Best Band You’ve Never Heard?

I only recently discovered that one of my favorite bands, the Australian rock group Died Pretty, officially broke up in 2002 after 17 years of playing and recording together. They were one of the most consistently outstanding bands I’ve ever heard, with each of their 8 full-length releases containing virtually no filler material. Even their b-sides and other non-album tracks achieve a level of quality unmatched by the best efforts of many other bands. Unfortunately, their success was extremely limited outside of their home country, even though it seems their music should appeal to any fan of melodic rock with a modern edge.

Last month I decided to complete my Died Pretty collection by ordering their final EP’s and a CD of their early releases (which I previously only had on vinyl). Though signed to Sony for a short period, the best source for their recordings is their home label, Citadel Records. Citadel still carries several Died Pretty titles that are otherwise difficult to find. While placing my order, I corresponded briefly with a fellow at Citadel who told me they have plans to re-release the first four Died Pretty albums sometime next year. Better still, each re-release will include all the b-sides that came out with the original release!

Please give Died Pretty a listen if you haven’t already heard them. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. More than any other band I’ve heard, I feel that they come closest to capturing the spacious, atmospheric pop/rock sound and emotional/spiritual impact of U2. You sometimes have to work a little harder to warm up to the obtuse lyrics and vocals of singer Ronald Peno, but I think their hooks will latch onto your subconscience within a couple of listens. It might be helpful to describe Died Pretty as a more introverted U2–whereas Bono reaches inward for his lyrics then casts them outward in a way that affects a mass audience, Peno is often more guarded about how he reveals his thoughts and feelings. Perhpas this explains why they failed to connect with the masses on the level that U2 has over the years.

For new listeners, I recommend approaching their albums in this order:

1. Doughboy Hollow

2. Sold

3. Trace

4. Pre Diety

5. Free Dirt

The remaining Died Pretty releases are very good, but they depart in various ways from the core sound of the band. The ones I’ve listed are the most accomplished and accessible, and they should have the greatest appeal to the widest range of listeners. Seek out, and enjoy!


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