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SuggestiON-AIR: Best Sophomore

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ATL | 14:37 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011

As we've harked on about in this month's The Big List (we have a column, you know!), 2011 is a big year for second albums. Two Door Cinema Club, And So I Watch You From Afar, General Fiasco, Fighting with Wire and The Jane Bradfords - some of our biggest hitters, basically - all set to drop sophomore efforts in the coming months.

The cliché is, of course, that second albums are 'tricky'. But a quick discussion in ATL towers made us realize some of the finest albums ever made are actually the band's second effort. Thus, this week's suggestionaire - from Morning Glory to Nevermind - super sophomores!



Radiohead - The Bends
Rigsy - ATL Presenter

Not necessarily my favourite second record, but an excuse to point out how dissapointing the new Radiohead record is (high on creativity, low on tunes) and relive the glorious days when Thom Yorke wrote, you know, proper songs and stuff. Don't get me wrong, I do occasionally enjoy the noodlier end of Radiohead's recent output, but there's something a wee bit special about 'The Bends' - the sound of an incredible band discovering their voice after an extremely dodgy debut. The production is simple (yet epic) and the feeling of dread and paranoia was at a manageable level, but mores the point 'The Bends' was stuffed full of genuine anthems that will and have stood the test of time. Life was so much simpler back in 1995.


Queens of the Stone Age - Rated R
Amy McGarrigle ATL Content Assistant

The automatic answer for me would be Smashing Pumpkins 'Siamese Dreams'. But as Rigsy has rightly pointed out in the past, I work Smashing Pumpkins into most of these answers and I only got to know Pumpkins around the release of their fourth album, 'Adore'. So, I thought what's been the best sophomore from a band that I remember being released!

And so Queens of the Stone Age's 'Rated R' came to mind. An album that blew me away at the time.
Heavy, yet totally poppy in places. Not to take away from their also excellent self titled debut (being re-released this March), Rated R seen them expand their musical styles and prove they could do mellow as well as riff-tastic rock. It proved a winner for the band, propelling them into the world of commercial success and the cause of so many imitators to date.



REM - Reckoning (1984)
Steven Rainey - ATL Buddy and Radio Ulster Presenter

REM's debut, Murmur, is a masterpiece of towering proportions, as close as it is possible to be to becoming a 100% perfect album, but their follow-up doesn't pull any punches either, giving it's older brother a run for its money. Eschewing the acoustic guitars and moody textures of the debut, Reckoning is the sound of a band who have honed their craft on the road, playing sweaty bars and clubs all night, before hopping in the van and going to the next stop.

Michael Stipe's trademark oblique lyrical style starts to spread its wings, creating all manner of haunting images which could mean everything, or nothing, and the band go into overdrive, drawing heavily upon the new wave energy that initially inspired them, as well as capitalizing on the folk rock dynamics that made them critical favourites. If they hadn't already set the bar so high, Reckoning would rightly be hailed as one of the best albums ever made.


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