If Alternative Radio Was Good, This Is What You Would Hear

The death of commercial alternative music radio stations is about done. When New York City doesn’t even have an alternative station anymore, you know the genre is dead on commercial radio. Reasons for this are abundant, with MP3 players and satellite radio right at the top.

Alternative rock channels began to appear on commercial radio during the early 90’s grunge movement. While initially successful, these channels began to get more narrow in the focus of their playlists by the turn of the century, with most going harder edge, especially when the rap-metal thing happened.

Sadly, most of the bands that I have listed below get no commercial airplay, as they don’t fit a format that exists today. I have chosen 20 songs by 20 different artists. All of these songs were released over the past few years and I’ve tried to choose ones released since 2005, with only a few exceptions. I focused on a more post-punk type sound. This is the first of a regular series I plan on doing, listing Top 20 songs for different genres that you ought to check out.

The Killers- When We Were Young
The Bravery- Fearless
Artic Monkeys- I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor
Bloc Party- Banquet
The Strokes- 12:51

I was not a big fan of the initial effort of the Killers, but their newest release takes a large leap, as they go from Vegas’ version of Duran Duran to writing something that could have been a single on one of U2’s first few albums. The Bravery have been compared to the Killers and I thought their first album was superior. The other 3 bands I’ve listed here have been over-hyped, but each of these songs are worth downloading.

Gang of Four- Damaged Goods
The Futureheads- Skip to the End
Tapes ‘n Tapes- Just Drums
Kaiser Chiefs- I Predict a Riot
Interpol- Slow Hands

Last year, Gang of Four rerecorded a bunch of their older songs and they sounded better than ever. Like The Velvet Underground and The Fall, they influenced many, without having large record sales themselves. All of the bands I’ve listed below them must have been influenced by their sound. The Futureheads “Skip to the End” is one of the best songs of 2006.

The White Stripes- The Denial Twist
Eagles of Death Metal- Cherry Cola
Louis XIV- Finding Out True Love is Blind
The Vines- Ride
The Von Bondies- C’mon C’mon

If you like catchy hooks in your indie rock scene, check all 5 of these retro rockers. The Stripes have been the best band of this new century, with “The Denial Twist” demonstrating what Led Zeppelin might have sounded like with a funky beat. While the last 2 songs listed are a few years old, they both have great post-punk hooks that are the best that these bands have recorded.

Deadman and Elephant Boy- Stop, I’m Already Dead
Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Maps
Franz Ferdinand- Do You Want To
Hot Hot Heat- Middle of Nowhere
Razorlight- In the Morning

“Stop, I’m Already Dead” is my favorite song of 2006. While Karen O. and her band released an album in 2006, “Fever to Tell” was a far superior work, with the single “Maps” one of the best of this decade. Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” is on that same list of top singles, but I chose the equally as good “Do You Want To”, as it is more of a recent release.

Rise Against- Ready to Fall

The bonus track is the latest release by Rise Against, which is the best Bad Religion-influenced song in years. Check it out.

9 thoughts on “If Alternative Radio Was Good, This Is What You Would Hear

  1. 1.  Based on this list, I’d say that the number one avenue for alternative rock in the twenty-first century is…. EA Sports Traxx. Seriously, the way I’ve heard about bands like Louis XIV (MVP 2004), Franz Ferdinand (Madden 05), Steriogram (MVP 04), Rock and Roll Soldiers (MVP 05), Snow Patrol (MVP 04), Idlewild (FIFA 2003), Rise Against (Madden 07), etc… is my unending addiction to sports video games. But thanks for the suggestions. I’ll get right to downloading.

  2. 2.  Those are all great bands and there so many others with too much credibility to be played on commercial radio. I could make a list of hundreds but here are some of my faves. Yo La Tengo, The Thermals, Sleater Kinney, Wilco , British Sea Power, Drive By Truckers, The Hold Steady, Lucero, The Shys, Secret Machines, The Detroit Cobras,Mission Of Burma and Eleventh Dream Day.

  3. 3.  thank you for posting some of my fave songs of the past couple years. i was stunned – at a friend’s house on saturday, the digital cable indie playlist was quite similar to that. bravery, bloc party, nightmare of you, and abunch in that spirit.

    things i’m currently listening to (or haven’t been mentioned)

    protocol, the modern (now matinee club). both british, both signed/dropped by mercury, both having had top 40 hits in the uk. protocol is similar to the never-big-here synthpop of the early 80s (see “she waits for me” and “love is my drug”), the modern is like blondie meets erasure (“jane falls down”, “industry”). they’ll have an ep out in the states in january, both have myspace pages.

  4. 4.  Gang Of Four sounds better than ever? The Bravery? Rise Against?!?

    To each their own, that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla, etc…

  5. 5.  Do you ever listen to Indie 103.1 (www.indie1031.fm) in LA? You pretty much just described their whole playlist. KROQ plays or played half of it. I tend to think we are pretty lucky with our Alt radio out here though.

  6. 6.  Since I spend a decent amount of time out in LA, I do appreciate the music on both of these stations. 103.1 is awesome, though the suicidegirls show on sunday night is pretty lame. This type of commercial station doesn’t exist anywhere else that I know of.

  7. 7.  What’s the old saying about The Velvet Underground? I think it goes like this: Nobody bought their records, but everybody who did started a band.

    No matter how good an alternative station you find, they’ll never play The Mountain Goats. Mentioning The Mountain Goats is essentially a way of proving my indie credibility. Mentioning that I’ve been a fan since “Sweden” came out way back when is a way of proving that I’m much cooler than a lot of Mountain Goats fans.

    In conclusion: The Mountain Goats.

    Also, Notre Dame is going to lose at least once, if not twice more this season.

  8. 8.  One more for LA: KCRW. Yes, not a commercial station. Yes, they don’t play music all the time. But they do play music every day and what they play is awesome.

    And they play the Mountain Goats, so all good.

  9. 9.  Talk about eye opening I live in L.A. and have thought that here alternative radio was sliding downhill, although indi 103.1, KCRW and KROQ are still on the air, none of them is too very interesting.

    In fact, because of that I got XM, but if this is the garden spot, I feel really bad for what the rest of the country must be listening to.

Comments are closed.