free-geek

because cool kids are boring

The Other Geek Beat

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Living in the Nerdcore echo chamber its easy to come to think of Nerdcore and 8-Bit/Chiptunes as the definitive geek music. The only genres that allow for full blown embracement of the geek life style.

In other words, it is easy to forget about the older sibling (not sure if they’d be a brother or sister) whose already grown up and moved out of the folk’s place. The sibling’s name is indiepop (or indie pop or twee or P!O!P! or how ever else it is sometimes referred to)

For an explanation of what indiepop is, I’ll point you to probably the only decent article to ever come out of Pitchfork, Twee As Fuck.

The short version is that during the late 70s punk explosion in England, there were a handful of bands that rebelled against the atonal/noise aspects of most punk and instead infused the energy and attitude of punk into a new style of pop music. In the 80s, these bands tended to catch a lot of crap for playing pop hooks and singing about falling in love, in a scene that was dominated by post-punk bands like PiL. An often heard slur against these bands was ‘twee.’ Meaning they were overly precocious and cute for cute’s sake. (twee is pronounced like a small child trying to say ‘three’) The bands responded to this by pushing their music texturally and arrangement wise. Eventually providing some of the inspiration for movements like shoegazer and leading into modern day pop bands like Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura.

On the other side of the Atlantic though, the concept of indiepop as a rebellion against the post-British American style of punk was picking up steam. This scene also was criticized for being twee, but where the Brits tried to outrun the label, the Americans embraced it as a rallying cry. Leading to probably the most famous indiepop saying, ‘Twee As Fuck!’ (you’d be surprised how many pictures I’ve seen from the early to mid 90s of people wearing white t-shirts with those words scrawled on them in marker) The American style of indiepop has definitely pushed the envelope texturally, but there is also a greater wiliness with in the American scene to hold onto a more ‘garage pop’ approach to the music. This end of the scene especially has latched on to the DIY spirit of punk, to the point where a lot of the bands don’t seem to even contemplate being able to make a living off their music.

So what does this have to do with the geek pride that Nerdcore and 8-Bit/Chiptunes is tapping into?

Indiepop is full of a lot of geeks. On the surface, we’re talking about a genre that has fetishized being a librarian. The indiepop mailing list sports at least a half a dozen different members who are actively employed as librarians. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

More importantly though, indiepop was the first genre to come along after punk rewrote all the rules and redefined the underground, that allowed the freaks and outcasts who didn’t fit into the hyper art world of the pre-British American punks or the hyper aggressive world of the post-British American punks to just be themselves. It was a space where being strange and quirky was part of ‘fitting in’ to the scene. Where you could wear your heart on your sleeve, but also dance around the room to a great song and sing and laugh with out having to be subconscious about it.

Now, for out and out obvious geek cred, the scene could be found lacking. This is a scene that is mostly inhabited by music geeks (a reoccurring thread over on the indiepop list is ‘how do you organize/store your CDs/records/tapes?’) and so the vocabulary is more musically centric. That isn’t to say though that there aren’t times when the scene throws out something a bit more blatant.

WIth in the last couple of months I’ve wandered away from the indiepop scene a little bit, but I’m going to try to rectify that and provide some content here in the coming weeks. The idea is to pick out some indiepop tracks which may appeal to the Nerdcore scene lyrically and post them here (providing mp3s where I can). So look for that to start up, probably tomorrow. I have a couple songs already in mind, but its a little late right now for me to kick start this. So, tomorrow.

Written by Matt

January 28th, 2007 at 1:23 am

Posted in News,pop