How To Get Into Alternative Rock Music


  1. You’re going to want to start somewhere and I think we’ll start in 1970s England and America with punk music. You may vaguely remember your Dad mentioning punk music once, but don’t worry it’s not all so bad… It’s raw, DIY and edgy, but if you can look through its blunt exterior, and appreciate the emotion and the meaning behind what punk was about, I think you’ll do just fine. Notable artists to listen to I would recommend are The Sex Pistols (Of course), check out songs like “God Save the Queen” and “Pretty Vacant” my personal favourite. Other bands such as The Clash and Ramones were big in the punk movement. Ramones being from the other side of the pond hailing from Queens in New York.
  2. In the late 70’s and into the early 80’s we had a little thing called post-punk. Now you’ve probably heard of Joy Division or failing that, perhaps you’ve heard “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, which is a Joy Division tune. Post-punk and Joy Division diversified the sound of punk music, and really expanded the boundaries of what It was all about. If you listen to most Joy Division songs you will hear their punk influences coming through I recommend checking out “Disorder” and “She’s Lost Control”. Then post punk has a lot of derivatives such Synthpop and New Wave, which I recommend exploring as you’ll find a lot of interesting and experimental stuff.
  3. If we hop back over to the USA again for a moment in the early 1980s you saw an emergence of thrash metal coming around mostly from the west coast and namely California. It came out as an uprising against things like Glam metal which sucks. You know, bands like Bon Jovi. Now back to thrash. Bands you may know would be the likes of Metallica, if you don’t know them listen to the very famous “Enter Sandman” or my favourite “Ride the Lightening”. Or just listen to Megadeath instead.
  4. If we come to the end of the 80’s and bring it up to the beginning of the 90’s that’s when you had the rise of Grunge music. Now Grunge’s a difficult one, because even though it was alternative in the beginning, it became hugely popular and commercial. Names like Nirvana and Pearl Jam should ring some bells. If not listen to Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” or Nirvana’s “About a Girl” and what you should hear is heavy music with pleasing pop melodies coursing through them. That was in the US of course, in the UK you had britpop – bands such as Blur and Oasis coming into the mainstream but starting off quite different in the underground. Check out Blur’s “Coffee and TV” if you haven’t listened to them before, killer track.
  5. In the early 2000’s and late 90’s Emo, short for “emotional” music came into play. It was similar to Grunge in the sense it was about feeling disenfranchised with teenage life, but less heavy and a bit more melodic, and the lyrics, well they were a bit sadder. One of my favourite bands personally of all time is Sunny Day Real Estate. You’ve got to check out “Killed By An Angel” or “Guitar and Videogames” Jeremy Enigk has a phenomenal vocal range and even though it’s not the most upbeat music to listen to, it’s hard not to find the melodies pleasing. Then later on you had bands like My Chemical Romance with big hits like “Teenagers” really cash in on the Emo sound. Then after that it all sort of melded into some weird lame pop punk sound which no-one really wants to listen to. Well I guess early pop punk, like Blink 182 was pretty good but, it was never really good.

Callum Smith


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