Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pop-Life: Best of the Brits

Hey people.

For today's post, I wanted to do something a little different, and use another part of my brain that I don't exercise too much when it comes to this blog: Music, specifically, talking about the types of music I really enjoy.

So today, I thought I'd I do a little quick piece about some of my favorite British bands to come out of the 90's, and the musical movement/genre they inspired called Britpop.

Here's a quick rundown of  my 5 favorite Brisitsh bands to come out of the 90's that I enjoyed(and still do) listening to:

1). Blur

One of my favorite Brit bands to come out of the 90's, Blur definitely changed how I saw and heard music. With hits like "Boys and Girls", "Song2", "Coffee and TV", "The Universal", and "Parklife", Blur led the Britpop movement and influenced countless bands and singers along the way, and were only truly rivaled by the band, Oasis. I remember when I first heard "Boys and Girls." Fucking crazy, awesome song that one is. You just have to love the beat and weird musical effects they throw in that one. But as far as actual albums, my first was 13, which came out in 1999. With songs like "Trimm Trab", "Coffee and TV", and "No distance left run"(feel like that now) they cemented a permanent place in my heart and cd collection. Not to mention, this album and Silverchair's Neon Ballroom were the soundtracks of my life at that time, as they both came along with me as I traveled for the 1st time out of the small town I live in now, out with my Uncle Dale(yes, he's the reason why I'm named Dale. I blame him and my mom) all the way to Virginia. Sweet 18 indeed!

I bought Blur's next album, after that, their Best of, which I highly recommend if you're even the slightest bit interested in them. This album has all their hits, and even includes a bonus live album. Good, good stuff.

They officially broke up for good in 2009, and lead singer Damon Alburn's in a little band you might have heard of called The Gorillaz. So while they all left and went their separate ways Blur always be a top ranked Britpop band to me.

2). Oasis
Ahh, the Gallagher brothers. Even though they were heavily influenced by the Beatles(and that's not a bad thing), they acted more like the Rolling Stones than anything else, as stories of the brothers' infamous drunken brawling, both on- and off-stage, made for some nice tabloid articles.  I didn't care about all that though, as that's just part and parcel of the rock n' roll lifestyle. No, I was more into what really mattered to me, the music. I first became aware of Oasis in 1995, when their smash hits "Wonderwall", and "Don't look back in anger." I'd heard about the comparisons to the Beatles, and how they were nothing but a Beatles' cover band and all that shit, but really, no one can be the Beatles, EXCEPT the Beatles. Yes, Oasis certainly did show through song titles and arrangements how much they were influenced by the Beatles, but that's about it. "Supersonic", and "Champagne Supernova" were next, and I was really getting into them then. And then by 1999, Standing on the shoulders of giants came out, and I was really hooked! I bought the CD, despite only really knowing and liking one song, "Go let it out", but wound up loving the entire album.

Did I mention the Gallaghers liked to fight? and not just each other? As I stated earlier, in the minds of the public and music critics alike, only a band like Blur were viewed  as the only true rivals for the hearts, minds, and wallets of customers.  So much so were they rivals, that when Blur's single "Country House" beat out Oasis's single "Roll with it" in August of '95, Noel Gallagher was later quoted  in September of that same year that he hoped "Damon Albarn and Alex James of Blur would "catch AIDS and die". Crazy huh?

Oasis would later break up in 2009, the same year as Blur. Interesting .

3). Radiohead

While not intrinsically linked with the Britpop movement, Radiohead's still one of the most popular and politically outspoken bands in the UK. Led by vocalist Thom Yorke, Radiohead's proved to be one of those really musically diverse and experimental bands. Radiohead really became popular in the 90's, with their first smash hit "Creep." I really liked one, as it slowly, but surely started to get me interested in the band.Then came "Fake Plastic Trees."I first heard and thought it was alright, but wasn't too impressed by it. It was featured in the popular teen movie Clueless, but again, it was alright, but not as good as their later material. That would be their 1997 album and my personal favorite of theirs, OK Computer

Every song from top to bottom is just fantastic, from "Airbag" to "The Tourist" just comes alive with such energy and computer-effect driven propulsion. I first got introduced to this album by first watching the video to Paranoid Android. It's a crazy fucking video, that's right up my alley in weirdness and graphic displays of animated sex and violence.

Here, I'll show you:

Of course not content to rest on their success, they followed that up with Kid A and Hail to the Thief. I liked Kid A, but nowhere near as much as Ok Computer. The last hit single I enjoyed from Radiohead lately was "House of cards." It just has a great beat and all-around sweet, sweet arrangement. Radiohead will always have a place in music collection, and they should have a little place in yours as well.

Wow, that just sounded like something from one of those kids from Reading Rainbow. You know, the one  that used to pimp books that they had just read to other kids? Crazy.

4). The Verve

Yes the Verve, known world-wide for the biggest, and probably only hit, "Bittersweet Symphony. If you were anywhere around a TV or radio in 1997 when this song came out, than odds are you heard it, got tired of it, heard some more, and the got really sick of it. I remember hearing the song, then watching them perform live at a concert on MTV. That performance really influenced me to go out and buy the their album. Ahh Bittersweet Symphony, I personally love the song, and funny video that has lead singer Richard  Ashcroft just bumping into people on the street, walking on top of cars, and knocking people over without giving a fuck. Funny, funny shit, that I'd like to do myself.....if I had no manners or regard for anybody's else's health..or mine.

Of course the rest of the very album that spawned Bittersweet Symphony, Urban Hymns, is every bit as good as the hit single in my mind. Sure most of them are kind of downbeat or straight up downers, but they still great. Of course the true irony for the band having a hit called Bittersweet Symphony, is that due to the fact that they heavily sampled the main backing beat/chorus from the Rolling Stone, the British courts ruled in favor of the 'Stones, and awarded full rights and royalties to them. Yeah, like they need the money. Bittersweet indeed. I haven't checked up on them in good while, but recently found that they too broke up in '09. WTF is up with that year? Has that year been deemed the universally agreed upon time to break up if you were in a hit band in the 90's?


Most of you are probably, going who? No this isn't a singer in the same vain as Prince or Madonna. Nope this is the popular British band Travis. While technically referred to as a post-Britpop band, that doesn't make this band any less relevant in my eyes.

I first heard this group while in one my favorite comic book stores in Columbia, SC, Heroes and Dragons. (Free plug guys!:) It was here of all places, that I heard the group for the first time while digging through the comic bins. Someone in the back was either a big fan or just happened to have their album handy, because it played all the way through, from beginning to end. This album was their 2nd, and the one to really get the band noticed. It was their 1999 release, The Man Who. And no, I don' know who the man is or what he did, but I do know after hearing the whole thing, I wanted more. I eventually found out who the band's name was, and from what album those wonderful songs came from. It was this album, and yes, I quickly snatched it up. The major hit to come out of this album "Why does it always rain on me?" is what got my attention, but then listening to other songs like "Writing to reach you", "Turn", and "She's so strange" kept it.

They followed that up 2001's The Invisible Band, which featured such hits like "Sing" and "Flowers in the window". I kind of stopped following them after that, as 2001 was a very crazy year for me. Remind to explain in this blog later. But yeah, I'd highly recommend giving them Travis a listen. I'm a sucker for songs with melody, sweaping lines and choruses, and amazing back beats. Not to mention vocals. My god does singer Fran Healy(no, he's a dude people!) have a beautiful voice!

The band's still chugging along, and still putting out records, even as recent as 2010. And singer Fran Healy put out a solo album that same year. I need to go check that out on the internet.

So there, that's my little stroll down memory lane with these Britpop bands, and what they mean to me.
I highly suggest giving them a shot, just in case you already haven't. They're not bad, I promise.


Dan said...

I love Brit pop! We got loads of it in NZ not so much in OZ. For me Verve is number 1. I really thought they were going to be huge. Drugs dont work, sonnet and bitter sweet symphony were all amazing. a rock out number wouldve been good.

Radiohead for me went the wrong way after okay computer. Oasis was overused in advertising almost as much as fatboy slim and moby so was hard to enjoy their stuff without thinking cars shoes or deodorant.

as a radio dj blur song two was invaluable. at exactly two minutes long it always helped me win in house prizes for getting the news on air exactly on the hour.

Travis I liked alot too. others I'd add: Weezer, Manic Street Preachers (welsh i know but i wanted to slip them in), and Morcheeba.

great post! i should work nz music into my blog!

Dale Bagwell said...

Sorry for the messed up looking post there Dan. Still can't fix it, arghh!

Glad you enjoyed the post, and yes I was, and still am a hug fan of The Verve's Urban Hymns album. I love all those songs you mentioned, and fuck the entire thing! Sad to them break up, as well as Oasis and Blur.

I have to agree with you on not liking the direction Radiohead took after Ok Computer. I liked Kid A(Knives out anyone?), but it wasn't anywhere as good as OK Computer. I lost interest in following them regularly after that, so I guess that doesn't make me a true fan then huh?:(

But like I said, I do enjoy "House of cards", and think they're getting back to 97' shape.

I didn't think about the adverting remark, but you're right again on that. But to be fair Moby and Fatboy Slim's music was destined to become commercial fodder sooner or later. I guess I'd do it to if the money was right.

I kinda like Weezer, but it's more a here and there thing. I like Destroy my sweater, Buddy Holly, Hash Pipe, and Island in the sun, but then don't really care for the rest of their stuff. Although there is Beverly Hills, but then that just reeks of being a commercial hit.

Glad you like Travis too.

If I could, I'd have slipped Garbage and Silverchair in there too. Hell I might write a post on them too later one.

Dude, you should do a NZ music post. You know I'd read it:)

That sucks ass you're so far away though man. I swear we'd get along great music and comic-wise. Hell between the fast drinks, and faster women, I suspect we'd turn into Harold and Kumar, but the Kiwi/American duo in Aussie-land verison.

Thanks for stopping by.

Dan said...

garbage wouldve been awesome. shirleys so good they could be honarary britpoppers!

I think we'd get on great to mate. like nightwing and wally or somethin. good times fer sure.

Dale Bagwell said...

Indeed. I'd worry about whatever town we were in, but shit would get K-razzy!(Parks and Recreation joke)

What's Garbage doing anyways these days? I think they were about to, or just did, put a new album. Not sure.

I was hooked on Garbage the 1st time I heard "Stupid Girl", and then say Shirley's nipple slip on he 96' VH1 Fashion Awards. Yes, 15 yr-old Dale was indeed pleased with that one:)

And I defy anyone to tell me "Milk" isn't one of her most hauntingly beautiful songs she ever sang. Good god man! She's practically begging/pleading to whoever she's singing about, that she's waiting and aching for them. Just powerful powerful stuff,

Dan said...

i loved garbage right from im only happy when it rains. shirley killed it literally in sarah connor chronicles. im always holdin out for a return to form, but in the meantime Wicked Ways and #1 Crush are always good for a bit of gym.or air guitar. w.ways reminds me of absolutely fabulous theme for some reason. now theres a crazy shit duo!

Dale Bagwell said...

Yeah, I used to watch AbFab briefly. They are a fucking trip I'll agree w/you there. Did you see my top ten list for Shlomo over at his recent post's comment section? Sometimes I even amaze myself:)

Dan said...

yeah i did some gave my a good laugh. Sholomotion lol

Dale Bagwell said...

Ha ha, I know right? I figured only 3 of those might piss him off; the one about converting to Islam, the one about being the president of the Adam Glass fan club, and the about actually being Adam Glass. I figured everything else was a funny bonus.

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