ABC of Rock Part 1 of 3

Alternative rock

ABC of Rock Part 1 of 3(2014)  Grunge, alternative rock and a little bit later brit pop became the driving forces in rock. During that time metal became unpopular and all the (glam) metal bands disappeared. Alternative rock bands like R.E.M., Jane's Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chilli Peppers or Placebo became rockstars that sold millions of records. "Old" stars like Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Poison or Anthrax struggled in album sells and were also insecure about their musical direction. Alternative rock (or alt rock) emerged during the late 1980's and was supposed to differ from normal styles of rock music. So the band included crazy riffs and guitar sounds. The dynamic of loud and soft parts was very popular in the 90's and became even more important for grunge bands like Nirvana or Pearl Jam. The lyrics dealt with social topics and spread a more negative mood than glam bands did before. Drugs, suicide and other social problems influenced those lyrics. The term "alternative rock" is not only a specific genre, it is more of a pool of different genres that are combined under this term. Genres like post-punk, grunge, indie or brit pop can all be combined as alternative rock. So it is difficult to make up and exact definition of this genre. In recent years a lot of pop and electronic influences made their way into alternative rock. Bands like Muse or Biffy Clyro also combine alternative rock with more bombastic and orchestral elements. During the same time grunge went down nu metal became the next big thing. With the rise of nu metal not only grunge, but also alternative rock was a sinking ship. Though, the big bands survived, many small ones disappeared from the public eye or disbanded completely. Only a few years later groups like The Killers, Bloc Party, Interpol, Coldplay or Muse took alternative rock to new heights of popularity. Another hype of the 21st century was garage rock, which was heavily 60's influenced. Bands like The Strkes, The Vines, The White Strips or Jet sold millions of records of their mostly thin produced and simple structured rock.
10 important records

Brit pop

Brit pop was one of the most successful branches of alternative rock. The music emerged in Great Britain - like the name suspects already. Groups like Oasis, Pulp, Blur, Coldplay (at least the band's first two records "Parachutes" and "A Rush of Blood To The Head") or The Verve were able to sell millions of records in the mid-90's (and some bands were even in the next millennium capable of this). Oasis and Blur were the most important outfits for Brit pop. August 14, 1995 was maybe the zenith of the genre. Both, Oasis and Blur, released a single on that day and raced for number one of the British single charts. Blur won, but Oasis "(What's The Story) Morning Glory" sold far more records eventually. The record's lead single 'Wonderwall' might be the most known Brit pop song in history. The music itself is influenced by 60's and 70's sounds and was a protest against the American grunge hype. British music legends like the ones of The Kinks, The Beatles, and The Smiths were main influences for Brit pop. Even though there are no new Brit pop formations, the successful bands of that genre are still very popular today - and not only in England.
10 important records


The evolution of emo can be divided into four parts. At the end of the 1980's bands like Rites of Spring played a more melodic version of hardcore and included more personal lyrics. During the 90's the genre opened its gates to new influences like alternative and indie rock. Bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas Is The Reason, Jawbreaker or Mineral are still looked up to as godfathers of emo. Still, emo was under the radar of the mainstream culture. This changed with the success of bands like Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional, who achieved platinum awards for their "Bleed American" and "A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar". These bands or the ones of Saves The Day and The Get Up Kids also included pop and rock in their very own definition of emo. That success led to the commercially most successful era of emo. A new breed of bands mixed emo, metal, pop and even visual elements. My Chemical Romance, The Used, Aiden or Silverstein defined what emo should sound and look like. Other successful bands like Taking Back Sunday or Brand New stayed true to the sound of bands like Saves The Day or The Get Up Kids and went to sell a good bunch of records. Due to the significant look of skinny jeans, haircuts and some make-up some pop punk and alternative rock bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco or AFI were also considered to be part of the emo genre, even though their music was far from the sound of My Chemical Romance. Today many of the former successful bands left the emo genre and pursued different musical paths. My Chemical Romance became a straight rock band, Silverstein, Senses Fail and Funeral For A Friend became heavier. Other bands disbanded. Therefore new bands formed that are heavily influenced by 90's emo like Title Fight, Moose Blood, Sharks or the pop punks or The Wonder Years and Man Overboard.
10 important records

Folk rock

Folk rock combined the genres of rock music and folk music. Folk rock can be traced back intoo the 1960's. Artists like The Byrids, Bob Dylan or Creedence Clearwater Revival were innovators of blending rock and folk music. The genre folk rock is one of the softest kinds of rock music. The vocals are very clean and the guitars are not very distorted. Especially during the last ten years folk rock became popular within the indie scene due to groups like Bright Eyes, The Lumeeners, City and Colour or Arcade Fire. Other genres emerged from folk rock like Country Folk or Folk Punk, that blends folk with punk rock.
10 important records


During the first half of the 1990's grunge was the American hype in rock music. Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden or Pearl Jam dominated the charts (worldwide) with their "Seattle Sound". The genre emerged during the end of the 80's in and around Seattle. Important for the development of grunge was also the indie label Sub Pop, which became part of Geffen eventually. Even though punk and metal influenced grunge, grunge itself is often considered as the murderer of metal. But bands like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden were heavily influenced by metal. Nirvana and Pearl Jam followed the traces of bands like Sonic Youth, Melvins or even the Beatles, who were idolised by Nirvana-mastermind Kurt Cobain. So it was not that easy to clearly define grunge, because all these bands had a different approach and influences. Common among grunge bands was the sludgy guitar sound and songs that moved mostly in the mid-tempo area. The suicide of Kurt Cobain in 1994 ended the big boom of grunge very fast. Alice In Chains (whose singer also committed suicide in 1997) and Soundgarden reunited and still have a lot of fans, that buy their records and go to their concerts. Though, the success of these groups won't ever match the fame of their glory days again.
10 important records

Text by © Berning and Eschenbach