One of my largest regrets in life (of things beyond my control) is that I was old enough to be swept up in the grunge movement but not old enough to understand the context of its arrival to the music scene. With the benefit of hindsight and Wikipedia, I figured out after the movement had passed that it was a response to synthesizer pop and glam rock. By 1992, there was not a day-glo pink jacket nor a keytar to be found. Rock was taking a more stripped-down approach and I was too busy bugging my parents to buy me long johns and flannel shirts to piece together the paradigm shift.
Fast-forward 20 years and we have seen the rise of Pro Tools and Autotune, the return of the synthesizer, the firm foothold electronic dance music has gained in the music industry, and Youtube sensations. If grunge was ever to make a comeback, now would be the time.
This is where an unsigned band out of Naples, Italy comes into the picture. Anyone can grow their hair out, turn up the gain on their guitar amp, and mimic the “yeah” croon of the 90s. Aged Teen has done all this and more. They have recorded an intelligently constructed EP in This Is Not An Exit. It combines late 80s punk, 90s grunge, and Type-O-Negative metal moments over six tracks. The record starts out with “Self-Doubt,” a mellow grunge acoustic melody that seems like a typical carbon-copy of Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains but contains a “scrunch your face in a good way” blues solo. Gears are shifted so quickly to an angst-ridden punk fest in “Seaside Suicide” that the whiplash tightens neck muscles that haven’t been used since my headbanging days.
Aged Teen also shows they are capable of the shoegazing lyrics and tone with the choruses in “Self-Doubt” and “Close” that made grunge so appealing to an idealistic kid just coming into his teenage years. “Nightmares” and “Endless Dawn” pay tribute to the kind of “spooky rock” that I never much cared for but the baritone timbre of the songs are a fun trip down memory lane. Even “Shocking Blue” is a nostalgic trip, just one of B-movie horror flicks, complete with sound clips from “I Drink Your Blood” and “The Headless Eyes.”
Based on what I’ve heard on This Is Not An Exit, there is a sound coming from Naples that is not to be overlooked. We are hurtling toward a need for some counterbalance to the digitization of music, and a grunge revival would be just the “back to our rock roots” step. Aged Teen is creating the type of smart, original rock to get things going. Getting signed would be a step in the right direction, but the pragmatist in me is worried the sound needs to take off before a label takes a chance on them. They deserve better than that.
Go check out Aged Teen, listen to their EP on Bandcamp, and tell your friends to check them out. Hopefully the word of mouth will get to someone at a label. Now that I have the hindsight I lacked when I was in middle school, I can say with conviction that we’re ready for grunge; Aged Teen is ready to deliver it, and this time we have the internet. Help them make it happen.