by Ed Biggs Always one of the most underrated and overlooked groups of the ‘90s, Garbage were prime movers of the alternative rock trend that exploded in America that decade, at around the same time that Britpop was doing likewise across the Atlantic. Formed of three American producers and musicians – including Nirvana producer Butch Vig – plus their fiery Edinburgh-born Shirley Manson with her shock of red hair and streak
by Ed Biggs Bossanova enjoys an unfairly deserved reputation in Pixies’ back catalogue as the point where it started to go wrong for them. Surfer Rosa and Doolittle were hugely well received by the American and European indie underground, and did so much to help form the musical template that would become known as ‘alternative rock’ in the ‘90s by influencing, among others, Nirvana. But one tends to hear much less
by Ed Biggs As both we and many others studying them have said before, The Beatles are a deceptively simple band to analyse, since so much of their fame and so many of their achievements look inevitable or preordained with the benefit of hindsight. However, their epoch-defining success was not as smooth as a cursory glance makes it appear. Mid-1965 presented the first of (arguably) two existential crises they faced in
by Ed Biggs Ten years ago, a few people must really have believed that Sufjan Stevens was serious about his ambition to record a concept album about all 50 American states. His splendid 2003 album Michigan had set the ball rolling, and while he interrupted the sequence with 2004’s Seven Swans, it was followed with 2005’s Illinois, the album many consider to be his magnum opus. In fact, Stevens was so
by Ed Biggs About to release their eighth studio album Born In The Echoes next month, The Chemical Brothers’ stellar career has begun its third decade: funny to think it all began because the Beastie Boys’ production team wanted their name back. Known at the very beginning of their career as The Dust Brothers, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons were DJs who began to make their own music using basic samplers
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 It’s strange to think an album by a fictional band could have such a sizeable impact, but the 2005 album Demon Days by the animated group Gorillaz, the brainchild of Blur singer Damon Albarn and illustrator Jamie Hewlett, helped to shape the direction of pop music today. For all its undoubted creativity, the project’s self-titled 2001 debut ultimately felt a tad sterile, like a laboratory experiment with a
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 After beginning life after Joy Division with a slightly shaky start in the form of Movement (1981), an understandably downcast and introverted record, New Order began to spread their wings and capture the public’s imagination with 1983’s Power, Corruption & Lies, which is one of those peculiar records that is not only admired in spite of its flaws, but precisely because of them.