Indie Rock Recommendations
April 13, 2006 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Music recommendations for someone who has grown up/apart from indie rock.

I used to be a voracious indie rock consumer but a couple years ago something happened and I started to find most of it way too pretentious, twee, taking itself to seriously, etc. I'm very near getting sick of my all time favorites, who I play over and over again since nothing else has come along and grabbed me: Calexico (and Giant Sand and its extended family), Grandaddy, the Shins, Neutral Milk Hotel, and going further back, Camper Van Beethoven, Pixies. I'm interested in 80s flavored rock like Franz Ferdinand, but don't know much there. There just has to be indie rock that I could still fall in love with, but I'm way out of the loop -- please help.
posted by kmel to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If you like Franz Ferdinand, you'd probably like Maximo Park, We Are Scientists, and Arctic Monkeys.
posted by luneray at 11:25 AM on April 13, 2006

I know the feeling. They've been been around for a while, but what about Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? They are more rock than most current bands, and the latest release is a little more bluesy than prior ones. I also truly love Chin Up Chin Up, which is also a few years old and you may already know. I also find the country-ish spinoffs of indie pop bands to be a little more grown up -- read: Neko Case and Jenny Lewis' new CDs are both excellent.

Also, if you're against pretentiousness, I'd actually avoid the Arctic Monkeys. Personally, I didn't find that they lived up to all the hype.
posted by echo0720 at 11:32 AM on April 13, 2006

If you like Franz Ferdinand, you'd probably like Maximo Park, We Are Scientists, and Arctic Monkeys.

And Bloc Party. And Hot Hot Heat, probably.
posted by maxreax at 11:32 AM on April 13, 2006

Try using Pandora and/or to find other artists similar to the ones you like. Plug Franz Ferdinand (or one of your old favorites) into the player and listen for a while. You could also use bands mentioned in this thread to get a feel for them.
posted by arco at 11:34 AM on April 13, 2006

How about Electric Six? Too goofy?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2006

It might help to know what specifically you *don't* like, to avoid a simple listing of bands people like.

The "indie"-ness of these bands is questionable at best, but Bloc Party and The Killers are both 80s-flavored hott bands that I love. Try Bloc Party first. If you're not into Pavement yet then, um, yeah. Do that.
posted by drewbeck at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2006

Andrew Bird, man.
posted by boo_radley at 12:09 PM on April 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I went through a similar phase.

Try another type of music. I got the Stax/Volt box set, and love almost all of it. then I checked out some Xenakis/Messaien et al... fantastic stuff. Dug into older stuff like Bob Dylan, Talking Heads, The Smiths, Woody Guthrie, Joy Division, New Order, etc...

Um. Indie bands though. Problem is that they're just not that good these days. Or indie. That's as far as I choose to get into that.

Land of Talk are a great band from Montreal.
Wintersleep are a ridiculously good band from Halifax.

Both have websites, both are on Dependent Records.
posted by jon_kill at 12:13 PM on April 13, 2006

If you like Camper van Beethoven, you may also like Granfaloon Bus. You can listen to a couple of their songs here. Their album Exploded View is particularly amazing.

Since my love affair with Camper sorta wore off, I'm barely able to listen to anything but them and Quasi.
posted by interrobang at 12:14 PM on April 13, 2006

Bloc Party, Hard Fi, Interpol, Gnarls Barkley, Modest Mouse, Great Lake Swimmers, Wolf Parade. iTunes Music Store is a great way to quickly check out new music.

Radio: woxy, wfmu, kexp, kcrw
posted by four panels at 12:15 PM on April 13, 2006

If you like Giant Sand/Howe Gelb/et al., you could do worse than delving into the Thrill Jockey roster -- lots of great artists there. Of that list, I'd most strongly (read: fanatically) recommend Califone -- I genuinely think they're one of the best bands making music today. (Record-wise, I'd suggest starting with either "Roomsound" or "Quicksand/Cradlesnakes.") I just saw them a couple of weeks ago here in L.A. at the Getty in an amazing performance with The Books, who impressed me mightily, as well.
posted by scody at 12:16 PM on April 13, 2006

I will second scody's suggestion of Thrill Jockey, and I will raise it a "check out some music from other countries" and a "you might also like some IDM."
posted by kaseijin at 12:36 PM on April 13, 2006

Advice by proxy (from my go-to guy for music advice):

Well, s/he could listen to KJHK, or check out our awesome website. Also, I didn't see My Morning Jacket, Broken Social Scene, The Sounds, The Lashes, Rogue Wave, The Coral, Laura Veirs, Fruit Bats, Josh Vanderslice, Solex, Nada Surf, Koufax, Spoon, The Cloud Room, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, Death Cab For Cutie, Wolf Parade, or The Faint mentioned.
posted by katieinshoes at 12:36 PM on April 13, 2006

Regarding your more "acoustic"-oriented selections, I second scody with Califone. Quicksand/Cradlesnakes is pure genius. Other artists you might like similar to this: Archer Prewitt, Jens Lekman, do you not like Wilco?? M. Ward...

Regarding the more 80s-tinged rock: Bloc Party, The Futureheads, Clor (GREAT BAND), Maximo Park, Field Music, The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Out Hud, Interpol (although they're 'eh' now)...

Arctic Monkeys is overrated. Don't bother.
posted by nona at 12:39 PM on April 13, 2006

posted by katieinshoes at 12:39 PM on April 13, 2006

Based on what you've said I think you'd really like Pinback. The link goes to their download page, but the real good stuff (predictably) isn't on there. Well constructed, tight and catchy without being too precious or coy.

If you're gonna buy an album of theirs, start with Blue Screen Life.
posted by Atom12 at 12:40 PM on April 13, 2006

I second Califone. Utterly fantastic band, and definitely one of the best gigs I ever went to.

There's a lot of great indie around you just have to look for it. I found quite a few bands I really liked listening through the massive SXSW mp3 torrents they released not long ago.

Band of Horses (or just 'Horses') impressed me, as did Grand National and Sciflyer (if you don't mind shoegaze).

Bands such as Aloha, The Sea and Cake, Sam Prekop, Pinback, Moneybrother, Mice Parade, Golden, Euphone might be some interesting avenues to explore, too.
posted by iamcrispy at 12:42 PM on April 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Band of Horses (mp3s) have just released their first album on Sub Pop and sound somewhat similar to the Shins (crossed with a little Arcade-Fire-y vibe). They also seem to be on the way to being overhyped, probably by the time they play a few summer festivals, but the album is pretty enjoyable.

The National (a few streaming songs, immediate sound) released Alligator last year, and many critics named it the best album of 2005 for a reason. If you're into slow and morose guitar a la Joy Division but want something less nihilistic than Interpol, try them. The album might not grab you at first but it's a huge grower; then go for their back catalogue.

Definitely try Bloc Party and Andrew Bird as others mentioned. And on preview, the list from katieinshoes.
posted by kyleg at 12:43 PM on April 13, 2006

Oi, people hate you. To recommend bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah when he's sick of boring indie rock? You bastards!

I've had the same thing happen. Luckily, I have the skill to cure it— more new (and old) music.
See, the first thing I'd do is go and see local stuff. Because you're in Texas (can't tell exactly where), you should have a good local scene. Get out to the damn clubs.

If that doesn't work, I'll give you some national acts with new albums, then some acts that are local to me (but should be thrilling to you).

Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
Great, literate, baroque pop.

Liars - Drum's Not Dead
Post-punk. Maybe over-rated, up to you. Fun and rumbly.

The Gossip - Standing in the Way of Control
Lesbians like blues rock sex too.

Loose Fur - Born Again in the U.S.A.
Still better than Wilco.

Sparks - Hello Young Lovers
They still live!

Tiga - Sexor
So much fun in Toronto.

The Knife - Silent Shout
Swedish? electro.

OK Cowboy by Vitalic
Everyone likes robot sex.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Show Your Bones"
Good but not great is still good.

The Deadly Snakes- Porcella
Rolling Stones and Birthday Party is fun. Unfortunately not as good as "Ode to Joy," but that album was so fucking killer that they couldn't follow.

Need New Body- UFO
Spazzes spazz videogames and indie pop only awesome.

From my neck of the woods:

Nomo- New Tones
Afrobeat big party yeah!

The High Strung- Moxie Bravo
Big Star and Mott The Hoople have lovechild shocka.

The Avatars- t/k
Blondie-biting awesome.

The Hard Lessons- Gasoline
Lucinda Williams meets Italian psychgarage. One of my top 5 from last year.

The Dirtbombs— If You Haven't Already Take A Look
Best rock band ever. I challenge you to buy the album and disagree. I CHALLENGE YOU!

The Muggs- s/t
Cock rock the way it was meant to be, somewhere between Allman Bros. and G'n'R.
posted by klangklangston at 1:11 PM on April 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

You might like Stellastarr* on that whole 80s revival tip.
posted by mckenney at 1:12 PM on April 13, 2006

Architecture in Helsinki (warning:sound).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:14 PM on April 13, 2006

You might also consider different branches of indie music that aren't "rock." If you're into folk at all, there are some interesting things going on there. Some of them border on the more traditional indie rock vibes but others are completely fresh and have more of the down to earth folk sensibility than the hip self-awareness that infects a lot of the things you've probably gotten annoyed with.

A good list, although some of these, unfortunately, are probably a little difficult to find:

Devendra Banhart
Joanna Newsom
Josephine Foster
Akron/Family (a little more rock-inclined, but still worthwhile)
Wooden Wand
Mi and L'au
Animal Collective (their most recent release, Feels, is definitely turning from folk to rock but their music is nothing but fun...they certainly don't take themselves too seriously even if their fans might)
Mount Eerie (lo-fi and kind of out there, but pleasant)
The Books
José González

Speaking of fun things, maybe bands like The Boy Least Likely To and Deerhoof would suit you well. The two are very different and kind of weird, but they both make fun music TBLLT's sound is light and beach boys-ey, Deerhoof tends more toward Zappa-like guitar craziness. Along this vein are Tilly and the Wall, All Girl Summer Fun Band and Aloha.

You also mentioned Neutral Milk Hotel as being an all-time fave, so why not look at some of the other Elephant6 Collective bands? Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, Of Montreal all make some good fun rock.

Try maybe also some foreign stuff. Dungen is an amazing guitar band out of Sweden and the bonus is that you can't tell if it's pretentious because you don't know what they're saying. OOIOO and the Boredoms are two bands (sharing some members) from Japan that are interesting if you're at all into the noise-rock side of the spectrum. (Don't's not full-blown noise...*thinks of Wolf Eyes and shudders*)

Failing that, there are some old-timers not really part of the indie scene (although somewhat adopted) who are still innovating like crazy in addition to having an amazing catalog of work their whole career through. Tom Waits is an excellent example.

Other than that, I'm going to have to second Sufjan Stevens and My Morning Jacket, and maybe add mention of Neko Case, who tends towards alt. country but is truly amazing (she's also involved with the New Pornographers, who are vaguely evocative of the Shins, but on her own she's so much better).

Hope that helps. Sorry for not really answering your question in regard to 80s-flavored things, but I don't know much about that and I find a lot of them to be quick fixes. I like a long "shelf-life" for my music and I find a lot of the bands I mentioned to be continually captivating.

Happy hunting!
posted by invitapriore at 1:17 PM on April 13, 2006

More votes for The Sea and Cake and Pinback, and a further recommendation of The Department of Eagles, who are incredible (link goes to download page).
posted by saladin at 1:19 PM on April 13, 2006

Interpol, Wilco, The Libertines, Babyshambles, Pavement, Blur.
Definitely Interpol if you like 80's sounding stuff.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:11 PM on April 13, 2006

posted by Sara Anne at 2:15 PM on April 13, 2006

Stars and Arcade Fire. I thought those were the de rigeur indie bands of the moment, though maybe just in Canada.

I cannot get enough of the Star's album 'Set Yourself on Fire' right now. If it was 1985, I would have worn the record out by now.
posted by GuyZero at 2:23 PM on April 13, 2006

Check out

They have a bunch of other streaming channels, but Indie Pop Rocks is one I listen to most often. The other channels have really expanded my tastes as far as other genres go.

Tag's Trance Trip is a recent addition. I was an extremely loyal listener to Tag back when he was running his own stream in the late 90s. That was a whole little world in and of itself... he had an IRC channel going, and would often talk to the listeners (about sex, drugs, and music), interview artists, and stream live events he was DJ'ing. It was a podcast before such a thing really existed in it's current form, I suppose.
posted by ninjew at 2:29 PM on April 13, 2006

How about the Mountain Goats?
posted by exceptinsects at 2:37 PM on April 13, 2006

I don't know if any of these are 'indie' but I've been spinning at Chez Black 8 lately...
Richard Hawley
American Music Club
Elvis Perkins
Kelley Polar
Ulrich Schnauss
Crooked Fingers
The Black Heart Procession
posted by black8 at 3:03 PM on April 13, 2006

I second Joanna Newsom
posted by vronsky at 3:21 PM on April 13, 2006

If your moral disposition allows, get Soulseek and and then peruse the "album of the year" lists from sites like Pitchfork (like this), Metacritic (or this: 1, 2), etc. and then download all that seem interesting. If you're a good person you'll then buy the ones you actually like/love.
posted by rooftop secrets at 4:02 PM on April 13, 2006

You were basically right to lose interest, but things have been looking up again of late - slightly. Bloc Party's album is great. Franz Ferdinand are lightweight but extremely hard to dislike. Especially if you're old enough to remember Postcard Records, as I am. Also check out The Kings of Leon, Elbow, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Arcade Fire (if you even missed the immense hype around them), later Wilco and Loose Fur, and, if you fancy punk jazz on speed (and come on, who doesn't?), this amazing record from Electric Ladyland.
posted by Decani at 5:07 PM on April 13, 2006

A lot of good bands have been mentioned. I'm not sure if they all fit your criteria though. I mean, I love Boy Least Likely To, but they're quite twee, and you said you didn't like twee, right?

Anyway, assuming you've been out of the loop for a long time:

I suppose Arcade Fire would be the first thing I'd recommend if you haven't heard Funeral. I got Funeral when it came out and I still enjoy it now.

Andrew Bird is quite impressive and has a beautiful sound. Layers of violin, whistling, guitar, and vocals in jazzy indie pop songs.

The Rosebuds play quite a pleasant, melodic, brand of indie rock.

The Brunettes, from New Zealand, were on tour with The Shins last time I saw them, and they were quite enjoyable.

A little Sufjan Stevens might be just what the doctor ordered.

The Decemberists have some excellent tunes. I say Her Majesty is their best record. Worth checking out.

John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats is one of the best lyricists in indie rock. Inimitable delivery. His latest was produced by John Vanderslice, whose most recent album is also excellent. Vanderslice manages to be topical in such an elliptical, narrative sort of way, and there's a ton of attention to detail in the way his record sounds. I highly recommend both of these guys.

I think Rogue Wave sound like The Shins.

A.C. Newman's album is great, as are all of The New Pornographers record. The NPs are pretty relentlessly power poppy, while Newman's record is perhaps more varied in texture.

Wolf Parade's album is great to get the old juices flowing. Good stuff.

The Lucksmiths (ok, a little twee) are awfully clever and pretty sounding. And Australian. Check out their latest record, Warmer Corners.

And yeah, Stars, Dungen, Interpol, Devendra B, Joanna N, and Clap You Hands. That's right, Clap Your Mothafucking Hands off this Mothafuckin Plane.

Oh, and all the kids these days are talking about Tapes 'N Tapes.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:15 PM on April 13, 2006

Oh, and I meant New Pornographers records.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:28 PM on April 13, 2006

Well, most of my recommendations are hardly new, but you didn't mention The New Pornographers/AC Newman, The Sounds, Spoon (skallas is right, though it took a while to grow on me), Wolf Parade, The Arcade Fire, Joanna Newsom, and Antony and the Johnsons. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Soviet, The Faint, The Killers and Interpol definitely come to mind with the 80s thing.
Avoid Broken Social Scene & Architecture in Helsinki; wanky indie droning as far as the eye can see there.
posted by willpie at 5:45 PM on April 13, 2006

Second Arcade Fire. The Liars, and the new Sleater-Kinney. You might also check out my current favorite band, The Dresden Dolls - they're definitely different. Lots of legit free mp3s of theirs can be found at
posted by pombe at 8:09 AM on April 14, 2006

I am a postpunk goth (tween / teen in the 80's, college early 90's) who actually uber-digs LOTS of the new stuff, and not specifically just the 80's flavoured indie-pop.

for the record, I'd second (and third and fourth) check them out. I'm originally from Cincinnati and so I can say with authourity, they've not played a bad track in 25 years. Most of my musical decisions have been driven by their playlist. KEXP is a close second, if you like their way-out-there eclectic Seattle flavour.

Pandora / iTunes' intelligent filters will become your new best friends on this journey.

Metal Hearts' latest album is much less alt-country and much more mainstream than their prior stuff, and that is NOT a bad thing. (plus they're from Louisville, KY, how can you go wrong?) I also like Jimmy Eat World, a lot, but they're pretty 'poppy' and mainstream.

BTW I looooove Sufjan Stevens, but the OP specifically griped about 'twee / pretentious... etc.' indie rock. Sufjan is amazing, but at least in my estimation he's pretty daggoned twee / emo ... uh, banjos and bells, anyone? and from what I gather (and from being of the GenX persuasion myself) the 'emo / screamo' element is prolly what's turning him/her off. So I'd say Modest Mouse may be pretty far down the acceptability list as well (hmmm, I like them as well as Belle & Sebastian, does this mean I need to start wearing ripped Chucks and 3-sizes-too-small jeans?).

Grand National is indeed a tad shoe-gazey but if you like Verve, definitely check them out. Kicking the National Habit is a wonderful album.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:01 PM on April 15, 2006

Hey Kmel, many good suggestions here, but make sure you check out Cass McCombs for some Lennony lo-fi pop or Richard Swift for some Randy Newmanesque, Tom Waitsy goodness.

...and if you haven't checked out The Arcade Fire yet, I will come down there and mow your yard and burn your bacon.

I'll second The National. Hell, they even have a widget.
posted by puddles at 10:10 PM on April 15, 2006

I know this thread is old now, but it deserves to be said again.
Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
posted by ninjew at 8:52 AM on April 17, 2006

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