Top Ten Tuesday: Angst, Shame and Silliness
The Top 10 Bands You Ought To Be Ashamed You Don’t Know (Or Know Better): Part 3
This week, I’m excited to introduce (or re-introduce) you to three pop/rock/alternative acts that keep me reaching to crank up the volume every time they come up on shuffle.
#9 The Verve Pipe
The first time I heard “The Freshmen” in 1996, I wept. Is it about lost love? Abortion? Suicide? I don’t know; but somehow it sonically captures a lifetime of regret in four and a half minutes. Five years after their breakthrough (but not their first) album, The Verve Pipe released Underneath – and it was as though they’d come out of a cocoon. I’ve never known a band to transform so completely while still maintaining all the qualities that first drew me in.Underneath has plenty of darkness (“Medicate Myself”, “Gotta Move On”), but the sun also rises (“Never Let You Down”, “Happiness Is”.) And, as if to remind me what I love about blogging about music – I discovered a whole back catalog of work predating Villains, as well as a kids album released in 2011. If you love good rock and good songs, take the time to rediscover The Verve Pipe.
When I rediscovered The Police around 2005, I chewed through their entire catalog in six months and still hungered for more. That’s when I discovered Maxeen. The parallels are obvious – 3 piece band with a high-singing bass player – but Maxeen goes deeper than that. Tom Bailey’s lyrics tap my gen-x angst (“Take The Weight Off”), but with a millennial emotionality (“Loud As War”, “Block Out The World”) I’m slightly ashamed to enjoy. Lay that atop of a nice salty bed of satisfyingly complex rock (drummer Jay Skowronek will quicken your pulse) and I’m in Maxeen released two full-length records, both of which are enjoyable straight through, as well as several singles including a cover of “Murder By Numbers” I highly recommend.
#8 Barenaked Ladies
You probably remember them for “One Week”, and fair enough: it hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Modern Rock and Top 40 Mainstream tracks, and that’s just in the US. But Chickety China aside, BNL made (and are still making) great records. Few bands have traversed so a vast landscape of emotional territory with such grace; they’ve recorded songs about the destructive power of infidelity (“Off The Hook”), clinical depression (“This Is Where It Ends”) and that indescribable longing to return to simpler days (“Pinch Me”). Barenaked Ladies are as deep as they are silly, as unpretentious as they are underrated. Give them a listen with new ears, and discover one of pop/rock’s treasures.