If there’s anything about alternative music written down as fact, it’s that the ’90s were pivotal to the modern scene. With the emergence of new subgenres, from indie to grunge, following the breakout success of bands such as Oasis and Nirvana, the decade set the foundation for nearly all contemporary alt outfits.
Of course, many look back on the period with longing. While some are nostalgic for a scene they remember well, others are just wishful that they’d been able to participate in it. Really, if anyone has a case to be made that they were born in the wrong decade, it’s Gen Z.
Nevertheless, what’s gone is not forgotten, and music tends to prove just that. Even 20 years out from everyone’s favorite era, there are still a number of artists keeping it alive. Read on to discover 10 alternative bands who are keeping ’90s music modern.
Delivering an eclectic blend of heavy metal and shoegaze, Philadelphia’s Nothing seem to explore every corner of the era. Despite their throwback sound, however, they still feel remarkably relevant to the modern scene. In fact, their latest record, The Great Dismal, might just be the most “2020” album of the year—and not just for the track “Bernie Sanders.”
Drawing on a variety of ’90s influences, including Nirvana and the Vines, Lever present what they coin “bipolar grunge pop.” While a unique take on the decade’s sound, the likeness is undeniable. In fact, we challenge you to put them in a playlist alongside Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden and tell us they don’t belong.
Honestly, “Baltimore grit” should be enough to describe this powerhouse. But in case that doesn’t paint a clear enough picture, we’ll go on. At their core, Turnstile are a modern take on ’90s metalcore with a surprisingly upbeat twist. Think Earth Crisis or Converge but more groovy.
If you’re in the market for abrasive ’90s angst, PROJECTOR will be an easy sell. The Brighton-based grunge-pop outfit have a moody, raw energy that puts them comfortably alongside the likes of early Foo Fighters or Mudhoney. By all accounts, though, they made their debut in 2017, but we’re not convinced that history isn’t off by a margin of 20 years…
The ’90s scene was marked by extensive experimentalism across genres, and Basement deliver readily on that trend. Their sound is most aptly described as a hybrid of pop punk, grunge and emo, with injections of melodic hardcore. Don’t let the DIY punk vibe fool you, though. The group have been making big waves in the scene following their signing with Fueled By Ramen in 2017.
Really, is there anything more seemingly indicative of ’90s influence than a single (and forthcoming album) titled “Earth Is A Black Hole”? Granted, that sentiment is pretty #2020, too… We’ll digress. Another band marked by an eclectic blend of various ’90s-rooted genres, L.A. duo Teenage Wrist are bringing the nostalgia. From grunge to shoegaze to early pop punk, this band hit all the marks while maintaining a totally unique, modern sound.
Heart Attack Man
Gritty and dark, Heart Attack Man combine early pop-punk and post-hardcore elements with a touch of grunge. The resulting sound is a trifecta of all things ’90s. Think early Weezer but with turbulent lyricism more in line with Sunny Day Real Estate. You’ll be 10% more emo for listening.
This one was deserving of a double take. The Lousekateers are on a mission to “bring punk rock back to the masses and expose the evils of Disney.” While we can’t speak to that latter goal, we can attest that they’re bringing the punk…hard. Though the band derive influence from the ’70s through the ’90s, we’re certain that they entered a time machine in 1995. The unbelievable part is that they didn’t make their debut until 2018’s Johnny Danger EP.
All right, Microwave may not have a strictly ’90s sound like some of the other bands on this list, but their stylistic elements are clear. Case in point: Their 2019 album, Death Is A Warm Blanket, leans markedly toward post-hardcore with notable grunge accents. It’s no surprise, either, given that they’ve attributed inspiration to the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age and OutKast.
This one’s for all the pop-punk purists out there. The Galacticas are giving us a much-needed dose of ’90s-era punk with a classic sci-fi aesthetic to boot. Their sound reads somewhere between early blink-182 and Green Day, so regardless of where you stand on which band are all-supreme, you’re sure to love them.
Which bands do you love for bringing back the ’90s? Let us know in the comments below!