Stranded in Stereo Editor-in-chief Dany issued me a challenge two weeks ago. My mission was to name and pine upon 10 bands of not just underrated, but utterly lost greatness. But there are rules. There must always be rules. The bands must have have ceased activity and have only been active only between 1990 and 2004. It's not a list of one-hit-wonders, or total unknowns; in order to be forgotten, you must once have been known.
Low Pop Suicide - World Domination was not a record label with a lot of long-term vision. It was owned by bassist Dave Allen from the band Shriekback. As Low Pop Suicide he and Rick Boston did 4 records. In that time I think they went through 8 drummers. But man their songs were dark, mean and lyrically vicious. They scored the film "the Harvest" under the name "Crash Baptists." But even as they started to find commercial success Allen got distracted by other projects and they faded away.
Tad - Tad Doyle just wasn't pretty enough to get famous. That's all there was to it. They rocked live, they did an album named God's Balls. They even got banned on MTV. Hell, they even got sued by Pepsi. They were a pretty awesome band really. But, Seattle had too many other young bands without love handles and back hair.
Into Another - When they put out Seemless on Hollywood records I thought it was a sure thing. Their single "T.A.I.L." actually hit #39 on the billboard chart. But there was no follow up from the label. They didn't drop a second single, they were too busy feuding with the band. Into Another went into the studio to do their next record, and recorded an unexpected electronic album, Soul Control. Hollywood got pissed. They shelved the record and gave the band the finger.
Rust - Critics were merciless to this band for being slightly commercial in a San Diego scene focused more on Rocket From the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu. But it was 1996 and Atlantic records was looking for another Nirvana. They were not another Nirvana, and chronic over-hyping ruined any shot they had at their own success. The single 'Perhaps?" is terminally under-rated.
Mucky Pup - They broke up in 1996 but have had reunion shows as recently at 2002. They're all musically active individually, but not collectively. They started out as a joke band like Ugly Kid Joe and Scatterbrain. Once you write a funny song you're doomed, stained forever. They never got press, I mean never... Nine albums later they still had zilch. Totally blackballed from day one they toured shitholes across Europe on word-of-mouth alone.
Monsterland - They cut this pink heart-shaped single called "Nobody Loves You" and dropped it on Valentines Day1993. I thought it was clever but man, it got taken the wrong way. It was maybe over-clever and sort of cute. They were bang-dead before the CD came in the mail.
Paw... This band was a money pit. A&M won the bidding war, and serviced literally seven singles with B-sides trying to get a single to move. But it was too countrified for rock and rocked too hard for country. Everybody agreed that it was badass but nobody had a cojones to spin it. Trapped between an ingrates and a homogeneous playlists they faded fast. But Dragline, Death to Traitors, and Keep the last Bullet for Yourself were absolutely rock solid albums.
Metal Molly - Probably the only record I own by any Belgian pop group. They rose quickly and then just evaporated as if they know they'd only done it by accident. Fresh from the garage they won a talent contest and scored a record deal. Brinkman records showcases them in New York and the single "Orange" just got picked up. Shazam! the toured on it and then went back to Belgium leaving very deliberately on a high note.
Machines of Loving Grace - They were picked up on the strength of a demo in 1991 by Mammoth records. The demo was a little stiff but their follow up got a single those skate shows MTV was airing, they got on the Crow Soundtrack, the Megaman soundtrack, the Hackers sound track and all sorts of comps. The label was putting out. But industrial-flavored rock was fading. As they prepared to do the follow-up to their very well-received album Gilt, the label was too busy selling out to Disney to do anything. The delay turned fatal and the band separated.
Sweet Lizard Illtet - The Illtet was probably the only band as hard and funky as Faith no More, more political then RATM, and catchier than the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They got signed to Warner Bros, cut a video, and played Lollapalooza in 1992. They were going places. But there was a problem. They were drug-addled maniacs. On tour they scared Pearl Jam, terrorized Metallica and drove their label batty. There was no second record. Mike Ill and Zef both went solo and the band became a footnote.
Making this list was disturbing.. not because they were unknown, but for the ones I thought were dead. Bands like Push Monkey, Quintain Americana, Jesus Jones, Critters Buggin and Pop Will Eat Itself, are all still active but now operate totally below the radar like Christian fundamentalists stockpiling guns at undisclosed locations. My new thesis is that bands dont' die, they just go into denial.