Today marks the fourth day of this week’s What Five Bands Should Be Bigger Than They Are feature in response to the chatter-inducing All Songs Considered article that surfaced last week. We keep asking the same question and, with a couple exceptions (see below), we continue to get considerably wide-ranging answers. Today we feature responses from the Left Coast and the Gulf Coast, throwing out ten more artists worthy of more attention on a bigger scale. Notably, for the second time this week, a band has been chosen twice (Woods was chosen twice on Tuesday) – today Philly vintage rockers Dr. Dog were chosen by a contributor for a second consecutive day. Continue below to see today’s selections and come back tomorrow for part five.
JOE SZOPA || CONTRIBUTOR, LIVE MUSIC BLOG
After their debut album “Through The Window Paine” launched them in the UK, Guillemots were up for a Mercury Prize. I had high expectations for this band, after they blew everyone away with their intimate, heartfelt performances at the Hotel Café and the Roxy back in 2006. Since then, they’ve taken a back seat to other British bands such as the Arctic Monkeys. Sitting back and hoping they would soon put out a new album that would launch them into the American indie scene since they could be compared to American indie bands such as Grizzly Bear. They seem content with their status in Europe, and perhaps they’re a either little ahead of their time or too “Euro” to be picked up in the U.S. But give these guys a chance, and they will seep into your head, and you’ll be singing their tunes all day. This year the Guillemots took on a lofty plan to produce four distinct albums in one year. Unannounced, they picked up and moved to Norway and began slaving away. Their first of four, “Hello Land!” released in April of 2012, and we are still expected their second album. Recently, Guillemots frontman Fyfe Dangerfield released a statement on the band’s website apologizing for the delay. He insists it’s more important to finish the albums well, as opposed to just churning them out.
Second on my list of admirable UK bands is the pop rock band from Leeds, Embrace. Embrace have a close relationship to Coldplay, and a piano ballad-heavy, epic guitar solos, and stadium-sized harmony anthems. They have been in the dark for the last six years, but are rumored to be working on an album. With such a tremendous, huge sound, it’s anyone’s guess why they wouldn’t be more popular in the U.S.
What can I say? I love Elbow. They were first introduced to me on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic many years ago, with the song “Forget Myself”. From then on, I was hooked, and the band continues to get better and better. You will laugh, you will cry, you will feel melancholy and hopeful. Elbow captures human emotion better than almost any band live, and they’ve earned their respect by continuously striving to be raw, unencumbered by their fame and continuously finding ways to channel their intimacy into their music. Truly, do not miss this band if they come through your town. Hopefully someday they won’t just be a cult fashion in the U.S.
From Columbia, Maryland, U.S. Royalty take everything that’s awesome about Rock ‘n Roll and fold it into their sound. Somewhere between the Black Crowes, Fleetwood Mac and Journey, they’re reminiscent of a better time when Rock music was more reckless and unhinged. I can’t believe they’re just a blip on the radar. Hopefully we’ll start seeing these guys at more festivals. The Mirror is probably my top album of 2011, and seeing them live is an incredible onslaught of roaring guitar solos and passionate energy. These guys have that “it” factor so many drab indie bands are lacking. I hope we can see them playing on a huge stage at Lollapalooza in the next five years. These guys simply kick ass, straight out of 1982.
Leslie is a gifted songwriter from San Juan Capistrano, California. Her bluesy tunes expertly pulls simplicity and sundrops into finely written musical pieces, filled with warm trumpets, beautiful melodies, and her personal touch of sweetness. Her debut album The Heart Still Beats The Same released in early 2012. Her song “Troubles” is one heart-wrenching masterpiece. Produced by Grammy-winning sound engineer Phil Allen, Leslie is one artist who can’t be missed, and who has surprisingly missed the spotlight up until this point. Her album can be purchased on iTunes.
SHANE COLMAN || CONTRIBUTOR, LIVE MUSIC BLOG: NOLA
This Portland band consistently crafts innovative, melodic rock songs that translate well both on record and onstage. They lost a founding member last year, but their recent release Moms shows they have no shortage of creative energy and are cranking up the rock as they delve into more complex emotional themes. After more than a decade of great material, people still think I’m referencing The Muppets when I mention their name.
This funk/hip hop/soul collective from Boston has a local reputation as the most dependable party band around, but they have little to no exposure outside the city. The band’s frontman is just as comfortable rapping as singing energetic originals and inspired covers from Michael Jackson to The Deftones, and the band is one of the tightest I’ve ever seen.
OK, so you may think this band is pretty big if you live in their hometown of Philadelphia or a strong, well-built market for the band like New Orleans or Los Angeles, but somehow their recognition is almost non-existent in many large pockets of the country. The Dog’s old-school, harmony-drenched jangle rock evolves with every album, most recently with the addition of another guitarist in a successful effort to replicate their live sound on last spring’s Be The Void.
Matt Ward is hands-down one of the most talented guitarists out there, with a distinctive style that perfectly matches his whispered baritone and emotional lyrics. His 2006 album Post-War is nothing short of a masterpiece, which he has followed up with two more great albums and a collaboration with Jim James and Conor Oberst with the Monsters of Folk supergroup. He shouldn’t need Zooey Deshanel, his partner in the She and Him project, to be a household name.
People Under The Stairs
This hip hop duo of self proclaimed “B Boys” are classic rap junkies who dig deep in the crates to find those elusive breaks and then layer them with smooth rhymes about chillin’ in L.A. These guys are old school in the truest sense: no guest rappers, no autotune, no pimp personas that limit their lyrics to guns and cussin. A guaranteed good time, The P’s live shows are always electrifying even if you have to catch them in the smallest club in town.
Check back tomorrow for the finale of our week-long feature!