By the time the music world was stumbling into 1989, rock fans had had their collective fill of the "80's"-ness of it all. With all the neon colored spandex and hair the size of skyscrapers, the look of the times in rock had gotten far too ridiculous to take seriously anymore. Rock as a whole was in dire need of some renovations, which would come from the rainy Northwest.
Almost overnight, the music scene of Seattle was being heralded as the next cultural step in rock's development. The music was called grunge, which is probably the closest way to describe the heaviness of these bands. The songs were too complex to be punk but at the same time too tuneful to be metal, all the while being coated in an audible haze that sounded like the amps were drenched in mud.
What couldn't be denied though was the way these acts used eclectic influences to create their signature sounds. It was as if all these acts had taken the greatest tropes of classic rock and squeezed them together into a unique sonic package. While there may be greater rock albums to come out of Seattle, these are the albums that define what it truly means to be "grunge."
10. Gish - Smashing Pumpkins
For as much as the climate of Seattle affected the music of grunge bands, it's even more curious that one of the earliest instances of grunge came from the Windy City of Chicago. Smashing Pumpkins's debut was an impressive showing for an initially unknown band, with songs that had a perfect bite to them like "Siva" and "Rhinoceros."
Working with future grunge pioneer Butch Vig, Billy Corgan and co. created a vast landscape with their songs that sounded like an angsty version of a psychedelic band from the 60's. What keeps the band from drifting into too much of an instrumental lull is Jimmy Chamberlain, whose drumming style is an absolute powerhouse throughout every track.
Corgan's signature nasally vocal style is certainly a departure than the typical rock of the time, but works wonders when paired with the complete wall of guitars built by himself and James Iha. Across an hour of forceful rock, The Pumpkins were signaling what would become massive just a few years down the road. While the band would go on to greater conceptual pieces throughout their 90's run, Gish shows the band at their dirtiest, as if they were distant cousins of the Seattle sound.