Throughout music history there have been bands and artists who, despite their talent and unique sounds, have passed under the radar of the vast majority of music lovers. Sometimes these bands changed the music scene from behind the curtain and are hailed as geniuses by more successful bands or they just didn’t quite have the consistency and fan base to stay in the spotlight.
These are three bands that I feel have been unfairly neglected and for some unfathomable reason never quite got the recognition they deserved.
Formed in 1995 and hailing from wee bonnie Scotland, this fantastic band almost made it…but for some reason they fell out of favour. As my friend Jak says, “Ooo they were Indie before it was mainstream!” I added the ‘ooo’ to emphasise his annoyance. Yet self-righteous anger is understandable here, especially when you listen to their music. The track below is Roseability which was a hit when it was first released in 2000 from their 100 Broken Windows album.
Awesome. The track made it to number 38 in the UK singles chart which is pretty good for a rock single nowadays. Unfortunately they never went any higher than that in popularity. Which is a massive shame because both lyrically (Roddy Woomble was greatly inspired by Scottish poetry) and musically they were incredibly talented.
Tracks – Roseability, When I Argue I see Shapes, Stay The Same
A folk rock band from the USA, The Decemberists are one of those bands that a lot of people have heard of but never really listened to. There seems to be a preconception of this band that they are a bit dry and slow but this is just not the case. Check out the song below, a live version of July July! from their Castaways And Cut-Outs album.
One of the best aspects of The Decemberists is their lyrics, penned by lead singer Colin Meloy. They often contain characters and stories drawn from history; a French legionnaire wishing he was back home in Paris or the lament of a chimney sweep. Always inventive, often sprinkled with dark humour, there just aren’t many other bands who could write an entire story of two enemies trapped in the belly of a whale and how they came to be there. Just give them a chance.
Tracks – July July! Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect, Eli The Barrowboy (Warning: it’s a sad song. Sniff)
Strangely everyone’s heard of Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band as well, but again hardly anyone really listens to him. To be fair, his later material especially the albums he did in the ‘80s and ‘90s were dreadful. Ice Cream For Crow for example sounds more like the ravings of a madman, like the old man you see pushing his trolley around town shouting to himself and making people feel uncomfortable. There was a time before this though when he was actually brilliant, such as the track below, Too Much Time, from his Clear Spot album.
Beefheart was an artist through and through and a surreal one at that. Many successful musicians throughout his long career have tipped their hats to his cryptic genius; The White Stripes, Kurt Cobain, Beck, The Black Keys, Talking heads and Sonic Youth to name just a few. Mightily impressive but odd for a musician who never became quite as accepted as all the music he influenced. So let’s give the old man a chance. Just don’t listen to anything post ‘70s. Seriously it’s awful.
Tracks: Too Much Time, Zig Zag Wanderer, Steal Softly Through Snow (a bit more out there)