I have more opinions about alternative rock than I could fit into a book, and with that said the top fifteen alt. rock bands of all time is hugely subjective. Do bear in mind that you’ll probably disagree with this at least once by the end of this, it’s inevitable.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
Well they were bound to show up somewhere; for a while back in the 90s the Chili Peppers were the most exciting band around. You never quite knew what they’d be doing next; while they might not be quite as unpredictable as all that today, that’s a great quality to have as a alternative rock band.
- The Killers
They might not be legendary quite yet, but I had to put this lot into the list for the seminal debut album alone. Hot Fuzz took the world by storm in a way that’s only ever managed by great albums.
- The Strokes
Another great band that rocketed onto the scene on the strength of their debut album; the Strokes inspired a wave of alt. bands, and they have their fair share of classic albums that will be remembered ten years from now.
These guys might be remembered by the bulk of the general public for that one song at the end of Fight Club, but they’re still one of the coolest bands around.
- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Post-the Birthday Party, Nick Cave formed the Bad Seeds. They’re moody, experimental and cooler than a cat in a freezer. It’s an incredibly distinctive sound, and the Bad Seeds have produced some of the most consistently excellent albums of everyone on this list.
- Arctic Monkeys
Ok, ok. There are plenty of people who’ll think I’m mad for putting Arctic Monkeys at number ten on the list, but they have more progression in their music than most bands have in their entire careers.
- The Libertines
The Strokes erstwhile contemporaries might’ve imploded rather spectacularly, but the Libertines had something genuinely special when they first burst onto the scene.
- The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses had an incredible impact for a band that released all of two albums across twelve years. Their infamous gig on Spike Island inspired a whole generation of bands. The Roses had a sound unlike anyone else.
Not technically a band, I know, but he’s just about alternative enough to make up for that little stumbling block. Beck’s another one of those artists you just can’t quite predict.
Michael Stipe and co. might be best known for their ballad Everybody Hurts, but they released a number of truly bizarre songs and some hard-rocking fare that seems to get passed over.
The critically adored band you’ve probably never heard of. They rose from the ashes of alt-country Uncle Tupelo, and have since become enormously well regarded in the industry.
- Modest Mouse
The chances are, you know who this band are. Modest Mouse are a household name. Their music features double-tracked vocals and hard drumming, with synths and intricate piano.
Whilst Ok Computer was one of the most incredible albums ever produced, they’re a little too art school cool for my tastes. Known for being constant innovators, there’s a reason fans of the band can be quite fanatical at time; they’re genuinely brilliant.
From biting wit, to the frontman rather infamously mooning Michael Jackson, Pulp are everything you could want from a band. They also produced some of the most interesting and astute music of the 90s.
Who else? Nirvana have cemented their legendary status with their entry into the Rock and Roll hall of fame, their t-shirts are everywhere and they’re still seen as the voice of a generation. It’s the sort of commercialisation that Kurt would’ve hated. As for the music, it speaks for itself.