I mean, I can't actually tell.
At the mainstream NME-championed end of things, the likes of Brother, Mona, etc failed to 'break through'. In fact, of the new acts that had 'success' both critically and sales wise this year, it was more the Minaj's and Nicola Robert's who triumphed (neither of whom, intriguingly, made the BBC Sound of 2011 list - although I voted Nicki). There weren't even Razorlight type 'hits' for us all to moan about (in fact, after that picture in the hat, did they actually release anything). Seems perhaps the mainstream agenda only had enough indie-rock quota for reformations. I mean, did "REAL MUSIC" saviours Kasabian even have that good a year?
At the cult-heroes level of 6Music-championed, Pitchfork-jettisoned, things like the Horrors record seemed to have disappointed people, Wild Beasts didn't really step up a level (despite becoming one of the finest live bands in the world IMHO) and apart from maybe Metronomy, there didn't seem much 'indie-rock' type things on Radio1/telly soundtracks like there was with say, the xx (are they even an 'indie rock' band?). I mean, St Vincent wasn't even on later with Jools Holland. There wasn't a National or Grizzly Bear or Beach House or Arcade Fire all up in our faces. And apart from a few weeks of Radioheadageddon and PJ Harvey, obviously (although as a huge fan, I still haven't fallen in love with that record and it seems oddly marmite-y), I can't quite work out which 'indie' acts are going to be in all the blog and 'mainstream' year-end lists. Bon Iver, really?
Meanwhile, compared to say Katy B, The Weeknd, Odd Future or SBTRKT, outside of DiS the Bright Eyes, Beirut and Low records didn't get much love (did they ever? I may have been so steeped in 'that world' previously that they felt bigger than they were. Obviously the gigs weren't small). And apart from the odd OMFG thread about Antlers, Braids, Tune-Yards and mentions of things like Youth Lagoon, these boards have increasingly been full of talk of minimalism, techno, dubstep, etc...it kinda makes you wonder whether this is an over-reaction to years of 'landfill-indie' or perhaps just that those who once woulda wielded a guitar and riffed us to tears or a pogoing state of reverie, have got other instruments/gizmos in their hands. Perhaps 'indie' will be redefined and the purism about what it 'is' will shift over the next few years to take in all this post-rnb and Austra/Laurel Halo/Factory Floor type stuffz?
I am sure I am missing some obvious examples which rubbish this argument. Maybe the past few years have been a blip. Maybe my perception says more about me and the ambient-loving niche I've tumbled into. Is it an obsession with The New in an era where everyone's obsessed with getting the latest upgrade that's part of the problem? Is there even a problem of anything more than perception? Same as it ever was? Or just maybe, there haven't been, like, yuhknow, good enough songs...?
I guess my thought for the day is this: IS INDIE-ROCK IN CRISIS?
...or do put it another way, indie are you ok, are you ok indie?