Posted August 12, 2006 by Mike Mineo in Features

Jellyfish are fun.

For some bands, it was a shame that the early 90s were completely absorbed in the grunge movement. Jellyfish were one of them, as their focus on catchy power pop with obvious influences of bands such as Queen and The Beach Boys went unnoticed for the most part. The band was formed in 1990 by Andy Sturmer, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and Jason Falkner. During their short-lived four year career, they released two exceptional albums in Bellybutton (cover above is self-explanatory) and Spilt Milk. Their second album, Spilt Milk, saw the departure of Falkner and the addition of several new studio musicians, including Jon Brion (the acclaimed producer/musician). Spilt Milk was more of a rock opera, if anything, chronicling the highs and lows of a fictional rock star.

The fantastic ‘The Ghost At Number One’ recalls a rock star’s supposed cocky character once he reaches the #1 spot on the charts. The song’s musical array reminds me of Queen without the unique anthem-like vocals of Freddie Mercury. Vocalist Andy Sturmer has great vocals as well though, and he does a very nice job, especially in the Beach Boys-inspired ‘Sebrina, Paste And Plato’. The upbeat child-like melody is perfect for the mold of the song, and the Brian Wilson comparisons can be heard in the chorus but even moreso in the bridge about halfway into the song (01:12). ‘New Mistake’ is a simply arranged power pop ballad, much like the sound XTC has achieved so well for many years, while is ‘All Is Forgiven’ seemed more acceptable in their time with their aggressive alternative rock method making its showing through fuzzy and distorted guitars combined with wavy vocal effects. The band split in 1994, with all original members having notable musical careers after the band. Andy Sturmer has been the most successful, writing many hit songs for the cult Japanese duo Puffy Amiyumi. One of the songs below by Puffy AmiYumi, ‘Long Beach Nightmare’, is an example of Sturmer’s current songwriting. The retro feel really is not that different from his former band Jellyfish, besides the female Japanese vocals of course. Though Jellyfish only released two albums, both were very memorable and criminally underappreciated.

Jellyfish – The Ghost At Number One



Jellyfish – Sebrina, Paste And Plato



Jellyfish – New Mistake



Jellyfish – All Is Forgiven



Puffy AmiYumi – Long Beach Nightmare (written by Andy Sturmer)



VIDEO: Sebrina, Paste And Plato (live)

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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].