the roq of the 90s.
November 4, 2005 6:04 PM   Subscribe

does rock music from a decade ago seem undated for you? did you feel the same way ten years ago?

I was listening to the local alternarock station last weekend where they played nothing but music in the 90s. Though I was kind of suprised at the number of 'one hit wonders' that were easily forgotten about, the music to me dosen't seem that dated at all. New rock bands today (e.g. Coldplay, Velvet Revolver, Killers) seem all could have been around a decade ago where in that time, as a senior in high school, I would have thought rock music from 1985 sounded like they it was from '1985'. Does anyone else feel the same way? Aside from rap-metal (which seemed like a quick fad) do you think rock music has kind of stagnated since Nirvana brought down the status quo? Or are my feelings just a residual effect because time just warped by quickly after college and my musical tastes have already matured?
posted by sammich to Media & Arts (28 answers total)
Whiner-rock acts like your example bands aren't really all that new a phenomenon. Given that we're in the midst of a raging 80s revival trend in popular culture, it shouldn't surprise you that you can hear it on the radio.
posted by majick at 6:09 PM on November 4, 2005

...where in that time, as a senior in high school...

That's the thing. The music that was popular (and/or meaningful to you) when you were in high school will always seem fresh to you (at the very least, it will never seem as dated as music from before you were in high school -- and probably not even as dated as today's music will in 10 years)

You're becoming an old fart. Welcome to the club. :-)
posted by winston at 6:25 PM on November 4, 2005

Must be it, winston. Because I think 90s Music sounds incredibly dated. Nothing wrong with the good bits, just definitely has a sound of its own. I graduated from college in '97 and last weekend saw the scariest thing I've seen in quite a while: the CD collection of a girl who just graduated from school was the same set of CDs every kid on my hall had in '95. Only disc missing was Live's Throwing Copper.
posted by yerfatma at 6:38 PM on November 4, 2005

Rock music is in its 70's jazz fusion stage.
posted by dydecker at 6:46 PM on November 4, 2005

do you think rock music has kind of stagnated since Nirvana brought down the status quo?

I see a lot of recombinating of musical DNA going on all over the place. It hasn't exploded into a coherent, sustained tide for a while, but I think there's a lot of cross-currents.

At least in some places. Many of the more notably commercial endeavors seem pretty stagnant to me.
posted by weston at 6:49 PM on November 4, 2005

"New rock bands today (e.g. Coldplay, Velvet Revolver, Killers)..."

May I humbly suggest that you're listening to the wrong "new rock bands"? There's plenty out there that sounds fresh. Or if not exactly "fresh" (The Animal Collective sounds like Can, sure, and the Fiery Furnaces are a bit of a prog-rock retread), it at least doesn't sound like anything that was popular in the 90s...
posted by mr_roboto at 7:08 PM on November 4, 2005

Response by poster: I'm only referring to the rock n' roll all the kids are hip to today.

but i'm plenty fresh on the new rock tip. i like the new animal collective album. never been too into fiery furnaces though. too theatrical for me.
posted by sammich at 7:33 PM on November 4, 2005

Please define "rock". Animal Collective and Fiery Furnaces do in no way rock according to my understanding of the term.

*Search and Destroy by the Stooges is the ultimate rock song to my ears.
posted by dydecker at 7:39 PM on November 4, 2005

Rock music is in its 70's jazz fusion stage.

Actually, that happened in the 70s—it was called jazz fusion.

The answer to the question in my case is no, but a decade ago I was 13. I'm encountering most of the rock I listen to now, now. That said, the stuff I listen to from the mid-90s doesn't seem dated with reference to current music.
posted by kenko at 7:44 PM on November 4, 2005

Please define "rock".

Better yet, use a more descriptive term. "Rock" is broad and vague to the point of near meaninglessness these days.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:04 PM on November 4, 2005

One reason Velvet Revolver may sound like 90s music is because, hey, it's made up of guys from prominent 90s (-ish) grunge bands :) specifically Scott Weiland from STP and Slash and some other guy, from Guns N' Roses.

It's ironic that I know this since I personally don't listen to any 90's rock music anymore, my tastes moved on a while ago.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 8:05 PM on November 4, 2005

I am so sick of '00s. When is somebody gonna come up with something new?
posted by signal at 8:14 PM on November 4, 2005

Rock music sounds very different today then it did in the early 90's. I prefer the 90's sound and still listen to it, but the new rock is really not very interesting to listen to. (minus the groups from the early and mid 90's that happen to still be making music today, well...a few of them).

At least we are finally getting out of this "creed rock" phase. I'm tired of the rap-core shit, there are only a few bands that did that well and even them you can listen to for very long (Linkin Park has definitely not contributed anything meaningful to rock).

There are some one cd wonders popping up that are emulating british-invasion pop rock, which I can listen to for awhile and enjoy.

But you hardly hear anything close to the rock of the early 90's anymore. The grunge era is over and has been replaced with this generic hard pop rock.
posted by nickerbocker at 8:54 PM on November 4, 2005

I have noticed this. It sounds all the same. I graduated high school in 94. Weezer sounds like they did 10 years go.

Thank god Radiohead doesn't.
posted by pieoverdone at 8:57 PM on November 4, 2005

Man, I graduated high school in '97, and a lot of music from that time sounds INCREDIBLY dated. Take Pearl Jam's 10, which at the time I listened to all the damn time, and now just sounds terrible. The production is bad, the lyrics are dumb. I still like VS and Vitology... And Nevermind sounds pretty crappy...
But on the other hand, Clouds Taste Metallic is still great. Ladies and Gentlemen, We are Floating In Space sounds great. Even Surfer Rosa still sounds incredible. But fuck, Seven Mary Three? Deadeye Dick? Collective Soul? Candlebox? Even Goo Goo Dolls (who were a Replacements-esque thrash band when I first heard 'em)? Dated as Peter Gabriel's big drum production.
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 PM on November 4, 2005

I am so sick of '00s. When is somebody gonna come up with something new?

Try "Thievery Corporation" or survey the local indie bands.

Gradded (HS) '96. Audioslave combine Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and the crew from Rage Against the Machine. New-ish sounds, good "rock."

I dunno - Coldplay just sounds... sucky to me. Lifeless, no nuances, and just - blah. Sorry if this is a Yourfavouritebandsucks-filter.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:51 PM on November 4, 2005

sammich writes "I'm only referring to the rock n' roll all the kids are hip to today."

Christ. Don't all the kids listen to hip-hop?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:24 PM on November 4, 2005

American commercial rock has gotten into a gridlock of crap in that time (even worse than before), and has become another narrow radio genre along with pop and hip-hop. Grindy guitars, modal melodies, overcompressed. So late-90's type music may actually sound exciting and novel in comparison. Still, there are bands doing things that are both truly novel and great, many of them fairly popular.
posted by abcde at 1:47 AM on November 5, 2005

I don't know about the rest of you, but I wish Punk Rock didn't sell the traces left of its soul right around the turn of the century. Thanks a lot, Warped Tour.

I completely lost all respect for Rancid right after 1999. At least NOFX still has it, but then again they are NOFX.
posted by Dean Keaton at 3:03 AM on November 5, 2005

This might be kind of a cop-out, but here's a top 30 list for a very major Toronto "New Rock" station. They seem to be good at tracking things that The Kids Are In To These Days.

There are a lot of bands there that should have probably packed it in when we hit the big triple-zero (Green Day, NIN, etc) but there's also some interesting things on there that would never have made it near a radio in the 90s.

Bedouin Soundclash is ... like someone dragged Paul Simon out of the mothballs. I am not sure why it is popular -- it's cute, and fun, though. But New Rock? I don't know.
Death Cab for Cutie is the mid-zeros alternative to, I guess, the rock ballad things that Hootie and the Blowfish used to crank out. It's an improvement, in my opinion, and it's certainly an interesting phenomenon to see them played on a very strongly "Rock" station.

I think the main thing is that music is going in a hundred directions at once, splintering and twisting, because the internet lets so many people have access to so much more music than they could ever have before. We don't have a great overarching sign pointing to a group of bands that says "ROCK" anymore. (And if you see a sign like that, it'll be pointing to some ridiculous & horrible travesty like The Darkness, those one-hit wonders from back in aught-four.) Trying to find what should be referred to as "rock" these days is going to be a disappointing search, and is almost always going to be outdated in some way -- 90sish at the latest.

The music you hear when you're in late high school and early college always gets in your head. Didn't you have a cousin or a brother or something that thought Led Zeppelin and John Cougar Mellencamp were the best things ever? LED ZEPPELIN, MAN!

I don't get it either. But there are a great many of us who will go around the rest of our lives considering Nirvana to be timeless, even if we still enjoy the latest new whatever. It's just how your brain works -- really getting something out of music is a brand new experience when you're in high school, so people invest more effort and get more out of it. These days, I have to go hugely out of my way to get into a new band.
posted by blacklite at 4:58 AM on November 5, 2005

I recently replaced an album I loved years ago, Talking Heads 77. It didn't sound good at all. But the Ramones are better than ever.
posted by LarryC at 7:28 AM on November 5, 2005

blacklite: You're wrong about Green Day; most would agree they've been getting better, not worse. If one were to make a case for them quitting it would have to be that they never should have been (for which there's a solid case).
posted by abcde at 10:03 AM on November 5, 2005

I know what you mean, and I noticed it too.
In a way it would seem to be related to what you hear in highschool is what sticks with you, but some of the albums from the mid-nineties are still being sold and marketed as "classics".
And the actual hits from the mid nineties, that we were subjected to on the radio every day, were terrible. I used to have a CD called "Greatest Hits of 1994" (please don't hold it against me!) and that was the biggest regretted purchase ever. It was a double CD, and there was only one good song on there. (Don't remember which, I got rid of the CD in 1997)
The music from the nineties that people still listen to today are the bands that were slightly under the mainstream radar back then.
posted by easternblot at 10:14 AM on November 5, 2005

"Try "Thievery Corporation" or survey the local indie bands."
Rather, don't. At least on the Theivery Corporation. They sound like the mid-90s muzak electronica. Maybe pick up Lebenese Blonde, but maybe also don't.

From your top 30.
The Killers— 80s naff pop. Good to download, never buy. "Retro."
Audioslave — Boring sludgerock.
Hot Hot Heat — Boring overrated Canadian "dance" indie.
Nickelback — Boring MOR trad rock. See also: Collective Soul, Candlebox.
Green Day— Mediocre means mature!
Nine Inch Nails — Boring mope bullshit.
Franz Ferdinand— Remember when the Talking Heads were good? If you do, you don't need to buy their albums.
Seether — Dunno.
Bedouin Soundclash— World music for shut-ins.
Foo Fighters — Mortgage rock.
Sum 41— Reaganomics punk.
The Trews — Dunno. Dumb name, probably Canadian.
Coldplay — When you don't have any music to listen to, Coldplay can be better than awkward silence.
Theory Of A Deadman— Dunno. Probably nu-metalish or emo-metal.
The White Stripes— I generally like these guys, though they're wildly overhyped. That's what happens when a good band appears in a sea of crap: eveyone assumes they must be great.
Death Cab For Cutie — Blog pop for people afraid of music.
311— Nebraska rock-ska-funk, and they sound like it.
Fall Out Boy — Simpsons references are played out.
The Arcade Fire — Decent, but again, overhyped. Like corn in turds.
Staind— Numetal refuses to die!
Metric— Dunno. Probably Canadian.
Gorillaz— Wildly inconsistent, but able to recycle Blur and Cibo Matto into Deltron.
System Of A Down — Just because I realize that they're the smartest of the numetal crop doesn't mean I listen to them.
Disturbed— Oooh, we're disturbed! Don't mess with us, we might lick your backpack!
U2— Bravely soldiering on, despite 10 years of irrelevency.
Depeche Mode— Sucked for years, but oddly enough always spawn really excellent remixes.
Our Lady Peace— Boring, Canadian.
Mobile— Dunno. Probably Canadian.
The Strokes— This song reminds me of some other song that I like better, but until I can remember what that song is, I might as well listen to the Strokes. In fact, that's how all of their songs go.
k-os w/ Sam Roberts — Dunno. Probably Canadian.

Bands that I think sound fairly newish or timeless? Well, there's TV on the Radio, Need New Body, The Dirtbombs, The Knife, Matthew Dear, Who Made Who, Adult., Diplo, Le Tigre... But most of the stuff on the radio sounds dated, even though it's current.
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 AM on November 5, 2005

"Blog pop". Heh. [/unhelpful]

Though I second the comment about Surfer Rosa's production still sounding fresh as ever.
posted by jokeefe at 11:33 AM on November 5, 2005

To respond to the question directly, there isn't much music that sounds "undated" to me. Most music sounds like a product of the time in which it was created, including new music, and that goes at least double for music that's very commercial. So my answer would have to be "mu." Especially considering the bands you name as representative of the "current sound" are doing absolutely nothing new.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2005

dydecker: The Stooges, it may trouble you to learn, did not invent rock. They were about 20 years too late for that. Now, if you want to pick some band who defined "rock" as opposed to "rock and roll", I'd probably pick Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin.

Aside from rap-metal (which seemed like a quick fad) do you think rock music has kind of stagnated since Nirvana brought down the status quo?

Well, no -- you're certainly overlooking the entire post-rock phenomenon, as well as alt-country, both of which are tremendously influential on the indie rock scene today. To me, indie rock doesn't sound at all like those 1995 commercial acts you mentioned. There's definitely been a resurgence of interest in pop and folk vocals, and power pop guitar sounds. And now, in the 2000s mainly, there's been a throwback movement drawing from the post-punk and new wave era. The latest trend has been ork-pop bands and collectives like Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire. And there's certainly the whole looping, sampling, and mash-up scene, which is outside of but overlapping with rock.

Now, granted, Nirvana is a special case -- the only bands since that have been that influential overall are Radiohead, arguably Wilco. At one level that says something about the bands, but it also says something about the times -- Nirvana came along when rock was "dead" except for arena metal and it gave the pop charts a kick in the pants. Today the music business is much more fragmented and such a kick in the pants may not be possible, or necessary.

The band that needs mentioning here, though, is Neutral Milk Hotel, and the vocalist that needs to be here is Jeff Buckley. Both had limited commercial success but very deep and still-felt influence. The other major strain visible in the bloodline of 2005 rock is, well, hip-hop.

So I don't agree that music hasn't changed appreciably since 1995, although I might agree that what was likable in 1995 hasn't suddenly gone sour the way 1985 did by 1995.
posted by dhartung at 3:24 PM on November 5, 2005

I have to say that there is only one album from the mid-80s that doesn't sound dated to me twenty years later, and that is Peter Gabriel's So.

I don't really know what that says about anything.
posted by kindall at 5:00 PM on November 5, 2005

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