Impact’s Music Essentials: 2000s Indie Rock

Jake Longhurst

As part of our ‘Impact’s Music Essentials’ series, Jake talks us through his top ten picks from the 2000s indie rock genre.

Indie rock is a very loosely defined genre, and it was very difficult to choose ten songs from the 2000’s that I felt encompassed a wide enough range of sounds to do this definition justice. However, I think this selection takes you across the whole spectrum of what is classed as indie, from the melancholy to the joyful, from the tender to the fiery. Here are my top ten indie rock songs from the 2000’s.

Run – Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol were the first band I saw that weren’t playing a more aggressive style of music, and I saw them with one of my best friends in the world, so they will always hold a very special place in my heart. Run is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful songs ever written, both lyrically and musically. It’s off their 2005 album ‘Final Straw’, which is an incredible collection of songs, and is well worth listening to multiple times, but this song stands above the rest. The lyrics about the final meeting of two people who are being separated by circumstance are full of sorrow, but also a small dose of hope, leaving a remarkably bittersweet song full of love and emotion.

Fire – Kasabian

Fire is a much more upbeat song then the previous choice, and is a great song to get people moving. The lyrics could be interpreted in numerous ways, including drug addiction, an intense toxic relationship, or even religion, but none of these various interpretations make the slightest bit of difference to how good it all sounds, with the slinky first verse, moving into a high energy chorus with a great singalong that’s easily remembered. This is a feel-good indie rock banger, and should definitely be a part of your playlist.

Dakota – Stereophonics

Whilst this song could be argued to fit into alt rock a little better than indie rock, I thought the sheer impact it had when it came out, as well as the fact it shares many of the same hallmarks as most indie rock should allow me to include it anyway. The song is a tender reflection by the lead singer on his first teen relationship, and is an excellent description of the flurry of feelings that you feel going through your first relationship, from beginning to end, including the passion, the upset, and the wistfulness of the memories. The guitar and the synths complement the lyrics with a quiet, clean sound that adds to the atmosphere and brings out the very best in this track.

Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand

I can’t say anything about this song without first addressing the simple fact that this is one of the most iconic intros of the 2000’s, and is an absolute banger. The song loosely uses the bands title and the song title as a metaphor for tension between two people, referring the metaphor ‘Take Me Out’ to be either killing someone, such as the titular Franz Ferdinand, or to take someone out for a date, and use numerous shooting metaphors throughout, most notably “just a shot away” and “a crosshair”, referring to how he’s a target for her, and she only needs to shoot her shot to get him. At the end of the day though, this song is far less about the lyrical content than the absolute groove it embodies, and the sense of enjoyment the whole song is full of.

Chelsea Dagger – The Fratellis

Chelsea Dagger, much like Take Me Out, is a song that should be recognised firstly as just being a massive tune. The song is named after the stage name of the frontman Jon Fratelli’s wife, who was a burlesque dancer in Glasgow. The song itself has never been really decrypted, and could frankly be a mess of lyrics with no serious meaning, but with the infectiousness of a song like this it isn’t particularly important, as the ability to get a crowd roaring along to the chorus, comprised entirely of a chant that goes “do-do-do-do-do-do-do”, is phenomenally impressive, and even more so that it still works its magic whenever it is played to this day. Ironically, Jon Fratelli doesn’t have any massive connection to the song, despite its huge success, but he does appreciate the money it has brought in for the whole band!

Hate To Say I Told You So – The Hives

This song embodies a bit more of the punk influence that some of the indie scene have taken, so strays towards more the Arctic Monkeys side of things than groups such as Snow Patrol. I absolutely love the guitar tone on this song, as well as the slightly rough vocals, which have plenty of raw moments where the singer doesn’t quite hit his note, and on a song about just doing whatever you want and ignoring the ‘stiff and the bored’ it adds a layer of believability, as if the singer is personally addressing the listener for being one of the very people he is ignoring.

Apply Some Pressure – Maxïmo Park

This is another song about a break up, but whilst Dakota was reminiscing, Apply Some Pressure is much more about the singer’s feelings towards his now ex, and how he is struggling to move on, even though she did him wrong. There is a really catchy guitar riff underpinning the main verse, but the best part of this song for me is without doubt the section where the singer repeats “What happens when you lose everything, you just start again”, as for some reason this part scratches an itch I never realise I have until the song comes on.

Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked – Cage The Elephant

This song embodies the funkiest side of indie, with an earworm of a chorus, and a simple yet really deceptively good guitar line. The song is all about how people who go down the wrong path can never stop, whether because it feels better than going back to regular life, or because they simply would be under too much pressure and the circumstances would change too much. The chorus is sung from the perspective of two different antagonists, one per chorus, with the final chorus from the perspective of the protagonist, and the lyrics are all but identical. Each verse details a different kind of fuel, from lust to religion, and holds the eventual outcome that money is the root of all evil, and no matter what, wickedness will always exist in a capitalist society where money is our ultimate goal.

Moving To New York – The Wombats

This song was originally written by frontman Matthew Murphy after he saw his then girlfriend kissing someone else in a bar, and he felt like he wanted to move to New York to get away from it all. It’s an upbeat track, with a pretty simple four chord run on the guitar, but a fairly complex drum beat for an indie track, and a very active bass line, and even a few backing vocalists for the chorus, that come together in a brilliant melting pot of joyousness. The whole song, contrary to the lyrics, is extremely bubbly and genuinely happy, filled to the brim with excitement for the future, and is an absolute staple for an indie singalong night. While this is one of their older tracks, check out Impact’s interview with the band’s drummer Dan Haggis about their upcoming album ‘Fix Yourself, Not The World’ here.

When The Sun Goes Down – Arctic Monkeys

Who better to finish with than the undisputed kings of the British indie rock scene, the Arctic Monkeys. Their debut was a phenomenal showing, mixing garage rock, punk, indie and alt rock to perfection, and whilst there were three or four tracks I could’ve chosen, this song feels like the best option out of them. The intro feels suitably indie, until the main guitar hits, the drums start up, the bass comes into play and then you’ve got a spit-flecked indie punk track on your hands. When The Sun Goes Down is a song about the darker side of their hometown Sheffield, and references prostitution, pimps, drug use, STI’s and more, reflecting the gritty underbelly of the place they call home. This song is inarguably one of their most raw, and may be their darkest track, however it is unchallenged as an anthem for the dishevelled students of the UK, and should be essential listening for anyone.

Check out these songs, plus many more, on this playlist:


Jake Longhurst

Featured image courtesy of Neon Tommy via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article videos courtesy of Snow Patrol, Kasabian, Stereophonics Official, Domino Recording Co., The Fratellis, thehivestv, Maximo Park, Cage The Elephant, Roadrunner Records and Official Arctic Monkeys via youtube.com. No changes made to these videos.

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