For a generation of American indie rockers who came of age in the 1990s, electronic music was an entry point into non-traditional sounds. Reared on a diet of guitar music, bands like Deerhunter and Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks have been unapologetically experimental, injecting their songs with synthesizers, drum machines and other “artificial” instruments.
The following dozen acts mined the same vein of electronic rock, but they were rarely as bold or adventurous as their successors. Most of these groups toed the line between dance music and guitars, straddling the divide in order to gain a wider audience. In some cases, it worked; many of them went on to record for major labels and tour the world.
Yet most of these artists never quite made it big, which is why they remain relatively obscure today. Still, they were pioneers in their own right: they were among the first rock bands to embrace electronic sounds on a large scale, and in many ways laid the groundwork for the countless bands that followed in their footsteps.
It was the decade of grunge, Britpop and punk revival, but America’s indie rockers found their own voice in the 1990s, thanks to the rise of electronic rock bands. The best electronic rock bands of the ’90s were an eclectic mix of American alternative music that still sounds fresh today.
Electronic rock bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead combined the DIY aesthetic of indie with synthesizers and drum machines. The result was a new sound that merged alternative rock, dance and electronica.
The electronic indie rock movement produced many great records, as well as memorable live performances from electronic rock bands. The best electronic music from 1990 to 1999 features a wide range of alternative sounds that have since become iconic.
The early 90s were a strange time for rock music. The genre had been a popular cultural force since the birth of rock and roll in the 50s and 60s, but by the 80s much of the vitality of the genre was sucked out. Punk rock was now a distant memory, glam metal was on its way out, and indie rock was just becoming a thing.
In this strange musical landscape, electronic rock emerged as the weird cousin to the popular grunge movement. While Nirvana and Pearl Jam dominated alternative radio, electronic rock bands pushed themselves into new sonic territories. They pulled in elements of pop, hip hop, noise and industrial to create something unique: an American electronic rock movement that has never truly been duplicated.
While electronic rock is still alive today, there is no doubt that its heyday was in the 90s. It’s hard to believe that it has been decades since these bands have been making music together. So let’s look back at some of the best electronic rock bands from those years and see what they are up to now.
With the help of the internet, alternative rock was now something that could be experienced in a variety of different ways. Whether it was on the radio, TV, or in magazines, or simply by word of mouth from friends and family, people were now able to discover their favorite bands in an instant.
In a time where electronic music was still relatively new and uncharted territory for mainstream music listeners, there were many bands that were influenced by its emerging sounds.
The following list highlights 12 of the best electronic rock bands from the 90s.
1) The Flaming Lips: The band formed in Oklahoma City with Wayne Coyne as lead singer and guitarist. Their unique sound is a combination of psychedelic rock and experimental pop music. They released their first album Hear It Is in 1986.
2) Beck: This alternative rock group was formed by Jeff Beck in Los Angeles during 1985. They released their debut album Golden Feelings in 1993 which featured elements of folk music mixed with noise pop and electronica.
3) Radiohead: An English rock band formed by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood in 1985.”
In the mid-90s, before the Internet and social media have been ubiquitous in our lives, American indie rock was flourishing. The scene was full of creativity, new sounds and musical projects that had a lot to say about the world we lived in.
Many of those bands brought their own contribution to the evolution of electronic music. They laid down the foundations for many genres of electronic music that we enjoy today. From trip-hop to synthpop, from shoegaze to synthwave, from chill wave to vaporwave.
Some have faded away with time or disbanded while others are still active today and produce great music. But they all left an indelible mark on the history of modern music.
With the advent of MIDI in the early 80s, electronic rock music has become an important genre. This list is not comprehensive, and only represents bands that are generally considered to be part of the American “electronic rock” movement.
4. Nine Inch Nails
6. The Flaming Lips
7. My Bloody Valentine
8. Smashing Pumpkins
10. New Order
11. Green Day