Nine Grunge Songs that Stand the Test of Time
Expect an excess of thrift store flannel, floral Doc Martens, and teenage angst this weekend when South Florida's premier Nirvana tribute act Smells Like Grunge rolls into Lake Worth's Speakeasy Lounge. We caught up with the trio a few months back where we gleaned that the act's drummer, Jay Scott, could be a solid Dave Grohl stand in and that lead singer Nick Rotondi has Kurt Cobain's cathartic howls down pat. Bassist Hector Diaz, who does a pretty convincing Krist Novoselic on stage told us the band will be performing a 90-minute set on Saturday with ''all the hits," and peppering in "some more obscure tunes for the die hards." The group covers the entire gamut of the storied grunge act's career, performing everything from the early Bleach years through bits of In Utero and even a MTV Unplugged tune or two.
All this Nirvana talk got us thinking about the scuzzy, plaid-loving genre known as grunge. Let's face it, some of the more popular grunge tracks, to put it metaphorically, can smell rather putrid in today's musical tableau. Who can really bear hearing Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," or Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush," one more time? Don't get us started about Hole either and let's not start talking about the Offspring, Limp Biscuit, Bush charade that followed the grunge wave.
So, no rock journo in their right mind would disparage Nirvana, that would be musical sacrilege -- let's just say the entire Nirvana catalog is immune to staleness. But what other grunge songs have stood the test of time? Which grunge songs could one safely play at a party without running the risk of being singled out as a relic '90s child, abuser of the Singles soundtrack? After the jump we've compiled a list of grunge songs that still sound relevant and current, to avoid any such accusations.
9.The Melvins - "Civilized Worm"
The Melvins epitomized everything that's awesome about sludge and trudge. Starting out in 1987, the trio's slow, Black Sabbath-adoring riffage served as a precursor to the Seatlle madness that would ensue a few year's later. The act is rumored to be one of Kurt Cobain's favorites as well.
8. The Screaming Trees - "Nearly Lost You"
Busted! All right so this one, the Screaming Tree's touchstone track is actually off the Singles soundtrack, but the chiming guitar lick is so enticing. Don't judge us.
7. Green River - "Queen Bitch"
Green River may be the most eminent Seattle band grunge novices have never heard of. The group holds a special place in grunge history more for the fact that its members went on to become rock stalwarts in other bands -- the band's vocalist/guitarist Mark Arm and guitarist Steve Turner formed Mudhoney, and bassist, Jeff Ament to Pearl Jam -- than its actual musical product. "Queen Bitch," however, is a frolicking number that accentuates the dirty-yet-poppy vibe that populated the Northwest in the early '90s.
6. L7- "Pretend We're Dead."
Chord changes? Who needs chord changed when you have as nifty of a hook as heard on L7's Butch Vig-produced track "Pretend We're Dead."
5. Veruca Salt -"Seether"
This radio-friendly number from Chicago-based quartet Veruca Salt perfects the jagged pop-meets-punk aesthetic. Quick, sharp guitar assaults and sassy saccharine vocals, a great combo to get any party hopping.
4. Blur - "Song 2"
Woohoo! Yes this number from extraordinaire Brit-pop act Blur received much radio love back in the day. But we have to give our Limey boys a nod for venturing into the grunge landscape. Forever proving that grunge is not an entirely American commodity.
3. Seaweed - "Kid Candy"
Distorted guitars and mumbling: Seaweed's "Kid Candy," embodies everything we loved about grunge. Its snarling vocals and epic timbres sound much more pertinent still today versus all the Sponge and Better Then Ezra-type groups that followed.
Probably the least well-known song on the list, but listen to it once, then try not to immediately listen to again. It has a hook worthy of a pop song hidden in that muddy mess, and it's a great one.
2. Temple of the Dog - "Hunger Strike"
This tribute to the ill-fated singer of Mother Love Bone, Andrew Wood contains both Eddie Vedder's wobbly vocals and Chris Cornell's grand wails, so grunge purists can revel.
1. Alice in Chains - "Down in a Hole"
Just lump Alice in Chains right in there with Nirvana as one of the only grunge bands that will never grow old. Layne Staley's mesmerizing, haunting vocals is stuff of rock 'n' roll idolatry. Our only regret is that Jerry Cantrell still performs with some other turkey as "Alice in Chains." Hang it up Jerry, will you?
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.