'90s Nostalgia Prevalent in Upcoming Releases from the Greats
For many millennials, the 1990s resonates with nostalgia. The decade seems to have been a simpler time: Communication was sincere, television was unique, fashion was accessible and the economy was booming. The biggest development of the ’90s, though, was the evolution of music beyond conventional rock ’n’ roll norms into new experimental territories. Shoegaze, emo, math rock and so many other alternative rock subgenres were born, and they have survived as influences for contemporary lo-fi, garage rock and dream pop. Now, fueled by the demand for the return of everything ’90s, pioneering musicians are resurfacing, announcing reissues, reunion tours and new music.
Shoegaze, characterized by reverb-heavy guitars and subdued vocals has been making a major comeback these last two years. Last year, My Bloody Valentine, the Irish band credited with establishing the shoegaze genre, released its first album in 22 years and went on tour, bringing its signature textured guitar sounds to audiences around the world. Medicine, a group hailed by Pitchfork as the American version of MBV, released an epic new album last year and has just announced plans for another. Slowdive, which is arguably the most artistic in its approach to shoegaze and experimental rock, is currently on an extensive reunion tour, but there has been no news of fresh music in the works.
The next big reunions of the year come from several influential ’90s emo bands. Legendary group Mineral recently announced its first shows after 17 years, and Sunny Day Real Estate finally released new music after its 2009 reunion fell apart.
Emo veterans of the band The Jazz June also graced us with a new track. Drive Like Jehu, the band largely responsible for how hardcore rock evolved into emo, played a free show in San Diego in August, which it had an organ accompany its characteristic intense, dissonant melodies and unusual time signatures.
Over the summer, American Football reissued its album with additional bonus tracks and unheard demos, and now it is on tour. The band is known for its clean, arpeggiated guitars, as it wanders into the realm of math rock while maintaining an ethereal, emotional intensity. Slint, which morphs math rock with hardcore’s darker vibes, reissued one of its albums and went on a short tour this spring. Finally, the legendary psychedelic folk band Neutral Milk Hotel began a massive tour last fall, reuniting after 15 years and sharing its lo-fi brass cacophonies with fans, old and new.
The most influential bands of the ’90s are reuniting, and contemporary artists are picking up their sounds. Even Miley Cyrus may want a piece, as Kathleen Hanna of riot girl group Bikini Kill expressed interest to write with Cyrus — after Cyrus posted pictures of Hanna on Instagram. Is the return of abrasive girl punk next in this ’90s revival? Will Hole finally get back together to usher in a new era of noise rock? Will Nirvana’s remaining members bring back grunge? I am certain the musical future of the 2010s will consist of more ’90s band reunions. The only question is: Which bands are next to follow this trend?
***This piece was originally published as guest column for the Daily Wildcat at the University of Arizona***