by Ed Biggs While The Verve may be more famous for their hugely successful third album Urban Hymns (1997), its 1995 predecessor A Northern Soul deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. The sound that would bring them mainstream success two years later, a powerful brand of alternative rock with strong elements of prog and distortion – think Oasis and Spiritualized in equal parts – really began to take shape
by Ed Biggs When we talk about classic albums and great artists on this site, we often talk about their ‘imperial phase’: that period during their career where everything they touch turns to gold, the critics and fans are united in adoration, and the material remembered and revered years down the line. Often, that period only seems golden with the benefit of hindsight, when the artist in question isn’t producing work
by Ed Biggs I Should Coco, the first album by Oxford three-piece Supergrass, is not only one of the crown jewels of the Britpop era but is usually thought of as one of the most deliriously fun debuts in pop history. Seriously, without listening to the album, just think of all its joyous moments: ‘Caught By The Fuzz’, ‘Strange Ones’, ‘Mansize Rooster’, and ‘Alright’… and you’re grinning already, aren’t you?
by Ed Biggs The initially unloved Wowee Zowee’s twenty year journey to being considered a masterpiece is a curious thing to consider. Possibly because it had to live up to the astronomical expectations built up by its predecessors Slanted And Enchanted (1992) and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994), which had seen Pavement hailed in some quarters as the new Nirvana, the next great hope for American alternative rock. Songs like
by Ed Biggs The late eighties saw a couple of seismic events that had same sort of effect on rap that punk had on rock music: those events were N.W.A. and Public Enemy. Just like the brutal basicness of punk’s dictates, these two groups left a profound sonic legacy upon the nascent rap scene that changed it forever. But if N.W.A. were The Sex Pistols in this analogy – with
by Ed Biggs With their penchant for alcohol and short, sweet lo-fi songs, Dayton’s Guided By Voices are regarded as one of the defining underground bands of the ‘90s. Their unpretentious brand of hook-laden indie rock, compressed into minute-long song sketches, has captured the hearts of their small but utterly dedicated fanbase ever since their inception in the mid-‘80s. After nearly a decade of slogging, and having finally gained some
by Ed Biggs In 1994, few would have predicted that Radiohead would turn out to be the most influential rock group of the next twenty years. Then merely one of many post-grunge bands with a moderately well-received debut, their defining characteristic was the global hit single ‘Creep’ which, while it was their breakthrough, looked like it was becoming an albatross in terms of people’s expectations of them. The ridiculously tame
by Ed Biggs The narrative arc of Depeche Mode is one of the most intriguing evolutions in pop history. When they began their long career in 1980, they were at the lighter end of the post-punk backlash against guitars, often critically derided but achieving commercial success with simple, upbeat synth-pop hits like ‘New Life’ and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. But after one album they were left stranded by their original