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IT’S LIKE THAT: The Last Rock Star?

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Sometimes when writing for a blog called Indie Ear, I (almost) feel guilty for showing excitement over certain major label releases. However–when I take a second to think about it–concealing my emotions for whatever reason is not true independence, and if I’m not independent, what place do I have on a website expressing independent thoughts and ideas (yes that “I” in IFC stands for independent if you didn’t know).

Ah yes, a very slippery slope my friends.

(left: Though this cat looks like your typical mainstream rocker, she’s actually signed to a small indie label.)

I have some comrades who live and die indie rock. They go deep, deep, deep into the underground, mining for those corporate-free, do-it-yourself-even-if-I-have-to-live-the-rest-of-my-life-eating-cans-of-tuna musical acts. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of these bands too, but when it comes to music, I like to consider myself “label-blind.” If a band can give me goose-pimples (my failsafe barometer for listening to music), it doesn’t matter if they own a guitar-shaped-swimming or a guitar-shaped-lunchbox. In 10 years, this little blog post will be meaningless anyway, because every band will be an indie band (whether they sound like Yo La Tengo or not).

Not only will every band be independent of major labels, but in 10 years, the species now known as the “rock star” will be nearly extinct. With so many ways to consume music these days, and less and less authority from the “powers that be” dictating who or what is cool, it will be nearly impossible to rally around an Axl Rose, or even a Bono-type figure.

For fans of independent music, this sounds righteous, doesn’t it? Keep in mind though, a world without rock stars can have no anti-rock stars–no Ivan Drago to your Rocky Balboa, no fire to your ice, no antithesis whatsoever. With an equal playing field indie kids can longer roll their eyes at mainstream-friendly acts, cause mainstream friendly acts will be in the same boat as a loft-dwelling band in Brooklyn–no label, no tour bus, no t-shirt money to buy a Ho-Ho at the corner deli.

So here’s my point, not all major label acts are sent by the devil. It’s good to know that if a major label uses their time and money wisely, a young tweener (who doesn’t even know what a record store is) may have a chance of discovering a band like Death Cab For Cutie. Major labels also give young, hungry indie bands hope, “You mean I can actually quit my day job and make a living off of my music?” Yes–I know–there have been artists who got royally screwed in their major label experience, but there are also bands out there who singed on the dotted line and got to enjoy the finer things in life (electricity, running water, and not having to pinch pennies to pay rent).


Believe it or not, this whole notion of “rock star” came to mind last night when I was watching an iTunes commercial featuring Coldplay. One of half of me wanted to scream “sell out,” while the other half of me realized that Chris Martin might be one of our generation’s last rock stars. Is Chris Martin married to a famous actress? Check. Is he making gobs of money? Check. But–does he still carry some semblance of the indie rock spirit? I’d like to say “yes” to that as well. C’mon, championing fair trade for the world’s poorest countries, you can get much more indie than that.

(left: Could Chris Martin be one of our last rock stars?)

I met Coldplay years ago when they were out on the road supporting their debut album. The guys in the band were as nice as nice can be, but when you’re staring out, you have to be nice to everyone, right? Chris Martin was also the first artist I interviewed who actually remembered my name. Amazingly, years later when I waved to him across the lobby of a hotel (after not crossing paths for a good three years), he handed his child over to his movie star wife (aka Pepper Potts in Ironman) and came over to catch up with me.

So here goes–

I don’t feel guilty for telling you that I’m excited about Coldplay’s forthcoming release Viva La Vida. From what I’ve heard of the album so far, it sounds big, but big in a good way, in a way that may have some indie diehards tapping their toes along to the music (whether they will admit this to you or not). If Chris Martin is one of the last rock stars, we went out with a good one.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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