Musical sub-genres are often hard to define. Terms like 'post-punk' act as more of a chronological description of a movement, rather than retaining to a distinct sound. Although there are defining characteristics of the genre, it's not as black and white as one might expect. The same is true of grunge.
Grunge came to represent a musical sound defined by its place of origin, Seattle. In the '80s, the Pacific Northwest of America was often avoided by punk groups, touring the underground circuit of America's mainland. Washington, State was home to rain, lumberjacks and logging industry. It was a dreary place to stop off, and play a show. Without the injection of fresh and exciting music, young music lovers were forced to make their own fun.
But it wasn't merely Seattle based groups who came under the grunge umbrella. It was an eclectic sounding bunch of misfits, from across the country. If there was a defining characteristic, it was that, they all channeled the aggressive attitude of punk, with the drive of metal. Oh, and a penchant for misery was also prevalent...
10. Dinosaur Jr.: Without A Sound (1994)
Dinosaur Jr. were distinct from the early grunge contingent, in that they didn't hail from Seattle. But their early records shared a similar ethos, channeling angst with swirling, fuzzy guitar riffs. And of course, their lyrics dealt with alienation, depression and all those other emotions that go hand in hand with being a long-haired, moody youth.
You can identify a Dinosaur Jr. track pretty easily: J Mascis, guitar work has always been hailed as influential on the alternative scene; he has an intrinsic knack for creating memorial melodies, that cut through his heavy use of distortion - exhibited to perfection on Yeah Right. But it's his vocals that really give the group away. He sings like a classic 'cool dude' from a teen rom com; his articulation so laidback and drawn out, it's almost painful. But it works.
Dinosaur Jr.'s sixth album was firmly rooted in your typical alternative rock sound. It's refined and not as abrasive as their earlier work, but still packs a punch. Tracks like Grab It, are driven by pedal to the metal guitar riffs. Whereas Outta Hand, sounds akin to the slow reflective music of Sun Kil Moon. It all adds for satisfyingly balanced mix. If Masics had only shaved off the final track... Over Your Shoulder, simply feels like he's treading well-worn territory.