Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Formed on Long Island, NY, Brand New appeared on the punk-pop scene in 2000. Consisting of drummer Brian Lane, vocalist/guitarist Jesse Lacey, bassist Garrett Tierney, and guitarist Vin Accardi, the band began making a name for itself on the local scene with a self-released four-song demo and shows with bands like Midtown and Glassjaw. In 2001, they issued their first record, Your Favorite Weapon, on Triple Crown, produced by friend Mike Sapone. Lacey's clever and cutting lyrics sprinkled the album, which produced the semi-hit "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad," and more touring with Taking Back Sunday and Finch followed. Proving to be more than just another punk-pop band, the group made something of a stylistic leap with Deja Entendu, a decidedly matured follow-up, recorded with Steve Haigler (Pixies, Blake Babies) and released in summer 2003 to rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Music videos for "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" and "Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades" found constant airplay on MTV, while earning Brand New slots with New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, Dashboard Confessional, and blink-182. By fall, as the band's notable underground following continued to grow in strides, they inked a deal with Dreamworks, which later led to them finding a home on Interscope following the former label's buyout. Touring eventually slowed to a halt as Brand New holed themselves up to work on their third full-length and major-label debut. After an extended quiet spell -- little to no interviews or updates came from the band's camp for quite some time -- Brand New finally emerged in summer 2006 for U.S. headlining dates, their first nationwide tour in three years. The highly anticipated The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me appeared in November 2006. Though significantly darker and less immediate than past efforts, the album was praised for its depth and maturity, and the band supported it on a soldout spring 2007 tour. ~ Kenyon Hopkin, All Music Guide
Isaak began performing after he graduated from college, forming the rockabilly band Silvertone. The group, which featured guitarist James Calvin Wilsey, bassist Rowland Salley, and drummer Kenney Dale Johnson, would become the singer/guitarist's permanent supporting band. Isaak released his first album, Silvertone, on Warner Bros. in 1985. It was critically well received, yet it didn't sell. Two years later, he released Chris Isaak, which managed to scrape into the Top 200 album charts. After its release, the singer began an acting career with a bit part in Jonathan Demme's 1988 film Married to the Mob; he would later have parts in Wild at Heart, The Silence of the Lambs, and A Dirty Shame, as well as starring in his own situation comedy series for the Showtime cable network.
Released in 1989, Heart Shaped World initially sold more than Chris Isaak, yet it didn't manage to break big until late 1990, when the single "Wicked Game" was featured in David Lynch's Wild at Heart. Soon, the single became a Top Ten hit; the album also made it into the Top Ten and sold over a million copies. Both 1993's San Francisco Days and 1995's Forever Blue mined essentially the same vein as Heart Shaped World, yet both went gold and spawned a handful of hits. In 1996, Isaak released The Baja Sessions; Speak of the Devil followed two years later. Isaak's busy touring schedule and growing visibility as an actor kept him out of the recording studio until 2002, when he released Always Got Tonight, though in 2004 he did find time to cut his first seasonal album, Chris Isaak Christmas, which featured five new Yuletide tunes along with a batch of holiday favorites. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
ust three years after Michelle Branch first picked up a guitar at the age of 14, she was signed to Maverick Records with an album in stores. Branch's debut, The Spirit Room, was produced by John Shanks (Melissa Etheridge, Chris Isaak) and issued in August 2001, spawning the leadoff hit single/video "Everywhere." Although she lists such classic rock acts as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix as prime influences, Branch's music is more akin to such modern-day female artists as Lisa Loeb, Alanis Morissette, and Melissa Etheridge, something her more mature 2003 album Hotel Paper displayed. In 2005 it was announced that Branch had begun a project with Nashville singer/songwriter Jessica Harp. Originally dubbed the Homewreckers, the duo shortened their name to the Wreckers and released their debut album, Stand Still, Look Pretty, in 2006. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide
Originally finding success as the singer/frontman of Seattle's Soundgarden, Chris Cornell also forged a successful solo career after the band's 1997 demise. Born in Seattle on July 20, 1964, Cornell's music career didn't take shape until he was a teenager, playing drums in bands that mixed punk/new wave (the Police) and metal (AC/DC) covers. Although he spent most of his teenage years withdrawn and as a loner, rock music helped Cornell overcome his uneasiness around others. After dropping out of high school and working as a cook, Cornell formed a band that, with a few lineup changes, would become the great and influential Soundgarden by the mid-'80s. Cornell switched to vocals around the time of the band's formation, with friend Hiro Yamamoto on bass, Kim Thayil on guitar, and eventually, Matt Cameron on drums.
Along with the Melvins, Soundgarden was one of the first rock bands to slow down punk's youthful energy to a Black Sabbath-like crawl. First issuing a few releases on independent labels (Sub Pop's Screaming Life and Fopp EPs, SST's Ultramega OK), Soundgarden was one of the first bands of the late-'80s Seattle underground to sign with a major label, A&M, which issued Louder Than Love in 1989. After the album's release, however, Yamamoto left and was first replaced by ex-Nirvana member Jason Everman, and eventually permanently by Ben Shepherd. With Soundgarden's quintessential lineup in place, the band rightfully became one of rock's most popular bands on the strength of such albums as 1991's Badmotorfinger, 1994's Superunknown, and 1996's Down on the Upside. With each album, Cornell's singing grew stronger and stronger and farther away from the heavy metal screaming of the band's early work and more toward a true singing style. Cornell also showed a great talent for lyric-writing; while his lyrics wouldn't make sense if read without the music, they evoked all kinds of images when he put the two together.
Besides Cornell's vast talents displayed with Soundgarden, he organized a tribute for late Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood in the form of 1990's Temple of the Dog project, which was far more stripped-down. Cornell's first officially released solo composition, the acoustic "Seasons," was the highlight of the 1992 motion picture soundtrack Singles. His bluesy voice also worked amazingly well on a superb cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" on the 1993 Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix compilation (under the pseudonym MACC). He also found time to pen songs for other acts, such as Flotsam & Jetsam and Alice Cooper, as well as producing the Screaming Trees' 1991 release Uncle Anesthesia. After Soundgarden's demise in April of 1997, Cornell slowly but surely began to put a solo album together with his friends from the band Eleven.
Finally issued in 1999, Euphoria Morning was a departure from his former band's sound, as it was in a more singer/songwriter mold, which focused more on Cornell's vocals and lyrics than meaty guitar riffs. Shortly after its release, Cornell launched his first solo tour, mixing songs from all eras of his career. After wrapping up the aforementioned tour in early 2000, a tepid remix of the Euphoria Morning track "Mission" (retitled "Mission 2000") was included on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack. It appeared as though Cornell would take a break from music for a while, as his wife gave birth to the couple's first child in June of the same year, but by late 2000, Cornell found himself involved in a project that promised to be a classic hard rock collaboration.
Rage Against the Machine decided not to break up after longtime vocalist Zack de la Rocha left the band that winter, but rather they would find another singer and carry on under a different name. Cornell accepted an invitation to jam and pen a few songs (which former Rage guitarist Tom Morello described as "really groundbreaking") and, shortly thereafter, officially joined forces with the former Rage members under the moniker Audioslave. Produced by Rick Rubin, the band's self-titled debut arrived in November 2002 and went multi-platinum. The follow-up, 2005's Out of Exile, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and was followed by the platinum-selling Revelations in 2006. Cornell left the band that same year, citing the usual "irreconcilable differences," and began work on his second solo record, 2007's Carry On, a topical, biographical, and musically confused whirlwind featuring a cover version of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" and "You Know My Name" from the Bond movie Casino Royale. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide
While growing up in his native Houston, singer/songwriter Brady Brock found himself following punk's hard edge. He joined a band called the Grimple Twins and began playing bass and guitar. By the time he finished college, Brock had already traded his southern roots for the New York City way of life. He developed a fondness for the basic acoustic and started writing songs. Mixing indie-pop stylings with a dash of emo, he released I Will Live in You Where Your Heart Used to Be on his own label, Feel Records in March 2002. Critics praised the record, giving Brock the motivation to continue with his songcraft. A year later he returned with the melodic storm, Warm American Sweater. Collaborations with Tim Rutili (Red Red Meat/Califone), Tobias Kuhn (Miles), Patrick Berkery (Bigger Lovers), David Clement, Erin Hall, Brian McTear (Bitter, Bitter Weeks), and Erick Jordan (Fevered Cheek) made this Brock's most fleshed out material to date. ~ MacKenzie Wilson, All Music Guide
An anachronism in the world of late-'90s rock & roll, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise consists of the group's namesake, a wizened Detroit street singer, plus three relatively fresh-faced alterna-kids as a backing band. Robert Bradley was born in Alabama, but gained musical experience and spirit by singing as a child at The Alabama School for the Blind, playing his acoustic guitar at coffeehouses, and piano in Baptist churches. He had spent several years in Detroit by 1994, performing occasionally on the street just to be heard, when guitarist Michael Nehra, bassist Andrew Nehra, and drummer Jeff Fowlkes (formerly in the Detroit band Second Self) overheard Bradley through an open window while rehearsing for a new project. After listening to Bradley sing for an hour, they invited him up to the studio to record several acoustic songs, then invited him to become their vocalist.
The Nehra brothers' production experience (with Detroit locals Majesty Crush) helped out the group while recording their debut album, 1996's Blackwater Surprise. The band's eccentric background and energetic live show -- almost gospel in feel -- gained them many fans on frequent club dates as well as arena shows opening up for the likes of the Dave Matthews Band, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Widespread Panic, and Maceo Parker. Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise also did well on alternative radio and VH1. Keyboard player Tim Diaz joined up as well prior to the band's sophomore effort, 2000's Time to Discover. In 2002, they released New Ground, followed in 2003 by the softer, piano-based record Still Lovin' You. The next year Bradley starred as fictional bluesman Otis McClanahan in the HBO film Lackawanna Blues, also contributing to the soundtrack, and in 2006 the live two-disc album What About That: New Year's Eve in Bloomington came out, which was recorded during a 2005 concert at the Indiana city's club the Bluebird, one of Bradley's favorite venues. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide
In mid-2003, four of the ATL's hardest solo MC's, Duke, Big Gee, Jeezy and Jody Breeze, came together to form the super-group Boyz N Da Hood. Referred to as the "NWA of the South," Boyz N Da Hood aren't just another crunk group from the ATL, these Boyz have a message. Reminiscent of NWA and The Geto Boys before them, the Boyz spit ardent, socially-charged rhymes over heavy-hitting beats. From the outset, the group sought to create music that would be true to the eyes and ears of the streets of ATL. After putting together a 15 song demo, the group shopped their work around to various labels before it landed in the lap of an initially-reluctant P. Diddy. After a brief courtship, Diddy signed the group to Bad Boy in 2004. In 2005, the group hit the airwaves with "Dem Boyz" as their lead single and, shortly thereafter, shot the single's video, featuring P. Diddy. The group's self-tiled debut album, Boyz N Da Hood, dropped on June 21st of 2005 and features production from southern hip-hop mainstays Jazze Pha, Frank Nitti and DJ Toomp.
Originally known as the Chiodos Bros., the sextet better known as simply Chiodos (pronounced "chee-OH-dose") -- named after an obscure '80s horror movie term -- came together during high school in their hometown of Davison, MI, located just outside of Flint. Citing influences like Saves the Day, At the Drive-In, and Queen, the band's sound was a melting pot of punk energy, metal riffing, melodic instincts, piano tinkering, and occasional electronic beats that prevented an easy genre classification. Comprised of vocalist Craig Owens, keyboardist/vocalist Bradley Bell, guitarists Pat McManaman and Jason Hale, bassist Matt Goddard, and drummer Derrick Frost, the band recorded a demo, The Best Way to Ruin Your Life, in June 2002. The release, along with the band's energetic and powerful live show, helped bolster a notable local following.
They next self-recorded and produced the seven-song The Heartless Control Everything in McManaman's bedroom, which was subsequently issued by Ann Arbor-based indie Search and Rescue in January 2003. Following the release, the guys hit the road hard, trekking across the nation seven times over, including shows with Yellowcard and Coheed & Cambria. All this activity and buzz eventually led to a 2004 signing with Equal Vision, which then released All's Well That Ends Well in July 2005. Chiodos stayed on the road and spent early 2006 playing Sub City's Take Action Tour and a successful spot at Bamboozle. A full summer's worth of shows got underway that May, including a handful of Warped Tour dates, before spending fall opening for heavy-hitters Atreyu. Owens was also involved for a time in the rotating cast of musicians that made up the Sound of Animals Fighting. After returning to the studio, this time with producer Casey Bates, the band titled their new album Bone Palace Ballet after a book of poems by Charles Bukowski and scheduled to release it in September 2007. ~ Corey Apar, All Music Guide
According to no less an authority than the RIAA, Boyz II Men are the most commercially successful R&B group of all time. They've sold ludicrous numbers of records and been involved in three of the longest-running number one pop singles in history, and they've done it as a unit of equals. In fact, their four-part harmonies blend so smoothly that most of the general public would be hard pressed to name any of the group's individual members. And that's no reflection on their skill as singers; Boyz II Men were among the first male urban soul artists to adopt the sort of hyper-technical melodic embellishments that were popularized by virtuosic divas like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Their early music was indebted to new jack swing, but the group quickly found their forté in lush, soulful ballads, where their harmonies could be showcased to greatest effect. Boyz II Men may never duplicate their incredible run of success during the first half of the '90s, but that's a near-impossible task for anyone, even with the broad-based appeal of their clean-cut romantic image.
Boyz II Men were formed in 1988 at Philadelphia's High School of the Creative and Performing Arts. Founding members Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson had been singing together for several years, but had trouble keeping a group together simply due to members graduating. Things finally stabilized when they hooked up with Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, and bass vocalist Michael McCary; calling themselves Unique Attraction, the quintet performed a well-received Valentine's Day show for their school and developed a repertoire that leaned heavily on New Edition songs (one of which, "Boys to Men," gave them their name). Their big break came in 1989, when they snuck backstage at a Bell Biv DeVoe concert and wowed group member Michael Bivins (also formerly of New Edition, and a budding music entrepreneur) with an a cappella version of New Edition's "Can You Stand the Rain." Bivins offered them a deal right there, but Nelson would not stick around to be part of it; personality conflicts led to his departure soon after (he later resurfaced as a member of Az Yet).
Down to a quartet, Boyz II Men entered the studio to record their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony, for the legendary Motown Records. Backed by the new jack production then in vogue, they dubbed their sound "hip-hop doo wop," though as a vocal harmony group they were more indebted to R&B of the '60s and '70s. Cooleyhighharmony was released in 1991, and its first single, the uptempo dance track "Motownphilly," rocketed up the charts, going Top Five pop and number one R&B on its way to platinum sales. The a cappella ballad "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," a cover of a song from the film Cooley High, also hit the pop Top Five and topped the R&B charts, and went gold. Meanwhile, the album won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. Boyz II Men joined MC Hammer's Too Legit to Quit tour in 1992, but tragedy struck when tour manager Khalil Roundtree was shot and killed in Chicago; the group rededicated "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" to him.
The tragedy notwithstanding, Boyz II Men had had an extremely auspicious beginning to their career. Still, nothing could have foreshadowed the group's Midas touch over the next few years. Briefly entering the studio in between concert gigs, Boyz II Men cut a smooth Babyface ballad called "End of the Road" for the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang. Released as a single, it became not just a blockbuster, but one of the biggest hits in history; it spent 13 weeks at number one on the pop charts, an incredible run that broke the record of 11 weeks Elvis Presley had held ever since 1956 with the double-sided single "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog." "End of the Road" won a slew of awards and cemented Boyz II Men's star status beyond any doubt; while crafting their next album during 1993, the group released a couple of placeholders: a Top Five cover of the Five Satins doo wop classic "In the Still of the Nite," from the TV movie The Jacksons: An American Dream, and the holiday album Christmas Interpretations. (Also that year, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" broke "End of the Road"'s record with 14 weeks at number one.)
The post-"End of the Road" buzz helped make Boyz II Men's next album, II, an instant smash when it arrived in 1994, even though it didn't include "End of the Road." Produced by the likes of Babyface and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, rather than Bivins (who wanted to concentrate on developing new artists), II debuted at number one on its way to sales of over 12 million copies. The first single, "I'll Make Love to You" (also penned by Babyface), raced up the charts and wound up tying Houston's short-lived record, with 14 weeks of its own at number one -- a staggering feat in itself, made all the more amazing by the fact that the group had already set the record once. Moreover, the follow-up single, "On Bended Knee," actually replaced "I'll Make Love to You" at number one for a six-week run of its own; only Elvis and the Beatles had ever replaced themselves at number one. "Thank You" was a relative flop, not quite making the pop Top 20, but "Water Runs Dry" returned them to the Top Five, falling one slot short of number one. Boyz II Men spent much of 1995 touring the U.S. and beyond in support of II, and also opened their own recording studio. They spent some time recording collaborations with other artists: Wanya Morris duetted with Brandy on the hit "Brokenhearted," and the whole group sang on Michael Jackson's "History" and LL Cool J's "Hey Lover." The biggest one, however, was a song done with Mariah Carey called "One Sweet Day." Featuring two of the biggest chart powerhouses in the industry, "One Sweet Day" was virtually a guaranteed blockbuster, and it went on to spend 16 weeks at number one on the pop charts, debuting there in December 1995; it was the third such record-setting single of Boyz II Men's career.
Over the group's objections, Motown released a piece of cash-in product titled The Remix Collection in late 1995; in retaliation, Boyz signed a distribution deal with Sony, not Motown, for their new vanity label, Stonecreek. It was the beginning of a souring relationship that only worsened upon the release of Boyz II Men's next album, Evolution, in 1997. The record started out strong, debuting at number one and sending "4 Seasons of Loneliness" to the same position on the singles charts; its Top Ten follow-up, "A Song for Mama," gave Boyz II Men their record-setting seventh platinum single. However, Motown was unable to throw its full promotional muscle behind the record (perhaps because of their transition to a new label president), meaning that Evolution didn't have nearly the shelf life of II, selling only two million copies. It didn't help that critics were less than enthusiastic, questioning the album's title since the music itself was more of the same. The group was also forced to postpone parts of their supporting tour when Wanya Morris developed a benign polyp on his vocal cords. He recovered fully, though, and in early 1999, amid major record company mergers, the group got their contract transferred from Motown to Universal.
For their next album, Boyz II Men assumed greater control over songwriting and production, handling a greater share of each by themselves. The resulting record, Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya, was released in 2000, and while it received better reviews than Evolution, it continued the group's downward commercial slide, only going gold and producing a smaller-scale hit in "Pass You By." The group subsequently signed with Arista Records. In summer 2002, Boyz II Men kept with their sophisticated approach for the aptly titled release Full Circle. Michael McCary left the group in 2003 due to problems with scoliosis. In 2004 the remaining members released Throwback, an album filled with covers of their favorite songs. Their 2007 effort The Remedy was initially only available through the band's official website. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide
Ontario-based pop-punk/emo/lotsa yelling combo Boys Night Out included vocalist Connor Lovat-Fraser, guitarists Jeff Davis and Rob Pasalic, bassist Dave Costa, and drummer Ben Arseneau. They debuted in 2002 with Broken Bones and Bloody Kisses (Ferret Music) and immediately began a furious touring regimen that would continue nearly unabated until the end of eternity. (Fellow travelers included types like Brand New and Coheed & Cambria.) BNO returned to wax in April 2004 with the slicker and more melodic Make Yourself Sick. It featured totally hilarious song titles like "I Got Punched in the Nose for Sticking My Face in Other People's Business" and set up some MTV exposure and a round of Warped dates. Their conceptual follow-up, Trainwreck, appeared in July 2005. The DVD Dude, You Need to Stop Dancing was released via Ferret a year later, and the digital-only EP Fifty Million People Can't Be Wrong followed in February 2007. ~ Johnny Loftus, All Music Guide
Unafraid to wear their heart on their collective sleeve, Boston-based pop/rock outfit Boys Like Girls feature singer/guitarist Martin Johnson, bassist Bryan Donahue, drummer John Keefe, and guitarist Paul DiGiovanni (the last two being cousins). After Boys Like Girls posted some early demos online, the band's catchy hooks and youthful enthusiasm had gathered them quite a following by 2005's end, while also catching the attention of industry players like booking agent Matt Galle (My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday) and producer Matt Squire (Panic! at the Disco, Northstar), who both contacted the band about working together. Following a national PureVolume-sponsored tour with Hit the Lights and A Thorn for Every Heart, Boys Like Girls entered the studio with Squire to record their debut album. The resulting self-titled effort appeared in August 2006 on Red Ink. ~ Corey Apar, All Music Guide
Progressive hardcore band Boy Sets Fire was formed in Delaware in 1994 by singer Nathan Gray, guitarists Josh Latshaw and Chad Istvan, bassist Darrell Hyde, and drummer Matt Krupanski. Self-releasing their debut single, "Consider," in 1995, Boy Sets Fire soon resurfaced with a split release with Jazz Man's Needle, winning acclaim not only for the intensity of their live dates but also the intensity of their political convictions. The band's debut full-length, The Day the Sun Went Out, followed in 1997 and a split single with Snapcase preceded the 1999 release of In Chrysalis. Bassist Rob Avery replaced Hyde for 2000's After the Eulogy, the band's first release for new label Victory Records; This Crying, This Screaming, My Voice Is Being Born was released later that summer. Sucker Punch was issued in early 2001.
Boy Sets Fire left Victory for the major label Wind-Up in 2002 and quickly released the Live for Today EP as an introduction. It featured four new tracks and two live recordings. Next, they entered the studio with producer Dave Fortman (12 Rods, Evanescence) to record their full-length Wind-Up debut. Tomorrow Come Today arrived in April 2003 and was a progression toward accessibility. However, the new direction didn't lessen Boy Sets Fire's fiery political convictions in the least. The album included an incendiary political rant on its inside flap, and its controversial lyrics rankled some religious groups. A limited version of Tomorrow Come Today was also released with an accompanying DVD of live material and behind-the-scenes footage. The band toured behind Tomorrow but, soon after the record's release, lost bassist Avery, whom they replaced with Rob Ehrenbrand.
Wind-Up turned out to be a wrong fit for Boy Sets Fire, so in summer 2005 they signed with Equal Vision (Burning Heart in Europe), which issued Before the Eulogy that fall. Their solid and eclectic fourth full-length, Misery Index: Notes from the Plague Years, followed in March 2006. Unfortunately, however, the album turned out to be their last. By the end of July, the band announced they'd be calling it quits after some final shows via a message on their website. Soon after the announcement, though, Latshaw had an accident at his construction job and suffered a broken neck, collapsed lung, and two broken vertebrae. Boy Sets Fire finished up their scheduled European tour with their guitar tech filling in, but waited on setting final American dates; their final show together finally occurred in early June at Philadelphia's Trocadero Theatre. ~ Jason Ankeny & Johnny Loftus, All Music Guide
At 12, Cheyenne read that auditions for the NBC television show "America's Most Talented Kid" where taking place in Dallas. After auditioning and subsequently competing in the show, Cheyenne took first place, winning the Grand Finale. In October, 2003, Cheyenne signed a multi-record contract with Sony/Epic. Her new album, set to arrive in stores in the spring, is a collection of songs showing a true maturity as a writer and performer. All of the material was written by Cheyenne, collaborating with some of the heaviest hitters in the production world.
Chris Peck (vocals/guitar), Shaz (drums), Pete Carr (keyboards), and Kevin Chase (bass/vocals) comprise the bright indie rock sounds of Boy Kill Boy. Founded in 2004, the English four-piece delivers an energetic, brash pop performance not unlike the Kaiser Chiefs and the Rakes. With that and the band's preferences for the Cure, Depeche Mode, Faith No More, and Britpop, Boy Kill Boy spent the next year and half honing their craft. They released the limited-edition single "Suzie" on Fierce Panda only to be quickly swept away by Mercury Records in the U.K. shortly thereafter. By 2006, Boy Kill Boy readied themselves for America. Hot on the heels of their proper British single, "Back Again," Boy Kill Boy performed at the annual South by Southwest convention in Austin, TX in March. Their full-length debut, Civilian, landed on U.S. shores in late July. ~ MacKenzie Wilson, All Music Guide
The eight-piece ska/swing revival collective Cherry Poppin' Daddies formed out of several groups around the University of Oregon in Eugene. Vocalist/guitarist Steve Perry (aka MC Large Drink) and bassist Dan Schmid originally played in the Jazz Greats and the Hucks, then formed Cherry Poppin' Daddies in 1989 with a lineup which gradually encompassed guitarist Jason Moss, drummer Tim Donahue, trumpeter Dana Heitman, Sean Flannery on tenor saxophone, Ian Early on alto and baritone, and keyboard player Dustin Lanker.
The group released their debut album, Ferociously Stoned, in 1990 on Sub Par Records and followed it up four years later with Rapid City Muscle Car. The Pacific Northwest was in the grips of the grunge wave during the early '90s, though, so the Cherry Poppin' Daddies' live show puzzled quite a few fans of alternative rock. By the mid-'90s, the fascination with formerly neglected musical styles (including easy listening and swing) had increased the band's prominence, along with bands like Squirrel Nut Zippers and Royal Crown Revue. After third album Kids on the Street was picked up for distribution by Caroline Records, the group compiled the most swing-oriented tracks from their back catalog for release on Zoot Suit Riot. Following up to their 1997 multi-platinum Zoot Suit Riot, Soul Caddy was released in mid-2000. Lanker and Schmid left the group the next year and formed the Visible Men. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide
Serving as a side project for Blink 182 members Travis Barker and Thomas DeLonge, Boxcar Racer is a return to a more traditional punk sound. Adding guitarist David Kennedy and bassist Anthony Celestino, the group came together between Blink 182 sessions and recorded their eponymous album in the winter of 2001/2002. Cutting much of the pop from their usual sound and showing diverse influences like the Replacements and D.R.I., the band used it as a showcase for the material they wrote that wasn't Blink-friendly. ~ Bradley Torreano, All Music Guide
Punky power pop outfit Bowling for Soup was formed in 1994 in Wichita Falls, TX, featuring lead vocalist/guitarist Jaret Reddick, guitarist/vocalist Chris Burney, bassist Erik Chandler, and drummer Gary Wiseman. The group really began to jell in 1997 when a heavy touring schedule helped broaden their fan base and landed them opening spots for nationally prominent punk and ska bands. The following year, they recorded a debut EP for the local FFROE label, titled Tell Me When to Whoa!; by now, their base of operations had been moved to Denton, TX, the site of the label's headquarters as well. Later in 1998, Bowling for Soup issued their first full-length album, Rock on Honorable Ones!!!; both it and its predecessor proved popular around the state (Honorable Ones sold over 10,000 copies alone) and the band ended up scoring a deal with Jive/Silvertone. For their 2000 major-label debut, Let's Do It for Johnny!, Bowling for Soup re-recorded some of the best songs from their indie records and added a few new tracks, including lead single "The Bitch Song" and a cover of Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69." Two years later, the band released Drunk Enough to Dance, and nabbed a Grammy nomination for the single "Girl All the Bad Guys Want." Hangover You Don't Deserve followed in 2004, and BFS landed another hit single in "1985," which helped propel Hangover to number 37 on the Billboard 200. Bowling for Soup returned in 2005 with Goes to the Movies, on which they tackled various television and movie theme songs. The Great Burrito Extortion Case followed in the fall of 2006, spearheaded by the bouncy single "High School Never Ends." ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide
Cher has had three careers that place her indelibly in the public consciousness, and two have been in association with her then-husband, composer/producer/singer Salvatore "Sonny" Bono (February 16, 1935-January 8, 1998). She charted major hit records in the 1960s and 1970s, working in idioms ranging from early- '60s girl group-style ballads to Jackie Deshannon folk-influenced pop, to adult contemporary pop in the manner of later Dusty Springfield. She also embarked on an acting career, initially in the late 1960s in association with her work as part of Sonny & Cher but later on her own, which led to a series of increasingly polished and compelling performances in Silkwood, Mask and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Cherilyn Sarkisian was born in California in 1946; she was 17 when she first met Salvatore "Sonny" Bono, a songwriter and protégé of producer Phil Spector. Bono brought her to Spector, who used her as a backup singer and produced one single by her, a novelty Beatles tribute record called "Ringo I Love You" issued under the name Bonnie Jo Mason. It disappeared without a trace, but the couple were undaunted -- they emerged as a duo, initially called Caesar & Cleo, later that year, and cut "The Letter," "Do You Wanna Dance" and "Love Is Strange."
Caesar & Cleo didn't trouble the chart compilers with any degree of success, but late in 1964, Cher (then known as Cherilyn) was signed to Liberty Records' Imperial imprint, and Bono came along as producer. A Spector-ish version of "Dream Baby" managed to get airplay in Los Angeles, becoming a local hit, and they suspected they were onto something. That same month, Sonny & Cher, as they were now known, signed to Reprise Records and released their first single, "Baby Don't Go." The song became a major local hit in Los Angeles, after which the duo jumped from Reprise to the Atco label, a division of Atlantic Records. In April 1965 their first single, "Just You" was released and rose to number 20 on the charts. The duo was on its way, and Cher also had Imperial Records after her for a second single. The couple had seen the Byrds pioneer commercial folk-rock with Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," and had witnessed them performing another Dylan number, "All I Really Want to Do" at a club in Los Angeles. The group intended to issue their own recording of "All I Really Want to Do," but Cher, with Sonny producing, beat them to the punch with her own recording of the song.
She pursued a dual career for the next two years, cutting solo recordings under Sonny's guidance that regularly charted, and duets with her husband for Atco. A month after "All I Really Want to Do," they released "I Got You Babe," which was one of the biggest-selling and most beloved pop/rock hits of the mid-'60s, and the couple's signature tune across two eras of success. Cher's solo career ended up slightly overshadowed by her work with Sonny & Cher, but at the time she was fully competitive on her own terms -- her first LP reached the Billboard Top 20 and was on the albums charts for six months. "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" was another hit, a million-seller that made number three in America and England, and she made the Top Ten once more with her 1967 single "You Better Sit Down Kids." The latter song, written by Bono (and which was also a hit for Glen Campbell), dealt with divorce, an unusual subject for a 1960s pop record, and was one of a series of releases on which Cher's music broached difficult areas -- others were "I Feel Something's in the Air," which dealt with unwanted pregnancy, and "Mama (When My Dollies Have Babies)," both written by Bono.
Cher's solo career at Imperial, which had created some political problems for the couple at Atlantic, ended with the lapsing of her contract in 1967, and she moved to Atlantic. Ironically, it was this move that contributed the unhappy reversal of the couple's fortunes at the end of the decade.
By the end of the 1960s, Sonny & Cher were no longer selling records. A series of commercial missteps, coupled with a change in public taste, had sharply curtailed their sales, and a pair of movies (Good Times, Chastity) had lost millions. Additionally, they were no longer recording for Atlantic -- though they were still under contract to them -- owing to the label's decision to take Cher's solo recordings out of Sonny's hands and assign a new producer to her.
Coupled with the presentation of a bill from the Internal Revenue Service for $200,000 in back taxes, these events left the couple in dire financial straights at the end of the 1960s. They were forced to play club dates, opening for artists like Pat Boone, and it was there that their second career, and a second career for Cher, took shape. A new contract with Decca Records in 1971, coupled with a chance at a summer replacement gig on the CBS television network, brought them a second chance at success.
The try-out on television was a success, as the couple proved to be as funny as they were musically diverse. It took a little longer to find a new formula for Cher's music -- her initial single on Decca's Kapp label, "Classified 1A," written by Bono, was a failure; a serious song dealing with a girl's feelings for a boyfriend killed in Vietnam; it was topical in all the wrong ways to become a pop chart success. Producer Snuff Garrett was recruited to work with her, and he found a series of songs that were perfect for Cher's maturing talent.
"Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," a conscious attempt to emulate Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man" (which also recalled Cher's own "Bang Bang") was released late in 1971 and became a number one hit and a million-seller. To some listeners, "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" was the epitome of schlocky pop/rock, but the song's subject matter, unusual tempo changes, and an incredibly memorable chorus-hook became a vehicle for a transcendent performance by the singer, marking Cher's maturation as an artist (the B-side, "I Hate to Sleep Alone," written by Peggy Clinger of the Clinger Sisters, curiously enough, managed to recall Sonny's Spector-influenced productions from the Imperial years). A follow-up album, featuring her covers of contemporary hits such as "Fire and Rain," sold well also, and her next single, "The Way of Love," a revival of a mid-'60s Kathy Kirby hit, solidified the image of a new, more confident and powerful Cher. And the debut of the couple's regular network variety series on CBS in January 1972 brought them back to the center of American and international popular culture in a more mature, wittier guise, and one that concentrated much more on Cher as a personality.
Her 1960s music ran the gamut from Spector-style miniature teen-pop symphonies to covers of contemporary adult pop ("It's Not Unusual") and folk-rock, all cut under Bono's guidance. Her voice wasn't very rich or powerful, but it was expressive and surrounded by Bono's radiant Spector creations, and she could put over an almost inappropriately cheerful sounding version of "The Bells of Rhymney" or "Blowin' in the Wind." By contrast, her early- 1970s material, solo or with Sonny, had a more adult point of view and personality. Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" and the later number one solo hits "Half-Breed" and "Dark Lady" were dramatic, highly intense performances, almost as much "acted" as sung, and very different from her 1960s output.
In 1974, it was revealed that the couple's marriage was coming to an end. Ironically, Cher came out of this split more secure than her husband, despite his having guided her career for a decade and having all of the real training in the entertainment business. She embarked on an acting career, even as she continued to make headlines for her romantic exploits, including an affair with (and two marriages to) Gregg Allman. She became a far better actress than she was a singer, first revealed in Mike Nichols' Silkwood (1983) and then in Peter Bogdanovich's Mask (1985) and George Miller's The Witches of Eastwick (1987). Her acting peers caught on to the worth of her work in time for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Norman Jewison's 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck.
Since the mid-'70s, Cher has been known more for her acting than for her music, although she has continued to record for numerous labels, including Columbia, and in 1998 scored an international chart-topping smash with the club-friendly single "Believe." She is, by Garrett's analysis, more of a stylist than a singer, and almost as much a personality as an actress, almost a modern-day Helen Morgan (Showboat, etc.) with better luck in life and career. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide
The cliché about David Bowie says he's a musical chameleon, adapting himself according to fashion and trends. While such a criticism is too glib, there's no denying that Bowie demonstrated remarkable skill for perceiving musical trends at his peak in the '70s. After spending several years in the late '60s as a mod and as an all-around music-hall entertainer, Bowie reinvented himself as a hippie singer/songwriter. Prior to his breakthrough in 1972, he recorded a proto-metal record and a pop/rock album, eventually redefining glam rock with his ambiguously sexy Ziggy Stardust persona. Ziggy made Bowie an international star, yet he wasn't content to continue to churn out glitter rock. By the mid-'70s, he developed an effete, sophisticated version of Philly soul that he dubbed "plastic soul," which eventually morphed into the eerie avant-pop of 1976's Station to Station. Shortly afterward, he relocated to Berlin, where he recorded three experimental electronic albums with Brian Eno. At the dawn of the '80s, Bowie was still at the height of his powers, yet following his blockbuster dance-pop album Let's Dance in 1983, he slowly sank into mediocrity before salvaging his career in the early '90s. Even when he was out of fashion in the '80s and '90s, it was clear that Bowie was one of the most influential musicians in rock, for better and for worse. Each one of his phases in the '70s sparked a number of subgenres, including punk, new wave, goth rock, the new romantics, and electronica. Few rockers ever had such lasting impact.
David Jones began performing music when he was 13 years old, learning the saxophone while he was at Bromley Technical High School; another pivotal event happened at the school, when his left pupil became permanently dilated in a schoolyard fight. Following his graduation at 16, he worked as a commercial artist while playing saxophone in a number of mod bands, including the King Bees, the Manish Boys (which also featured Jimmy Page as a session man), and Davey Jones & the Lower Third. All three of those bands released singles, which were generally ignored, yet he continued performing, changing his name to David Bowie in 1966 after the Monkees' Davy Jones became an international star. Over the course of 1966, he released three mod singles on Pye Records, which were all ignored. The following year, he signed with Deram, releasing the music hall, Anthony Newley-styled David Bowie that year. Upon completing the record, he spent several weeks in a Scottish Buddhist monastery. Once he left the monastery, he studied with Lindsay Kemp's mime troupe, forming his own mime company, the Feathers, in 1969. The Feathers were short-lived, and he formed the experimental art group Beckenham Arts Lab in 1969.
Bowie needed to finance the Arts Lab, so he signed with Mercury Records that year and released Man of Words, Man of Music, a trippy singer/songwriter album featuring "Space Oddity." The song was released as a single and became a major hit in the U.K., convincing Bowie to concentrate on music. Hooking up with his old friend Marc Bolan, he began miming at some of Bolan's T. Rex concerts, eventually touring with Bolan, bassist/producer Tony Visconti, guitarist Mick Ronson, and drummer Cambridge as Hype. The band quickly fell apart, yet Bowie and Ronson remained close, working on the material that formed Bowie's next album, The Man Who Sold the World, as well as recruiting Michael "Woody" Woodmansey as their drummer. Produced by Tony Visconti, who also played bass, The Man Who Sold the World was a heavy guitar rock album that failed to gain much attention. Bowie followed the album in late 1971 with the pop/rock Hunky Dory, an album that featured Ronson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman.
Following the release of Hunky Dory, Bowie began to develop his most famous incarnation, Ziggy Stardust: an androgynous, bisexual rock star from another planet. Before he unveiled Ziggy, Bowie claimed in a January 1972 interview with the Melody Maker that he was gay, helping to stir interest in his forthcoming album. Taking cues from Bolan's stylish glam rock, Bowie dyed his hair orange and began wearing women's clothing. He began calling himself Ziggy Stardust, and his backing band -- Ronson, Woodmansey, and bassist Trevor Bolder -- were the Spiders from Mars. The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was released with much fanfare in England in late 1972. The album and its lavish, theatrical concerts became a sensation throughout England, and it helped him become the only glam rocker to carve out a niche in America. Ziggy Stardust became a word-of-mouth hit in the U.S., and the re-released "Space Oddity" -- which was now also the title of the re-released Man of Words, Man of Music -- reached the American Top 20. Bowie quickly followed Ziggy with Aladdin Sane later in 1973. Not only did he record a new album that year, but he also produced Lou Reed's Transformer, the Stooges' Raw Power, and Mott the Hoople's comeback All the Young Dudes, for which he also wrote the title track.
Given the amount of work Bowie packed into 1972 and 1973, it wasn't surprising that his relentless schedule began to catch up with him. After recording the all-covers Pin-Ups with the Spiders from Mars, he unexpectedly announced the band's breakup, as well as his retirement from live performances, during the group's final show that year. He retreated from the spotlight to work on a musical adaptation of George Orwell's 1984, but once he was denied the rights to the novel, he transformed the work into Diamond Dogs. The album was released to generally poor reviews in 1974, yet it generated the hit single "Rebel Rebel," and he supported the album with an elaborate and expensive American tour. As the tour progressed, Bowie became fascinated with soul music, eventually redesigning the entire show to reflect his new "plastic soul." Hiring guitarist Carlos Alomar as the band's leader, Bowie refashioned his group into a Philly soul band and recostumed himself in sophisticated, stylish fashions. The change took fans by surprise, as did the double-album David Live, which featured material recorded on the 1974 tour.
Young Americans, released in 1975, was the culmination of Bowie's soul obsession, and it became his first major crossover hit, peaking in the American Top Ten and generating his first U.S. number one hit in "Fame," a song he co-wrote with John Lennon and Alomar. Bowie relocated to Los Angeles, where he earned his first movie role in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). While in L.A., he recorded Station to Station, which took the plastic soul of Young Americans into darker, avant-garde-tinged directions, yet was also a huge hit, generating the Top Ten single "Golden Years." The album inaugurated Bowie's persona of the elegant "Thin White Duke," and it reflected Bowie's growing cocaine-fueled paranoia. Soon, he decided Los Angeles was too boring and returned to England; shortly after arriving back in London, he gave the awaiting crowd a Nazi salute, a signal of his growing, drug-addled detachment from reality. The incident caused enormous controversy, and Bowie left the country to settle in Berlin, where he lived and worked with Brian Eno.
Once in Berlin, Bowie sobered up and began painting, as well as studying art. He also developed a fascination with German electronic music, which Eno helped him fulfill on their first album together, Low. Released early in 1977, Low was a startling mixture of electronics, pop, and avant-garde technique. While it was greeted with mixed reviews at the time, it proved to be one of the most influential albums of the late '70s, as did its follow-up, Heroes, which followed that year. Not only did Bowie record two solo albums in 1977, but he also helmed Iggy Pop's comeback records The Idiot and Lust for Life, and toured anonymously as Pop's keyboardist. He resumed his acting career in 1977, appearing in Just A Gigolo with Marlene Dietrich and Kim Novak, as well as narrating Eugene Ormandy's version of Peter and the Wolf. Bowie returned to the stage in 1978, launching an international tour that was captured on the double-album Stage. During 1979, Bowie and Eno recorded Lodger in New York, Switzerland, and Berlin, releasing the album at the end of the year. Lodger was supported with several innovative videos, as was 1980's Scary Monsters, and these videos -- "DJ," "Fashion," "Ashes to Ashes" -- became staples on early MTV.
Scary Monsters was Bowie's last album for RCA, and it wrapped up his most innovative, productive period. Later in 1980, he performed the title role in stage production of The Elephant Man, including several shows on Broadway. Over the next two years, he took an extended break from recording, appearing in Christine F (1982) and the vampire movie The Hunger (1982), returning to the studio only for his 1981 collaboration with Queen, "Under Pressure," and the theme for Paul Schrader's remake of Cat People. In 1983, he signed an expensive contract with EMI Records and released Let's Dance. Bowie had recruited Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers to produce the album, giving the record a sleek, funky foundation, and hired the unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan as lead guitarist. Let's Dance became his most successful record, thanks to stylish, innovative videos for "Let's Dance" and "China Girl," which turned both songs into Top Ten hits. Bowie supported the record with the sold-out arena tour Serious Moonlight.
Greeted with massive success for the first time, Bowie wasn't quite sure how to react, and he eventually decided to replicate Let's Dance with 1984's Tonight. While the album sold well, producing the Top Ten hit "Blue Jean," it received poor reviews and ultimately was a commercial disappointment. He stalled in 1985, recording a duet of Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street" with Mick Jagger for Live Aid. He also spent more time jet-setting, appearing at celebrity events across the globe, and appeared in several movies -- Into the Night (1985), Absolute Beginners (1986), Labyrinth (1986) -- that turned out to be bombs. Bowie returned to recording in 1987 with the widely panned Never Let Me Down, supporting the album with the Glass Spider tour, which also received poor reviews. In 1989, he remastered his RCA catalog with Rykodisc for CD release, kicking off the series with the three-disc box Sound + Vision. Bowie supported the discs with an accompanying tour of the same name, claming that he was retiring all of his older characters from performance following the tour. Sound + Vision was successful, and Ziggy Stardust re-charted amidst the hoopla.
Sound + Vision may have been a success, but Bowie's next project was perhaps his most unsuccessful. Picking up on the abrasive, dissonant rock of Sonic Youth and the Pixies, Bowie formed his own guitar rock combo, Tin Machine, with guitarist Reeves Gabrels, bassist Hunt Sales, and his drummer brother Tony, who had previously worked on Iggy Pop's Lust for Life with Bowie. Tin Machine released an eponymous album to poor reviews that summer and supported it with a club tour, which was only moderately successful. Despite the poor reviews, Tin Machine released a second album, the appropriately titled Tin Machine II, in 1991, and it was completely ignored.
Bowie returned to a solo career in 1993 with the sophisticated, soulful Black Tie White Noise, recording the album with Nile Rodgers and his now-permanent collaborator, Reeves Gabrels. The album was released on Savage, a subsidiary of RCA, and received positive reviews, but his new label went bankrupt shortly after its release, and the album disappeared. Black Tie White Noise was the first indication that Bowie was trying hard to resuscitate his career, as was the largely instrumental 1994 soundtrack The Buddha of Suburbia. In 1995, he reunited with Brian Eno for the wildly hyped, industrial rock-tinged Outside. Several critics hailed the album as a comeback, and Bowie supported it with a co-headlining tour with Nine Inch Nails in order to snag a younger, alternative audience, but his gambit failed; audiences left before Bowie's performance and Outside disappeared. He quickly returned to the studio in 1996, recording Earthling, an album heavily influenced by techno and drum'n'bass. Upon its early 1997 release, Earthling received generally positive reviews, yet the album failed to gain an audience, and many techno purists criticized Bowie for allegedly exploiting their subculture. hours... followed in 1999. For 2002, Bowie reunited with producerToni Visconti and released Heathen to very positive reviews. He continued on with Visconti for Reality in 2003. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
The act with the first arena-sized sound in the electronica movement, the Chemical Brothers united such varying influences as Public Enemy, Cabaret Voltaire, and My Bloody Valentine to create a dance-rock-rap fusion which rivalled the best old-school DJs on their own terms -- keeping a crowd of people on the floor by working through any number of groove-oriented styles featuring unmissable samples, from familiar guitar riffs to vocal tags to various sound effects. And when the duo (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons) decided to supplement their DJ careers by turning their bedrooms into recording studios, they pioneered a style of music (later termed big beat) remarkable for its lack of energy loss from the dancefloor to the radio. Chemical Brothers albums were less collections of songs and more hourlong journeys, chock-full of deep bomb-studded beats, percussive breakdowns, and effects borrowed from a host of sources. All in all, the duo proved one of the few exceptions to the rule that intelligent dance music could never be bombastic or truly satisfying to the seasoned rock fan; it's hardly surprising that they were one of the few dance acts to enjoy simultaneous success in the British/American mainstream and in critical quarters.
While growing up, both Rowlands and Simons grooved to an eccentric musical diet, ranging from the Smiths and Jesus and Mary Chain to Kraftwerk and Public Enemy. They met while taking the same history course at Manchester University, though neither were native Mancunians -- Rowlands enrolled because of the legendary Haçienda nightclub nearby, while Simons acknowledged the city as birthplace to the Smiths and New Order. The pair began sampling Madchester's vibrant nightclub scene together during 1989 and 1990, just at the peak of Britain's fascination with a DJing style named Balearic. Pioneered at the island hot spot of Ibiza during the mid-'80s, Balearic relied on a blend of early house music, Italian disco, rare-groove jazz and funk, Northern soul, hip-hop, and alternative dance. Original Balearic DJs like Trevor Fung, Paul Oakenfold, and Mike Pickering brought the sound back to indie clubs in London and Manchester, and the style proved very attractive to musical eclectics like Rowlands and Simons.
Though Rowlands was already performing in the alternative dance group Ariel, the pair began DJing together at the Manchester club Naked Under Leather in 1991. Hardly believing that their weekend project would progress, they took the semiserious handle Dust Brothers (a tribute to the American production team responsible for one of their favorite albums, the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique). Despite their doubts, Rowlands and Simons' club night did grow more popular, thanks to the duo's Balearic mix of rare house tracks flavored with hip-hop breakdowns, independent-dance fusions, and ancient secondhand discards. After deciding to try and re-create their unique sound in their tiny bedroom studio, the Dust Brothers emerged with "Song to the Siren," an intriguing example of the new alternative dance scene including sample victims Meat Beat Manifesto and This Mortal Coil.
After the single was pressed up on a limited release of 500 copies, it began getting attention from Britain's top DJs, initially including an old friend named Justin Robertson but later including Andrew Weatherall and Darren Emerson. Weatherall licensed the single to Junior Boy's Own Records, and after the pair had finished university, they moved back to London to work on another EP (14th Century Sky) and a residency at another club. After their third release, "My Mercury Mouth," the duo began to get more high-profile clients for remixing: besides Justin Roberston's Lionrock collective, Primal Scream, the Prodigy, and the Charlatans all received treatments.
When lawyers for the original Dust Brothers came calling in 1995, though, Rowlands and Simons were forced to change to change their name to the Chemical Brothers (the proposed Dust Brothers U.K. was turned down). Word on the street and nightclub scene was so good that it hardly mattered; their new residency at the Heavenly Sunday Social quickly became one of the hottest club nights in England -- documented on the mix disc Live at the Social, Vol. 1 -- and their debut album, Exit Planet Dust, was heavily praised by critics. Another fan of the record, Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher, agreed to lend his vocals to a future single named "Setting Sun," the Chemicals' tribute to one of their own favorites, the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." The single went to number one in late 1996, and the Chemical Brothers opened up for the giant Oasis concert at Knebworth besides headlining their own shows all over the world.
The Chemical Brothers' second album, Dig Your Own Hole, took charge of the top spot on the album charts upon its release in April 1997, and on the wings of America's growing electronica push, the album sailed to number 14 stateside and went gold. The duo released a mix album in 1998, Brothers Gonna Work It Out, and followed with their third studio LP, Surrender, in 1999. Rather lackluster expectations sparked a return to the underground with the white-label-only single "It Began in Afrika" and the duo's fourth album, Come with Us. It too failed to earn the high notices of the first two albums, although after another three-year gap Rowlands and Simons returned with another, 2005's Push the Button, with guest vocalists Q-Tip, Tim Burgess, Kele Okereke, and the Magic Numbers. The music-celebrity parade continued on 2007's We Are the Night, this time including the Klaxons, Willy Mason, Fatlip, and Midlake. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide