So I got everyone's suggestions in this thread and took one big crash course on indie rock, and here are my impressions.
Atlas Genius - Trojans: For every right thing done in this song, it's brought down by the simple structure. I genuinely enjoyed the pulse effects and multiple guitars, but it sounds like the singer is singing the same three notes for the first thirty seconds, and there's no hook found within either. So, pretty boring, not crap, but not really going to listen to again.
Walk The Moon – Anna Sun: Shaky start (the guy suffers from Chad Kroeger's “you can hear when I'm taking a breath” syndrome), but overall a pretty great track. There are enough small patterns here and there, and I absolutely love that synth riff. When it kicks in, it really kicks in. It's a little poppy and kitsch, but overall, I really liked Anna Sun.
Airborne Toxic Event – Changing: I liked the way the guitar moved, but not much else. The clapping was too much a step in the pop direction, the synth they had here just sounded too weird, it reached the climax too quickly and ended on a low note. By this point, I listened to a few ATE songs, and I don't think I've liked any of them. In fact, they are the thesis of one major problem I have with a lot of indie rock: you could call it straight-up pop and nobody would know the difference.
Foster The People – Houdini: Great beat going on, the piano line is solid and the track has everything in it working well with each other. I only wish there was just a tiny little bit more going on, like a guitar solo or something. It drags a little bit towards the end, but I still really like it. Whoever thought this was a good track for SSX is a dummy, though.
The Big Pink – Dominos: Okay, this song must have been a parody. The chorus is the most repetitive thing I'm likely to ever hear, it's laden with unnecessary effects and the singer in the verses is so off-tune and ugly that it wraps back around to hilarious. Um, no.
Grouplove – Itchin' On A Photograph: Gonna pull a Cipher here. The instruments, especially a lot of the piano in the background, are really something else, and it almost makes the song great. But...that vocalist. When he's in his lower register, he sounds so bored he's going to fall asleep. In his higher register, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, that's how “nails on a chalkboard” his voice is. And then he tries to get a bit gritty with yelling, which is...probably even more embarrassing than the singing in Dominos. It's unsalvageable.
Hockey – Song Away: Love. Loooooove. It seemingly harks back to early new wave with how minimalistic it is, but that really works here. It's just a damn good song to listen to. Definitely a keeper.
Kevin Drew – Backed Out On The Cause: The foundations are there, but the performance in itself is a little too wonky. There's an interesting lead guitar progression, but half of the time it's buried underneath layers of sound. Towards the end, the singer shows signs of fatigue, making simple mistakes that should never ever be in a studio recording. Still, it's alright.
Built to Spill – Goin' Against Your Mind: Nine minutes...it's a pleasant nine minutes, but it's still no The Camera Eye. It's just too mundane, too average to justify the length, and while it never got grating, it was not once engaging either, and this is why Ghost Of Perdition is the greatest song of all time. Still, I can admire how resilient the drummer is with his bass pedal, and were this song in RB, that would be the hardest part.
Dirty Projectors – Temecula Sunrise: Ooh, is that beginning shaky. The voice is good, but the guy using it doesn't know how to. Once the band kicks in, however, it's golden. Great hook, lots of variation and a *****in' solo to boot. Some parts feel a little fallible, but overall, it's a great little number.
Built To Spill – Conventional Wisdom: Not sure how to feel on this one. While there is technically more going on here than in Goin' Against Your Mind, it still feels less interesting altogether. The instrumental break is alright, but there really isn't enough going on to make it work. It's just a little too bland and forgettable.
Sebadoh – License To Confuse: Good hook, and it all works, even in its simplicity, but damn is it short. Not much else to say, really.
Yo La Tengo – Today Is The Day: Not a fan of this one. The vocalist sounds completely bored with her job, the guitar has a little fancywork but not much, and the drums are so dreary. It's not just that it's the same beat: the snare sounds like the prototype for what would appear on St. Anger. It's just a boring song.
Diagnosis? I'm warming to it, but the basic problems are still there. There are instances where indie artists can innovate or just create great song structures, but it seems to be the genre most susceptible to human error. Considering how simple some of these songs get, that makes no sense. When the songs are moving or doing something, I usually find it pleasureable. But that's another big problem: a lot of indie rock, particularly the more artsy styles, have no true substance. I'm open to more insights into this genre, but you can opt me out of the slower, duller affairs that play at something more.