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.
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.
7. The Thermals: The Thermals took the punk approach to indie rock that predecessors like Ted Leo had taken and used it to their advantage brilliantly. They've been putting out consistently good albums for years, but their popularity, aside from a brief spike in 2009 for a new album, has been consistently dropping.
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6. Sunset Rubdown: Sunset Rubdown is a side project of Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug that evolved into a hit indie buzz band all its own. I fondly remember hearing Shut Up I Am Dreaming in 2006 and thinking it was an incredible blend of prog-rock with indie-pop. Sunset Rubdown was maintaining their popularity pretty well, especially when they put out new albums, but since their last album Dragonslayer in 2009, they've reached the lowest levels of popularity in their career through a steady decline.
5. Okkervil River: One of the great folk-rock bands from Austin. I was personally enamored with their 2007 album The Stage Names, but felt they peaked there. Apparently the majority of people are in agreement, as they've never really reached that level of popularity since.
4. Fuck Buttons: Fuck Buttons made a hell of a racket in 2009 with their electronic jams on their sophomore album Tarot Sport. It made a strong case for harsh electronics and noise becoming mainstream, but it must have proved to be too much as they've gone straight back down since.
3. Titus Andronicus If there is such a thing as prog punk, no matter how contradictory that sounds, then Titus Andronicus proved themselves the masters of it with their sprawling Civil War epic The Monitor in 2010. It would seem, however, that their popularity is already dropping back down to the level it was at before that album was released now.
2. Dirty Projectors With Bitte Orca, Dirty Projectors were poised to be the next big group in indie-rock. Their sound was experimental but featured beautiful hooks and female vocals. It had such pop appeal that Solange Knowles even covered their song "Stillness is the Move". But it seems since then they've dropped back to pre-Bitte Orca levels of popularity since then.
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1. Grizzly Bear: Grizzly Bear got insanely popular in 2009 with their album Veckatemist. It made many Best of 2009 lists. It topped this blogger's, as a matter of fact. But since then, they've maintained a low profile and all the buzz around them in 2009 has completely dissipated. Veckatemist was an amazing record of chamber pop mixed with prog influences. Could they make a comeback with the album they're working on right now? Sure. But one wonders if they'll ever be as big as they were in that solitary moment.
Ed. Note: Two bands on this list, Titus Andronicus and The Thermals, announced they're playing KTRU's free Outdoor Show March 17, so there's always hope.