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Alternative Rock Music
Alternative rock music – also called alternative, alternative music, or alt-rock – is a rock music genre that originated during the early 1980s to describe the sound of rock bands that were inspired by punk rock, but which refused to subscribe to the mainstream genres of the time. Alternative rock music encompasses subgenres such as indie rock, post-punk, grunge, gothic rock, and Britpop, and New Wave. Noted for its guitar-based instrumentation and popularity with the college crowds and music undergrounds in the eighties, alternative rock music has grown to become a genre that, despite its denouncement of the mainstream, has gained huge commercial and critical success – especially in the 1990s – thanks to the influence of alternative rock bands and alternative rock artists like R.E.M., U2, The Feelies, Husker Du, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, The Replacements, The Cure, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What is Alternative Rock Music?Alternative rock music owes its stylistic origins largely to punk rock, and it was also heavily influenced by folk music, reggae, and jazz. When it started, only a handful of college radio stations broadcasted alternative music, which was why, at first, alternative rock artists and bands didn’t generate spectacular album sales and weren’t very successful with major record labels. (R.E.M., for example, found their initial cult following and early loyal fan base in college circuits, the underground scene, and small clubs.) Characteristically, alternative music can be identified by its emphasis on the guitar, which blasts out power chords, picks out riffs, and is used with creative distortion. Complex electronic beats and bass drums are also heavily used. Lyrically, alternative rock records and CDs are rooted in a kind of general discontent, what with its stance against commercialism and the mainstream, as well as recurring themes like drugs, depression, rebellion, the do-it-yourself ethic, independence, artistic authenticity, and other social, economic, and environmental concerns.
The genre didn’t stay outside the limelight for long, however; Nirvana suddenly burst into the mainstream in the early 1990s with their alternative rock album “Nevermind” and proved the commercial and cultural viability of the genre. Soon, similar groups followed suit with a distinct style of guitar-based rock that combined punk and heavy metal elements, such as is evident in Pearl Jam records, Soundgarden records, and Red Hot Chili Peppers records. Alternative rock music also became big in United Kingdom, and while the sound was more punk and pop-oriented, alternative rock bands and artists like The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure, The Smiths, and Primal Scream are still considered as among those who, with their American counterparts, helped define the genre of alternative rock.
Alternative Rock Artists and Bands Who Defined the GenreR.E.M., Talking Heads, Big Black, Sonic Youth, The Replacements, Husker Du, The Feelies, Violent Femmes were groups that did not easily gain much commercial success, but they all laid the groundwork for the alternative music genre and exerted a considerable influence on a generation of alternative rock bands and artists that came of age in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When R.E.M. and Jane’s Addiction achieved gold and platinum status with their alternative rock records under major labels, it paved the way for the genre’s later breakthrough. It was, however, alternative rock band Nirvanawhich catapulted this kind of music into the mainstream, launching the “alternative nation” movement in Seattle and helping expose such alternative rock artists and bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Rage Against The Machine, Hole, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, and, in the UK, Radiohead, Bush, Oasis, Blur, Suede, and Pulp.
The Influence of Alternative Rock MusicThe genre of alternative rock music continues to evolve and diversify in the 21st century. Alternative rock bands like Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, Coldplay, and Death Cab for Cutie are focusing on more conventional indie sounds; The White Stripes and The Strokes are reviving garage rock, while Interpol and The Killers are achieving mainstream success with their distinct neo-post-punk sound. Moreover, youth-oriented rock bands such as Linkin Park incorporate complex electronic elements into their sound, which is heavily influenced by their metal, grunge, and alternative rock forbears.
Alternative Rock Record LabelsDespite its early roots in anti-commercialism and independence, alternative rock music would never have enjoyed mainstream success if R.E.M. and Jane’s Addiction didn’t pave the way by signing with major record labels. Today, popular alternative rock record labels include Capitol (Coldplay, Radiohead, The Beach Boys) and Warner Bros. (Linkin Park, The White Stripes, Goo Goo Dolls).
Alternative Rock Records and Alternative Rock CDsWant to get a feel of the alternative sound? REM CDs, U2 CDs, Nirvana CDs, Pearl Jam CDs, Talking Heads CDs, Sonic Youth CDs, The Cure CDs, Soundgarden CDs, Red Hot Chili Peppers CDs, Coldplay CDs, Radiohead CDs, Goo Goo Dolls CDs, Suede CDs, Death Cab for Cutie CDs, among other alternative rock records and alternative rock CDs by alternative rock band and artists from the 1980s onwards, are available at MusicStack. Alternative rock vinyl LPs are also available.
Popular Alternative Rock Artists