To celebrate Pearl Jam turning 30 this year, we’ve been sharing content both old and new all month long. After you see what we think of Gigaton, be sure to read our definitive ranking of PJ albums and check out loads of other content here. Below we revisit our Top 10 Grunge Albums of All Time.
Editor’s Note: Part of the fun, and horror, of running a publication like Consequence of Sound comes with occasionally traveling back in time, to a much different time, when an old piece of yours surfaces for some reason. This list comes from 2009, when a couple of college buddies thought to make a list about records they grew up on. Like anyone looking back at a much younger, inchoate version of themselves, we can’t account for all the writing, the musical taste, or even our haircuts back then.
So, while we’ve shuffled the list, welcomed some and dismissed others, and I’ve come on to fill in some of the gaps, this article largely remains as it did when we were just dumb kids who thought the world might care what we thought about music. Looking at our original list, damn, were we wrong. That all of you have, for some reason, cared over the years, well, we were humbly surprised by that. In other words, thank you.
Do you remember the early ’90s? C’mon, think a little… it wasn’t that long ago (and things haven’t really changed all that much, either). It was a prosperous time! The Simpsons, Melrose Place, and Beverly Hills, 90210 had all started their reign on television (aka the FOX invasion), the ’80s still bled into culture only with hotter colors, and America considered the Middle East a plausible area for democracy. Funny how things change, huh?
Well, if you really dig deep — and squint between the cracks — you’ll recall the “grunge” era. It didn’t last long, maybe a peak of two to three years at best, but it happened. Thanks to the media’s liberal practice of labeling, the socially engaging and musically thriving scene of the Pacific-Northwest was referred to as the “grunge scene.” So, despite the scoffs and disgust of “those in the know,” that’s what fans and journalists alike have come to call the music… “grunge.”
The thing is, it really can’t be lumped into a genre. Do Alice in Chains and Nirvana sound similar? No. Hell, they don’t even really come from the same place, either. However, the two just happen to share some obscure genre. What makes this title so important, however, is that it represents a particular sect of time, and much like describing the unique features and characteristics of non-practicing Jews, it’s a “cultural thing.”
With that in mind, we’re tallying up the best of that short era. Agree, disagree, or throw in your own philosophies on why grunge is a nonexistent label. Hell, we’ll probably agree with you. Whatever the case, hopefully this list will help you dust off that crumbling plastic stack of CDs you left on your bookshelf to decay somewhere in your mother’s house.
And if you really feel inclined, you can throw on that flannel shirt of yours, too.