A Decade In Music – The Bands That Should’ve Made It

Speaking as someone who enjoys long, pointless, drunken conversations that generally begin with the words, ‘Hey, does anyone remember Stellastarr?’, I’ve found myself getting increasingly annoyed by the recent spate of end-of-decade lists (and yes, I know we’ve done a few of our own).

These rundowns are fundamentally flawed, because they’re skewed in favour of what’s still regarded as hip now, from our 2009 perspective. Hence the more fleeting acts – the one-hit-wonders, the blink-and-you-missed-it buzz bands – tend to get forgotten about, expunged by the critical consensus.

There’s an argument, for example, that Test Icicles prefigured some of the decade’s key musical trends – they certainly taught Klaxons a thing or two – but have been overlooked in the end-of-decade reminisce-athon because they split up in 2006 (I don’t share this theory, by the way, I always thought TI were total balls).

Likewise, there are some who believe that indie’s current default mode of raggle-taggle, doe-si-do folksiness – Mumford And Sons, Noah And The Whale at al – can be traced back to short-lived post-Libs ragamuffins Larrikin Love; another band who scuppered their chances of mainstream glory by foolishly splitting up before anyone had really heard of them (schoolboy error).

My own personal best-of-the-noughties playlist features such flash-in-the-pan acts as The Stills, The Veils, Death From Above 1979, Patrick Watson, and the aforementioned Stellastarr, whose ‘breakthrough’ track ‘Somewhere Across Forever’ – a one-time indie disco staple – is now so obscure the original video is not even on YouTube. Hence this rather sorry-looking, fan-made version.

Anyway, I asked other NME people which acts from the past decade should have become huge, but who, for whatever reason, sank without trace. Who would you add? Leave your own suggestions below.

Paul Stokes:VivaL’AmericanDeathRayMusic!. They sound like the spiritual heirs to Television’s Marquee Moon, with their taut guitars and wiry lyrics about escaping the daily grind – you’d never have guessed one of them (the drummer) used to be in Polyphonic Spree. Their album ‘In The Meantime…’ is a bit of a hidden gem.”

Emily Mackay: “The Organ. When I say ‘made it big’, it’s doubtful these Canadian girls would ever have been selling out the O2, but their career was cut cruelly short by mysterious tensions before we ever found out. Their first and only album, 2004’s ‘Grab That Gun’ was a rich, swoony, Smiths-y thing, drenched in Katie Sketch’s mournful voice – I still can’t stop listening to it.”

Tim Chester: “Six By Seven. A 9/10 NME album review for their 2000 masterpiece ‘The Closer You Get’ failed to catapult the Nottingham noisemongers to the fame they deserved. Listen to ‘Eat Junk Become Junk’ and mourn the criminally underrated band.”

Jamie Fullerton: “Larrikin Love. The cream of the post-Libertines bunch, LL had the tunes and the charm, and in Ed Larrikin a disarmingly appealing frontman – a more introspecive alternative to the gangs of leather-ripping Doherty-alikes. Unfortunately they ended up hating each other and split before quite enough people cottoned on. Now one of them is hanging out with Courtney Love in Hole.”

James McMahon: “Bis. They should be blown up beyond the already (incendiary, life changing, riot grrrl/indie pop mash-up) cult band they were in the 90’s, but before they broke up in 2003, their sound had morphed into a sassy, synthy, new wave sound that deserved far more commercial success than they duly received.”

Matt Wilkinson: “The Parkinsons. Portuguese punks who briefly shone thanks to their riotous gigs (often performed naked), fights with The Strokes and the fact one of them accidentally discovered the remains of a girl murdered by the so-called Camden Ripper. Honestly, what’s not to love?”