By Timothy Coffman, Columnist
Featured image courtesy of rollingstone.com
There’s no set system for how certain bands become popular. Many of the surges in popularity for artists simply come from the artist in question being at the right place at the right time. However, while most of the popular bands have been able to stick, there are some bands and artists that deserve so much more attention. Here are five artists that have eluded mainstream appeal but should definitely be in your musical collection.
- Travis- This group came out of the Britpop era of music that was all the rage in the late 1990s. While the heavy hitters included Oasis and Blur, many forget about Travis, a group that had more of a pop-tinged sound and laid-back attitude than their contemporaries. The singer, Fran Healy, is brilliant at crafting a melody that may not settle in at first, but grows on you like a fungus. His writing and singing style is a blend of gravel and soulful croon, which paved the way for bands like Coldplay. Truly one of the 90s undiscovered gems. Essential album: “The Man Who”.
- The Replacements- This band came to prominence in the mid-80s and laid the benchmark for alternative rock along with The Smiths, R.E.M and The Cure. While sounding drunk on some of their records, each album from their glory years has a shimmery tint to it that gives writer Paul Westerberg’s stories of downtrodden heroes to shine through. This went on to influence almost every alternative rock outfit of the 1990s. An underrated band singing about the lives of underappreciated people…what’s so wrong about that? Essential album: “Tim”.
- Big Star- This group created some of the greatest power pop in the history of the genre. While many bands of the 70s focused on disco or prog rock, Big Star came out with songs about teenage melodrama with The Beatles songwriting sensibilities. Each song captures a certain angst that can be seen in all of the classic pop music that we are still trying to steal from today. Essential album: “#1 Record”.
- The Foxboro Hot Tubs- Okay…this may be cheating just a little bit. This next entry is not a band but more of an offshoot for Green Day. While these guys certainly have their fair share of attention, their album “Stop Drop and Roll!!!” still holds up as a throwback to the garage rock of the 60s. This album also borrows heavily from the garage rock revival sound of the early 2000s. Think Green Day trying to play like The Strokes and you’re almost there. While bizarre on paper, this project is very entertaining from start to finish and a great party album.
- The Velvet Underground- This band is a classic case wherever every fan who likes this band got it…afterwards. The Velvet Underground eponymous debut was met with a resounding “eh” in the 60s by critics and fans, but now can rightfully be considered a masterpiece. They captured the griminess of the hometown of New York City with uneasiness and subtle beauty seeping through. The Velvet Underground makes the listener feel trapped in this concrete wasteland but also peppy and hopeful for the future, sometimes within the same song. This group essentially captured the New York City aesthetic into a synthetic concoction and the rock world shines a little brighter thanks to it. Essential Album: “The Velvet Underground & Nico.”