Grunge Rock sounds nothing like Red Dirt and Texas Country music, but I think there are more similarities than people may realize.
In the Texas scene, many artists who started out with more of a country or country rock vibe have continued push the limits of their sound further and further into to Grunge space. A sound that I wouldn’t really even consider country anymore, but it still resonates with many Country music fans.
There are also definitely some similarities between the Oklahoma Red Dirt Scene and the Seattle’s Grunge Rock scene that took over the country in the late ’80s and ’90s.
Neither scene started as a mainstream genre, and the major players in the scenes early on were just in it for playing the music they loved, not for the money or the fame. Even though Grunge Rock ended up blowing up to epic proportions during its heyday, both scenes were more of community (and still are) than a genre or anything else.
Artists tend to look out for each other, stay true to themselves and not follow what others want them to do if it ruins the integrity of the music.
In many cases, the artists have been content with never achieving international fame if they can still make a living playing the music they love. But if somehow fame finds them, they get to share their music on huge platforms.
And finally, many of your favorite Red Dirt artists are Grunge fans. Take Cody Canada for example, who’s son bears the middle name Cobain, after Nirvana’s legendary frontman Kurt Cobain.
Now there are bands like Read Southall Band, Giovannie and the Hired Guns, Kody West, Dylan Wheeler, Austin Meade, and many more that have some great country songs in their catalogs, but are also pioneering a movement out of Texas and Oklahoma that is starting to sound more and more grungy. And of course you’ve got Koe Wetzel, the king of this new wave.
While I would love to see Koe release that pure country album that he’s talked about once he turns 30, I can’t complain about the direction his music has been taking lately. And judging by his massive and rapidly growing following, it doesn’t seem like other fans out there are complaining either.
This is why I think a Koe Wetzel Grunge/Alt-Rock cover album is something that should be considered… once the country album is done, of course.
There are so many good Grunge songs out there, but here is a tracklist I think would be cool to see, with some exciting potential features on there too. In all likelihood this will never happen, but it’s pretty cool to think about nonetheless.
“Alive” – Pearl Jam
“In Bloom” – Nirvana ft. Giovannie Yanez
Koe wouldn’t be the first country/rock artist to record this Nirvana classic. Sturgill Simpson released an incredible cover of it on his 2016 album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.
“In On It” – Superheaven
Superheaven may be lesser known than many of the other bands included, but nevertheless was still an incredible band.
If I am remembering correctly, I think I actually heard this and for the first time on one of Koe’s Spotify playlists that has since been removed, so I had to include it.
“Plush” – Stone Temple Pilots
“Lump” – Presidents of the United States of America
“Fell on Black Days” – Soundgarden
“Something In The Way” – Nirvana ft. Post Malone
Post Malone is a big Nirvana fan, and I think everyone would agree a Post and Koe collab would be one for the history books.
Here’s a video of Post Malone playing this Nirvana classic from his virtual Nirvana tribute concert during Covid in 2020.
“Bullet With Butterfly Wings” – The Smashing Pumpkins
“Glycerine” – Bush
Even though Koe is becoming more and more of a rockstar, he still slows things down every once in a while and gets the listener’s emotions flowing, as showcased with the recent music video for ”Drunk Driving.”
He could channel that emotion for a legendary performance of this Bush hit.
“Rooster” – Alice in Chains
“River of Deceit” – Mad Season
“Yellow Ledbetter” – Pearl Jam ft. Kolby Cooper
Came across this Pearl Jam tune on Kolby Cooper’s Influences & Jams Spotify playlist, so it only seems right to include the rising star on the cover.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to include this classic or not.
Kurt Cobain grew to hate this song, largely because he didn’t understand why it was more popular than other songs in the band’s catalog that he considered to be better and expected to be more popular than “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and it ultimately got to the point where he would refuse to keep it in Nirvana’s setlist.
This concept is fairly common though, and Cody Canada has even expressed similar sentiments about Ragweed’s early hit “Carney Man.” Nevertheless, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is seen by many to be the quintessential Grunge song, and one that really took the genre to its greatest heights.
I think it just has to be included on Koe’s cover album.
A few year’s back, Koe covered Nirvana’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” during a tour stop in Seattle.