Five of the best one album wonders
From bands you’ve never heard
By Aaron Binder
We’ve all had that moment…the one where you hear something fantastic for the first time. You’re so into this music that you’ve never heard before that it consumes your musical taste, chews it up and spits it out, completely skewing everything you knew about your taste in music up to that point. You’re so excited about this new discovery that you jump, take flight and fly over to your computer at supersonic speed and boot the old lady up. The Windows (or Apple…or Linux or whatever) logo seems to take forever to load, then finally, internet. You punch them up on a search engine and start reading, it all sounds so glorious, so amazing…
Then you find out they’ve already broken up.
Your dream of seeing them live has been crushed; the thought of being able to relive the magic is gone. But hey, you can still buy the rest of their albums, if that first song and album you heard from that amazing act is so good, the other ones must be just as good if not better, right? You punch them back into the search engine and stumble upon their Wikipedia page, you read about their rise, some of the fun things they did while still playing together and then about how they split because of ‘musical differences’. You make your way down to the discography section with a mouth that hasn’t salivated so heavily since that one time you bumped into Henry Rollins and he nodded approvingly. Then you notice that something is missing…well, it’s there, but there must be some mistake, it seems to be rather empty. Then the realization kicks in.
They’ve broken up…and they only released one album.
You feel defeated; sure, what you’ve heard is great, but how long will it last before you toss it to the wayside like the Jewel album your grandparents have given you for Christmas every single year since 1995? For that reason I have put together a list of five of the best one album wonders out there, enjoy. Luckily a couple bands on this list have released more than one album, but the comparison between the albums listed below and their other work is pale in comparison. We start off the list at number 5 with a band that has the best named album of all time.
5) Dawn of the Dude – International Time Travel with Magical Babes
Sometimes you hear a song from a band, enjoy it immensely, get a little hyped and then ask the name. Upon hearing the less than dismal name (something like Mest or Korn) you then proceed to dismiss that band from your consciousness forever. Dawn of the Dude is completely the opposite of that.
The term dude was first used in print in the sprightly year of 1876 to describe a well-dressed male who has never really lived anywhere but a large city. The first perennial dude was Evander Berry Wall, who, by his death had spent his whole inherited fortune and declared in a rather unforgiving manner on his death-bed that he had “squandered nearly every cent on pleasure”. Now that’s a pretty cool guy to name your band after.
International Time Travel with Magical Babes made its way onto this list because of the way it sweeps through different genres of music so seamlessly. On the album you will find straight up rock, ska, arena style rock and some big sounding progressive songs as well. While some of the album is forgettable, the first 3 songs and the last 3 songs are pure gold.
The band may not be with us anymore, but the age of the dude is far from over and the four guys that comprised this band before its inevitable demise certainly left a mark in the name of the dude.
Recommended Songs: Circuits of Time, Landing
4) Aspirations – EP!
While Aspirations may not have the history of the dude behind them, they certainly have a mysterious allure worth mentioning. The band launched their one and only recording EP! in 2008, and while the 18 minutes and 18 seconds of their recorded musical existence is pure gold, the world hasn’t heard a peep from this hyped band since early 2009.
The band consisted of Stu and Kirstin, two keyboard slinging sample nerds that managed to come together long enough to create something that sounds like the Fucked Up of British Columbia with a hip-hop production-y twist. A little laid-back but at times aggressive, the depth of sampling on each song is as admirable as the beautifully clashing vocals. Stu comes off sounding like the veteran of a hardcore band while Kirstin’s voice is sugary more attuned to the electronic side of things, together it creates magic.
The EP! EP is not just wonderful musically but lyrically as well; road-trips, love, betrayal, it’s all there and it is all scrawled down with a certain rough, poetic flair. There is a passion behind both band members, you can hear it in their voices, the slight intonations and lilts in cadence lend a listening experience that you shouldn’t like…but end up falling in love.
Hopefully the duo manages to find themselves in the same studio at the same time in the future. Even though the band is still signed with Underground Operations, there hasn’t been any news in over a year and a half, Aspirations has literally dropped off the face of Canada. We can only hope for something in the future from this band, otherwise this 18 minutes and 18 seconds of recorded glory will have to suffice.
Recommended Songs: 10729 King George Hwy, Accident Prone
3) Bear vs. Shark – Terrorhawk
I may be cheating a little on this one. Yes, Bear vs. Shark did release two albums; however, the band came and went so quickly, Terrorhawk was really the only one to gain much attention.
Bear vs Shark was a band that many music fans, bands and producers adopted as awesome very quickly. By the time their second album, Terrorhawk, was released in 2005, they were being vaunted as one of the next hot breakout bands…and then it was all over before they could even properly begin. One of the rumoured reasons for their breakup was the intense touring schedule they had set upon.
Regardless of why they broke up, they released one incredible album before going the way of the Michael Jackson-alo. Kicking off with the frantic Catamaran, the pace for the album is set, you’re going to experience highs, lows, kicks to the face, lost teeth, found teeth, traded teeth after finding out their not yours and inevitably a very expensive trip to the dentist. It’s all worth it after listening to Terrorhawk the whole way through, the album probably won’t change your life, but it is one of those records that you’ll find yourself listening to more and more before realizing it’s in full rotation on your music player of choice.
Recommended Songs: Catamaran, The Great Dinosaurs With Fifties Sections
2) Death From Above 1979 – You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine
Death From Above 1979 may not be incredibly unknown, mostly in part due to the unending stream of projects from both former members, but their hubris as the ‘little band that could’ still lives on to this day. When they first began their rise to popularity in 2003 it was a dark time to be a musician trying to do something different; the dawn of second wave nu-grunge had just come into favour with Nickelback’s ‘Someday’ solidifying the bands existence as the Alpha Male in North American music.
Where did that leave Sebastien Granger and Jesse Keeler? Feeling more confident than ever. They had just released their EP ‘Heads Up’ in late 2002 and were in the process of playing shows and writing their first full-length album. There was such buzz surrounding the band before they had even put out a full length album, they were picked up as the opener for My Chemical Romance and Billy Talent…after their album was released they would then go on to open for Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and Metric.
Going into 2005, they seemed like they were on fire, not only was their album selling well, but they were winning new fans and awards. The public was growing increasingly antsy though…by mid-2006 the band hadn’t played in over six months and there was no new material being released. In August of that year everyone had their answer, their album had gone gold and that was all they needed to see before making the announcement that the duo had drifted apart musically and personally. One of the hottest bands in Canada was over. The subsequent turmoil left the music scene in horror, DFA was more than a band to a lot of people, it was a project that many could say they had seen grow from small basement shows to playing sold out arenas.
Why did everyone love DFA so much?
Some say it was the people behind the music, others say it was the music itself; I say they’re both right. Their only full album, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, would quickly become legendary after receiving sweepingly positive reviews and a coveted 8.3 rating from Pitchfork. Fans loved it even more, the band sold out so many shows in 2004/05 that people were being turned away at a number of live dates.
The attraction was the purely raw finish of the album; it was so aggressive and fresh that many people believed they would provide the front line infantry of the musical battlefield with ammunition powerful enough to take down the emerging genre of emo-rock and the already tired sounding nu-grunge. The album didn’t create a revolution; the forces of emo are far too strong with their support team of hairstylists and make-up artists. What the album did accomplish though was instil the underground alternative scene with enough gumption to push forward and give bands like Metric and Broken Social Scene a chance to express their music at a much larger stage than they may have reached had the duo never come together in the first place.
Recommended Songs: Black History Month, Romantic Rights
1) Kaddisfly – Set Sail The Prairie
This is one of the best albums ever written. No exaggeration. Within the first 20 seconds of listening to this album, you know you’re in for a wild ride. The ambitious nature of the album lends is admirable and its execution is wonderfully done. There are moments where the album falters, but they are few.
Taken as a whole, the band Kaddisfly seemed too ambitious to keep moving forward after they released Set Sail. After two flop albums, this was their opus, and it certainly garnered a huge amount of attention in the alternative world. Rated as one of the “100 Bands You Need To Know In 2007” by Alternative Press, the band would release Set Sail The Prairie later that year to critically mixed reviews but a massively positive response from their quickly growing fan-base.
When the band finished their touring schedule in support of the record during 2007/2008, they settled down in Portland to take a break and record some new music. Fans waited patiently…nothing came. In September they posted a flustered sounding message to their Myspace page explaining that life had caught up with them, but regardless of everything else going on they would still be releasing a couple new demos in the next few weeks…once again, nothing came. Fans waited patiently again for something, anything, and then in December it came, the band had decided to break up.
What the band left behind was a meticulously crafted piece of handiwork that has the ability to wow you every time your ears experience it. The album is cut into the theme of different seasons; each song gains its own voice because of this, summer songs sound bright and glowing where winter is hard, frantic and sometimes sleepy. The optimism of spring and the uncertainty of fall are pegged perfectly by the lyrics and progressions in the huge songs. From beginning to end, this is an album that sounds unlike anything else you’ve ever heard while sounding strangely familiar and comfortable.
After the band broke up, whispers of a new project wafted across the ears of those that were listening eagerly and closely enough. Most of the band members went on to create a new band by the name of Water and Bodies, and while their music isn’t on the same grandiose scale as Kaddisfly, it manages to successfully harbour in the best elements of Kaddisfly and march it forward into something relatable but completely new.
Recommended songs: Campfire, Via Rail