Folks who really know their way around the Internetses are likely familiar with Cute Overload's objective Rules Of Cuteness, which turn on such things as ear size and -- in the case of the newly inaugurated Rule #38 -- belly roundness. We've long pondered a similar set of axioms for indie rock, although our criteria are so subjective that it doesn't make sense to apply them on the macro level that Cute Overload does. All the same, there are at least several things we take a lot of enjoyment from in indie rock, and they are 1) when a band namechecks itself (the most prominent aspect of an often entertaining universe of meta references to a song being performed), 2) when lyrics mention the act of listening to records or the radio, 3) when singers plead for the object of their affections to change his or her mind and it seems pretty clear that is not going to happen, and 4) the ludicrously over-loud sonic element.
A band can garner style points with specifically clever application of an axiom. For example, the first two words of dearly departed indie rock supergeniuses Haywood's sublime "Take An Inventory" are quite purposefully "Hey would..." Sticking with the 'Wood, one of the more entertaining applications of Axiom #1 is the first line to the relatively rare rocker "Alpenland," which opens with "Calling down to base camp this is Ted..." Readers of yesterday's post regarding Johnny Foreigner know the trio's forthcoming b-side also hits our first axiom. The Concretes' "On The Radio" fairly bluntly satisifies the requirements of our Axiom #2, but of course the grandaddy of this rule is The Replacements' consistently electrifying and dizzyingly poignant "Left Of The Dial." Or maybe The Modern Lovers' "Road Runner." Axiom #3, the sad little rule that nurses a beer quietly at the end of the bar, is found in the indie wild more more often than you'd expect. Our favorite manifestation is in Lilys' peerless classic "Claire Hates Me," but of course there is always the upbeat Sugar tune "If I Can't Change Your Mind." For Axiom #4, we usually think of the ridiculously loud "YOU!" in Dinosaur Jr.'s cover of "Just Like Heaven," or most of the guitar solos on Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Extra Width, although it's sadly been years since we've heard that record. Anyway, we'll try to point out these various axioms when they come up in the future. Enjoy these MP3s.
Lilys -- "Claire Hates Me" -- In The Presence Of Nothing [still sadly out of print]
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[buy Haywood and Lilys recordings from Insound here and here]