photo & text by nacrowe
as has been reported, commented, opined and discussed ad nauseam for more than three decades now, in the wake of NIRVANA's release of NEVERMIND (DGC, 1991), everything basically changed. seemingly overnight, SEATTLE became the most UNLIKELY of cultural MECCAs with ALTERNATIVE ROCK scene peers in groups like SOUNDGARDEN, MELVINS, ALICE IN CHAINS, PEARL JAM, TAD, MUDHONEY and THE SCREAMING TREES all leading the charge to varying degrees of COMMERCIAL SUCCESS, CULTURAL INFLUENCE and CRITICAL PRAISE throughout the decade and beyond. so far and vast was the cultural pull of this scene that bands from the era that were far beyond the PACIFIC NORTHWEST geographic vicinity were huddled together into the movement, such as THE SMASHING PUMPKINS (CHICAGO), STONE TEMPLE PILOTS (SAN DIEGO via OHIO and NEW JERSEY) and BLIND MELON (LOS ANGELES via INDIANA, PENNSYLVANIA and MISSISSIPPI). its super INTERESTING because the SEATTLE so-called GRUNGE bands took inspiration from some variety or amalgam of PUNK ROCK, CLASSIC ROCK and METAL whereas THE SMASHING PUMPKINS incorporated SHOEGAZE, POWER POP and GLAM ROCK with STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and even FOLK MUSIC with BLIND MELON. in retrospect its all a bit RIDICULOUS that these bands with DISPARATE influences got lumped together under the GRUNGE tag. but so it was.
but what is interest is the reaction to the SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE ROCK explosion, where bands moved to the area in the hopes of getting signed. FORGOTTEN INDIE ROCK bands, some local some from out of town, like BEST KISSERS IN THE WORLD (MCA), POND (SONY), TRULY (CAPITOL), FLOP (SONY 550) and HAMMERBOX (A&M) all were signed to majors in the wake of the MASSIVE GRUNGE wave and fizzled out shortly thereafter.
CANDLEBOX is an INTRIGUING case. they area a local SEATTLE band that came to prominence after the peak of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK explosion. their sound was adjacent enough to those aforementioned bands that they were signed by MADONNA's major-label WARNER BROS. imprint MAVERICK (which over its CELEBRATED lifespan would have a DIVERSE roster including DEFTONES, ALANIS MORISSETTE and MUSE among others) and released a surprisingly COMPETENT debut self-titled album CANDLEBOX (MAVERICK, 1993). tracks like singles "FAR BEHIND," "YOU" and "COVER ME" had singer KEVIN MARTIN's EARNEST and EMOTIVE singing as their center-point and more than held their weight against the OGs of the scene. unfortunately they were tagged as POST-GRUNGE, which had a DISMISSIVE ring to it and critically lumped them for posterity with less COMPELLING acts like BUSH, COLLECTIVE SOUL, SILVERCHAIR and LIVE and later DERIDED and DERIVATIVE acts like DAYS OF THE NEW, SEETHER, NICKELBACK, CREED, MATCHBOX TWENTY and STAIND. i find CANDLEBOX to be interesting in retrospect because they were a SOLID band that had a distinct sound that was an INVITING variation on a theme from the period. they sounded like themselves unlike their POST-GRUNGE peers who largely seem to be aping ALICE IN CHAINS in particular. timing really is everything and PERCEPTION IS REALITY, which did not benefit CANDLEBOX in the least.
in spite of all that, the CANDLEBOX record is definitely worth checking out, especially for those familiar with and fans of the more prominent SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE ROCK acts of the period. i still argue and maintain it holds up more than favorably.