Two Neglected Greats

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar RTod says:

    Gravelled & Green by the Actual Tigers, or Ganging Up On the Sun by Guster. Both very accessible.Report

  2. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Jellyfish.Report

  3. Avatar mark boggs says:

    Jellyfish was pretty much awesome. They had a very modern Beatles sound about them, especially on Spilt Milk.Report

  4. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    Big Star, practically the inventors of power pop, and Alex Chilton “The Letter” joined them from the Box Tops.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I don’t know if anyone in the world would agree with me about this, but I picked up a couple of Bow Wow Wow cassettes at the Salvation Army on the off chance that they might have recorded songs that were better than I Want Candy, which I was never thrilled about, and I thought that every song on them was much better than I Want Candy. But, early 80s radio listeners apparently felt differently.Report

    • I have similar feelings about Tom Cochrane’s stuff if you want to talk about how 90s radio listeners seemed to have felt instead of 80s radio listeners – everything else of his is worlds better than “Life Is a Highway” (which I always hated).Report

  6. Avatar Ian M. says:

    Meadowland by The Wrens or Raise by SwervedriverReport

  7. Avatar dexter says:

    I don’t know if they would come under heading of unknown, but the Subdudes have been around a long time and have created, at least in my view, of some very good music. Their last album “Flower Petals” is very good. Think Katrina if you listen to it. Does the use of the word “album” date me or what?Report

  8. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    What? No embedded Youtube videos???Report

  9. Avatar greginak says:

    Great pop with a touch of psychedelic and underapreciated: the answer is just about every album by XTC.

    Or The Housemartins, Brits from the 80’s, pure pop. Part of them later became The Beautiful South who also made great pop which i don’t think made any dent here in the US.Report

  10. Avatar Mark Perkins says:

    Aside from accessibility being murky, so is the idea of catching on. Arcade Fire, for instance, had the #1 album in America the week they released the Suburbs. And yet when they won the Grammy, people had no clue who they were (documented at http://whoisarcadefire.tumblr.com/). You can pack stadiums and still be relatively unknown.

    That said, I’ll still take a shot. Over the past decade, it’s gotta be the Canadian “indie supergroup” and power-pop masters, the New Pornographers.
    “Bleeding Hearts Show” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH9Q4fsZ1IY – not an official video
    “Crash Years” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KZANuDcRO4Report

  11. Avatar James Hanley says:

    I nominate the Ass Ponys.

    Then again, I may not be a good judge of what’s accessible.Report

  12. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Oh, my second one: Our Lady Peace.Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Rock Band (and Guitar Hero, for that matter) has done a very good job of bringing (guitar-based, anyway) music to the masses that they otherwise would never have heard.

    The Sword, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Mother Hips are bands that I never got into until I heard them in the game… and, happily, I think that it’s resulted in some degree of commercial success for them.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “Rock Band (and Guitar Hero, for that matter) has done a very good job of bringing (guitar-based, anyway) music to the masses that they otherwise would never have heard.”

      And causing people to realize that they geniunely enjoy music that had always been seen as a hipster joke. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve said “I actually like Boston songs, what the hell is wrong with me”…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Grunge made people forget what it was like to sing a song and be really, really happy that you’re singing it.

        Boston brought it back, baby. Boston brought it back.Report

  14. Avatar Thatch85 says:

    Being a 25 year old American who has recently become obsessed with early British New Wave, I’ll echo the earlier sentiment for XTC. I’d also nominate Squeeze, who were bigger in England than in the US, where “Tempted” was their biggest hit but not exactly representative of their sound.

    Maybe it’s not a great answer to the question, if the standard is no one ever bought it or cared, but I’d nominate Labour of Lust by Nick Lowe, which was just rereleased in March by Yep Roc Records after being out of print since 1990. “Cruel to Be Kind” was a bit hit off the album and still gets play on retro radio stations and in romantic comedies, and Elvis Costello’s cover of Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” was a b-side to another single off the album. But Costello seemed to get all the attention, though he’s always gone out of his way to credit Lowe, who also produced Costello’s first five albums.

    But the best album from the era/genre, even better than Costello’s first three, might just be Graham Parker and the Rumour’s Squeezing Out Sparks. Critics loved his work, but Parker just never caught on with a large audience. Having not been alive at the time, I can’t understand why. Try listening to any song off that album (except “You Can’t Be Too Strong,” which is a slow, sad number about abortion) and keep your foot from tapping nonstop.Report

  15. Avatar mac says:

    Shout ot for Devotchka!Report

  16. Avatar Sam MacDonald says:

    Hum was likely the best guitar band of the 90s.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I agree with this comment.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I enjoyed Hum back in the 90s, though I don’t think they’ve held up well over time, but I think of a band like Kyuss (definitely underappreciated, but not the least bit accessible), and I wonder about calling Hum “the best guitar band of the 90s.”Report

  17. “Diamonds and Rust” (I like much of her music despite her politic.)Report