Five Awesome UK Rock Bands That Never Made it in the US
While the UK-US flow of music has become more than the steady one-way stream of US rock of the last two decades (presumably thanks to the internet), I've noticed you enjoy importing our wimpiest bands, like the dull drone of Mumford and Sons or the operatic cock-rock of Muse. Here are some UK bands, mainly from A Time Before The Internet, that you may not have heard of, might put some hairs on your chest, and might enjoy discovering.
5. The Wildhearts
Fronted by a ginger-dreadlocked Northerner (predictably just called Ginger), the Wildhearts have been plugging away for years, always threatening to breakthrough but never really managing it. They did release a genuine classic album of its time, 1993's Earth vs. The Wildhearts, and later (ironically) radio-friendly single Vanilla Radio got some airplay too, but thanks to band member problems and a constant split up/reform cycle, they perhaps never fulfilled their potential. Great back catalogue, though.
Sounds a bit like: Twenty years' worth of straightforward, unpretentious loud rock. "We just rip off our favorite bands from Cheap Trick to Metallica. It's all good big guitar riffs and choruses and nice melodies" says Ginger.
You should try: 29x The Pain, Caffeine Bomb, Greetings From Shitsville
4. Orange Goblin
A UK rock festival fixture for a long while now, I like to think of Orange Goblin as the UK's answer to Kyuss, only without the lawsuits. You can actually catch them in Dallas in March supporting Clutch at the Palladium, which is surely your only chance to ever catch them in Dallas, and it'll be well worth it. The riffs, oh the riffs. They're so large.
Sounds a bit like: All the British great metal bands of the 60s and 70s (Deep Purple, Sabbath, Zeppelin) combined to form a stoner metal band and kick things.
You should try: One Room, One Axe, One Outcome (which is, to be honest, one of the best song titles ever), Scorpionica, Lazy Mary
3. British Sea Power
I must admit to personal bias here, but nevertheless BSP are one of the finest rock bands to come out of the UK in a very long time. I went to see them in Dallas last year and ended up on stage singing the encore with them, I think simply because they were excited to see a Brit (and there were only about 40 people there). Their debut album, The Decline of British Sea Power, is a genuinely exciting record from start to finish. Probably the band on this list with the most US success.
Sounds a bit like: David Bowie became obsessed with British wildlife and bird-watching, and took over vocals for the Pixies, who had decided to adapt their sound for anthemic rock.
You should try: Carrion, Remember Me, Waving Flags
2. The Jam
You might know them solely as the purveyors of big hits like That's Entertainment, but in fact The Jam's back catalogue was absolutely superb, defining the "mod" era in the 1970s that so many books, films, and shows have tried to recapture ever since. Their one concept album, Setting Sons, is an absolute gem, discussing similar themes to Floyd's The Wall but in a far more accessible way, and songs like "Down In a Tube Station at Midnight" and "Eton Rifles" were (according to my Dad, anyway) perfect depictions of what it was like to live in London at that time.
Sounds a bit like: I guess London Punk along the lines of The Clash, but with an added bit of the R&B influences of the time, and Paul Weller's inimitable Cockney drawl.
You should try: Start!, Down In a Tube Station at Midnight, Going Underground
1. Manic Street Preachers
A complex band that splits opinion in the UK, "The Manics" have many, many obsessive fans and have been putting out singles, EPs and albums for the best part of 25 years. Hailing from deepest, darkest Wales, the Manics brought with them a punk attitude, anti-royalist and pro-socialist sloganeering, and the sort of shock tactics that could have got them written off as a gimmick if the music weren't also so good. Their first two albums are pretty good, but they didn't hit their stride until 1994's The Holy Bible. It's a constantly compelling yet intensely dark and disturbing collection of songs covering topics like anorexia, serial killers, drugs, abortion, and prostitution, but written so intelligently (both musically and lyrically) that it never feels like the exploitative record it could so easily have been. Soon after its release, the guitarist and lyricist went missing, and his body was never found. The next release featured a shift to mournful anthemic rock and produced some of the biggest UK rock hits of the last couple of decades.
Sounds a bit like: At first, a sort of Welsh Guns N' Roses, but as they developed their sound and moved away from theatrics they went somewhere stranger and more original.
You should try: Die In The Summertime, A Design For Life, Motorcycle Emptines, From Despair to Where?. It's also worth checking out their excellent cover of the M*A*S*H* theme, Suicide is Painless.