TOP 10: Most Underrated Rock Bands of The Past 20 Years
Published: April 10, 2012 - 8:32am
From the bizarre underground realm of Gypsy Punk Rock to the whiskey soaked badlands of the South I bring you a list of bands that I feel are not only underappreciated but sadly underrated.
Rock and roll isn't dead. The following bands on this list have lived through the year 2000 era in which many have criticized the decline of the genre. Although nearly every band on this list has had a big hit or two, they've somehow always flown under the radar. Take note that I have not chosen indie bands or underground artists who have only made a name for themselves playing poetry guitar on the corner of grow-up avenue. These are real bands, many firmly established, but in the end still criminally underrated.
#10. Monster Magnet
Remember the song 'Space Lord'? That track was a five-minute plus opus which featured bizarre alien conqueror lyrics such as, "If I don't get my bath, I take it out on the slaves". The repeated chants of 'Space Lord mother, mother' are catchy as hell and Monster Magnet shockingly has a catalog of music that isn't limited to shoddy variations of 'Space Lord'.
Monster Magnet is still cranking out stoner rock that harkens back to the mid nineties and they've consistently been rocking asses left and right with no respect from the mainstream. They are not a one-hit wonder and I urge you to listen to 'Heads Explode' or 'Silver Future' just as a jump-off to reintroduce yourself to some leather alien rock for the ages.
#9. The Dropkick Murphys
Celtic punk royalty The Dropkick Murphys are not just one of the greatest 'punk' rock bands of all time, they're also so low on the mainstream's radar it's frustrating as hell. I must say however though that their recent offering 'Goin Out in Style' has been garnering far more attention from the masses and yes, that includes outside their native Boston. They even had Bruce Springsteen guest star on the new record, which is amazing considering the Boss' new album 'Wrecking Ball' has a distinct Dropkick Murphys influence.
The band's integration of Irish folk music and bagpipes sets them apart from the rest of the herd and the festive nature of their music makes them essential listening for anyone who appreciates originality. You don't have to drink and fight to listen to Dropkick Murphys, but if you did then their discography would be the perfect soundtrack. Check out 'Captain Kelly's Kitchen, I'm Shipping Out to Boston, The State of Massachusetts' and 'Going Out in Style'.
After being hailed as both nu-metal and a Nirvana rip-off, Australian rockers Seether have had a rough go right from the very start. If front man Shaun Morgan wasn't dueting with his now ex-girlfriend Amy Lee (from Evanescenece) he was busy being written off. The fact that Seether has been outright ignored since the beginning is a damn shame. There is far more to the band than lazy comparisons to that of a 'heavy' version of Nirvana.
Seether does invoke a vibe from past days gone when it comes to their sound and Morgan's grunge inspired vocals, but even recently they're still turning out hits. Check out 'Country Song' from their recent album 'Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray'. Before you tell me it's 'Remedy' part two, calm down and understand there's much more to dig into here. The band puts on one of the best live shows I've ever seen to this day and their strong back catalog is proof. Check out 'F*** it' then listen to 'Fine Again' to get a good grasp on their range.
#7. The Tragically Hip
Hailed as the Canadian U2 or the Pearl Jam of the Great White North, The Tragically Hip are painfully disregarded anywhere outside their native homeland. Although they peaked in 1997, they've still been releasing stellar albums throughout their long career. Singer Gordon Downie may look like Beavis & Butt-Head creator Mike Judge but his unique vocal style is what makes the band stand out.
What really makes The Hip intriguing is their ability to tell such great stories in their songs. The classic track 'Fifty Mission Cap' is one of my favorite songs of all time and it's a bizarre, brilliant little tale that will stick with you for years. The Tragically Hip are the best Canadian rock band of all time and yes I will stand by that, even next to RUSH. That statement alone proves how underrated they are, because when a lesser known band like RUSH tends to overshadow you, then you know you're not getting the respect you deserve.
#6. Gogol Bordello
Gypsy punk rock band Gogol Bordello is bats*** crazy. Fronted by enigmatic and intensely mustachioed lead singer Eugene Hutz, the band may be eccentric to say the least but they're a force to be reckoned with creatively. Gogol Bordello utilizes this folk style of European influenced punk rock, which incorporates bizarre instruments like accordions and circus-like sounds plastered onto a Sex Pistols landscape.
The band really took off with 2007's 'Super Taranta!', mostly in part to their alcohol soaked party anthem 'American Wedding'. If you don't crack a smile listening to that track, then I can't help you better understand Gogol Bordello's shenanigans. I do urge you however to listen to these other tracks to get as good a grasp as you can on these maniacs: 'Wonderlust King', 'Tribal Connection', 'Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)' and 'When Universes Collide'.
#5. Mindless Self Indulgence
The eccentric unit known as Mindless Self Indulgence could probably fit into any genre of music because their sound is so diverse. The band however decided to coin their own term to describe themselves as 'Industrial Jungle P***y Punk'. That sounds about right. Although much of their earlier work can come across as humorous and intentionally so, there is so much more under their seemingly punk pop anatomy. Combining rap and electronic elements into what is essentially rock music, ends up sounding like Nine Inch Nails having a three-way with Tenacious D and System of a Down.
On-stage antics would 'almost' make GG Allin proud and with each studio release Mindless Self Indulgence continues to improve drastically. Their last album 'If' is an electro-punk masterpiece in my opinion and loaded with so many anthems of excess that it makes Charlie Sheen hot tub parties look like the Muppet Show. They are bizarre as hell which takes them out of the mainstream's headlights and directly onto this list. Check out these tracks to sample the chaos: 'Bitches', 'Kill The Rock', 'What Do They Know', 'Lights Out', 'Issues' and 'Mark David Chapman'.
I truly believe that punk pioneers Rancid should be hailed right alongside the greats like Ramones, Misfits and The Clash. Front man Tim Armstrong is in my humble opinion one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. When you listen to this dude bark out those lyrics you can feel the pain and sincerity in every single verse. It sounds like the man is about to die by the end of the track. This is real, genuine punk and although you can definitely feel that ska vibe in their most recent offerings, Rancid took that genre and owned it too.
Behind Armstrong you can't forget the firepower of Lars Frederksen. That's another man that embodies not only the appearance of punk rock, but the heart and soul of the scene. Their 1995 album 'And Out Come The Wolves' tops my personal list of the best punk records ever made. Their last effort 2009's 'Let The Dominoes Fall' is so well-rounded and perfect it makes me shake my head in disbelief. If you're a punk fan you know very well that Rancid is not underrated, but during this day and age in 2012 – 'real punk music' in general is absolutely overshadowed, more-so than ever before. Listen to ''Roots Radical', 'Ruby Soho', 'Last One to Die' and everything else they do. It's that good.
#3. Blue October
Singer Justin Furstenfeld has to be one of the most tortured songwriters on the planet. The man bleeds for the music and Blue October is an emotional wrecking machine. You may have only heard their chart topping 'Hate Me' a few years back, but that wasn't the first great song they've done and it certainly won't be the last. The band has been turning out brilliant David Bowie inspired rock for years, with their last studio effort 'Any Man in America' topping my personal 'Best Of' list for 2011.
Whether Furstenfeld sings about being molested as a child, or how he struggles to remain sane after going through a painful divorce you can feel the weight on his shoulder's through Blue October's music. There are songs about revenge, love, heartbreak and the best part of that is there are TONS of these gems to be found throughout Blue October's discography. They add violins to their set and sound like a Tim Burton movie with a fire lit under it's ass. Listen to 'Razorblade', 'Independently Happy', 'Into The Ocean' and 'Any Man in America'.
Southern rockers Clutch have never managed to crack into the mainstream. The most far they've managed to get is by squeezing some tracks into CKY crew Bam Margera's flicks and Jackass (see the video 'The Mob Goes Wild'). But no matter how well they do, it's as if the only person whose ever heard of Clutch knows the band personally or something. It's a travesty and almost a CRIME to not be aware of this band because I can say without a shadow of a doubt that if Clutch were put on stage next to The Black Keys in a rock-off to the death, that there would be many, many people clutching their 'El Camino' albums whilst in tears.
Although they started off as more stoner-metal with hardcore touches, it's in the blues that Clutch truly found themselves. They've been crafting psychedelic Southern rock for the ages the past decade and show no signs of slowing down. I was shocked when their amazing song 'The Regulator' found it's way into a pivotal sequence on this season's Walking Dead. Clutch are rock personified and deserve so much more than my online whimpering of praise. Listen to '50,000 Unstoppable Watts', 'Electric Worry', '10001110101' and 'Subtle Hustle'.
#1. Collective Soul
This is a no-brainer decision for me considering that Collective Soul is not only completely defined as a 'rock band', but that they've managed to garner seven number one hits throughout their long career while nobody noticed. Their second album 'Collective Soul' hit triple platinum and produced most of their largest hits, but ever since then sales have seemingly declined. That being said – three of their records did attain platinum status, which is mind-blowing considering most people tend to forget the band exists.
It's not that nobody has 'heard of' Collective Soul, it's that everybody 'forgets' about Collective Soul. The band is like a ghost that appears and vaporizes as quickly as it came, but my god what an experience when they show up and remind people they're alive. Truth is they never went away and have consistently remained a rock and roll powerhouse for the past two decades. Go back and listen to 'Shine', 'The World I Know', 'Why, Pt.2' and 'Better Now' quickly before you forget about them – HURRY BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
[Editor's Note: The opinions found herein are those solely of the author and do not reflect the thoughts, intent or sanction of The Daily BLAM!, it's owners or subsidiarities.]