Florence + The Machine
Florence Welch attended Camberwell College of Art in South London. While there she came across a Punk band named The Ludes and even dated a band member. That relationship led to the song "My Boy Builds Coffins" and a cover of The Ludes' "Girl With One Eye" on Florence + The Machine's debut album "Lungs."
After a year-and-a-half, Welch bailed on Camberwell for a career in music and began assembling The Machine. A couple musicians came and went before Robert Ackroyd (guitar), Christopher Lloyd Hayden (drums), Isabella Summers (keyboards) and Tom Monger (harp) solidified as the band's line-up.
Florence + The Machine released a handful of singles ("Kiss With A Fist," "Dog Days Are Over," "You've Got The Love" and "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)") that did well but failed to crack the U.K. Top 10 ("Rabbit Heart" did the best peaking at #12). However, their debut album peaked at #2 on the U.K. chart. Michael Jackson's untimely death and the rush to buy his music kept Florence + The Machine out of the top spot.
With the idea of creating a "more dark, more heavy, bigger drum sounds, bigger bass, but with more of a whole sound," version of "Lungs," Welch and producer Paul Epworth began developing demos for the next Florence +The Machine album in early '10. That process continued until April when the band entered Abbey Road Studios. Epworth continue to labor on the project at his London studio while Welch laid down vocal tracks in studios on U.S. tour stops.
Florence + The Machine also contributed "Not Fade Away" for the tribute album celebrating what would have been Buddy Holly's 75th birthday (had he not died in a plane crash), "Rave On Buddy Holly."
"What Water Gave Me" was released on iTunes as a buzz single while the song's video appeared on the band's VEVO channel on YouTube drawing 1.5 million views in two days.
"Ceremonials," with the lead single "Shake It Out," Florence + The Machine's sophomore set, dropped in '11. The "deluxe" digital and CD 20-track versions featured additional songs, demos and acoustic performances.
The album went to #1 on the U.K. Albums Chart and #6 on the U.S. Billboard 200. In addition, the group contributed "Breath Of Life," to the film Snow White and the Huntsman.
A remix of "Spectrum (Say My Name)" by Scottish musician Calvin Harris became the band's first chart topper in the U.K. Welch and Harris collaborated for a second time on "Sweet Nothing," which entered the U.K. Singles Chart at #1.
Nominated but shut out for Grammy and MTV Awards, Florence + The Machine did pick up NME trophies (2013 Best Solo Artist, 2012 Best Track and 2012 Best Solo Artist) to add to earlier honors.
"Florence + The Machine MTV Unplugged" dropped in '12 and prompted more than a few to ask if MTV was really still doing the shopworn Unplugged series. Yep, they were.
The set featured tracks from "Lungs" and "Ceremonials." It was also notable for the cover of Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness" and a duet with Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age/Eagles Of Death Metal) on the Johnny Cash/June Carter classic "Jackson."
Following all the promotional activity, Welch announced in August, '12, that she was taking a twelve-month hiatus before starting to work on the band's next studio album. But during that period, Welch claimed she had "a bit of a nervous breakdown," and felt very vulnerable when recording began on the group's third studio effort, "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful." Because of that, she called the album the "most personal record I've ever made."
Produced by Markus Dravs, "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful," featuring "What Kind Of Man," dropped in '15. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 selling 137,000 units in its first week. It was the group's first effort to top the Billboard survey.
2012 Florence + The Machine MTV Unplugged
2015 How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Welch can soar like Grace Slick then deliver Annie Lennox edginess. Her throaty emotion makes the drama all the more intriguing.
Keyboards, ballads with thunderous percussion, and vocal acrobatics are all there. That's off-set by a few engaging Dance-Rock tracks.