Most of you know I love Oasis, U2, Radiohead, Rush, Aerosmith, White Stripes, Pumpkins, etc. etc. A lot of 90's stuff, in other words. My brother in law (and a friend of mine) always tries to open my eyes to new, awesome music (he was listening to the Stripes and the Strokes before either band hit it big, he's a huge Belle & Sebastian fan, and he will mow you down with his useless britpop knowledge & library). However, I'm a creature of habit, and I usually just alternate between the music I've been listening to since high school, with a few bands and comedians thrown in to occasionally spice things up.
The Verve is a band on an entirely different level. Now, I don't think they are 'better', per se, than Oasis or Radiohead. But they are different, and the way they approached britpop was fairly unique. If you haven't listened to Urban Hymns, you WILL become addicted to that album, if only for a short while. My personal fave off of that album is Weeping Willow. It's got a great riff, a psychedelic feel (a Verve special), and one of the best lines to ever come out of britpop: "And the world don't stop...there is no time for cracking up, believe me, friend...". Wow...hits home for me, at least, but it's more in the presentation and Ashcroft's voice, so go listen to it.
I saw them in 1998 at Harborlights, before it became Bank of Boston Pavilion, then Bank of America Pavilion, and I don't even know what it's called now. The show itself sucked...the guitarist responsible for that groovy/psychedelic feel had left the band (Nick McCabe), and Ashcroft was in full "I don't give a fook" mode with a pint glass full of beer DURING EACH SONG in the entire setlist. That's right, saving his voice for a night when he needed it, perhaps. Needless to say they sounded a bit off that night, but they still put on a good "performance", just not a good "show". That was about the end of that for The Verve and they broke up later in the year. Now, somehow, they are back. Check out today's nme.com page, or just check out http://www.theverve.tv/ for more information. They are apparently recording music for Ashcroft to add vocals, which is good, because Ashcroft and McCabe in the studio together at the same time may result in one or both of them being killed. Good times. If The Verve's new record reaches even a 5 on the Radiohead scale, it'll be a huge success and hopefully they'll come back to the States, to tour with Oasis.