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The Chemical Brothers

The act with the first arena-sized sound in the electronica movement, the Chemical Brothers united such varying influences as Public Enemy, Cabaret Voltaire, and My Bloody Valentine to create a dance-rock-rap fusion that rivaled the best old-school DJs on their own terms -- keeping a crowd of people on the floor by working through any number of groove-oriented styles featuring unmissable samples, from familiar guitar riffs to vocal tags to various sound effects. And when the duo (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons) decided to supplement their DJ careers by turning their bedrooms into recording studios, they pioneered a style of music (later termed big beat) remarkable for its lack of energy loss from the dancefloor to the radio. Chemical Brothers albums were less collections of songs and more hour-long journeys, chock-full of deep bomb-studded beats, percussive breakdowns, and effects borrowed from a host of sources. All in all, the duo proved one of the few exceptions to the rule that intelligent dance music could never be bombastic or truly satisfying to the seasoned rock fan; it's hardly surprising that they were one of the few dance acts to enjoy simultaneous success in the British/American mainstream and in critical quarters.

While growing up, both Rowlands and Simons grooved to an eccentric musical diet, ranging from the Smiths and Jesus and Mary Chain to Kraftwerk and Public Enemy. They met while taking the same history course at Manchester University, though neither was a native Mancunian -- Rowlands enrolled because of the legendary Haçienda nightclub nearby, while Simons acknowledged the city as birthplace to the Smiths and New Order. The pair began sampling Madchester's vibrant nightclub scene together during 1989 and 1990, just at the peak of Britain's fascination with a DJ'ing style named Balearic. Pioneered at the island hot spot of Ibiza during the mid-'80s, Balearic relied on a blend of early house music, Italian disco, rare-groove jazz and funk, Northern soul, hip-hop, and alternative dance. Original Balearic DJs like Trevor Fung, Paul Oakenfold, and Mike Pickering brought the sound back to indie clubs in London and Manchester, and the style proved very attractive to musical eclectics like Rowlands and Simons.

Though Rowlands was already performing in the alternative dance group Ariel, the pair began DJ'ing together at the Manchester club Naked Under Leather in 1991. Hardly believing that their weekend project would progress, they took the semi-serious handle Dust Brothers (a tribute to the American production team responsible for one of their favorite albums, the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique). Despite their doubts, Rowlands and Simons' club night did grow more popular, thanks to the duo's Balearic mix of rare house tracks flavored with hip-hop breakdowns, independent-dance fusions, and ancient secondhand discards. After deciding to try re-creating their unique sound in their tiny bedroom studio, the Dust Brothers emerged with "Song to the Siren," an intriguing example of the new alternative dance scene including sample victims Meat Beat Manifesto and This Mortal Coil.

After the single was pressed up on a limited release of 500 copies, it began getting attention from Britain's top DJs, initially including an old friend named Justin Robertson but later including Andrew Weatherall and Darren Emerson. Weatherall licensed the single to Junior Boy's Own Records, and after the pair had finished university, they moved back to London to work on another EP (14th Century Sky) and a residency at another club. After their third release, "My Mercury Mouth," the duo began to get more high-profile clients for remixing: besides Justin Roberston's Lionrock collective, Primal Scream, the Prodigy, and the Charlatans all received treatments.

When lawyers for the original Dust Brothers came calling in 1995, though, Rowlands and Simons were forced to change to change their name to the Chemical Brothers (the proposed Dust Brothers U.K. was turned down). Word on the street and nightclub scene was so good that it hardly mattered; their new residency at the Heavenly Sunday Social quickly became one of the hottest club nights in England -- documented on the mix disc Live at the Social, Vol. 1 -- and their debut album, Exit Planet Dust, was heavily praised by critics. Another fan of the record, Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher, agreed to lend his vocals to a future single named "Setting Sun," the Chemicals' tribute to one of their own favorites, the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." The single went to number one in late 1996, and the Chemical Brothers opened up for the giant Oasis concert at Knebworth besides headlining their own shows all over the world.

The Chemical Brothers' second album, Dig Your Own Hole, took charge of the top spot on the album charts upon its release in April 1997, and on the wings of America's growing electronica push, the album sailed to number 14 stateside and went gold. The duo released a mix album in 1998, Brothers Gonna Work It Out, and followed with their third studio LP, Surrender, in 1999. Rather lackluster expectations sparked a return to the underground with the white-label-only single "It Began in Afrika" and the duo's fourth album, Come with Us. It too failed to earn the high notices of the first two albums, although after another three-year gap Rowlands and Simons returned with another, 2005's Push the Button, with guest vocalists Q-Tip, Tim Burgess, Kele Okereke, and the Magic Numbers. The music celebrity parade continued on 2007's We Are the Night, this time including the Klaxons, Willy Mason, Fatlip, and Midlake. In 2010 they released Further, their first album with no vocal collaborations, and in 2011 they released Hanna, their first film soundtrack. Sticking with film, in early 2012 they released to select cinemas Don't Think, a combination of a Chemical Brothers live show and a visual document from their longtime art director Adam Smith. The film and live show were made available for purchase in March 2012. Another film contribution followed in 2014, when the Chemical Brothers collaborated with Miguel and Lorde for a song on the Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1 soundtrack. With 2015 came the announcement of the first Chemical Brothers full-length in five years, Born in the Echoes, which featured guest appearances from Beck, St. Vincent, Cate Le Bon, and the returning Q-Tip. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Galvanize

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Track List: Do It Again (Radio Single)

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Track List: Go (Single)

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Track List: Sometimes I Feel So Deserted (Single)

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Track List: Swoon (Radio Single)

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Track List: Theme For Velodrome (Single)

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Track List: This Is Not A Game (Single)

Comments

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Saw them at Coachella on the main stage. I thought my heart was gonna come out of my chest
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Dont hold back! The time has come to GALVANIZE!
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This sounds like music the citizens of Night Vale or the Elsens from OFF would listen too.
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Exit Planet Dust and Dig Your Own Hole are both worthy of a collection imo, get a bottle of wine and create some delicious pasta sauce with linguini, chill out and watch porn, its great
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Seen them at electric zoo in nyc in 2010. Uneffingbeli e v a b l e . Huge lineup. Benny bennassi, kascade, and a shitton more huge names and The Brothers by far ,stole the show. NASTY. Benny rocked it too. Good times
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Saw them in Kansas City in '99. It was a small venue within walking distance from where I was staying.
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Funny that they stole something they were doing before you were born.
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puremustard
Yes!! This makes me want to skip(button)
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They stole Jez and Superhans' sound
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Blockrockinb e a t s is right...do it again...all day long
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I haven't heard this jam in long time from this band, Star Guitar is a classic. I haven't heard this jam since my teen years. Oh, those were the days.
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claricentp91 7
Interested on making some extra cash? go to BLUDOS.COM You can make $300+ a week easily. Its free so no scam here.
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shawnnavuz71 1
Interested on making some extra cash? go to BLUDOS.COM You can make $300+ a week easily. Its free so no scam here.
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block rockin beats
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Beling???? Really -__-
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sebeling27
450sxish.. no doubt..
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I concur.
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pnkfldlvr
they will never be matched the Glich mob have plenty of thanks to give
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The movie Hanna was EPIC I love the soundtrack.
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Life Is Sweet E.P. nuff said.
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That moment when you cant follow someone.
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daezure
Someone please follow me
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daezure
This is the best
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randallecook
The Chemical Brothers rule. The Sunshine Underground is a masterpiece.
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dont read this because it actually works. You will get kissed on the nearest possible friday by the love of your life. tommorrow will be the best day of your life. however if you do not post this comment to at least 3 songs you will die in 2 days. now youve started reading this so dont stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary cuz it actually work
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* Awesome!
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The chemical brothers are a sick band
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The music the beats are beast
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Ever since I heard Galvanize I've been obsessed with this band. Went through a brief electronica phase a couple years ago, and not once did I come across this badass band. Not a huge fan of the genre (heavy metal is my current, long-time, and permanent #1 favorite genre of music!), but it's safe to say electronic music will once again be in my rotation. Thanks Pandora! By the way, any suggestions as to best album to start with? Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!
Report as inappropriate
Yep, I was right. This band was formerly known as The Dust Brothers.
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mk299
HANNA ost:
Movie was a bit of a let-down, but this soundtrack is absolutely killer... the escape sequence/mus i c video made the film.
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just damn big beat!!!
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cmfitch515
Rize Up sounds weird but cool
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block rockin beats
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I heard these guys for the first time because of the movie Hanna and I instantly fell for them. Among the greatest of the techno/dubst e p - i s h genres
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I think Q-Tip should formally join the band. They work well together. :)
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Missed Ultra 2011 hope you guys go to this years Ultra :)
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,,I hope your desert island has a strobe light,,
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RussClark303
Truly indispensabl e electronic pioneers. I can remember the first time I ever heard their music. It was Chemical Beats on the dance floor of RISE in Baltimore courtesy of DJ Who...I thought a UFO was landing on the roof! My Mercury Mouth soon followed and I was officially hooked ever since. The Chemical Brothers are definitely one of my "Desert Island" artists.
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Dear, sweet Pandora-gods , can we please get the Hanna soundtrack on here? I am starting to shake from withdrawal.
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sgeer8
I saw the Chemical Brothers live... Very disappointin g . Nobody seemed to be really excited or into it, including the performers.
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Freshy fresh, clean spacial airy trip me out softly.
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AWSOME VIDEO "STAR GUITAR"
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Intelligent dance music is generally a contradictio n in terms, kinda like the Paris Hiltons, Brittanny Spears and a whole bunch of celebs in rehab with burnt out brains.
But there's exceptions, like The Chemical Brothers and Juno Reactor and Thievery Corporation and Gotan Project who are exceptional exceptions.
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trip rock fish out
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Best Hollywood Bowl performance! thank you :)
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dexstir
me rock out. fresh trip.
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lburris597
fresh me out rock my trip.
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trip me out, rock me, fresh.
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Exit Planet Dust is near perfect -- the whole album is solid. Since then they've been a bit more hit-and-miss , tho the misses are pretty ok, and the hits (like Block Rockin' Beats) are huge. On the Singles I found "The Golden Path" which is pure retro sythpop, heartbreakin g l y sweet with some guys from The Flaming Lips making it even better.
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