1. Sonic Youth
Years active: 1981 - 2011 (indefinite hiatus) Influence: Alternative rock sound in mainstream music culture, avant-garde use of instruments Hometown: New York, New York. Jam: "Candle." It might be named after a calming object but this song flickers flames of punk that won't be blown out.
Many would argue that the bandmates-turned-lovers story of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore was the first case of indie rock royalty love—their already impressive musicianship and creativity somehow buoyed by their IRL romance. In essence, Sonic Youth was the New York indie act that "made it" by breaking out of the initial forays of DIY noise rock and punk, and gaining mainstream attention. Despite their early affiliations with the "no wave" (anti-new wave) and noise rock movements in New York, the group are best known for going beyond the traditional sounds of the time and establishing new directions. For instance, their use of alternative guitar tunings and using tools like screwdrivers or drum sticks to change the sound of their guitars was unheard of at the time. Continuing to release critically acclaimed albums all the way through the late 2009, the musical community was shocked and saddened when Gordon and Moore announced their divorce—and hiatus for the band—in 2011. Alas, is the break up of indie rock's first royal couple a sign that "indie rock" as a genre is finally over?