Category Archives: The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of

The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: Delta Spirit

This is my sixth entry in this little series, but I realized something when I was deciding on which band to highlight. In all my previous entries, I focused on bands that had their heyday in the 90s.

This time, I decided to write about a current band, and that band is Delta Spirit.

*A special thanks to my friend Dan for introducing me to this band.

#6. Delta Spirit

In 2005, Jonathan Jameson (bass) and Brandon Young (drums) founded Delta Spirit in Southern California after their band Noise Ratchet disbanded. The rhythm section compadres added their friend Sean Walker (guitar) and added Matthew Vasquez (vocals, guitar) after seeing him busk in a park. The band also added multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich. Initially, the band hired him as a producer, but he joined in its first year.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: Smoking Popes

I’m trying to get better at posting these, so without any further adieu:

#5 Smoking Popes

The Popes are near and dear to me because they are from my hometown, Crystal Lake, Ill. Well, one of the members is; the others are from the neighboring town but close enough.

The Caterer brothers, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., formed the pop-punk quartet in suburban Chicago during the early 90s. Josh, Matt and Eli Caterer received instruments as kids and started playing together. After some instrument switches, Josh and Eli took the guitar duties and Matt took up the bass.

Drummer Dave Martens completed the original incarnation of the band—Speedstick. But Martens was unhappy with the band’s musical direction and quit. Dan Felumlee (who went to the same high school as me) replaced him and the band became Smoking Popes.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: The Afghan Whigs

Well, I initially planned to make this a weekly series, but you can see how well that worked out, as this is only the fourth installment. Anyway, my over-ambition aside, this entry is about Cincinnati quartet The Afghan Whigs.

#4 The Afghan Whigs

The band formed in 1986 when the members—vocalist/rhythm guitarist Greg Dulli, bassist John Curley, lead guitarist Rick McCollum and drummer Steve Earle—were attending the University of Cincinnati. Curley did not attend the university like the others, though. He made his way to Cincinnati to intern as a photographer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Later, Paul Buchignani took over duties as drummer after Earle left.

The Whigs were part of a group of garage-inspired, indie bands formed in the late 80s and early 90s, which also included The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr. and The Goo Goo Dolls (before they recorded Dizzy Up the Girl). I’ve always contended (well, not always but since I first heard the song “Blame, Etc.”) that the Whigs are one of the most underrated and underappreciated bands of the 90s. Frankly, I think they were just lost in the crowd of other indie-rock bands from the era.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: Teenage Fanclub

#3 Teenage Fanclub

What do you  get when you mix the jangling guitars and vocal harmonies of the Byrds, the tight songwriting of the early Beatles and Big Star’s general sound?

You get Teenage Fanclub.

Teenage Fanclub.

Surprisingly, I was introduced to Teenage Fanclub via Pandora. Instantly, I became hooked on their harmonious, upbeat songs. They remind me of a 60s-era, west-coast band like the Zombies, which is a sound that you don’t really hear anymore. After some research, I was surprised to learn that they’re from Scotland. You would never guess that after listening to them.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: Sugar

I realized I fibbed earlier. I said I would do this series on a weekly basis, but I haven’t kept up with it. I’m going to make a concerted effort to do The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of more often. As penance, please take this offering of sugar.

#2 Sugar

Sugar was one of the best alt rock bands in the time of alt rock bands, the early 90’s. It’s a shame that no one remembers them. Sugar was overshadowed by two things in the memories of music fans.

One, like I said, it was the time for alt rock. Some where, Sugar got lost in the wash. The grunge scene was blowing up with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains; the beginning of the punk and ska boom was happening with Rancid and Green Day; and two LA rock fusion bands, Jane’s Addiction and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, put out hit records.

In addition to those bands, there were a ton of other bands that were similar in spirit, and sound, to Sugar. If, for some insane reason, alt rock was a stock, you would have lost all your money and someone would have been talking you down from the ledge. The market was flooded; that stock would have been worth zilch. Even if you got passed all the big acts, there was still: Pixies, Teenage Fanclub, Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, The Tragically Hip, Guided by Voices, Dinosaur Jr., etc…

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