Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Indie Rock Salvation

As I’ve grown older, I’ve grown increasingly neurotic about my taste in music. I have this desperate desire to stay “current” with my musical taste. It’s common for people in their late 30’s to fixate on the music they loved in school and then just kind of freeze, locking themselves into a box made of 80’s hits.

I didn’t want to be like that but I couldn’t seem to break out. My musical taste froze in 1996. In desperation, I started flailing around for Top Hits and Best Of collections, trying to find something that would speak to me.

Last month I gave up and went full 80’s retro for a while. It’s fun to revisit childhood for a while, but I didn’t actually like my childhood, so Prince, ZZ Top and Dire Straights were conjuring up memories that I would rather leave behind.

I dug a little deeper and realized I was trying to recreate a college radio alternative playlist from 1989. This was my first year in college, the year I worked the morning shift at KTXT.

This was a legitimately happy time in my life, my first real exposure to alternative music. The early morning shifts bathed everything in a kind of dreamy, suggestive haze, magnifying the impact of the music and making deep imprints in my brain.

I didn’t like this music much when I was playing it, but once I left, I found myself coming back to it over and over again.

I dug up some of these old gems last week and reunited with Edelweiss, The Dead Millkmen and Dinosaur, Jr.

Good memories, but where is the modern equivalent? In the past couple months I’ve tried out “Best Of” playlists from Metacritic and Pitchfork, along with six different decades of UK pop.

None of it gave me what I was looking for. I tried a 1,000-song collection from a torrent site and got nothing but rap, novelty songs and frat-boy metal.

Metacritic raved about Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes but all they did was put me to sleep.

My 80’s memories were too lame, modern pop was dominated by abominations like Katy Perry and the critical favorites were too strange.

Just when I was about to give up, I found this. 120 songs off an indie rock playlist. I recognize maybe six bands in this whole list, but this is the sweet spot I’ve been looking for.

Snow Patrol, Flaming Lips, The Decemberists and Kate Nash.

I don’t know where these bands score on the hip-o-meter, but they’re not too old and they’re not too strange. The words make sense, the lyrics mean something and the BPM is high enough to keep me awake.

And if all these songs are “indie” what the hell happened to radio while I was gone?

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 7, 2008 at 17:08

Posted in Music

2 Responses

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  1. This list is a pretty good start. There are two really notable exceptions missing The New Pornographers and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. They are two major indie rock bands missing. I would have certainly chosen a different song by Sufjan Stevens, such as “Chicago.” Finally there are a few other smaller bands I would have included such as Owen and Matt Pond, PA.


    November 7, 2008 at 19:04

  2. check out the static jacks, i can’t stop listening to them. and don’t worry, they’re not europop from outer space like stereo total, these are good old american rock and roll boys from jersey. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=63025409


    November 9, 2008 at 15:09

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