poll: rock n' roll never forgets (but what about indie...)

edited February 2011 in Alternative
you must pillar through your mem banks for this emuser exercise. scoring is simple (like golf, low score wins) - rank in order the tracks you will never forget:

(in no special order)

yoshimi battles the pink robots - flaming lips

institutionalized - suicidal tendencies

misery - soul asylum

slack motherfucker - superchunk


  • 0. I'm tied for the lead!
  • Please give me some pointers as to which are the band names and which are the song titles, also which of them did you just make up yourself.
  • edited February 2011
    rank in order the tracks you will never forget:

    (in no special order)

    I'll play:

    "Disarm" - Smashing Pumpkins
    "Unsatisfied" - The Replacements
    "This Year" - The Mountain Goats
    "Shhh" - Atmosphere
    "Blister in the Sun" - The Violent Femmes

  • "Blister in the Sun" - The Violent Femmes
    That song is forever burned into my skull and just as much fun as when I first heard it at 12 as it is today.
  • Last Century Top Five (okay, now it's Six)"
    "Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space" - Spiritualized
    "Frittering" - Mercury Rev
    "Rhinoceros" - Smashing Pumpkins
    "Three Days" - Jane's Addiction
    "Rain Dogs" - Tom Waits
    "She's a Jar" - Wilco

    This Century Top Five:
    "Quattro (World Drifts In)" - Calexico
    "Silvermine Pictures" - Califone
    "Pyramid Song" - Radiohead
    "Hi-Lo and In Between" - Neil Halstead
    "Colorbars" - Elliot Smith

    Special Category:

    Band Whose Melodies Got All Stuck In My Head But I Couldn't Actually Name One Song Of Theirs To Put In The Above Category: The Shins
  • For the purpose of this survey, what are we calling "Indie"? Music not produced or distributed by major labels? Music not played on commercial radio stations or MTV (including 120 Minutes)? A style of music vaguely related to Punk? Dudes who get cool threads at the thrift shop?
  • I would lean toward a more superficial rendering. Go with the thrift shop criteria.
  • "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton" by The Mountain Goats
    "Shady Lane" by Pavement
    "Money City Maniacs" by Sloan
    "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service
    "Steady As She Goes" by The Raconteurs

    Have no idea where this list came from - just kind of blurted it out.
    Dudes who get cool threads at the thrift shop?
    That's how I define indie. I'm still waiting to find out where Jeff Mangum gets his Cosby-esque sweaters.
  • Malcolm Jamal Warner on Community:


    When someone commented on the sweater his response was "my dad gave it to me." I laughed, hard.

  • thrift store indie duds it is! keep up the gibberish...so far, indie doesn't forget it just can't get anywhere close to mid-point (altho i immediately thought "blister in the sun" should be on the list once i saw it...and i was this close to going with another pavement track).

    it's only a matter of time before someone harshes "what? no joy division/bauhaus/etc. - swindleeeee!"
  • I was about to post something about the crickets on "Perfect Kiss." Does that count as a swindleeee?
  • You know, Joy Division comes from before I start labeling music indie, but I guess they really are. The other day I was actually scanning the radio for something and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" came on. Now that is definitely a song I'll never forgot.
  • Joy Division was an indie band in England; so were the Smiths. Just for reference, very few of the 1st gen punk/new wave bands, either British or American, were: Pistols, Clash, Ramones, etc, all major label on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Joy Division was an indie band in England; so were the Smiths. Just for reference, very few of the 1st gen punk/new wave bands, either British or American, were: Pistols, Clash, Ramones, etc, all major label on both sides of the Atlantic.
    This elucidates the problem of the Indie tag. Indie bands from England and other countries enjoyed much better distribution deals with their American Majors. It was easy for me, at 15, to see a New Order video ("Perfect Kiss") on mainstream television and buy their album at a major music chain (probably Music Plus). However, when I wanted to explore their past, I had to sneak out with the car (I had but a learner's permit) and drive over to Bleaker Bob's on Melrose (before it turned truly trendy) and shell out a bunch of cash for import Joy Division--and I hadn't heard one song on it, and it was unlikely I would find someone to play it for me. The former purchase was really easy. The latter was nearly an act of faith.

    Conversely, local bands on SST were really hard to find--and like I said, they were local. The Minutemen might get a really late night playing on Sunday on KROQ. Some videos might get attention from a low budget, barely receivable UHF station. Where a major label was not distributing a record, it was almost invisible.

    I think that the Indie/Major distinction was well explored by Michael Azzerrad. REM, to whom he did not dedicate a chapter because they were on a major label, were college radio staples, but they enjoyed advantages that acts on Indie labels simply could not. (Indeed, it was the music activism of REM that helped those bands make the leap to major labels. It has been REM's most enduring legacy that they changed the perception of the quality of music being done at the lowest levels of society, farthest from American media centers.)
  • edited February 2011
    Bad Thoughts, you're right of course: Indie bands from Britain did get perks from having their albums on US majors. And yes, it was hard to find indie records unless you went to the very few stores which carried them (wasn't there a store called Aron's on Melrose that catered to the New Order/Cure/KROQ crowd? The only record stores I ever visited in Greater LA were the original Rhino on Westwood and--one time, right before I left the area for good in Jan '85--Poobah's in Pasadena, where I bought Double Nickels on the Dime). Rodney Bingenheimer did play local bands on his weekend KROQ shows, but probably not as often as I would like to think; as the years went on, he got more and more into girl-group and Nuggets-era arcana (and into promoting his own legend).

    Anyway, my point is that it's ironic that the whole "indie-rock" movement owes its genesis and initial momentum to bands who were not "indie" in any way shape or form. Of course, I would also argue that the first wave of "indie" died with D. Boon, not to be resurrected until Nirvana cleared the space for the likes of Superchunk to realize that they didn't need to play by the system's rules. But that's for you younger folk to discuss...
  • I barely remember Aaron's. Indeed, I barely remember a lot of the cool places there used to be on Melrose (I wonder if Luz de Jesus is still around--it moved around 1993). I also head of Poobah's, but that was too far for casual shopping. I didn't start going to Rhino until I was in college in 1988. Rodney was a jerk--he was a second-hand acquaintance and, IMO, a lech. I really wanted nothing to do with him.
  • BT, did you know Richard Meltzer at all? Just curious.

    Spring 1981, X was on Rodney's show promoting Wild Gift. They played several old country records on the air that night, which made me realize that they really didn't belong with the other Decline of Western Civ. bands, any more than, say, the Blasters did. Which was a good thing, as I never much liked what became known as hardcore. But again, different subject.
  • @BT - But R.E.M. wasn't on a major label for the first 6 or 7 years of their career.

    @pzeke - That timing somewhat makes sense. Back in those days the term was "college rock" or something like that. It's why I often don't label things pre-90s as indie because I never really heard the term used much until college rock became alternative rock which actually turned out to be mainstream rock. Maybe I'm wrong, I was just a white suburban kid with no connection to music, but I would hear stuff that wasn't on major labels called "underground" or "college" or "crap".
  • edited February 2011
    Thom: IRS was distributed by A&M.

    PZeke: Meltzer? (sound of crickets in my head)
  • hmmm - can't remember the exact year, guessing 1982, i rec'd 2 records from a "college rock" radio station promo. if my memory serves me correctly the two were r.e.m.'s 5 track ep and gun club's "miami". yes, they were giving it away back in the day. all i had to do was right my name + address on a 3 x 5 card + wait.

    hmmm - other radio promo's i've cashed in on (of note): won tix for me + 12 of my closest cronies to see john waters (indie film producer) speak at a dinner club. it was hilarious...we had this supremely ornate table at the center of the entire room with john a sneeze away from us. everyone else was in after-five attire and miffed their hundred buck a plate experience was getting sucked into our universe.

    also, grabbed tix for halloween show: ramones + iggy pop. now, the sheepish truth is: i swung by my date's place to take her to the show. dizzam x all things wondrous! she was dressed up as catwoman! i immediately called a cronie and said "the tix are yours + don't wait up for me..." srsly. i gave up those tix and never regretted it. god bless catwoman.
  • edited February 2011
    REM released their first single, "Radio Free Europe" on "Hib-Tone Records," but after that they were signed by IRS. At the time, IRS had some kind of piggyback distribution deal with A&M, who in turn were nominally independent, but they were much more like a major label at that time than labels like Beggars or Rhino or Merge are today - they were actually distributed by RCA, so as a result REM was distributed by RCA too. There was almost no difference between them and a major label act as far as availability of product was concerned, nor did they lack for promotion.

    I actually bought the Hib-Tone single myself, and for a while you could get $100 for them on eBay... I don't know if that's still the case, but I just checked and none of them are being auctioned at the moment. Who knows, maybe now with the vinyl comeback, I could really clean up! I'll just have to check to make sure I still have it.
  • I had a long comment written out when this %$#@ing keyboard of mine lost it. Anyway, ScissorMan makes exactly the same point, except that I want to broaden it a bit: "indie" as an aesthetic didn't really exist back then, except for someone like Ian McKaye. "College rock" came about because AOR froze out everything to the left of the Cars (it begrudgingly playedthe Clash after London Calling) in the years after 1977. It didn't matter if you were on a major or minor label: PiL and Gang of Four were on Warners. Even Black Flag was going to have Damaged distributed by MCA until someone at the label heard the record.
  • To me, there's a big distinction between mere distribution and actually being "on a major". Sure RCA or A&M may have been shipping the records to the stores and sending out the information in their catalogs, but the money behind the band being promoted was from I.R.S. Just like in the 90s, I don't think anyone would make the mistake of thinking that Pavement or Yo La Tengo were bands being promoted by Warner, but they had that name stamped on their CDs (depending on when you bought them) because Matador had a distribution deal.
  • @Thom: Even knowing next to nothing about how the business of selling music works (particularly today, when it doesn't, except for Merge), I suspect that you're right to some degree: neither the Feelies nor the Mekons had tons of cash or promotion thrown at them when A&M distributed Twin/Tone at the end of the 80s. I also know that most of those deals ruined the indies who signed them; how Matador managed to survive its deal with the devil, I hope one of you will tell me.

    All in all, it makes me proud to have bought those Superchunk CDs back in the 90s.

    @brittleblood: don't know what year that Ramones/Iggy bill was, but I saw Iggy in Nov 80 (only because I wanted to see Gang of Four, who were the improbable opener), and you didn't miss a thing.
  • edited February 2011
    A lot of times what would happen back in those days, though, was that a band from the UK would sign to something like Virgin or Rough Trade or Factory or Mute or whatever, and their records would be available as imports, distributed in the US by outfits like Jem, Important, Greenworld, etc., months or even years before a major (or maybe a major-distributed label like A&M or Enigma) would "pick them up." That was true of the first three XTC albums, for example - the fourth, Black Sea, was the first to be released almost-simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, because it was picked up by RSO of all people - famous for releasing the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and the Bee Gees' disco-era LPs. Thankfully, it was a one-album deal...

    I guess what I'm saying is, the majors rarely took chances on anybody who didn't already have at least one or two finished albums and some decent UK and/or European sales numbers. They preferred to wait until they could grab a sure thing, so that they wouldn't have to risk anything on production costs, and the bands were fine with that because it was the only way to get into all the big retail outlets. You see less of that today because of digital distribution - bands don't care so much about getting their product into more brick-and-mortar shops when so few people are buying CDs. And of course pop music in general isn't the dominant genre it once was anyway, sales-wise... you just have to lower your expectations, because the Big Bucks just aren't there anymore. What little remains is probably gobbled up by executive salaries and iTunes.
  • @ScissorMan: God, yes! And if an album did get released in the States, it would seldom be the same as what it was in Britain: for example, I didn't realize that "Life Begins At The Hop" doesn't open Drums&Wires's original (British) release until I downloaded it a few weeks ago. Not to mention what happened to English Settlement over here.
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