While a singer’s precious declaration mid-set of “Here’s a song off our new record” may be the bathroom battle cry for many at a concert (you remember those, don’t you?), there are plenty of music lovers who either can’t wait to hear some of the new stuff or already know it and went there specifically for it. Problem is, many musicians don’t think this is the case, yet the love for their craft propels them forward, making new music, workshopping their “This is a new song” crack for the live show. Interestingly, 2020 was shaping up to be the year we all revisited the ’90s, with tours featuring many of that decade’s top acts already in position. And while you might have been ready to relive that chapter in your life, you might not have known that new music was coming with some of it.
Alanis Morissette – “Ablaze”
The Alanis Morissette tour looked to be a biggie, with the right openers in place and Jagged Little Pill shaping up to be a hit Broadway musical. But while the world busily fawned over new music by Fiona Apple, Morissette quietly released her best record since the one that put her on the map. Such Pretty Forks In The Road doesn’t have a cathartic rocker like “You Oughta Know,” but Morissette’s vocals are still top notch, and lead-off track “Smiling” boasts lyrics begging to be memorized.
Bush – “Flowers On A Grave”
Now, here’s one band who technically never stopped making music and touring. Sure, frontman Gavin Rossdale took time out to release a solo record some years back that was actually really good and performed quite nicely on the charts. Plus, he formed another group, the very heavy Institute, while his other band were on hiatus. But Bush is his baby. They’ve continued putting out new material, with their latest, The Kingdom, out this very year. From the sounds of it, it’s a total return to form, too.
Semisonic – “You’re Not Alone”
Let’s be honest: Only Chumbawamba can give these Minneapolis one-hit wonders a run for their money when it comes to the most-quoted line from a ’90s song. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” catapulted their song “Closing Time” to heavy rotation on radio stations across the country and is as profound as it is pure. This past June, the trio released their first new music in 19 years, the soulful single “You’re Not Alone,” with an EP of the same name due Sept. 18. Looks like that guy didn’t go home solo from the bar back in 1998 after all.
Veruca Salt – “Laughing In The Sugar Bowl”
So much more than their hit “Seether,” Veruca Salt mined Fleetwood Mac’s back catalog and fell apart before the world could truly appreciate what great music the Chicago quartet were making. Out front were dueling guitarist/vocalists Nina Gordon and Louise Post, both formidable in their own right. By the time their sophomore effort, the appallingly underappreciated Eight Arms To Hold You, fizzled, the former was off making a solo record and had taken their drummer Stacy Jones with her. The good news is that after many years of speculating what did the band in, they not only managed to reunite, but they released the stellar Ghost Notes in 2015 and toured as recently as 2018.
Cake – “Sinking Ship”
Cake have enough former members to make up one season of The Bachelorette. But at the end of the day, it’s always been about vocalist John McCrea and trumpeter Vince DiFiore. After their workout-ready anthem “The Distance” in 1996, off their sophomore effort, Fashion Nugget, put them on the map, more music followed. “Short Skirt/Long Jacket,” off their gold-selling fourth album, confirmed their status during an era where ska and ripping electric guitar went hand in hand. The 2000s saw member after member leave, but in 2018, Cake released “Sinking Ship” (which dabbled in self-deprecation), saying a full-length would follow. We’re waiting.
Collective Soul – “Over Me”
These Georgia rockers have a slew of hits (“Shine,” “December” and “The World I Know,” to name a few) and wouldn’t stop making music if they received a cease-and-desist order from rock ’n’ roll itself. Recent tours saw them sharing the stage with 3 Doors Down and Sammy Hagar’s the Circle, featuring Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and, on drums, a Bonham no less. A year ago, they released their 10th album, Blood. There’s no doubt that they will continue to shine.
Everclear – “The Man Who Broke His Own Heart”
Sure, they could live out by the ocean and watch the world drown, or they could continue to crank out great music, even if most ’90s kids remember them best for “Wonderful” (this writer’s personal fave: “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom”). Everclear’s Art Alexakis released a solo record, Sun Songs, as recently as 2019, and this after years of his brainchild “The Summerland Tour” touring the country annually with the likes of other ’90s rockers such as Sponge, Filter and Marcy Playground. So much for the afterglow.
Nine Days – “Snapshots”
Yet another ’90s band armed with a ridiculous hook for their biggest hit (“This is the story of a girl…”), Nine Days couldn’t rest on the laurels of “Absolutely (Story Of A Girl).” How could they? Sharing Long Island stomping grounds with the Piano Man himself, they have the work ethic of Billy Joel (in fact, bassist Nick Dimichino tours extensively with a hugely popular Joel tribute band called Big Shot) and his era’s brethren, including their hero Bruce Springsteen. Releases have been sporadic since their heyday, with 2016’s Snapshots being their first in ages.
Toadies – “Broke Down Stupid”
Someone could mention the song “Possum Kingdom” at a party and be gifted with a room full of blank expressions. But upon playing this blistering rocker, the head-bobbing would commence. Hell, the tune not only found its way onto Guitar Hero II, but it even found its way into an episode of the hit NBC series This Is Us. Now, that’s an achievement. There was a hiatus in the early 2000s, but Toadies got back to toeing the line soon enough and released The Lower Side Of Uptown in 2017.
Garbage – “Even Though Our Love Is Doomed”
The Wisconsin quartet—whose lineup remains unchanged to this day—went double platinum with their debut record. That’s not an easy feat, yet feels like a no-brainer when said record contains moody, melodic ditties such as “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.” Scottish singer Shirley Manson (along with the band, of course) doubled down by recording what many artists consider to be the ultimate feather in one’s cap: recording the theme to a James Bond film. There was breaking up and getting back together aplenty after that, with drummer/producer Butch Vig probably keeping most busy. But fear not, die-hards. New music is due any day now.