90s score: 9/10
2016 score: 8/10
1992 – the year “grunge” exploded in North America (“grunge” being in quotes because I personally never liked the term). The year of the “gnarl” is what I like to call it, thanks to Mr. Eddie Vedder. Bands like Soundgarden, and Nirvana were booming. Props to Sub Pop Records for discovering all these bands back in the 80s (when grunge was originally formed) and for helping us music lovers hear it all. The “grunge” movement even had its own bold fashion statement being displayed on runways and fashion magazines. While these bands thought this whole ordeal was hilarious and confusing, we ate it all up and couldn’t get enough. I even sported the “grunge” look for many years; a plaid shirt over a band shirt, long skirt, purple docs, and long pink hair. I loved every minute of it and I will tell you this: this was probably one of the best eras for music in history. A bold statement? Continue reading our Remembering the 90s pieces and you may discover some radical finds yourself!
Five years into the “grunge” movement, the first acoustic-only grunge band, Days of the New was discovered. The quartet of teens from Kentucky worked with BMG Rights Management and producer Scott Litt and made their first self-titled record. The catchy tune, “Touch Peel and Stand” was the first single off the record, and reached number 1 on the Billboard Charts. I remember that I was sitting in my living room watching Much Music’s “The Wedge” and saw this video premiere; at first I thought Travis Meeks (vocalist/guitarist) looked almost identical to Chris Cornell, along with his gnarly vocals sounding similar to Layne Staley. I thought, “Yep, this is my element!” and immediately bought their CD the next day.
The beauty of this album is that they really managed to make all the tracks have the ability to stick in your head, and not in a bad way. Put on “Shelf in the Room,” the opening of the record and second hit single, and you will have no regrets. It has a soft acoustic intro, then the drums kick in and you sit back in euphoria. It then comes back to just soft acoustic and Meeks begins singing, “The key is so distant…I’ve opened doors…” which then brings in the incredibly catchy chorus, and the drums come back, bringing a groovy rock sound to the track. It’s overall something you just want to kick back to, which is how I can describe the entire record. While it is classified mainly as “grunge rock,” I would say there are elements of country as well, like in “The Down Town.”
I saw Days of the New in Montreal back in ’96 and had the pleasure of meeting them all. We were all roughly the same age (16-19 years old) and we totally bonded. I remember to this day watching them perform my favourite track on the album, the darkly ambient “How Do You Know You,” and how I sang along and fell into a trance. It is one of the calmest songs on the album with very few lyrics, but the contrast between the soft then the angry chorus just gets under my skin.
Similar to some other young acts like Silverchair, fame hit these guys quite fast and hard, causing some mishaps. Meeks had kicked the rest of the band out due to a possible manic episode, so for the next two albums he experimented a little further with orchestras, synths, choirs, a backing lead female vocalist, more acoustic melodies and…drugs. While I think they were incredible records, it was unfortunate the way it was taken. Twenty years later the bandmates decided to get back together, only having broken up shortly after again. No hard feelings.
I hope those who have never listened to the self-titled record by Days of the New will give it a shot.
Written by Liz Imperiale
*edited by Kate Erickson