- The Pixies. This indie rock quartet was an enormous influence on "Nirvana" and many other grunge acts that found unexpected popularity during the early 90's. The similarities are apparent in "The Pixies' melodic vocals, abrasive guitars, and cryptic lyrics. Legendary producer Steve Albini recorder their album "Surfer Rosa" and would later record "In Utero" for Nirvana. When searching for music that sounds like Nirvana, one of their favorite bands is a good place to start.
- Foo Fighters. After the tragic death of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, drummer Dave Grohl formed Foo Fighters. Trading in his drum sticks for a guitar and lead vocal duties, Grohl forged his own musical identity while retaining some of Cobain's core sensibilities. Although the lyrics and songwriting in general are a bit more straight forward, the mix of hard rock and melodic pop elements remain intact.
- Bush. When these British alternative rockers exploded onto the scene in 1994 with their debut album "Sixteen Stone", many Nirvana fans couldn't help but notice some striking similarities. While generally regarded as a poor man's Nirvana, Bush still managed to deliver some incredibly catchy and creative tunes. Like Cobain, lead singer/songwriter Gavin Rossdale uses obtuse lyrics to paint pictures with words. Their 1996 release "Razorblade Suitcase" sounds like "In Utero's" long lost brother and it's hardly a coincidence; it was also produced by Steve Albini.
- Alice in Chains. Although they're a whole different breed of grunge rock, Alice in Chains were one of the most popular alternative acts of their day, and with good reason- original lead singer Layne Staley had one of the most unique and versatile voices ever recorded. Although the band continued on after his death in 2002, there's nothing as powerful or as endearing as their early work. Like Nirvana, Alice in Chains delivers raw, emotional, and dynamic songs that are as heart-wrenching as they are beautiful.
- Soundgarden. While their entire catalog is impressive, the recordings Soundgarden made before signing to A&M Records are closest in spirit to Nirvana. More metal than punk, they were a seminal part of the grunge movement and and unlike a lot of the bands that attempted to cash in on the genre's ballooning notoriety, they had substance to match their style.
- Silverchair. Despite the fact that they've evolved into a more theatrical version of Coldplay, when Silverchair debuted the debt they owed to Nirvana was unmistakable. Their 1995 album "Frogstomp" and their 1997 follow-up "Freakshow" sound so close to Cobain's work that it borders on plagiarism. With their third album, 1999's "Neon Ballroom", the band began to develop their own persona and move further and further away from the grunge label.
- Weezer. While it may sound like a strange comparison initially, Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo is a massive fan of Nirvana and doesn't just listen to the band; he studies them intensely. He keeps a three ring binder called "The Encyclopedia of Pop" that mathematically dissects every song ever written by Kurt Cobain. By studying Cobain's formula and structure, Cuomo is able to apply it to the songs he writes for Weezer.
- Stone Temple Pilots. Like Nirvana, this band excels in delivering crunching riffs, guttural vocals, and songs that are intimate one moment and explosive the next. Haunting lyrics that often detail the real life demons singer Scott Weiland has faced are revealing and cautionary.
- Hole. Lead by Cobain's widow Courtney Love, Hole is every bit as angst-ridden and unkempt as Nirvana. While their work isn't nearly as influential or memorable, there are obvious nods to Nirvana peppered throughout their songs.
- Mudhoney. Another huge influence on Nirvana, these Seattle rockers expertly blend blues, punk, and alternative rock. Formed in 1988, the band never became as well known as many of the bands they inspired. Yet anyone who's listened to one of their records knows that there would be no "Nirvana" without them.
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