'90s alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins performs in Paris in 2007.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

G#’s Musical Radar: Newer bands reprise iconic styles of the past

Columnist Grant Sharples finds modern counterparts of older bands.

By Grant Sharples | Feb. 5, 2017

Tags: Music


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It’s a common occurrence in music for sounds to refilter themselves through different eras and artists. Every artist is inspired in some way by older music. It’s probable that many indie rock bands wouldn’t exist without The Smiths or The Cure. So what would be today’s The Smiths or today’s The Cure?

I’m not asking this in terms of influence and overall significance, but more in terms of style and sound, because would be very difficult to pinpoint an artist as revolutionary as The Cure or The Smiths. Without further ado, let’s get started.


’90s alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins pioneered the fuzzy guitar/shoegaze sound. Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness have lived on to be some of the most revolutionary alternative rock albums of all time, inspiring artists such as M83, Bombay Bicycle Club and Muse. Silversun Pickups, however, are most notably influenced by Smashing Pumpkins. Silversun Pickups are well-known for their fuzzed-out guitars and vocalist Brian Aubert’s androgynous voice. These are crucial elements of Smashing Pumpkins, and it’s very evident that their sound was reincarnated in the mid 2000s with Silversun Pickups’ debut album.


Everyone knows Bruce, but not everyone might know about The Gaslight Anthem, a rock band from New Jersey that surfaced in 2007 with its debut LP, Sink or Swim. The band characterizes the kind of driven, distorted guitar rock music that Bruce Springsteen is known for. The two artists have even become great friends. The Boss himself performed onstage with The Gaslight Anthem. They have reciprocated the act by covering one of Springsteen’s songs, “Atlantic City.”


’90s alt-rockers Pixies are similar to Smashing Pumpkins in the sense that their albums (particularly Surfer Rosa and Doolittle) have spawned the formation of many bands. Last spring, indie-rock group Car Seat Headrest released its breakthrough record, Teens of Denial, which achieved critical and commercial success. Vocalist Will Toledo’s angsty, cracking vocals and the band’s transitions from quiet verses to loud choruses replicate the vital facets of the Pixies.


Vampire Weekend may not get as political with their music as The Smiths did, but both bands have that clean, plucky guitar sound. The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr had incredible guitar work that was simultaneously melodic and rhythmic. Vampire Weekend attains this sound with its guitars and electronic elements, especially on the band’s third record, Modern Vampires of the City. Vampire Weekend vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig has even noted The Smiths as one of his primary influences.


The Beatles were brimming with backing harmonies, prominent guitars and memorable melodies. It was a simple instrumentation that brought about a new age of music. While The Shins aren’t as revolutionary as The Beatles were, their overall style is comparable. Vocalist James Mercer creates melodies that are memorable and catchy, yet complex and unpredictable. Simple chord progressions and backup harmonies are also common elements between the two bands.

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