Billy Corgan recently stated that the mythology of the 90’s is no longer relevant, and he’s gone after many of his contemporaries for cash grabs as well in recent years.
So, is Grunge still relevant?
Are the bands from the alternative rock revolution of the 90’s still relevant as 2014 comes to a close? Below, AlternativeNation.net’s top reporters take a candid look at some of the generation’s top bands who had some activity this year.
Mike Mazzarone: Quiet year for Pearl Jam when it comes to activity, but they did more then other bands (CheSTP). Are they still relevant? No shit Sherlock.
Brett Buchanan: Pearl Jam didn’t do any heavy touring, but their North American tour was one of the highlights of the year. They performed No Code and Yield, debuted a new song, had special guests like Rick Nielsen, they’re the best live band out there today, and they’re aging gracefully. The difference between them and some of these other bands is they’re not stuck in a time warp. They stuck together when many of these bands faded away, and never have changed their sound to jump on a bandwagon, or relied on a certain era to sell tours or records. Every band should aspire to have the legacy of Pearl Jam.
Doug McCausland: Pearl Jam continues to Pearl Jam it up. That is all.
Mike: Inducted in the Rock Hall in 2014. Legacy sealed and relevancy sealed. Relevant in 2014 and will be until the end of time. Next.
Brett: The two Nirvana reunion performances were classy and did a great job of servicing the legacy of the band. Nirvana ended 20 years ago and they’re the most relevant Grunge band to this day, the songs are timeless and there are no Kurt Cobain hip hop records or Lil Wayne collaborations to fuck up his legacy, though I’d much prefer that over what happened to him.
Doug: Nirvana should go on tour with guest singers. I don’t care what anyone thinks, I just want to see Dave and Krist on stage together.
Mike: Has there been a more relevancy Gen X band in 2014, with exception to, perhaps, Smashing Pumpkins then Foo Fighters? Successful new album, the documentary series, several tour and festival dates. I don’t think their relevancy is in question.
Doug: I give Grohl and the boys credit for their high ambition with Sonic Highways. There were a handful of good songs on the record, but it didn’t come close to hitting the bar raised by 2011’s Wasting Light. Regardless, the Foos continue to sell out stadiums, and I don’t see them fading away anytime soon. Thanks for being rock’s continued spokesperson, Dave, and hopefully the 2015 tour openers, Royal Blood, will make some great follow up records with huge sounding songs and be just as big one day.
Brett: I didn’t like the new album, the songs just weren’t exciting, it felt like Dad Rock, but I enjoyed the HBO show and the message of it. Dave Grohl is definitely doing his part to try to inspire a new generation of rockers, and helping out younger artists like Royal Blood and Zac Brown. Foo Fighters themselves are definitely still relevant, but they’re not a band at a creative peak right now, nor do they bring any sense of danger. Their live shows though are some of the most entertaining in rock.
Doug: Soundgarden’s 2012 comeback album, King Animal, was a solid record in my book. However, it doesn’t seem like these guys are really enjoying their reunion, especially compared to the energetic Chris Cornell we experienced during his Songbook tour dates. Now that the fabled B-sides album is finally out, perhaps it’s pointless to drag on the Soundgarden legacy any further.
Brett: I loved the 2011 Soundgarden show I went to but each one since has been subsequently less exciting, with this year’s show in Irvine on the NIN tour being a lackluster performance, especially compared to NIN. Matt Cameron’s absence was evident as well, and the fact that they’d go on tour without him was a little disheartening. Soundgarden’s music has stood the test of time, which enables them to go out there and perform less than stellar shows and put out a lot of repackaged old music and make good money based on the legacy of their incredible music, but at this point they’re just another aging band playing their old hits with less passion than they did 20 years ago, but they’ve earned the right to do it.
Mike: When I saw them live this year they lacked passion and were boring. They are the epitome of the cash grab band.
Stone Temple Pilots
Doug: STP seem to have become a Linkin Park side project, and they will need to release an album in 2015 before I completely write off Chester’s hiring as a total mistake. If they don’t have activity in 2015, it will be the same amount of time between Self-Titled and Scott’s firing. Meanwhile, I look forward to Scott’s new album… assuming it ever comes out.
Mike: Hey, remember when we were supposed to get the CheSTP album that was supposed to follow the EP? That and a small tour would of boosted their relevancy this year but sadly Scott Weiland and the Scarfabouts have won the relevancy war this year over CheSTP.
Brett: When STP dumped Weiland and brought in Chester I bought into the hype because I thought we would get more music from the DeLeos delivered on a consistent basis, and see them perform more STP deep cuts without having to deal with Weiland’s shenanigans. The fact that the site got special coverage of STP with Chester probably helped sway my view as well. The reality hit though as time went on that STP are now a Linkin Park side project that will perform live shows consisting of the old radio hits when Chester has free time in his schedule, with occasional mediocre new material. The shows are professionally performed by four talented musicians and good guys, and on time, but the real heart and passion is no longer there, it’s contrived, like it is for many of the bands on this list.
STP is a brand that is still being used to sell tours and make money, but it is not STP without Scott Weiland. As much as he’s fucked up, for better or worse, those are his songs too and his life. To see STP with Chester and Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts perform inferior versions of those songs (and even the original STP on their last couple of tours) has cheapened their legacy and the songs in the name of the almighty dollar. As for Scott Weiland, his live shows improved this year and he put a focus on showcasing his new material, a big improvement for him after a trainwreck 2013, but his career is at a low point. He was headlining the Hollywood Bowl with STP just over 6 years ago, and now he’s playing bars and casinos. Addiction sucks, I’ve lost loved ones to it, and I’ve seen people beat it. It causes a path of destruction, and Weiland’s has done great damage to his and STP’s careers. It’s a sad situation for STP fans, but all we can do is hope for the health and happiness of all four guys, as the legacy at this point has become an afterthought.
Alice In Chains
Doug: Alice In Chains continue to be a good live act for the most part, but it seems they have been caught up in their own dark image to the point of making music and writing lyrics that only pander to the Grunge audience. It’s 2014, these guys are multi-millionaires now who aren’t on heroin, it’s time for a change of musical direction.
Mike: I was wrong. THIS is the definition of a cash grab band.
Brett: I was a big fan of Black Gives Way to Blue and enjoyed the shows I saw on that tour. Jerry Cantrell brought it with some great inspired songs on that record. The most recent album and show that I saw though weren’t that great. They may have hit the point of ‘aging band that just plays the old hits.’ They’ve earned it, and it happens I guess, we all get old or we die young.
Mike: Asking an Alternative Nation reporter if The Smashing Pumpkins are relevant or not in 2014 is like asking if I spent Christmas jerking off to Taylor Momsen in The Pretty Reckless’ “Going to Hell” video. Spoiler, I did, and they are. It was a white Christmas, and the Grinch isn’t stealing it from me. BillCo haters make me wanna die.
Brett: Corgan is a bit different than a lot of these other guys. Many of these other bands are just solely out there for the money, but Corgan is out there for the music, and his ego as well, which makes for a more interesting aging artist to follow than these other guys. He isn’t calculated and political like these other guys, he just says exactly what he thinks and doesn’t give a shit if it makes him look cool. Corgan feels he doesn’t get the respect he deserves compared to his contemporaries, and is still driven to create new music to prove them wrong and cement his legacy. He also calls out a lot of these guys who are pretending to still be pissed off and passionate like they were in 1994, and while some of it seems to be rooted in jealousy like in the case of Pearl Jam, in many cases he is right in calling out these bands for reliving the past for money.
While Corgan still uses his brand name, he is definitely not in the same league as the cash grabbers, as he’s never done a tour focusing on Siamese Dream or Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. While Corgan is driven to get the approval he deserves, it’s almost a moot point, because his stellar body of work will speak for itself long after he is gone. Anyways, he released Monuments to an Elegy this year, and it had some good to great songs on it, along with a few mediocre ones. It was overall an inspired effort that was superior to the recent efforts of many of his contemporaries. Is Billy Corgan still relevant in 2014? Yes, because like him or not, he is Billy Corgan in 2014, he’s not trying to pretend to be Billy Corgan from 1994.
Doug: Though seemingly a commercial flop, Monuments to an Elegy was another great effort by Billy Corgan, whose continued “harsh love” attitude towards his contemporaries to keep up with the changing music scene is misconstrued by the audience as him being some sort of prick. Guess what? In the end, he’s the 90’s musician who gets the most attention.
Nine Inch Nails
Mike: This is a no brainer. Reznor did the score for fucking Gone Girl for goodness sake. NIN showed they were the lead band in their co-headlining tour with Soundgarden, they were one of the most relevant bands in music in 2014, not just rock.
Doug: The Nine Inch Nails brand is just as relevant as it was 20 years ago thanks to the electronic landscape of modern music and the continued success of Trent’s partnership with David Fincher.
Brett: Reznor has aged gracefully, with NIN’s live shows in no way feeling like attempts to recapture 1994. NIN feels very contemporary and has a great stage show, and Reznor has also crossed over into film, scoring one of the year’s best films in Gone Girl.
Mike: Even though the album was mediocre, everything will be alright for Weezer’s credibility and relevancy in the end.
Doug: Rivers Cuomo took me back to the shack and musically pleasured my ears with EWBAITE. I leave you with that image in your head.
Brett: The idea of marketing a record to push the narrative that you are recapturing your 90’s sound just seems dumb. If it’s a good record, market it as being a good new record, the past is the past, but the whole narrative just feels contrived after Weezer were clearly just doing whatever it took to sell records throughout most of the 2000’s. This new record has some cool songs and more of the ‘classic Weezer sound’ than their recent records, but the songs aren’t as good. They’re definitely trying though and they put on a great live show, but fuck ‘rockin out like it’s 94.’ Let’s rock out like it’s 2014 with a new rock revolution to knock those stupid singing shows.
Doug: I voted for Kerry.
Brett: They all seem like nice guys and they’ve got a nice collection of hits, but the new record was Dad Rock at its worst. They still put on a really entertaining show though, but in no way was Bush a relevant band in 2014.