To love music from the 1990s is an oft-used cliché, and it’s unfortunate that loving music from this decade has become almost a bad joke. But not all music is created equal. I have found that when people say that they love 90s music they mean that they actually love Hootie and the Blowfish, Third Eye Blind and several other equally generic, made-for-radio bands.
If you dig just a little deeper than the grunge and adult-contemporary music that seemed to define the era you’ll find that the 90s were when indie rock really started to hit its stride. Bands like Superchunk, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, Pavement and Sonic Youth started to get some airplay on college radio stations and their influence on modern indie rock cannot be overstated.
Yuck, my current obsession, is a band in which these particular influences are particularly prevalent. You can hear individual aspects of each band in their music, but it’s still their own. They borrow and meld, putting their contemporary twist on a 20-year-old style.
Yuck’s debut, released in June, uniquely blends facets of noise rock, shoegaze and straightforward indie and comes out with a sound that is both evocative as well as innovative.
The noise element in the track “Rubber” really reminded me of Sonic Youth. It utilized the same use of feedback with heavy distortion, but it lacked much of the dissonance that was a trademark of the iconic band. Instead, Yuck utilized more melodic sound, giving it a more ambient feel. Instead of being jarring, it was entrancing. The seven-minute song seemed to almost float by and before I knew it the song was over.
Just as “Rubber” reminded me of Sonic Youth, I had a similar feeling with the track “Get Away” and its similarities to anything Dinosaur Jr. ever did. The guitar work was very reminiscent of Jay Mascis. It was an extremely melodic lead laid over a fuzzy, chunky rhythm, a Dinosaur Jr. specialty. Again, though, it differed in presentation. Whereas Jay Mascis usually employs long, sweeping leads, the guitarists for Yuck used much more succinct and tight leads.
Finally I would like to get to what I think is the best track of the album. It’s a b side and honestly I can’t quite figure why. “Doctors in My Bed” reminds me so much of The Pixies classic, Gigantic. It starts off with a simple bass line that carries the song, the vocals are understated until the chorus and then the track erupts. It ends with a melodic guitar assault, lots of feedback and a tempo change. This song is absolutely incredible.
The album is loaded with great songs. Even if you aren’t familiar with a lot of the bands I snobbily talked about in this article I recommend Yuck. If you like it use it as a bridge to listening to some other similar bands. It’s not difficult to listen to and is solid front to back. They’ll be playing at the Grog Shop in Cleveland on September 30th and I hope to see some of you there.