ten 00s bands that should be remembered
Ride the 00s nostalgia wave as we take a hike through DJ Rory Phillip’s groove box to investigate some forgotten gems.
Rory Phillips is well placed to talk about forgotten 00s bands. In fact, he was in one of them -- the London based DJ and producer, serving as a touring member of the massively underrated, indietronica outfit, Whitey. He had a residency at Trash, the Erol Alkan helmed club night that bookended that early 00s burst of guitar-based creativity, and was pivotal in launching its successor, DURRR -- a weekly happening that offered a Monday night dose of riot and romance long after its contemporaries had bitten the dust (and all for a fiver!). To surmise, he knows his stuff when it comes to that blissful early 21st century period; a time when bands were bands and the music industry was yet to implode under the weight of file-sharing and online streaming. Ah, heady days. Here are some of the ones you've probably forgotten but definitely shouldn't have.
Part of a thriving Montreal scene in the early 2000s, The Unicorns, along with bands like We Are Wolves, Les Georges Leningrad (see below) and Duchess Says, shared a naive, fun sensibility that opposed the calculated cool of New York and London's acts of the era. They released the well-received Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone in 2003 before imploding a year later. Frontman Nick Diamonds went on to form Islands and write the theme to hit podcast Serial. They briefly reunited in 2014 at the request of an old support band: Arcade Fire.
Les Georges Leningrad
Twice voted "freakiest local act" by readers of local paper Montreal Mirror, and unmissable in their DIY stage outfits that veered from caveman to superhero, Les Georges Leningrad released a trio of albums between 2002-2006. The trio described their Dada-esque synth punk sound as Petrochemical Rock and were frequent visitors to the UK, playing Trash three times and collaborating with London based artists Pil and Galia Kollectiv to score a ballet about Marxism and asparagus.
In 2003, after a decade making house and breakbeat records under various pseudonyms, Nathan Whitey released Leave Them All Behind, an instant glam rock disco classic. It was made largely on a 4-track with a cheap guitar and a borrowed analogue synth (this writer's) but with a sound big enough that it was presumed to be the work of a band. The album The Light at the End of the Tunnel Is a Train followed in 2005, with Whitey assembling friends to play it live, much like James Murphy did LCD Soundsystem. Feuds with labels and publishers followed as did a further four self-released albums.
It seems ludicrous to think now, but San Francisco was once an affordable place to be an artist, and it's DIY spaces bred an enclave of post-punk influenced bands like The Coachwhips, Numbers and Erase Errata in the early 2000s. After a handful of compilation appearances and 7" singles, Erase Errata's debut album Other Animals landed in 2001, followed by the politically charged At Crystal Palace two years later. They were championed by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, with whom they formed the splinter group Anxious Rats and recorded two more albums before splitting in 2015.
Love Is All
Rising from the ashes of teen-pop band Girlfrendo, Gothenburg's Love Is All released a string of glorious singleNew York's What's Your Rupture , all packaged in the label's trademark fold out screen prints. Love Is All's take on the Swedish tradition of perfect pop was saturated with walls of reverb, fuzz and horns, the most famous of which, Make Out Fall Out Make Up, was their Maps of sorts. After a brief major label flirtation they returned to their indie roots, releasing Two Thousand and Ten Injuries in 2010.
The Long Blondes
"Our shared influences include The Mael Brothers, Marx Brothers and The Bewlay Brothers. We do not listen to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors or Bob Dylan. We chose an instrument each and learnt to play it." This quote greeted visitors to The Long Blondes website and perfectly distilled their worldview. Abstaining from the tired favourites of Mojo magazine readers in favour of the glamour of Sparks, Bowie and Roxy Music, their narrative-led lyricism drew comparisons to Pulp, whose guitarist Russell Senior produced their indie disco classic Giddy Stratospheres. Their time as a band was suddenly cut short in 2008 due to guitarist and primary songwriter Dorian Cox suffering a stroke.
Bonus indie points to anybody that saw the name Whirlwind Heat and instantly recognised its origin -- a quote from Raymond Pettibon's T-shirt staple artwork for Sonic Youth's sixth studio album Goo. This Detroit trio were taken under the wing of a pre-fame Jack White who, having seen them play, invited them to record in his attic studio. They specialised in synth punk, jerky dance moves, and singular song concepts: all 13 songs of their White-produced debut album Do Rabbits Wonder are named after colours, and 2004's Flamingo Honey consists of 10 one-minute songs.
Solex was the project of Amsterdam-based record-shop owner Elisabeth Esselink, who took advantage of both her store's basement and its stock. Using the former as a studio and the latter as source material, she used an 8-track recorder to craft copy and paste pop songs with samples from the bargain bins and her own vocals on top. Like her previous band Sonetic Vet, Solex was a favourite of John Peel, recording six sessions for his Radio 1 show.
Before he formed Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer formed a host of bands, often at the same time, including noise punks Pink & Brown, leather daddy techno duo Zeigenbock Kopf, and of course, Childish-inspired garage trio The Coachwhips. Dwyer released a handful of 7"s and albums (including the charmingly titled Bangers vs Fuckers) and had a habit of playing shows unannounced with their own PA, including famously arriving mid-evening at Trash, squeezing through clubbers to set up in a corner and blow the roof off the place, and a reunion show played on a bridge at 2014's SXSW.
Claiming a spot on this list purely for their curio status, Hatebeak are a death metal band whose 2004 7" was named Beak of Putrifaction in homage to their singer Waldo, who is ...a parrot. 'The only band to have an avian vocalist' according to Wikipedia, they also released Bird Seeds of Vengeance as a split single with their dog-fronted contemporaries Caninus. For obvious animal welfare reasons, Hatebeak never played live, eventually splitting in 2009. They reformed in 2015 for a full album -- the fantastically titled Number of the Beak.