One band that falls into this category, at least from my perspective, is Built to Spill. I had them marked as post-grunge/slacker also-rans behind leading lights Pavement, Archers of Loaf and Weezer. Their first two albums were competent but unspectacular, providing little obvious evidence of the greatness to come - the staggering Perfect from now on album. If they were athletes the World Doping Authority would have been right on their case!
The main attraction of Perfect from now on is the meandering psychedelic instrumental passages. The unconventional song structures give the songs the opportunity to breathe. The music ebbs and flows, effortlessly changing gear from sparse and relaxed to dense and overdriven. The vocals are uplifting, smooth, and well enunciated, and the vocal melodies are almost nursery rhyme like. The sparser moments are reminiscent of Neil Young's Zuma album, so it was no surprise when the band covered Cortex The Killer live.
Randy described eternity starts sparse, at a slow tempo. It builds during it's two verses and then subsides, before entering a slow instrumental build incorporating subtle guitar melodies and a muted wah-wah guitar solo over a meandering bass line. I would hurt a fly also starts with a slow tempo, with subtle shoegazer feedback/reverb guitar and atmospheric cello, before a tempo change sends the song hurtling towards it's climax.
Stop the show also starts slow tempo and sparse, lulling you into a false of predictability before the guitars reach a crescendo and the tempo changes into a stuttering beat. There follows an intriguing instrumental break and a gonzoid guitar solo, which fades into a fast paced arpeggiated guitar coda. Made up dreams is based around a great drum groove, with Moog synthesiser and mellotron provide an almost orchestral sound.
Velvet Waltz is a (guess what?) waltz, with arpeggiated guitar, tremolo guitar and cello dropping in an out as appropriate. Kicked it in the Sun is sparse, relaxed, slow, and summery. Untrustable/Part 2 (about someone else) is a musical tour de force. It starts with two verses featuring chiming guitars before a melodic, meandering break with reverberated guitars. It then drops backs down, rises up into a different verse with an acrobatic bassline, before changing tempo into some gonzoid guitar riffing, before dropping back down and rising back up towards the songs climax.
Built to Spill - 1997 - Perfect from now on
1. Randy Described Eternity
2. I Would Hurt a Fly
3. Stop the Show
4. Made-Up Dreams
5. Velvet Waltz
6. Out of Site
7. Kicked It in the Sun
8. Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)
FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4