An umbrella term for various non-commercial strains of rock and roll, separate from heavy metal's non-commercial artists. Its origins can be traced back to punk rock and post-punk of the late '70s and the early '80s. That non-commercial nature could stem from the outwardly ugly sound of the music, the wishes of the artist, the effeminacy of the music, etc. Indie rock is a wide umbrella, covering music, such as country/western or soft rock, that the punks would have rejected.
Saying that a band plays indie rock really doesn't say much about what kind of music it plays.
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