If you listened to rock radio for even five minutes in the 2000s, chances are you were inundated by the menace known as post-grunge. Now, like all musical sub-genres, the term “post-grunge” is a bit nebulous, so, for the sake of this discussion, let’s simply describe it as “bands that sound like Nickelback.” For more than a decade, so called “active rock” radio stations played dozens of bands that had a mind-numbingly similar (and not particularly original) sound.
The aforementioned Nickelback have become the go-to punchline when we talk about this era, as well as when we talk about bad guitar-based music in general. But the truth is, it wasn’t just them. It was also Seether, Theory of a Deadman, Hinder, Saving Abel, Shinedown, Default, Trapt, and countless others. Rock radio became a monolith of a seemingly infinite number of bands, entirely indistinguishable from each other. The end result of this was that most listeners tuned out. What we refer to as “mainstream rock” became entirely irrelevant. Indie bands were capable of topping the charts without any airplay, and at award shows, rock was largely ignored. You’d get the occasional Green Day or Fall Out Boy performance here and there, but for the most part, rock radio’s refusal to change led to it being left behind within the collective musical discussion.
That’s the way it was for years, but at long last, things are looking up. Alt-rock has been gradually making a comeback, and generally speaking, you can comfortably tune in to a rock radio station without hearing an endless string of bands who heard “Far Behind” by Candlebox, and thought Hey, let’s write a bunch of songs that sound like that! Indeed, the alt-rock scene is quite varied today, as in any given listen, you can hear synth-heavy acts like Robert DeLong and MS MR alongside revivalists like Of Monsters and Men and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. The scene is as diverse as it’s been in quite some time. The question is, will anyone really notice?