Fuck me harder, Kurt Cobain
// Colin Spensley

It’s often been said that trends move in 20- year cycles. In our fast-paced modern society, however, these trends come and go much more quickly. Recently usurping 80s throwback bands in Vancouver is the revival of Grunge, which is seeing the local music scene getting a lot more distorted, angry, and all-around dirty.

Do you remember the 80s? Me neither! But that didn’t stop countless bands from recently picking up synthesizers, despite the fact that they couldn’t have been out of diapers when New Wave and synthpop were current. Vancouver band Destroyer recently released the critically acclaimed album Kaput, which was very much a throwback to the “tight ‘n’ bright” era. Truly, nothing captures the essence of 80s music better than the faint echo of a saxophone being played on a distant mountaintop, which Kaput is awash in.

Though there are still musicians celebrating the 80s (such as John Maus’ incredible impressions of Joy Division’s album Closer), music culture has noticeably leapt forward a good ten years into 90s revival. Time for everyone to bust out the plaid workshirts, combat boots, and long, greasy hair! The 90s were a great time for music and culture: everyone was pissed off, girl was spelt grrl, and the music was loud, distorted, and abrasive.

The signs of the current grunge revival are everywhere. Spend a weekend at any Vancouver dive bar (Pats Pub, Funky Winkerbeans, etc.) and it’s easy to see: Nu Sensae, Heavy Chains, and The Defektors are just a few of the loud, angry bands playing shows around the city, yelling in your face and cranking the distortion level up to 11. They spit on the soft-rock ideals of 80s revival while drinking all the PBR.

“On Sept. 24 1991, Nirvana released Nevermind, an album that not only changed music, but altered the culture in ways that still resonate today,” writes Marc Hogan for Spin magazine’s August issue, which was completely dedicated to Nevermind.

The 20-year anniversary of this quintessential grunge album has both music nerds and superfans getting riled up with 90s fever. Nirvana’s popularity certainly never faded, but this 20-year benchmark will no doubt expose Nevermind to an even larger, younger audience.

Major record labels in the early 90s began to realize the immense potential of underground scenes, as opposed to mainstream pop music. “Nirvana arguably knocked that door down, and then old geezers like me coat-tailed,” says Henry Rollins of Black Flag, in an interview for the above Spin article.

Many bands of this period still exist, which makes this particular revival a bit confusing. One must ask themselves: “Did grunge ever really leave?” The answer is, probably not. Bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains never really went away, but the popularity of grunge definitely declined with the creation of pop-punk and, later, modern indie rock. It was then rehashed rather horribly in the early 2000s by bands such as Nickleback and Theory of a Deadman. On top of that are the reunions of Pavement, Guided By Voices, and The Pixies, all 90s favourites. It’s clear that grunge is back and ready to moan.

// Colin Spensley, Columns

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