Dust Off Your Flannel

Does the looming '90s revival presage a Nirvana-style breakthrough?

"One of the things about rock 'n' roll, in our future — or now — is it makes a human connection in times when things don't always feel human. What rock 'n' roll can provide for most people — with or without a breakthrough — is a human thing that I think people get less and less of in their daily lives," Finn says. "That community can happen — especially when you're at a rock show. Some guy is wearing a Deer Tick T-shirt, and you turn to him and go, 'Dude. Nice.' And it's not weird. He's not like, 'Get away from me.' He's, 'Oh, yeah, I just saw them.' All of a sudden you're talking to a dude you don't know."

Rock music's ability to forge bonds and galvanize attention never diminishes. It just falls out of fashion from time to time, but it's usually the better for it. Obviously, the entire industry has changed since Nirvana's breakthrough. Recording has become democratized. Now it's very easy and inexpensive to release music, yet hard to make a lot of money doing it.

Perversely, this probably is a good thing. Call it survival of the hardiest. You want the person you back to really mean it, and not offer you lip service. It's about sharing something rather than selling it. Of course, some musicians are motivated less by connecting or expressing something than the selfishness of a deep personal devotion.

Nirvana's commercial breakthrough inspired a wave of alternative rock signings in the '90s.
Nirvana's commercial breakthrough inspired a wave of alternative rock signings in the '90s.
The original lineup of Dinosaur Jr. reunited in 2005.
The original lineup of Dinosaur Jr. reunited in 2005.

"There's nothing else to be done," says Kirkwood, sounding like a character from Waiting for Godot. "Look around. Life is disgusting...What are you going to do when everything else is mewling and pathetic? Might as well do what you do."

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I hope not, I had a great time in the 90s. Even though the current 80s revival is stronger then ever it's still the 8th or 9th time that horrible decade has reared it's ugly head since the 90s ended.


For those of us alive and informed during the 80s it was a really crappy decade. The economy was shit, music became a prefabbed commodity(thanks to disco) and fashion was awkward. The problem with nostalgia is that reality takes a backseat while fantasy stand front and center with legwarmers on. These 80s revivals have taken the substance out of the decade and replaced it unabashed romanticism. There shouldn't be anything wrong with that but I can see this happening to a 90s revival or 2. The industry will get a hold of it and strip it down to it's exterior with no recognition of the meat of the decade. The 90s didn't save the world but it certainly changed it. I think the 'fuck you' creativity that was fostered then was reminiscent of the 60s.


The 90s weren't about flannel at all. That era was about music and music only. It was the industry that tried to make it a style. The clothes were a necessity to the climate in Seattle and the north. As someone that lived up the road in Vancouver at the time I couldn't relate to the bright colors and cocaine of the 80s. My friends and I would hang out on the shore and play guitars tell the sun came up. What style your clothes were wasn't important, they provided a function and flannel was the cheapest. Plus everything was grey and brown and wet so these clothes let us blend into the city. The last thing any of us wanted was to look like a bunch of Skittles in those bright clothes. Let us trudge along in the grey and life deafening drizzle. It's how we liked it.


The current 80s revival replete with banks like Ariel Pink making records as if they were the bastard children of an OMD/Spandau Ballet mating is played out. The majority of music was horrible, utter trash. Thankfully bands are starting to shift but now every 3rd band sounds like Mumford and Sons. Guh.


The 80s were a coked up, neon clad stock broker that came to define the 'me' generation. It was excess upon excess. A horrible decade that we were lucky to get out of. I hope the 90s don't get the same nostalgia paint job the 80s got. Oh sure, I'd love to see Black Happy tour around with Roots Roundup but you won't be seeing my stage dive anymore :)


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