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EchobellyThroughout the ’80s and ’90s, Morrissey made quite of a bit of noise in the music press (this is back when he deigned to speak with them) about bands he had a fondness for and wished to support. Being a dyed-in-the-wool Moz disciple, I’d usually read about these acts, then shuffle off to the record store to buy a single or album and give them a shot. While the man’s music tends to be on the impeccable side, sadly his taste level is about 50/50. For every truly great band like James or Suede Morrrissey would champion, there’d be an equally vile Kristeen Young or :::shudder::: Gallon Drunk.

But since the man was right about half the time, I have him to thank for introducing me to Echobelly, part of the mid-’90s wave of Blur and Oasis-fueled Britpop. With singer Sonya Madan leading the charge, Echobelly were more than slightly reminiscent of the Smiths, which probably pleased certain cheerleaders of the band to no end. They also had some serious Blondie influences happening — you can hear both in the lead single from their second album, On.

“Great Things” (download) is an upbeat anthem about optimism that broke the band in the UK mainstream charts after their debut, Everybody’s Got One, earned them some indie buzz. Madan’s assured and likeable vocal is a definite highlight.

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Echobelly worked a second single from On, “King of the Kerb,” (download) the most Blondie sounding of the group’s set of songs. While it hit the Top 40 in the UK, it wasn’t quite the smash “Great Things” was and outside of some airplay on MTV’s Alternative Nation, America just wasn’t interested in Echobelly.

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The band’s failure to catch fire in America wasn’t for lack of trying.  The group toured the States behind On, and I was lucky enough to catch them in Cleveland at the tiny Grog Shop.  Echobelly were a tight combo, Madan charmed the audience instantly, and my fave track, “Car Fiction” (download) got a fierce run-through.  Echobelly continue to record (they’re big in Japan, as they say), and recently released an import-only Best Of.

Get Echobelly music at Amazon or on Echobelly