In the early 90s, it felt like the whole 80s vibe had overstayed its welcome. The age of MTV’s pin-up stars was getting stale, and it was time to bring some authenticity back to rock and roll. You wouldn’t find it in LA though. For the next few years, the rock’s central core was actually going to be a few miles to the north.
Focusing on the rainy city of Seattle, the bands came to the fore with much rougher songs around the edges. While it may have been a bit of an adjustment, the hooks behind these songs were too infectious to ignore, culminating in the rise of the alternative movement in what would become the defining sound of grunge rock. When you’re changing the game so much overnight, there has to be a roadmap for where you can go.
In each of these records you can find a different aspect of what made grunge so appealing in the beginning, from pop rock masterpieces to albums that are a little more tortured than their counterparts. One thing to remember though: it wasn’t meant to be for the masses. The age of the anti-rock star had arrived and things were about to get a whole lot more real.
The basic ethos of grunge has always seemed to be more of a punk rock attitude than anything else. Even though bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam sounded like your typical rock bands of that era, their approach to the spotlight was modeled after more offbeat bands like Fugazi or the Dead Kennedys. However, few had this as part of their sound, until Mudhoney really started to get the ball rolling.
Looking to break away from the usual rock and roll sounds he made in Green River, Mark Arm opts for a much more abrasive sound in each of these songs, almost giving us a 90s update of a frontman like Iggy Pop. Compared to the more dispersed side of acts like Nirvana, this is probably the truest punk-style album the Seattle scene released in its heyday, with guitars blazing hot in the mix and songs that sound like they were about to descend into chaos. but still manages to get back on track for most of the song.
Even with all the noise, you never forget you’re listening to a grunge album here. The minute you put this on, you can practically smell Seattle’s catastrophic weather, because these guys have nothing better to do than dodge the rain by playing loud in their basement. It might not be the most enjoyable thing to listen to once in a while, but it’s probably the closest thing to what Seattle really sounded like in the beginning.