When I picked up this Paste magazine article titled “Is Indie Dead?” one night before bed at SXSW I was pretty sure I would had it. I didn’t (though there were some parts I found a bit over the top). More than anything else, I found two points from the article stuck with me: First,
In a world where a car commercial or Target ad could feasibly “break” a band, it’s fair to be somewhat suspicious of palatability, which can be just as easily feigned as the sound of a calculated chart hit, especially when certain tastemaking pockets begin to establish their preferred sound–like the unknown, just-barely-off-kilter singer/songwriters picked to soundtrack the earliest seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, or the sassy, exuberant kitchen-sink pop recently favored by Apple to sell its iPods and iPhones. This kind of artist-driven calculation might be even more dangerous than the mainstream calculation we’re used to. At least mainstream pop is generally marketed and approached under the default assumption that it’s dross, with any arguments for “authenticity” hashed out only after the fact–and in that way it’s more artistically honest than most modern indie music.