Musicianship cannot surely give way to raw artistry, and technical proficiency is not to be sacrificed in the name of expression and increased accessibility. This notion, that music is to be left to the select few privileged enough to fully explore it, is destructive and can lead only to a saturated music industry obsessed with its own refinery, mastery and one boasting the significant omission of any truly innovative ideas.

Recently I have begun to explore the minimalist indie/rock genre and I have found myself quite taken aback by the unwillingness of people to grant this now well-established and ever-evolving genre even the modicum of will and open-mindedness it, as any genre does, deserves.

Criticism and oversimplification

The work of artists such as Courtney Barnett, Parquet Courts and those similar is instantly and remorselessly discounted by critics on the grounds of its almost infantile simplicity and complacency to modern trends. Such music is thus rarely lent an ear by musical elitists or even observed by them at all. It is an easy case to argue that the oversimplification of musicality displayed by such artists is not in actual fact a stylistic choice but rather a smoke screen behind which hides those with little talent.

It is harder however to argue the case for the evolution of music through trial and error and the exploration of new textures and sonic possibilities and therefore to recognize the importance of such artists in charting previously unexplored regions of the artistic pallet, even though it is far more logical.


I have come across those who mock the rock music of today, evaluating its standing and 'artistic worth' in comparison with the greats of the past within the same genre. Whilst a worthwhile comparison, to critique modern indie rock/folk as oversimplified to the point of complete disengagement with the emotion that drives it is not only anti-intellectual and anti-progressive, but hypocritical.

How can it be argued that Modern Rock music is dying, citing its 'dumbing down' as the primary culprit, when held upon pedestals are the original rockers who were part of the greatest simplification of music of all time? The transition from early 20th century impressionist composition coupled with classic jazz to blues and rock and roll in the mid 1900s is perhaps the most profound shift in complexity witnessed by listeners in musical history.

Pink Floyd marks a far more significant decline in the skill of virtuosic players from the era of Debussy than the shift from the Eagles to bands like Car Seat Headrest, so for rock elitists to concur that the music of today is perversely under-engineered is to show quite a distinct lack of knowledge and perspective of music's evolution as a whole. It also displays a closed-minded attitude towards Innovation and a lack of consideration for the notion that simplification is not necessarily a bad thing. In many cases, as with intelligent design, simplification is refinement.

Important if not likeable

Whilst not necessarily in accordance with my personal taste, it is for this reason that I refuse to write-off the work of artists like Courtney Barnett because I understand their importance.

Whilst such artists do unquestionably signal a further decline in the complexity of rock music, this should not be a reason for its dismissal and is nothing more sinister than a repetition of what's been seen before. Look at the punk movement. History repeats itself, and those who criticise new artists and live in the past should really understand better than anyone else that this trend actually bodes very well indeed for the music of tomorrow.