodic guitar-pop that grew out of post-punk in the UK. In 2013, indie-pop in one sense still means bands rooted in that sound and its offshoots, in the C86 scene, Sarah Records, etc. It’s also bands and scenes from the U.S. and elsewhere, associated with their own somewhat unrelated DIY scenes/movements leaning pop—meaning, in a sense, directed away from the macho/agro trappings of rock, but often using the same instruments.
This year, “indie-pop” was used by publications (including this one) as a descriptor for all types of music that I wouldn’t think of that way, from the pseudo-folk glee of the Lumineers to the cutesy affected music in Target ads. It’s become a catch-all descriptor of cute indie-ish music.
My personal definition of indie-pop is a mix of the historical one and a more intuitive sense for what feels like “pop” within the world of relatively non-corporate, home-crafted “indie” music. A focus on melody and harmony is a baseline trait, but I also find myself drawn to music with a sense of melancholy about the world, even within sentiments that are surface-level happy. Also, it’s music that conveys to listeners a feeling of intimacy, an impression of open-heartedness, of personalization—an approach which often pairs well with the daydreams of obsessive music fans (yes, so often indie-pop can be music about music). To use a phrase from the top album on this list, it can feel like “secret music” meant for our ears only, and at the same time like we’re being pulled into a community.
In some ways, this insularity and the aesthetics of indie-pop can be seen as reactionary. A type of response to the dominant goings-on in the world—war, corporatization, speed, narcissism, fashion. That can manifest itself in engagement sometimes, but perhaps more often in escape into a comforting embrace of sounds and melodies. Slowness, gentleness, sensitivity aren’t necessarily valued by the dominant culture.
This year’s batch of albums seems in some ways obsessed with the elemental things, with human relationships, the matter that makes up the world around us—light, air, the sun and moon—and the ways the two poetically relate within us. The heart-weather connection, perhaps.
Putting all 117 song titles in a row shows several common threads in titles alone; shared interests in hearts (“My Heart Beats”, “Check My Heart”, Our Hearts Beat Out Loud), in asking direct questions of another (“What Took You So Long?”, “Would You Be There?”, “Are You Kissing Anyone?”), and in the changing seasons (“Into the Sun”, “In the Winter Sun”, “Summer Rain”, “Seasons Change”, “Feel Winter”). Musically, those obsessions lead not just to tenderness and beauty, but also a sort of elegant, well-dressed, sophisticated minimalism.
'Indie' refers to music
People who dress 'indie' are people who are in to indie music. You know, that DIY stuff, noise pop, brit pop, etc.
Indie kids are those boys and girls who all look the same and identify each other as peers who are into the indie scene. You have to really be into the indie scene to pull off the indie look convincingly. If your lady is not into the indie scene, why would she dress indie?
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Google "Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr" and you will, as you might expect, get loads of results about the professional racecar driver.