When I first thought about it, this was inspired by a seemingly never-ending parade of bands who seem to have come up with nothing new themselves that I keep hearing.
But when I thought about it a little more, there is nothing new about this under the sun. Various bands have been helping themselves to other band’s sound and concepts for years, sometimes with acknowledgement, sometimes without, and sometimes it goes legal. What I’m not counting here is a band simply sampling others, it’s all about being more insidious than that. So, onto yet another ramble through ten bands…
As always, there is a Spotify playlist, although a couple of them are missing.
In case you couldn’t guess, this is the inspiration for this week’s list, and they are a band who I can’t quite understand the point of. After all, AC/DC still exist, and are (just about) still going, providing one of the world’s best live shows and pretty much releasing the same sleazy rock’n’roll that they have always done for the best part of thirty-five years. So, er, why does every single thing about Airbourne ape AC/DC entirely? Can anyone tell me what I’m missing?
The brothers Gallagher famously always wanted to be The Beatles – but never quite reached those heights, so instead just paid close attention to large parts of their back catalogue. But it wasn’t only The Beatles they borrowed from. They rather more obviously purloined parts of Shakermaker from I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing, much of Step Out from Uptight (Everything’s Alright), and despite all this were still lauded as the “greatest rock’n’roll band” of our age. Hmm.
Another band who were no strangers to legal troubles as a result of their musical output were the short-lived Elastica, whose first album caused something of a sensation, and quickly saw older heads asking just how much of Wire and The Stranglers that they had been listening to. Judging on the reported out-of-court settlements, it was rather a lot. Interestingly, their much delayed second album sank without trace, but maybe that was just because their time had long gone.
Nowadays treated as if they are heavy metal’s great white (British) hope, I’ve never really got this lot. Especially as the band they so want to be – Machine Head – have always done it so much better. Machine Head have countless anthems, this lot have released three albums and I could name one song (Scream Aim Fire). However, compare and contrast the intro of Your Betrayal to that of Imperium (see the Spotify playlist). I appreciate that there are only a limited number of ways you can release songs based around chugging, thrashy riffs, but really, you can at least have some originality…(and further to this: My partner reckons one of their singles played frequently on MTV2/Kerrang has a chorus rather close to Breaking the Law, but I can’t work out which one).
I initially came across this lot in a small NME review back in 1998, when I picked up the marvellous shoegazey delights of Turning Into Small. Even the review then referred to how much they sounded like My Bloody Valentine, and they had a point. But this lot took things off in very different directions at points, with electronic squiggles rather than countless layers of guitars sprayed over the rhythms, and I still love the album. Once the band split the directions diverged somewhat, with some members in the very odd ifwhen, and another in the absolutely fantastic hip-hop act dälek.
Going back a little further, initially, and perhaps a little unfairly, Scott Weiland’s band were dismissed almost universally. They were viewed as riding on the coattails of grunge pioneers Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, simply taking their sound, scrubbing it up a bit and making a mint doing so. Which is kinda ironic, really, when Nirvana in particular rather obviously borrowed from Killing Joke and Pixies, to name but two. I’ll go on record now as saying I probably still listen to STP more than I listen to Nirvana, that’s for sure…
It’s incredible to think, actually, that Muse started out being dubbed a Radiohead-clone – and indeed frequently did sound like them. What has been intriguing since is that while Radiohead have gone off and experimented with electronics, and produced some quite extraordinarily avant-garde work for such a popular band, Muse have since disappeared off into space somewhere, also as a stadium rock band, but now somewhere nearer Queen’s epic bombast, by way of modern R’n’B, funk and futuristic cowboy themes.
The accusation has come up many times that there are many shades of Laibach in Rammstein’s back catalogue. Perhaps all they did was take the idea and run with it, making it into a perhaps more commercially-friendly sound. Although Laibach have never seen particularly bothered about it. via the Laibach Wiki, from an interview with them:
When members of Laibach were asked by an interviewer about Rammstein “stealing” from them, they responded that “Laibach does not believe in originality… Therefore, Rammstein could not ‘steal’ much from us. They simply let themselves get inspired by our work, which is absolutely a legitimate process. We are glad that they made it. In a way, they have proven once again that a good ‘copy’ can make more money on the market than the ‘original.'”
Which is probably a unique viewpoint in this list – that of a band perfectly content with the situation.
The first song I heard by this lot was now-old-single Trust You, and on the first few listens, I could have sworn it was a Depeche Mode song. In particular the chorus, which doesn’t half remind me of Never Let Me Down Again. And indeed, DM are very much a reference point for Mesh’s career, really, although recent album A Perfect Solution has at last seen them branch out a little.
This Swedish industrial band are one of the few bands I’ve ever heard that have ever tried to ape Skinny Puppy. Well, at least as closely as these guys did on debut album The Black Paintings and follow-up The Room, but since then they’ve broadened their palate, it appears. The first new song released in a while, Do You Feel The Same is staggering (so good that it was my runner-up track of the year for 2009), and they are now promising that the new album Wintermute will be in this style: still Puppy-esque, but with melodic touches and an emotional punch that SP never really went for. Fabulous.
There were other suggestions, too:October File (As much as I like this band, they don’t half sound like Killing Joke – even getting Jaz Coleman to do guest vocals on one track on their debut album)
Suede (David Bowie looms large, especially on their older stuff)
The Haunted (may be ace, but Slayer are most certainly an influence)
Editors (influenced by Interpol, who were in turn influenced by Joy Division…)