Criminally Underrated: Dramarama

There are a multitude of bands throughout history that we can say: “should’ve been big”. There is no science to why one band has a long financially rewarding career while another; possibly more talented group can put out great music while toiling away in the margins, barely scraping by. I have an idea that most of it has to do with timing, but the industry can be unforgiving. I’m not necessarily talking about mainstream pop music, most of the time there is no rhyme or reason as to why an act will hit the superstardom stratosphere. As a parent of two young children, I hear good things in some of the music my kids listen to (and they like some of what I listen to) but a lot of it is, um…recyclable.

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Anyway, for my money one of the most criminally underrated bands of my time is Dramarama. I won’t go into their entire history but some background may be helpful. Formed in New Jersey in 1981, relocated to Los Angeles, they put out their first full record, Cinéma Vérité in 1985 (they also had a single in 1982 and an EP out in 1984). Things looked really promising when L.A. radio station KROQ put their single Anything, Anything (I’ll give you) on heavy rotation, but stardom never materialized. They got close in the years that followed, but by the time they released their major label debut “Vinyl” in 1991, an amazing record and one of my favorites of all time, their brilliance was swept away in the tsunami that was Nirvana.

To describe their music as alternative is just an indicator of the time they recorded. Their sound is not regulated to an era. They combine the hooky power-pop of Cheap Trick, or Mott the Hoople, with the swagger of prime Stones and even Zeppelin. Throw in a punk snarl and singer Jon Easdale’s incredible poetry masked as lyrics, and you have a band that never put out a bad record, but never had more than one car in the garage.

Dramarama are still going; in fact, they are playing a show in San Francisco in July. I’ve never seen them live, it’s on my bucket list.

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One foot in the door
The other one in the gutter

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