Underrated Albums

Underrated and Influential: No Knife


When we look back at music history, especially in rock music, there are so many bands that should have been huge but, for whatever reason, they weren’t. That’s not to say that they didn’t leave a lasting impact on those that did listen to them. Throughout the years, I’ve spent many a day and night delving deeper into the 90’s and discovering a plethora of bands that I never truly gave a full listen to when they first came out. One such band that I’ve really come to love and draw inspiration from is No Knife. This band originally from San Diego, California, was quite special. They had this very cool style of mixing, bits of post hardcore, math rock, and what we now refer to as “indie” rock. Through their career, No Knife released four full length albums and went on to influence and inspire so many other bands that in a way, copped their sound. 

Going back through the bands catalog, and really listening, you come out of it not only inspired but, with an understanding as to why they are commonly referred to as a “band’s band.” Their debut album, Drunk On The Moon (1996), has this really interesting melodic sense to it that cuts through like a knife (no pun intended). It’s a very 90’s sounding album but, if it were to come out in say the early mid 00’s you’d think this was a new band from that era. Their next album Hit Man Dreams, (1997) was actually the first album I heard from No Knife. Original guitarist/vocalist Aaron Mancini was replaced by Ryan Ferguson. This album is a bit more melodic but, also seems to have more of an “edge” to it.  To me, and this is just my opinion, this is the album that No Knife really found their sound on. I strongly suggest you taking a listen to all their albums but, Hit Man Dreams specifically. I think this is the one that will make you fall in love with the band. Following these two albums, drummer Ike Zaremba was replaced with Chris Prescott and the band continued on. Their next album, Fire In The City Of Automatons (1999), was another step in the bands evolution. This one has more of a “math rock” approach to the rhythms while still keeping true to its melodic undertones. The bands final album Riot For Romance (2002), really fit in perfectly for where their genre was heading but, sadly didn’t quite capture the audience that their peers like Jimmy Eat World did. Even though, No Knife was clearly the better band. In 2003, the band sadly broke up. Though in 2009 they did reunite for a few shows in the San Diego area. And most recently, they were the special guest at one of Jawbox’s reunion shows in Los Angeles in 2019.

All in all, through No Knife’s short but inspiring history, they forged a sound that would be highly touted and recognized by countless bands and their peers. No Knife are the type of band that should have been huge but, thankfully, we have four great albums to go back to and celebrate. I personally think that if they were to come back with an EP and go out on the road with a band like Thrice (imagine how amazing that tour would be), it would open a whole new door for the band and people can really get a chance to discover how great this band truly is. 

Drunk On The Moon:


Hit Man Dreams:



Fire In The City Of Automatons:


Riot For Romance:



By: Brian Lacy

Underrated Albums: Depeche Mode- Songs of Faith and Devotion

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Depeche Mode is one of the most intriguing bands of the last 30 plus years. They have never been a band to keep making the same album. They’ve experimented and evolved in a way that is truly astounding. Each album stands out on it’s own. Some are better than others but the true essence of Depeche Mode is in each of their releases. Which brings me to their 1993 album Songs of Faith and Devotion. Following up an album like Violator is never easy but, this is Depeche Mode we are talking about. They followed up their breakthrough album with a record that took chances and showed just how really diverse Depeche Mode is.
Songs of Faith and Devotion is the eighth studio album in the bands catalog and it’s one of their more darker and aggressive albums. This album would be produced by Flood again and was recorded in a rented home which the band built a studio and live and worked in. This album saw the band become very interested in the alternative music that was taking over. Bands like Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden have been mentioned as key inspirations for the albums sound and style. The making of the album was quite difficult. Growing tensions among band members and drug addiction had caused some very trying times for Depeche Mode. Despite all this, Songs of Faith and Devotion is one of the best pieces of work the band has ever put out. Songs like “Walking In My Shoes,” “I Feel You,” “Condemnation,” In Your Room,” “Rush,” and “Higher Love,” just further prove that this album is truly remarkable. Even with the addiction issues, Dave Gahan’s vocal performances on this album are beyond stellar. Martin Gore, in my opinion, outdid himself with the songs he wrote on this album. Perhaps the growing tensions within the group especially the most strained between drummer Alan Wilder and Gore, helped to make some of the bands best songs. The following promotional tour for the album, The Devotional Tour, would be regarded in the bands history as their most “debauched” rock tour ever. This tour would also be the catalyst for the long break the band took afterwards before they would begin work on their album, Ultra.

Depeche Mode’s catalog is full of so many great albums. Violator is always going to be the one that the “masses” reach for but, the deep fans know there is more than just “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy The Silence.” Personally for me Songs of Faith and Devotion is in my top 3 favorite Depeche Mode albums (the other two are Music For The Masses and Exciter). There is something truly beautiful about how all the negativity that surrounded the making of this album created a record that surpassed an expectations that people would have. For almost 40 years now, Depeche Mode has proven you don’t need to make the same record twice. Taking chances and evolving in a way that still keeps the essence of the band in tact, has always been key to the bands success, and Songs of Faith and Devotion cements that fact.

Depeche Mode- Songs of Faith and Devotion:



Songs of Faith and Devotion Documentary:


Underrated Albums: Static X- Machine


Back in 2001 following on the heels of their successful debut Wisconsin Death Trip, Static X released their second album Machine and really stepped up their game. Instead of repeating what they did on Wisconsin, Wayne Static, Tony Campos and Ken Jay made an album that truly surpassed their debut. While the band always had electronics and an industrial tinge, Machine was the album that really brought that to the forefront along with strong riffs and a heavier vocal approach. Machine would become the bands heaviest album and the one that stands out the most.

I remember my dad taking me to the record store so I could buy this album. Once we got in the car I immediately put the cd in the car and let it rip. And rip it did. The moment “Get To The Gone” began, I knew that this was going to be one hell of an album. In fact every song on this album is badass. There are those songs that are heavy like “Permanence,” “This Is Not,” “Burn To Burn,” “Machine,” “…In A Bag,” and “Structural Defect.” Then there are songs that explore a bit of the melodic side like “Black and White,” and “Cold” which you might remember from the Queen Of The Damned soundtrack.

Static X made the perfect follow up album to their debut. The “sophomore jinx” was not going to hinder them even with losing a band member before the recording of this album. Another thing that makes Machine underrated is that instead of relying on drum machines and loops/samples, the band made a point to make this as organic as they could while still maintaining their “Evil Disco” sound. Static X was one of the most fun live bands of that era and continued to be throughout their career. Sadly, the band would go on to break up later on and in 2014 Wayne Static died from a drug overdose. One thing is for sure though, Static X wrote some really rad songs and Machine is probably their best album.


Static X- Machine:


Anything But This (B-Side from Machine):