Athlete - A flurry of high profile success early-on.

Athlete – Live At Glastonbury 2003 – Past Daily Soundbooth

Athlete – A flurry of high profile success early-on.

Athlete – In Concert at Glastonbury 2003 – BBC 6 Music –

Athlete to kick off the week. Starting in 2000 and scoring with big hits from the get-go, things have quieted down a bit in recent years, but they are still touring and recording – with four albums under their collective belts so far.

From their Wikipedia page:

Athlete took their wide ranging influences such as Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips and started jamming and practising in the basement of The Bear, a pub which was converted into a church and sandwich bar, on Deptford High Street in 1999. They began recording there, before sending demos out.

Signing with Regal Recordings, the band released their first single “Westside” in February 2002, which was a hit, garnering airplay on BBC Radio 1 and paving the way for another single, “You Got the Style” which cracked the Top 40 in June. Parlophone took notice and promptly signed the musicians, who entered the studio with producer Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Beth Orton) in late 2002 to record their first studio LP.

The band came to prominence in 2003 with their debut album, Vehicles and Animals, producing popular singles such as “You Got the Style” and “El Salvador”. The album earned a Mercury Music Prize nomination and went on to sell over 250,000 copies. They played their first live session on UK radio on the Dermot O’Leary Show on BBC Radio 2. Following the release of the album in April 2003, the summer of that year was a particularly fruitful time. Shortly after Glastonbury and T in The Park festivals, the band were nominated for the Mercury Award. After nomination, the album went from silver (60,000 sales) to gold (100,000) in the space of two weeks. “I think there’s an underdog waiting to be discovered by the Mercury every year,” said Steve. “And that year it was us.” “By the time we played V at the end of the summer it seemed like everybody there knew the record,’ said Joel Pott, ‘There was 20,000 people, all singing along.’

Their second album, Tourist, reached Number One in the UK Album Charts in its first week, following the huge success of single “Wires”. The song was written about Pott’s newborn baby who was rushed to intensive care after a premature birth, and in 2006 it won them the Ivor Novello Award for “Best Contemporary Song”. In the UK charts, the band has frequently been frustrated by singles just missing out on top 40 placings, due to inconsistent support by music television channels and radio stations. For instance, certain songs, such as “Wires” and “Half Light”, were played up to 10 times a day on larger UK radio stations, yet other singles such as “Westside” and “Tourist” received little radio play.

Tourist had a mixed critical reception, with some suggesting that Athlete had failed to sustain the unique style of their previous album, while others saw the new album as a logical progression from their old sound. Allmusic wrote that “Its art direction is a winning tribute to the striking cover art of Britpop past, but musically, Tourist settles for complacent.” The supporting tour took place between 2005 and mid-2006.

Somewhat quiet of late, with their last album released in 2009, they are still together – and if you missed them during their highly successful period, his the play button and give a listen to their 2003 Glastonbury appearance – thanks to BBC 6 Music.

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