I know that I’ve not always held indie music in the highest regard simply because it’s indie. Indie means deviation from the norm, something different then what I’m used to and that doesn’t always entice me. However, indie is how pop should really sound. It’s not even worth apologizing to Lady Gaga or Katy Perry because let’s face it, your music is called pop because there is no “bad music category.” As catchy as pop music sounds and as much as I may kid about the artists that produce such noise, there are certainly bands that get the short end of the stick when it comes to radio play and popularity.
In the movie Garden State, Natalie Portman turns to Zack Braff and says a certain song will change a certain someone’s life and while I can’t claim such transcendence from The Shin‘s “New Slang,” I can claim a restored faith in pop music. The Shins finely craft melodies and catchy hooks without losing the thing that separates them from mainstream artsits. Katy Perry talks about California Girls in bikinis and Lady Gaga says we are all born special, yet the Shins leave their lyrics open to interpretation as they talk in metaphors and speak without judgment or expectation. My first Shins album, Chutes Too Narrow, was given to me in high school and I listen to it to this day because no two songs sound the same or deliver the same message.
I also love the band Vampire Weekend. Just like The Shins, they have an unconventional musical and lyrical style. Musically, lead singer Ezra Koenig’s voice’s tone is not only unconventional, but also just plain different and the band incorporates such diverse elements as African rhythms into pop songs. And yet, the band always makes sure to add pop hooks to such an eclectic mix that their music always comes out surprisingly catchy and lyrically engaging to merit another listen and another listen after that.