Monday, 23 November 2009

39: Operator Please - Leave It Alone

The Noughties must surely be remembered as the decade of opportunity for aspiring pop stars. Technology has opened new avenues for music fans to discover new artists, and with it, the traditional system of A&R has been thrown out with the dish water. Pop Idol and the X-Factor rely on text messages to identify popularity. Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys were famous on MySpace before they were famous on Radio 1.

But it hasn't just been about technology. Battles of the bands, previously a method for filling up empty spots in the calendar of a live music venue, have become genuine talent-spotting opportunities. Glastonbury ran one in 2004, and the winners, The Subways, went on to play that festival, and Reading/Leeds repeatedly, building an enormous and passionate fanbase.

Operator Please won that most basic of contests - All Saints Anglican High School's Battle of the Bands competition, in their hometown of Brisbane, Australia back in 2005. Just over two years later, whilst still teenagers, their debut album, 'Yes Yes Vindictive' (already an award-winner in their home country) was being released to critical acclaim around the globe, and they were touring relentlessly in London, New York et al. From something as small as a High School music competition, a star was born.

Of course, despite all this, you probably never heard of Operator Please. Despite their popularity, they still occupy a niche; a successful follow-up album (it's currently being mixed in LA) would go far to establishing a wider fanbase. But if you want an introduction to Operator Please, you can do far worse than watching the video above. Amandah Wilkinson's Beth Ditto-esque vocals quickly set her apart as one of the brightest young frontwomen in rock. But for me, what separates Operator Please from their peers are the sublime jaunty strings of violinist Taylor Henderson. Without them, Operator Please would be a poor Australian relative of Paramore. With them, they sound truly special, truly unique. Bring on album #2.

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