The 25 Most Influential Bands Of The '90s

Trent Reznor, you know, before the Oscar and all the weightlifting.
Trent Reznor, you know, before the Oscar and all the weightlifting.

As a music writer, we are asked constantly to compare the new with the old, to decipher the periphery where modern bands' influences come from to understand where we are going and what we are seeing. We can hear everything Keith Richards stole from Chuck Berry, and can stand in front of Green Day and watch the last 40 years of punk rock and The Who blast by us.

This past Wednesday marked 15 years since Sublime lead singer Brad Nowell died, and right now there are at least five Sublime tribute bands traveling the world, as well as a whole batch of original bands biting off his band's sound trying to reignite the flame of his indie-surf group. We'll let you judge whether or not that's an honor or a sin.

Then tonight, Houston welcomes Cage The Elephant back to town at Verizon Wireless Theater. The Kentucky band draws constant Nirvana comparisons, most of which are lazy, but still made us crick our neck to check them out. Funny how far having a blonde, shrieking lead singer will take you.

Right now the indie world is mired in the lush music of chillwave, a far cry from the aggressive and snaky sound that ruled just a decade ago. If you listened to new music now, you would think that Giorgio Moroder and the Cocteau Twins have usurped Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke as the new gods, and you would probably be half-right.

This all got Rocks Off to thinking about the current '90s revival and what it means in 2011. We've heard plenty of people make the stuttered case that it was the best decade in modern music, cutting paths not seen since the '60s, while others dismiss it as whiny and trite, built on consumerism and the co-opting of disparate cliques.

Making a list of the 25 most influential rock bands of the '90s was like doing 25 separate autopsies, extracting the guts of each group or artist to see their function. There were some bands that hit us as obvious, and other that we had to sell ourselves on, and with any list there will be unconscious omissions, not of the heart but of the brain.

These presented in no particular order. So debate, discuss, scream, get hostile, and drop some knowledge on everyone's ass. And yes, we do think that Creed is an influential band, because you know, influences aren't always good or hip.

Didn't your mama teach you anything?


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