Monday, 17 September 2012

Dark and Goth-Friendly Music #16: Grunge, Glam, Sleaze, Acid Rock, Indie Rock

Whoa, it's been a while since I posted one of these. Now, of course, the genres I'm listing are drifting far from the realms of traditional Gothic rock and more into the 'Goth-friendly' categories; don't expect to hear these bands on rotation at your local Goth nightspot, but don't be afraid to give them a listen either. If you need a recap on the world of dark music, you can wander over to my music page here.

Often loosely associated with Goth via angsty teens in black eyeliner and Nirvana T-shirts, grunge is an American genre of alternative rock that came to light in the 80s, and its roots are in punk and heavy metal. It came to inspire a subculture in its own right, united by the alienation and apathy reflected in the lyrics of grunge music and in some cases the dishevelled, anti-fashion style of dress reflected by grunge musicians.

Grunge music is generally charactised by heavily distorted electric guitars, and the 'raw' sound shared by punk, its musical cousin.

Grunge bands include: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden (who list Bauhaus amongst their influences), Green River, Mudhoney, Tad, Alice In Chains, Skin Yard, The Melvins, Malfunkshun.

Glam rock
Glam (or glitter) rock developed in the 70s in the UK, and many glam rock musicians - known for their extravagant and often androgynous make-up and stage costumes - are cited as having an influence on the Goth scene, such as David Bowie and Roxy Music.

Wikipedia says, "Musically glam rock was very diverse, varying between the simple rock and roll revivalism of figures like Alvin Stardust to the complex art rock of Roxy Music, and can be seen as much as a fashion as a musical sub-genre. Visually it was a mesh of various styles, ranging from 1930s Hollywood glamour, through 1950s pin-up sex appeal, pre-war Cabaret theatrics, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, to ancient and occult mysticism and mythology; manifesting itself in outrageous clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and platform-soled boots."

Check out: David Bowie, Roxy Music, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls, T.Rex.

Sleaze rock is a subgenre of heavy metal; categorized more by attitude and lyrical content than by songs. Some bands associated with the genre, such as Sp!t L!ke Th!s, also feature strong visual and music influences from Goth and glam rock.

Vikki Spit and Lord Zion of SLT
"The music itself is rebellious, aggressive and downright nasty. The PMRC hated it, as did your parents. Whether it was Zodiac Mindwarp claiming to be the "Tattooed Beat Messiah," Spread Eagle getting "Back On The Bitch," L.A. Guns wanting some "Sex Action," or Rhino Bucket begging fans to "Ride The Rhino," the attitude remained the same as they gave the general public the middle finger. Often sleaze bands came across better live then in a studio that tried to harness their aggression. They were at the top of their game when touring on the road, abusing drugs and alcohol and having sex with your daughters or wives. The look and attitude also separated them from other bands. Long hair that looks like it's been washed with used motorcycle oil, black leather jackets and tight pants, and tattoos proudly displayed from head to toe are all trademarks of a true sleaze band. They truly were the outlaws of rock 'n' roll." - from

Check out: Sp!t L!ke Th!is, Motley Crue (who can list Gothic Charm School's Jillian Venters amongst their unlikely Goth fanbase), Beautiful Creatures, Sonic X, Slash Puppet, Faster Pussycat.

Acid rock
A variation on psychedelic rock that got its name because it was often used as the soundtrack for acid trips at wild 60s parties. Not particularly Goth-related, included here mainly as an excuse to list some cult alternative bands that are deserving of a listen and, again, are often cited as influences by Goth musicians.

Check out: Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Pink Floyd.

Indie rock
Indie (short for independent) rock is a genre of alternative rock which is also an umbrella term for subgenres like lo-fi and jangle pop. The term itself indicates the low budget labels that used to release this kind of music (now often self-released with the rise of music-sharing sites like Bandcamp) and the fact that the bands themselves tend to remain underground, choosing not to court celebrity, although nowadays many indie bands do achieve some commerical success. Like sleaze, indie bands are defined more by attitude and ethos than by any one musical style.

Allmusic describes indie rock thusly: "too sensitive and melancholy; too soft and delicate; too dreamy and hypnotic; too personal and intimately revealing in its lyrics; too low-fidelity and low-budget in its production; too angular in its melodies and riffs; too raw, skronky and abrasive, wrapped in too many sheets of Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr./Pixies/Jesus & Mary Chain-style guitar noise; too oblique and fractured in its song structures; too influenced by experimental or otherwise unpopular musical styles."

Check out: The Pixies, The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, The Black Keys, Editors, Interpol, Placebo, The Decemberists, Florence and the Machine, New Order (formed by former members of Joy Division).


Dani DeathBiscuit said...

I love The Pixies :3

faoladh said...

It should probably be noted that The Doors may have been the first band described by someone else as "gothic", in a review in 1967.

Nightwind said...

I find it interesting that you listed some of the so-called acid-rock bands such as The Doors and Pink Floyd. The fact of the matter is that at times, these groups could get quite dark. Pink Floyd's "Careful With that Ax Eugene" comes to mind.

Although I listen to metal and dark wave more than anything else, I'd be the first to say that there have been and always will be other musical genres that are definitely worth a listen.

Cherry Divine said...

I seem to be losing contact with Gothic music. There are many newer Gothic bands. They are always forming/splitting and reforming. Many of us cannot tell who exists, and who doesn't today. We need another decent Mick Mercer book that gives us all an updated version of the Goth scene now.

Jayne Marquand said...

There are a few other glam bands I'd add- The Sweet (yes, they're cheesy, but damn are they glam!), T-Rex, Suzie Quatro (well, maybe not as glam as the Sweet, but still great), and I once heard Lou Reed's work being descibed as glam, although I'm not sure I agree- but his music, and Velvet Underground, is definitely worth a listen.

As far as acid rock goes, Blue Cheer is pretty great. Same with Steppenwolf and Jimi Hendrix, but we're kind of venturing into Classic Rock territory there... Not that I mind at all :P Interested in acid rock? Give Strawberry Alarm Clock's 'Incense and peppermints' a go, along with Status Quo's 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' and Steppenwolf's 'Magic Carpet Ride'.

david smith said...

Seven Ages Of Rock is u.k music documentary mentioned in wikipedia.Each episode is different genre including punk,indie and others.Watching'what the world is waiting for'(indie-alternative).'Blank generation'(punk)...Allmusic Variously describes Vendemmian and others as indie-alternative according to particular songs.Punk commentor said 'post punk'term meaningless;i'ts not.'New wave'...yeah..good luck with that one mate!!

david smith said...

the pixies-where is my mind.
Dani DogBiscuit

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