A Selection of New Bands for People Stuck in the ’90s


One of the more chastening aspects of getting older is watching the creeping advent of cultural conservatism laying its clammy hands on your generational contemporaries. We warned against the dangers of such conservatism and its attendant revivalism earlier this week in lambasting Foxygen’s new album, and it’s kinda terrifying to start to hear people say things like, “Oh, all the good albums were made in the ’90s.” If you’re also hearing similar things, we humbly suggest that you introduce your friends to the bands after the jump, bands whose sounds recall various ’90s acts while managing to avoid sounding like tiresome cover acts. Who’d have thought it, eh?

If you liked Mazzy Star, try… Widowspeak

This is probably the most direct “sounds like” comparison on this list, mainly because frontwoman Molly Hamilton really does sound a hell of a lot like Hope Sandoval. The similarity doesn’t seem contrived to our ears, though, and Widowspeak — whose new album, Almanac , is out this week — have enough in the way of personality and songwriting chops to prevent their music from being pure Foxygen-style pastiche. And honestly, if you’re going to sound like someone, then Sandoval’s not a bad person for that someone to be.

If you liked The Jesus Lizard, try… Metz

If you’re partial to having your ears shredded by coruscating live performances, then we humbly submit that you go and see Metz instead of sitting around and reminiscing about the good old days when David Yow would take a metaphorical hammer drill to your cranium. But please, for the love of god, bring earplugs.

If you liked Nirvana, try… Scott & Charlene’s Wedding

Given the influence that Australian bands like The Scientists and X (and also Bruce Milne’s fantastic cassette magazine Fast Forward) had on the birth of grunge, it seems appropriate that it’s an Australian act whose work most recalls the halcyon period of the ’90s Pacific Northwest. Scott & Charlene’s main man Craig Dermody’s compositions are more melodic and less brutal than Cobain’s, but they share a wholehearted embrace of a DIY aesthetic that involves making music for yourself, and then finding that actually a whole lot of people connect to its sentiments.

If you liked The Magnetic Fields, try… Majical Cloudz

We saw Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto play at Death by Audio last night, and they were fantastic — Welsh’s deep, resonant voice certainly has more than a touch of Stephin Merritt about it, and his songwriting shares both a similar emotional depth and a similar dry wit.

If you liked Daft Punk, try… Chrome Canyon

Daft Punk are more dance-floor-focused than the work of Brooklyn producer Morgan Z, a legacy of the French duo’s rave-era genesis, but if you’re after music with a sci-fi kinda bent to it, then Z’s project Chrome Canyon is definitely a spaceship worth boarding. His work is steeped in the sound of the same vintage synths that Daft Punk use to such great effect — and, as a bonus, he’s a dab hand with a theremin, too.

If you liked Björk, try… Azar Swan

And not just because Azar Swan vocalist Zohra Atash’s voice sounds quite like La Guðmundsdóttir’s at times. The Brooklyn duo’s work has a similar sense of gleeful sonic experimentalism, embracing sounds from any number of sources and combining them into thoroughly idiosyncratic pop songs that are both fascinating and hellaciously catchy.

If you liked Killing Joke, try… ERAAS

Sure, Killing Joke were probably more identified with the ’80s, but they were still going strong up until their split in 1996, and the churning, tribal, sinister sound of their glory years is very reminiscent indeed of the spooky, atmospheric sounds of ERAAS’ self-titled debut, which was one of our favorite records of 2012.

If you liked Suede, try… Savages

Impossibly cool black-clad Londoners who look like they never see daylight and whose music combines glamor and danger in roughly equal measures? Savages don’t sound a lot like Suede — their music references the driving post-punk of the early ’80s rather than Suede’s flamboyant glam influences — but they most definitely appeal to similar audiences.

If you liked The Prodigy, try… Raime

There’s not much direct stylistic correlation here — Raime’s music is a lot more subtle and atmospheric than anything Liam Howlett produced — but there’s plenty of conceptual overlap, given that Raime’s music appeals as much to indie-focused types as it does to those whose first love is dance music, and also that it’s as dark as dark gets. (It’s not for nothing that they’re the signature act on a label called Blackest Ever Black.)

If you liked Screaming Trees, try… King Krule

If you’ve got a thing for gravel-voiced vocalists who sound several decades older than they are and whose vocal exercises might conceivably consist of several packets of Camels and a fifth of whisky… well, look no further than precocious Londoner Archy Marshall, a musician who gives the cliché of sounding “old beyond his years” a whole new meaning. It’s crazy to see a voice like this come out of a kid who looks like the sickly Weasley sibling, and Marshall also writes some fantastic songs.