40 Bands That Should Have Been Bigger Part 3

40 Bands That Should Have Been Bigger Part 3

Welcome to 40 Bands That Should Have Been Bigger Part 3, where we celebrate bands who never got as big as their talents.

Make sure you’ve read Part 1 and Part 2 so you see who I’ve already covered. If you want to preview or buy any of these lost treasures, click on their name (highlighted in blue) to check them out in iTunes or click the selected album covers to buy their cd in Amazon.

And now, for the final 14…

14. Cranes (years active; 1986-present)

[amazon_image id=”B000UTOQII” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Forever (Reis)[/amazon_image]

The 90’s offered many great female vocalists, but Alison Shaw was in a class of her own. Sounding like the ghost of a child, her vulnerability made for dramatic contrast with her band’s bleak and brutal soundscapes. They never got their full due. They also made one of the darkest albums ever.

*Standout tracks: “Tomorrow’s Tears”, “Jewel”, “Paris And Rome”.


13. Slowdive/Mojave 3 (years active; Slowdive, 1989-1995, Mojave 3, 1995-present)

[amazon_image id=”B00000DRDD” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Just for a Day[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B000002N3C” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Ask Me Tomorrow[/amazon_image]

Dream Pop was never massive, but My Bloody Valentine is always championed. All well and good, but Slowdive were more melodic and catchier. But alas, they were ignored.  After they broke up, several members formed Mojave 3, whose psych-folk was just as good as Mazzy Star or Cat Power, but again failed to get much attention.


12. Flesh for Lulu (years active: 1982-1998)

[amazon_image id=”B000BAVI64″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Long Live The New Flesh[/amazon_image]

This punk-pop/goth band were a one hit wonder with “I Go Crazy” (from the 80’s film “Some Kind of Wonderful” ), but their other catchy tunes failed to chart. They renamed themselves ‘Gigantic’ in the 90’s and made a great Britpop record, which was also ignored.

*Standout tracks: “Postcards From Paradise”, “House Of Cards”, “Disenchanted”.


11.The Ocean Blue (years active: 1986-present)

[amazon_image id=”B000002LHU” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Ocean Blue[/amazon_image]

The best British Jangle Guitar band to came out of Pennsylvania, they put out chiming anthems like ‘Between Something and Nothing” and “Scarborough Fair“. But changing musical tastes lessened their impact during the 1990’s.


10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (years active; 1998-present)

[amazon_image id=”B00005ARDC” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]B.R.M.C.[/amazon_image]

These garage rockers got lots of press in the early 00’s. But their sophomore album tanked and the off-beat ‘Howl‘ lost their momentum, getting them kicked off their label and causing inner turmoil. Too bad cause they still make some good noise.

*Standout tracks: “Rifles”, “Weapon Of Choice”, “Evol”


9.Kent (years active; 1993-present)

[amazon_image id=”B00000INL6″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Isola[/amazon_image]

This Swedish band did the retro-80’s thing before it was cool. They got played on 120 minutes, but to little fanfare. But they’re still popular in their homeland. If you like Sigur Ros and U2, give them a listen.

*Standout tracks: “747“, “Before It All Ends”, “If You Were Here”.


8. She Wants Revenge (years active; 2005-2012)

[amazon_image id=”B000BCE8VE” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]She Wants Revenge[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B004N44SOS” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Valleyheart[/amazon_image]

They got pegged as Interpol ripoff’s which is funny, given that band’s Joy Division thievery. But SWR’s dance beats and kinky wordplay set them apart.  “These Things” and “Tear You Apart” charted, but then they fell off. They recently announced they’re disbanding.

*Standout tracks: “Red Flags And Long Lights”, “Reasons”, “Written In Blood”.


7. The Church(years active; 1980–present)

[amazon_image id=”B000002VF0″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Starfish[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B000002VLR” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Priest = Aura[/amazon_image]

Awhile back, I discussed this Aussie band’s  lyrical gifts and guitar skills. Their blend of psychedelia and goth made for a bewitching brew. They had a hit with “Under The Milky Way” but fell out of the mainstream shortly afterwards. But they still keep putting out great albums and shows.


6. Sponge  (years active; 1991–present)

[amazon_image id=”B000002BIQ” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Wax Ecstatic[/amazon_image]

This catchy band were unfairly derided as grunge knocks offs, but they cranked out great alt-rock anthems. Minor hits “Molly” and “Wax Ecstatic” still hold up. And they had the best “hidden tracks” of all the 90’s bands.


5.Local H (years active; 1987-present)
[amazon_image id=”B004TMK75S” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Bound For The Floor[/amazon_image]
They had a hit with “Bound For The Floor”, but after that things slowed down for this alt-rock duo. Scott Lucas’s serrated vocals and guitar/bass hybrid playing is impressive and their songs have huge hooks. Still putting out good tunes. (*Check out their new video  and new album stream on Grunge Report).


4. Monster Magnet (years active; 1989–present)

[amazon_image id=”B001NZEEKS” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Powertrip [Explicit][/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B00005ABO0″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]God Says No[/amazon_image]

Kyuss and QOTSA get all the credit for stoner rock, but Monster Magnet deserve more love. They had great riffs, witty lyrics, and cool videos. So why was their only hit “Space Lord”? Maybe they were too clever to connect with Nu-Metal fans in the late 1990’s. But they’re still making good albums.


3. .Course Of Empire (years active; 1988–1998)

[amazon_image id=”B00000E9GU” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Initiation[/amazon_image]

They should have joined the ranks of fellow Texans The Toadies and Tripping Daisy in the alt-rock 90’s, but sadly, success eluded them. A mix of industrial and goth, they sounded like heavier Bauhaus, with 2 tribal drummers and the killer guitar tone of Mike Graff.


2. Prong (years active; 1986–present)

[amazon_image id=”B00136JPP6″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Cleansing[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B000002AZP” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Rude Awakening[/amazon_image]

For more in-depth analysis on why this band should be bigger, read my review of their latest album and my list of underrated guitarists. But in a nutshell, this metal band were as heavy as Pantera, but more cerebral, straddling the line between thrash, groove, and industrial.

*Standout tracks: “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”, “Man’s Ruin”, “Whose Fist Is It Anyway”.


1. Chainsaw Kittens (years active; 1989–2000)
Why this band didn’t rule the 90’s is puzzling. They had catchy tunes, and the first album was produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana/Pumpkin’s ). Billy Corgan praised their talents, and fame seemed imminent. But it just didn’t happen for these Norman, Oklahoma natives. That luck fell upon The Flaming Lips, also from Norman, OK, which is weird as the Kittens are far more user-friendly. So it’s a mystery.  But if you love Cheap Trick, the Pumpkins, and the The Cure, check ’em out.

*Standout tracks: “High In High School”, “Connie I’ve Found The Door”, “Sore On The Floor”, “Dive Into The Sea”.

So there you have it, my list of 40 Bands That Should Have Been Bigger. I hope this will inspire you to give some of these a listen, or that I’ve name checked a band you held dear. Feel like I missed a few? Sound off below with your own picks.


About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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18 Responses to 40 Bands That Should Have Been Bigger Part 3

  1. Ed December 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Just discovered your site this fall. Love the lists – this one looks like you’ve been digging through my old CDs!

    The shoegaze period died too soon, but there’s been a nice revival of sorts in the past few years. Metal and alternative bands are clearly influenced. If you haven’t heard the first two albums by Asobi Seksu, you’re in for a treat…

    • SLIS December 27, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

      Glad you enjoy! I’ll have to give Asobi a listen 🙂

  2. Boots March 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I so love Chainsaw Kittens. Every single album of theirs is great. But then again, everything that Tyson Meade touches is amazing (Chainsaw Kittens, Winter Boys, (original) Defenestration, his solo stuff = all awesome). Meade’s voice is unmatched. I can’t understand why the Kittens weren’t the biggest band ever. Funny you bring up the Lips. Derek Brown was basically the 5th Kitten before joining the Lips. Steven Droyd used to do studio work for the Kittens. And Kliph was their roadie before becoming a Lip. The Lips did an amazing cover of the Kittens’ “She’s Gone Mad Again.” Kittens’ lead guitarist Trent Bell, now a Grammy-award-winning music producer himself, did tons of sound and mixing for them all the way through Soft Bulletin. My favorite Kittens’ album is their self-titled that they did when they broke away from Mammoth/Atlantic and started mixing music like they wanted. That is saying alot given that they had worked with the Butch Vig(s) and the John Agnello(s) of the world. I think one of the reasons they always had strained relationships with Mammoth was because they wanted more creative control and were unwilling to change their music for what was supposed to be the next big thing. Perfect example: Atlantic kicked the Kittens over to Scratchie and went with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I hope that executive got fired. How f’ing stupid. I’m gonna go listen to some Kittens now.

    • SLIS March 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      They were truly a great band. Curious as to what Bell has produced in recent years?

      Maybe one day they’ll release a new album!

      • Boots April 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

        Trent Bell won a Grammy for mixing something by the Sugar Free All Stars. Kittens have been on indefinite hiatus since about 2000, but did do a reuinion show at Norman Music Festival in 2008. Tyson Meade is set to put out a new solo album later this year. He did a few shows in OK and the new stuff sounds amazing.

        • Boots April 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

          Oh, and have you heard the Winter Boys stuff that Meade did with (former 5th Kitten and present Flaming Lip) Derek Brown and Other Lives’ Jesse Tabish? So different and so awesome.

          • SLIS April 9, 2013 at 12:58 am #

            I have not, but now I have an incentive to seek it out 🙂

  3. RelativeWays June 5, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    If you liked the sonic wall of Fantastic Planet, you need to check out Fast Stories From Kid Coma by Truly, a Seattle “super group” featuring former members of Soundgarden and Screaming Trees. Frontman Robert Roth was also one of the few who auditioned to be Nirvana’s second guitarist between Bleach and Nevermind.
    You can listen to Fast Stories a 100 times and hear something new each time. Dark atmosphere with some grunge hallmarks, but very layered. To me, those two records showed where 90’s era alt rock could go, unfortunately in 95-97, nobody cared.

  4. Hebba January 24, 2016 at 12:59 am #

    Hi! Do you know of Janata? Can’t seem to find anything online 😓


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