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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 01/12/2011

Riffs: Picking 13 bands for an "Our Band Could Be Your Life" sequel

By David Malitz

superchunkSuperchunk is still going, but would have to be in a '90s indie rock tome. (Lexi Mitchell)

On Thursday night, Grant Hart, former drummer/songwriter for hardcore/alt-rock godfathers Husker Du performs at the Black Cat. This got us thinking about Michael Azerrad’s 2001 book “Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991,” which chronicled 13 of that era’s most important bands. Then it got us thinking even more - what if there was a sequel to that book covering the next decade? What 13 bands would make the cut?

This is the kind of pointless theoretical question that I spend far too much time breaking down from every angle. After consulting with a few friends/experts I landed on what I deem to be the perfect baker’s dozen. The criteria is pretty simple: Find the best and most important bands of the era while also getting a good cross section of styles, geography and interesting stories. And also put Brainiac in there because they always deserved better. So here’s the list. Please feel free to disagree.

Cat Power
Flaming Lips
Guided By Voices
Magnetic Fields
Neutral Milk Hotel
Royal Trux
Will Oldham

By David Malitz  | January 12, 2011; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Riffs  | Tags:  Flaming Lips, Guided By Voices, Magnetic Fields, Neutral Milk Hotel, Pavement, Superchunk, Unrest  
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Great list, but if these bands were chosen would you cut their story off when they sign to a major like Azzerad did? If so then I'd replace the Flaming Lips with Built to Spill, because BTS had a better non major label back catalog. Plus would Pavement's Atlantic thing ruin their story? I wouldn't do it like Azzerad, because Royal Trux's major label tryst has an incredible story. Nice to see Brainiac on the list, they don't get their due.

Posted by: rohan3 | January 12, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Great list. I'm pretty sure every indie rock dork has thought about this way too much. Not sure their history is really that exciting, but it seems like it would need to include Yo La Tengo, just because it's YLT.

Posted by: aobehr1 | January 12, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@rohan3 - Nah, I think dealing with the majors would have to be a big part of this fictional non-fiction book. You can't ignore it in the '90s. Part of what would make the Lips/Trux chapters so interesting, right?

@aobehr1 - YLT was the toughest omission, obviously.

Posted by: DavidMalitz | January 12, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, tough. I'd go with Sebadoh, Yo La Tengo, JSBX, Archers of Loaf, The Rachel's or Rodan, Throwing Muses and maybe even the Ass Ponys.

Posted by: AnotherEngine | January 12, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Great call on Brainiac! Bonsai Superstar was insanely ahead of the game.
I would also go with June of 44 and maybe Modest's easy to forget how great they were now that they aren't.

Posted by: JSGNWDC | January 12, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

@AnotherEngine - passed on Sebadoh since Dinosaur was in the original. YLT, toughest omission. JSBX, a bit about them could sneak into Royal Trux chapter, was getting a bit Matador-heavy. Archers are one of my faves, can sneak some of them into Superchunk chapter. Again, I spent way too much time thinking about this.

@JSGNWDC - Modest Mouse was definitely on the shortlist. Interesting to see some love for Rachels/Rodan/June of 44. Tortoise will have to carry the post rock torch.

Posted by: DavidMalitz | January 12, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Malitz, that's a good point about the Sebadoh/Dinosaur thing. It would still be a good story I think since there were such weird relationships in Sebadoh as well.

I'll actually replace my suggestions of the Muses & Ass Ponys for Smog and the Dirty Three. But there could be overlap there as well, and then in with Cat Power & Oldham. I'd like to know more about the DT history though.

Posted by: AnotherEngine | January 12, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

People still care about indie rock?

Posted by: agl132 | January 13, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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