In the mid 1980s an underground community festered in blue collared Seattle. Inspired by the DIY raucous of punk and the burly distortion of metal, grunge music was born. The region was initially ignored by the music media in favor of bigger cities like LA and New York. Acts with harder, dirtier edges like U-Men inspired early bands of the scene like Green River, Malfunkshun, Skin Yard and Melvins. The loud, fast, moody, abrasive and authentic scene eventually spread beyond the Pacific Northwest, influencing bands like Babes in Toyland, L7 and Hole. As grunge hit the cultural zeitgeist through outlets like MTV, there was a tension between attaining success and staying true to their home-grown authenticity. While bands like Mudhoney maintained their independent and punk ethos, it was Nirvana who turned grunge upside down and ushered in the transformation towards more anthemic and arena-ready rock like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. It may have given way to some embarrassing post-grunge alt metal shite, but we can still look back on this important and transformative movement fondly.


1. U-Men – “They!” from Deep Six Compilation

2. Green River – “Swallow My Pride” from Rehab Doll

3. Mudhoney – “Touch Me I’m Sick” from Superfuzz Bigmuff EP

4. Melvins – “Heater Moves and Eyes” from Gluey Porch Treatments

5. Babes in Toyland – “Bruise Violet” from Fontanelle

6. L7 – “Fast and Frightening” from Smell the Magic

7. Alice In Chains – “Man In the Box” from Facelift

8. Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from Nevermind

9. Pearl Jam – “Jeremy” from Ten

10. Hole – “Violet” from Live Through This

11. Soundgarden – “Spoonman” from Superunknown

12. Mad Season – “River of Deceit” from Above


Companion Material:
Everybody Loves Our Town by Mark Yam
Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music by Greg Prato
Kurt & Courtney and Soaked In Bleach

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