12. Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo—Sonic Youth
For good or ill, they devised a great deal of how indie rock guitar playing sounds and is executed. If you were an indie rock band in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, you had to make a conscious effort not to sound like Sonic Youth. They were pioneers in so many signifiers of indie guitar; alternate tunings, heavily altered guitars, intentional dissonance, ending songs with a noise jam, etc. In fact, the NYC-based band is so known for Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo’s methods that it’s difficult to get past all this and just listen to the music, which was frequently exceptional. Over its first half-dozen albums for a variety of indie labels, the band grew from a no-wave soundalike to a brilliant band capable of conveying dense fright on Bad Moon Rising and airy atmospherics on Evol—all with the same beat-up guitars, bass and drums. After its landmark Daydream Nation—which saw Moore and Renaldo attempting every kind of riff they could think of (see “Eliminator Jr.” for evidence of this taken to its furthest conclusion) – the band carried on with another nine albums for Geffen and a (hopefully) final album for Matador.