Famous bands from Cambridge

Famous bands from Cambridge

From pioneers of psychedelia to electronica, as well as being a centre of revolutionary academic force, it is also a city that produces its share of musical genius. Each of these bands has been hugely influential on modern music, and Singing Lessons Cambridge recommends each and every one of them as examples of what you can do with a little musical creativity. 

Pink Floyd are one of the most successful British rock bands ever, selling more than 250 million records, and releasing some of the most critically acclaimed, and memorable albums in the history of music. Original member and guitarist Syd Barrett met his eventual replacement David Gilmour at Cambridge Tech, with other founding member Roger Waters also growing up in Cambridge. Since their first album in 1967, Pink Floyd have explored the boundaries of progressive, existential rock music, with extended guitar solos, philosophical lyrics, and sheer psychedelic mayhem, the band revolutionised the sound that a blues-influenced British band could make in the wake of the Rolling Stones and the Who. With technically precise guitar work from Gilmour, and vocal melodies that range from the relaxing to the pained, these two attributes combine to create the kind of intricately sculpted songs that fit together to form perhaps the most stunning long-playing albums ever released by a band. Towards the end of their musical career, the band were marred by in-fighting and loss of critical appreciation, however, this doesn't detriment their inevitable genius and musical virtuosity, and here at Singing Lessons Cambridge we implore you to investigate Pink Floyd further as evidence of the kind of sonic revolution that can come from young people in the city.

The Soft Boys are another band from Cambridge who arguably developed the psychedelic sound that Pink Floyd ushered in. Meeting in Cambridge in 1976, the band constructed an interesting mix of psychedelic rock in the style of Hendrix and Cream, but infused it with something of folk-music, making it more down-to-earth and accessible. Their album 'Underwater Moonlight' epitomised this sound, and was relatively unsuccessful on release. With the benefit of hindsight, critics praise the album for being hugely influential on bands such as R.E.M. and the Pixies, whilst being one of the cornerstones of the Neo-Psychedelia movement, that combined surrealism with more groundedly listenable melodies. The band eventually moved away from this sound, however, and distanced themselves from the psychedelic sound that had characterised their early music, moving towards a more pop sensibility that played a part in the punk movement. The band are relatively forgotten in the present, but check them out if you enjoy any of the long list of bands that were influenced by these Canterbrigians. 

Hot Chip are an electronic music band, who originally met in Cambridge, and have gone on to produce some of the most successful and catchy electronic pop-music from the UK. The band have been active since 2000, and are considered pioneers of the electronica infused pop sensibility that has been imitated so much in modern music. Having released five studio albums, their sound has evolved over that period to incorporate other diverse influences, meaning they stay fresh and relevant. Their most popular hit 'Ready for the Floor' reached number six in the UK, showing the popularity that can be gained from an intimate knowledge of your software, and of what constitutes a dancefloor filler. The band are perhaps the best example of converting their studio songs into exciting live performances, with their songs being reinvented for a live setting, involving heavy improvisation and beat-driven and energetic performances. A favourite at festivals, look out of Hot Chip whenever they tour near you, it is sure to be a night to remember.

Henry Cow are what you'd get if you took Pink Floyd and removed their urge for a catchy tune. The opposite end of Pink Floyd to the Soft Boys, Henry Cow essentially took their surreal and psychedelic musical aesthetic and turned it on its head. Their found each other at Cambridge University, and remain mysterious due to their shunning of the music industry as a whole. This had led to the difficulty in obtaining any good quality recordings, but also led to their sheer inventiveness and sonic experimentation, since they weren't tied down to any label. The band's lineup was continually expanding and changing, much like their compositions, which featured heavy improvisation and jazz influences, all wrapped up in experimental time signatures. These elements led them to be criticised for deliberately making 'unlistenable' music. In spite of this, the band have been incredibly influential, launching the long solo careers of its many members, and showing their contemporary bands that music is about creating what you want, how you want, and that art should not be constrained by money or politics. Truly a philosophy to be thankful for in the modern day, too.

Photography: Christian Bertrand



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