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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Heavy Rotation: When Grunge Ruled the World

For this week's edition of Heavy Rotation, I decided to dig around in the attic for some of my old Grunge CDs. For some of you younger readers that may be a bit unfamiliar with what I am talking about, Grunge is generally characterized by a sludgy guitar sound that uses a high level of distortion, fuzz and feedback effects. Grunge fuses elements of hardcore punk and heavy metal, although some bands performed with more emphasis on one or the other. The music shares with punk a raw sound and similar lyrical concerns. However, it also involves much slower tempos, dissonant harmonies, and more complex instrumentation – which is reminiscent of heavy metal.

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01. Skinyard-"1000 Smilin'Knuckles"

This song was the first song I ever heard from Skin Yard, as it was the the first song on the self-titled album of the same name from 1991. What lead me to purchase this album in the first place was the cool album cover artwork. A bit more upbeat and more metal than punk, this song along with its layered vocals and crunchy guitar also had great melody and stellar production thanks to grunge wunderkid Jack Endino.

The band was formed in January 1985 by Daniel House and Jack Endino, who were subsequently joined by Ben McMillan and Matt Cameron. Skin Yard played its first concert in June 1985, opening for the U-Men. In 1986, Skin Yard contributed two songs to the now-legendary Deep Six compilation. This album, in addition to featuring the first commercial recordings of The Melvins, Soundgarden, Malfunkshun and Skin Yard, was the first to showcase the early grunge sound. That same year, Skin Yard released their self-titled debut album and their first single, Bleed. Read more...


02. Gruntruck-"Crazy Love"

I saw a video of this song on Headbanger's Ball back in 1992 and was instantly drawn to it's great groove and killer vocals which  lead to the purchase of their album "Push" as well as their debut effort "Inside Yours". Gruntruck was also a bit more on the metal end of the spectrum as well, are you starting to detect a trend?

The band only released two albums. They toured the U.S. and Canada with Alice in Chains in fall of 1992, as well as Europe in the winter of 1993 with Pantera, who were supporting Vulgar Display of Power. According to Sean Kinney, they were Alice in Chains's most supported band at the time, opening alongside the Screaming Trees for Alice's Dirt tour. In 1996, they ended up in a legal battle with Roadrunner Records for contract termination. Gruntruck won the case, but at heavy cost to the band. Bassist Tim Paul left and was replaced by Alex Sibbald, and following a less than stellar tour with Circus of Power, drummer Scott McCullum left as well. In 1996, they resurfaced with new drummer Josh Sinder, previously of The Acc├╝sed to record a 3-track EP called Shot. The classic lineup reformed in the late 90s for various shows and recordings that never properly surfaced. In 2000, the band had a successful comeback stint in the Northwest playing many shows to audiences eager for Gruntruck. However, the band disbanded permanently in 2002, leaving behind rumors of a possible album of unreleased rarities that may or may not surface in the near future. Ben McMillan died from diabetes on January 26, 2008.


03. My Sister's Machine-"Diva"

When I first received this as a promo at the record store I was working at back in 1992, I couldn't get enough of it. Very reminiscent of Alice In Chains, the band used great melodies and passionate vocals to ignite the ever hungry grunge crowd looking for more, unfortunately for the band things did not work out. This song is the title track from their 1992 debut album.

My Sister's Machine was a grunge band that formed in 1989, prior to the "grunge movement" of the early 90's in Seattle, WA. In 1990, My Sister's Machine received the "Best New Band" award from the Northwest Music Association.

In 1991, they had much interest from the major record labels but chose to sign with a smaller label Caroline Records who could spend more time and effort promoting them.

In 1992, they released their debut album, Diva to much critical acclaim. Steve Kurutz of Allmusic gave the album four and a half stars, calling it "a surprisingly strong record musically...Though the lyrics are, for the most part, ridiculously poor, they are delivered with enough attitude that the listener will hardly notice unless he reads the album booklet." Read more...


04. Soundgarden-"Into the Void" (Black Sabbath cover)

I had always wanted to hear what it would sound like if Soundgarden covered a Black Sabbath song, well my wish came true on the companion disc "Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas" to 1992's Badmotorfinger. It did not disappoint as Chris Cornell and Co. tore it up complete with words of protest by Chief Sealth replacing the original song lyrics.

Soundgarden is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1984 by lead singer Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron became the band's permanent drummer in 1986 while bassist Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto in 1990.

Soundgarden was one of the seminal bands in the creation of grunge, a style of alternative rock that developed in Seattle, and was one of a number of grunge bands signed to the record label Sub Pop. Soundgarden was the first grunge band to sign to a major label (A&M Records, in 1988), though the band did not achieve commercial success until they popularized "grunge" in the early 1990s with Seattle contemporaries Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam. Read more...


05. Tad-"Grease Box"

Featuring a bass line as heavy as the man himself, this track was off of their 1993 major label release "Inhaler". The album was full of driving rhythms and melody while staying true their grunge roots.

Led by Tad Doyle (b. Thomas Doyle) on vocals and guitar, Tad was formed in early 1988 by Doyle and bassist Kurt Danielson, who met while at a Christian Banquet. They previously played together when Danielson's band Bundle of Hiss played with Doyle's previous band (in which he played drums) H-Hour. Doyle had also earlier played in a Gang of Four cover band called Red Set. They recruited drummer Steve Wied (formerly of Skin Yard and Death and Taxes) and guitarist Gary Thorstensen (ex-Treeclimbers) to complete the original lineup.

Tad was among the first bands to be signed to Sub Pop Records and was possibly the first pioneer of what was to be later called grunge rock. Read more...


1 comment:

  1. I've never been a big fan of grunge. It's just too depressed for rock and not depressed enough for doom. The only acts I could/can listen to are within the semi-spin off genres; post-grunge (a little more rock) and alternative metal.
    I much prefer the genres that take the styles of grunge to a more extreme measure: stoner and doom


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