Underrated and Influential

Underrated Band: Chevelle

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There are bands out there that get a bad rap for no good reason. And the more you really delve into the band’s albums, you realize that said band is quite good and really consistent in releasing quality material. Over the last few years, I’ve personally noticed that the band Chevelle falls into this category of underrated bands. Not only do they release consistently solid albums but, they’ve upped their game on each album. Rather than just stick with a “radio friendly” formula, the three guys in Chevelle, bucked the trend and went on to create what they wanted to.

After their platinum selling second album, Wonder What’s Next, which featured songs like radio staples “The Red” and “Send The Pain Below,” Chevelle realized that they needed to separate themselves from the rest of the bands of that time. Drawing more on their influences of Helmet, Tool, and The Cure, Chevelle managed to carve out their own little niche. Since Wonder What’s Next, Chevelle has been consistent in putting out solid albums. This Type Of Thinking Could Do Us In and Vena Sera, are very melodic and heavy. Sci-Fi Crimes is a bit of an experimental album for them, as they were toying around with bits of prog rock in their new tunes.

When they made Hats Off To The Bull, that’s when they really found their sound and style. Working with producer/engineer Joe Baressi, was the best thing they could have done. Joe not only has a great ear for production but also tones, and structures. Hats Off, while, not the band’s best effort, was the push in the right direction. When it came time to work on their follow up, La Gargola, Chevelle made a statement with that album. Not only is it an “album” but it was sonically bombastic and written so well. It was the perfect album at the right time. Not long after, when it was time to go back in the studio, Chevelle upped the ante by writing their heaviest album to date, The North Corridor. This album is 10 songs of unrelenting syncopated rhythms and a darker tone.

Chevelle are the type of band that deserves the recognition of being one of the best heavy rock bands since the turn of the century. Their catalog represents that as does their live show. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them in different times of their career, and they have never disappointed. One other thing that makes Chevelle such an underrated band is that they are a great band to recommend to someone that is wanting to get into heavier music but, doesn’t want it to be “too heavy.” Chevelle is and will always be a melodic heavy rock band, and they do it so well.

Give them a chance if you haven’t before. You’ll be surprised at what you missed out on.

 

Wonder What’s Next:

 

This Type Of Thinking Could Do Us In:

 

Vena Sera:

 

Sci-Fi Crimes:

 

Hats Off To The Bull:

 

La Gargola:

 

The North Corridor:

 

 

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Underrated and Influential: Placebo

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There are bands that have come out and really influenced other people and bands but, never seem to get their due. A slew of bands from Europe have left their mark on bands from the states. The only thing is, most of America didn’t embrace it or give it a chance. One such band is Placebo. Formed in 1994 in London by singer/guitarist Brian Molko and bassist Stefan Olsdal, Placebo has left their mark in the alternative rock scene for over 20 years. Brian’s unique and distinct voice along with his beyond honest lyrics, have given great inspiration to many throughout the band’s inception.

One of the great things about Placebo is that they are a band that’s never been afraid to expand upon their sound and evolve. Originally when they came out, they were received as a “glam-rock” band by critics and the press, and over the years they worked to put themselves in a position not only escape that categorization but,  to be one of the best rock bands. Lyrically, Brian Molko paints vivid pictures with his words. He lets you in a little bit at a time, so you can understand where he is at in his life and what he has experienced. Hid lyrics are some of the most truthful and thought provoking of the last 20 plus years.

Since 1994, Placebo has released 7 full length albums, each of which get better and better. You might recall first hearing Placebo back in the movie Cruel Intentions, and their song “Every You and Every Me.” Their debut album (self titled), is full of angst and questions in regards to growing up. Something everyone could relate to. Without You I’m Nothing, the band’s second album, saw them grow by leaps and bound and explore a different side of themselves. This album went deeper and featured a more “mellow” sound, making Brian stand out even more. Over the course of the next couple albums Black Market Music and Sleeping With Ghosts, Placebo really began to cement their place in rock music, especially in Europe and with their influences like David Bowie and Robert Smith of The Cure.

My personal favorite album of theirs, Meds, is a great summation of everything the band is about. There is something special about this album. It’s dark and powerful yet it breathes a sense of calm and connection as the songs play through. Songs like “Meds,” Infra Red,” “Drag,” “Follow The Cops Back Home,” “Because I Want You,” “Song To Say Goodbye,” and the very amazing “Blind,” are absolutely perfect. Meds would also mark the last album drummer Steve Hewitt would play in the band. Placebo has gone on to release 2 more full lengths, Battle For The Sun and Loud Like Love, which take the band on a different approach, incorporating more electronics and synths. Both of these albums though are pretty stellar and translate to a whole other space live, especially the songs off of Loud Like Love.

Placebo is a band that deserves their due. They are one of the few bands to truly understand what it is to evolve and pursue their goals without compromising their artistic integrity. There are so many bands that owe Placebo a huge debt of gratitude, which I hope they get. They are masters at their craft and like a fine wine, only gotten better with age.

 

Placebo- Meds:

 

Placebo Live 2003:

 

Placebo Live 2013:

 

Placebo Unplugged:

Underrated Band: Explosions In The Sky

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Being an instrumental band is quite an interesting choice. You have to make sure the music is top notch and evokes real feeling and passion from those playing it as well as the listener. I’ve written about a few instrumental bands that have really stood out, but there is one that has been around for quite a while that is extremely underrated, and that is Explosions in the Sky. This Texas based quartet formed in 1999 and has released seven albums. I personally have seen them 5 times over the years, mainly at festivals, and they were always “that” band that really stood out, even with huge headliners. In 2013, Explosions in the Sky  was the opening act for Nine Inch Nails on their highly acclaimed Tension tour.

Through their career, Explosions in the Sky, have redefined what it is to be an instrumental band. Their live shows are experiences that leave you wowed and inspired. Their songs are soothing yet rooted in a heaviness that is pulsating and energizing. Explosions in the Sky are the type of band you can listen to at all hours of the day. They are the perfect band for when the sun is setting. I can attest to that, as the majority of times I’ve seen them at festivals has been as the sun was going down, making the experience of seeing them something really special.

If you haven’t really delved into Explosions in the Sky, I highly recommend you do. For those of you that are looking for “that” band to have as your calm band, they are perfect.

Check out these performances!!

Explosions in the Sky- Live on KEXP:

 

Explosions in the Sky- Live on NPR:

 

Explosions in the Sky- Live in Spain:

 

Underrated Band: Cold

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I can remember two times in my life when a genre of music has really hit me. First, in the early 90’s with bands like Nine Inch Nails and Alice In Chains. Then, again in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. I’ve always thought I was born later than I should have been, so I could have been fully emerged in the 90’s movement. That’s not to say that I wasn’t, but it would have given me the opportunity to see some of those bands back then. When the “Nu Metal” phase hit, it grabbed my attention greatly. It spoke to me just as the “grunge” movement did, only now I was older and angrier than I was when I was younger. Bands like Deftones and Korn were constants in my stereo, discman, and in the car with my parents. There was a band in particular at that time that really stuck out to me and hit me hard. That band was Cold. The album of theirs that got me right off the bat was 13 Ways To Bleed On Stage. Songs like “No One,” “End Of The World,” “Confession,” “It’s All Good,” “Outerspace,” and “Bleed” would be the ones that resonated with me the most while listening to that album. The entire album was a huge help during my adolescence. But it wasn’t just that album. After hearing 13 Ways, I went out and got their self titled debut, and fell in love with that one too. To me the first album is a more grunge influenced album than nu metal. Songs like “Go Away,” “Give,” “Everyone Dies” really stood out to me and still do to this day. By the time their third album Year Of The Spider was released I was fully emersed in the band. Despite Cold losing their more “raw” aesthetic on Year Of The Spider, the songs still were just as impactful as their previous albums. Songs like “Remedy,” “Suffocate” featuring the very talented Sierra Swan, “Cure My Tragedy,” “Don’t Belong,” “The Day Seattle Died,” and “Black Sunday,” were the ones that drew my attention more than anything. During this time of the band, they started to really take off. Sadly the label they were on didn’t care enough to put forth the effort to push them the right way. Thus leading them to leave their label and sign with another for their next album. That album A Different Kind Of Pain, like 13 Ways To Bleed, is one of the most heart wrenching and intense albums of their career.  You can hear it in songs like “Back Home,” “Feel It In Your Heart,” “A Different Kind Of Pain,” “Happens All The Time,” and “Ocean.” After taking some time off, Cold released a new album in 2011 called Superfiction, which saw the band take a different approach lyrically by making it more story driven, adding to their already emotional lyrics. Now in 2016, the band is working on a new album to be released later in the year.

They say that music can save lives. I really believe that. Certain albums, lyrics, and the connection to music can really take you places that get you out of your own head. Scooter Ward the singer/guitarist for Cold writes some of the most personal, heartfelt lyrics. His pain and vulnerability shines though all the darkness that exists around him. The band helps to create music that not only fits his lyrics, but also helps create a vibe that makes it complete. Cold is one of the more underrated bands of the time. They have a way with melodies and emotions that can make you feel at peace amongst your own issues. It’s sad they got lumped in with that nu metal genre, as they were more of a grungy band than anything. Also the association with Fred Durst didn’t help much either, but that’s beside the point. Cold is a band that should have been huge. But as a testament to their willingness to be themselves, the fans they have love them, and swear by them.

Cold Live 2014:

Cold:

13 Ways To Bleed On Stage:

Year Of The Spider:

A Different Kind Of Pain:

Superfiction:

Underrated Albums: Sparta- Threes

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One of my favorite things to do is take a day and listen through a bands entire catalog. Yesterday, I was looking for something to listen to and out of the corner of my eye I saw my Sparta collection. So naturally I grabbed all three albums loaded them up in the stereo and proceeded to emerse myself in Sparta’s catalog. Their first album Wiretap Scars has already been established here on Audioeclectica as an unsung masterpiece. Their second album Porcelain is a somber album that takes a little while to really get into. But the album that really wound up striking a chord with me was Threes.

All the songs on this album present a refreshing sense of the band. Vocalist Jim Ward admits he was heavily influenced by Radiohead recording Threes. In the softer parts of the songs you can hear Thom Yorke in the vocals. Whatever it is he is singing, it’s always very passionate. One thing I noticed about Threes is the atmosphere of the album. It’s not the ambience that made Wiretap Scars special, but instead it brings out a new kind of ambience full of gloominess, suffering and other emotional pain. Songs like “Untreatable Disease,” “Crawl,” “Unstitch Your Mouth,” “Erase It Again,” and “The Most Vicious Crime,” all fall into that solemn category.  The first single “Taking Back Control,” is a classic heavy song for Sparta. Other stand out tracks include “Atlas,” “False Start,” “Red.Right.Return,” and closing track “Translations.”

If there is one critique about the album as a whole is that the production is a little too slick. In a way you can tell that the producer tried to expand upon the production sound that helped to make Wiretap Scars sound so good, but used too much compression. Sparta would go on to take a very long break after Threes. They reunited in 2012 for a short tour and also released a new song called “Chemical Feel,” which is equal parts Wiretap era and Threes. Sparta, while only having three albums, really left a quiet mark on the times of the early 2000’s expansion of post-hardcore. I really feel like they still have enough in them for one more solid album. Granted that will all have to come after this current At The Drive-In reunion. So take a listen to Sparta’s Threes and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.

 

Sparta-Threes:

 

Sparta- Chemical Feel:

 

 

 

 

Underrated and Influential: Type O Negative

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I’ll admit I was late to the party with Type O Negative. Any of the songs I heard growing up I enjoyed but I never delved into their albums until a few years ago. With all that in mind going back and listening to albums such as Bloody Kisses and October Rust, really cemented in my mind that, Type O Negative is one of those bands that were underrated and influenced so many bands. Peter Steele’s voice was something special. His deep monotone voice carried bits of melody making it gentle to listen to but also presented a sensual experience while the music of Josh Silver, Johnny Kelly and Kenny Hickey was sonically dark, heavy and beautiful. The haunting eerie soundscapes that were a part of their sound made listening to them quite pleasant. Sadly in 2010, Peter Steele passed away from heart failure. This also meant the end of Type O Negative. Thankfully their catalog is so good and still packs quite a punch to this day, that Peter’s legacy carries on.

 

Bloody Kisses:

 

October Rust:

 

World Coming Down:

 

Life Is Killing Me:

 

Dead Again:

Underrated Band: Karnivool

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There are so many bands that have been around for a while that have never gotten the due respect they deserve. Karnivool is a great example of a band like this. They have formed in 1997. Their first real album Themata, came out in 2005. The bands follow up Sound Awake, was a huge progression from their debut. this time around it was a collaborative effort on everyone part, thus making it a more natural sounding album.  During this time the band found their fan base grow in their native Australia and in Europe. Karnivool played the Third Eye Gathering in Los Angeles, helping to promote themselves to more US audiences. In 2013 they released Asymmetry. This album was a departure from the sound they developed on Sound Awake, but at the same time showed the bands progression. Karnivool is for sure a band that deserves to be on everyones radar. They expand upon the basic of prog rock and take it to an extra dimension.

Themata:

Sound Awake:

Asymmetry: