top 10 ~ best acts you've never heard (probably) ~ part 2

Rounding up our list of the top ten best acts you've never heard (probably), we take you into the top five. From atmospheric desolation, to moving poetry of war torn Holland, these are the bands and artists forever on the outskirts of a society which, to almost quote the genius that is Stephen Patrick Morrissey, 'really doesn't know and really doesn't care'. This is our top 5.

5. Explosions In The Sky

In a US state known more for it's BBQ sauce than it's revitalizing post-rock, Texas natives Explosions In The Sky's unprecedented arrival onto an unsuspecting music scene came as quite a shock to the system back in a 1999 still feeling the hangover of a grunge movement not yet killed off by Kurt Cobain's tragic suicide. Building their ground breaking epic sound around a floury of classical, to even darker rock influences, the band's instrumental power and atmospheric prowess soon singled them out as pioneers of a new millennium. As the years went on, 'Explosions...' got better and better, their potential to write haunting, moving scores capturing the attention of Hollywood, who utilised this ability to devastating effect. To date, the band have recorded the soundtracks to three major films, as well as putting out six of their own albums. To add to the bands reclusive stance and rejection of fame, further mystery surrounded them upon the release of their second album 'Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever'. Released exactly one week before the September 11th attacks, the albums artwork featured a plane flying at a low altitude over what appears to be New York City. Further inspection of the albums linear notes show a small picture of a grounded airplane in a veil of light, with the small inscription 'This Plane Will Crash Tomorrow' written beneath it...

Download ~ 'First Breath After Coma' , 'Your Hand In Mine''Greet Death'

4. Startled Space Moth

The brain child of Northern Irish, London based songwriter Aaron Shanley, Startled Space Moth is a full on punk infused, hard hitting rock and roll band with, miraculously, only one member. Left to play, fine tune and program every instrument on every recording, Aaron's Started Space Moth differs hugely from the plaintiff love songs and melancholic heartbreak of his solo records, setting the bar with huge riffs, aggressive overtones and captivating melodies. Due to the technical complexities of having one man and several instruments to deal with, Startled Space Moth rarely venture beyond the recording studio. Thankfully, due to Shanley's meticulous strives for perfection, every blistering track on the two SSM EP's to date have been well worth the wait.

Download ~ 'CSI NY''The Bars Are Closed'  

3. Nosferatu D2/The Superman Revenge Squad

At number three we have an equal tie of two bands, forever interlinked through both blood and the adoration of BBC Radio 6. The brilliantly named Nosferatu D2, (a combination of the famous German expressionist film and Star Wars charming robotic bin type thing), came to light some time around 2005 and like an indie Eva Cassidy didn't gain anywhere near the recognition they deserved until long after their musical death. Releasing only one brief album before quickly disbanding, brothers Ben and Adam Parker's fast paced, experimental indie captured the hearts and minds of those with the vision to recognize the brothers lyrical prowess and fascinating complexities. Championed by Los Campesinos! and the BBC's Steve Lamacq, the brothers quickly assembled a loyal, cult following, before announcing their unexpected and sudden split. Their one album however, 'We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise' remains a cult classic, with it's visionary tales of disappointment and disgust at a consumerism induced world ruined by ourselves.

After Nosferatu D2's split, the brothers took a long hiatus from the music business, only to return later with The Superman Revenge Squad. A softer beast than the indie machine which preceded it, SRS contain much of it's ancestors disillusionment with the world around it, but with a slightly more introspected approach. Again, it is the young Parker brothers poetry which tragically makes this bands entire sound. From the quiet celebration of underachievement in 'Lately I've Found Myself Regressing', to the Fightstar angst (from the perspective of a philosophical canine - which contains the heartrending prose 'I couldn't do the things you did to me, to you... It's funny, I hate you but inside I really love you...') of 'The Angriest Dog In The World', their newest album 'There Is Nothing More Frightening Than The Passing Of Time'  is, like much of their work, a masterpiece.

Download ~ Nosferatu D2 ~ 'A Footnote', '2 People, 0 Superpowers',  'Springsteen' 
The Superman Revenge Squad ~ 'Lately I've Found Myself Regressing', 'Paulie In Rocky Three', 'We're Here For The Duration' 

2. Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia...

Possibly the most intriguing band on this list, Oxfords 'Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia...' took ambient post rock to new levels, writing their songs along the poetry and spoken monologues of vocalist Emily Gray. Their powerful sound, combined with Gray's haunting dry, tones created a swirling mass of dark energy and foreboding, an unusual result from five friends studying at Oxford University in the late 90's. Elusive and often lacking elaborations, 'Meanwhile,...' opened many doors to England's post-rock scene and unearthed new ground through their minimalist set up and quiet on stage demeanor. They released two albums, 2001's 'Indian Ink' and 'My Elixir, My Poison' two years later. The band would come to an end in unusual circumstances while promoting their final record. Whilst taking part in an interview with a local TV channel severe technical difficulties led to the band storming out of the studio, leading the station to announce they would never feature another live band again. 'Meanwhile,...' continued on for a further year, though the damage had been done and they played their final show in late 2004 in London's Bar Academy.

Download ~ 'Blindspot/Invisible Bend' , 'Morning After Pill' 

1. Neutral Milk Hotel

The creators of what is widely considered by many music critiques to be one of the greatest albums ever written, and yet Neutral Milk Hotel are a band still steadfast in the indie backstreets of music notoriety. Frontman Jeff Magnum began recording under the Neutral Milk Hotel moniker in the late 1980's, recruiting a few of his closest friends from High School to later make up the bands line-up. As his songwriting progressed, he released a debut EP, 'Everything Is' a few years after the initial gigging process, alone, in his bedroom. As Magnum's live band continued to gel alongside him, the idea of making Neutral Milk Hotel less of a solo project became more of a priority and two years later 'On Avery Island' would be the newly christened bands debut full length LP. Known for their psychedelically infused, orchestral sound, the band soon gained a local following and some respect for their bizarre compositions. It was to be the Summer of 1997 however, that the band would reach their dizzying peaks. Both lyrically and sonically 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea' is considered a masterpiece, with songs (supposedly) about Anne Frank, the acceptance of death and subsequent appreciation of life, and the absurdity of simple existence, it is, in this journalists humble opinion, the 90's equivalent to The Beatles Sgt Peppers. Raw and acoustic, with only the folk twang of an accordion or brass section to guide Magnums emotive melodies, Neutral Milk Hotel had pulled off something extraordinary. Which is why it made perfect sense to immediately announce an indefinite hiatus almost immediately after the albums release. Now reunited and playing Belfast's Limelight on the 15th of May, you'd be a fool to miss it.

Download ~ 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea', 'King Of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1', 'Holland 1945'

Taylor Johnson
"One Day We Will Die, and Our Ashes Will Fly, From The Aeroplane, Over The Sea"

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