11. Ash Bowie and Dave Brylawski—Polvo
A lot of bands in the ‘90s sounded like Sonic Youth, but Chapel Hill, N.C.’s Polvo was one of the few to meet that criticism with a joke. In their 1994 song “Every Holy Shroud,” they sang, “Well I know what it sounds like. I hope they care. And now we just brought a sitar so be prepared.” Two lines batted away any comparisons and articulated what made them so unique; experimentation with Eastern scales, textures and instruments that would have sounded contrived coming from lesser bands. Over five albums (three on Merge and two on Touch & Go), Polvo’s two frontmen and guitarists Ash Bowie and Dave Brylawski built most of their songs around shimmering chords and stream-of-consciousness riffs; whistling Polvo on the bus would make someone look pretty strange. They sound as if someone stared into space and imagined the strangest guitar-based song possible and then the band tackled – and generally nailed – the unenviable task of performing it.