Southern rock band, The Drive-By Truckers was formed by original members Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley in 1996. The band gained nationwide fame with their 2001 album, ‘Southern Rock Opera,’ which is a mix of sound effects (including a car wreck and a plane crash), mentions of teenage chastity belts and George Wallace, and just incredible music.
Once guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell joined the band, they released a critically-acclaimed album called ‘Decoration Day.’ Drive-By Truckers went on to record darker, more hardcore rock music in the following years. Most of all, the Truckers deserve recognition because they gave life and pride to Southern rock while acknowledging the controversial past of their region.
Recommended Listening: When it comes to the Drive-By Truckers, you might want to stick to their first album, ‘Southern Rock Opera.’ Every song is a musical masterpiece.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Everybody knows who Joan Jett is, and once she left the famous all-female rock band, The Runaways, she went on to form the Blackhearts in 1981. The Blackhearts were made of Ricky Byrd, Lee Crystal, and Gary Ryan. The band went on to release great albums during the '80s, with their single "I Hate Myself for Loving You" reaching the Top Ten charts in 1988.
The Blackhearts' fame continued throughout the '80s, but by the 1990s, they had significantly slowed down. Joan Jett, however, is still one of the most iconic American punk rock figures in music history.
Recommended Listening: Definitely go for their smash hit, "I Hate Myself for Loving You".
Sonic Youth was founded back in 1981, by Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Kim Gordon, in New York City. The three members would remain in the band throughout its history, and they certainly made rock history.
Using alternative tunings and feedback, Sonic Youth invented a new guitar sound that was simply exhilarating. After the release of their first album, 'Confusion is Sex,' in 1983, they gained a massive fan base and continued to climb the rock charts. Five years later, in 1988, they released 'Daydream Nation,' which was a huge commercial hit, along with their 'Goo' and 'Dirty' albums, released in the early '90s. The band had a nice run until 2001 when they officially disbanded.
Recommended Listening: While we would argue that any Sonic Youth album should be listened to, we would suggest starting with “Youth Against Fascism” and “Sugar Kane” from the 'Dirty' album.
Dream Theater broke out with their sophomore album 'Images and Words' in 1992, featuring the hit single “Pull Me Under.” The band pioneered the progressive metal genre, including sick riffs and intricate, memorable melodies.
Taking inspiration from anything and everything, they've done everything from soft ballads to twenty-four-minute epics. Dream Theater still produces new music and tours worldwide, but only two founding members remain in the band.
Recommended Listening: While 'Images and Words' is their most popular album, fans consider 1999's 'Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory' to be their best album. Really, it's hard to go wrong with any album.
An alternative rock band formed in 1986 in Boston, the Pixies drew on punk rock and surf rock and created a sound known for its “loud-quiet” shifts and unique song structures. While they broke up in 1993, they reunited in 2004 for a sold-out world tour.
They've produced seven albums, one certified gold, and one certified platinum. Song lyrics often include things like space, religion, sex, mutilation, and pop culture, and lyricist Black Francis has a noted obsession with characters from the Old Testament of the Bible.
Recommended Listening: The Pixies have plenty of catchy songs, but the best include “Hey,” “Where Is My Mind,” and “Debaser.”