All posts tagged: Why You Should Like…

Why You Should Like… The Ocean Blue

Another reader-requested WYSL entry, Hershey, Pennsylvania’s the Ocean Blue combined their youthful energy and love of early ’80s alternative and new wave music into a relaxing, atmospheric blend of evocative music full of imagery and thankfully, hooks. After a few bright years in the alternative major-label music spotlight, the band found itself taking the indie route to relatively less acclaim, even though their sound stayed consistent. So, why should you like the Ocean Blue? The evidence, please: The Band Sire Sired: Pioneering new wave label Sire Records was a huge influence on the Ocean Blue, as the band immersed itself in the label’s roster, including the Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, New Order, and more. Still in high school, the group proudly wore these influences on their sleeves, becoming one of the first bands to truly reflect the pedigree of the early ’80s alternative sound on their self-titled debut. “Between Something And Nothing,” the group’s first modern rock radio hit, came off like an Ocean Rain outtake, and MTV hit “Ballerina Out Of Control,” from …

Why You Should Like… The Judybats

Last Friday, Popdose commenter Rich mentioned that someone should write a Why You Should Like… about the Judybats. Well, Rich, I’d love to give you all the credit, but I’ve had them on tap for a while — you just gave me that extra push to get it done. Aw, tell ya what, I’m feeling generous today, so all the credit is yours! Thanks! So, why should you like the Judybats? The evidence, please: College Sweethearts: The Knoxville, Tennessee, band got their start as college radio darlings in the early ’90s as the pleasing jangle-pop and harmonies of “Native Son,” (download) the title track from their debut, garnered heavy airplay and even got the band on MTV:

But it was “Don’t Drop The Baby” (download) that snared the most buzz, as that video went into regular rotation on MTV’s 120 Minutes and expanded the Judybats’ fan base beyond college dorms into mainstream Modern Rock Radio. While not a huge seller, it put the band on discriminating music fans’ radar. …

Why You Should Like… Ivy

Enduring several record contracts, shifting musical tastes, and more than a few near-hits over the past 15 years, New York City-based dream-pop trio Ivy just may be the hardest-working band you’ve never heard of. Chances are, though, you’ve heard of bassist Adam Schlesinger’s other band, Fountains of Wayne, or his songs for movies like That Thing You Do! and Music and Lyrics. So, why should you like Ivy? First off, check out that pic of singer Dominique Durand above. What, you need more? Sheesh … Jangle-Pop Roots: Wearing their Smiths and shoegazer influences on their sleeves, Ivy began as more of a guitar-based jangle-pop band, as tunes like “No Guarantee” (download) and “Don’t Believe a Word” fit right in with the growing mainstream acceptance of alternative music in the mid ’90s. Later works like “I’ve Got a Feeling” piled on the layers of guitars, creating beautiful, shimmering, three-minute pop masterpieces.

Synthpop Atmospherics: As the trio became more comfortable in their own skin, their sound expanded to even dreamier landscapes, …

Why You Should Like… Missing Persons

With her candyfloss hair, plastic bra and squealing, Betty Boop vocal histrionics, Dale Bozzio was New Wave personified, but such a figure overshadowed the songwriting and musical chops of the rest of Missing Persons, formed by Frank Zappa sidemen Terry Bozzio and Warren Cuccurullo. You love “Destination Unknown,” but why should you like the rest of Missing Persons? The evidence, please: New Wave’s Best Musicians: Drummer Terry and guitarist Warren honed their craft under Zappa for years, and there probably wasn’t a more demanding taskmaster. That’s why Missing Persons were the tightest band in New Wave, able to stop and turn on a dime. When keyboardist Chuck Wild added evocative sequences and space-age synth flourishes, the result was ferocious, especially live. In fact, the band chose not to lipsynch in their video for “Words,” and instead performed live, not only matching the studio version in precision, but surpassing it:

The group’s live shows were nearly legendary, and the near punk-rock velocity of “Mental Hopscotch (Live 1981)” (download) shows a …

Why You Should Like… The Monkees

Should the Monkees be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum? Certainly the argument that they began life as a solely commercial construct is a valid one, but then again, shouldn’t the Rock Hall at least recognize them for that alone, since they were trailblazers in the way rock music was mass marketed? And what about that music? If the group was nothing more than a pre-fab four, then why should you like the Monkees? The evidence, please: Country/Rock Pioneers: You’re well-read, Popdosers, so I won’t bore you with the oft-told story of how the Monkees were cast. What I will point out is that while Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones were cast primarily for their acting experience, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith had strong folk music backgrounds. That influence came through immediately on songs like “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round,” (download) which featured members of the Byrds on guitar. Nesmith would usually get two or three songs per album and could always be counted on for a strong performance that …

Why You Should Like… Velocity Girl

Maryland-born quintet Velocity Girl created a bit of a buzz in the early to mid-’90s by marrying a blend of shoegazer guitar sludge with the pixie-pop vocal melodies of singer Sarah Shannon, snagging a minor MTV alterna-hit in the process. Then — pfft! — gone. So, why should you like Velocity Girl? The evidence, please: “Bubblegrunge”: Shannon’s thin, almost uncharacteristic vocals, combined with all that guitar distortion, led the band’s detractors to coin a label for their sound: “bubblegrunge.” While that was meant to be a slam, it actually describes the group perfectly, especially if you remove all the indie-based shame and scorn behind it. Being signed to Sub Pop in the early ’90s meant grinding, angst-ridden wailing, and Velocity Girl’s melancholy Catherine Wheel-meets-the-Smiths meditations like “Crazy Town” (download) didn’t exactly fit that demo, no matter how hard the muddy production on their first album, Copacetic, tried to bury the pop in the mix.

Why You Should Like… Jobriath

“I’m a true fairy,” Jobriath exclaimed, putting any debate over his true sexuality to rest, becoming rock music’s first openly gay superstar. It’s just that the superstar part never happened, despite hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of hype. When tales of major label hubris and marketing failure are told, Jobriath is often the first person name-checked. So why should you like Jobriath? The evidence, please: Jobriath Was First: An in-your-face, outrageous gay rock star. The kind of glittery, truly outrageous glam star Bowie, Reed, and Pop only hinted at being. In the age of Mikas and Patrick Wolfs it’s not such a big deal, but when the year was 1973, America was having none of it. Back then, Elton was “bi” at best and Freddy was straight. While Jobriath forged his own distinct sound, fueled by ’30s and ’40s movie-queen and street-hustler imagery, he was derided as merely a cheap American Bowie clone. (Never mind that Jobriath was rocking the Pierrot clown hat and white makeup a full seven years before Bowie would do …

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Why You Should Like… Thomas Dolby

Ah, Thomas Dolby. No, please don’t instantly yell “SCIENCE!” Yes, he’s primarily pigeonholed as a one-hit wonder, with “She Blinded Me With Science” still getting played nearly daily on ’80s flashback radio, but that novelty unfortunately blinded (heh) many people to the superior musical and lyrical talent buried in those deep album cuts. Dolby struggled to match that fluke success with more serious work to little avail, finally taking a nearly 15-year break before returning to the concert stage last year. He’s currently tinkering on his first studio album since 1992. So, why should you like Thomas Dolby (and I’m not just telling you why because I came in second place playing Thomas Dolby in the North Ridgeville, Ohio, Spanky’s Nightclub Teen Night Lipsynch Contest in 1984, either!)? The evidence, please …

Why You Should Like… Placebo

London’s Placebo, recently reduced to a duo due to the departure of drummer Steve Hewitt late last year, have spent the past 14 years garnering equal helpings of praise and scorn over five albums, amassing a huge European audience while remaining cult figures in the U.S. Lead singer Brian Molko, he of the androgynous stance and sexually ambiguous lyrics, is a particularly polarizing reason. While you may warm to it over time, his singing provokes an instantaneous, visceral reaction — you either like his Geddy Lee-like voice or you don’t. So why should you like Placebo? The evidence, please: Placebo, the grunge rockers: While they may have started out as Nirvana-influenced Britgrunge, songs like “Nancy Boy” (download) betrayed an underlying love for ’70s glam and David Bowie in particular. But Placebo’s early work had plenty of loud/soft dynamic and guitar muscle, not to mention hooks, to attract a more mainstream alternative (oxymoron alert!) audience. It was only the first of many musical masks the band would don.

Why You Should Like… Lush

Known to most Americans as the opening band on the 1992 Lollapalooza tour, Lush had a few minor Modern Rock hits in the early ’90s but never broke through in a major way. So, why should you like Lush? The evidence, please: They’ll Give You a Swirly: Lush’s early work was drenched in effects-laden guitars and Cocteau Twins/My Bloody Valentine-ish swirling production, courtesy of Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie. This got the band branded with the “shoegaze” and “dreampop” tags. While songs like “For Love” ratcheted up the effects pedals, the vocal interplay between Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi kept things melodic and hooky, making Lush the darlings of the 120 Minutes set for a few months. All that swirl sometimes threatened to swallow the pop underpinnings lurking beneath the surface. But if you prefer some swirl in your alt-pop, here’s your band.

Why You Should Like… Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Frankie Say One-Hit Wonder?: While “Relax” is pretty much all the Liverpudlians are known for on this side of the pond, I’d add “Two Tribes” in there at the very least and “The Power of Love” if you live anywhere outside the U.S. So why should you like a group that had basically one good year in the mid-’80s, then dissipated? The evidence, please:

Why You Should Like… The Bay City Rollers

The first in a series where we take a band everyone’s heard of — whether via constant critical acclaim (the Velvet Underground) or just one huge, annoying hit (um, the Bay City Rollers), yet no one seems to own any of their albums — and we tell you why you should like them. Simple enough? Let’s begin! The Sex Pistols cited them as a serious influence. So did Joey Ramone. And they got to cavort with Witchypoo and H.R. Pufnstuf on their own Saturday morning Sid & Marty Krofft variety show. So why should you like the bubblegum power pop of the Bay City Rollers? Allow us to present the evidence: Hooks, Hooks, Hooks: Say what you want about their #1 hit, “Saturday Night,” but you must admit it’s an earworm that you can’t escape. In fact you’re probably cursing us under your breath at this moment for bringing it up, since you’ll be singing “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y! NIGHT!” to yourself the rest of the day. Not only was the band adept at picking stellar material, they …