Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twenty-One "Great" Post-Grunge Bands: A Week-Long Look [Part 1]

[In the hugely entertaining documentary series Metal Evolution, there’s a special branch reserved on the metal family tree for “Post-Grunge,” that nebulous brand of hard rock that emerged almost immediately after Nevermind hit #1—and hasn’t disappeared from the charts since. “Post-grunge” (also known as “grunge lite,” “fake grunge,” or simply “crap”) borrows liberally from the sound of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and/or Alice In Chains to create a sound that feels like the real thing, despite not having a shred of originality anywhere in its DNA. Unsurprisingly, radio programmers ate this recycled mess up for decades.
Can I defend any of these acts? Not really—at least not in their original “post-grunge” guises. But do some still possess a certain nostalgic charm? Of course, especially when you compare the goofy earnestness of a one-hit wonder like Sponge with the grim, by-the-numbers plodding of today’s rock radio landscape. Hell, I even get nostalgic for
Bush every once in a while. How screwed up is that?
So below, please enjoy a roughly chronological rundown of the era’s “greatest” post-grunge acts. Bad as they were back then, even the biggest offenders now seem less repulsive in hindsight.
Except for Nickelback. Those guys are still f—n’ terrible.]

1. Stone Temple Pilots

It took exactly one year and five days after the release of Nevermind before the industry found a way to turn grunge into an easily duplicated commodity. Now, some would argue it was merely coincidence that Core sounded so similar to the successful Seattle bands of the time, especially since STP had written and recorded the bulk of their material before grunge ever took off. Usually all it takes is a couple minutes of the Eddie-Vedder-aping video for “Plush” before those same people shut up.

Fun Fact: STP began shedding most of their grunge trappings on their follow-up, Purple, with the “Stone Temple Pilots sound” consolidating for Albums #3-6. Those four albums combined have sold half as much as Core by itself.

2. Candlebox

The first band to achieve a major-label deal simply by moving to Seattle and pretending to be “grunge,” Candlebox holds a special place in the hearts of coattail riders everywhere. Less than a year after “Far Behind” commandeered airwaves, their second release, Lucy, gave the group a less-welcome bit of notoriety: the first “post-grunge” album to totally bomb commercially.

Fun Fact: Candlebox was the first success for Madonna’s vanity label, Maverick Records, which sank some of that profit into promoting an up-and-coming songstress named Alanis Morissette—meaning it’s entirely possible that, without Candlebox, Lilith Fair never happens.

3. Bush

Unlike STP and Candlebox, Bush made no bones about their naked desire to follow in Nirvana’s well-trod footsteps, going as far as recruiting In Utero producer Steve Albini to record their “difficult” second album, Razorblade Suitcase. But it’s the band’s debut that remains post-grunge’s watershed moment; from the stolen Bowie lyrics in “Everything Zen” to the Unplugged In New York rip of “Glycerine,” Sixteen Stone moved in excess of six million copies without adding a single original idea to the canon.

Fun Fact: Hey kids! Did you know that Gavin used to be gay? And British? And more successful than his wife? It’s true!!

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