Break out your flannel shirts, ladies and gentlemen, ’cause Soundgarden is back. One of the seminal bands of the grunge era, Soundgarden may not have sold as many records as, say, Nirvana or Pearl Jam, but their influence can’t be denied. Not to mention the fact that they produced Chris Cornell, who, despite his propensity for making not-so-good solo records, is the best rock singer of his generation.

The band will be hitting a few festivals in 2010, but they’re trying to figure out tour routing, since drummer Matt Cameron is now also Pearl Jam’s drummer-and THAT band will be touring this year as well. A Soundgarden/Pearl Jam double bill sounds good to me. Add in the new Alice in Chains and I think fans of early Nineties hard rock will all simultaneously cream their pants.

My initial thought was that this reunion was a reaction to the critical and commercial slaughtering that Cornell’s last solo album, the Timbaland-helmed “Scream” received last year. However, Cornell was discussing a Soundgarden B-sides release and a potential box set in Rolling Stone magazine last summer before “Scream”‘s release. So you skeptics can quiet down.

Me? I’m excited. I caught the Soundgarden train late in their career, but was immediately taken by Cornell’s voice and definitely feel like he needs a whole lot of LOUD in order to maximize the use of that voice. Having 2010 start with news like this hints that this might be a better year for music than last year was.