Lamestains: Grunge, Sub Pop and the Music of the Loser (Hardcover)

Lamestains: Grunge, Sub Pop and the Music of the Loser By Nicholas Attfield Cover Image
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A surprising history of Seattle’s Sub Pop Records, pioneer of grunge . . . and champion of losers.
This book is a critical history of Sub Pop Records, the Seattle independent rock label that launched the careers of countless influential grunge bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It focuses in particular on the languages and personas of the “loser,” a term that encompassed the label’s founders and personnel, its flagship bands (including Mudhoney, TAD, and Nirvana), and the avid vinyl-collecting fans it rapidly amassed. The loser became (and remains) the key Sub Pop identity, but it also grounded the label in the overt masculinity, sexism, and transgression of rock history. Rather than the usual reading of grunge as an alternative to the mainstream, Lamestains reveals a more equivocal and complicated relationship that Sub Pop exploited with great success.

About the Author

Nicholas Attfield is associate professor of music at the University of Birmingham. His books include an account of Dinosaur Jr’s 1987 album You’re Living All Over Me in the 33 1/3 series.

Praise For…

“Viewing the label as both a brilliant marketing tool and a crass, misogynistic, and unabashedly commercial venture, the author chronicles the selling of Sub Pop’s regional punk/metal by using the antihero, anti-corporate, tongue-in-cheek caricature of the bands as primitive losers. The label reinforced this with album inserts, Charles Peterson’s blurry photos, Lame Fest concerts, the limited-edition, colored-vinyl Singles Club, and even ‘secret’ messages hand-etched in records. . . . A solid analysis.”
— Library Journal

"The impact of Sub Pop Records on the music industry isn’t in doubt. What Attfield does in this brilliant, impeccably researched, and beautifully written book is to illuminate the label’s cultural identity and aesthetic, through a deep dive into its origins, politics, and relationship with the mainstream. The result is one of the best and most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read about a record label."
— David Barker, University of Derby

"At the heart of Lamestains—Attfield's overview of grunge and the contradictions surrounding its formation and popularity—lies a core truth: rock sells individuality and exclusivity to anyone and everyone. To the author's credit, he never shies away from this paradox, instead using it as the jumping off point for a deep dive into a world of distortion, divergence and musical deconstruction. A thoroughly engaging read that is at once heady, harrowing and way insightful. Yes, I recommend it."
— Everett True, author of "Nirvana: The True Story" and "Live Through This: American Rock Music in the Nineties"

Product Details
ISBN: 9781789147063
ISBN-10: 1789147069
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Publication Date: January 1st, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English