The older I’ve got, the more I’ve realised grunge is an elite genre of music. It isn’t just feisty rock, it doesn’t just tentatively tease a route towards metal; it’s this entirely cultivated sound in its own right. And the dissidence and carefree approach to the style of shredding riffs, thrashing drums and almost screeching vocals built grunge to what it is and should be celebrated as. But if you strip all that back, the technical skill’s all there in abundance, too.
It’s almost considered the norm for Nirvana to be your favourite grunge band. I’m not going to knock them, because I can’t — it was a legendary outfit that should continue to be respected. But Pearl Jam are, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite grunge act. Eddie Vedder and co just typify what the genre’s all about, and all their tracks — even the newer ones — are sheer bangers.
But what about modern day grunge bands worth hearing? It’s an interesting question, because grunge was definitely defined as something that existed in the ‘90s. However, listen a little closer to a few artists today and you might just be able to slot — or perhaps shoehorn — them into the category. Agree or disagree, I’ve picked out some examples that I think work…
Hailing from Leeds, the alt-rockers Dinosaur Pile-Up definitely dip into grunge territory. Their explosive tracks like ‘Back Foot’ still remind me of the likes of Bowling For Soup and so on. But they certainly bring something old-school to the present-day table, which makes them very worthy of your playlists.
As it happens, Wuzi are another band from Leeds. The first time I heard any of their material was when they supported Fudge. at Hyde Park Book Club. ‘Atomis’ was electrifying live. Since then, they’ve realised ‘Out of This World’, which is almost quintessentially, nail-on-the-head grunge in my book.
Oceans on Mars
If you’re a regular Record Weekly reader, you’ll recognise Oceans on Mars. Breaking the pattern here, they’re from Manchester and have a quality not dissimilar to Alice in Chains. There’s just something very grungy about their style. ‘Mousetrap’ is probably the most obvious example of what I’m getting at.
It’s probably more acceptable to lump Ohio-based Citizen into this post when you think about their post-hardcore back catalogue against the songs on their latest album, ‘Life In Your Glass World’. But they still have that alt rock recipe that makes a few of their offerings shoo-ins for the grunge genre.
I see Wavves as the ‘soft grunge’ gap-bridger here. Between ‘Nine Is God’ and ‘Help is on the Way’, you’ve got slower, almost shoegazy melodies with distorted, scuzzy rock sounds befitting of grunge. I could see an argument against them tying into this feature, but I think their tunes hit the brief.