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With another roll of the dice, Detroit’s MC5 might have been one of the biggest rock bands ever. Their high-energy, heavily politicized live shows saw them develop a huge following in the late 60s, yet they never managed record sales to match. Still, MC5’s live album Kick Out the Jams and two studio albums Back in the USA and High Time are considered landmark records.

Big Star

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Memphis quartet Big Star’s emotive, 60s-esque power pop seemed anachronistic when they formed in 1971. After recording only three albums, the group split in 1975, frustrated by their lack of success. However, renewed interest in their music saw the band return with a new lineup in the 90s. Drummer Jody Stephens is their last surviving original member, and still performs Big Star’s music live.

Hüsker Dü

The 80s saw Minneapolis punks Hüsker Dü develop the indie rock style that personified the 90s, though few seemed to notice at the time. Dave Grohl is a notable fan: the Foo Fighters song Times Like These includes a lyrical nod to the band’s album New Day Rising, and Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould provides guest vocals and guitar on later Foos track Dear Rosemary.

The Boo Radleys

Perhaps the most overlooked UK band of the Britpop era, The Boo Radleys are often written off as one-hit wonders thanks to their popular 1995 song Wake Up Boo! Beyond this, though, the Merseyside group released a series of albums that rank among the most ambitious and inventive of the era. They split by the decade’s end, but recently reformed without songwriter/guitarist Martin Carr.


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The Runaways, The Go-Gos and The Bangles are sometimes thought to be the original all-female rock bands, but we shouldn’t forget about Fanny. Formed in 1969 by Filipina-American sisters Jean and June Millington, they were arguably the first group that proved women could hold their own in the male-dominated rock arena, and recorded five great albums to prove it before splitting in 1975.


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Before grunge, there was Mudhoney. Formed in Seattle in 1988, the four-piece specializes in disheveled, Stooges-esque rock that’s actually quite tuneful if you can hear beyond the heavy distortion. Though a formative influence on the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, they never came close to that level of commercial success. Still together today, Mudhoney released 12th album Plastic Eternity in 2023.


Fronted by African-American Arthur Lee, Love were among the first racially diverse bands of the 60s music scene. They broke new ground musically too, blending diverse elements of folk, world music and garage rock to form a tantalizing psychedelic stew. Their 1967 album Forever Changes is considered a masterpiece and the band still exists today, although guitarist Johnny Echols is the only surviving original member.

Teenage Fanclub

Together since 1989 (although founder bassist, singer, and songwriter Gerard Love has since left), Teenage Fanclub have long been a firm favorite of many alternative music lovers, yet they’ve never had a bona fide hit record. Music luminaries ranging from Kurt Cobain to Liam Gallagher have hailed the Scottish power-pop pioneers as one of the best bands in the world.


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Singer Rod Stewart enjoyed lasting success as a solo artist, and guitarist Ronnie Wood has been a Rolling Stone since the late 70s, but this has tended to overshadow their breakthrough band Faces. Formed from the ashes of 60s band The Small Faces, the London-based quintet played bluesy, good time rock’n’roll arguably better than anyone else, and recorded four classic albums that demonstrate this.


Ignored in their own time, Detroit trio Death were re-discovered in the 2000s and hailed as the first true punk band. Siblings David, Bobby, and Dannis Hackney subverted the early 70s norm (particularly for an African-American band) by playing hard, fast, loud rock with angry, political lyrics. This is displayed to great effect on Death’s one completed album, 1975’s …For the Whole World to See.

Social Distortion

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While not unpopular by any means, they’re wildly underrated and underappreciated. Just from the bands they’ve inspired alone (Green Day, Pearl Jam, Rise Against), Social Distortion is a major influence in the world of punk rock music. However, their lack of major hits may have contributed to their legacy being overshadowed by the bands that followed in their footsteps.


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In the world of rock music, just as in any other genre, trends come and go. Sadly for Cinderella, it was this fluctuation of what was popular that led to their status as an underrated band. With incredible vocals and commitment to hard rock, Cinderella could have gone on to major success but their emergence in the mid 80’s meant they were quickly forgotten during the emergence of grunge.

Blue Öyster Cult

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Calling Blue Öyster Cult an underrated band could be a very controversial take. However, despite the name recognition, the band sadly did not ever reach the heights of success they deserved. Their lyrics were goth but the sound wasn’t, they were too heavy for classic rock fans, but not heavy enough for metal bands, and so they never took hold like they should have.

Cheap Trick

Unfortunately, many of the Cheap Trick songs you’ll have heard are likely to be covers. With name drops in films like John Tucker Must Die, they’re a deeply influential band but there’s a better chance you’ve heard Letter to Cleo’s cover of I Want You To Want Me at the end of 10 Things I Hate About You than the original. It’s a great shame.


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Heart is a seminal hard rock band with classics like Barracuda solidifying them in rock history. However, while you may know one or two singles, it’s likely you haven’t listened to the full albums. Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson were groundbreaking, leading Heart in a male-dominated industry, but their overall musical brilliance has been overlooked.

The Cars

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When it comes to New Wave bands, the genre is dominated by English rockers like Duran Duran and The Human League. However, The Cars were crafting incredible proto-punk and power pop at the same time, though to lesser acclaim. Even today, the only single you’re likely to recognize may be better known due to The Strokes covering it.


For a short period of time in the early 70s, American rock band Raspberries were set to take the music world by storm with their incredible vocal harmonies and experimental melodies. However, their venture into other genres with their later albums lost them any fans they already had and they disbanded in 1974 before a short reunion in 2004.

The Yardbirds

The original active years of The Yardbirds were only short, forming in 1963 and disbanding in 1968, but their influence is almost unbeatable. Not only did their innovative approach to music blending genres like punk and psychedelic rock help form the sound of the 60s, but they started the careers of legendary musicians like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.

Savoy Brown

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The work ethic of the English rock band Savoy Brown is completely unbeatable. The blues-rock band was formed in 1965 and toured consistently until the death of original member Kim Simmonds in 2022. With their fortieth album being released in 2019, Savoy Brown is entirely underappreciated, especially with the commitment they’ve shown.

Uriah Heap

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Some bands are part of a movement that goes on to form incredible musical eras or genres. Sadly though, that doesn’t mean that they’re thanked or appreciated for their influence. Uriah Heap is one of these bands. Their strong vocals, multi-part harmonies, and experimental work helped form what heavy metal would be known as, but they’ve been forgotten while Black Sabbath and Deep Purple have seen great acclaim.

Thin Lizzy

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While you cannot dispute that Thin Lizzy is iconic across the UK and Europe, sadly they never reached the heights of success that they deserved in the US. Other than The Boys Are Back In Town, the Irish hard rock band hasn’t had much airplay in the States. For a band who were the first to employ dual lead guitars, they should have had much more success.


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When you think of glam rock, you probably conjure up images of gender-bending elaborate costuming like Freddie Mercury and Alice Cooper. But Marc Bolan of English rock band T.Rex actually laid the groundwork for this style of frontman. The band never gets the credit they deserve for their major influence, given how short-lived their active years were.

The 13th Floor Elevators

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The 13th Floor Elevators were an American rock band that broke new ground when it came to psychedelic rock. In fact, they were the first band to utilize that label to describe their music, with electric jug player Tommy Hall coining the term. Sadly, they broke up after two great albums and have since been largely forgotten.

The Shaggs

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You’d be forgiven for never hearing of The Shaggs but that doesn’t mean they weren’t a great rock band. In fact, this American rock band made up of four sisters had many famous fans including Frank Zappa and Kurt Cobain. Unfortunately, it seems like they were forced into making music by their father, so perhaps their disbandment in 1975 was a good thing.

The Residents

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If you like your musical artists a little more experimental and on the avant-garde side of things, then you have to listen to The Residents. They’re an art collective as well as a band that was formed in 1969 and created films, new technology, and CD-Rom projects alongside 60 albums! In their early days, there were even rumors that the band was made up of Beatles members.

Humble Pie

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Many fans feel like Humble Pie ended up being underappreciated both in their time and in later decades due to the fact that their studio albums didn’t reflect their incredible live quality. Despite having Peter Frampton (an incredible solo artist and friend of both Ringo Starr and David Bowie), Humble Pie had little chart success.


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Many people would claim that Triumph is the most underrated classic rock band of all time. The Canadian hard rock band formed in 1975 and did actually receive 18 gold and 9 platinum albums in Canada and the US, but sadly when it comes to the bands that define the hard rock genre, Triumph’s name are left out of the conversation.


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Over a decade before Blur rose to prominence, the English rock band Squeeze was delivering the sound of British youth. While Oasis, The Boo Radleys, and Blur have been credited for being the first to produce distinctly British lyrics, Squeeze was releasing songs like Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) in 1980.


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Dollskin was an American rock band from Arizona who were revolutionizing the game. With comparisons to bands like The Runaways, Bikini Kill, and Destroy Boys, Dollskin tackled serious topics with incredible riotous energy and a blend of punk, metal, pop, and rock. Despite performing internationally, Dollskin never reached the heights they deserved.

Bob Vylan

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Currently active, and producing award-winning albums, Bob Vylan is an underrated duo that you need to listen to ASAP. The punk rock band takes elements of grime and hip-hop to create a blend that is entirely unique with hard-hitting lyrics and mind-blowing performances. While currently overlooked, that could all change soon for the band.

Wishbone Ash

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Wishbone Ash has been creating music and performing since 1969 but sadly, remains one of the most underrated bands of all time. Despite being entirely revolutionary, with their two guitarists voted among the ten most important guitarists in rock history by Traffic magazine, many rock fans haven’t even heard of the band.

Hot Milk

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Coming from Manchester, UK, Hot Milk is a pop rock band who are continuing to make a name for themselves. Compared to many bands in the genre through, the duo hasn’t had nearly enough of the recognition they deserve. The band addresses social and political themes through their lyrics with pop-infused melodies that make them stand out.

Diet Cig

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Indie rockers Diet Cig have been outspoken critics of misogyny in the rock genre, possibly contributing to the way in which they’ve struggled to reach the heights they deserve. Their first album was injected with youthful hopefulness, like nothing the scene had experienced before as it dabbles into power punk.

High Vis

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The hardcore punk scene has been flourishing in recent years, with incredible acts breaking through to the mainstream like Turnstile. High Vis is a British band that rose to prominence alongside Chubby and the Gang and Higher Power. Unfortunately, the band remains largely unknown by wider music fans, despite their aggressive approach that defies genres.

Mazzy Star

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Luckily, thanks to TikTok and the popularity of their song Fade Into You, Mazzy Star are being rediscovered and appreciated by younger music fans, but they still remain one of the most underrated rock bands of all time. The American alternative rock band was formed in 1988 and, even in their heyday, they were best known for their now-viral hit.


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An inspiration for major punk bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat, Wire was a criminally underrated English rock band. Their work has been considered to be one of the first in the genres of art punk and post-punk, utilizing obscure and complex lyrics as well as avant-garde sensibilities. However, they had less than admirable record sales.

The Urge

Bands like Korn, Reel Big Fish, and Goldfinger have gone down in music notoriety, while many bands who toured with these acts have been forgotten over the years. One of the bands that didn’t deserve this fate however was The Urge. Blending punk, ska, reggae, and other musical genres The Urge was creating music that at the time was completely novel.

Drive Like Jehu

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Inspiring multiple legendary bands from Modest Mouse to Jimmy Eat World, Drive Like Jehu was a powerhouse of the post-hardcore genre. Active only from 1990 to 1995, the band made big waves in their short lifespan. Without their passionate singing and vulnerable lyrics, emo as a genre probably wouldn’t exist today.

Drop Nineteens

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Shoegaze as a genre is somewhat niche. The subset of alternative rock brought us incredible popular acts like My Bloody Valentine and Ride, but also produced thousands of underrated bands like Drop Nineteens. While their first album is seen as a cult classic, they definitely deserve a revisit from rock fans.


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One of the first speed metal bands, Exciter is an incredibly influential act and an important part of rock music history. Named after a Judas Priest song, the band released several great albums in the 80s. While they’ve never reached the fandom of Metallica, Slayer, or Megadeath, they have continued to have a small cult following.

The National

To those who don’t get it, The National are dreary and melancholic, but to those who do get it, they’re the most important band in the world. They are not easy to get into, and it will require a lot of patience, but once their music clicks into place inside your brain, it will feel like the warmest of hugs from the dearest of friends. If you decide to give them a go, start with Boxer or High Violet, and navigate your way around from there.


Nope, not that one. Way before grunge ever reared its greasy head, there was a band roaming the streets of London under the name Nirvana. Consisting of Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Alex Spyropolous, the original Nirvana’s ahead-of-its-time brand of pop music was harshly overlooked. If you have a spare five minutes and fancy treating yourself, check out Tiny Goddess (the 1967 version). You deserve it.

Beach House

Now, nobody likes anyone who sub-categorizes music genres, but Beach House are the very epitome of dream pop. They have consistently produced records that you can recline into, with tracks like Zebra, Space Song, and Irene being standouts from their catalog. Drop yourself into a Beach House coma for a couple of hours and you’ll come out feeling revitalized.

Buffalo Springfield

Stop, hey, what’s that sound? It’s Buffalo Springfield, with their 1966 anti-Vietnam war classic, For What It’s Worth. While they may be a bit of a one-hit-wonder, it doesn’t mean the rest of their catalog isn’t worth listening to. With Neil Young and Stephen Stills in a band, there’s always going to be a few gems to be found.

Cherry Ghost

Thirst for Romance is a wonderful record and Cherry Ghost are a severely underrated band. People Help the People will always be their standout song, but there are also tunes like 4 AM and Thirst for Romance which deserve the attention. Simon Aldred’s lyricism is nothing short of poetic, so do yourself a favor and give them a go.

Cigarettes After Sex

There’s a semi-strong argument that all Cigarettes After Sex songs sound the same, but we don’t need to delve too deep into that. Greg Gonzalez’s surprisingly high voice melts smoothly over the band’s reverb-heavy guitar sound, making for angelic listening. Perfect for having on in the background for activities like, but not exclusive to, knitting, cake decorating, present wrapping, and ironing.

Confidence Man

If you’re needing a boost of energy in your day, stick on some Confidence Man and vibe away ’til your heart’s content. Upbeat, electronic sounds will radiate through your speakers like sunshine piercing through a cloud, leaving you feeling like a confident, carpé-diem-style individual. Oh, and they’re even better live, so keep on the lookout for tickets.

First Aid Kit

Patch up your blues with First Aid Kit. The Swedish sister duo have a knack for producing sunny-side-up, self-loving music that you’ll be able to connect with instantly. You’ll likely have heard of Silver Lining before, as it has featured in many a TV advert, so the key is already in the door, so to speak. Also, check out the horns at the end of Angel, they’re beautiful.


Gabriels are still very much on an upwards trajectory, and the gradient in which they’re traveling has only gotten steeper after their frontman Jacob Lusk appeared on stage with Elton John during his triumphant Glastonbury headline set. Lusk’s voice is rooted in Gospel music and can effortlessly climb up and down the register like a lizard on a window pane.

The Hollies

Think of 60s music from the North West of England and your mind will naturally wander towards The Beatles. However, The Hollies were also doing some stunning work during the same era, with penetrating three-part harmonies and beautifully innocent writing informing much of their earlier work. They were also prone to bouts of genius, producing songs such as He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother and a perfect cover of Albert Hammond’s The Air that I Breathe.

The Housemartins

Fun, fun, fun. That’s one way to describe The Housemartins. With a variety of song styles, from the a cappella version of Caravan of Love to the guitar-driven Happy Hour, The Housemartins could do it all. Paul Heaton’s lyrics are wonderfully witty, and did you know, that they had Fatboy Slim playing bass? You probably did, but it’s still a fun little bit of music trivia.


Iceland has produced some incredible talent over the years, spawning Björk, Of Monsters and Men, and Sigur Rós. They’ve also produced KALEO, whose sound is far more reminiscent of the prairies of Southern USA rather than the volcanoes of Reykjavik. Singer Jökull Júliússon is also one of the most underrated vocalists around, with a natural power in his voice, as well as a dreamy falsetto, as heard in All The Pretty Girls.

Of Monsters and Men

While we’re in Iceland it would be rude to not mention Of Monsters and Men in a bit more detail. They made waves in 2011 when they released the hit single Little Talks, but that’s only a cog in a very well-oiled machine of a debut record. With excellent musicianship and some very well-written songs, Of Monsters and Men should be given more credit.


Khruangbin look like rockstars, play like rockstars, and have pretty much invented their own easily distinguishable sound. Their lack of a lead vocalist probably means they won’t take over the commercial world, but they are true masters of their craft. Consistent improvement with each album and the way they perfectly complement a cold drink has made them a must-book for festival organizers all over the world.

The Kooks

During the indie boom of the mid-2000s, The Kooks were one of the favorites of mainstream radio DJs, with singles such as Naive and She Moves in Her Own Way providing perfect radio fodder. Their appeal may have waned in the years following, but they did come out with Listen, an enjoyable record that is well worth a… listen?


Our travels have taken us to Paris, France, the birthplace of L’Impératrice, a band that prove that anything can be classed as rock music if you want it to be. With Jangly guitars, sexy horns, and tight vocals, L’Impératrice will get you up on your feet and into a groove. Just don’t listen to them while driving or operating heavy machinery.

Nouvelle Vague

From Paris to Calais now, as next on the list are Nouvelle Vague. Translating as New Wave, Nouvelle Vague are a cover band, who have tackled songs by The Cure, The Clash, Blondie, Joy Division, and pretty much any rock/pop band active in the 1970s and 80s. Stripping the songs back to their core, Nouvelle Vague are great musicians, but most of all, they help you realize just how good some classic songs really are.

Yard Act

Cross the Channel from Calais, head to the magnificent, picturesque West Yorkshire, and you’ll find Yard Act, a band yet to experience the commercial success that they deserve. With deadpan vocals reciting lyrics overflowing with wit and humor that you’ll wish you’d written yourself, Yard Act don’t take themselves too seriously. Fixer Upper is a highlight for sure, but each song is packed with narratives to live, laugh, and love in.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs were one of the many bands to come out of New York City in the early 2000s, but one of few to achieve real longevity and lasting appeal. 2022’s Cool it Down, and more specifically, Spitting Off the Edge of The World is the perfect example that they still possess the magic they showcased on their earlier records. Other songs to look out for are Hysteric, Wedding Song, and Zero.

LCD Soundsystem

Another of the bands to blossom in the fertile grounds of early-millennium New York were LCD Soundsystem. Perhaps not as straightforward as many of their contemporaries, LCD Soundsystem have never been afraid to work with electronic sounds throughout their career, crafting excellent pieces such as All My Friends, and Daft Punk Is Playing at My House.

The Kinks

Ray Davies’ songwriting should without a doubt be mentioned in a similar manner to Lennon/McCartney. There. It has been said. With songs like Waterloo Sunset, Lola, Sunny Afternoon, All Day And All of the Night to name but a handful, The quintessentially British Kinks would have taken over the world had they not been banished from the USA for bad behavior.


There were once rumors circulating in the press that the cosmic, ‘out-there’ new band Klaatu were actually The Beatles writing and performing under a new name to avoid the steely gaze of the public eye. In fact, Klaatu were just a group of talented musicians who preferred not to do interviews as they wanted to be judged solely on their music. Klaatu never achieved widespread mainstream success, but they did leave us with Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival hold the unfortunate record of being the band with the most number-two singles without ever reaching the number-one spot. Despite being together a mere five years, CCR have produced some beloved songs, including Proud Mary, perhaps made even more famous by Tina Turner’s cover version being used in the animated movie, Flushed Away.


Juniore are the result of what the Yé-Yé movement of the 1960s would have sounded like had the singers discovered leather jackets. Effortlessly cool and relatively unknown to anyone outside of their native France, Juniore have been releasing mood-setting records since 2016. Standout tracks include A la Plage and Panique.

Tom Tom Club

Formed by husband and wife duo Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club’s output was minimal, but they did spawn Genius of Love, a song that has gone on to become one of the most sampled pieces in the world of hip-hop and rap music. Frantic and playful, Tom Tom Club were never in the shadow of Talking Heads, as they found a sound that simply didn’t occupy the same area.

The War on Drugs

While The War on Drugs have found much more success than the political movement they were named after, they have never really made it out of the indie rock circles in which they have always existed. This is to no detriment to their music, as they have refused to commercialize their ambient sound in favor of something punchier and more radio-friendly.

The Velvet Underground

Despite The Velvet Underground & Nico having one of the most famous pieces of album artwork of all time, there aren’t too many Velvet Underground songs that will be recognizable to those yet to be turned onto their sound. However, the band’s influence on artists that came after them is huge, as they were never afraid to push their sound in new directions.


With a sound straight out of the 60s and a relentless energy running through almost every one of their songs, Habibi deserve more attention than they get. Formed in Brooklyn, New York in 2011, Habibi have released two albums, 2014’s Habibi, and 2020’s Anywhere But Here.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

As Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have released 17 albums since their inception in 1983, changing their sound and subject matters all the time, so it’s pretty tough to know where to start when delving into their discography. ‘Essentials’ playlists on streaming sites are everyone’s best friend here. One thing you’re guaranteed when listening to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds is interesting writing, and emotion-heavy backing tracks.


When Pixies first ventured into the limelight, they were received with a mediocre reception at best. It is only after years have passed that they have begun to get the recognition they always deserved, with people seeing that there is more to them than Where is My Mind.