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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By the Way is the eighth studio album by American alternative rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on July 9, 2002 on Warner Bros. Records. It sold over 282,000 copies in the first week, and peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200. The singles from the album included "By the Way", "The Zephyr Song", "Can't Stop" and "Universally Speaking". The lyrical subject matter vocalist Anthony Kiedis addresses in By the Way is a divergence from previous Chili Peppers' albums, with Kiedis taking a more candid and reflective approach to his lyricism.

By the Way was applauded by critics as a departure from the band's previous styles, and is recognized for the melodic and subdued emotions given by the Chili Peppers. Guitarist John Frusciante is credited with writing most of the album's melodies, bass lines, and guitar progressions, therefore changing the direction of the recording dramatically: "his warm, understated guitar work and his doo-wop style vocal harmonies are king this time around." The album therefore contained virtually none of the signature funk-punk fusion the band had become known for playing. Frusciante considered writing "By the Way [to be] one of the happiest times in my life."

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Giant Drag.jpg
Credit: Matt
Giant Drag performing at the SXSW festival in 2006.

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