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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The Battalion May 4, 2024

Criticism: Shiny guitar, dull tones

Art+critic+Ruben+Hernandez+speaks+out+with+concerns+surrounding+the+indie+music+scene.
Photo by Photo courtesy of Zoran Veselinovic

Art critic Ruben Hernandez speaks out with concerns surrounding the indie music scene.

The music scene, as of now, has seemingly been in a cultural headlock. While some artists manage to break through current standards or push the boundaries of music, the greater majority of debuting artists are what are most concerning when it comes to the quality of upcoming music.
When the sudden boom of social media interaction was at an all-time high, around the late ‘00s in YouTube and Myspace, many upcoming artists showcased their talents and ideas through the internet, granting many a rise to fame. Now, in the current era of business-driven social media, posting on these platforms such as TikTok have become more of a crutch, 15 minutes of fame for the easy-bake oven, nepotism babies who have been exposed to one too many alt pop songs.
The indie wave was once a movement for the claim of independence and original perspectives, not controlled by a big industry. Now, it’s the opposite. Many still see these new, upcoming indie artists as declarations of today’s youthful expression, yet it presents itself more as a bandwagon that has bottlenecked potential exceptional artists from standing out. It is now a musical style so perpetuated on the feeling of exclusivity, it has swung around and hit itself in the face with a standard of such mediocrity.
While reviewing the general indie music catalog, a common recurrence I noticed was the lack of diversity in terms of vocal style, instrumental style, and themes. Understandably, this is what should classify a genre, but for the repertoire to be so repetitive, even lackluster, is so underwhelming. None of the artists I reviewed experimented with a new style or an added ingredient to the creativity — practically playing it safe.
One outstanding indie band I’ve been listening to for some time now is Los Retros, a Latino indie band from Oxnard, Calif., known for sampling and calling back to the music styling of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Once you hear the sound, you know it’s an indie pop band, but it deviates from becoming formulaic and predictable. The band’s exceptionality stems from recalling to past times and combining it with its own style, instead of becoming incomplete for the sake of originality and relatability.
We are in the middle of a cultural desert, with many trying to dig a well of originality only to find themselves stuck in a hole. Sampling and taking inspiration from past artists won’t hurt the culture, but makes us reflect on what made specific songs and pieces so remarkable. It’s this inspiration combined with the essence of individuality that can branch off into a new sound, idea or movement. As told by French-Italian philosopher Tiqqun, “Incompleteness is the mode of being of everything that remains in contact with potential; the form of existence of everything devoted to becoming.”
When thinking of what it truly means to be indie, the thought of artists who punctuate their uniqueness in voice, lyricism, style, imagery and social commentary into their music is what must first come to mind. They don’t fear stepping out of a mold or generating a sound that will cause criticism or negative reactions. They’re not afraid to feel, but more importantly, not afraid to do.
Ruben Hernandez is a journalism junior and art critic for The Battalion.

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