Underrated Band

Underrated Band: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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There are so many bands out there that are extremely underrated, it should be a crime. One band in particular, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is a prime example of that. Formed back in 1998 by Robert Levon Been and Peter Hayes, they have released seven studio albums in that time and in 2018 will release their long awaited eighth album. When the band begun they had a more “hard rock n roll” sound but over time they truly found their own niche by incorporating psychedelia, space rock, shoe gaze, blues, alternative rock and even a bit of folk. It’s not surprising to see those elements in their music considering they are influenced by bands like The Velvet Underground, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Love and Rockets, The Rolling Stones, T Rex, The Call (which featured Robert’s father Michael Been), and Lou Reed.

From the moment their self titled debut was released, BRMC has played by their own rules. Never a band to compromise their art and music, they really have made a name for themselves not just with great albums but with a live show that is at times hypnotic and full of passion. When their first album came out many critics lumped them in with the emerging “garage rock” sound that was blowing up which featured bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes. Though I don’t think they ever really belonged in that. The second album Take Them On, On Your Own was a bit of a departure from their debut. It was a harder and darker sounding album and also featured  a bit of a political tinge to the lyrics. When Howl, their third album was released in 2005, BRMC had changed yet again by adding a more bluesy/folk feel to their music. A lot of “critics” loved the change in sound and said that it was “an innovative departure” for the band. Personally, I dig on Howl but, it’s not where the band really found their stride. 2007’s Baby 81 is one hell of an album and where they truly left their mark. This album featured a harder, more raw sound as well as some of the most profound and poetic lyrics since their debut. Their 2010 album Beat The Devil’s Tattoo was a statement album for the band. This one featured a more straight ahead rock approach while also incorporating a new drummer Leah Shapiro who took over for Nick Jago, who left to pursue a solo career. Their 2013 album Specter At The Feast was a bit of a solemn album and sort of a tribute to Robert Levon Been’s father Michael, who passed away following a heart attack. Michael had also been working with the band as their live sound tech, producer and sort of musical mentor. The songs released from their upcoming album Wrong Creatures are remarkable. It has been about five years since BRMC have released a new album and this new one is shaping up to be quite the album for the band. Every one of the bands albums has something special in them. They are the epitome of rock n roll.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club live a few times over the years and they never disappoint. Instead of having all the glitz and glamour of a bombastic rock show, they rely on the music to guide you through the show. Usually draped by minimalist lights, the band really knows how to deliver that feeling of intimacy and vitality. When BRMC comes through your city, I strongly suggest you take the time to go see them and witness a truly great and underrated band.

 

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Albums:
BRMC:

 

Take Them On, On Your Own:

 

Howl:

 

Baby 81:

 

Beat The Devil’s Tattoo:

 

Specter At The Feast:

 

From Wrong Creatures:

Haunt:

 

Question Of Faith:

 

Little Thing Gone Wild:

 

King Of Bones:

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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:

 

 

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: