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Josh Joplin Group was an American Georgia-based pop music band led by singer-songwriter Josh Joplin. Joplin, a self-proclaimed "dork" who nonetheless dropped out of school in tenth grade to become a folk singer like his hero Phil Ochs, brought the group its trademark combination of introspective lyrics, folk-rock melodies, and lead vocals that, to many, sound identical to those of R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe (to the point that one Joplin song, "Happy at Last," begins, "I sound like Michael Stipe and I dream like Carl Jung").Read More...
After releasing two independent albums (Boxing Nostalgic and Projector Head) under the name Josh Joplin Band, the group signed to Artemis Records and released Useful Music in 2000. Produced largely by Shawn Mullins, the album received strong reviews but failed to make much commercial impact. It did, however, spawn a mild hit in "Camera One," a thoughtful exploration of depression and superficiality. Featuring a more rock-edged, radio-friendly sound than most of the material on Useful Music, the song peaked at #22 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart in 2001, and was featured in an episode of the comedy series Scrubs (season 1, episode 7, "My Super Ego").
In September 2002, Josh Joplin Group released its second major-label album, The Future That Was. On this record, Joplin's lyrics were noticeably more clever and playful than on Useful Music, with subject matter including the nature of popularity ("The Wonderful Ones"), the absurdity of snobbery among music lovers ("It's Only Entertainment"), and the uselessness of trying to predict the future ("The Future That Was"). The musical styles were similarly varied, ranging from slow piano- and acoustic guitar-driven pop to upbeat keyboard- and electric guitar-based rock.
Like its predecessor, The Future That Was received critical acclaim but sold poorly. Artemis released two singles from the album, "I Am Not the Only Cowboy" and "Wonder Wheel," but neither one took off. In the fall of 2003 the band announced that it was breaking up and would play its final two shows in Atlanta in December of that year.