In Defense of... Bush's "The Sound of Winter"

I feel a bit sorry for the the U.K.-spring alternative-rock band Bush. They appear only in the footnotes of '90s rock, sandwiched between the end of grunge and the rise of Oasis and Radiohead.

There was a time, though, when they were huge. If nowhere else, you've probably heard tracks like "Comedown" and "Glycerine" on the mall's PA system.

But, see, I don't really think Bush was as bad or derivative as critics remember them.

Really: They were about as good as other bands of their time. Their label's promotion of the band was just a year off. Singles out of 1994's Sixteen Stone appeared on the charts a year after the album released, making it look like they were late to the scene.

If the singles had released in 1994 instead of 1995, Stone would probably appear with other influential rock albums of that year, like Soundgarden's Superunknown or The Offspring's Smash. Either way, singer Gavin Rossdale still did OK. He married Gwen Stefani a decade ago, so he must have done something right.

Anyway, Bush released a new album, The Sea of Memories, this week, among a wave of decades-old bands releasing new stuff this year. While lead single "The Sound of Winter" sounds average when taken on its own, it takes us into a sea of mid-'90s rock memories, distorted guitars, loud drumming and Gavin's trademark vocals.

For sure, it sounds better than a lot of bands that pass of as rock acts these days do. Foo Fighters' recent VMA wing for Best Rock Video notwithstanding, the track shows us how far rock has declined from Bush's heyday.

Lyrically, "Winter" goes for grunge-like gloom and introspection. At least we don't have to hear about anyone's asshole brother in Los Angeles.

All in all, "The Sound of Winter" finds Bush harnessing a reliable and nostalgic sound. Kind of makes Bush one of the better bands in the 2011 rock-reunion wave.

Certainly, Bush went a better direction than, say, Lenny Kravitz.

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