Comment: I think Kevin Griffin from Better Than Ezra is one of the best lyricists around. BTE are best known for their singles released during alternative rock’s heyday in the 1990s, but Closer was the album that introduced me to them. A Lifetime is one of my favorite songs ever and a great example of how talented Kevin is as a songwriter. However, the song I want to feature today is the title track from that underrated album, a song that always resonated with me even though it I couldn’t really relate to it before.
Closer is a beautiful song Griffin wrote after having his first child. In it, he wonderfully describes the excitement, pride, bewilderment and fear he felt all at once as a new dad. I hadn’t mentioned it here before but I’m about to become a dad as well in the next 24 hours or so, and I’m finally starting to understand what Kevin Griffin meant word by word. Incredibly, I can now say that Closer is even better than I thought.
Hope you enjoy this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry, and please bear with me while I adapt to my new routine.
Comment: I’m excited to see this little British band tomorrow as I haven’t attended a live rock concert in a long, long time (and it sounds like it might be the only one in a while too). Named after the title of a collection of poems by Eleanor Rees, Eliza & the Bear are not well-known to the casual music fan but if there is one song of theirs that even them are likely to have heard before is Friends, which became an indie hit when it was released five years ago. Other songs I would recommend are Cruel and I’m On Your Side.
As this week’s #ThrowbackThursday, let’s honor Eliza & the Bear.
Comment: I mentioned Of Monsters and Men in yesterday’s entry and then in the comments section I said that I loved lead singer’s Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir’s voice. If the only songs you know of this quintessential indie band are their biggest hits (Little Talks or Mountain Sound), you might not be aware of her sweet and mildly raspy voice. Both songs are great but do not showcase Nanna’s vocals that much. Instead, listen to Organs, an underrated gem that wasn’t even a single off the band’s sophomore album. It’s all about Nanna and her flawless vocal delivery. Enjoy! #ThrowbackThursday
Comment: One of my favorite tracks in Third Eye Blind’s new album, which we have discussed before, is Funeral Singers, which I thought was an original song until the band shared their influences for the new album on instagram and one of them was Sylvan Esso‘s Funeral Singers. It turns out that Sylvan Esso‘s version is also a cover, with the original being from experimental rock band Califone. Each version is different but if I had to pick just one, I think I’d choose Sylvan Esso‘s. There’s something about lead singer Amelia Meath‘s voice and the acoustic strums in the background that I find mesmerizing.
If, like me, you were not aware of Sylvan Esso before, I hope you enjoy this cover from 2018 (which features American musical ensemble Collections of Colonies of Bees) as much as I do.
Black Lab is quite possibly the greatest #alternativerock band the average music fan has never heard about. Founded by Paul Durham in Berkeley, California, around 1995, they have scored a few radio hits and placed many tracks in different movie soundtracks and tv shows. The band’s name is an amalgamation of their two biggest influences: Black Sabbath and Stereolab. I’m totally guessing here but perhaps the reason why they remained relatively unknown despite moderate success was that their name was far from memorable. In fact, a google search will get you hundreds of websites about the black labrador dog breed before anything related to this band.
One of my favorite Black Lab songs –and there are a few– is Ghost In Your Mind, released on their 2007 album: Passion Leaves A Trace. The combination of the track’s beautiful melody, flawless lyrics and Paul’s delivery makes it an outstanding song. You can tell Paul really feels every word he sings (which, to be fair, could be said of most of his songs). If this is your first time hearing about Black Lab, by all means check their whole discography out. Otherwise, enjoy this weeks #ThrowbackThursday entry. Hope you like it as much as I do.
Comment: Kiss Me is a beautiful ballad that made Christian alternative rock band Sixpence None The Richer famous not only across the United States but also around the world. It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the Australian and Canadian charts. It was all well-deserved because this sweet song is quite a gem. Enjoy this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry.
Comment: I didn’t mention it on that entry, but The New Twenty’s I Can’t Afford Her reminded me a bit of the style of American Hi-Fi, at least that of their self-titled debut album from 2001. Now, if you only know one song from this still-active band led by Stacy Jones (also known for being the drummer in Veruca Salt and Letters To Cleo), it is likely to be Flavor of the Weak, which is their one big hit and a great rock song on its own. That being said, I’ve always had a soft spot for the lesser known Another Perfect Day, which is why I decided to feature that tune instead as this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Comment: This song is a classic from 21 years ago. Even though they were never able to replicate the success of this hit, they do have quite a few good songs. They took a long hiatus but got back together in 2016. Maybe they’ll surprise us with another hit in the future. Meanwhile, enjoy this #ThrowbackThursday!
So Alive came up a few days ago while I was working and it immediately made me look at what other music this little known #alternativerock band called The Rising had released since then. I didn’t know much about them and So Alive was their only song in my library. Sadly, my research revealed bad news only.
The Rising was formed by Australian singer Michael Johns, and if that name rings a bell to you is probably because he finished in eighth place on the seventh season of American Idol (2008). The Rising’s first and only album, Future Unknown, was released in 2003 and then again in 2008 after Johns’ appearance on the aforementioned TV show. It never really sold much but Michael was then able to release a solo album in 2009 that sold 20,000 copies. The really sad news was that Michael passed away in 2014, aged just 35, of dilated cardiomyopathy. Way too young.
So Alive might be a little known song but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of your attention. There are plenty of little gems out there that never received a fair chance. As a tribute to Michael Johns, I thought of sharing one of his best songs with you in this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry in case you weren’t aware of it. I really hope you can enjoy it!
If you have heard of SR-71 at all (the band, not the aircraft), it’s probably because of their 2000’s hit single Right Now, which got a lot of airplay back then. It was their only hit from their underrated debut album, Now You See Inside, but I consider it to be barely the fourth best song on that record. The band from Baltimore, Maryland, went on to release two additional studio albums before calling it quits in 2004 (they had a brief reunion playing some shows together around 2009) and SR-71‘s frontman, Mitch Allan, is still active today as a pretty successful music producer. While they never had another hit as big as Right Now, it could be argued that one track from their last studio album was even bigger because the version of 1985 played by Bowling For Soup became a huge hit without most people even being aware that it was a cover.
Anyway, going back to SR-71’s debut album, the song I tend to play again and again is usually Last Man On The Moon. I love those drums and the overall melody of the track, as well as the way the bridge transitions back into the chorus. The lyrics are enjoyable although not as good as the lyrics for another track in that album: Alive, but I will leave that for another post. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry as much as I do.