Important Grunge Bands Part 2

Important Grunge Bands Part 2



Ya know, something didn’t sit right last month when I wrote about the 10 most important grunge bands, here. It’s not because the bands listed aren’t important, it’s just that 10 bands was very limiting.

It should have been more like 16 bands. So I am here now to bring you part 2 of this story, to highlight bands that should have also been included the first time around.

Babes In Toyland

This band epitomizes grunge. If you’re messing around with mates in a garage or studio on the weekends, I urge you to listen to Babes in Toyland. Their first album, Spanking Machine is so incredibly raw and noisy, that it screams LOOK AT ME. Not directly from the Pacific North West where so many grunge bands hailed from, Kat Bjelland's lyrics and vocals are magnificent, super powerful and eerily beautiful in parts. This was the album that garnered the attention of Sonic Youth and earned them a support spot on the tour with them. It’s also what lead them to being signed to a major label, enabling them to record their most commercially successful album, Fontanelle. These women were so important to the grunge scene, inspiring so many to follow in their footsteps. They’re so damn good.

Smashing Pumpkins

In contrast to Babes in Toyland, The Smashing Pumpkins debut album, GISH, was a lot more structured, sound wise. There’s a lo-fi quality, yet high energy right off the bat with "I Am One", a fantastic opening track that made sure you stuck around. I remember when I was working in a warehouse, a co-worker was completely enamoured with them, especially drummer, Jimmy Chamberlain as my colleague was a budding drummer himself, he’d found a new hero. He was the one that made sure I REALLY listened to them. So I did, and GISH was the album that showed me that you didn’t have to scream to be powerful in grunge, Corgan’s voice is iconic, and instantly recognisable. Another grunge act that DIDN’T come from Seattle!


Kicking off in 1988, TAD was one of the early pioneers (among a huge list) in the Seattle grunge scene, and also one of the first to be signed to the iconic Sub Pop Records who they delivered 3 stellar albums through. Tad Doyle has a voice like he’d been gargling gravel and whiskey, the straight-ahead thundering bass and drums locked in tight, and added to their meaty sound. They signed to major label Warner and released their 4th album, Inhaler, in 1993 and it’s this one that finds them their most cohesive, and it’s often regarded as their best work. A truly great band that didn’t get the commercial success they deserved. Check out "Lycanthrope" from Inhaler, but DEFINITELY get back and listen to TAD’s earlier work.


I was bashed from pillar to post for not including L7 on my first list of the 10 Most Important Grunge Bands, and that’s totally understandable. As I said at the top of this article, 10 spots just wasn’t enough and I pained in excluding L7. Formed in 1985, L7 released their self-titled debut in 1988, which showed a punk hardcore style that evolved into a heavier, dirtier sound by the time their most loved album, Bricks Are Heavy, produced by Butch Vig, was released in early ‘92. L7 became the poster women for grunge after that release, despite being already revered years earlier by peers and those deep in the scene. Hugely important, and totally legendary. This is "Everglade".

Jane’s Addiction

LA grown Janes Addiction were furiously tearing up the live circuit with their free thinking alternative vibes to ever increasing crowds in the mid to late 80’s. They quickly became hot property and the prospect of many record companies in a time when rock of all kinds was king. They came along at exactly the right time with a familiar, yet distinctive sound, embracing the true spirit of sex, drugs and rock n roll. They had the ability to switch between shoegazing, grunge, funk, and punk effortlessly, only adding to the magic they created. Perry Farrell’s voice, like so many great grunge vocalists, is instantly recognisable (due partly to his doubling of vocals).  Also, let’s never forget, Perry came up with Lollapalooza and set a benchmark for travelling alternative music festivals. Important? Hell yes.


You have to focus on the early punk driven gear from HOLE to realise why it was so important to have someone like Courtney Love fronting a band. These days we’ve seen it all from her, but in 1991, when HOLE released the single, "Dicknail", it was truly shocking. Courtney has gone to say that this is an anti-misogynist song, “The words to the song are very simple, they're like, you know in rape cases how people say 'she liked it' or 'she was asking for it' or 'look at how she was dressed'. A lot of times in rape cases people don't even go to jail because the woman was wearing a miniskirt!" Courtney, and HOLE delivered incredibly powerful, confronting songs at times that showed women that you CAN do this, you CAN pull people into line and call them on their bullshit. They parlayed that into a solid debut album in Pretty On the Inside that became a cult favourite and influenced many.

Ok, I feel a bit more comfortable with this list being complete now. I feel at ease. If you wanna check out the first part of this story, go here. I’m off to dive into a 90’s rabbit hole again and re-live what I consider to be a bloody important time in music history. Keep it loud!

- Higgo 

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