The sounds of the 1990s are making a comeback



It's been in the air for a while: plaid shirts and Doc Martens boots on the high street; reunions by Dinosaur Jr and Pavement; teenage fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson's obsession with Nirvana and Hole. Last month, a heavily grunge-influenced debut album by the London four-piece group Yuck was heralded by the music press as one of the most promising rock releases of the year so far, and it became official: 11 years after we waved them off, the 1990s are back.

Yuck's songwriter Daniel Blumberg is only 20, but he's already a veteran indie rocker. At the age of 15, his former band Cajun Dance Party was signed to XL Records, home of Radiohead and The White Stripes, but the band split after just one album. While Cajun Dance Party made bright, upbeat indie-pop, with clear-sounding vocals and bouncy, syncopated rhythms, Yuck use a much muddier palette that owes a clear debt to the Seattle sound.

Both Blumberg's groups summed up the sound of their time: while five years ago "new rave" was responsible for bright sounds and neon outfits, this year is all about bands turning up the reverb and making songs that are submerged in soft, murky waves of noise. With their melodic interplay of vocals and guitar, chiming Pavement-style licks and use of distortion and a general vibe of slackerdom, Yuck are right on trend.

Vivian Girls, a female four-piece from Brooklyn, helped popularise fuzzy surf sounds among the rock underground with the release of their 2008 debut, which had distorted vocals half-buried in blurry guitar, in the same way as bands of the early 1990s such as My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Over on the US West Coast, Wavves cut a first album the same year, which was full of squalling lo-fi that reached back past the dance-punk and garage rock revival popular at the time to evoke the days when Kurt Cobain and his alt-rock contemporaries were ruling the airwaves.

Fast-forward a few years, and it seems that every other new band has been digging through its collection of 1990s CDs and tapes for inspiration, and the trend has hopped across the Atlantic to invade the UK. Londoners Yuck were given four stars by Rolling Stone for their debut album, but that didn't stop the magazine saying the record sounded like "a well-rounded nineties indie rock mix-tape." It was the same with almost every other review Yuck got: an acknowledgement that they were derivative coupled with an affirmation that their catchy tunes are strong enough to get away with it.

"I listen to a lot of nineties music," Blumberg admitted in an interview, citing the Silver Jews, Neutral Milk Hotel, Lambchop, Bonnie "Prince" Billie and Smog as a few of his favourites, and adding that discovering Pavement and Royal Trux was "probably one of the most exciting points in my life." Of course, as someone born in the 1990s, his discovery of the scene was retrospective, and he adds his own nostalgia and sensibilities to the mix as a child of the internet age.

Yuck's nearest rivals are the quartet Male Bonding. Also based in London, they're the first non-US band to be signed to the Seattle label Sub Pop, and they oscillate between sounding like Nirvana with cheaper recording equipment and sounding like Blur during their earliest years. Like Yuck, the songs on their debut album, which came out last summer, and their live energy are good enough for the band to get away with their unoriginal style.

Back on the other side of the pond, Titus Andronicus, No Age and Times New Viking are three to check out if you're a fan of the 1990s lo-fi revival sound. Your other option, of course, is to listen to some of the reformed alt-rock bands who will be playing their own hits at festivals this summer. Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips and Belle & Sebastian will be headlining the Spanish festival Primavera Sound, while Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum - who has been something of a recluse since the release of his band's 1998 album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - will be playing long-awaited comeback shows in the UK and US this coming autumn and winter.

If you're one of those for whom "nineties rock" means Dinosaur Jr, you're in luck too. The band's erstwhile guitarist J Mascis has just released his first studio album, Several Shades of Why, and it's a worthy addition to his back catalogue. With delicate songcraft, and gentle acoustic guitar complementing Mascis's gravelly voice, it would make a good intro for anyone embarking on an alt-rock nostalgia trip.

* Jessica Holland

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Education: Bachelors degree in English Literature with Social work from UAE University

As a child: Kept sweets on the window sill for workers, set aside money to pay for education of needy families

Holidays: Spends most of her days off at Senses often with her family who describe the centre as part of their life too

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Aaron Finch (capt), Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa

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Company name: Nomad Homes
Started: 2020
Founders: Helen Chen, Damien Drap, and Dan Piehler
Based: UAE and Europe
Industry: PropTech
Funds raised so far: $44m
Investors: Acrew Capital, 01 Advisors, HighSage Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Partech, Precursor Ventures, Potluck Ventures, Knollwood and several undisclosed hedge funds

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Founders: Sebastian Stefan, Sebastian Morar and Claudia Pacurar

Based: Dubai, UAE

Founded: 2014

Number of employees: 36

Sector: Logistics

Raised: $2.5 million

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Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

HAEMOGLOBIN DISORDERS EXPLAINED

Thalassaemia is part of a family of genetic conditions affecting the blood known as haemoglobin disorders.

Haemoglobin is a substance in the red blood cells that carries oxygen and a lack of it triggers anemia, leaving patients very weak, short of breath and pale.

The most severe type of the condition is typically inherited when both parents are carriers. Those patients often require regular blood transfusions - about 450 of the UAE's 2,000 thalassaemia patients - though frequent transfusions can lead to too much iron in the body and heart and liver problems.

The condition mainly affects people of Mediterranean, South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle Eastern origin. Saudi Arabia recorded 45,892 cases of carriers between 2004 and 2014.

A World Health Organisation study estimated that globally there are at least 950,000 'new carrier couples' every year and annually there are 1.33 million at-risk pregnancies.

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KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

If you go

The flights Etihad (www.etihad.com) and Spice Jet (www.spicejet.com) fly direct from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Pune respectively from Dh1,000 return including taxes. Pune airport is 90 minutes away by road. 

The hotels A stay at Atmantan Wellness Resort (www.atmantan.com) costs from Rs24,000 (Dh1,235) per night, including taxes, consultations, meals and a treatment package.
 


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