A lot of bands were bunched together under the “Britpop” label. Inevitably, this meant that some of them didn’t get the exposure that they perhaps deserved. Here are four of the bands that could’ve been huge, but for whatever reason never got the three nights headlining at Wembley that were rightfully theirs:
- Silver Sun
Silver Sun were (for me at least) one of the great unsung bands. They combined Beach Boys-style harmonies with the punk-pop sensibility of early Weezer, along with a “geeky” style, before it was cool. Their debut album is one of those blasts of pure joy designed to be listened to on a sunny day, ideally outside with a bottle of something cold. They scored their biggest hit with 1998’s “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late”, a Johnny Mathis cover, and in fact quietly released two further albums in the mid noughties, but that first album is really all you need: you can choose almost any track at random, and are pretty much guaranteed to find something that will put a smile on your face. If I had to choose one song that summed them up for me though, it would have to be “Lava”. Enjoy it while the weather’s still nice!
I recently went to a gig, and walked in half way through one of the support acts without any idea who they were. It took about 2.5 seconds for my brain to register the singer’s voice, and realise that I knew exactly who I was listening to. The defining feature of Geneva had to be Andrew Montgomery’s singing , a beautiful falsetto which made the band stand out from their Britpop contemporaries (it was in fact a solo performance of his that I’d stumbled across). It’s hard to describe Geneva’s music without falling into cliché, but “soaring” is the word that springs to mind the most. As with any band of the era that didn’t sound like The Beatles, they had to put up with endless Radiohead comparisons instead, but there was something about this act that for me made them truly unique.
British readers will probably be familiar with Lauren Laverne as a TV and radio presenter. However, she first hit the big time as frontwoman of Kenickie. Everything about Kenickie made them stand apart from their peers: clever, genuinely funny and (most unusually for a Britpop act) three quarters female, they were one of the few bands whose interview quotes went further than “We just do what we do and if anyone else likes it, that’s a bonus”. They named themselves after their favourite character from “Grease”, and adopted glamourous stage names, pulling it all off with the kind of confidence only teenagers can achieve. All this would have been for nothing though, if it weren’t for the fact that they had some fantastic tunes to go along with the style. Few acts before or since have ever made the whole thing look quite so effortlessly fun as they did. Their 1997 debut, “At The Club”, is probably the best place to start, and “Punka” gives a taste of what to expect:
You’ve all heard “Definitely Maybe” (and if you haven’t, leave this website now to go away and take a long hard look at yourself). Whilst “Digsy’s Dinner” is a bit of a throwaway moment (in a good way), it’s also worth having a listen to Digsy (real name Peter Deary) himself, and his band Smaller. Smaller were just one of a wave of acts to get their shot following Oasis’ rise to the top, and as a friend of the band, Digsy was able to get Noel Gallagher guesting on their debut album, 1997’s “Badly Badly”. The album manages for the most part to shy away from bone-headed lad-rock, and in fact is a surprisingly sensitive expectation of life on working class Merseyside. They still new how to make a decent noise, though, as shown by their finest moment, “Wasted”: