Friday, April 13, 2012

Blast from the Past: The Ocean Blue

Title:  The Ocean Blue (Amazon, iTunes, AllMusic)
Artist:  The Ocean Blue (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Last.fm, iTunes, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

I discovered The Ocean Blue in 9th grade, sometime shortly after their self-titled debut was released in 1989.  The band was being interviewed by MTV News and they were discussing the fact that they had a lot of American influences (despite the fact that they sounded like a British indie pop band from that era).  During that interview U2 was mentioned and immediately my interest was piqued.  At the time I was a U2 fanatic and since this band claimed my Dublin heroes as an influence I had to check them out.    

The Ocean Blue was a completely new sound to me.  Up to that point I had not heard The Smiths or New Order or Echo & the Bunnymen or The Stone Roses or any of the other British college rock standards of the day.  The melodies and harmonies were lush and sweet with heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics.  The sound was so fresh and vibrant that I became fairly consumed with the record and spent much of 1989 and 1990 with it in my cassette deck.  The record’s opening track “Between Something and Nothing” showcases this band’s signature sound perfectly.  The song is pop perfection and perfectly sets the stage for the rest of the record.  While not all of the tracks on the album live up to the opener, The Ocean Blue as a whole is just as good as any record that had influenced its making. 

The band themselves hailed from Hershey, PA, the home of the world famous Hershey Company and right next door to my mother’s hometown of Lancaster.  Interestingly the band Live hailed from York, PA which is also right down the road from Hershey. 

Admittedly I lost touch with The Ocean Blue after this record.  In 1990 and ’91 I was discovered tons of new music including bands like The Charlatans UK, Concrete Blonde, and (like everyone else) Nirvana.  I lost touch with most of the British pop / Manchester / shoegazer bands after that point but I never stopped loving those early records and despite the fact that they aren’t British, The Ocean Blue does fall into that category.  But more than records like Some Friendly or Rank, The Ocean Blue is the record that really introduced me to this music and thus holds a special place in my heart. 

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