History doesn’t repeat itself but the world of music certainly seems to. British newspaper The Independent featured an article on Saturday October 27, describing bands like Yuck, Splashh, Big Deal, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding and Cloud Nothings as the successors to grunge.
It seems about time. Music is generational and seems to work at a twenty year distance. With a lot of music so far this millennium harking back to the Eighties perhaps it’s time the Nineties got its say as the young children of the 1990s get to try and recapture the sounds of their first musical memories. One thing I’d point to is that publications related to grunge and its history exploded between 2007 and 2011; I count six different volumes about the history of grunge after a decade and a half gap in which no such treatments had existed or been attempted.
The article correctly points out the nostalgia trip going on in the music scene at present as a factor. Again, this isn’t uncommon. The existence of working musicians is, despite the stereotypes, rarely one in which money rains from the skies. Many bands find themselves back out on the road in their forties as the chance to capture new fans offers a last, oft overdue, payday. With so many bands from the late Eighties and early Nineties reemerging it’s understandable that attention is refocused on the musical period in which they worked.
I’d argue that the Nirvana anniversaries have been a factor too. The release of You Know You’re Right in 2002, then With the Lights Out in 2004 (the biggest selling box set of all time) showed everyone that fans still existed and there was still a market for alternative rock. Those bands who went away long enough for people to miss them had a second chance, those who wished they’d seen them got the answer to their wishes and that includes label heads who were able to resurrect their old favorites.
Perhaps its equivalent to the success of the two Expendables’ films. As there hasn’t been any major successor to the Eighties/early Nineties style action hero personified by Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger there was an easy space to be filled. In the case of grunge, there hasn’t really been an equivalent arising to replace it.
Will new talent channeling the grunge period benefit from all this attention? It’s a question of whether old fans are looking for new thrills or just the old safe ones repackaged and reissued. Audiences are smaller these days though (while more global than ever) so it’s unlikely there’ll be another explosion. Similarly it’s hard to spark a revolution on repetition — nostalgia doesn’t lend itself to ‘great leaps forward’ but if the twist these new bands give to their sound makes it something new altogether…Well then there’s a chance.
Anyways, here’s the article link (working as of November 2012):