So a little while back, I was on the prowl for more music to discover, poking around into different genres. Somehow, I came across the 90salternative reddit and fell down, down, down into a rabbit hole. This wasn’t so much discovery as REdiscovery. Because this was exactly the kind of music we mainlined back in college, albums that I had in spades and since lost. Yet somehow over time, I forgot how great it was. It got locked up into a dim room in my mind until this reddit unlocked it.
When I started listening to it again, the door to that room of memories was blasted open and all of the weird, crazy, and emotional animals came roaring out. There was something about these jangly, unorthodox songs that made me think of long road trips with friends, nights spent writing absolutely horrible poetry that no you will never read, and pretty much the whole journey through the back half of the decade.
Since then, I’ve become obsessed with ’90s alt rock. I started by listening through the albums and artists that I’d known and liked well — Weezer, Tori Amos, Garbage, Nirvana — but it wasn’t long before I wanted to strike out on personally unexplored paths. I was looking for that alt rock “sound” that felt raw, exciting, and catchy, and I had missed a whole lot of it until now.
As I tend to do when I get excited about something, I dove into this head-first. I devoured recommendations, made lists of artists and albums to listen through, and started to refine what my personal tastes were in this area. I already knew that there were certain popular alt rock groups for their distinct sound (Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Soundgarden, REM, and I know I’ve made powerful enemies in this parenthetical aside). I also knew that I have a preference for female singers who put all of those emotions out in the open.
So I’ve been listening through hundreds of songs from the like of Liz Phair, Luscious Jackson, PJ Harvey, Letters to Cleo, and so many more. It’s been a blast, and I’ve started to work on a cultivated ’90s alt rock playlist with just the good stuff.
It’s like a time machine that I can use to go back and correct a vital wrong — to fully experience this scene instead of sampling it from the perspective of a musically ignorant college student. It gets me pumped up while working and does a whole lot to wash the bad taste of modern music out of my ears.