‘Bellybutton’ and ‘Spilt Milk’: Jellyfish’s Twin Pop Classics

While mainstream rock music in the early ’90s embraced agitation and angst, Jellyfish set their compass on sweet baroque pop melodies. The California band arrived at the dawn of his decade, a transitional period in rock music, when the sun was beginning to set on college rock and glam metal, and the rise of grunge was on the horizon. However, Jellyfish did not settle for any of these styles, instead embracing a progressive power pop sound that owed more to Todd Rundgren and the Raspberries than Guns N’ Roses or The Smiths.

Formed by keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning and drummer/vocalist Andy Starmer, two high school friends and former members of Beatnik Beach, Jellyfish played a variety of music that wasn’t necessarily popular in the 1990s. He created his sound from influences. queen And the Partridge family,” Manning said at the time. But that didn’t dampen interest in the up-and-coming band, with Charisma winning an eight-label bidding war to release their debut album.

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Commercial success came slowly, but excitement built around the release of the band’s debut. belly button reached its peak among critics, garnering widespread acclaim for its hook-driven pop songs packed with elaborate arrangements. The producer is Albhy Galuten, who is best known for his work on film soundtracks. saturday night fever, belly button It adds a distinctly modern sheen to retro-tinged songs. The group did not shy away from these signifiers. The video backdrop for “That Is Why” depicted the band against a swirling, psychedelic ’60s backdrop, and the song itself included harmonies on the chorus worthy of the power-pop hero’s Big Star.

Rounded out by former Three O’Clock guitarist Jason Faulkner, the group delivered a series of ambitious pop music. First single “The King Is Half-Undressed” has a grand, progressive arrangement that recalls the grandeur of the psychedelic-era Beatles, while “Now She Knows She’s Wrong” has a similar Merseybeat tread. And on “All I Want Is Everything,” the group proved adept at delivering driving hard rock songs. Although these songs were upbeat and charming, Starmer’s lyrics occasionally delved into darker themes, such as domestic violence in “She Still Loves Him” ​​and absentee fathers in “The Man I Used To Be”.

It received a glowing reception, including a 5-star review from . Q Supported on tour with black crows, belly button Despite this, sales in the first year of release were only 100,000 copies, far below expectations. That session was also fraught with disagreements, with Manning and Starmer often clashing over creative choices. In the aftermath, Jason Faulkner left the group, feeling that his contribution had diminished.

Despite the changes within the band, Jellyfish moved forward with plans for an ambitious second album. One year until the production of the second album, spilled milkfound Manning and Starmer together with Herro, as the duo contributed it takes timethe Beatles’ 1992 solo album. ringo starrIn addition to songwriting sessions with beach boysBrian Wilson, whom Manning described as “totally unreal.” Unfortunately, nothing of substance came from those sessions, but the experiences energized the songwriting duo to create what they called their “masterpiece” in 1993. spilled milk.

The Beach Boys were an influence from the beginning. spilled milk That’s clearly evident on the first song, “Hush,” which features a gorgeous a cappella arrangement that brings to mind Wilson and company. pet cries The best. For that matter, the Beatles’ influence is evident on songs like “Sabrina, Paste, Plato,” with a bouncy melody reminiscent of “Penny Lane” and some prog-rock touches.

In Faulkner’s absence, the band hired two session guitarists, Lyle Workman and Jon Brion, the latter of whom would go on to have a long and fruitful career in production. However, although the band itself was downsized to a trio, Jellyfish’s ambitions saw them creating something even grander and more elaborate in sound. Through the light organ tones of “New Mistake,” the band conveyed progressive pop. super trapand the soaring ballad “Glutton of Sympathy”, where reluctant frontman Andy Starmer is given a platform for an even more passionate vocal performance.

The album’s biggest moment is “All Is Forgiven,” one of the most dramatic arrangements in the band’s repertoire, with suspenseful pin-drop silences throughout the song. And once again, there was Starmer’s powerful vocals, the range and intensity of which seemed to foreshadow Jeff Buckley’s dynamic performance.

Similarly, although it was praised by critics, it fell short in terms of sales numbers. spilled milk‘s performance did not bode well for the group’s future. During the making of this record, a rift began to widen in the creative relationship between Manning and Starmer, and although he was happy with the final result, Starmer said the production took “too much time and cost too much”. Ta. This lament is the inspiration for the record’s title, a reference to the idiom “There’s no use crying over spilled milk.”

After several failed attempts to write new songs, the group went on hiatus by April 1994. After disbanding, Starmer was largely inactive, composing music for cartoons and children’s shows, and producing the Japanese group Puffy Amiyumi. Manning not only contributed to Beck and Air records, but also launched his cookbook, Imperial Drugs and Moog.

But long after the members disbanded, Jellyfish’s music continued to reach new listeners, and traces of their kaleidoscopic pop sound echoed through the Ben Folds Five’s subsequent records. wayne fountainand eel. Although the band’s story spanned just five years, Jellyfish left an immeasurable impact on record sales.

Order your Jellyfish vinyl today.

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