Today's post takes us all the way up to Hershey, PA, where the only thing better than their chocolate is their only musical claim to fame (as far as I know), the Ocean Blue.
In some ways, the Ocean Blue were sort of America's answer to the Smiths, but really they were all things Brit and jangle, and you can hear other over the pond 80s influences like New Order and Cocteau Twins, not to mention Southern brethren REM, all throughout their sound. And of course that's a great thing.
These guys were still in high school when they got signed to the mighty Sire records. My pal J-Smith remembers seeing a commercial for their debut album on a major network, and I remember seeing a billboard. They were really being pushed hard, which is great, and their first three albums actually sold pretty well for "that type of music." But I guess the climate change that came about with Nirvana, etc derailed their momentum and even trying to add a bit of edge to their style didn't do much for them, especially musically.
Regardless, their first three albums are as close to perfect guitar pop as you'll find anywhere in any era. David Schelzel's songwriting is immediate, intimate, catchy and quite danceable. One thing I always loved about them is that they had a keyboard player, Steve Lau, who actually wrote great parts, with wonderful counter melodies, working as a lead instrument just as much as providing background padding. He could play a mean sax too.
Picking just two songs is difficult, so I just went with the first two suggestions from YouTube. So first we have Sublime, from their much overlooked, even by fans, third album, Beneath the Rhythm and Sound. And then what's probably my favorite song from my favorite album, Ballerina Out of Control, from Cerulean.
Also, the band is dropping their first album in about ten years, Ultramarine, and while I've not had a chance to check it out, you can here.