Is Indie Rock The New Classic Rock? : The Record Elliott Smith gets a greatest hits collection, and indie rock flexes its muscles in the spotlight.

Is Indie Rock The New Classic Rock?

Kill Rock Stars
'An Introduction to...' Elliott Smith
Kill Rock Stars

Yesterday was a big day for indie rock, an opportunity for fans of the genre to pause for some "we made it"-style reflection. The noise that accompanied Arcade Fire's ascent up the Billboard album chart was loud enough to nearly obscure another submission to the rapidly developing (calcifying?) indie canon: the announcement of a collection of previously released, well-loved songs -- the press release avoids the words "greatest hits" -- by Elliott Smith.

As ever, there are plenty of questions about the utility and marketability of a compilation disc in the single-song-download era, but instead, the release makes me wonder if we're about to turn another page. Following the March release of Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement, and that band's successful reunion tour, a "hits" collection from Smith confirms something that Arcade Fire's mainstream acceptance -- a number one record and two sold-out nights at Madison Square Garden -- seemed to suggest.

Rather than finally convincing the rest of the world that indie deserves a bigger stage, it looks to me like its supporters have just aged into the role of cultural standard-bearers. Maybe we'll look back on 2010 as the fulcrum of indie's Summer of Love.