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Old 2014-02-13, 11:33 PM   #25
One with the Matrix
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Shed 7 'A Maximum High' (1996)

Quintessential Britpop album. Bears all the hall marks of the era. Guitars? Check. Needless Brass Section? Check. Anthemic Ballad that drunk blokes in Kappa Tracksuits can tunelessly bellow? Check. All of which does Shed 7 a massive disservice, as this is actually a great little record...its just that they were one of a huge number of bands doing this (see also: The Bluetones, Cast, Proper, Sussed, Oasis, The Boo Radleys etc etc ad nauseum).

Babybird 'Ugly Beautiful' (1996)

Another album from the Britpop era, yet this one stands out for being what I can only describe as tramp pop. An album full of an unfortunate series of small triumphs and a life lived in decline. The most memorable single from the album being the immortal 'You're Gorgeous' which, along with the similarly cheery (ish) 'Cornershop' is at odds with the much better material on show here. Other minor hit 'Goodnight' and the outstanding and arresting 'Too Handsome To Be Homeless' are my favourites. Like a lot of Britpop bands, they set the template for what was to follow in the early twenty first century for many of today's bands - that of burning brightly and slowly fading away.

Radiohead 'The Bends' (1995)

Probably the last time Radiohead wrote proper pop songs. Debut 'Pablo Honey' owed more than a tip of the hat to grunge and this arrived, starting Radiohead's musical odyssey. Easily their most accessible work with just about every track sounding like a potential hit single. If, like me, you feel obliged to enjoy Radiohead because people with flat caps and pointy beards say so, but don't have time for all that arch 'exploring the outer reaches of the sonisphere', then this is the one Radiohead album to go for. It has some early signs of their slightly jazzy and complex nature, but there's enough pop nous here to keep that reigned in and make at an album you might want to listen to more than once, rather than as an 'experience'.

Oui 3 'Oui Love You' (1993)

Desperately right on dance music with a message, this is nevertheless a surprisingly enjoyable dance/pop album that sounds like a sunny day in er, 1993. Hit singles 'For What Its Worth' (a slightly tweaked appropriation of Stephen Stills protest song) and 'Break From The Old Routine' are the obvious stand out tracks, but the rest of the album is no slouch either.

Grid 'Evolver' (1994)

Sometimes I wonder if this lot were an influence on Underworld. Both occupy that similar noodly trance/ dancefloor stomper territory, but it was Underworld that had all the luck thanks to their turn on the Trainspotting soundtrack. The Grid with their slightly more 'novelty' singles ('Swamp Thing' and 'Texas Cowboys' from this album) sold themselves short which was a bit of a shame. Then again, there is a bit of a whiff of this being New Age Floatation Tank Music, the sort of thing ITV put on behind their early morning Jobfinder slot.

Sunscreem 'Change Or Die' (1995)

Sadly for Sunscreem, they failed to do just that and died. After respectable chart success with debiut 'O2' and its attendant singles, they followed that up with more of the same, just as dance music was moving away from the lightweight bells and whistles of the rave era to a deeper house sound. The rise of jungle music and big beat (in the shape of The Chemical Brothers and oh yes they are) quickly dated Suncreem's sound. I 'discovered' this album around 1998, when Virgin were clearing out all the cassette albums they had in their warehouse for a 1 a throw, and found to be actually much better than their debut. Yes, it sounds the same, but the songwriting is much more honed and the record is much more cohesive. It also works as a proper dance work out, shifting from a warm up to full on four to the floor stompers before settling into chill-out territory towards the end.
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