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.
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 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 It may not seem like it sometimes, but there’s a good reason why some people go on, and on, and on about Bob Dylan: it is quite impossible to overstate the influence he had upon the sound and structure of popular music. He was arguably the first pop musician to use the album format as vehicle to make an artistic statement – before 1964, the album was
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
by Ed Biggs People tend to think of the mid noughties as a great time for British guitar music. At a cursory glance, this is correct. The breakthrough of The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys grabbed national headlines as their music crossed over to mainstream audiences and, at the time, it felt like we were living through some kind of golden age, with debut records from new and exciting bands coming