The Hype Machine: Top 10 Indie Buzz Bands You May Have Forgotten

Dirty-Projectors---Bitte-Orca feb29.jpg
So you're a hipster. Not you specifically. I would never accuse the great Rocks Off readers of being hipsters. But hypothetically, say you're a hipster. How do you choose your favorite bands? Well, you stroll on over to any indie-rock blog and check out all the latest buzz bands obviously. The problem with buzz bands though is that they don't always maintain their buzz.

Sure, some have kept it up like Girls (who play Houston March 13), but for every Girls there's a Gay Dad. Bands that strike for a moment and then completely burn out.

The fun of following all these indie buzz bands is you never know who will have staying power. You put all your chips in one basket, let's say the Gay Dad basket, and then it turns out that you were wrong and it's Modest Mouse that ends up being a classic band a few years later. Of course, some of these bands that don't manage to stay in the spotlight are legitimately great bands. Today we'll talk about 10 of the greats who you may have forgotten.

10. Joanna Newsom: For a moment in 2006 with her album Ys, Joanna Newsom made playing a harp cool. However, her popularity immediately dropped off and not even a very highly regarded three CD follow-up in 2010 could bring her back to that level. These days she might be known more for dating Andy Samberg.


9. Fujiya & Miyagi: This electronic group might have been helped along when they hit it big in 2006 by the fact that LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz and Death From Above 1979 were massively popular at the time. Unfortunately for Fujiya & Miyagi, while those bands have stayed popular, people stopped caring about Fujiya & Miyagi so much that I don't think anyone even noticed they had a new album last year.


8. A Place to Bury Strangers: A Place to Bury Strangers burst on the scene with not only a hit self-titled album but also a major opening slot for Nine Inch Nails. They were poised to be the next big thing in electronic rock, but since the release of their sophomore album Exploding Head in 2009 they've released a steady stream of EPs which nobody seems to have been paying attention to.


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19 comments
jack
jack

it was inevitable that Grizzly Bear and Dirty Projectors woudl fall off the map because their popularity was sustainedonly  by clueless hipsters and douchebag music critics and not by their actual music which was bori ng to say the very least.

 

A Place to Bury strangers was never going to be mainstream and they are still a great band to listen to and get inspired by.

lifelongwalk
lifelongwalk

@jack Neither of those bands has fallen off the map though. Grizzly Bear's latest album was overwhelmingly acclaimed and peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200. Dirty Projectors's new album was also very well recieved and reached #22 on the 200. Both bands continue to get tons of attention in alternative/indie publications and radio stations and neither have lost the attention of the mainstream press. Your entitled to your opinion, but if you dismiss all the fans as hipsters and all the critics as clueless, you're essentially trying to validate your opinion by saying "everyone else is wrong". That's just ridiculous..

yo
yo

With all due respect, this is really one of the most worthless posts I've ever read.  I'm honestly not offended in the least by any of your choices here; in fact, the only band I even like that you mention anywhere in the entire piece is Girls.  I'm trying to be pretty objective with my opinion (if that makes any sense), so I assure you, I'm not merely acting like the typical butthurt Dave Matthews fan: "Whatever, dude.  You just don't know.  Those guys rock."  You don't come off as antagonistic to me, and I'm not trying to antagonize in return.  If I was speaking with you face to face, I wouldn't be using an insulting or condescending tone.

But really, what is the point?

Is it: "Hipster trend whores consuming music more quickly than ever!"

or: "Mainstream idiots/flakes don't constantly Google bands who aren't 1) spoon-fed to them and/or 2) constantly played on the radio!"

or: "Hardcore fans of certain bands don't Google said bands very often, even though those fans are probably already aware that said bands are on hiatus, are probably already aware of when the next album comes out, etc.!"

If this was an article about how a certain band put out one or two subpar albums since they last met whatever criteria define "buzz band," there would indeed be some substance there; you could discuss how that band hasn't lived up to what had appeared to be solid potential.  I can only guess your point is some combination of the three scenarios I mentioned above, and the common response to much of that is likely to be some variation of "duh".  At worst, you're saying something like "OMG y'allz!  Fucked Up are totally done!  They haven't put out anything in, like, 9 months!"

In recent years, compared to 10-15+ years ago, the general routine with respect to how often bands release material, tour, etc. hasn't changed much.  However, your post could easily be interpreted as suggesting that bands SHOULD speed it up, just to keep pace with the shortening attention spans of people who could hardly have been identified as 'real' fans in the first place.  In other words, you effectively encourage people who might think a certain band must be washed up (only because they haven't heard anything from that band in a while, of course) to believe that they should be accommodated with more frequent releases of (likely) subpar material and/or PR stunts.  These people are crappy, half-assed music fans that bands shouldn't want and don't need, and they don't deserve such a large say in the conversation.  Any such accommodation would only damage the quality of music as a whole, and those of us who really care would suffer.

If that's NOT what you intended here (and I don't think it is), a better point to make could have have been something along the lines of "It's really quite a shame that many quality musicians are regularly falling victim to what appears to be a vicious boom-and-bust cycle and/or symptom of the oncoming Idiocracy."  To be fair, you appear to claim in your comment that your point was some variation of this, but you base said point on Google trends and subjective observation.  See the flaw?

So really, who gives a shit if trend whores and amateurs aren't Googling these bands anymore/right now?  They've already moved on.  Good.  Ignore them and their effects...this is the best way for those of us who really care can hope to maintain quality.

Chris
Chris

Nice work with the Pitchfork tag. King-purveyors of insincere bulls**t since god knows when.

Corey
Corey

Oddly neglected to mention the Arctic Monkeys, the new smiths, hardly.

Perfect Timing
Perfect Timing

Be sure to check out The Thermals and Titus Andronicus at the 21st Annual KTRU Outdoor Show, March 17th at Rice University!

Corey Deiterman
Corey Deiterman

If I may post in my own defense here, I based these assessments on Google Insights. Not a flawless way to tell who's hot and who's not, but a good enough aggregator for the purposes of this article. I intended to include embedded charts from Insights, but it doesn't allow embedding of the "Arts & Entertainment" search charts, which would render anything from there pointless to include (imagine trying to gauge Grizzly Bear's popularity for Google searches based in any search category). I chose to simply remove the Insights aspect of the article, since there wasn't a feasible workaround at that point.

The real point here, though it may not be necessarily clear (my bad), is to remind people of these bands, not to do some hipster "these are the bands that are out now" thing. I believe it's a very real possibility some of these bands have been overlooked or forgotten in recent years and the Insights results are an indication of that. It may come off as antagonistic, but it gets the point across. I personally mention in the article how much I love some of these bands. It's not talking shit, it's saying that I hope they do come back in a big way, I just don't know if they will because it seems right now their popularity is fading, especially with the recent seeming death of chamber pop in favor of more electronic based music.

The main fault I'll really take responsibility for here is that I did let some negative personal opinions slip in here, such as knocking Okkervil River's recent output, which, while good, does not meet the standard set by The Stage Names, in my opinion (and I cannot stress that enough). Putting that in was probably a mistake and made this seem more like a mindless bashing article, which it was not intended to be. I accept responsibility for that.

chudbludd
chudbludd

It's not that you're talking shit, it's just that tracking the popularity of bands has always been irrelevant, and now with the rise of ultra-current blog culture is legitimately damaging to artists. Bands are either some random local folks no one knows, hyped up everywhere (this lasts 6 months if you're lucky), and then a washed up has been before hitting 30 years old. It seems to be true for national music writing as it is for the tiniest local scene and it's getting really depressing. I always thought major labels were the wackest thing ever, but now that they're gone I kind of miss someone being there to guide someone through a career arc that lasts for more than a year or two. It's disturbing to see that even a huge band like Grizzly Bear could be summed up in early 2012 as "Gee, what happened to those guys?" It seems to me like they're taking a breath for a minute after working their asses off and touring constantly for like 5 years. The fact that someone would start to write them off just because their publicity machine has been idling for a while is really depressing to someone like me who can't even afford a publicity machine in the first place. I thought the internet would lessen the impact of publicists and the like, but it seems to only increase it.

Corey Deiterman
Corey Deiterman

Unfortunately, this a truth we all have to live with in all aspects of pop culture. Fifteen minutes of fame has become literally fifteen minutes. It's a sad fact, but people move on from things faster than ever. I get what you're saying and I know it sucks, but it's where we are now. For my own part, given the reality of that fact, I can't see how it would be damaging to bring these artists up again, even in a retrospective light as this is. Even in a negative light, being mentioned can only help to remind people that these guys exist. Any publicity is good publicity after all, especially nowadays. One has to wonder if people wouldn't have moved on from Kanye West like they did someone like Kid Cudi if not for all the controversy and negative publicity. But that's an entirely different subject, the point being that in such an overwhelming culture, a reminder is a good thing. You may not need it, but I guarantee you there's a lot of people that played the hell out of Veckatemist in 2009 and promptly forgot about it the following year. Such is media today.

Toadvine
Toadvine

You're kind of missing the boat on some things here . . .  Okkervil River released Stage Names 9 years into an already successful career as a small touring band.  I don't think they count as a "buzz-band."  Hell, I guess I don't really understand what you're saying?  If Titus Andronicus and Grizzly Bear aren't viable successful acts in your opinion (and I cannot stand GB, but I don't like 70's light rock) what would one look like?

Doc
Doc

 Thermals and Okkervil River? They both just put out amazing albums last year. I respectfully disagree with these particular assessments, sir.

Also, Modest Mouse was mentioned early on, but would have made a fine entry, since they haven't put out an album since mid-2007. Almost five years now. Damn, Modest Mouse! Where the heck are ya?

KING
KING

Good idea. You just picked all the wrong bands. Joanna Newsom? Really?

Forced Fem
Forced Fem

Dirty Projectors remain ''teh sick''the rest...evs.

chudbludd
chudbludd

Thanks for helping music to suck more by writing crap like this. What we really need is for the internet hype machine to run on shorter and shorter cycles. "OMG I haven't seen anyone blog about that band in like 3 days, they're SO OVER."

Freck
Freck

SHELL ART IS OVER!

CaitRoseDev
CaitRoseDev

As you mention, most of these bands (especially the ones at the top of your list) released their last albums in 2009-2010. 2 to 3 years is a completely acceptable amount of time to keep a low profile for while they work on new material. Wait until a band is gone for like 7 years before declaring them "forgotten."

Tzu Breeze
Tzu Breeze

have to agree with JK here, what is your definiton of popular? When a band as not released a new album or been on tour, then doesnt it seem logical that they will not be in the press or all over tweeter? Im sure when over half of these bands listed release their next albumn they will be back at the top of the Indie Buzz charts. I guess my question to you would be, name me one indie buzz band that hasn't put out a full album in over two years that is still talked about on a weekly basis in the music world?

JK
JK

I think your definition of "popular" might be questionable - Titus Andronicus, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors are "buzz bands"? They're all still in regular rotation on satellite radio and will likely get a lot a attention with their next albums and at theirs shows. If you're talking about mainstream media attention or record sales, I might agree, but that's not really the point of "indie", huh?

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