Bands like Modest Mouse still weren’t as big as Pearl Jam or U2, but then again, neither was anyone else. Last year, only 11 artists released new albums that received a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America; as recently as 2006, there were 56. “There isn’t really such a thing as mainstream rock anymore,” says Scott Plagenhoef, Pitchfork’s editor. “There are a lot of bands who shouldn’t be considered indie rock, like Modest Mouse, but they still are because you can’t hear them on commercial radio.”
…Indie rock never had its Beatles-on-the-Ed Sullivan Show moment; it seemed to seep slowly into listeners’ ears, one song at a time. By 2004, when a rave Pitchfork review of Funeral, the debut album by a small Montreal band called Arcade Fire, helped turn it into the biggest-selling record in the 21-year history of its label, indie — and Pitchfork — were on a roll. Record companies courted reviews. Stores used them to make purchasing decisions.