Aussie ex-pats now holed up in Brooklyn, High Highs, come with a sound that is as comforting as it is familiar. On “Open Season” the duo sound (in the best way possible) like a lot of the bands I spun in high school, pieces of Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie, The Velvet Teen, even little bits of Smashing Pumpkins bubble underneath the song’s simple yet stunning melodies. “Open Season” is available as a FREE download on the group’s bandcamp, check it below.
I should ask the B3Sci dudes if I can post the entire Elbow album Build A Rocket Boys. It’s that fucking great. Their sound is lower-key than on the last two, but it’s beautifully done and really majestic. I feel like Elbow are picking up where Radiohead left off after OK Computer. I’m predicting right now that they’ll be nominated next year for another shot at winning the Mercury Prize. Check out “High Ideals”.
Julian, bud, you know this totally sounds like Radiohead, right? Not that we’re complaining. The tune has legs. The thin electro-drums, the arpeggiated guitar layers, the frenetic vocals. Nikolai we see you bumping OK Computer on your iPod touch. It’s OK, we’re still cool. We like this song, just please don’t go all Our Lady Peace on us and come back sounding like this on LP 5. All we ask.
My mind deals in chronologies. By memorizing the dates of artworks and events, I gain a greater understanding of particular historical progressions. I always keep this in mind when listening to music, which band another band was listening to when they were writing a particular song or album, or whether they were listening to a different genre or no music at all, since they didn’t want to get encumbered by another’s expression and run the risk of intellectual plagiarizing. The period of 1979-1996 could loosely be defined as the third era of British Rock Music, with the first encompassing the Beatles and the second going from Elton John through the Sex Pistols. (One man’s opinion. Don’t burn an effigy of me just because I didn’t put Boys Don’t Cry or Disintegration on the list!)
10. Teardrop Explodes — Kiliminjaro (1980)
Front-man Julian Cope used to play with Ian McCulloch of The Bunnymen in Liverpool in the late 70’s, before each of them became leader of their own outfit. One can only imagine, however, Julian Cope as the 5th member of the Bunnymen, sharing lyrical duties with McCulloch and battling for bravado rights. Key tracks include the infectious “Treason”, “Poppies in the Field”, and the final song “When I Sleep”, which was a hit single in England. The CD also includes the Kiliminjaro EP with title track, which is a mystical journey toward the snowy peak of Africa. The song’s only lyrics: “We set sail a year and a day ago, making our way for Kilimanjaro.” The group plays with an hysteric tightness rarely seen even in the Post-Punk realm.
9. The Wedding Present — Seamonsters (1991)
The Wedding Present, a favorite band of the late British DJ John Peel, is the product of David Gedge. What he lacks in vocal range he more than compensates for in lyrical mastery. Seamonsters contains some of the great rock love songs of the past 25 years. “Dare” is Gedge’s attempt to persuade a girl to love him:
Stay all night, I dare you
Look who is going to know?
I can’t believe you want to go!
Other key tracks include Carolyn, Octopussy, Suck and Niagara, which climaxes in a magical “1,2,3,4!” count-off into the final instrumental. There’s a steep listening curve on this album, but the rewards are more than worth it.
8. The Smiths — The Queen is Dead (1986)
This album should probably be higher on the list. Actually, I forgot about the Smiths when I first created this list late at night, but it would be criminal to shun them from any list of this nature. They are too representative of the era not to give them their proper notice.
The Smiths are highlighted by guitarist Johnny Marr and singer Steven Patrick Morrissey, who of course is better known as simply Morrissey. The Queen is Dead features several of the most iconic Smiths hits, including “Cemetery Gates,” “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” ” A Boy with a Thorn in His Side,” and a personal favorite, “There is a Light that Never Goes Out”. Morrissey’s trademark self-conscious self-deprecation permeates the album, epitomized by the lyric “It lasted 20 years, 7 months, and 27 days whoah-oh ah-ohoh…” (from the song “Never had No One Ever”.)
7. Echo and the Bunnymen — Ocean Rain (1984)
Today, Echo and the Bunnymen is best known as the group that recorded the song “The Killing Moon”, which gained prominence after it was featured in the 2001 movie Donnie Darko. Following the release of the movie, which was a massive cult hit among lovers of independent cinema, Echo also gained notoriety as a key musical influence for groups like Interpol and British Sea Power.
This is not to say that Echo and the Bunnymen wasn’t important in their own day. While virtually unnoticed in America, they had 4 top ten albums in the UK, and “The Killing Moon”, which starts out the second side on Ocean Rain, made it to #8 on the UK singles charts. Bunnymen zealots contend that guitarist Will Sergeant was better than The Edge and also that Bono ripped his vocal style off of Mac the Mouth.
Ocean Rain was supposed to be the album to catapult the Bunnymen toward international superstardom. While it didn’t quite do that, it made it to #4 on the UK album charts. The album features one of my favorite second halves. Starting with “The Killing Moon”, it sequences into “Seven Seas”, featuring one of the greatest bridges of the 80’s, “My Kingdom” and the epic title track to close things out. The Bunnymen are great for toeing the line between passion and histrionics.
6. Oasis — What’s the Story Morning Glory (1995)
Oasis was the biggest thing since the Beatles. Or at least The Brothers Gallagher thought they were. But these guys had the brawn to match the hubris. Oasis’ critics say that they only had one gear and couldn’t change their sound up enough (the paradigmatic one-trick pony), but they knew their sound and usually knocked it out of the park.
While some prefer Definitely Maybe, their debut, I prefer (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, which showed no signs of a sophomore slump. Morning Glory roars out of the gates with “Hello” (more of the Definitely Maybe vein), “Roll With It” (Nirvana meets Britpop), “Wonderwall” (their most accessible hit), and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (title inspired by the John Osborne play). The album gets a little sleepy in the second half before closing with “Champagne Supernova” (another classic).
5. Radiohead — The Bends (1995)
Radiohead is the band which defines our generation. In fact, I had to tailor this post to end in 1995 instead of 1997 so I wouldn’t be obliged to put OK Computer at the top of this list. In many ways they are the current end-product of the entirety of British Rock.
This album kicks ass! I often listen to it in the morning to get my iconoclastic juices rolling before a long day hunting for my piece of cheese in the rat race. The album is replete with attitude, strong choices and general precociousness. Few bands rock as hard as Radiohead on The Bends. After the merely-above-average debut of Pablo Honey, Radiohead went to the sketch pad and drew up the plan for their second album. This is when Radiohead started to become the best band of Earth, even if Yorke owes Buckley’s estate some royalties for “Fake Plastic Trees”. (And I think “Street Spirit” is overrated.) But the quality is uniform throughout.
4. The Clash — London Calling (1979)
Rolling Stone Magazine shocked its readership in 2003 when it placed The Clash’s London Calling at #8 on their 500 Greatest Albums list. I remember them getting some negative feedback, probably justified (with albums like Velvet Underground and Nico, Abbey Road, Are You Experienced, and Nevermind ranked after — a minor misdemeanor.) But even if London Calling isn’t number eight, it undoubtedly clocks in somewhere before twenty.
“Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” sings Strummer on the opening title track. Although there is an outward rejection of the past, The Clash were receptive to incorporating other genres into the framework of punk. “Brand New Cadillac” is Jan and Dean, “Rudie Can’t Fail” is Proto-Ska. Then there’s “Lost in the Supermarket” and “Lover’s Rock”, which for me transcend definition and float within the timeless realm of ineffability. This nineteen track double album is guilty of some filler, but it closes the deal with “Trian in Vain (Stand by Me),” one of their most popular songs.
3. The Stone Roses — The Stone Roses (1989)
The iconic bands share a self-fulfilling vision to be the greatest band on the planet. These guys had that vision. Led by frontman Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire, driven by the incessant beat of bassist Mani and drummer Reni, who battles the late Pete Defritas of The Bunnymen as the best English Drummer of the 80’s, The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut is a statement of purpose.
They are unapologetic about their intentions, as indicated by the opener, “I Wanna Be Adored”, which was an American college radio hit. Next comes the infectious bass line from “She Bangs the Drums”, made recently popular by the videogame Guitar Hero II. “Don’t Stop” is “Waterfall” played backwards! — I mean, who else plays a song backwards? The epic finale is much-loved, but I prefer the saccharine sweetness of “Sugar Spun Sister”.
2. Echo and the Bunnymen — Heaven Up Here (1981)
Echo and the Bunnymen’s second album, Heaven Up Here, was their only LP to make the Rolling Stone top 500 list, squeaking in somewhere between 450 and 500. The inclusion is a bit of a pity prize, but I am at least glad that a) they got the recognition in the first place and b) the preferred Echo album was Heaven Up Here, which, in my opinion, is the most cohesive album of the 1980’s. Still in their early 20’s, they built on the foundation laid with their 1980 debut Crocodiles. While some of Crocodile’s pop infectiousness is lost on Heaven Up Here, Echo makes up for it with a surety of purpose evidenced by a higher lyrical quality; the band follows suit in this step up to the big league. (To compare it with Boy by U2 is a joke, quite honestly.)
“Realistically, it’s hard to dig it all too happily,” Ian McCullloch croons at the start of the opening track, “Show of Strength”. Echo, like the Stone Roses, make an overt statement of greatness with the opening track and somehow manages to succeed. Seargent’s guitars are mesmerizing and DeFritas’ drums cannot be played at a loud enough decibel. The hysteria continues with the dystopic “With a Hip” and the six-minute epic third track, “Over the Wall”, where Mac the Mouth takes the listener to their logical limit. Even filler like “It was a Pleasure” kicks absolute ass. Any doubts are handled by the time we get to “Zimbo”, a metaphysical journey not unlike Kiliminjaro (see#10).
1. The La’s — The La’s (1990)
I was not impressed with this album when I purchased it off Amazon about five years ago. I thought it was too short and that the songwriting was not original enough, outside of “There She Goes” and “Timeless Melody”, the album’s premiere cuts. Most importantly, I found Steve Lillywhite’s production shoddy and hated how I had to crank the volume up before even beginning to rock out.
But over time, I grew attached to this album. I listened to it at least once every day for a six month period, and I still listen to it on a regular basis. This album makes #1 because it breaks all stereotypes of chronology, with tracks sounding like they could’ve been recorded in 1959 or 2009, but definitely not 1989. The La’s came from a different era, taking their, ahem, timeless melodies from that great magical jukebox in the sky.
The La’s, originally from Liverpool, were hailed as the second coming of the Beatles. They put a record company out of business while making this album. Once the label put Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Matthews) to the task of salvaging the wreckage of three years of false starts, the album finally came out in 1990. The band, especially frontman Lee Mavers, hated the album and publicly lambasted it, urging their fans not to buy it. They had minimal buzz in the US, appearing on Letterman in 1991; “There She Goes” went to #5 in the UK. After the band broke up, the song continued to grow, being covered by The Cranberries and Sixpence None the Richer and being featured in movies like So I Married an Axe Murderer.
There She Goes was originally released in 1988 as a single, then climbed to #5 when re-released with the album. It is the perfect pop song. Unforgettable guitar intro, pitch-perfect falsetto, 2 minutes 40 seconds, all the ingredients. “Timeless Melody” is almost as good, along with “Way Out”, “IOU”, “Freedom Song”, and the epic finale “Looking Glass”. This album is #1 because there’s no filler. Each track is equally qualified for radio airwaves. Please buy this album, don’t download, since Lee Mavers lives off the royalties. Just don’t tell Lee that you liked his album.
In fine b3sci tradition… Noel Gallagher covers Slade’s ’73 classic “Merry Xmas Everybody”. This track was recorded exclusively for the 2002 War Child NME charity compilation, 1 Love, which echoed a 1995 War Child benefit album Help. Both albums feature covers from the likes of Oasis, Blur, Suede, Radiohead, Elbow, Muse, Stereophonics, Sinead O’Connor, Portishead and more. They are great collections and you should treat yourself to them Here. If this track doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, then you must not be fond of holidays… and that’s just a pity.
Eliza Doolittle caught our ears in February with the irresistible UK hit, “Skinny Genes”. Her self-titled debut LP has found itself in heavy rotation here at b3sci HQ and Eliza is currently prepping a US debut and mega year in 2011. We recently caught up to get the 411 on her live cover of Cee Lo Green’s smash “Fuck You“, her Jamie XX collaboration, favorite recipes, Shakespeare and more!
b3sci: When will fans in the States get their next chance to experience Eliza Doolittle in a live setting?
ELIZA: Oooo! Well I’m going to be playing some festivals like SXSW and some others in 2011. And hopefully not long after that I’ll be doing some touring!
b3sci: Your live cover of Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You” display’s some incredible musical instincts. How do you do it… what’s your inspiration?
ELIZA: I love performing live so I hope my enjoyment translates and infects everybody watching. I love creating music and when me and my band perform live we try and take the recordings to the next level.
b3sci: On a related note, your voice just seems to find “the pocket” of a great pop melody, has Pop music always been your major vocal influence, or is there a particular style of music that you like to claim the foundation of your soulful delivery?
ELIZA: I loved a lot of different music…growing up, I sang and practiced along to Lauryn Hill, Mariah and Beyonce, really soulful pop vocalists so maybe that’s rubbed off on me but I also love sweet songs like Burt Bacharach music and Beach Boys. And rock like Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers…I don’t know what has directly influenced me.
b3sci: Is there a particular track from your self-titled debut album that you feel especially connected to or proud of as an artist? If so, which and why?
ELIZA: I really love all the tracks …when writing the album I had about 25 finished songs to choose to go on the album and I really loved a lot of them so the ones I put on the album, I really, really love! I think if I had to pick one song I would pick “Rollerblades” as that was the first song I wrote where I really found my own sound for the first time and the rest of the album was based on that sound …so I owe the song a lot!
Eliza Doolittle – Rollerblades
b3sci:Can you shed some light on the happenings behind your connection with Jamie from The XX, and the “Money Box” remix?
ELIZA: I had met The XX a couple of times and am a big fan of their music. I just asked Jamie if he wanted to do a remix and he said yes… so I sent him the parts!
Eliza Doolittle – Money Box (Jamie XX Remix)
b3sci: If you could collaborate with anyone past present or future, who would it be with and why? Keep in mind they wouldn’t need to be a musician, and any sort of artistic collaboration counts.
ELIZA: Hmm, Shakespeare! He is the artistic genius of the entire time we’ve been on this earth!
b3sci: We need to ask you a favorite question of ours… Hypothetical situation, you’re stranded on an island and you can only chose between having with you either 30 songs OR 10 albums! Do you chose to have the albums or songs, and why?
ELIZA: 10 albums definitely because they are pieces of art as a whole album, and I would feel empty without the other songs. Also, an album has 10 songs average on it so that would mean 100 songs!
b3sci: Haha you found the loophole! So what are a few of the albums that you would bring along?
ELIZA: Oooo… Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life, Steely Dan – Aja, Destiny’s Child – The Writings on the Wall, Beach Boys – Pet Sounds. Just to name a few…
b3sci: What’s your take on the internet and your development as an artist? How would you ideally like to see both your career and your fans affected by the internet and your message moving forward?
ELIZA: Well the internet is a blessing and a curse. Through Twitter etc, I can promote my music and shows but through illegal downloads, I can’t make very much money out of my record. I would love for people to respect the hard work that’s put into making a record and not steal the music but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen.
b3sci: So what’s your take on the blogosphere? Do you participate?
ELIZA: I have my own blog and I love making it. I love documenting my journey and it’s a great way to interact with my listeners and show them some of my interests other than just music. So you should check it out… http://blog.elizadoolittle.com
b3sci: Is there something killer that you’re listening to and influenced by at the current moment?
ELIZA: I’m loving Cee Lo Green’s new album The Lady Killer. It’s superb! Love Janelle Monae and The Drums too!
b3sci: What are your general observations about the reception of emerging artists from the UK in the states, and the same vice-versa?
ELIZA: I’m not sure really, I hope people will listen to my music regardless of where I’m from. I hope people will like it!
b3sci: What in your eyes are some of the popular misnomers about pop stars and the music industry among the public?
ELIZA: I think people take being in the public eye way too seriously. People judge very quickly for the smallest things. Sometimes I make a spelling mistake on Twitter and have a bombardment of tweets picking me up on it and making a massive unnecessary fuss. I would love it if people just listened to my music and took me in for that rather than my grammar skills etc! Haha! And I’m sure other singers get the same jip.
b3sci: We LOVE to cook! Give us one of your favorite recipes to try out.
ELIZA: Baked beans on toast is my specialty!
b3sci: Well that’s interesting, might need to try that. We’ve got to ask you, happiness… what in this world of ours does it for you?
ELIZA:Great music, great friends and family! And lots of laughter …That’s all you need.
New York’s BreakThru Radio showcased blablahblahscience this week on their Anatomy of a Blogger program. we put together a mix for them with some of our choice gems over the last few months, and had a chance to chat with BreakThru’s DJ Thompson about new music, the uk music scene, our new website in the works and more! click here for a link to the broadcast. we’ve also decided to make the playlist songs available as an exclusive B3sci mixtape (HERE). GET INTO IT!
00:40 Kick Push (Lupe Fiasco x Ghibli Remix) – TOKiMONSTA
03:29 The Well – Breton
07:24 Let Go – Everest
11:32 Super High (Sativa Remix) (Feat. Currensy, Wiz Khalifa & Ne-Yo) – Rick Ross
15:20 Interview with Mike part 1
17:32 Get Down – E-Train
18:47 On Your Own – James Yuill
23:02 Field – Mount Kimbie
26:03 Premeditated Murder – J. Cole
29:56 Interview part 2
35:50 Zodiac Shit – Flying Lotus
38:33 Kids – Sleigh Bells
41:19 Idioteque (Radiohead Cover) – Amanda Palmer
45:23 Lamplight – Bombay Bicycle Club
49:06 Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) – Arcade Fire
54:19 TAOS – Menomena
59:15 Interview part 3
62:18 Dirty Girl – Nicos Gun
65:51 Seven – Raphael Saadiq
68:48 If I Ruled the World (Freddie Joachim Remix) (Feat. Lauryn Hill) – Nas
73:31 Everybody Loves The Sunshine – Seu Jorge
78:28 Interview part 4
82:11 Ren & Stimpy (feat Pheo & Ramone Jones) – Curtiss King
i scream, you scream, we all scream for IN THE MIX!! cause guess what players! it’s IN THE MIX!!!! somebody screammmmmmm! yeah we’re on that new shit, which includes……FOALS! CROOKERS! ……and REGINA SPEKTOR doing RADIOHEAD. ok lets go. black rob, you with us? whoa! ok!
Noel Gallagher covers Slade’s 1973 #1 hit “Merry Xmas Everybody” for the 2002 War Child charity NME compilation, 1 Love. the project echoed the 1995 War Child benefit album, Help, which featured a variety of cover songs recorded by major british acts in a single day, which were then released a week later. acts heard on the two compilations include Oasis, Blur, Suede, Radiohead, Elbow, Muse, Stereophonics, Sinead O’Connor, and Portishead to name a few. if this track doesn’t get you in the spirit, then we’re not sure what will!
a new supergrass side project produced by nigel godrich of radiohead, beck, travis, McCartney, REM, etc fame that showcases Gaz and Dan recording some of their favorite tunes. and low and behold, it sounds like well… supergrass covering songs. SURPRISE!
now, we like the songs and their version of The Velvet Underground’s “I Can’t Stand It” particularly kills it. and we dig supergrass. but do we like side projects focused on cover songs? well i guess who cares what we like..
frontperson for the world’s biggest band takes on miracle legion’s “all for the best” off the “ciao my shining star: the songs of mark mulcahy” compilation. we love it! “thom yorke told us we could smoke weed!”