In the words of the guys at Spotify, “everybody loves music”, and I’m no exception. I’ll pretty much listen to anything, depending on my mood. I do have some boundaries, but with a music library home to artists including Take That & Craig David, I understand that I’m in no position to berate anyone’s listening habits.
I’d like to think that my expertise sits in the Indie-Rock genre, attributing this to my love of mid-90’s Britpop artists, Oasis, Blur, Ocean Colour Scene & the Manic Street Preachers to name but a few. In my teens, I “found myself” following a number of bands around the country, some of them good, others not so, and this has changed little as I edge closer to 30. I still get excited when I hear that my favourite bands are touring & producing new material.
With close to 20 years’ experience, listening to indie-rock albums, I give you, my five top (obscure) albums to listen to before you die.
The Good, The Bad & The Queen – The Good The Bad & The Queen
The Good, The Bad & The Queen are a quintessentially English supergroup, consisting of Damon Albarn (Blur), Paul Simonin (The Clash), Simon Tong (The Verve) & Tony Allen (primary co-founder of the Afrobeat genre). You’ll undoubtedly have heard their separate works, but may never have heard of this album.
Released in January 2007, it debuted at number 2 in the UK album charts, though the singles from it struggled to hit the top 20. The concept album is themed around modern life in London & you can certainly feel that whilst listening. It has a mystical and slightly medieval sound which I figure feeds the acquired taste.
My favourite songs include, Northern Whale – a song about the whale found swimming in the river Thames in 2006, Kingdom of Doom & The Good, The Bad & The Queen – an amazing 6:50 of musical expertise condensed into one track.
Seeing the band play at the Tower of London was awe inspiring and honestly made the hairs on the back of my neck stand tall. Definitely in my favourite three gigs of all time.
The Seahorses – Do It Yourself
The epitome of Britpop,. The Seahorses were formed by John Squire after the split of the Stone Roses in 1996. Although the band had relative success with the album, reaching number two in the UK charts, they only ever had three hit singles.
Ridiculously obscure lyrics and dreamy instrumentals bring you back to the mid-90’s. Oasis fans would be impressed to note that the track “Love Me & Leave Me” was co-written with Liam Gallagher.
The sound is similar to that of The Bluetones, another of my favourite Britpop bands.
The band split in 1999 citing musical differences, meaning that the second album was never released, though a few tracks can be found on YouTube if you are willing to search around.
Top tracks include; Happiness Is Eggshaped, Love Me & Leave Me and Hello.
Young Rebel Set – Curse Our Love
Hailing from the North East, there’s a real feeling of struggle, heartbreak & poverty in the folk bands’ music. The thing I love the most about YRS is the grit and emotion in each and every song. Front man Matty Chipchase has the ability to grab your heart and really make you feel and breathe each song.
Formerly named Billy the Kid & The Brothers Barbaylios, the band were slow to make an impact on the UK charts, whether through miss management or a lack thereof. So called music experts believe YRS to be living in the shadows of Mumford & Sons, when in reality Billy the Kid & The Brothers Barbaylios were around long before them. Though the band will probably never find fame, I figure providing the guys don’t lose faith, this will keep the music and gritty and heartfelt as ever.
Outstanding tracks include, If I Was – a beautiful love song about loss and poverty, Lions Mouth – a song regarding love, loss, heartache and war.
Milburn – Well, Well, Well
If you like the Arctic Monkeys, you’ll love Milburn. The Sheffield based band produced two albums before they waved goodbye to the music scene. Well, Well, Well, the debut album is faced paced, punchy and rhythmic.
The reason behind Milburn’s demise was surely the overcrowding of the music scene with indie bands during the mid-naughties, twinned with the fact that if you didn’t know better, you’d think the album was a collection of Arctic Monkeys B-sides.
Similar again to “Whatever People Say…” every song on the album rightly deserves its place making it hard to choose three top tracks. But, if pushed, I’d choose; Storm In A Teacup, Send In The Boys & Last Bus.
The Gaslight Anthem – The ‘59 Sound
The American rock band’s second album only ever reached number 55 in the UK charts. Discovering the band at a late stage, I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to them before their appearance to a couple of thousand fans at Glastonbury festival in 2009. Watch the clip of the ’59 Sound joined by Bruce Springstein.
I’m not a great fan of American rock. I feel that compared to emotion filled, instrumentally rich tunes produced on this side of the pond, there’s no contest. US bands often get lost in bland guitar riffs and drab monotonous lyrics, but not the Gaslight Anthem. The ’59 sound is as American as a fast food restaurant, but with the imagination and melodic class of an English band. Close your eyes and you could be in a Wild West saloon bar with a bourbon & coke in your hand, tapping your toes to one of the most underrated albums of all time.
Favourite tracks include; Here’s Looking At You Kid, Casanova, Baby! & The Backseat
I hope you like my suggestions, and would love to hear who you would put in your top 5 obscure albums.