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Frightened Rabbit

How to Define Indie Music?

There are no short answers when it comes to the definition of indie music. While some use indie to describe where artists of all genres are at in the industry, it has also become synonymous with an edgy guitar-based pop sound over the years.

Today, indie is an extension of the music that the indie pioneers created when they started to break away from the big four record labels (EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony). To definitively understand the definition of indie music, we have to get to grips with how it came around and became a descriptor for a particular off-kilter sonic style

A Micro History of Indie

The indie uprising started in the 1970s – although the roots of independent music go back to the soul, blues and Motown independent labels in the 50s. In the 70s, distinctions arose between artists on major record labels and artists independent of them.

The new wave, post-punk and alternative music releases in the late 70s started to fall under the indie category while picking up traction amongst music fans eager to hear music that was far more visceral, real and experimental. This new aural hunger led to Tony Wilson creating a roster at Factory Records, Daniel Miller establishing Mute and Chris Parry following suit with his label, Fiction, in 1978.

The Manchester-based outfit, The Smiths, were a pivotal part of UK Indie history; once they were on the Rough Trade roster in the mid-80s, they created a cultural movement with their politically aware, socially conscious and poetically morose lyrics. The Smiths inspired countless acts keen to emanate the jangle-pop guitars and the hooky despite the melancholy energy. Just a few of the indie acts that are under the influence of the Smiths are Blur, Pulp, The XX, Frightened Rabbit and The Killers.

Indie started to manifest in the industry in plenty of other ways from the 80s onwards, from indie dance to indie folk to indie hip hop, swathes of artists started to adopt the DIY ethos after watching the success of indie pioneers, such as Joy Division and Depeche Mode. Although indie artists are experimental as a default, the genre amassed characteristics over the years, such as bands having a cultural identity, almost existentialist mentality and being heavier than pop but lighter than rock.

The indie acts springing up under Sub Pop in Seattle in the 80s were far noisier and more discordant than UK indie acts. The independent label, Sub Pop, signed Soundgarden, Mudhoney and Sonic Youth and gave way to the grunge era that defined the 90s in America.

Technically, when independent artists, such as REM and Nirvana, signed multi-million-dollar record deals with major labels, they should have lost their indie status. Instead, their indie status remained for the culture that all of the indie bands since the 70s collectively created.

Today, indie music isn’t *quite* as popular as it was when it peaked in the 90s, but there are still thriving independent grassroots music scenes all across the UK and across the globe. In 2021, independent artists can take advantage of countless indie music blogs, indie playlists, indie radio stations and indie magazines to grow their fanbases away from major labels.

Vulpine break new ground with their experimental post-rock EP, Ventures.

Scotland’s most melodic alt-rock outfit, Vulpine, has released their genre-spanning debut EP, Ventures, which brings a rare sense of accessibility to math rock and plenty of solemnity and poise to emo pop-rock.

The best introduction to their atmospheric, progressively gripping songwriting style is the title track, which carries the evocative weight of Frightened Rabbit combined with the instrumental furore of Mogwai.

From an ambient prelude, an intricately immense storm kicks up in the instrumentals, taking you through gripping breakdowns and even sweeter crescendos that hit the climactic spot every time. As the consistently in-flux sonic palette switches up through the progressions, vocalist, Pete Fox, demonstrates the provoking range of his vocal power.

The Ventures EP released on October 1st. It is now available to stream and purchase on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Sleep Walking Animals have released their post-punk infused folk single, ‘Dance Laura Dance’

Folk and indie post-punk collide in the latest single released by the alt-rock luminaries, Sleep Walking Animals. Refreshingly, reminiscence to contemporary folk chart-topping artists are there, but Sleep Walking Animals didn’t allow them to dominate their organically progressive single.

In the same way that Frightened Rabbit’s music was darkened by an inexplicable despondence, Sleep Walking Animals’ latest single gives that multi-faceted sense of emotion, making the euphoria-bleeding choruses so much sweeter.

With cutting post-punk tones spilling from the basslines behind the steady, momentum-building, choral guitars, Sleep Walking Animals created the perfect platform for the richly harmonic imploring vocals that reach out with enough finesse to reassure you that Sleep Walking Animals have exactly what it takes to be the next big name in indie.

The Manchester/London residing artists may be relatively fresh from their inception, but they’re already proving they’re one to watch.

Dance Laura Dance released on May 21st; you can check it out for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Metasonics delivers an Indie Folk Pop shot to the heart with ‘I Love You’

https://open.spotify.com/track/7im7vzRV4CPfknB81mRGUI?si=yMVcTWqkTbOaVgODYc5j3Q

Metasonics set out to change the landscape of the Pop genre in the 21st century, through their debut self-titled album, which was released in 2019, it’s safe to say that they have the perfect aural arsenal to wage the war on the superficial Pop genre.

I’ve probably heard more love songs than I’ve had hot dinners, but rarely, do they leave me as amorously sated as the standout track ‘I Love You’ from the Scottish artist. There’s a profoundness in the simplicity of the candid lyrics which centre around a direct, unfiltered proclamation of love which hits harder with every repetition.

With elements of Indie Folk ringing in the polished production, Metasonics will undoubtedly be of appeal to any fans of Frightened Rabbit, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Twilight Sad.

You can check out Metasonics’ debut album for yourselves by heading over to Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast