I happened to stumble across the song "This is Junk" by Brainpool while listening to a podcast last week. It's a catchy number that sounded to me like Ted Leo and the Pharmacists with a top-40 radio vibe. After digging further I discovered that Brainpool was a 90's postpunk pop group from Sweden who had several hits in the early 1990s, but ditched it all in 2000 to write a rock opera called Junk on the growing commercialism in society. This was a labor of love that took Brainpool four years to complete.
The result is a stunning work reminiscent of the best of the concept albums from the 70's and 80's. They've combined classic rock hooks in the style of The Who, The Clash, Oasis, Pink Floyd, ELP, Queen, David Bowie --and Ted Leo. Not only is the music good, it's eery; like finding a rare unreleased bootleg from many years ago. They performed it live with the Malmo Symphony Orchestra in 2005.
Unfortunately Brainpool never found much success outside of Sweden. And Junk appears to have been the band's swansong. So while you won't find the CD in the racks at your local musical retailer, you can get it at Amazon, iTunes, eMusic and CD Baby. (For some reason the prices are all over the map: iTunes or eMusic are the best price.) Also several of the songs are available on on PodShow and on MySpace.
Update: Brainpool has been on an extended hiatus in recent years. Their web site and blog are no more. But, just when I was about to give up hope, it seems they released a new Christmas song in December 2013 and there could be a new album in 2014. Heck, maybe the Junk rock opera will finally go on tour!