Friday, November 27, 2009

Overlooked Artists #1

There's plenty of hype to go around, but, still, some great bands get overlooked. In "Overlooked Artists," I'll write a bit about artists and bands that don't seem to get the attention they deserve. They may have a cult following or something. Some may have been one-hit wonders and then were cast aside. Regardless, none of these artists get much attention from music publications--I'm talkin' anything from Rolling Stone to Pitchfork to whatever--or the general public. And they all should. Because they're awesome.

Modern English
Known for their awesome 1982 hit, "I Melt With You", and not much else, Modern English actually started as a great experimental post-punk band. They were one of 4AD's flagship artists at the beginning of the '80s, and their debut album, Mesh & Lace, is a crazy and experimental record. It sounds more like Joy Division than New Order, to put it simply. But it drones and breaks down into noise far more than any Joy Division record. The songs are long and disjointed, but in a good way. Ambience might turn into percussive post-punk which may turn into a catchy, bass-driven pop song which might turn back into harsh noise. Though their post-punk roots can certainly be heard in "I Melt With You," it's nothing like the stuff on Mesh & Lace. Modern English was a great band who had not only a great hit, but also made some original post-punk. But they're only known now for the hit.

Dexy's Midnight Runners
Like Modern English, Dexy's Midnight Runners are one-hit wonders. Like Modern English, their one hit ("Come On Eileen") is one of the better pop songs of the '80s. Like Modern English, their other music is very good, too. That's about it as far as similarities go. (Well, they're both British.) Anyways, Dexy's Midnight Runners got huge for their Celtic-y folk-y "Come On Eileen", but they had been putting out consistently great soul/ska/mod rock for a few years before that. Their album, Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, especially, is a really great punky soul album. Horn-filled, jaunty soul blares beneath Kevin Rowland's snotty British singing. It's blue-eyed soul the way it should be. Aggressive and sarcastic, but completely devoted to making real soul music. Dexy's music is fun and exuberant, and it's unfortunate that they are known for just one song--and a song that's not really indicative of their style.

That's what I think. If you don't already like these people, I recommend that you do.

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