Cruiserweight (and the return of alt-rock)

Cruiserweight are a girl-fronted rock band from Austin, Texas. Their press packet tells you that they've been named "Austin's Best Punk Band" for four straight years. Now, not only is Austin not known for its punk-scene, Cruiserweight isn't really a punk band. In analogy form, this would be like being named the best philosopher in Mobile, Alabama and then realizing that you were actually studying British Literature. Ultimately, this is all irrelevant. Cruiserweight sound like 90s girl-bands Letters to Cleo (unfair?) and K's Choice (of the the famous "I'm Not An Addict" anti-drug ad). Lead-singer Stella Maxwell, if this is possibly her real name, absolutely kills every song and is almost single-handedly dragging us back to 1997.

And I guess there's something larger than just a not-punk band from Austin going on here. We are headed right back into the eye of the Alternative rock, maybe even grunge, hurricane. It's coming. You can choose not to watch the weather. You can stay indoors. You can ignore it. But it's coming. From a narrative perspective, we've moved through 1970s and 80s classic rock. Bands ripped The Cars (Strokes' second LP) Led Zeppelin (Wolfmother), even 80s hair-metal (briefly, The Darkness). Better or worse, rock music has been informed and driven by these sets of influences. And then something tipped.

We started going after synth bands. It started with the obvious Joy Division (Interpol 2003) and New Order (The Killers 2004), and then got more obscure. By then end of last year, MGMT had driven the synth-sound to its logical and commercial conclusion. Add to that We Are Scientists and new Killers' records that sound like Duran Duran and we've fully explored vapid 80s synth-rock with the same perversion as bands explored their parents classic rock radio stations in the early 2000s. And we're moving forward: with sounds of the 70s, 80s, and ... 90s.

We're on the cusp of a new-1991 and someone is about to release their "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It won't have the same cultural impact. Kids are oddly less angry and more digitally cloistered. The idea of teenagers taking over a high school gym seems impossibly dated. More likely, they would write about it on their blogs or have their avatar consider attending online. We are not too cut off from each other to be frustrated but we are too cut off from one another to do anything about it. But even if the emotion of grunge can't reincarnate itself, the sound can certainly be copy-catted.

So here it comes. In the form of bands like Dead Confederate and moving even further forward, a band like Cruiserweight that sounds like poppier-than-thou 90s alt-rock. It's chick-rock with an edge. It sounds a little dated right now. But in three years, it might sound practically contemporary. So as we spiral backwards - spin these tunes and let the alt-rock wash over you like a tidal wave.

Listen ::

Cruiserweight - Spread Like Fingers
Cruiserweight - Sustainer

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