Six Alternative Bands You Need to Listen Too

Wilco Graphic by Yasmin Elqutami

Number One: Have A Nice Life

Connecticut residents Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga founded the band Have a Nice Life in 2000. Since its release in 2008, their debut album, Deathconsciousness, has garnered favorable reviews. It did not at first garner much attention, but it acquired popularity as a result of conversations in internet forums and word-of-mouth. Due to Deathconsciousness’ internet success, the band has since gained a cult following.

Number Two: Helvetica

American experimental and independent band Helvetia hails from Seattle, Washington. Jason Albertini’s childhood birthplace of Switzerland is represented by the moniker Helvetia. After the demise of the band Duster, in which he played drums, Jason Albertini formed Helvetia.

Number Three: American Football

American Football is a rock group from Urbana, Illinois, which was active from 1997 until 2000 before resuming activity in 2014. Mike Kinsella, a guitarist/bassist and singer presently with Owen (previously with Cap’n Jazz and Joan of Arc), guitarist Steve Holmes, and drummer/trumpeter Steve Lamos founded the group. Lamos departed the group in 2021 but later returned in 2023.

Number Four: Dinosaur Jr.

In 1984, the American rock group Dinosaur Jr. was founded in Amherst, Massachusetts.J Mascis (guitar, vocals, main songwriter), Lou Barlow (bass, vocals), and Murph (drums) formed the group. The band developed a reputation as one of the key influences on American alternative rock after releasing three albums on independent labels. In 1997, the group was dissolved. After reforming in 2005, the original lineup put out five albums. Mascis’s gruff vocals and distinctive guitar sound, which harkens back to classic rock from the 1960s and 1970s and is distinguished by heavy use of feedback and distortion, had a significant impact on the alternative rock movement of the 1990s.

Number Five: Wilco

American alternative rock group Wilco is based in Chicago, Illinois. After singer Jay Farrar left Uncle Tupelo’s alternative country band, the remaining members created the band in 1994. Throughout its first ten years, Wilco’s lineup saw numerous changes, with the only original members still active now being bassist John Stirratt and singer Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy, Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, and drummer Glenn Kotche have been the band’s only constant members since the beginning of 2004.

Number Six: Neutral Milk Hotel

American musician Jeff Mangum founded Neutral Milk Hotel in Ruston, Louisiana. They were active between 1989 and 1998, and again in 2013 and 2015. The band’s music had a purposefully poor sound that was influenced by psychedelic folk and indie rock. Mangum composed strange, cryptic lyrics about a variety of subjects, such as love, spirituality, nostalgia, sex, and loneliness. He and the other band members used a range of instruments, such as the singing saw, uilleann pipes, and “zanzithophone,” in addition to more unusual rock instruments.


“The downbeat: Wilco released ‘Ode to Joy,’ so here’s an ode to Wilco” written by Ella Boyd