The ’90s Roots of Today’s Indie Craze

Before there was the moody, guitar-crunch DIY music we associate today with the gargantuan indie rock acts of Jack White, Savages, or Queens of the Stone Age, those trails were blazed by the Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, Soundgarden, Radiohead and the Deftones. In many ways their distinctive, quirky-yet-epic sounds from the 90s have been often imitated, but never duplicated. (How strange that that 90s music will be considered “classic rock” to my kids! I wonder what Boston, Journey, and Queen – the “classic rock” of my childhood – will become for them.) Here’s an attempt to connect a few historical threads, song for song, from some mid to early 90s bands to the sounds we hear today in mid 2010s.

The Deftones’ “My Own Summer” —> The Savages’ “I Am Here” — It’s all about the ethereal, ghoulish vocals in a distortion-heavy guitar atmosphere.



Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” —> Jack White’s  “Freedom at 21” — That riff! So similar. I think the swagger of Jack White’s sound owes a lot to Tom Morello and the Rage crew. Vocals are similar as well.


Stone Temple Pilot’s “Lounge Fly” –>  Queens of the Stone Age “I Sat by the Ocean” — The Queens’ structure is a little more straightforward than STP’s, but you can’t mistake the high looping lead guitar and the vocal grit.


Weezer’s “You Gave Your Love To Me Softly” –> Japandroids’ “The House That Heaven Built” — This is Weezer’s biggest rocker, and it’s not hard to hear its influence in this Japandroids instant-classic twenty years later. The emotion is there, and the guitar lines just whip through your consciousness like a lasso.




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