The best albums you've never heard, greatest obscure albums, best unknown albums, underrated music, underrated bands

Bullz-Eye's Best of Music 2006

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We had two rules when it came to assembling this list. First, if a band member had passed away, they were out. Second, if any incarnation of the band, however bastardized, currently existed and was touring and/or recording, they were out. The former rule obviously eliminated the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Clash, but it was the latter rule that proved to be the tough one, since it took out Guns ‘n Roses and the English Beat, two reunions that absolutely have to happen. Seriously, is there anyone who thinks that Axl is better off without Duff and Slash, and vice versa? And what is the Beat without Wakeling, Cox and Steele? Not the Beat, that’s what. (We would, however, forgive Saxa for not participating, since he’s 77 years old now.)

Oh, and before you have to ask: My Bloody Valentine and the Smiths aren’t here. Come on, man, we’re talking about reunions that stand some chance in hell of happening. We may be hopeless optimists, but we’re not fools.

Talking Heads (allposters)

The people want Talking Heads. Some people want Talking Heads so bad that they are willing to embrace a second-rate indie rock band with a horrible name just because their singer kind of sounds like David Byrne. The legendary singer has repeatedly stated that a reunion of the legendary new wave outfit is never going to happen, citing internal conflict and the fact that he is in a vastly different place musically than the rest of the band. But what drives creativity more than conflict and diversity? Byrne’s current obsession with world music would work beautifully with Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz’s love of dance music, which they have been perfecting ever since their first record as the Tom Tom Club in 1981. And internal conflict can breed amazing music, look at Pink Floyd’s The Wall or damn near all of Nicks/Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac. Most important, recent releases by David Byrne and the still-stellar performances by the Tom Tom Club prove that the talent needed for another classic Talking Heads album is still there. Maybe the real reason that a Talking Heads reunion has never happened is because Byrne is too scared that it won’t live up to the hype, but as long as he and the rest of the band are trying to make good music, it’s hard to imagine how it couldn’t.   – James B. Eldred


Jellyfish is one of those bands that invariably evoke one of two responses:

1) Who?

2) Oh, my God! I love them! They are the greatest band ever! (In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that dislikes them that’s actually heard them.)

Channeling bands as varied as the Beach Boys, Queen, ELO, Supertramp and Wings, they hit the scene at a time when hair metal was all the rage and grunge was only a step away. No one knew what to make of them. Were they glam? Hard rock? Pop? Maybe all three, and then some. Heck, they even had a singing drummer and had a harpsichord featured prominently in the mix.

Releasing only two albums – along with enough B-sides to fill another CD or two – the legacy they’ve left behind far outlives their four-year career. The range of their influence can be found in both the underground power pop scene of acts like the Merrymakers and Sugarbomb to such semi-popular acts as Scissor Sisters, Mika and most notably, Ben Folds.

Since their breakup, the band members have gone on to many varied projects, working with artists as diverse as Beck, Puffy AmiYumi and country artist Brady Seals, as well as much soundtrack work. As such, there seems to be a lot of gas left in that un-driven tank. No matter who one of the band members works with, somehow a little of that Jellyfish sunshine pokes through, and the time now is as ripe as ever for a reunion  . – Kurt Torster

New Radicals

It might seem a little ballsy to “waste” an entry on a band that released a single album in their very short lifetime (1998’s Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too) and never managed more than just the one Top 40 single (“You Get What You Give”), but if you’ve got the album, odds are that you offered an immediate “Hell, yes!” at the mere sight of the group’s name.

The 12  tracks on the New Radicals’ lone release provided a smoothly polished late-‘90s interpretation of the best bits of ‘70s blue-eyed pop and soul, variously resembling everyone from Todd Rundgren to World Party to Hall and Oates. The result was so good that even the band’s inspirations took notice; in 2003, Hall & Oates teamed with Rundgren to cover the Radicals’ “Someday We’ll Know.” Since the Radicals were basically the work of the bucket-hat-wearing Gregg Alexander – he was the only consistent member of the band from its inception to its disintegration, having a hand in writing and producing everything they ever recorded – how hard could it be to convince the band to reunite? Harder than you’d think, actually. Alexander rapidly tired of everyday rock star chores like doing interviews and playing concerts and has since moved on to a lucrative, behind-the-scenes gig as a songwriter, so he’s certainly not chomping at the bit to revisit the hassle that the Radicals provided him. How depressing. Alexander’s writing style is incredibly distinctive, and since it’s been proven countless times over that he can write a hit, it’d be fantastic to once again have him be the one singing his compositions.

Our only hope is that Alexander might one day get a wild hair and decide to record under the New Radicals’ name again, hopefully with the best of his Radicals collaborators, Danielle Brisebois, along for the ride. If he does, you can count on it being a self-released set that he doesn’t have to promote any more than he wants to. Otherwise, it’ll never happen. – Will Harris

Soundgarden (allposters)

Although Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell recently reiterated that the band has no interest in reuniting, the time sure does seem right. Cornell left supergroup Audioslave earlier this year to press on with his solo career. If that tanks, he’ll be on the market. Guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Ben Shepherd seem readily available, but drummer Matt Cameron is a permanent member of Pearl Jam.

But let’s face it: Soundgarden called it quits after one of their best efforts, 1996’s critically acclaimed Down on the Upside. They were always one of the most creative bands of the grunge era. So what if they supposedly despised each other so much by the time they finished Upside that they couldn’t even ride on the same plane together? Time heals all wounds, right?

Alice in Chains recently reunited (sans Layne Staley) and is working on a studio album. Fans are crying foul, and justifiably so, that Chains would get back together without him. Soundgarden has the opportunity to do so with all of its most successful members, and the music world could use a jolt of creativity from a band that undeniably called it quits prematurely and haphazardly.  – Bill Clark

The Amazing Royal Crowns

This 1990s Rhode Island punkabilly band played the most exciting rawwwk heard in Baahston since Jerry Lee Lewis ran out of steam in 1960, and that's a long freaking time. The band created pure audio testosterone, somehow magically with staple musical ingredients: rockabilly licks, punk speed, Keith Moon-style drumming and skull-cracking distortion. All that was a backdrop for frontman Jason "King" Kendall, an insane screamer who makes circa-1956 Little Richard look kinda relaxed.

Done in by a legal dispute with the Royal Crown Revue and their lawyers, the band briefly changed its name to the Amazing Crowns, after which members started leaving the band. By this point the Crowns were done after just one great album, 1998's The Amazing Royal Crowns, with the definitive cut that encapsulates the band's personality, "Fireball Stomp." Kendall kept it going for a bit after that with replacements, but before long he too moved on to other projects.

Too bad those swinging-jazz, left-coast babies in the Royal Crown Revue screwed things up for everybody. The Amazing Royal Crowns truly were amazing, one of the few groups ever who had balls of steel. Get them back together, and one risks the jarring Reverend Horton Heat Syndrome: 40-something dudes playing teenage rock. But it seems there was much business left undone with the Crowns, who ended their run before it was time. – Mojo Flucke, Ph.D.


Elastica was a band out of time not once, but twice. On their 1995 debut, when they were ripping off Blondie, the Stranglers and Wire – literally, in some cases – their Brit Pop peers were writing love letters to Paul Weller, John Lennon, Scott Walker and Ray Davies. When they finally got around to releasing their second (and last) album The Menace in 2000, the British music scene was mining the mellow gold of Travis and Coldplay, while Radiohead had finally succumbed to the robots. Elastica, meanwhile, were considered hangers-on to a defunct scene that they never belonged to in the first place. Deciding that the band was more trouble than it was worth, lead singer Justine Frischmann threw in the towel in 2001.

If she only knew what the future held. Dance rockers Franz Ferdinand are one of the biggest bands in the world, and the Arctic Monkeys, who reinvented both ‘quirky’ and ‘angular,’ are bigger than Jesus in England. The Futureheads and Shiny Toy Guns? They’re practically Elastica spin-off groups, a la General Public and Fine Young Cannibals forming from the ashes of the English Beat. You know how labels used to re-release the same song a decade after it first charted (Hello, Benny Mardones’ “Into the Night”)? “Your Arse, My Place” would be a Top 10 hit on modern rock radio right now, if given the chance.

Your moment has finally arrived, Justine. Give Donna and Annie a ring and get together for a drink or two. Dust off the gear, plug in, and take these drooling synthesizer dorks to school.  – David Medsker


XTCGuys’ portal to the web or not, we Bullz-Eye music geeks almost cried when we asked Andy Partridge about the status of XTC and he replied, “I actually don’t know where (Colin Moulding) lives these days and don’t have a phone number for him. He’s kind of disappeared off the planet. I don’t know, he’s just…he wants out of everything. He certainly wants out of being my pal, I think.” Now, while there’s never been a formal declaration of XTC’s demise, after reading that quote, do you think they’re still together?

The band really missed their window by not regrouping a few years ago, when a flurry of bands began to mine the quirky, off-kilter pop sounds that Partridge, Moulding and fellow early XTC members Terry Chambers and Barry Andrews patented in the late ‘70s. (Dogs Die in Hot Cars, we’re looking at you in particular.) That sound isn’t where the band’s been in quite some time, of course; the more recent chapters of the XTC story have been filled with more lush, pastoral pop sounds. Basically, though, we’ll take anything that the band wants to give us, just as long as they get back together!

The good news is that Partridge and Andrews recently teamed with Andrews’ fellow Shriekback bandmate, Martyn Barker, to release an album under the name of Monstrance. The bad news is that, sonically, Monstrance is a far, far cry from XTC. The best that we can hope for, then, is that Moulding emerges from his self-imposed solitude at some future juncture with a desire to return to music, or, alternatively, that Partridge eventually gets around to producing a solo album that’s more about pop and less about experimental noodling. Not that XTC didn’t do their share of noodling as well – see Explode Together: The Dub Experiments 1978–1980 for proof – but when we see the name XTC, we think, “This is pop.” And, dammit, we want more of it! – Will Harris

Creed (allposters)

We’ll just go out and say it: we want Creed to get back together because…we miss having them to kick around.

Music lovers hated Creed. It didn’t matter what color your musical stripes were; if you loved music, you hated Creed. What people overlook is how incredibly rare it is for one band to rub so many people the wrong way. This actually makes them special. Look at the music scene today. Is there anyone that is universally loathed like Creed was? Not even close. Yes, there is a strong anti-emo movement taking shape, but since there are so damn many emo bands, fans are torn between hating Panic! at the Disco more than Fall Out Boy or Taking Back Sunday. Kevin Federline was just a punch line; no one cared enough to hate him. But people did care enough to hate Creed, and their decision to call it quits in 2004, frankly, has thrown the rock & roll universe out of whack. Not only did their breakup create a void at the bottom of the rock food chain, it also created a void at the top. Quick, who’s the biggest band in the world? It’s a trick question: there isn’t one, and that is not a coincidence but merely the result of the rock & roll universe balancing itself out.

Like it or not, the music world needs Creed. They sell millions of records to the people who are least likely to buy music, which is good for the industry. More importantly, their existence makes every other band try a little bit harder, so they won’t be compared to Creed. And Lord, could we use a few musicians that are willing to try a little bit harder. Look at the tossers that pass for rock stars now. Pete Wentz is dating Ashlee Simpson? That’s like Robert Smith dating Taylor Dayne. James Blunt, meanwhile, will sleep with anything with a pulse. Pete Doherty is such a loser that he made the world stop caring about Kate Moss.

These guys are child’s play compared to Scott Stapp.

Stapp will perform songs about God while unapologetically drunk (or, if his recent arrest report is accurate, stoned); shoot sex tapes with Kid Rock; throw glass bottles at his wife; and start bar fights with 311. All the while he’s shirtless, holding his arms in Christ pose, and meaning every single word of nonsense that comes out of his mouth. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a rock star acting like a rock star, and there are few rock stars who are more fun to hate than Scott Stapp and Creed. Admit it: you sort of miss them, too.  – David Medsker