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