How White Has Indie Rock Really Become?

Responses to Sasha Frere-Jones’s New Yorker piece about how indie-rock has largely evacuated all African-American influences in the Village Voice:

Breihan: OK, so what are your big problems with the article? And, I mean, can you really deny that indie-rock is farting off into rhythm-free tedium and that that’s a bad thing?

Harvilla: My first big problem here is LCD Soundsystem, rightly praised not too long ago by both Tom Breihan and Sasha Frere-Jones. Folks have already pointed out how Sasha’s complimentary LCD piece started: “About five years ago, indie rockers began to rediscover the pleasures of rhythm.” Two weeks after LCD plays to 350,000 people at Randalls Island, that dream is dead?

As for the co-headliner, Arcade Fire: Sasha praised them too, back in February. Now they’re taken to task for unbearable whiteness? Is he actually holding them up as emblematic of indie rock’s dearth of “ecstatic singing” and “elaborate showmanship”? They’re a football field’s worth of Canadians in military garb screaming into bullhorns, for crying out loud. They’re far closer to James Brown than James Taylor.

Darcy Argue also has some thought on the matter:

[W]hat I don’t get — and I am certain I am not alone here — is how, exactly, you write a 3,500-word New Yorker piece, plus a follow-up blog post and podcast interview, on the general topic of “Why does indie rock sound so goddamned white?” without once mentioning, even in passing, TV on the Radio.

Are they, like Eminem, an anomalous outlier — the exception that proves the rule? Well okay, but… isn’t it worth at least tangentially addressing the fact that the most critically acclaimed band in indie rock is 4/5ths black? I’m not trying to claim that this one group undermines SF-J’s entire argument or anything lame like that, but… well, don’t you think people might think this was kind of a curious omission?