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5 Brilliant ‘Alternative Rock’ Bands And Their Songs For Your Playlist

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By Manavi Jain:

‘Alternative Rock’ is not a mere music genre; it is a culture that was a derivative of the grunge culture. It became popular in the early 1990’s with the likes of Nirvana and REM surfacing. Even though it is very hard to typecast a band as belonging to the absolute alt rock genre (the more common way of referring to alternative rock, yes!) and even harder to pick my favourites among such bands, I have come up with this list of the most-played songs on my playlist by my favourite five bands endorsing this genre. Feel free to add up to this list, so that we have a full-proof alt rock playlist. So here it goes:

1. Coldplay

Formed in 1996, this is my number one alt rock band for one simple reason: the perfect blend of the most soothing music and the most nuanced lyrics.

Albums So Far: Parachutes (2000), A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), X & Y (2005), Viva la Vida (2008), Mylo Xyloto (2011), Ghost Stories (2014).

Coldplay has the wow-factor and everything about the band stands out in such an effortless manner. I would say Parachutes and Mylo Xyloto struck a chord in my heard that still hums. I can loop these two albums on repeat. Forever. In fact, Mylo Xyloto also came up with an interesting comic book series explaining the concept behind the whole album. I would also suggest all to watch the video for The Scientist. As simple as it may look, the video is tailor-made for the mood and the lyrics of the song. There were speculations of Illuminati symbolism, especially in the lyrics and video of the song Viva la Vida.

Songs To Look Out For: Yellow, Fix You, Viva la Vida, Violet Hill, Gravity, Paradise, Lost! Magic, The Scientist, Charlie Brown (My personal favourite).

2. Nirvana

Formed in the late 1980’s, this band had to feature on the list as it pioneered the alt rock genre. And there is absolutely nothing about this band to not like. With Cobain’s stunning looks (I understand it is not-so-directly related to the topic of discussion, even then!) and the band’s infallible music, the band gave us enough to be remembered in a short span of time. Even though the band has only three studio albums in its bag, each of those albums were like fireworks on the music charts.

What I like the most about this band is the way in which the lyrics to almost all the songs have been penned. Every time I listen to a Nirvana song, I come up with a new interpretation to it. You can never tell what the songs are all about, and yet you feel like you understand every word of each of the songs. Ironically, Cobain considered the lyrics to be the least important aspect of his songs. Oh boy! Also, I personally find the video to the song Come As You Are quite intriguing.

Albums So Far: Bleach (1989), Nevermind (1991), In Utero (1993)

Songs To Look Out For: Come As You Are (wow!), Heart-shaped Box (The lyrics is mind blowing), Rape Me (Um, so what is it about? Comments invited!), Smells Like Teen Spirit, Man Who Sold His World, Paper Cut.

3. Greenday

They started off in 1987 as a punk rock band, but their more recent albums very well fall under the alt rock genre. Why do I include Greenday in this list? Because if at all I were a revolutionary voicing change through music, I would be Greenday. Their music is excellent, and their lyrics are neat. I particularly like their albums American Idiot (2004) and The 21st Century Breakdown (2009). The song American Idiot still happens to me by personal favourite. And we all remember that phase in school where everybody went gaga over their hit single Boulevard of Broken Dreams (I still remember the lyrics by heart!). While we are on that subject, I would suggest you all to listen to this mash up of Boulevard by Greenday and Wonderwall by Oasis.

Albums So Far: 39/Smooth (1990), Kerplunk (1992), Dookie (1994), Insomniac (1995), Nimrod (1997), Warning (2000), American Idiot (2004), 21st Century Breakdown (2009). [three parts to the same followed in 2012]

Songs To Look Out For: American Idiot, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Wake Me Up When September Ends (beautiful!), Working Class Hero, Holiday (wow!), Jesus of Suburbia, Oh Love, 21 Guns.

4. Poets of the Fall

Formed in 2003, they are newbies in the world of alternate rock. I personally love this band for their lyrics a tad bit more than their music, which sometimes gets a little repetitive. Nevertheless, their songs make a chill run down my spine; they have that otherworldly vibe to their songs. I think their video to Carnival of Rust still features on my list of favourites. I certainly hope this one goes a long, long way.

Albums So Far: Sign Of Life (2005), Carnival of Rust (2006), Revolution Roulette (2008), Twilight Theatre (2010), Temple of Thought (2012).

Songs to Look Out For: Carnival of Rust, Cradled in Love, Lift, Illusion and Dream, Late Goodbye (wow!), Kamikaze Love, The Ultimate Fling, Diamonds for Tears.

5. Avial


There aren’t too many alt rock bands in India to offer a comparison to Avial; I agree. Despite that, I consider the music this band makes to be all that I could hope for. It is different, as their songs have a folk tinge to them. I am looking forward to more such bands to come up from India.

Albums So Far: Avial (2008)

Songs To Look Out For: Nada Nada, Chekele, Ettam Pattu.

Honourable Mentions: Mumford and Sons, an English band formed in 2003 offers an amalgamation of folk and rock music, and the vocals are pretty darn good. Songs to look out for: Dustbowl Dance (it will truly blow your mind), Sigh No More, The Cave, Babel, I Will Wait. Blackstratblues, an Indian solo project of Warren Mendonsa, is something you all should set your eyes onto. I recommend his album Nights in Shining Karma to everybody!

Well, that’s where my list ends. I am fighting with my inner self to go on and on, but then the whole point of this compilation would be lost. Of course, I have missed out many great bands, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys and Goo Goo Dolls to name a few. Don’t forget to add your favourites in the comment box!

You must be to comment.
  1. akanksha

    Finger eleven – thousand mile wish

  2. music pedant

    alternative rock is not derived from grunge culture, get your facts right alternative, post hardcore and all the other similar genres of rock music trace their roots to one and only one genre and that is punk when punk when punk went mainstream in late 80’s (unfortunate) it dispersed into several genres and alternative rock was a collective term to describe all these genres, but gradually each and every genre found its own individuality and distinctions and came to its contemporary form as we know them today, however music labels still refer to them as “alternative” .
    and it was so astounding you missed on the legends of the genre such as the cure, you need to listen to them right away

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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