Andrew Earles


Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Earles on December 7, 2014

Yeah, I shoplifted that from East Bound & Down, anything else you’re proud of ferreting out before we get started? Ok…good.

First off, those who ordered books from me will be getting their stuff this week or the beginning of next. You will also get an e-mail today or tomorrow but I just wanted to put that out there in case you happened by this post first. Like anyone “happens by” this Internet dive.

Gimme Indie Rock: 500 Essential American Underground Rock Albums 1981 – 1996 has attracted some reviews, including a nice one in my alt-weekly (Memphis Flyer…for I wrote from 1999 – 2013) penned by the paper’s best writer, Chris Shaw (also the singer/lyricist/principle of the band Ex-Cult). Then news came that the fourth installment of Pitchfork’s quarterly print journal, The Pitchfork Review, FEATURES A LONG REVIEW OF THE BOOK! That’s all I know at this juncture (comps are in the mail), but regardless of what the review is like, I will ask permission to scan it for the site (which could also go south! WHO PLAYS WITH FIRE, PEOPLE?!? WHO?!?). Finally, casual mention was made of what I’m processing as REALLY GOOD NEWS deep within the following review. See if you can guess what I’m referring to…

[Review is authored by Pat Padua and originally appeared on Spectrum Culture site. Here’s the LINK. PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTATIONS BELOW ARE MINE AND NOT THOSE OF MR. PADUA’S EDITOR]

Gimme Indie Rock: by Andrew Earles



Rating: 3/5 ★★★☆☆ 

I had never heard of Fly Ashtray before I picked up Andrew Earles’ record guide Gimme Indie Rock, the subtitle of which spells out the scope of Earles’ project: 500 Essential American Underground Rock Albums 1981-1996. Though you’ll no doubt want to see how (or if) he covered your favorite band, the author hopes his book will be useful to everyone from seasoned indie rock fans to newbies trying to build a collection. I’m somewhere in the middle. Earles covers subgenres I don’t care for and champions bands I never liked, but if you follow his suggestions enough you’ll make a new discovery somewhere, like I did with New York band Fly Ashtray, who’ve been around since the ’80s and still makes music today. I found only a 2012 album on Spotify, but it makes me want to seek out the albums that Earles recommends from the Shimmy Disc label. Remember Shimmy Disc? Gimme Indie Rock mentions ’80s and ’90s record labels like Shimmy Disc and Amphetamine Reptile that I haven’t thought about in years, and readers who haunted record shops in that era will have their memory jogged by names that used to be all over the record bins twenty years ago.

Earles previously wrote a history of Husker Du and contributed to Illustrated History volumes on Nirvana, Rush and Metallica. In his intro, Earles writes that, like me, he grew up on record guides. But these guides only get you so far in the indie era. Even if you have Robert Christgau’s decade guides and the various editions of record guides put out by Rolling Stone and Trouser Press, each of these valuable references has its share of omissions.

This is where Earles comes in. I’ve spotted his book in Urban Outfitters [SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!! This was one of the project’s more realistic goals…getting picked up by U.O. I might elaborate on the elation later, as it’s motivated by a combination of numbers stuff that will alienate all but the other writers reading this when ultimately no one is reading this, and more idealistic cultural froo-froo I’m too tired to tackle anyway]  stacked next to a pile of copies of Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!, Bob Stanley’s thorough history of pop music. Stanley’s book is a better read, but Earles has made a valuable contribution to indie rock literature. While the nature of a record guide’s alphabetical listing means that indie rock narratives (the rise and fall of hardcore; major labels’ post-Nirvana feeding frenzy) come up intermittently throughout the book, how else would you discover a band like Fly Ashtray [ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LEVEL, THAT WILL ALSO HAVE TO WAIT FOR ELABORATION, THE THREE MENTIONS OF FLY ASHTRAY KNOCK THIS REVIEW OUT OF THE PARK AND SOFTENED MY ASS UP BIG-TIME!!], whose career doesn’t exactly fit a narrative?

Earles’ writing is inconsistent, and the guide could have been edited to tighten sentence structure and nix hyperbole. The vast majority of the entries cover an album in a single paragraph, and in such a format, verbal fat stands out [Fair enough. Some of this will be fixed in the second printing. And I am an inconsistent writer, but it’s a specific balance I can live with.] But the author knows his indie rock family trees inside out, and when it’s time to assess major figures like Nirvana, he can sum up his book-worthy subject in a few concise paragraphs.

The guide’s omissions are made to be argued over: why cover Beck’s Odelay, which I personally find overrated, and not Mellow Gold? Earles is also aware that his cutoff point seems arbitrary, and includes among his appendices a list of 30 essential indie rock albums from 1997. Gimme Indie Rock is a useful reference more than a consistently enjoyable read, but that usefulness may well lead you to great music you’ve never heard before.



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Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Earles on November 21, 2014

Just like the subject line states…

Let’s start with some easy ones: Inaccurate commentary or misconceptions that might make potential readers skip over the book.

“This is just one guy’s list of his favorite albums”- Negated in the book’s introduction. I appreciate the importance of these artists represented in the book, but they do not, nor have they ever, fallen under the banner of “pleasure listening” for me (partial list off top of head): Beat Happening, The Jayhawks, Green Day, The Bottle Rockets, Jandek, Soundgarden, Young Fresh Fellows, much of the D. Johnston featured, and any TMBG that ISN’T “Ana Ng”…

“The ‘canon’ misconception” – This is a big one, and it’s also negated in the book’s introduction. These 500 albums are simply what I consider to be a great starting place…a solid backbone…of releases within the regional and chronological constraints that frame the list. Over 75 entries were written and scrapped during the final month of writing, mainly so that more bands could be included by way of at least one album. I could have easily written Gimme Indie Rock: 1000 Essential American Underground Albums 1981 – 1996, and the choice in phrasing (not “The Essential” but “Essential…”) was a paramount one. I totally understand the problematic nature of the term “essential” but went with it because it seemed the lesser of evils given the alternatives. Also, “great” or “awesome” or “amazing” or “rad” or “bad ass” or “fantastic” and the like might be more appropriate for my purposes, but were either dull or idiotic or never considered for obvious reasons. 

“It’s just one person’s opinion” – I have done nothing but eat, sleep and breath underground music culture and history for the last 23 years. I find the term “expert” to be a logical fallacy, as anyone who strives to be such can never really hit that goal if every living day is one of continued learning, etc, but if I am well versed in any subject, this book’s contents fall under that umbrella. More importantly, record guides and surveys in book form used to be one-writer affairs, more often than not, during their (first) heyday (this is my attempt to launch a second one). Group/crowd-sourced books are to be approached with caution.

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Here to look forward, not backwards…

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Earles on November 15, 2014

Any inquiries re: Gimme Indie Rock: 500 Essential American Underground Rock Albums 1981 – 1996 are encouraged to e-mail me at

Said e-mail address is no longer terrifying…


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Offer in previous post is no longer active!

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Earles on November 15, 2014

Moving forward…

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