Alternative rock, often shortened to "alt-rock" or just "alternative," is a genre of music whose roots can be traced to the late 1970s and early 1980s in the USA and UK and was born out of the punk rock scene. It remained fairly obscure through the 1980s, with pioneer artists independently recording and publishing their music, partially because they were new bands, and partially because their music was too different from the mainstream to be commercially viable to larger publishers. However, as the genre became more popular in the late 1980s, more and more alternative rock bands were signed to major publishing labels.
As the name suggests, alternative rock ultimately has its roots in the rock music, but it carries with it very little of the rhythm and blues and rock and roll that spawned rock. Instead, it mostly came from the puck rock aspects of later rock, especially that from the 1970s-1980s. There really isn't a unique musical structure that distinguishes alternative rock from other subsets of rock music, so the genre is defined more by the choice of instruments, lyrical themes, and style of the band. Alt-rock music primarily focuses on the electric guitar, usually with distortion, and almost always includes drums and bass guitar. However, like with progressive rock before it, alternative rock frequently incorporates additional instruments or styles of music outside the traditional genre. As an umbrella term, alternative rock encompasses similar genres like grunge and post punk, as well as pretty much every non-traditional sub-genre of rock during the 1990s (college rock, funk rock, garage rock, etc.). Since the free-love days of the 70s gave way to greed and hard drug use in the 80s, the lyrics of alt-rock tend to focus on more somber themes like depression, death, and drug use. The music rarely promotes these themes, but rather reflects their prominence in the society of the time. Alt-rock bands usually have a more subdued appearance, relying less on flashy costumes and stage rigs, preferring the casual clothes and decor seen in the garages which bore the music.
The late 1990s saw the rise of post grunge as a sub-genre and, by the 2000s, alternative rock was in steady decline. There were still a lot of active bands, and even the occasional new bands forming, but they were decreasing in popularity and the youth was turning to new styles. By the end of the 2000s, alternative rock had essentially merged into indie rock.
Throughout most of the 1990s, when alternative rock was at its most popular, I was still focused almost exclusively on the band Queen, and I disliked most of the popular alt-rock bands. The grating voice of Alanis Morissette and slurred vocals of Nirvana, not to mention the depressing lyrics of so many alt-rock songs, annoyed me to no end, and I actively avoided listening to alt-rock radio stations. I described genre, not as an alternative to rock, but as an alternative to music! However, since it was so popular, I still heard a lot of alt-rock music from my friends, in films, and during social events. I did like some songs by Weezer, and I would occasionally hear an alt-rock song that I didn't hate. By the end of the 1990s, I started getting into the Goo Goo Dolls, and, by the early 2000s, I was beginning to expand my musical tastes and started re-listening to a lot of the songs that I never gave a fair shake to in my teens, many of which made me feel nostalgic about my middle school and high school days. By the end of the 2000s, I had developed a much wider appreciation for alt-rock, and it has since become one of my favorite musical genres.
These are alternative rock bands and artists that are important to me.