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The 8 Ball: Top 8 Post-Grunge Bands

November 15, 2014 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Top 8 Post-Grunge Bands
Welcome once again to the 411 Music Zone 8 Ball! I’m your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You’re free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is “wrong” is just silly. With that in mind, let’s get right in to it!

Post-grunge music is all the rage over the last two weeks. Okay, not really, but two big releases from post-grunge bands have/are coming out between Tuesday’s release of Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways and this coming week’s release of Nickelback’s No Fixed Address. Post-grunge is a dirty word among many rock music fans; the genre is often associated with acts like the aforementioned Nickelback and other groups that are at best “guilty pleasures” such as Creed, Puddle of Mudd, Lifehouse and the like. But the genre is a bit unfairly maligned due to the fact that it took many of the elements of grunge and took them in a more commercially-successful direction. For every bad band that the genre is smacked with, there are a few solid-to-great bands that fit firmly within the genre’s definition. This week I’m going to wander out on a rather precarious branch and examine the top of the heap in terms of post-grunge.

Caveat: Post-grunge is sometimes a tricky genre; many acts are labeled as post-grunge that really aren’t, while some acts are left out when they certainly fit. For the purposes of this list, I’m sticking to the traditional definition of the genre, which is as follows. Post-grunge music formed as a genre soon after grunge music hit the mainstream, taking that genre’s reflective, serious-minded hard rock style and applying more mainstream sensibilities to it. Post-grunge weds the vocal style, angsty lyrics and dirty guitar sound of grunge with a pop structure to hooks and a more conventional song structure. Musically it still exists today, although most (but certainly not all) post-grunge acts had their heyday in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. So at its core, we can call it the mainstream offshoot of grunge music; influenced by acts such as Nirvana, Green River, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots but applying on a more accessible sound and approach to the serious and angst-ridden themes of that genre. There is a distinct difference between post-grunge and pure alternative rock, as there is between post-grunge and what’s popularly known as “emo rock.” Thus you will not find acts like Fall Out Boy, Jimmy Eat World, Paramore and the like on the list.

Just Missing The Cut
• Staind
• Shinedown
• Live
• Our Lady Peace
• Candlebox

#8: Stone Sour
 

First on our list is one of the modern banner-carriers for post-grunge rock. Stone Sour is the band alternately known as “Corey Taylor’s band that isn’t Slipknot.” Ironically, the group has actually existed longer than Slipknot but didn’t achieve fame until Taylor joined the more well-known groove metal act. Following Slipknot’s hiatus in 2002, Taylor and Jim Root revived Stone Sour and released their first studio album. The LP was a hallmark of the post-grunge themes, combining aggression and a clear Alice in Chains influence with melody and proving that Taylor had one hell of a singing voice. Their second LP Come What(ever) May hit in 2006 and carried an even stronger influence from the early 90s grunge era. The band has continued to release albums between Taylor’s tenure with Slipknot and have continued to get better and more polished without losing the edge and reflection that places it firmly in the post-grunge category.

#7: Seether
 

Seether is a band that has never quite gotten the respect that they’re due. The South Africa-based group broke out into the mainstream with their major-label debut Disclaimer, which produced the hit “Fine Again.” The group quickly earned comparisons to Nirvana, which frankly sort of doomed them as it was an impossibly high bar to reach. It earned the derision of grunge fans who didn’t see the group as in the same league as the vaunted Kurt Cobain and company, as well as mainstream rock fans who were tired of having bands labeled as “the next Nirvana” foisted upon them. Looking past that unfair comparison however, there was always something significant to be found in the group’s music. Disclaimer was perhaps under-polished but it was a very solid album and they followed it up with a redone version, Disclaimer II, which produced the massive radio hit “Broken” featuring Evanescence’s Amy Lee. The group has only gotten better since and has managed to hang in there despite constantly-shifting tastes in music and the general falls (and current rise) of rock music.

#6: Everclear
 

Some might balk at the idea of Everclear as a post-grunge band, as they seem so…well, happy. The Art Alexakis group is certainly more upbeat than your garden variety grunge-influenced group, but just because they don’t sound like they’re about to take razors to their wrists doesn’t mean that they don’t fit firmly within the genre. The Portland-based group formed during the rise of grunge and their influences are obvious in Alexakis’ angst-filled lyrical content. The frontman has mined some very painful memories in his past to come up with the group’s biggest and best hits from “Santa Monica” (inspired by a girlfriend’s suicide) to “Father of Mine.” The band successfully carved out a niche because they stood out from the rest of the groups tackling similar themes at the time; it was easier to absorb the pain-ridden music because it came in, for lack of a better term, a peppier-sounding package. The group eventually outgrew the post-grunge sound a bit but with Alexakis at the head as the sole remaining member from their breakout success, they’ve always worn those influences right on their full arm tattooed-sleeves.

#5: Filter
 

Filter is a band that has mostly stayed successful because it somehow avoided being lumped in with the early flash-in-the-pan post-grunge bands. Part of that has to do with the fact that Richard Patrick was able to capitalize on the credibility he had as a member of Nine Inch Nails’ touring band, which brought more hardcore rock fans to the table along with the mainstream crowd that was catching onto post-grunge at the time. But they certainly fit the bill; “Hey Man, Nice Shot” was their breakout hit and it was undeniably a post-grunge track. It was the most radio-friendly of the songs on their debut album Short Bus, with the rest containing more of an industrial metal sound that kept those NIN fans on board. Take a Picture followed a similar format, expanding their audience with melodic-yet-grungy singles that captured the movement of the era while the rest of the album tackled harder influences. Moody, rocking hits like “Where Do We Go From Here” have kept the band’s momentum going throughout the years and their seventh studio album is expected in 2015, continuing a true post-grunge success story.

#4: Bush
 

Bush was one of the most successful acts to come out of the post-grunge era. When Sixteen Stone was released at the end 1994, it exploded and for the next two years it was everywhere. And I mean absolutely everywhere; you couldn’t turn on a modern rock or top 40 station for very long before you heard “Everything Zen,” “Comedown” or “Glycerine.” They followed that up with the chart-topping Razorblade Suitcase at the end of 1996. However, with that success came a significant amount of backlash. Much like Seether was hurt by their comparison to Nirvana, Bush was similarly hurt by unfair associations with several grunge acts including the Cobain band, Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden. The fact that Razorblade Suitcase was produced by In Utero producer Steve Albini didn’t help. It’s taken them a long time and a seven year breakup, but when they returned in 2010 it appeared they had managed to shake the comparison to grunge heavyweights without having to change their sound up too much, and The Sea of Memories was a slicker album but still firmly within the same category as their roots. The band recently released their sixth studio album, Man on the Run, which is as strong as anything they’ve released since Sixteen Stone.

#3: Alter Bridge
 

Alter Bridge is the band that might cause some folks’ hackles to rise by virtue of their inclusion here. I have seen people argue quite vehemently that the group doesn’t qualify as post-grunge, but outside of a faster pace than most of their fellows they fit firmly within the genre as defined above. The group has their roots in a much weaker post-grunge band, that of Creed. After Scott Stapp basically imploded and Creed became no more, the rest of the band decided to continue on under a new name. They adopted more of a metal edge but kept many of their stylistic hallmarks intact, recruiting Myles Kennedy as their frontman. One Day Remains, their debut album, was a strong piece of angst-ridden grunge metal and launched them to immediate success. The fact that “Metalingus” became the entrance song of WWE Hall of Famer Edge certainly helped, but the entire album was a strong effort and they followed that up with a more metal sound in Blackbird. While they’ve occasionally veered a bit away from the sonic similarities to their old band, there’s absolutely no doubt that they not only fit as a post-grunge act, they’re one of the best examples of how right it can go.

#2: Breaking Benjamin
 

Breaking Benjamin is almost the quintessential example of how good post-grunge can be. All it takes is a quick listen through some of their greatest hits to pick up on the troubled themes and dirty sound put to great use, and their album cuts are just as good. Their debut album Saturate came during the height of the genre’s popularity in 2002 and was decently received by critics and fans, though they seemed to be a bit lost in the pack amidst bigger-name acts like Puddle of Mudd and Nickelback. They were a bit too commercial to fit in with metal bands and metal to be big on mainstream alternative radio (yes, I really just typed “mainstream alternative”). But they were a big enough of a success that there was something to build on and albums like We Are Not Alone and Phobia built on that success, giving the group time to develop and earn the respect of the rock crowd by refusing to wither up and go away like many of their contemporaries. Unfortunately the band has been at a standstill when frontman Benjamin Burnley had to take time off due to personal and physical issues in 2010, then fired the rest of the band. The legal quagmire wasn’t resolved until last year and we haven’t heard anything new from the reconstituted band, but hopefully it will be up to the high caliber of their past work.

#1: Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters are practically the very definition of “post-grunge,” no matter how you want to define the term. It’s an obvious joke but also a very true one. The group has become one of the biggest names in rock music and true ambassadors of the genre, but of course they began because of Nirvana’s dissolution after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Dave Grohl was without a band and entertained several offers, including becoming the permanent drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. In the end he decided to form his own band and the Foo Fighters were born. While the group has since moved away from their roots into more of a pure alt-rock sound, they’ve always carried many of the hallmarks to the point that most post-grunge acts are referred to at one time or another as a “poor man’s Foo Fighters.” Songs like “Everlong,” “All My Life” and “I’ll Stick Around” are landmark post-grunge tracks and even on their newest LP, Sonic Highways, you can hear strong elements of that sound in the likes of “Something For Nothing” and particularly “In the Clear.” Their achievements and accomplishments are too numerous to list out here, but the fact remains that they’re perhaps the greatest rock band of any kind in the last twenty years, post-grunge or not.


And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don’t forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411wrestling.com! JT out.