Arctic Monkeys are riding high, the Kaisers are on a comeback, while The Cribs, Franz et al never went away. But there are some 2000s indie stars who all but disappeared. Here’s our favourite 46, starting with South Londoners Ludes. Having racked up hits with the likes of spiky dancefloor anthem ‘Radio’, they released ‘The Dark Art of Happiness’ in 2006 before splitting up shortly after.
One of the decade’s darker offerings, Good Books were more – as you might have guessed – likely to be found down the library than on the lash. That’s not to say they were wet behind the ears though. Back in 2007, NME labeled debut album ‘Control’, “the missing link between Maximo Park and Mogwai”. Read: intelligent, arty, brooding but brilliant art-pop.
Dustin’s Bar Mitzvah
London urchins Dustin’s Bar Mitzvah didn’t release a whole lot in their short career, but one of their big hitters was a dedication to punk’s finest The Ramones called, fittingly, ‘To The Ramones’. Like a snotty British take on their US idols, it said everything you needed to know.
The Rumble Strips
Flagged up as a brass-toting successor to Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ crown, The Rumble Strips were one of Transgressive Records’ leading lights back when the label largely dealt with ragamuffin boys with a knack for a melody (see: Mystery Jets and Larrikin Love – more on them later…) By 2009 they’d call it a day, but ‘Alarm Clock’ is still a total banger.
Be Your Own Pet
If you were a teenage girl in the mid-2000s, chance are you probably wanted to be Jemina Pearl. Having formed Be Your Own Pet at aged 16, Pearl lead the garage punk band to a chaotically brilliant self-titled debut at aged 18, a follow up at 20 and split them soon after. Masters of two-minute ADHD shriek-outs, BYOP will sound young forever.
Hot Hot Heat
Like so many (probably very bitter) bands before them, Canada’s Hot Hot Heat are forever destined to be remembered for their one albatross song, ‘Bandages’. Fuck, it’s a good song though. Hot Hot Heat are actually still around, desperately trying to better their 2003 breakthrough hit, to this day. Ten points for tenacity, lads.
Sure, across the spectrum of the decade The Thrills were one of its more parent-friendly exports, but don’t let that write them off. Doing sun-drenched, cold-beers-by-the-beach jangles before any of the current crop, debut ‘So Much For The City’ was as sweetly gorgeous a thing as you could hope for. Let’s just ignore the follow-ups.
The Mooney Suzuki
Cheating a little here as the New York group actually formed in the late 90s, but considering their releases mostly fell this side of the millennium we’ll allow it. Trading in riff-heavy, slightly glammy garage rock, however, it’s fair to say the Mooneys were always actually operating a good couple of decades back from either the 90s or noughties.
A true case of ‘over before it’s begun’, New Yorkshire frontrunners Harrisons spent five years slogging it out in the Steel City before finally releasing debut ‘No Fighting In The War’ and splitting a week before it came out. Angsty, spiky single ‘Dear Constable’ is probably their most notable contribution to the canon.
Pull Tiger Tail
Now making music under the guise of Thumpers, Marcus Ratcliff and Jack Hansom were joined back in 2005 by Davo McConville to form grunge-tinged art rock trio Pull Tiger Tail. Little extra fact for you: PTT also claim to have invented new rave after flat-sharing with Klaxons. MDMA-zing.
Little Man Tate
One of the Myspace generation’s indie stars, Sheffield’s Little Man Tate combined hooky, buzzing riffs with embittered lyrics about posers and not getting the girl. Named after the 1991 film about a child prodigy, the band may not have been as ground-breaking as its protagonist but debut ‘About What You Know’ still racked up some fans.
Formed in Sheffield in 2001, Milburn’s cheeky chappy tunes (check out the rattling clatter of ‘Lipstick Lickin’) might not have stood the test of time, but they can at least claim their place in the indie history books for helping to inspire mates and local peers Arctic Monkeys to crack on with it. One for the team then, eh boys?
One of the decade’s true cult favourites, Larrikin Love’s madcap, fiddle-toting debut ‘The Freedom Spark’ still sounds as ace today as it did in 2006. With oddball tales of finding dead bodies and cross-dressers, their Libertines-at-the-travelling-circus mayhem was, sadly, only ever a one-album wonder. But Jesus, what an album.
Scottish troupe The Dykeenies’ brand of anthemic indie found them aiming to be The Killers mk. Sadly the band could never flesh out their intentions with enough actual musical meat, but still – at least they had a decent jaunt round an NME tour back in 2006 to remember (and we have no idea where tour mates The Maccabees and The Horrors went either. Oh wait…)
Labeled by NME back in 2004 as “just the right side of sickeningly pretentious”, The Departure made the kind of androgynous, tortured tunes that wound up like if Interpol had been raised on a diet of Suede. Despite this being an obvious recipe for success, the group split in 2008 after just one LP.
Post-punk types Dogs may have toured with Razorlight back in the day, but don’t hold the J-Bo associations against them too much. Far angrier than their former bus buddy could ever be (unless you get his white kecks dirty, of course) the Londoners did a good line in melodic but spitting tracks like ‘Tuned To A Different Station’.
Does It Offend You, Yeah?
Looking back on it, Reading’s DIOYY? could very well have been an elaborate Nathan Barley-based prank. Ironic of name, neon of aesthetic and with songs about making out (the adventurously-titled ‘Let’s Make Out’), their dance punk-infused nu rave was, frankly, ridiculous. Thankfully for them, ridiculous can also be heaps of fun.
In 2007, a law was passed making it illegal for DJs not to drop a Good Shoes song at any indie disco. OK, not quite – but the Morden group’s wordy indie bounce did represent a certain period. Second LP ‘No Hope, No Future’ was a damn sight better than its bleak title suggested, and stick on ’07 hit ‘We Are Not The Same’ and you’ll find the Shoes at their infectious peak.
Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Jaunty to the point of relative irritation, Scotland’s Dogs Die In Hot Cars dealt in the kind of earworms that you’d be cursing them for weeks after first listen. Debut album tracks ‘Lounger’ and ‘I Love You Cause I Have To’ were two-such examples – like 80s pop pioneers XTC but without the nuance.
The Dead 60s
Occupying a more singular niche were The Dead 60s, who attempted to bring ska punk into the new millennium via a singer (Matt McManamon) who looked like he was two beats away from decking you at any point. Check out single ‘Riot On The Radio’ if you too like the sound of angry young men with issues who like Gang of Four.
Like the energy-fuelled upstarts of the nu rave party, sitting at the kids table while mother CSS and father Klaxons were with the grown ups, Shitdisco were never going to be a ground-breaking project. OK, so a track entitled ‘I Know Kung Fu’ doesn’t hint at much scope for musical growth and integrity, but at the time it was as fun as a dancefloor-filler can be.
White Rose Movement
Before Dalston was ‘a thing’ and the sight of meggings (that’s men’s leggings) ball-crushingly commonplace, there was White Rose Movement. Fronted by Finn Vine, WRM were a hybrid of post-punk vitriol, electro-tinged club fillers and New Romantic flamboyance. You get the feeling they were about eight years too early.
The Sunshine Underground
One of the original nu-rave batch, The Sunshine Underground were always a little less drug-addled and bonkers than their peers. Maybe the lack of a three-year comedown is why they’re still functioning as a band today. Still, debut ‘Raise The Alarm’ is the LP you wanna be investing in.
The Little Flames
Back when Miles Kane was just a young whipper snapper with dreams of guesting on live outings of ‘505’ for the rest of his career, he was the guitarist in The Little Flames. A Wirral outfit heavily influenced by the The Coral, the band’s short-lived career produced ‘Put your Dukes Up, John’ – arguably still Kane’s best musical contribution to date.
Achieving the seemingly impossible in the 00s and making a second album (2006’s ‘Without Feathers’) that was better than their debut, Canada’s The Stills went – as our review at the time stated – from “bookish indie sop-rockers” to “bombastic rockers with flaming horn sections and production like Arcade Fire”.
A little later to the party, or should we say ‘partie’, were Black Kids, whose 2008 debut ‘Partie Traumatic’ featured irrepressible breakthrough hit ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’. Setting the bar possibly too high even for themselves, the Florida group have been working on a follow-up album ever since.
VHS Or Beta
All angular synth-lines and feather cuts, VHS or Beta were basically the point where The Rapture meets Duran Duran. 80s-indebted to the core, but with a stomping, dance-punk background, they dished up two decent records (2004’s ‘Night On Fire’ and 2007’s ‘Bring On The Comets’) before sinking to the sidelines.
Tapes ‘N Tapes
More cowbell! Naming one of your best tracks after music’s second-most derided percussive tool is an odd move, especially if the majority of your songs actually stumble out of the blocks like a lo-fi indie montage. Still, it didn’t seem to harm Tapes ‘N Tapes – who were one of 2006’s breakthrough buzz bands.
Hot Club De Paris
While Liverpool’s math-rock tinged indie heroes Hot Club de Paris came on entirely like the work of a bunch of mates trying to one-up each other for lols, the experimental oddness under the whoops and wails was brilliant stuff. It’s hard not to just look at a song called ‘Sometimesitsbetternottostickbitsofeachotherineachotherforeachother’ and snigger though…
No, not Battles. Taking a far more straight-up approach than their oddball name bros, Battle instead favoured atmospheric post-punk leanings and earnest vocals. Though the quartet were only around for a brief few years, they did manage to leave mini album ‘Back to Earth’ and demos for a purported debut behind for posterity.
Boy Kill Boy
Now pretty much a byword for slightly naff indie of the mid-2000s, it’s not so much that Boy Kill Boy were offensive so much as wildly inoffensive. A kind of sub-Killers, they provided synths with just enough bounce, guitars with just enough spike to be like a watered down version of their peers. ‘Suzie’, if you’re wondering, was their big track.
A multi-faceted, weirdo proposition, you could take Clor at whatever level you needed. On the surface, the Brixton boys made, goofy, jittery indie-dance music. Beneath that, there were lyrics more suited to the therapy couch than the dancefloor. Clor only released one self-titled debut, but guitarist Luke Smith is now a respected producer and worked on Foals’ ‘Total Life Forever’.
Politically-charged troupe Selfish Cunt came out with the all-guns-blazing anarchist approach of people who genuinely wanted to fuck shit up. Banned from various venues for, among other things, sabotaging Snow Patrol’s equipment (thumbs up), the band had songs called things like ‘Britain Is Shit’ played with crazed intent. You don’t get that with Ed Sheeran now, do you?
Always carrying the ridiculous aura of a glorified indie in-joke, The Others – lead by gobby frontman Dominic Masters – were a legend in their own lunchtime. A couple of tracks (‘Lackey’ in particular) had a satisfyingly hedonistic snarl, but it was Masters and his penchant for bragging about drugs and sticking his phone number on the internet that was the real centrepiece.
Pete’n’Carl-approved Hull quintet The Paddingtons may have been from oop North, but it was in the big smoke that they found their most natural niche. Full of tales of urban disillusionment, they eventually signed up with Creation Records’ Alan McGee before releasing two LPs and fizzling out. Guitarist Josh Hubbard can now be found in Strokesy US outfit, Skaters.
The Long Blondes
In a fair world, The Long Blondes would still be making music to this day. Like the idiosyncratic successors to Pulp (Sheffield natives too), the band’s output was danceable but literate – a melting pot of jagged riffs, Tolstoy references and vintage threads which was sadly cut unfairly short when chief songwriter Dorian Cox suffered from a stroke. We miss them.
Another one of McGee’s stable of the mid-2000s were London scallies Special Needs. Aside from the none-too-politically-correct name, the band also notably got in an on stage punch up back in 2004 and broke up the following year. Their previously unreleased debut album ‘Funfairs and Heartbreak’ emerged in 2006; annoyingly, it was actually quite good.
Back when the Nambucca pub on Holloway road was the epicentre of a certain musical contingent of London, The Holloways were basically its house band. Jaunty of melody and debatable of lyric (see the not exactly Shakespearian ‘Fit For A Fortnight’), The Holloways produced one bona fide banger in ‘Generator’.
When you’re forced to change your band name because a paper copying company is pissed at you, it’s never going to go well. XX Teens (formerly Xerox Teens) managed to release one record – ‘Welcome To Goon Island’, an oh-so-2008 slab of good-time party music, somewhere between Good Shoes and Klaxons – and then it was over. Fun while it lasted.
Before Rose Elinor Dougall palled up with Mark Ronson and embarked on a solo career and the other ones did, er… something, The Pipettes were more commonly known as Rosay, Julia Caeser and RiotBecki and touted a line in saccharine pop like no others. Uniformly clad in polka dot, theirs was an updated take on the genre with just enough sass to set them apart.
Led by effortlessly cool front-woman Annie Hardy, Giant Drag served up songs called things like ‘You’re Full Of Shit (Check Out My Sweet Riffs)’ and ‘Kevin Is Gay’. Bubblegum sweet, brilliantly bratty and with some damn fine melodic chops, the LA duo’s debut ‘Hearts and Unicorns’ was one of the era’s finest. We’re totally not talking shit with this one.
Ignore the fact that The Chalets’ two lead vocalists were called Pony and PeePee – beneath the twee as fuck stage names, The Chalets were badass. Veering between sassy art pop and tongue-in-cheek, call and response vocals, the Irish quartet were just the right mix of serious and silly. Now they make up two thirds of buzzy garage band The September Girls.
Whilst fellow Leeds boys The Cribs and Kaiser Chiefs dug further into public consciousness, Duels never quite got there. Favouring a more brooding lilt, their niche was of the intelligently anthemic strain that could have been massive if they’d had that breakthrough hit. Sadly, they didn’t, although the band never did fully split up…
“TWENTY-TWO GRAND JOB/ IN THE CITY, IT’S ALRIGHT…” Ah, The Rakes. Taking tales of workday ennui and weekend raging and pitting them against nervy, serrated “European Strokes”-style guitars, Alan Donohoe and c.o were the soundtrack to your Saturday and all its bleary-eyed, regrettable consequences. Debut ‘Capture/ Release’ is still an everyman classic. “EIN ZWEI DREI VIER!”
Born from the ashes of cult Scottish heroes The Yummy Fur, it’s a wonder 1990s ever became ‘popular’ at all. But, whilst their lyrical preoccupations were far from the populist anthems of Arctic Monkeys et al, Jackie Mckeown and co had enough of a way with an angular hook to ensure their place at indie discos across the land.
One of the most underrated noughties bands of them all, Leeds’ scene staples Black Wire were a jittery ball of post-punk energy whose self-titled debut still sounds weird and dangerous today. The group briefly reunited for two gigs last year, while their chaotic live shows are immortalized as the inspiration for Kaisers hit ‘I Predict A Riot’.