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Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  277 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
A lively examination of the spirit and practices that have made the indie movement into a powerful cultural phenomenon

You know the look: skinny jeans, Chuck Taylors, perfectly mussed bed-head hair; You know the music: Modest Mouse, the Shins, Pavement. You know the ethos: DIY with a big helping of irony. But what does it really mean to be "indie"?

As popular television show
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 2009)
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Nov 10, 2009 Kaya rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: uncorrupted innocents
Recommended to Kaya by: God
Shelves: i-wrote-this
I'm changing my review of my own book from four stars to five just because I can. Sheesh, every other author does it!

To be honest, I know Slanted and Enchanted isn't perfect. I'm not surprised that many reviewers have gripes about what I chose not to write about -- after all, as I admit in the introduction, indie is essentially definable only to the individual who participates in it, whether as an artist or as a spectator. So if you believe indie started in the jazz age, in the paleolithic, last
Chelsea Owens
Jan 10, 2010 Chelsea Owens rated it did not like it
This book was just another example of how annoyingly pretentious self-titled hipsters/indie folk can be. While the evolution of indie culture is definitely an interesting topic worth exploring, Kaya Oakes lacks the literary finesse to execute the history behind indie culture in an engaging and entertaining way for the reader. I lost all interest in the book when I came across this passage regarding a reading club in Oregon:

"At its core, though, Reading Frenzy is really about reading."

Gee, you do
Nov 25, 2011 Derek rated it really liked it
Those readers predisposed to disliking Kaya Oakes' Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture surely have the ammunition to take it down a peg or two just from the cover--that disagreeable buzzword is plopped right there in the title, making it look like one of those terrible Books for People Who Don't Read Books that they sell at Urban Outfitters. But to dismiss it so senselessly is unfair to say the least--indeed, the book is a thoughtful examination of a culture that is relatively ...more
Apr 07, 2010 Patrick rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
Talking about the Bush presidency and the anti-war movement: “...even crafters got in on the revolution, creating guerrilla knitting collectives and subversive craft networks.” What? Yeah. Maybe the dumbest thing I've ever read in print, but she also compared the band Pavement to classic rock and said that their "Crooked Rain" album sounds like Led Zeppelin, which leads one to believe she has either never heard "Crooked Rain (which would be odd, since she titled her book after another of their a ...more
Joshua Finnell
Feb 22, 2009 Joshua Finnell rated it really liked it
Library Journal Review:

Indie culture, by its very nature, exists outside of and often rails against mainstream culture: independent record stores in opposition to Best Buy, craft festivals in opposition to Ikea, zines as opposed to Rolling Stone. As a corollary, Kaya Oakes reminds us that indie culture has a strong history of reciprocity between producer and consumer. Indie culture is a creative community that should produce an equal amount of inspiration and consumption. Oakes locates the evolu
Jun 01, 2009 Kevin rated it really liked it
A very interesting book from the former Kitchen Sink Magazine editor, with big parts about two of my heroes--Calvin Johnson and Dan Clowes. I also loved the part about Michelle Ott and her "Postcard Machine" (a makeshift box--shaped like an ATM--where she would make and dispense hand-made postcards for people at craft fairs).
The whole book was meticulously researched and well-written, if not a little dry at times (but the subject matter makes up for it if you know what or who she's talking about
Morgan Schulman
Dec 14, 2013 Morgan Schulman rated it liked it
I hate that this book tried to make UVA out to be an epicenter of indie rock cool. I lived in Virginia from 1976-1999 and UVA was an epicenter of fraternity jam bands. #facts
Sep 14, 2009 John rated it it was ok
This book is written for those who already have the "anti-corporation, go-small-guy-unless-you-get-too-big" bug. The book is about the development of indie culture. It starts in the 60s with the Beat Generation and Hippies and tracks the development of punk (but mostly Minutemen and Mission of Burma, oddly enough, which seemed like rehashing We Jam Econo) through the riot grrrl and handcraft movement of the past decade. There's a lot to like in this book, I found the chapters on Pavement, zines, ...more
Aug 10, 2009 Imogen rated it really liked it
This is totally my shit, so I'm probably not the best person to review it. I'm reading it going "yeah! Exactly!" a lot more than I'm going "Oh! Interesting!" So it certainly wasn't boring, but I mean, I have been playing in independent bands and making zines without getting paid for anything for the last ten years, PLUS I've been working in bookstores that whole time, so I'm pretty up on all this.

I wanted there to be more, and for it to go deeper, and I kept thinking of, like, "but what about w
Apr 19, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it
This book spoke to ME! So I reveled in every bit of it. Part nostalgia trip, part sociocultural study, part celebration of independent creation, part sad reality regarding the incessant co-opting of "indie" culture. Oakes focuses a lot on music, starting with punk and independent record labels & venues like 924 Gilman... East Bay punks, grunge, riot grrrl, and the '90s college radio resurgence (dedicating an entire chapter to Pavement, whose debut album the book is named after) that resulted ...more
Elevate Difference
Oct 06, 2009 Elevate Difference rated it really liked it
I’ve always thought of indie culture as the marriage of individuality and community, and of course, a celebration of the do-it-yourself (DIY) morality that is ingrained in our society. However, some of our most creative pioneers are often obscured from mainstream art, music, and literature. Kaya Oakes’s Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture offers a well-researched history and analysis of the DIY movement and the creative brilliance this community has generated. An engaging and r ...more
Sep 17, 2009 Teel rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I'm on my iPhone, so I'll be brief: I found this book to be both enlightening and inspiring. I kept wishing eBooks had already come out of the Stone Age (see: Nick Cave's Bunny Munro for iPhone for a taste of their potential) so that every time Kaya mentioned a band, an album, a song, I could hear a sample, so that when she wrote about an album cover or a comic book character or art style, I could see it. Kaya's descriptions were excellent and engaging, but this is a book that truly deserves an ...more
Aug 06, 2009 Casey rated it really liked it
An insightful book about the recent history of many forms of independent art and expression. This book covered music, poetry, comics, traditional art, etc. In some ways, it was very nice that the author was a part of the movements she was discussing, but occasionally she had subjective views on the matter, which was distracting. I did enjoy reading about things that the author was clearly passionate about, and that she discussed a wide variety of topics and people, instead of sticking to the sam ...more
Jun 12, 2009 Erica rated it liked it
This book is a fine overview of indie culture, but anyone who knows a lot about indie culture might be a little bored. It's unfair, but I couldn't help thinking of Our Band Could Be Your Life while reading it. It's unfair because OBCBYL concentrated just on music, whereas Slanted and Enchanted is about all of indie culture, but I felt like OBCBYL got into a lot of the personal stories that make indie culture so interesting to me, whereas this was more of a general survey--which is not necessaril ...more
Oct 26, 2009 Kathleen rated it it was ok
I don't know that I'll finish this book, the weather changed and the covers curled back to expose the cheap and pulpy inner core. I started in on the book and then read through the index as I was distrustful that we could get from the Beats to the Diggers and the Summer of Love to the current day via this one, humble looking volume. I found enough missing from the index to believe my suspicions to be well founded but I may never know for certain. I can live with that. Maybe I'll pick it up again ...more
Gary Lee
I'm still left wondering why Oakes seems to have simply skipped over the 1970s in her decade-by-decade build up in the beginning of the book, and why she didn't hunt down Dennis Cooper -- a man who ahs continually had his hand in indie music, zines, small press and indie literature, etc. But, those are indeed minor qualms.
The book is well-researched and compulsively readable (I read it over one weekend), and helped me to fill in the gaps in the areas -- small press, DIY crafts -- that I didn't h
Jul 27, 2010 Shanna rated it really liked it
A pretty good overview of several different components of indie culture. My favorite chapters were the ones that spoke of the DIY movement in crafts, as well as the etymology of the word indie. The author also did a good job explaining why places like Urban Outfitters market to indie audiences, but are, inthemselves, inherently not indie. The only thing I wish would have been a little more extensive was the chapter on indie music in the 90's. Other than that, a well rounded book.
Aug 01, 2012 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Fantastic analysis and overview of modern indie culture, a history of the men and women that helped shaped the literature, music, and lifestyles of our time. Also a very perceptive, dynamic reminder of why we create without being self-congratulatory of pedantic. Highly recommended for anyone who likes music, literature, politics, and art.
Jul 26, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, first-reads
I enjoyed many aspects of this book. As someone who has studied communication and culture (as well as Culture) I found the book to be fascinating. It also served as a time capsule of sorts, bringing back many teenage memories, particularly about zines and indie music.

I would recommend this book as both a tool for pop cultural studies and for enjoyment reading.
Aug 03, 2009 Sarra rated it really liked it
I miss riot grrrl. And I want to start a zine now.
Jan 11, 2015 Jeroen rated it liked it
In a review of the British pop quipsters Art Brut's second record, It's a Bit Complicated, Pitchfork once reflected on the appositeness of that title. The reviewer mused on sophomore slump, on the careful balancing act that is required of bands in this day and age, where heads turn away in seconds towards all those millions of other Bandcamp profiles.

But this trickiness might be more specific yet to the indie rock scene. Expectations are clearly different in the metal scene, the pop scene, the m
Nov 02, 2009 Michaela rated it it was ok
I've been putting off reviewing this book for nearly two months -- partially because I won a copy through Goodreads courtesy of the author. (I never win anything, so the fact that I won at all was pleasing, indeed.) As a journalist, I feet the need to give that full disclosure right away.

Anyway, I was updating my Currently Reading list this morning, and realized that I really needed to indicate that I'd finished this book. I'd kept it around as a reminder to write my review -- which I planned to
Mar 05, 2010 Nina rated it it was ok
This book got off to a good start. I appreciated the approach to historical context, beginning very appropriately with the poets of the New York School and the Beats, evolving into Bay Area radical scenes like the Diggers before delving into punk- a good, solid primer on the genesis of what we now call "Indie".

Perhaps this is evidence of the difficulty of writing about the recent past, because after the punk discussion the book fell apart for me. The emphasis after punk is almost exclusively We
Jan 10, 2011 Maggie rated it liked it
I was under the impression when I ordered this book that it was only about indie music. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it's a much broader look at the development of indie culture in everything from crafting to publishing to comics. While by no means comprehensive, it's a good starting point.

Overall, I had very mixed feelings about this one. There are sections I liked quite a bit and will definitely revisit, possibly with my students. Oakes is at her best when she sticks with one subject
Lucas Miller
Oct 31, 2013 Lucas Miller rated it liked it
As a history of Indie culture, Slanted and Enchanted offers a wide-range, engaging, if a bit spotty chronology of Independent art and music. Oakes is a long time member of the Indie art and music scene in her native Oakland, CA (a fact that gets mentioned often throughout the book), and this informs much of the books subjects. There is a palpable West Coast, California/Pacific Northwest slant to the culture profiled in the book. This isn't really a criticism, it just makes the narrative of "indi ...more
Sarah Stone
Thought this was wonderful: clear, informative, fascinating to read, sobering (artists/writers/musicians, do you want to know how much work goes into production, and what it's like to do that work?), and even inspiring. This book conveys, very specifically, the honorable madness of doing a lot of hard work for little or no money, on top of your regular life. It conveys the nature of the artistic gift culture. (cf. Lewis Hyde)

I liked the Bookslut review, which I think catches some of what makes
Dec 14, 2012 Scott rated it liked it
This book was fairly marginal for me. I went into expecting a discourse on the evolution of indie culture revolving mostly around music. I'm into indie rock, so that's what I care about. I don't care that much about the poets of the '50s and '60s (though that was somewhat enlightening for me), or indie comic books, or indie publishers, or the world of indie crafts. The roughest part of the book was the overly long description of the girl who goes around to craft shows in a little box and talks t ...more
Sep 23, 2009 Donna rated it liked it
Shelves: library, nonfiction
I saw the spine of this book on the shelf at my library and thought, "Oh hey, someone wrote a book about Pavement." Then after reading the blurb, I had the impression that the book was going to be a more general history of indie culture.

The scope of the book was certainly wider than my first assumption, but it wasn't as broad as I'd hoped. It focuses almost exclusively on a couple of west coast scenes. It was certainly informative about those areas, but I wish that the introduction had stated th
Sep 08, 2010 Bobby rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
This book had a lot going for it and conveyed good information regarding indie culture. The early chapters set the historical context, but focuses too much on the Bay area (which is the scene the author is more familiar with). My interest increased with the following chapters explaining the influence of zines, comics, and indie rocks. The final few chapters delve more into discussion of what "indie" has become and the adoption and subsequent perversion by corporations. This is what I had really ...more
Sep 15, 2013 Reid rated it really liked it
This is a much needed look into the how and why of a culture that has become prevalent and vastly misunderstood. The biographical and autobiographical anecdotes that Kaya Oakes lays out span from music to DIY, and from comics to small press. All of which is written in an attempt to answer the complex question, "What is indie?" It is a question oft scoffed at, but one that has begged for more than just an answer given by a lackadaisical blogger's Sunday morning rant. Oakes's analysis is heavily s ...more
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Kaya Oakes is the author of four books, including The Nones Are Alright (Orbis Books, 2015), Radical Reinvention(Counterpoint Press, 2012), Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture (Henry Holt, 2009), and a poetry collection, Telegraph (Pavement Saw Press, 2007). She is a contributing writer to Religion Dispatches,Killing the Buddha, Commonweal, and America magazines and her essays ha ...more
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