Crispian Mills is the son of Walt Disney child actress (and Miss Bliss from “Saved by the Bell”), Hayley Mills. He also happens to be the frontman of a psychedelic pop rock outfit called Kula Shaker that came to prominence in the late 1990s. Like pretty much any band from England that had a vaguely alternative pop/rock sound at the time, Kula Shaker was lumped in under the BritPop umbrella. Mills split up the group after only two albums in 1999 with a mind of going it solo but finally re-formed the group in 2005 after a handful of unsuccessful musical endeavours.
The Jeevas was the closest project during this time that Mills had put together to find a sense a stability. Formed as a trio, with two former members of the band Straw, the group actually released two full-length albums in 2002 and 2003, matching the output of Kula Shaker by that point. They are largely forgotten these days, rightly or wrongly, but I always thought they had a few high moments that were worth mentioning at the beginning of the 21st century.
I couldn’t tell you now how I first heard of the group and came upon their debut album, “1-2-3-4”. I was definitely active in looking for new music on the internet in those days, by both new and old favourite bands. Living in North America, I never did hear a lot about Kula Shaker’s dissolution and since I loved their first two records, I was probably searching for news of the group and its frontman on the regular. I definitely remember recognizing the sound in The Jeevas’ music upon first listen. It was kind of like Kula Shaker but without all the traditional Indian instruments, a mimicking of psych rock of the 60s and 70s and Mills’ furthuring his Lennon-like vocals.
There was something about “Once upon a time in America” that stuck for me amongst rest of the songs on “1-2-3-4”. It just popped with all the energy of a live performance out in the hot sun. I’ve never really paid much attention to what Crispian Mills is singing about here but sometimes, that doesn’t necessarily matter. The guitars cavorted between crisply bouncy and messy noise, the drums pound and crash, and Mills just lays it out there. If these three ever made it big, this could’ve been their stadium anthem.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.