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July 16th, 2001

The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of

Without entirely stealing a page from Ryan’s book, I’m curious to know if any of our Pingers have a favorite band or artist that no one seems to have heard of. Your best kept secret, if you will.

Back in the mid-90s, I was 100% certain that Certain Distant Suns, a Chicago band, would hit the big time. They took clever hooks and danceable beats, and put them behind solid power pop lyrics. Their major label debut, Happy on the Inside took their first two EPs and placed them in the spotlight. Sadly, few looked on. CDS continued touring locally and put out another CD, Boss Nova but seems to have disbanded.

Also of note: Grant Lee Buffalo. Just stellar stuff, and no one seems to ever have heard of them.

What’s your favorite little-known band? -pm

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: Robert
DATE: Sunday July 15, 2001 -- 11:20:28PM
With the people I know, most of the bands I like are unknowns. I've been digging Bella Morte recently. They're local-ish boys and they're fun live, despite being ubergoths.

FROM: liz
DATE: Sunday July 15, 2001 -- 11:55:42PM
as i recently said on MeFi, i just love the shins.

DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 8:59:24AM
No one I've talked to has ever heard of Suddenly, Tammy!. Unfortunately, it seems like the disappeared anyhow, so I guess no one ever will. I'm sure there are others, but it's Monday morning and I can't think.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 9:01:01AM
Rob, I remember hearing about Suddenly, Tammy! a number of years ago... read a review in Spin, and I recall some comparisons to Tori Amos.

FROM: Old Fezziwig
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 9:21:04AM
Even though they are starting to become more well-known, I've always liked this little band called Guster.


FROM: Elizabeth
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 10:05:35AM
I'm going to go the indie-rock route and say that I really enjoy the musical stylings of Five Dollar Foundation. They are an emo-pop group from Madison, Wisconsin. And they are currently on tour.. I believe they are in Texas right now.

Check them out at

FROM: mel
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 10:10:38AM
Hello Dave is my favorite little known band, although they are becoming more and more popular (which is a good thing). They're sort of blues/rock band, but with a very original sound. Anyone out in the midwest ought to catch a show when they're nearby. Their recoreded music is OK, but their strength is in live performances. They really know how to get an audience going...

FROM: Monica
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 10:34:48AM
One night out here in Madison my friends and I went to the Badger Bowl and encountered a band called "Extreme Angel". The singer sounded like goat-boy from SNL. We couldn't bowl because we were laughing too hard, and unfortunatley, the band seems to have disappeared.
Hey, I like Bella Morte too, Robert!
My real answer could be Clutch, because most people out here haven't heard of them. So I've gotten the chance to make the introduction to them :-)

FROM: Robert
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 11:15:32AM
Monica--Did you ever get Bella Morte's album, or are you just going on that one track I put on the last tape.

Also, C! is huge. They draw big crowds, especially in this area and Detroit (for whatever reason). But yes, they will always be special for us.

I've gotta add one criminally overlooked band I love: Babyland (

FROM: corey
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 1:44:24PM
mosta the good ones seem to be fairly unheard of for me...

dirt bike annie is a great pop/punk band from NYC. some weird swedish gospel-punk band called TEXT is awesome. the monks or mc 900 ft. jesus, anyone?

FROM: nanette
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 2:43:05PM
I agree with the comment about the Shins--Oh, Inverted World is one of my favorite releases of 2001. Also on my list is Girls Can Tell by Spoon, which has been in my CD changer almost non-stop since two months ago.

After Saturday night's Breeders/Low show, I'm renewing my love affair with Low. Damn, they're good.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 8:11:33PM
Corey--I remember MC 900 Foot Jesus: "If I Only Had a Brain".

FROM: cat
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 8:25:07PM
I have a Suddenly, Tammy! disk. Very cool band. If I went on to list all my fave bands that no one has heard of...the list would be mighty long. Here's a teensy sampler:

Not Drowning, Waving
Trash Can Sinatras
The Judybats

Of course some of these are famous in places other than the States.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Monday July 16, 2001 -- 10:00:08PM
Cat--I've heard of all of those but the last one. Of course, I couldn't tell ya nothin' 'bout 'em...

DATE: Tuesday July 17, 2001 -- 8:54:52AM
Powderfinger's pretty cool. I have one CD and I liked a lot of the songs on there, though sometimes it just started sounding generic to me. I don't know. The only other one from Cat's list that I've ever heard of is The Judybats. I need to listen to more obscure bands. I'll refrain from starting up a Napster argument here. Unless I just did.

FROM: cat
DATE: Wednesday July 18, 2001 -- 2:26:26PM
Rob: If you have Odyssey No. 5, I understand that was their most commercial offering. Some call it their worst. I like it--but I haven't heard the rest yet. They were fun live.

Robert: I'm impressed. :) Of course part of the reason those bands are obscure is because the only American group on the list is The Judybats.

FROM: i am mike
DATE: Wednesday July 18, 2001 -- 2:30:22PM
over the rhine... good stuff. it's an ohio band, but i just cought them in maine recently. i am mike

FROM: i am mike
DATE: Wednesday July 18, 2001 -- 2:32:08PM
yes, i meant "caught" instead of "cought" in my last post. really, i can spell.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday July 18, 2001 -- 3:34:34PM
One semi-obscure band of the past that I liked was Loud Sugar... kind of odd for me since I have a general distaste for so-called "college rock," but their song "Creamsicle" from '91 just kicks ass.

DATE: Wednesday July 18, 2001 -- 4:16:56PM
Yup yup, Cat, I have Odyssey No. 5. There are a few songs I like a lot, but the rest just didn't grab me as much as I wanted it to. Perhaps I'll have to hunt down their other stuff.

My girlfriend loves Over the Rhine, i am mike. Of course, she's from Ohio, so it was easier for her to hear of them. :P

I like the Innocence Mission. Some albums are better than others. I have a feeling most of you wouldn't like them. :P

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday July 18, 2001 -- 7:49:03PM
I also really like the Aesop Quartet, a group of relatively young guys doing avant garde jazz the way it should be done. Not many groups in recent memory have put together songs like them... and the fact they brought Rob Swift in for one track just shows how forward thinking these guys are. They're debut album didn't do very well, AFAIK, but I'm praying for another one soon...

FROM: liz
DATE: Wednesday July 18, 2001 -- 11:21:28PM
nannette: yes, oh inverted world is a great album. i'm just all kindsa proud of the hometown boys. they're friends of friends, which happens a lot in this city.

DATE: Thursday August 16, 2001 -- 2:45:31PM
Thought of another one the other day and forgot to post about it. Dead Can Dance. Seems like hardly anyone's ever heard of Dead Can Dance...

FROM: John Ritter
DATE: Sunday August 26, 2001 -- 10:04:16PM
I was at a festival with "Mental as Anything" - they were the best party band I've heard. They come from Australia and apparently were huge there but no-one here's heard of them.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Sunday August 26, 2001 -- 10:15:06PM
Rob: Dead Can Dance is a band I've HEARD OF a million times, but I don't think I've actually HEARD them.

DATE: Monday August 27, 2001 -- 9:36:21AM
Robert -- Well, you can borrow some of my CDs if you want. They're good if you're into that sort of thing. I just won't tell you what that sort of thing is. Muahaha.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Monday August 27, 2001 -- 10:22:37AM
I know goths love DCD. Ya can't go wrong with what the goths love. Especially the chicks...rowr!!!

FROM: chris
DATE: Friday December 14, 2001 -- 4:47:23PM
I have been meaning to post to this topic for awhile (well, since midsummer which is quite awhile). When I worked at a bookstore/cafe up in State College, PA, I would always make sure I was scheduled to work when Greg Klyma ( and Kris Kehr ( played. They are both excellent singer/songwriters. Both fall into country/folk/lyrical american catagory/blues category (Kris will occasionally break into bluegrass) . There are mp3s on each of their websites and are worth listening to. Greg is from Buffalo and tours the US (at least as far west as Texas). Kris doesn't seem to get out of Central PA much, but plays a couple times a week in State College.

FROM: jk
DATE: Saturday December 15, 2001 -- 12:26:42AM
Oh how I love the Trashcan Sinatras! Obscurity Knocks is a brilliant song. I saw the Judybats about 10 years ago and they put on a great show. Ironically, I personally know Suddenly Tammy and the Innocence Mission. Suddenly Tammy had great talent yet got a rotten deal from their label. They recorded one entire CD that will never be released :o(. The Innocence Mission are still around, and are on Kneeling Elephant records.

My one friend in LA was very very into Dead Can Dance...I know I heard them but only at his place!

FROM: fresh
DATE: Sunday December 16, 2001 -- 8:36:26PM
anyone like fugazi? there not really not known but semi-underground. kinda like ranicd meets sonic youth meets weezer. respond for a cd to pick up

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Sunday December 16, 2001 -- 10:37:53PM
I dunno... I wouldn't really call Fugazi "underground" ... maybe I'm wrong, but I've heard their name for years...

FROM: sarah
DATE: Wednesday March 19, 2003 -- 1:02:02 am
there is actually a band called never heard of it. they are awesome. they are a pop punk band and might be an opening act in new found glorys and good charlottes new tour they are awesome. Check them out at

FROM: Dave Walls
DATE: Wednesday March 19, 2003 -- 6:24:30 pm
My favourite was from 1989, Urban Dance Squad had a semi-decent hit with the album "Mental Floss for the Globe, and cracked the top 40 with the song "Deeper Shade of Soul", which had the first signs of jazz and hip hop being mixed before US3 made it popular in '93 with "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)".

The group ended up doing ok in Europe, but never released another album in the US, and "Mental Floss" was not being printed 3 years later. If you find it used, buy it and enjoy. :)

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 3:29:11 pm

FROM: jk
DATE: Sunday July 16, 2006 -- 10:32:44 pm
HEY! It's the Ping that brought me to the Ping!

Suddenly Tammy are of course no more but Beth Sorrentino is still performing in NYC. You can find her on myspace.

So I've been here for almost 5 years.....sniff. I love you guys.

FROM: jk
DATE: Sunday July 16, 2006 -- 10:33:37 pm
PS--Grant Lee Phillips is releasing or has just released a CD of nothing but 80s covers! I love him too. His cover of Echo and the Bunnymen is great.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Sunday July 16, 2006 -- 10:52:54 pm
Nice, jk. I need to get it - his cover of "Love My Way" is great.

Fun fact: my former boss was related to Grant-Lee. I pretty much lost it when I found that out.

Also, Old Fezziwig (miss ya!) made this nice comment in 01:

Even though they are starting to become more well-known, I've always liked this little band called Guster.

Guster is a bit bigger now, I'd say, and they are indeed great. And then Cat mentioned Powderfinger (five YEARS ago) and, yes, I finally discovered them last year. Funny how that works.

Nina January 26, 2007, 7:29 pm

How about these?

The Mysteries of Life, Heather Nova, The Goops, Steadman, Ed Harcourt, Communique, and of course the Certain Distant Suns.

zack September 14, 2008, 5:22 am

@sarah: I have heard of never heard of it plus i can’t find them on itunes or anywhere else I guess people actually never heard of it 😀

And about the rest of the bands hmmm….. rancid i thought that was the ones that wasn’t heard of

Oh my GOD
there is people who posted from 7 years ago i am shocked
In deep shock
And sarah you might even see this
but if you typed that at 2003
i guess i was 5 years late 😛
but for real they are like a good charlotte But they can’t take the place of him
there is just something missing hmmm…… let me guesss (no need for thinking what kind of band will name it’s self never heard of it)
maybe it doesn’t want to be heard of XD

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