’90s nostalgia bands are back with new albums, and they’re awesome

by Jon E. Lynch

Nostalgia is a funny thing. Just the notion resonates differently with different people, dependent on whom you ask. Some look upon that sort of remembrance of the 1990s fondly, with the soft golden yellow glow and haze of idealized, if not fuzzy, memory. Others may prefer that the past stay the past while insisting that rehashing what is bygone is a detriment to healthy living in the present. Or, like many of us, some straddle the overlapping gray areas between.

I have strong feelings on the era, the culture, and the music from that time. I feel fortunate to have gone to high school before the ubiquity of smart devices, the normalization of a nonstop infotainment cycle, Internet and screen time domination and, I cannot stress this enough, social effing media. High school was hard enough. I shudder to think how much harder it would have been with the pressures and expectations swirling around the various social media platforms and the ruthlessness and hormonal awkwardness and idiocy of being an average high school kid. No. Thanks.

But, I digress. The music that was made in the ’90s was in fact the music that sound-tracked my life. A smattering of those artists are still putting out records, which is arguably some of their best music. All of the following artists made records in the ’90s and shaped and informed my musical sensibilities and tastes. Here are the current projects:

The Meat Puppets, “Dusty Notes” On March 8, the rockers from Phoenix, Arizona returned with a new record and their original 1995 lineup-plus. Brothers Cris and Curt Kirkwood are possibly best known to the masses for a couple of alternative rock radio hits in the early to mid ’90s and the time they appeared onstage alongside Nirvana to play three of their tunes at Cobain’s legendary Unplugged performance.

Stephen Malkmus, “Groove Denied” The Pavement frontman released a long awaited album of electronic-inspired jams on March 15 via longtime label Matador. As Pavement fans know, Malkmus has a unique and identifiable style of playing guitar that has become all his own, but nary a lick will be heard on this record. That may sound blasphemous to some, but believe me when I tell you it works.

Royal Trux, “White Stuff” Also released on March 8, The Washington, D.C.-based duo Neil Hagerty (vocals, guitar) and Jennifer Herrema (vocals) dropped their first proper studio album of fuzzy, brash garage punk since 1997. A number of their albums were remastered and reissued, but “White Stuff” marks a long awaited return with nary a beat missed.

Guided By Voices, “Warp and Woof” This won’t be the first GBV record of 2019, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that it won’t be Pollard and Company’s last. One of the most prolific bands of ANY era, GBV will release the album on their very own GBV Inc label in late April. One of the pillars of ’90s indie rock, GBV are as relevant today as they were in the ’90s when their genre-defining albums became a mainstay of college radio.

Sebadoh, “Act Surprised” This album dropped May 25 thanks to Dangerbird Records. Here’s a quote direct from the press release, which explains it better than I could: “Its recording process took place with producer Justin Pizzoferatto in western Massachusetts, where Sebadoh began in the late ’80s. In between presumable nostalgia benders to visit all the band’s favorite formative New England haunts, Lou Barlow, Jason Loewenstein, and Bob D’Amico found time to put together a voluminous 15-song tracklist.”

— Jon Lynch


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