[In Retrospect] Garbage’s Self-Titled Debut Celebrates 20 Years

I remember the first time I ever saw Garbage on MTV; I was about 7 years-old and every Saturday morning I’d get up and turn on the once-music generated network in between the usual hour span of cartoons, discovering the glorious sounds of 90’s pop, grunge and R&B while absorbing it all like a sponge. It was those times that molded my fascination with music and what the world had to offer rather than what I was fed anywhere else. I believe it was the video for “Stupid Girl” that captured my attention. I remember thinking how cool they were and loving singer Shirley Manson’s dress/boot ensemble. I thought that if I could just achieve that level of coolness I’d be okay in life. At that time, I never imagined how much of a major impact the band would later play in my life. Today, I owe all of the bravado I have to Shirley. As Garbage’s music helped me stand on my own two feet during those trying adolescent years, I can’t imagine where, or who, I’d be without the help of Shirley, Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson.

As the band celebrates the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album on August 15, it’s hard not to revel in all of its 90’s grunge-esque goodness. Released when music (in my humble opinion) was at its finest and women were finally starting to bare their claws, the album touched base on the things that today are only starting to take flight. Like Alanis Morissette’s famed Jagged Little Pill, the band’s debut proved to be the embodiment of the women’s empowerment movement in my eyes – with Manson making no mistake of demonstrating who is boss – a notion that thankfully hasn’t died within the band’s career.

Though the band has managed to not conform to any genre, being the oddballs of the music industry suits them well, and they have legions of fans who appreciate that the most. It’s their signature sound – true grit, attitude and ingenuity – that separates them from the rest, and which quite frankly has kept them at the top of the totem pole when it comes to staying power.

“Vow” was a big one for me as I felt my way through my freshman year of high school. Being the quiet, introvert that I am, I was afraid to speak up during the time which I was bullied by two girls who I thought were my friends. I’d come home with knots in my stomach, turn on “Vow” and let everything I held in all day out in the open. “You burn and burn to get under my skin / You’ve gone too far now I won’t give in,” were top lines. I even scribbled them on a notebook and I remember one of them seeing it and asking me about it, to which I replied, “Just watch who you’re dealing with.” That is what I call the Manson effect, folks!

Garbage continues to prove the band’s tenacity. Looking back throughout all five of the band’s studio albums, you get a sense that there is still so much more to be said. Though preliminary, it gives listeners a foundation. A message. A mission. Closing track, “Milk,” displays tenderness after a storm of wrath, power and vitality – a sentiment that demonstrates the power of being human, being scorned. After the storms, after the healing, love is transformed.

Garbage is set to release a remastered version of their debut along with some b-sides and remixes. The band will also be embarking on a very special 20 Years Queer tour this fall. I am honored to be attending one of the New York dates and I cannot wait to share my experience with you guys in October! Stay tuned! It’s going to be a wild ride!

For tour dates and tickets go here.

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Tina Roumeliotis

Tina Roumeliotis

Tina is the founding editor of The Daily Listening. She's also a professional music nerd for BUZZNET. You'll most likely find her where she finds most of her inspiration: introverting in her bedroom with her music collection and a pair of headphones.