Saturday, April 13, 2013

Alternative Press - 100 Bands you needed to know in 2001

This article made the rounds last month but if we already waited twelve years to revisit and make fun of some of these bands, another couple of weeks won't change anything.  Here are the AP's comments for a selection of bands from the article, followed by some of my own comments.  The full list is here:

2nd Gen

"The nom de plume of electro-terrorist Wajid Yaseen, 2nd Gen signed to Mute Records in 2001 for the release of his migraine-inducing second album, Irony Is. In 2006, he teamed up with Alice Kemp for a similarly uncomfortable project called Uniform and from all indications, he’s still making a racket and getting paid for it."

This was a great catch by AP in '01. Mute/Novamute released and licensed plenty of electronic and techno music around that time but it still surprises me that they released something this extreme.  Mute was the label of Nitzer Ebb, Laibach, and Renegade Soundwave but none of them blew up your speakers like 2nd Gen could.  Unfortunately, "Irony Is" couldn't have been released at a worse time.  It was several years too late to catch onto the tail end of the hard, tracky techno that was the rage in the 90's, and was several years too early to find a home among the industrial techno that has become somewhat popular today.  At the time, people in the rhythmic noise microscene would have loved it if they had heard of it.  Most of the techno head into minimal and clicks'n'cuts, both of which couldn't be any different than this.  I discovered "Irony Is" in a California bargain bin in 2003, loved it immediately, and really need to revisit it soon. 

Black Dice

"The band who started as an angular hardcore quintet before morphing into a groovy effect-laden beast have slimmed down to a trio of brothers Bjorn and Aaron Copeland and Aaron Warren. Their sixth album, Mr. Impossible, was released last spring."

Black Dice were Animal Collective before most people had heard of Animal Collective.  Their brand of electronic/freak/psych rock could have maybe perhaps been on the verge of breaking through into the indie stratusphere.  They lost me around 2006, when it became clear that their primal drum circle leanings were never coming back, gone forever in favour of twiddling all the knobs on their samplers simultaneously.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

"Peter Hayes and Robert Been remain at the core of this menacing, noisy and remarkably influential psychedelic band. Their seventh album, Specter At The Feast, was released March 19. In addition, guitarist/frontman Been has been performing with the Call, the ’80s alt-rock band his father Michael Been formed."

Every generation has its JAMC tribute band?  I'm not sure how "influential" they are but it's amazing that a gimmicky band that seemed primed for a two albums + acrimonious breakup type of career is still going. I suppose you could have said the same about The Raveonettes too, but they're not going away anytime soon either.


"Tragedy hit this respected British electronic band when lead singer Trish Keenan died in 2011 after contracting swine flu. Their last album, the soundtrack to the film Berberian Sound Studio, was issued by Warp this past January. It’s been reported that sole member James Cargill is working on a new album with vocal performances by Keenan prior to her illness."

Broadcast blew my mind in 1998 with their contribution to Warp 100, after that I stayed angry with them for years for never managing to be the same band I'd heard on "Hammer Without a Master".  I was back on board by the time of 2005's "Tender Buttons" and feeling kind of silly for missing out on some solid music they'd released in the interim.  Trish Keenan's death was a shock and a tragedy.


"They fell into obscurity following the 100 Bands issue never to be heard from again. Moving on… "

Yeah, these guys have done all right for themselves.  The most interesting thing about this from a 2013 perspective is the fact that they were tipped by the AP to begin with.  I mean, Coldplay ... alternative?  Tipped as a band to watch alongside nearly one hundred weirdos and obscurities?  But they weren't the only publication to do this -- they were also featured in the Melody Maker's similar feature at almost exactly the same time, in their first issue of the year that tended to have short profiles of bands to watch in the coming year.   (At least I think it was the MM ... it was a British publication, and whatever it was, it was the first time I'd heard about Coldplay)  I remember comparisons to U2 being made, but even the people writing the articles probably thought their ceiling was a poor man's Travis who'd be reuniting in fifteen years for a one off show that would feature their lone hit, "Yellow".


"History is repeating itself for this U.K. ambient pop ensemble, who announced a break in 2010. They say that if ever they do return, it will be a completely fresh start. That wouldn’t be a first for the band, who restarted from scratch as Doves after they lost their second LP and equipment as former incarnation Sub Sub in a studio fire."

It's amazing to think there was a time when Doves vs Coldplay were battling for the post-U2 Eno-tinged epic stadium rock crown.  

Godspeed You Black Emperor!

"The post-rock band of brothers (seriously, there are a lot of them) released Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! their first album in more than a decade last October."

A bit late to the party, were we AP?  By 2001 GYBE were already minor legends and had already peaked.


"Dylan Nathan, aka Jega, came up through the late-’90s British electronica scene. His last record was a two volume set called Variance."

Jega was hyped to the moon by the electronic music press at the time.  I bought his debut album "Spectrum (which was not my usual cup of tea) based largely on the many positive reviews and was soundly disappointed.  I probably haven't heard or even thought about this album in ten years.


"This Liverpool dark electro quartet have kept up their momentum over the years (mostly in the U.K.) and released their fifth album Gravity The Seducer in 2011. Just last month, they unveiled a new video for “International Dateline.” However, vocalist Helen Marnie’s PledgeMusic page for her solo project, Marnie, notes that the group are currently on brief hiatus. Note: It only took three days for Marnie to reach full funding on PledgeMusic."

An interesting pick by the AP, because Ladytron in 2001 had "fad" written all over them.  They could have been swept away just like every electroclash-related act were, but they hung around and kept getting better with every new album.  I ignored them up until 2006, but like Beach House, it's a good thing that I kept away from them for a while until they had morphed into a band that I couldn't help but like.  Had I tried listening to either one of them in the early days, I would have pushed them aside and missed out on a lot of great music five years down the line.

Mean Red Spiders

"Four records and several member changes later, the Canadian band are still making music. Their last album came out in 2003. "

Really?  Can't believe the AP knew who these guys were in '01!  I saw them live a couple of times -- the Southern Ontario neo-shoegaze scene was small but the bands were strong (e.g. Hollowphonic, South Pacific). Again, I can't believe Mean Red Spiders made the list.  This was pre-Broken Social Scene's "You Forgot It In People" -- nobody was watching the Toronto indie scene in those days (outside of Toronto.  Even Montrealers wouldn't have cared what was happening in Toronto then)

Sigur Ros

"Masters of ebbing and flowing post-rock, the Icelandic delegation issued their sixth album, Valtari in 2012, before bidding farewell to multi-instrumentalist Kjartan "Kjarri" Sveinsson earlier this year. The band are planning to continue as a trio with additional touring members, and are releasing a new album, Kveikur, on June 18."

I heard about Sigur Ros for the first time in the same Melody Maker (?) article where I first heard about Coldplay.


"British sound artist Leyland Kirby would sample and electronically mangle other people’s hits with results that were at times sinister, hilarious and unfathomable. He now makes spooky, unsettling ambient records under his own name and the moniker of the Caretaker."

Perhaps the only act on this list that got more popular as they got weirder, continuing on to the present day?

Vladislav Delay

"A pseudonym of Finnish electronic musician Sasu Ripatti, Vladislav Delay released their newest album, Kuopio, last year."

Vladislav Delay was my least favourite of the major Chain Reaction acts.  There was a lot of watery and directionless ambient techno being released at the time, and Vladislav Delay was one of the worst offenders.    I remember hearing Luomo for the first time in a record store and being shocked when the clerks told me that it was the same guy who did Vladislav Delay.

The Warlocks

"This psychedelic eight-piece are still active, but appear to have never caught on heavily in their 14 years as a band. They have a new album in the works that is likely to be ready for release “fall 2013 or January 2014,” according to a recent blog post."

I agree, it's kind of sad that the Warlocks never caught on.  The Phoenix album was supposed to be their big break, but the next three albums were far superior -- more focused, melodic, but still wonderfully groovy and very much still "out there".  Unfortunately each album in succession was met with increasingly higher levels of contempt and derision.

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