Ask a (Frontier) Psychiatrist

Dear Frontier Psychiatrist,

I have been told that indie rock reinforces low mood.  Is this true?  And, if so, what should I listen to for inspiration?


Dear Indie,

Whether it be ice cream, alcohol, or anti-depressants, the man is always telling you that things designed to make you feel good are actually bad for you.  Indie music is no exception.

In fairness, there is plenty of indie music that might turn a melancholy man downright lachrymose.  For example, you’d be forgiven for wanting to skip the circus after listening to Sufjan Stevens’ tales of Very Scary Clowns:

Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

The National should probably receive a black-box warning for their song “Conversation 16,” which, were its contents to be mimicked by impressionable youth, could leave the country in the depths of a Kuru epidemic:

The National – Conversation 16

And even the cheeriest, most innocuous-sounding tunes can conceal a dark little secret:

But, amidst all the doom and gloom on your local Lower East Side jukebox, there is modern music uplifting enough to induce almost dangerous degrees of euphoria.  Animal Collective, for example, makes music with the mood-elevating properties of a strawberry and Wellbutrin pie:

Fang Island, one of our most beloved buzz bands of 2010, can make even the most presidential among us turn cartwheels:

(song at 1:20)

And, at times, even snow-bound Canadians are able to put on a smile:

Suffice it to say that indie rock can tear you down, but it can build you back up as well; it’s there for you whether you’re high or low.  But, if you wake one morning and feel that indie has let you down, remember: a little R&B just might take your pain away.

Have a musical query? Write to Ask a (Frontier) Psychiatrist, and we’ll provide a therapeutic solution.

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