What's the best book about indie music?
September 14, 2009 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Calling all music Mefites: Can you recommend any good books about indie music or musicians?

My boyfriend loves music and enjoys reading about it and the people who create it. I know indie is a vague genre, but that's how I'd describe his taste in music. He likes a pretty broad range of artists, but favorites include The Fall, The Manic Street Preachers, Kate Bush, The Long Blondes, and Joy Division (He already owns Touching From a Distance, though.). He also likes festivals, so a history of festivals (especially in the UK) might work, too. Any ideas for books that might appeal to him? Thank you for your ideas.

Oh, I'm not sure it's relevant, but this is for a 6-month anniversary gift. We've been to lots of concerts together & met at a bookshop, so a music book seems appropriate. But I've never given an anniversary gift before, so if you think this is a bad gift idea, let me know before I cause a disaster!
posted by bibliophibianj to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad. Absolutely kickass book.
posted by The Michael The at 2:25 PM on September 14, 2009 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Rip it Up and Start Again: Post punk 1978-1984
posted by applemeat at 2:27 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

You might see if any of the 33 & 1/3 books are about any of his favorite albums.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:30 PM on September 14, 2009

Goodbye 20th Century and Confusion is Next are both biographies of Sonic Youth, but they're also pretty good histories of the American indie scene.
posted by elder18 at 2:33 PM on September 14, 2009

Never Mind the Bollocks: Women Rewrite rock. Fascinating snapshot of a specific era of indie.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:34 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Guided by Voices book, Hunting Accidents, is one of my favorites.
posted by downing street memo at 2:35 PM on September 14, 2009

Seconding Our Band Could Be Your Life.
posted by bengarland at 2:43 PM on September 14, 2009

Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance, by Dean Wareham (of Galaxie 500 and Luna fame)
posted by *s at 2:44 PM on September 14, 2009

Thirding "Our Band". It's about American indie music when that word actually meant that a band and the scene in which it operated was "independent", free of outside influence, as opposed to its current incarnation as "a small branch of a massive entertainment conglomerate", which is a small but critical distinction.

"Indie" music as it is known now would not exist if not for the bands in that book.
posted by pdb at 2:47 PM on September 14, 2009

I haven't even read Our Band Could Be Your Life and I came here to suggest it. I've seen lots of raves.
posted by dfan at 2:55 PM on September 14, 2009

Our Noise is the story of Merge Records, and comes out tomorrow.
posted by god hates math at 3:06 PM on September 14, 2009

Amped : Notes from a Go-Nowhere Punk Band, by Jon Resh.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:57 PM on September 14, 2009

The Last Party: Blair, Britpop, and the demise of English rock. Covers the rise and fall of the Britpop bands of the mid-nineties. Inevitably there's quite a bit about Creation Records, who signed a lot of indie bands and ended up scoring a huge commercial success with Oasis.
posted by penguinliz at 4:19 PM on September 14, 2009

If he likes the Fall, how about Mark E. Smith's autobiography?

John Peel's first autobiography is also great (I haven't read the second one yet).
posted by vickyverky at 4:22 PM on September 14, 2009

BBC Radio DJs Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie have both written funny, interesting memoirs about their life in music.

I'm also rather fond of Andrew Collins' writings (he wrote for Select and Melody Maker back in the day; I think he does radio now, too). They're a bit more about being an indie boy, rather than being in a band, though.
posted by vickyverky at 4:26 PM on September 14, 2009

Great suggestions here, but let me add The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize and DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:17 PM on September 14, 2009

Heh, I was coming in to suggest Our Band... too :)
Others that come highly recommended include England's Dreaming by Jon Savage, the definitive UK punk book; Clinton Heylin's From The Velvets To The Voidoids; Julian Cope's Head On/Repossessed double-header (as well as both Krautrocksampler and Japrocksampler); Paul Morley's head-twisting Words And Music and Bill Drummond's 45.
posted by anagrama at 5:17 PM on September 14, 2009

Randomly suggesting This Book is Broken: A Broken Social Scene Story.
posted by Rora at 5:36 PM on September 14, 2009

Ooooh, I hadn't heard of that book Rora, thanks! Indie Rock Colouring Book?
posted by saucysault at 6:53 PM on September 14, 2009

Please Kill Me
posted by Sara Anne at 7:49 PM on September 14, 2009

Yup, I was gonna suggest Please Kill Me, too. But it's about 70s punk, which may not be his thing. Great book, though -- basically transcripts of interviews with people who were in the scene at the time, in their own words. Hilarious, and fascinating (and then it gets kinda sad as people start to OD and die).
posted by Bron at 8:04 PM on September 14, 2009

Joy Division was founded in 1976.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:10 PM on September 14, 2009

Response by poster: Oooh, these all sound very interesting. Thanks! Sounds like Our Band... is the consensus so far. I've requested a copy from a library so I can take a look myself. Vickyverky: I didn't realize Mark E. Smith had an autobiography. And the boy in question just sent me the John Peel autobiography last week. :) Saucysault: Coloring book? Awesome.

Keep 'em coming if you got 'em. After the anniversary, I'll send him a link to the thread so he can compile a reading list.
posted by bibliophibianj at 8:46 PM on September 14, 2009

A little off the beaten path, but the book Body Piercing Saved My Life -- a look at contemporary Christian music, with a focus on indie-related bands like Pedro the Lion and Danielson and the label Tooth and Nail -- is one of the more fascinating books I've read about music and how it reaches its audience. Andrew Beaujon, who wrote the book, played in several indie pop bands and was a key player in the iconic 1990s DC indie label TeenBeat.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:15 PM on September 15, 2009

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