Cobain

Grunge Revivalism: Why America’s Angriest Genre is Coming Back

The early 90′s were fun. Music fans wore ugly bloated flannel and punched the wall to the overtly aggressive sounds of the forerunners of the genre. It was a fun time for sure. Grunge music never really DIED per se. It was GOOD grunge music that died. When Kurt Cobain shot himself late 1994, just after releasing their widely considered best album In Utero, that could be seen as the death of quality grunge music. But when Collective Soul and Staind came around, the genre was just dilated to the point of comedy. And some even say the reigns are still held by bands like Three Days Grace and Nickelback who gave us the aborted fetus known as their entire career.

Oh and don’t get me started on boy bands- where The Backstreet Boys were just the teabagging of grunge’s legacy.

The problem with grunge is that it was always existed in some fashion because if you strip it to its core essence, you have distorted guitars, snare drums, strong pop/metal riffs, and a bass dialed up. Grunge music is a simple formula, but it’s also the cultural implications of the era that made grunge not only relevant but impacting music to this day.

The world is trying to rebound from the pop-heavy 80′s, where commercialized glam pop ruled the airwaves. Not that it was bad exactly, but bands like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, and Tears for Fears were more interested in crying over a piano and a synth hook than screaming and yelling unrecognizable lyrics to a riff overbearingly heavy.

Of course, not all grunge bands were always heavy. They knew when to turn it down, making some beautiful organic songs that still have stay power- while also playing to the grunge extremes and just distorted the shit out of everything. Alice in Chains released an almost entirely acoustic album Jar of Flies, and it remains one of the most well received (and my personal favorite) grunge albums ever.

Grunge also came about from an economic recession that plagued the times, and whether the music was a direct response to an inefficient system, or whether the calamities of outside influence had only a direct effect on the Seattle area, remains to be truly explored. But with an economic recession and riding off the back burner of glam-pop, MTV era exploitation, and an economic recession, the perfect storm of self-deprecation and heavy music can foster.

let’s break this down just so you understand. A grunge music revival is likely. The original grunge music movement came about through circumstances eerily reminiscent of the happenstance in 2011.

Riding off 80′s pop music? Sounds like Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber,and Katy Perry all released overwhelming popular pop music last year.

MTV, music videos and exploitation? Well, we have the web that was essentially non-existent during the course of grunge’s high years, and with the music industry reforming daily, it may have a place to prosper again.

Economic recession? have you seen the news?

Despite this, grunge is a tough one to recreate, simple because we’re competing with acts born out of our early listening years. Will anything top the top acts of that era- can any band really be as significant emotionally and for a now 25 year old who grew up directly influenced by these sounds? Maybe it’s just time for a new generation, younger kids now listening to HEAVY and not…well…what they are listening to.

Some of the big 90′s acts are making a resurgence as of late, which may be adding to the beliefs of a new grunge movement. But every band is doing it with a bit of laziness, it appears they are cashing in and not being artistically credible.

When Stone Temple Pilots hit the scene they were a bit late, and not even FROM Seattle. They took the grunge sound and added a layer of glam that made it more poppy, essentially pioneering the grunge power ballad. The band did released a new album in 2010 that was modestly received, and toured behind it. The album was average, but it did show an effort and made a small splash.

Alice in Chains “reunited” with a new singer a few years back, and released a tolerable new album that was as uninspiring as a new Dean Koontz novel. And they toured with mediocre bands, trying to fit into the new musical landscape while banking on their nostalgic sound. it was all so out of place, i can’t help but feel that the are damaging the grunge era and not helping it.

Soundgarden reunited years ago, and have yet to put out any new material. They played a few shows here and there, but nothing to substantiate a stake in the new grunge movement slowly evolving.

Some days are working, but doing it lackadaisically. And no one expects a Nirvana reunion of any kind, and the idea disturbs me, so their career is now summed up with Greatest Hits, rarities, and cover fodder for 90′s High School grunge throwback bands.

Pearl Jam released Backspacer in late 2009, and though it was the best album of the bunch, it was less grunge than my Aunt Helen’s pet dog ‘Scurvy.’ They are putting together a festival this summer dubbed “Summer Fest,” which is rumoured to feature many grunge acts including Soundgarden, Green River, and perhaps an appearance by Temple of the Dog?

Modern bands like Yuck and Dead Confederate are using grunge influences to gain some notoriety. As well as The Sword who using sludgy metal to add a level of distortion and grunge attitude. These bands are bringing out a new fresh style as well adding more country influences that notable in the grunge movement. There’s also a respectable amount of grunge styled music coming out of Russia, of all places. And some may make some waves in the States.

The grunge era is slow to revive. Many fans are clamoring for rock to step back into the limelight, where the top selling rock album of the last year was Linkin Park’A Thousand Suns (at #40) Rock music is hurting, and hurting bad. But until a classic grunge act grabs the genre by the balls and brings about all their new friends gathered from the last few years, grunge will forever remain in the discreet but powerful 90′s, and floundering as classic rock staples to you to show your kids when you’re 40. “Now THIS was real music, Little Billy!” Billy goes to the computer and plays Beiber’s newest single “Young 4 Eva,” from his 11th studio album- released digitally.

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