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47Grunge: A 47Magazine Playlist

Looking for new music to end off the year with? I created a 47-track playlist with a mix of 90s and early 2000s grunge and some modern-day tracks. It also features an array of “grunge gaze” songs for those who enjoy more chill vibes over the more raw, rock-focused ones. While you listen, read along to learn about some artists featured and their corresponding tracks!

Jack off Jill is an alternative band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, founded in 1992 by vocalist Jessicka, drummer Tenni Aha-Cha-Cha, bassist/keyboardist Agent Moulder, and guitarist Michelle Inhell. These were the band's founders, but many musicians cycled through the group in its lifespan, leaving only Jessicka & Moulder for most of the time. The tracks "When I Am Queen" & "Cinnamon Spider" are featured on their sophomore album "Clear Hearts Grey Flowers". The first track is utter fantasy, masking revenge in beauty. The lyrics drip with power while trying to build a world made up of those who hurt the singer, for example, "When I am queen on royal throne/Made out of parts of broken bones/ Of all the devils I have known/That suck the angels dry". The next track featured, "Cinnamon Spider," is a raw, emotional story where the narrator sees themselves as something wounded and misunderstood and who is seen as the villain. With lyrics like "Consumed by hate and guilt, she'll never retire/Too old to fix, too dead to ever acquire" and "Bit heads off those who fail and try to imply her/Forlorn, despised, I am the cinnamon spider."

Founded in Chicago in 1992 by vocalist/guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post, drummer Jim Shapiro, and bassist Steve Lack. Veruca Salt is a grunge/alternative band who are still releasing new music today, despite a short break in 2012. Their debut album, "American Thighs," features the song that started it all, "Seether". This track embodies suppressed female rage. It expresses how anger can be a completely different person within yourself. It starts strong with raw and steady instruments and dominant vocals. Lyrics like "Can't fight the seether/I can't see her till I'm foaming at the mouth" show that rage can completely consume a person until it's too late.

Hole, the band name inspired by the Greek tragedy of Medea, was formed by vocalist Courtney Love and guitarist Eric Erlandson in 1989. They became one of the most prolific rock bands fronted by a woman in the 1990s, especially with their sophomore album “Live Through This.” The track featured on this playlist is the third track on this record titled “Plump.” This song can be interpreted in different ways. Still, it focuses a lot on the shock of motherhood and the struggles that come with it, including body image, with lyrics like “They say I’m plump/But I threw up all the time,” hinting at morning sickness and weight gain being a working pair throughout pregnancy. The vocals are almost strained with heavy instruments and sounds to match what one must be going through during the most challenging parts of motherhood and/or pregnancy.

The trio Julie consists of singer/guitarist Keyan Pourzand, drummer Dillon Lee, and singer/bassist Alex Brady. It all started in California in 2019 when Pourzand and Lee met and bonded over bands like My Bloody Valentine, inspiring their more shoegaze, art/rock take on things. The group released their first single, "Flutter," in 2020 and their first EP, "Pushing Daisies'' in August of 2021. The fifth track on the EP, "Skipping Tiles," is a hauntingly beautiful song about one who gives parts of themselves away for someone else's love and is left empty and drained afterward. The beginning lyrics, "He said I'm a work of art/I'll let you sip down on my heart while I drink nothing," show how much one will give but ask for nothing else. Ending the track with the lyrics "Why don't you eat me alive?" shows how empty and weak one must feel after getting their all taken from them for love.

The Smashing Pumpkins from Chicago, Illinois, are an American alternative band formed in 1988 by frontman/guitarist Billy Corgan, bassist D'arcy Wretzky, guitarist James Iha, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain. They've been through many lineup changes since their 2006 reunion as a band, with Corgan being the most consistent member. The original members still stand now, minus previous guitarist D'arcy Wretzky. Their music is diverse and contains many different layers of genres like gothic rock, grunge, heavy metal, shoegaze, psychedelic rock, and more. One of their most popular tracks, the 1997 Grammy award-winning hit "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," is featured on their fourth record, "Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness." The beginning lyrics, "The world is a vampire/Sent to Drain," suggest that everyone around Corgan wanted something from him similar to the same lust and hunger a vampire has. "Secret destroyers/Hold you up to the flames." expresses the people closest to the band's success and career: managers, friends, and people with his best interest in mind, who may be the ones to destroy all he had. Corgan felt pressured during this time in the spotlight and expressed that range of emotions throughout this track. The chorus becomes stronger and more raw with the repeating lyrics, "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage." This can lean towards the suffocating feeling of fame in the music industry, so no matter the negative emotions Corgan may sometimes feel within his career, he continues to provide and let the industry take. To show more of The Smashing Pumpkins' diverse sound, also featured on the playlist is the track "Pug" from their fifth album, "Adore," released in 1998. This song has an almost sexy, lustful sound right off the bat, with more dark waves and gothic rock synthesizer sounds to match the longing energy of the lyrics. Starting strong with the words "Kiss and kill me sweetly" and "I am yours alone/Inside where it's warm/Wrap myself in you." It's an obsessive and eerie love story embodied in whimsical instrumentals to give listeners a nostalgic feeling.

When most people think about grunge music, they usually immediately think of Nirvana. Formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987 by lead singer Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic, the band went through many drummers before recruiting Dave Grohl in 1990. Nirvana's success brought alternative rock to the top of the charts, popularizing a new era of music and lifestyles. They were often seen as the figurehead band of Generation X. Their career was a short three years, but that did not stop their music from taking over even decades later. On the band's "Compilation" album released in 2002, the first track, "You Know You're Right," was recorded in January of 1994, and it's also the final song they recorded before Cobain's passing in April. This track is filled with heavy emotions and instruments from beginning to end. It starts with the lyrics, "I will never bother you/I will never promise to/I will never follow you/I will never bother you/Never speak a word again." This can suggest to listeners feelings of depression, and for someone who feels like everything they touch they end up destroying. This emotion carries into the remainder of the track, with the end of the second verse stating, "I have never failed to fail." Listeners like to feel seen and feel less alone, and this song can do that for those who struggle with self-critical thoughts. This explains Nirvana's massive impact on the grunge scene to this day; people never stop working and are always searching for something to help them power through.

Narrow Head is an alternative band founded by Jacob Duarte on vocals, William Menjivar on guitar, and Carson Wilcox on drums. Initially founded in Dallas, Texas, the band is now based in Houston. The band formed in 2013, and their first album titled "Satisfaction" in 2016. After touring in 2018, the band signed with Run For Cover Records in 2020, following their EP "Far Removed" release, featuring the track "Make It Hurt." This track starts with a steady mix of instruments, which becomes more melodic at the beginning of the first verse with the lyrics "Sleep alone/Mourn your loss/I watched you lose it all" before the heavy guitar and drums pick back up and erupt into the chorus, reflecting the severe emotions and melancholy sounds of the track. This song seems to reflect strong feelings of loss and grief and covers the intensity of said emotions in just four minutes; it's apparent in the vocals as well as the lyrics "Mourn alone/sleep it off" and "I watched her eyes as she cried/Tell me, does it hurt?". Listeners can relate to the sense of loss expressed, giving an otherworldly feeling to this track.

Superheaven is an alternative rock band founded in 2008 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, by vocalist Jake Clarke and Taylor Madison, bassist Joe Kane, and drummer Zack Robbins. The band was active from 2008-2016, having a few reunions before officially coming together again in 2022. Even though they are a more modern-day band, the music mirrors the 1990s grunge and shoegaze genre. They released their debut album "Jar" in 2013; the track "Youngest Daughter" recently blew up on social media in the past year, bringing more attention to the shoegaze genre. Their sophomore album "Ours Is Chrome" was released in 2015, featuring the track "Gushin' Blood." This track describes a nightmare disguised as a dream; the narrator seems to have these sequences where he is competing for a lover and killing off competitors who may try to stop him from getting what he wants. He could also be getting revenge on people who may have hurt the one he loves. He reflects these fights with sadistic satisfaction, with lyrics like "Dragged the bags out to the car/Gave them more than just a scar/A smile on my face/A spade under my arm." It shows the narrator relishes in these moments of victory for defending the one he cares for. This track continues to be a twisted love letter as he continues in the dream sequence, directing the lyrics, "They're crying for the ones they love, but they hurt mine/I tell myself it's all for you, but I think I love it too." to the love interest. The track's instrumentals reflect that dreamlike state, but the lyrics are more sinister.

Title Fight is a rock band formed in 2003 from Kingston, Pennsylvania. The band consisted of Jamie Rhoden on guitar and vocals, Ned Russin on bass, his twin brother Ben on drums, and Shane Moran on guitar. After doing many local shows and gaining more attention in the punk/rock scene, the group made their way up and 2011 signed with SideOneDummy Records, which followed the announcement of their debut full-length album "Shed," released in May of 2011. This record features the track "Where Am I?" which is said to reflect life on the road as a touring musician and the lonely, repetitive lifestyle that comes with it. This is apparent in the first verse with the lyrics "Another floor/A different ceiling than the night before." The instruments in the beginning come on fast, and the vocals move a bit slower in comparison, giving the track a shadowy sound. Despite the sadness expressed due to the struggles of touring, it doesn't mean it wasn't an enjoyable time for the band. The lyrics "This strange routine sometimes weighs down on me/But I wouldn't trade it/Not for anything" prove that even with the hardships, there is nothing else the group would rather be doing together; at least they have each other and the experiences through it all. Whether you can relate to this track for the same reasons or not, this sense of feeling lost that this song portrays is felt in everyone at some point.

Life After Youth was formed in Austin, Texas, in early 2017 with members Luke Johnson, Alex Fort, and Luke Smith. The group released their debut single, "Drag You Down," at the start of 2018, and by 2019, their EP "Grunge Pop Vol. 1" dropped on Halloween. The track "Murder Me" is an even mix of pop and grunge that perfectly fits the title of the EP, with intense instruments during the chorus but a more laid-back and relaxed sound during each verse, which starts to pick back up towards the end of the track. This song reflects what it's like to feel numb, not to feel anything, but at the same time, you feel everything inside your Head, which, unfortunately, one cannot escape. The first verse expresses these feelings with the lyrics "Taking a walk, looking at birds/Dying inside (The back of a hearse)." When unable to feel much, doing mundane activities to bring yourself back to earth can help, but sometimes the emptiness is too much to escape. In the chorus, the singer expresses feeling lost, repeating, "I don't know what to think/Somebody murders me." Despite being a sorrowful track, some people need music to help them feel okay again, and this is one of those tracks that can make someone feel less alone, especially during the holiday season, which can be a lonely time for some.

Hopefully, some of these tracks make it on your nice list this year! Check out the playlist that features these tracks and many more; you can stream it below!

Written by Liv Voreas

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