November 6, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Spearmint

Spearmint is a British pop band that for lover 25 years has been making some seriously great, northern soul infused, at times tweeish, power pop. Starting out in 1995 the band produced a number of good singles --and one great one-- through the end of the century. The great single was a modern northern soul foot stomper in which they sampled the legendary Dobie Gray. 1998's "Sweeping the Nation" became a big hit for the band and helped to get them recognized enough to begin to get serious label and production consideration.

A year later they put out their first full album (they'd had a comp of singles before that), A Week Away. It's a fantastic piece of guitar centered indie pop with a strong soul influence. Later albums were somewhat less soulful, and a bit more poppy. Their 2006 release, Paris in a Bottle is a smooth, polished piece of electronic poetry with Shirley Lee's style almost like spoken word performance art in places. Throughout their career the band has not strayed far from the kind of music you might have heard from The Housemartins, Beautiful South, The Style Council, or Teenage Fanclub.

You'd think that arriving along with the Britpop phenomena that they would have achieved mega stardom. But, for some reason the public eye sort of passed them by, leaving them as stars of cult status. A good, criminally overlooked band.

Spearmint started out as a five piece, and original members Shirley Lee, Simon Calnan, and Ronan Larvor remain in the group today. Along the way they added Jim Parsons and Andy Lewis. Over the years the band has done lots separately, as well as a number of official Spearmint albums, including 2021's Holland Park. Lee released his own solo stuff -- alhtough since a number of the band played together on it, it really is a lot like just another Spearmint album. Andy Lewis has been busy playing with Paul Weller -- as well as having his own projects where he produces some great soul music. And Jim Parsons front his own side-project, a quirky, indie pop band called telly.
[Updated 2023]

Spearmint -- Sweeping The Nation

Spearmint -- Scottish Pop

Spearmint - Albion