The dream of the ’90s may be, as the TV show says, alive in Portland, but the sounds of the ’90s are finding new vitality in the San Francisco Bay Area indie music scene as well. In recent years, a significant number of new bands have emerged who cite alt-rock leaders like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine — and even the Pacific Northwest grunge era — as inspiration for their noisy indie rock.
The stellar local label Father/Daughter Records has released a number of albums by these local alternative-inspired bands; in an SF Chronicle profile earlier this year, label head Jessi Frick theorized that a new generation of musicians was coming of age and discovering alternative-rock sounds made before they were born:
“I feel like it’s kids discovering music from the ’90s, like Dinosaur Jr.,” Frick says. “These are harder bands that are still melodic.”
Whatever the reasoning, much like indie pop, punk, post-punk, metal, and the other rock variations that have gained traction locally, plenty of Bay Area acts are finding new ways to mix heavy guitars with serious melodies. So many bands, in fact, that, when asked to offer any suggestions of local bands inspired by ’90s sounds for this mixtape, one Bay Bridged editor sarcastically suggested, “everyone.”
Okay, it’s not everyone, but there is something special happening here. Or, perhaps, there are multiple somethings special, as there’s not a single approach to revisiting alternative rock at work in this mix. Listen to the knotty abrasiveness of Pardoner, the catchy, blown-out sounds of Hazel’s Wart and Happy Diving, and the shoegaze-influenced sonics of Blossom and Creepers. As you’ll hear, this mix reveals a varied but extremely exciting new movement bubbling up through the Bay Area scene.
Pardoner – “Gravedigger”
Never Young – “Stress Hed”
Hazel’s Wart – “Toe to Toe”
SOAR – “Speak Write”
Plush – “Sheer Power”
Blossom – “Weirdspell”
Creepers – “Lost”
Happy Diving – “Head Spell”
Jay Som – “Peach Boy”
whatfunlifewas – “Ritual Desecration”
Miserable – “Violet”