Portal:Alternative Rock
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Portal:Alternative Rock

The Alternative Rock Portal

Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth

Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock or simply alternative) is a style of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s. In this instance, the word "alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from mainstream rock music. The term's original meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by their collective debt to either the musical style or simply the independent, DIY ethos of punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the groundwork for alternative music. At times, "alternative" has been used as a catch-all description for music from underground rock artists that receives mainstream recognition, or for any music, whether rock or not, that is seen to be descended from punk rock (including some examples of punk itself, as well as new wave, and post-punk).

Alternative rock broadly consists of music that differs greatly in terms of its sound, social context and regional roots. By the end of the 1980s, magazines and zines, college radio airplay, and word of mouth had increased the prominence and highlighted the diversity of alternative rock, helping to define a number of distinct styles (and music scenes) such as noise pop, indie rock, grunge, and shoegaze. Most of these subgenres had achieved minor mainstream notice and a few bands representing them, such as Hüsker Dü and R.E.M., had even signed to major labels. But most alternative bands' commercial success was limited in comparison to other genres of rock and pop music at the time, and most acts remained signed to independent labels and received relatively little attention from mainstream radio, television, or newspapers. With the breakthrough of Nirvana and the popularity of the grunge and Britpop movements in the 1990s, alternative rock entered the musical mainstream and many alternative bands became successful.

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Pixies bassist and Bam Thwok writer Kim Deal
"Bam Thwok" is a 2004 download-only single by the American alternative rock band Pixies. The song was written and sung by bassist Kim Deal, and released exclusively on the iTunes Music Store on 15 June 2004. Upon its release, "Bam Thwok" was a commercial success, debuting at #1 on an early version of the UK Download Chart. The song is the band's first recording since 1991's Trompe le Monde, and as of 2007 is their only original recording since their 2004 reunion. "Bam Thwok" was originally composed for the children's movie Shrek 2, but was not selected for the final soundtrack.

The song's lyrics display a surrealistic and nonsensical nature typical of the band; Deal's inspiration was a discarded child's art book she found on a New York City street. "Bam Thwok"'s major theme is "showing goodwill to everyone." However, it received a mixed fan reception, due in part to an organ solo that appears midway through the song.

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Dream Days at the Hotel Existence is the sixth studio album by Australian rock band Powderfinger, released by Universal Records on 2 June 2007 in Australia, and 19 November 2007 in the United Kingdom. It was released with a limited edition bonus DVD, titled Powderfinger's First XI, featuring eleven music videos spanning the band's career, from the first single, "Tail" to "Bless My Soul", the band's latest single before the release of the album.

Powderfinger reunited in late 2006, after a three year hiatus, to write songs for Dream Days at the Hotel Existence, which was recorded in Los Angeles, California, in early 2007 by producer Rob Schnapf. The first single from the album, "Lost and Running" was released on 12 May 2007, and reached number five on the ARIA singles chart. The second single "I Don't Remember", was released on 12 August 2007.

The album received critical acclaim, with many reviewers commenting that the album was "consistent" and "distinctly Australian". The album encountered controversy relating to the song "Black Tears" with claims that it may have influenced the Palm Island death in custody trial. Powderfinger released an abridged version of the song as a result of these accusations.

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

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