GODFATHERS OF INDIE ROCK
I am a firm believer that indie rock would not exist in its current form if it weren’t for R.E.M. They were indie rock when it was still called “College Rock” (hipsters: how do you get more original than that?). This makes R.E.M.’s break up (announced Sept. 21) feel like the end of a musical era.
From the intriguing blur of R.E.M.’s first album (“Murmur”) and concluding with the revival in their last album (“Collapse Into Now”), R.E.M. has never settled on anything else but their originality. Even as they achieved superstar status in 1991 when “Losing My Religion” won a Grammy, the band opted for integrity over appeasing a mass public.
What makes R.E.M. such a great story is that refusing to sway toward public appeal worked out for them in the long run. Fans from their years on IRS records could listen to their later major label work and not disregard them as “sell outs.” The R.E.M. sound has always had the jangle of pop with the swagger of the South (where they hail from).
While I’m sad to see this band take their final bow after how much they’ve influenced my musical taste and view of the music industry, it’s a well deserved retirement. I hear changing the musical landscape over 31 years can be a bit tiring.