Music / Jellyfish

Jellyfish are a San Franciscan Power Pop band founded by childhood friends, vocalist/drummer/multi-instrumentalist Andy Sturmer and keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr. in 1990, from the ashes of Alternative Rock 1980s band Beatnick Beatch. The group image was decidedly retro, a deliberately kitschy, brightly colorful, psychedelic look with gaudy bellbottoms, Dr. Seuss hats, frilly shirts, lollipops and umbrellas, a Flanderization of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine-style fashions meeting a Hanna-Barbera cartoon come to life.

Musically, the band drew from many '60s and '70s influences, particularly in regards to catchy, sunny, singalong pop with playful, intelligent (and often lyrically dissonant) lyrics. Elements of Queen, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, the Zombies, The Monkees, The Banana Splits, Electric Light Orchestra, Badfinger, Supertramp and XTC shaped the style of the bandnote , they had their own distinctive style, one which influenced countless Power Pop group following their demise in 1994. Their arrangements were meticulously detailed, and their songs had a tendency to stick in your head long after you've heard them.

The band failed to get much success in a mainstream way in the era of Grunge, and they only produced two albums in their short lifetime. They are known for one hit, the Partridge Family-like "Baby's Coming Back", promoted by a Hanna-Barbera-produced Animated Music Video.

Members

  • Andy Sturmer - vocals, drums, keyboards, guitar
  • Roger Manning - keyboards, vocals
  • Jason Falkner - guitars, bass, vocals (1989-1992)
  • Tim Smith bass, vocals (1992-1994)

A whole bunch of other session musicians contributed to Bellybutton, while on Split Milk the band were joined by guitarists Lyle Workman, Jon Brion (who also handled some of the arrangements) and bassist Tom Wolk.

Discography

  • Bellybutton (1990)
  • Spilt Milk (1993)

Jellyfish provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Band of Relatives: Roger and Chris Manning were in the original lineup, though only Roger got to record with the band.
  • Bookends: On Spilt Milk, "Brighter Day"'s orchestral outro is similar to the beginning of "Hush", at least until the chaotic crescendo comes in.
  • Concept Album: In the liner notes to Spilt Milk's 2015 re-release, Andy Sturmer describes the conceptual idea behind the album as "a series of dreams".
    "The idea was that the album would start with a lullaby; you're being lulled off to sleep and carried in these different dreams, and then you wake up at the end with the alarm clock."
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Thankfully averted with the band as of 2016, but "The Ghost At Number One" examines this trope lyrically.
  • Epic Rocking: "Ignorance Is Bliss", written for a Nintendo tribute album.
  • Genre Roulette
  • Hurricane of Puns: Clever wordplay galore, courtesy of Andy Sturmer's lyrics.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: "He's My Best Friend" describes the protagonist's private parts.
    • From "All Is Forgiven": "Hypocrite, four-flusher, snake in the grass, just a swindler, a wolf in sheep's clothing...LIAR!!"
  • Lead Drummer: Andy was the frontman/co-leader, lead singer, drummer, wrote or co-wrote all of the band's originals and contributed guitar and keyboard parts and co-production. He also drummed standing up in front of the stage.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Bedspring Kiss"; "Now She Knows She's Wrong"
  • Nice Hat: In their "The King Is Half Undressed" video.
  • Retraux
  • Revolving Door Band: Andy Sturmer and Roger Manning were the only two members to stay the course of the band. Interestingly enough, they were the defacto leaders of the band.
  • Spiritual Successor: Of all musicians, Drake Bell seems to have taken a few cues from Jellyfish on his "It's Only Time" album. Hell, he even goes as far to cover "Joining a Fanclub" on his live concert DVD.
  • Villain Song: "Ignorance is Bliss", which is sung from the perspective of Bowser from the Super Mario Bros. video games.
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