The great thing about music is that it’s so varied. Conversely though, there’s just so much choice out there that it’s inevitable that an artists creation they’ve strived so hard to make will end up down the back of the metaphorical couch. What this means is that everyone ends up with music they love and don’t understand how no-one else has never heard it before. So, with that in mind - and in no particular order – here are 8 albums that you’ve maybe never heard, but I love to pieces.
Sinch – Clearing The Channel
Sinch are from Doylestown, Pennsylvania and amazingly despite being formed in 1994 they seem to have remained there. Clearing The Channel is their 4th album and the most accomplished record they’ve released to date. It’s rock music at its core, but it’s the complex layers to every song that make it such a highlight. Singer Jamie Stem’s voice is always passionate and brings a personal and sometimes vitriolic edge to the songs that I find missing from many other artists.
I can safely say that second track “All That’s Left Behind” is one of my favourite songs of all time. Whenever I listen to it I get so caught up in it that anything going on around me simply ceases to matter. Here’s the strange part though. The first time I heard the album, I didn’t like it too much. But, seeing as I loved the previous self titled record too I persevered and I’m thankful to this day that I did. Give it a few whirls and I’m confident you’ll agree.
Exit Ten – Remember The Day
Remember The Day is the only metal album in this list, which is probably surprising if you’ve been reading my other posts since they’re primarily metal related. I discovered Exit Ten when a song “Resume Ignore” was featured on a Kerrang! magazine compilation album of new artists. It clicked with me immediately, so much so I grabbed EP This World They’ll Drown the day after. Remember The Day is their first full length album and I love the thing. Again, it’s the vocals that make this stand out amongst the competition. While the instrumentation is pretty pacy, the vocals are slower and higher pitched (though we’re not talking Rush or Coheed & Cambria here). The combination works brilliantly.
I’ve listened to this album so much that 4 Exit Ten tracks are now in my most listened to overall on my Last.FM profile. This year should see their second album release and I for one can’t wait to hear it.
Straight Lines – Persistence In This Game
I’m seeing a recurring theme here as I’m writing this. I must really like vocals with a unique edge, because this third offering again features a higher pitched vocal that instantly make you sit up and listen. Again, I picked up Straight Lines via a compilation, this time of Xtra-Mile recordings artists and on the strength of that I grabbed a couple of singles from iTunes. First track from this album “Versus The Allegience” was the best single I’d heard in 2010 and it set the album up as a day one purchase.
It’s fairly straight forward easy to listen to rock, but it has an unquantifiable charm to it. All the songs have good catchy choruses and I’m confident it’ll have you hooked on first listen. I defy you to listen to “Runaway Now” and not be humming it to yourself two hours later. Sadly I couldn’t get an official video for it, so here’s “Say It For Your Sake” instead.
Span – Mass Distraction
Sadly now split, Span were a Norwegian band between 2004 and 2005 and had moderate TV success with the single “Papa”. They released two albums, the second of which was only distributed in Norway, but the album I’m concerned with is debut Mass Distraction. Ironically I consider “Papa” to be one of the weaker tracks on a mostly otherwise brilliant album.
It’s a great heavy rock record with a couple of slower tunes mixed in. Lyrically and sometimes structurally it’s a bit on the mischievous side,a fine example of which can be found in the excellent “Peaceful”, which starts slowly with some almost love song lyrics then hits you with a dark twist in proceedings half way through.
But for the most part it’s just straight forward good old-fashioned rock’n'roll as aptly demonstrated by the video below for “Don’t Think The Way They Do”.
Mammal – The Majority
Another sadly defunct band next, this time Australia’s Mammal. Strangely, Mammal’s 1st and 3rd albums are live album, but it’s the studio effort The Majority is the essential listening for me. Not to decry the excellent live material of course, but at least two of their better songs come from The Majority. The album is a great mix of bass heavy rock with a hefty measures of funk thrown in.
Vocals are not exactly sang and not exactly rap, but somewhere in between, and lyrically there’s a lot of political, racial and ‘fight the power’ type material. Probably due to this they’ve been unfairly compared to cut price Rage Against The Machine, but I think that’s an extremely poor comparison made up by lazy people too interested in labelling things rather than appreciating bloody good music. Be sure to check out “Smash The Pinata” as well as the eponymous titled track below.
Boy Hits Car – Boy Hits Car
The self titled album from Boy Hits Car is their second full length, although it does recycle a couple of tracks from debut My Animal. Thankfully though, they’re enhanced versions and the album is better for it. One of the rare ones in my collection where everything on it has a five star rating in my iTunes library, Boy Hits Car is are one my favourite bands despite seeming to release an album only once every 5 years.
Boy Hits Car are fairly unique in the rock world in that for the most part the lyrics are overwhelmingly positive without straying into groansome hippy stoner territory. The band has a mantra of “Love Fury Passion Energy” and call their fans the “Lovecore Alliance”. All the songs on this album are performed with a passion missing from most other bands, but with a quite different tone from Sinch as mentioned above. Almost the opposite in fact as most of the songs are along the lines of seizing the moment and using your own power rather than relying on ‘the man’.
Reuben – Racecar Is Racecar Backwards
You know how I just said the last album was one of the rare fully five-starred albums? Well here’s another. Racecar Is Racecar Backwards, apart from being a clever album title, is also a really good album. It’s a really cool mix of straight rock with pop sensibilities and metal overtones. The songs vary from quick and catchy, such as Freddy Kreuger which you can see below, to more complex monsters like “Fall Of The Bastille” and the screamo-opening “Missing Fingers”.
For a debut album the instrumentation is excellent, particularly considering they were just a 3 piece. Technically speaking, think how well Muse pull it off, but imagine the music without the electronica or up-its-own-arse-iness. Seeing them live, singer Jamie Lehman revealed he’d only picked up the guitar a couple of years before the album was released, and although there’s no Slash like soloing going on here, it’s difficult to believe an amateur could be so competent so quickly.
But overall it’s the clever lyrics and excellent songwriting that make the album so entertaining and one I come back to frequently.
The Montrose Avenue – Thirty Days Out
Finally we come to The Montrose Avenue’s Thirty Days Out. This album was one I loved in the late 90′s when I was really developing my own musical personality and fantastically it still sounds as good today as it did back in 1998. It’s radio friendly rock was never going to set the world alight, but this one really clicked for me simply because it was so easy to listen to and enjoy.
I’m sitting in the garden writing this on the first properly warm summer day of the year and there’s a few tracks on here that are the perfect light upbeat accompaniment to the lazy afternoon, especially the title track and “Start Again”. My favourite track on the album is “Where Do I Stand?”, although it’s a bit rockier than the others.
Although I couldn’t get an official video from Youtube as I have the others, their Myspace page still exists and has a few tracks for you to stream here – http://www.myspace.com/themontroseavenue/music/songs
So there we have it. Eight great albums that I sincerely hope you get as much enjoyment out of as I have. Even if only one or two entertain you then that’s a win in my book. The best part of writing this has been the listening to all these albums again, so grab your headphones or crank up your speakers and dip a toe in my audio swimming pool. But most of all, enjoy!