Grunge: Music and Memory – The Best Albums to Buy
If you’re looking for the best grunge albums to buy, look no further! We’ve rounded up a list of the top grunge albums that are sure to provide some great listening.
What is Grunge?
Originating in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1980s, Grunge shot to popularity in the early 1990s with a sound that was at once heavy and melodic, angry and introspective. Grunge lyrics were often bleak and depressing, and the music was characterized by feedback-drenched guitars,forceful rhythms, and a general feeling of unease. While the genre was short-lived, the influence of Grunge can still be felt today.
The Early Days
Grunge emerged in the late 1980s as a backlash against the polished, synthetic sound of popular music at the time. The genre was pioneered by bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, who brought a rawer, more organic sound to the mainstream.
Grunge reached its commercial peak in the early 1990s with the release of Nirvana’s album “Nevermind,” which popularized the sound and catapulted the band to global stardom. Grunge quickly went from being an underground movement to a highly commercialized phenomenon, much to the chagrin of many of its proponents.
In the wake of Nirvana’s success, grunge became one of the most commercially successful genres of the 1990s. However, by the mid-1990s, grunge had largely fallen out of favor with the mainstream music audience.
Despite its decline in popularity, grunge has remained an influential force in popular music and continues to be revered by many fans.
The Mainstream Success
By the early 1990s, grunge had broken into the mainstream with multi-platinum albums and Grammy Awards being won by Nirvana and Pearl Jam, with songs such as Smells Like Teen Spirit and Alive becoming household anthems. Grunge fashion also hit the mainstream with brands such as Spitfire Girl, Seattle label Ecote and Stussy popularizing plaid shirts, ripped jeans and dark hoodies.
The Best Grunge Albums to Buy
The term ‘grunge’ was first used in the music scene in the early 1990s to describe the dirty, feedback-drenched sounds emanating from Seattle-based bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. These bands would go on to define a generation with their music, which is still as popular and relevant today as it was back then. If you’re a fan of grunge music, or if you’re looking to get into it, here are some of the best grunge albums to buy.
Nevermind – Nirvana
Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, was released on September 24, 1991, and it revolutionized the grunge scene. The album catapulted the band to stardom and made them one of the most influential bands of the 1990s. Nevermind features some of Nirvana’s most iconic songs, including “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” and “Lithium.” If you want to start exploring grunge music, Nevermind is the perfect place to start.
In Utero – Nirvana
In Utero is the third and final studio album by American rock band Nirvana, released on September 13, 1993, by DGC Records. Produced by Steve Albini, it was the follow-up to the band’s second album Nevermind (1991).
Nirvana intended for In Utero to sound more raw and less polished than Nevermind. Albini encouraged the band to keep its sound dirty and take more risks with its songwriting. The music incorporated a more diverse range of influences than what had been used on Nevermind, including punk rock, experimental rock, country music, and noise rock.
Lyrically, In Utero touches on subjects such as abortion, rape, domestic abuse, religion, and narcissism. Most of the album’s songs were written by Kurt Cobain with contributions from bassist Krist Novoselic; one track (“All Apologies”) was co-written with Dave Grohl. Drummer Grohl wrote the riff that opens “Heart-Shaped Box”. Although Nirvana actively tried to distance themselves fromNevermind’s success prior to the album’s launch – going so far as having Albini record it in a remote studio in Minnesota – In Utero entered the Billboard 200 at number one kicking Pearl Jam’s Vs. off the top spot. The first single from In Utero,”Heart-Shaped Box”, was released in August 1993 and topped both Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart as well as Canada’s RPM Alternative 30. The album was Nirvana’s first Platinum certification in the United States and remains their best-selling LP there with sales of over 15 million copies according to Recording Industry Association of America. In 1995 Steven Tyler of Aerosmith selected it as one of his All-Time Favorite Albums.
Dirt – Alice in Chains
Dirt is the second studio album by the American rock band Alice in Chains, released on September 29, 1992, through Columbia Records. Peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart, the album was well received by music critics. It has since been certified quadruple-platinum by the RIAA and gone on to sell five million copies worldwide, making Dirt the band’s highest selling album to date. The singles “Would?”, “Them Bones”, and “Angry Chair” all reached number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Dirt was Alice in Chains’ first album to feature bassist Mike Inez; he replaced original bassist Mike Starr who was fired from the band in early 1992. Recording sessions took place between March and May 1992 at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, Washington with producer Dave Jerden. The songs on Dirt were penned primarily by vocalist/guitarist Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell while Jerden served as co-producer and engineer; Mixing duties were handled by Brendan O’Brien while Bob Rock mastered the album.
Upon release, Dirt received enthusiastic reviews from music critics. Many reviewers praised Staley’s vocals, Cantrell’s guitar work, Jerden’s production job, and the overall heaviness of the album as opposed to the band’s debut Facelift (1990). Despite its success, however, some commented that its lyrical themes pertaining to drug addiction detracted from its musical quality; Rolling Stone labelled the album “a chronicle of young lives paralyzingly addicted to heroin.” Although critical reaction was mixed at the time of its release, Dirt has since been regarded by many publications – including Kerrang! and Blender – as one of Alice in Chains’ best albums and one of the greatest albums of all time.
Badmotorfinger – Soundgarden
Released in 1991, Badmotorfinger was the album that made Soundgarden a household name. The first single, “Rusty Cage,” was a Top 40 hit, and the follow-up, “Outshined,” was even more popular. But it was the album’s third single, “Jesus Christ Pose,” that really put Soundgarden on the map. The song’s slow build and tribal drums were unlike anything else on radio at the time, and the accompanying video was an MTV staple.
Superunknown – Soundgarden
Superunknown is the fourth studio album by American rock band Soundgarden, released on March 8, 1994, by A&M Records. The album was a critical and commercial success, earning the band two Grammy Awards out of nine nominations, and peaking at number one on the Billboard 200. The singles “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun” both won Grammy Awards in 1995. The album was nominated for Album of the Year but lost to Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill (1995).
The Legacy of Grunge
Grunge is a subgenre of rock that emerged in the mid-1980s. Grunge music is characterized by its aggressive, distorted sound and angry, pessimistic lyrics. The genre became hugely popular in the early 1990s with the release of Nirvana’s album, “Nevermind.” Grunge quickly became the dominant style of rock music, and the Seattle music scene became the epicenter of the grunge movement. Although grunge is no longer as popular as it once was, the genre continues to influence contemporary rock music.
The Influence on Modern Music
Grunge music is often credited with being a major influence on modern rock music. While the genre only enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the early 1990s, its impact can still be felt today. Grunge combined elements of punk rock and heavy metal to create a unique sound that was both aggressive and melodic. Many of the bands that emerged from the Seattle scene went on to become huge commercial successes, helping to popularize alternative rock in the mainstream.
Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains are just a few of the grunge bands that have left a lasting imprint on rock music. Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind is often cited as one of the most influential albums of all time, and Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten is also considered a classic. If you’re interested in exploring the legacy of grunge, these are some essential albums to check out.
The End of an Era
Grunge is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged during the mid-1980s in the American state of Washington, particularly in the Seattle area. Named after the dirty, filthy sound it produced, grunge was characterized by distorted guitars, feedback, and heavy drums. It was also a genre that favored personal and introspective lyrics over the more common anthem-like quality of other rock genres.
Grunge music first gained mainstream attention in 1991 with the release of Nirvana’s album Nevermind. The album’s success brought attention to other Seattle grunge bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. By the early 1990s, grunge had replaced hair metal and pop metal as the dominant form of rock music in America.
The popularity of grunge came to an abrupt end in 1994 with the suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Grunge music faded from the mainstream soon after, but its influence can still be heard in today’s alternative rock music.