I was pleased and surprised to find a private message for me in last.fm the other day, asking if I'd be interested in writing for www.miwsig.com, a Welsh-tinged music website.
Sadly, I can't write about music for toffee. I can't even tell the difference between a harmonica and an accordion, as I discovered recently while planning a post containing Three Great Songs With Accordions In Them, so it's best all round that I politely declined.
Of course this doesn't stop me from writing rubbish about music on my own blog with merry abandon, which is a good thing, because I have been ruminating for a while on the contentious topic of Why All* British Indie Music Is So Crap.
After much thought, I have decided it boils down to four things:
1. Lack of musical expertise. I want my indie bands to be able to play proper instruments, and lots of them. None of this two guitars and a drumkit crap. I want cellos and kazoos and trumpets and pedal steels and double basses and timpani and accordions (yes) and harmonicas (which are not the same as accordions) and klezmers (whatever they are**) and glockenspiels and instruments I've never heard of. If possible, all on the same song. Ideally accompanied with bleeps and samples for a full-on rich tapestry effect.
2. Lack of lyrical expertise. I want my indie bands to have actually gone to school, and to have paid attention in their English classes. Or their French classes, or their Spanish classes, I'm not fussy. And if they didn't go to school, that's fine too, but I still want them to have a bit of sensibility about our fine and versatile language. I want them to think about their lyrics, and stop writing facile clichéd crap, especially facile, clichéd crap that doesn't make any sense, NOT EVEN METAPHORICALLY, and is just there to prop up a dull, samey song played on two guitars and a drumkit. Mainly I want long, clever words with lots of syllables in them, arranged in some kind of pleasing and original order, dammit.
3. Lack of female vocalists. British indie music is just way too blokey. I want to hear female vocals in there too, thank you very much. If no girls want to be in your band, perhaps you could just try singing like a girl occasionally, to break up the awful monotony a bit.
4. Improper motivation. Honestly, sometimes I think some of these bands just want to sell records. I want my indie bands to be psychologically driven to make music, even if no one buys it. Writing songs should be an unstoppable cathartic impulse, not a way to make money because no one will give you a proper job.
With these considerations in mind, I propose an instructive evening in front of MTV2 playing British Indie Band Bingo. That should sort the Shortwave Sets from the Razorlights. Scoring goes like this:
1. Band features instruments other than guitars, drumkit and keyboard: ONE POINT
2. Band has mixed gender line-up: TWO POINTS
3. Band has male and female vocalists: THREE POINTS
4. Band's lyrics do not make you wince, roll your eyes, or shake your head sadly: FOUR POINTS
Ooh, this might actually make watching MTV2 bearable.
* Not *all*. Just 'most'.
** Apparently not an instrument at all. See?