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Somewhere Between Radiohead and Jeff Buckley...
2006-11-02 23:12
by Scott Long
Notes:
Scott Long is now blogging at NSFWsports.com.
Will Carroll can still be found at Baseball Prospectus.

Continuing in a series of music primers that will appear monthly at thejuiceblog, let's cover a category I will refer to as modern symphonic rock. Somewhere between Radiohead and Jeff Buckley lies a good portion of Indie music. Featuring often higher pitched vocals and dramatic music which often is a mix of alternative and prog rock, this genre of music is a place where many of the most musically talented bands exist. Below are 25 songs you should take a listen to.

Remy Zero- Save Me
Ours –Sometimes
Muse- Muscle Museum
Palo Alto- Breathe In
Travis- Why Does It Always Rain On Me

The first 5 I list are all tunes that some would label as Radiohead rip-offs. Since Radiohead gave up making songs with consistent hooks after "OK Computer", I guess I've been more open to accepting other offerings.
Remy Zero is similar to early Radiohead, as they both show their U2-influence. Fun fact: Lead singer Cinjun Tate was married to Alyssa Milano before she became a baseball Annie.
Another dramatic band is Ours, who's lead singer mentored under Buckley.
OK, I'm the biggest blogging pimp for Muse. This song comes from their first album, "Showbiz". Check out "Sunburn" off this release, as well.
Palo Alto just might be the most Radiohead sounding band that exists. If I was picking the soundtrack for the "O.C." or "Grey's Anatomy", "Breathe In" would close the show.

Verve- Bittersweet Symphony
Coldplay- Clocks
Elbow- Red
Verbow- New History
Doves- There Goes the Fear

Though they had to give most of their earnings to the Rolling Stones for their biggest hit, the Verve's lifted strings did make the song so great. One of the best singles of the past 10 years.
I'm not a big fan of Coldplay, but "Clocks" is a classic song.
Another song blessed with beautiful strings is "Red".
Verbow is virtually unknown, but the Evanston, IL based band made a masterpiece in the cello-enriched pop of "New History".
Chiming guitars swirl around "There Goes the Fear", which has a hypnotic feel to it.

Keane- Somewhere We Know
The Fray- Look After You
Snow Patrol- Run
Starsailor- Good Souls
The Thrills- Not for All the Love in the World

Earlier I mentioned the newest trend in selling music in a genre like this that gets little radio airplay. Get in on some chick TV show. All 5 of these songs fit that category, with great pop hooks and dramatic tension driving the music.
Keane's lead singer still has that Al Stewart tone to his voice, but "Somewhere We Know" deserved to be a radio smash, as it was a great song.
2006's Keane, just might be The Fray. While their first 2 singles are excellent examples of quality pop music, "Look after You" fits this genre better.
I could have chosen many different Snow Patrol songs, but "Run" has most of the qualities that I discussed with Palo Alto's "Breathe In". If you haven't heard Snow Patrols 2004 release, "Final Straw", seek it out.
Both Starsailor and The Thrills have a few songs that could be listed here, but these are the two best representations for this category.

Death Cab for Cutie- Crooked Teeth
Pernice Brothers- There Goes the Sun
Rufus Wainwright- I Don't Know What It Is
Muse- Falling Away from You
REM- I've Been High

I was one of the few hipsters who didn't care much for Death Cab's rookie release, but I'm a big fan of their second, "Plans', with the single, "Crooked Teeth" a great place to begin.
Another fey singing group is the Pernice Brothers, with their ethereal "There Goes the Sun."
If Jeff Buckley had wanted to be Liza Minelli, he would have sounded like Rufus Wainwright. While his CD "Poses" is his best work, "I Don't Know What It Is" just might be his most beautiful song.
I tried to keep from using any artist more than once, but Muse has so many great songs in this genre, that I wanted to list another. Off of "Absolution", this is the group's finest ballad.
While the past few REM releases have been spotty, "I've Been High" lives up to their lofty past standards.

Spoon- The Way We Get By
Johnny Marr and the Healers- Down on the Corner
Blinker the Star- September Already
Clinic- Harmony
Placebo- Running Up That Hill

I'm stretching things to list Spoon in this category, but if you don't know this song, you will thank me for turning you on to it.
Former Smith's guitarist Marr put this gem out in 2003.
Blinker the Star is a hard band to describe. Lethargic singing over jazzy-rock stylings.
Clinic's "Harmony' is my favorite Kid A sounding song. Great harmonica echo sound.
Placebo recently released this great atmospheric cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill."

If you missed the first in this series, I took on the challenge of programming Alternative radio.

https://thejuice.baseballtoaster.com/archives/522564.html

Comments
2006-11-03 01:02:05
1.   richie allen
cripes, Scott, there's enough bad music there to scare anyone away. I think the key thing that's missing from this is recognition of just how important Radiohead were, and how dire the music they 'inspired' turned out to be. I'll be the first to admit that Coldplay have occasionally thrown something useful out there, but it's a sorry state when this sort of talent becomes a massive band. Coldplay is to Radiohead what Nickleback is to Nirvana.

Then things get even worse: Keane! My girlfriend likes Keane! That's all you need to know. More lowest common denominator bleugh. Snow Patrol are even worse of course, trotting out the same pedestrian nonsense. Snow Patrol are the music equivalent of a Tom Hanks blockbuster movie. (shudders)

Travis... harmless, I'll leave them. The Verve... yeah, good point, but pre-sunhats and pre-Bittersweet they knocked out a ball-buster of an album, A Nothern Soul (I think) that was shorter on the 'look! I'm going to have a hit!' and longer on the good music.

Interesting though. Where are the Manics going to fit into all this?

2006-11-03 05:08:30
2.   Sliced Bread
Coming up on the ten year anniversary of "OK Computer" I have a feeling Radiohead is going to return with another guitar/vocal masterpiece.

Yorke's "The Eraser" is a beautifully sparse, but surprisingly catchy and melodious album. For some reason it leaves me feeling that the fuse is lit, and Radiohead will be back with a bang.

2006-11-03 05:23:50
3.   dianagramr
As much as I loved Coldplay's "Rush of Blood to the Head" album, I HATED the follow-up "X&Y".

Most of "X&Y" is sung in that high-pitched whiny voice, and after a while its like nails on a chalkboard.

2006-11-03 06:03:46
4.   Sliced Bread
3 Right on. "X&Y" was insipid. First time I heard it I wondered if Gwyneth Paltrow wrote it.
Here's hoping they can do much better than that again. "Rush of Blood" was great, and I still enjoy "Parachutes."
2006-11-03 09:30:11
5.   Shotupthemiddle
Is the Keane song you refer to "Somewhere ONLY We Know", or am I missing something?
2006-11-03 10:19:59
6.   Jose Habib
Palo Alto is even named after a Radiohead song.
2006-11-03 11:05:05
7.   still bevens
2 I want to like Radiohead, but theres something about their posturing, humorless approach that gets on my nerves. Im also convinced you wont see anything like OK Computer ever again from those guys. Theyre too preoccupied with being 'arty' and 'innovative' and appealing to their massive fan base who blindly label anything they do as being the greatest thing ever made by human hands. (See 5 star Rolling Stone review for The Eraser, which has like 4 good songs on it.)

Apparently this is a sensitive issue for me. haha.

2006-11-03 12:01:57
8.   slatkin
Radiohead spawned copycats but please give up the notion they did ANYTHING that was original or new.
2006-11-03 13:25:18
9.   Justin David
Just for the record, "Plans" isn't Death Cab's second release. They've actually been around for quite a while now.

And I'm going to have to disagree with you. "Transatlanticism" is probably their best.

I'm not a fan of most the songs on this list, but you're dead on about "The Way We Get By." Great song on a great album.

2006-11-03 13:51:33
10.   Schteeve
Nice to see Travis on your list. They got totally buried by the Coldplay Rush of Fame to the Point of Nauseasness.
2006-11-03 15:25:50
11.   Icaros
Muse was a new discovery for me this year. "Time is Running Out" is a nice one.
2006-11-03 15:48:52
12.   Tom
Very, very good call with the Pernice Brothers. Ours, Mine and Ours is my pick for the best album no one has ever heard.

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