Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twenty-One "Great" Post-Grunge Bands: A Week-Long Look [Part 2]

[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.]

4. Collective Soul

Proof that even a band of good ol’ boys from Stockbridge, GA could cobble together a workable model of the Seattle sound, Collective Soul broke through with “Shine,” arguably the world’s first example of “gospel grunge.” (See also: Third Day, Switchfoot, Skillet, et al.) Bonus points for inventing the vocal style of “yarling” with one well-placed “Yeah!”

Fun Fact: Thanks to seven different singles, Collective Soul managed to spend an entire year atop the Mainstream Rock charts during their career. Seriously. Fifty-two friggin’ weeks.

5. Sponge

Long before Eminem, Kid Rock, and (ahem) Insane Clown Posse, Detroit’s musical legacy was being carried on the wobbly shoulders of one-hit-wonders Sponge. In terms of guilty grungy pleasures, though, you could do far worse than “Molly.” (Or the no-one-remembers-it-now hit “Plowed,” for that matter.)

Fun Fact: Sponge’s second album, Wax Ecstatic, was a critical fave that abandoned grunge for a more varied, post-glam update. Naturally, it didn’t sell.

6. Silverchair

The opening lines of my interview with Daniel Johns, lead singer of Silverchair, way back in 1996: “There's approximation, there's imitation, there's even plagiarism. And then there's ‘Tomorrow,’ the runaway hit by Silverchair that answers, once and for all, the burning question: What if Eddie Vedder was really a blond-headed teenager living in Merewether, Australia?

Fun Fact #1: Even then, I was one snarky little individual.

Fun Fact #2: Remarkably prescient, too.

Fun Fact #3: This marks the tipping point for post-grunge, the moment when all major labels simultaneously realized that PJ and Nirvana knock-offs would sell… and keep selling, indefinitely. Progress to the next blog post at your own risk, then.

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