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by Justin Farrar

March 14, 2014

101 | Rock

'90s Rockers Still Going Strong

by Justin Farrar  |  March 14, 2014

Careers, kids and mortgages … we children of the '90s are getting old! Indeed, the signs are all around us: Dookie celebrated its 20th anniversary in February, Eddie Vedder is about to turn 50, andThe Simpsons has been "on the air" for 25 seasons. Yikes.

While traveling the road to gray hair and chronic back pain, our generation has experienced its fair share of rock star loss: Kurt and Layne most prominently, but also Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon, Gin Blossoms' Doug Hopkins and the dude from School of Fish (who still are underrated). On the flipside, many of our favorite musicians have proven incredibly resilient. Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day all have made the immortal climb up rock's Mount Olympus, where the words "classic," "legendary" and "iconic" aren't used lightly. Rob Zombie, Deftones, Korn and Stone Temple Pilots, meanwhile, have grown into the elder statesmen of alternative metal and hard rock; there isn't much in the "active rock" format that isn't influenced by these perennial heavies. Then there are the likes of PJ Harvey, Wilco, Beck and Mark Lanegan, each one a highly respected cult artist who continues to follow his or her own muse.

Now, as for determining who qualified for my playlist, the method was far from scientific, obviously. With each prospective artist, I more or less asked, "Did he or she help define the sound of the '90s?" In other words, cultural impact mattered more than raw sales figures. Nickelback, for example, didn't make the cut. Though they dropped a pair of popular albums (Curb and The State) in the second half of the decade, the band's arena-savvy spin on grunge is a purely post-Y2K phenomenon. Korn, on the other hand, are included. They certainly experienced substantial commercial success in the opening decade of the 21st century, yet their artistic peak ([Korn], Life Is Peachy and Follow the Leader) came between the years 1995 and '99. One other thing: I included one or two bands because they were founded by musicians with deep roots in the '90s. Queens of the Stone Age are the best example: They aren't a '90s band per se, but main man Josh Homme got his start in Kyuss, one of the decade's most vital stoner rock outfits. But enough with the fine print, people. Time to get listening ...

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