Do you want to know the dark truth...
or do you want to see me whack some dingers?

Nov 17 2003


The Mission: Attempt to come up with a comprehensive list of the best bands in America in response to this article written by a bunch of Brits.

The Panel: A collection of some of the best writers in the blogging universe. Or at least the people behind most of the sites that I read daily.

The Process: Each person on the panel submitted their list of the10 bands/nominees that they felt should make the list. Each slot had a corresponding number value attached to it. Tallies were added, compiled, shuffled and the list was born. In case of a tie, the band with more votes got the nod(i.e. if on band had 21 points from one vote and another had a total of 21 points from 3 different votes, the latter get the higher spot).

The Criteria: This was left up to each of the writers. I only asked for the “best” bands. What that term meant was up to the individual.

So without further ado…

1) THE STROKES - The band have the tunes and the style to leave every other band in their dust. But a lack of ambition makes them only the best American band, not the best band in the world. - Glamorama
2) QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - Pummeling, diverse, exceptionally well-made…art punk? -Catchdubs
3) THE WHITE STRIPES - I’m curious to see where they go, especially if the dancefloor success of “Seven Nation Army” and “Hardest Button To Button” (both rocking some SERIOUS four-on-the-floor house kick drums) are any indication. - Catchdubs
4) THE FLAMING LIPS - For the last ten years, no other band has adapted their sound so radically and yet managed to create such genre groundbreaking sounds from start to finish. Performance orchestral pop? Whatever it is, they deserve credit for following their vision and always producing something worth noticing. The world has finally caught up to them. – Mark from 75 or less
The best band of the 1990's just gets better...and more interesting. - Coolfer
5) THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS - One of the few New York bands that can claim to sound completely (post)modern. They get a bigger sound out of guitar and drums than most bands do with five members. And while it's been said before, Karen O has the most presence of any frontwoman since PJ Harvey. - Glamorama
6) OUTKAST – This duo from ATL have probably done more to push the hip hop genre forward than any other group on the planet. They never repeat themselves, stay away from bragging about their bling and always make asses move on the dancefloor. - information leafblower
7) WILCO - Serious points for being America's most ambitious band, their mainstream impact will sadly always be limited by the fact that they have virtually no image whatsoever. - Glamorama
8) SPOON – Proves the adage “less is more” true without a doubt. – information leafblower
Absolutely sublime college rock at it’s finest. - Catchdubs
9) THE SHINS - The Shins make music that could be the soundtrack to a lost Wes Anderson film. Slight and lovely, if not world-beating, tunesmithery is on display in all of their songs. - Glamorama
10) THE MOUNTAIN GOATS - John Darnielle is the epic storyteller of our generation. – Largehearted Boy
11) EMINEM – Voice of a new generation, homophobe…whatever. You don’t wanna fuck with Shady. 'Cause Shady will fucking kill you. - information leafblower
12) GUIDED BY VOICES - After twenty years in the business Bob Pollard is as prolific as ever, and still rocking two and a half hour shows that put bands half his age to shame. - Largehearted Boy
13) FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE - MTV and VH1 have Punk'D the american public into thinking this band is a novelty one-hit wonder, but the truth of the matter is that there isn't a finer power-pop group in the land. – Whatevs dot org
14) NEPTUNES/N.E.R.D. - These guys are the reason hip-hop hasn't sunken into an abyss of bling and crunk. - Coolfer
16) BRUCE SPRINSGTEEN – Still rockin' international audiences; "The Rising" re-established the band as socially and musically relevant almost thirty years after their inception. – Whatevs dot org
17) MISSY ELLIOT - How often is there a woman in hip-hop who excels on her non-physical talents? Missy's from another planet. She defies categorization. - Coolfer
18) INTERPOL - their seemingly never-ending world tour has obscured their brilliance recently. - Glamorama
19) !!!
20) JOEL RL PHELPS - It's been said that Elliott Smith sang about despair but Joel Phelps is the sound of despair. Hurt has never sounded so legitimate, fragile and soaring. –Mark from 75 or less
21) BECK - An American treasure. Even his "off" albums (Midnite Vultures, Mutations) are excellent. - Coolfer
22) CENTROMATIC - After seven full length releases under various names, still waiting for this band to be noticed. Denton Texas' Will Johnson has channelled into something others never find. - Mark from 75 or less
24) JAY Z
25) …AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD – Indie rock sledgehammers. They come to your town and tear the venue down -information leafblower
28) PREFUSE 73
29) FOO FIGHTERS - Their quirky videos brought them popularity but have also doomed them to an eternity of being underrated. – Whatevs dot org
31) TED LEO / RX –Our generation’s Billy Bragg. His live shows have an amazingly infectious energy. - information leafblower
32) SWEARING AT MOTORISTS - I dare you to find a band that is a better representative of what american music is all about. Your eyes see someone who could be homeless, your ears hear Dave Doughman's heart pour out of his mouth. - Mark from 75 or less
35) LUNA - If you have to ask, you'll never know. – Whatevs dot org
37) LOW
39) THE RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS - Only poor marketing and a lack of willingness to get on the road stopped the RHCP of having the biggest album of their career in "By The Way." - Whatevs dot org

Other bands receiving votes: The Thermals, The Breeders, LCD/DFA, Peaches, Silkworm, Pearl Jam, Rilo Kelly, Andrew Wk, Steve Earle, Mike Watt, Bright Eyes, Grandaddy, Stewart Walker, R. Kelly, Crooked Fingers, Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan, My Morning Jacket and The Dixie Chicks (I'm with Natalie, eff G-Dubz. – whatevs)

Major props and sincere thanks to everyone that took time out of their schedules to help me out on this little project. Specifically: Whatevs dot org, Coolfer, Catchdubs, Mark from 75 or less, Largehearted Boy, Glamorama, Obliquity, and Motorcity Rocks.
Much appreciated everyone. To those people that were invited to participate and chose not to, you're dead to me now. At least until I ask you to do this again next year. :)

Did we leave anyone out? Is someone not ranked high enough? Shouldn’t Ted Leo rank higher than 31? Discuss below.

Posted by Kyle in Permalink


Damn. I couldn't get Stewart Walker into the Top 40? You mean nobody else voted for that guy? Damn. There's a serious lack of electronic artists on that list. My how Moby has fallen!

If this were the Gong Show, I'd be gonging the hell out of Longwave.

Posted by: Coolfer at November 17, 2003 2:06 PM

Stewart Walker a band? If that is waht the rules were, I'd have voted him on there. I thought it was just bands, and thus didn't vote for lack of knowledge. Walker is the real deal.

Posted by: cashilini at November 17, 2003 4:19 PM

Hey, all of mine made the top ten, except R. Kelly! Awesome.

Sorry I couldn't write blurbs.


Posted by: Sam at November 17, 2003 7:14 PM

hehe sorry mang...been locked in a studio trying to finish up a remix :)

but well, here are my fave american bands that weren't mentioned in the above (in no particular order tho)

1. the faint - NEVER and i mean NEVER underestimate the power of 5 guys dressed in head to toe black on stage (also see : interpol) best damn show ive seen in ages

2. deftones - mmmmmmetalish

3. JOHNNY FUCKIN CASH (or does this not count since he's recently passed?)

4. Meat Beat Manifesto (if you count that jack has lived in SF for well over 15 years now)

5. Nada Surf - the new record is really suprisingly addictive

6. Rival Schools United by fate - fucking goddamned good band.

7. Superdrag - ermmm are they still together? prolly not.. oh well fuggit.

8. tenacious d - all hail the fuckin D. they write better songs and melodies than half the bands that made yer list :)

9. weezer - fuckin good power pop.

10. dj redboy - genius ;)


and as far as the above list...hell yeah on longwave, foo fighters, beck, QOTSA , interpol & the strokes when theyre not being boring :)


nite for now :)

Posted by: redboy at November 18, 2003 2:13 AM

to echo a couple of sentiments, no way does longwave deserve to be higher than ted leo. It may reflect an age bias (by that I mean the ages of the voters) that would also explain the absence of any true punk or indie punk. For example you could make a case that the Blood Brothers are at the fore of something a little revitalizing; you could even make a case for Rocket from the Crypt.
I also think built to spill ought to have made the top 40, and

Posted by: jb at November 18, 2003 4:55 PM

I was listening to The Faint while reading the list and also thought they might deserve a spot on the list.

I think QOTSA should be lower, White Stripes should be lower because Elephant sucked, Spoon should have been higher, Missy should've been higher than Eminem, lcd soundsystem is definitely missing, Foo Fighters and Longwave are both lame, Ted Leo could've stood to be higher, The Sights DO put on a helluva a live show, do The Kills count as American?, I was surprised to see the Dandys, By The Way sucked, Pretty Girls Make Graves is missing, TV on the Radio will make next year's list, Liars is DEFINITELY missing, The Walkmen are great, glad to see The Strokes at number one, The Gossip is freaking awesome, Out Hud is pretty nuts though !!! will do, and next time, please ask me.

Posted by: peter at November 18, 2003 5:55 PM

oh right. and Sonic Youth?!?

Posted by: peter at November 18, 2003 5:59 PM

ermmmm jb... you're honestly more offended that longwave is higher on this pretty wack list than yer precious ted leo than f'n JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE AND JAY Z?!?!?!



(for now ;))

Posted by: redboy at November 18, 2003 6:00 PM

Wow... half of the "greatest American bands" are probably playing at North Six next week. Do all of the voters currently live in Williamsburg??

Posted by: ouch at November 19, 2003 9:57 AM

Actually, most of them are from Detroit.

Posted by: information leafblower at November 19, 2003 10:43 AM

ERASE ERRATA would get two of my votes loooooong before bands like the yeah yeah yeahs, interpol, the rapture, or longwave would. or rival schools. or deftones. that, of course, is just my opinion.

MF DOOM, in all of his glorious manifestations, would also get a vote of mine.

and what about SONIC YOUTH and TOM WAITS? there's no way they should be left off, whether they've already made their best albums already or not.

Posted by: teapin at November 19, 2003 12:01 PM

The purpose of this list is to credit the best bands RIGHT NOW at this very moment. Sonic Youth haven't really done much lately.
They have elder statesmen status with Johnny Cash. Everyone knows how great they are.

I did find it funny not one person voted for REM.

Posted by: information leafblower at November 19, 2003 12:47 PM

guess i'll go down swinging on this point. sonic youth and tom waits both released great albums in 2002 (waits releasing 2 great albums that year), so i don't know about the "haven't done much lately" thing. the youth's SYR label releases have, at the very least, shown that they are still muy interesante.

i guess i'm just saying that if there's room for springsteen and the freaking red hot chili peppers, there's room for sonic youth and tom waits (even if it means that the boss and rhcp need to make that room available by hitting the road).

i can't believe i felt strongly enough about somebody's list to respond. twice. excuse me while i cringe at my own ridiculousness.

Posted by: teapin at November 19, 2003 1:53 PM

Can I get a little Wolf Eyes over here? Deerhoof? Hello?!?!

Posted by: caps lock at November 19, 2003 2:04 PM

There's always next year's list...

I keep hearing good things about Erase Errata. I'll have to check them out....

Posted by: information leafblower at November 19, 2003 2:16 PM

i know they've never been an indie-kid's pick, but i'd like to add Tool to the list. they're one of the few bands that emerged in the early 90's that are still around making good music today.

and yes, Ted Leo should be in the Top 5.

Posted by: pinder at November 19, 2003 4:15 PM

oops, missed that "purpose of this list is to credit the best bands RIGHT NOW at this very moment" comment. Tool will be back on the list in 2005.

Others worthy of inclusion:
- Bishop Allen
- American Analog Set
- Roots
- Broken Social Scene
- Burning Brides
- Fun Lovin Criminals
- The Dirtbombs
- The Kills (half American)
- Von Bondies
- Tomahawk

Posted by: pinder at November 19, 2003 4:28 PM

could someone please explain the appeal of bright eyes to me? i assume that, if you're going to go through the trouble of seeking them out, you already own a copy of in the aeroplane over the sea. all of conor oberst's output sounds like he rewrote "o comely" with simplistic lyrics.

Posted by: chelsea at November 19, 2003 4:49 PM

fun lovin criminals?!?!?!!


thanks, i needed that ;)

Posted by: redboy at November 19, 2003 5:23 PM

The list is pretty lacking in the metal department. As it is in dance and hip hop. The Deftones should definitely be listed. I'm not a fan of Tool or Perfect Cirlce but they are both good bands.

But I'm sorry to say that FLC are crap as far as I'm concerned.

Good call on the Roots though.

Posted by: information leafblower at November 19, 2003 5:50 PM

2 bands out of 40 from the west coast. I see Tool's lack of nomination more clearly.

Posted by: Niel at November 19, 2003 7:16 PM

friends always tell me that i'm the world's only mike patton and FLC fan. i guess they're right :)

Posted by: pinder at November 20, 2003 2:07 PM

I see 5 from the west coast. QOTSA, Beck, Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters and The Dandy Warhols.

Posted by: information leafblower at November 20, 2003 5:14 PM

oops five out of forty. You people must be on the bad boy payroll.

Posted by: niel at November 20, 2003 8:52 PM

Postal Service is nothing without the reference point of Death Cab For Cutie, easily among the top ten. Yes, far superior to the Strokes.

Posted by: Henry at November 21, 2003 4:12 PM

You are fucking joking putting the strokes at no.1?!?

Posted by: Si at November 25, 2003 4:14 AM

i love good charlotte!!!!!! I think they are the best band ever. If I could vote i would vote for them all the way

Posted by: Anonymous at December 13, 2003 10:11 AM

The Strokes at number 1? I just can't get over the idea of them as Johnny-come-latelys...a bunch a greasy guys getting rich off the sounds that dozens of awesome but less attractive bands before them have rocked. Also, Ted Leo should be top 20 at least. The man is incredible, and he toured nonstop this year, able to rock it every step of the way.

Posted by: Megan at December 17, 2003 1:16 PM

P.S. Grandaddy should definitely be on this list.

Posted by: Megan at December 17, 2003 1:19 PM

The Strokes suck they should not even be on that list! This should be the top five...
1) Distillers
2)Yeah yeah yeahs
3)The White Stripes
4)Arch Enemy

Posted by: Jon at January 4, 2004 2:33 PM

The Strokes could not suck any more. Believe me, I know from suck as I have played in countless bands that really, truly sucked for nigh on 15 years now. None, however, sucked as much as The Strokes.

The Strokes.

Posted by: sac at February 19, 2004 4:50 PM