Portal:Alternative rock

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The Alternative Rock Portal

Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth
Alternative rock (also called alternative music or simply alternative) is a genre of rock music that emerged in the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s (see Timeline of alternative rock). The name "alternative" was coined in the 1980s to describe punk rock-inspired bands on independent record labels that didn't fit into the mainstream genres of the time. As a specific genre of music, alternative rock consists of various subgenres that have emerged from the indie music scene since the 1980s, such as grunge, indie rock, Britpop, gothic rock, and indie pop. These genres are unified by their collective debt to the style and/or ethos of punk, which laid the groundwork for alternative music in the 1970s.

Though the genre is considered to be rock, some of its subgenres are influenced by folk music, reggae, electronic music and jazz among other genres. At times alternative rock has been used as a catch-all phrase for rock music from underground artists in the 1980s, all music descended from punk rock (including punk itself, new wave, and post-punk), and, ironically, for rock music in general in the 1990s and 2000s.

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Elliott Smith in 1998
Steven Paul Smith, better known as Elliott Smith, was an American singer-songwriter and musician. His primary instrument was the guitar, but he was also proficient at piano, clarinet, bass, harmonica and drums. Smith had a distinctive vocal style characterized by his "whispery, spiderweb-thin delivery", and use of multi-tracking to create vocal harmonies. Although born in the Midwest and raised primarily in Texas, Smith spent the majority of his life in Portland, Oregon.

After playing in the rock band Heatmiser for several years, Smith began his solo career in 1994 with releases on the independent record labels Cavity Search and Kill Rock Stars. He eventually signed a major label contract with DreamWorks Records in 1997, for which he recorded two albums. Smith rose to mainstream prominence when his song "Miss Misery", written for the film Good Will Hunting, was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category in 1998.

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Slay Tracks (1933-1969) is the debut extended play by the American indie rock band Pavement. Pavement, then consisting of founding members Stephen Malkmus (guitar, vocals) and Scott Kannberg (guitar), recorded Slay Tracks with producer and future member Gary Young (drums) during a four hour session. The EP was released as a 7" vinyl record on the band's own record label Treble Kicker in 1989. The music in Slay Tracks is influenced by indie and punk rock bands, including Swell Maps and The Fall, and many of the lyrics are inspired by life in the band's hometown of Stockton, California.

Although only 1000 copies of Slay Tracks were pressed, the EP became an underground hit, largely due to a cover of its second track, "Box Elder", by English band The Wedding Present. It was met with generally positive reviews from critics, though most of its initial reviews were from independently produced zines. The songs on Slay Tracks would later appear on the 1993 compilation Westing (By Musket & Sextant), reaching a wider audience than the EP's limited initial release. The release of Slay Tracks was significant to Pavement's signing to Drag City Records, and later to Matador Records.

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Thom Yorke.jpg
Credit: Tim Cochrane
Thom Yorke performs with Radiohead on August 14, 2006.

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