During this holiday weekend, I found myself plowing through many CDs I haven’t checked out in years. And that’s when I stumbled on two of my CDs by Scottish dance-rock trio Bis. Bis was sort of like The Powerpuff Girls, after a late night of U.K. pub crawling and discothequing. Signed in America to Beastie Boy Mike D.’s imprint Grand Royal, the group enjoyed some modest success on the college radio circuit between 1996 and 2000, before disbanding in 2003.
What I realized in this quick trip down memory lane is that Bis were way ahead of their time. Sorta. On their magnum opus, Social Dancing, the band clearly paves the way for today’s current crop of Killers/The Go! Team/Bloc Party scene. In truth, the band was recycling a post-punk ’70s/New Wave ’80s sound before these other bands were even formed. So, their real accomplishment was ripping off first, or early. But, that doesn’t change the fact that Bis would have been big, had they released Social Dancing in 2004 instead of 1999.
Social Dancing, appropriately produced by Gang of Four’s Andy Gill, features some of the most anthemic sugar ‘n’ spice, this side of Franz Ferdinand. Soaring songs such as “Eurodisco,” “Theme From Tokyo,” and “Shopaholic” are as infectious as their titles suggest. If anyone reading this is a fan of The Go! Team or Bloc Party and you haven’t heard Bis, do yourself a favor and at least pick up Social Dancing. And, for a memorial to the defunct trio, you can always visit their still-thriving official Web site.