Updated date:

100 Best Garage Rock Bands

I have been an online writer for over five years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

100-best-garage-rock-bands

Garage rock came into prominence in the ‘60s when young amateurs and professional musicians started rehearsing music in their family garage. As amateur bands could not afford to pay for expensive rehearsal venues, they carried out their music rehearsals and jam sessions at the family garage. Over the years the unsophisticated style of garage rock has gone onto to become a prominent part of mainstream rock music.

What is Garage Rock?

Garage rock can be described as a raw form of rock and roll with an energetic vibe. This style of music consists of basic chord structures often played on the electric guitar, along with other instruments such as bass, drums and keyboards. The distorted fuzzbox sound has become a signature identity of many bands associated with the genre. While garage rock is a cross-pollination of upbeat sounds from rock and roll, beat music, surf rock, it’s the simple three-chord rock structure of bar chords and power chords that makes this style of music unique. Vocals in this style of music are clean, nasal, growled, shrieked, or shouted.

100-best-garage-rock-bands

Garage Rock Bands of the ‘60s

While garage rock bands did not have significant mainstream success in the ‘60s, a number of bands associated with this style of music had a great deal of success at the regional level. Although garage bands gained immense popularity at the battle of the bands competitions organized in different regions of the US, they failed to impress record companies. Many major record labels favored upcoming bands with a traditional rock and blues sound. While garage rock like any other genre was male dominated, a noteworthy factor was the sudden rise of all female garage bands. These bands with their fiery brand of music rose to prominence in the ‘60s.

Despite having regional success and chart success, garage rock bands failed to find a foothold in mainstream. With the lack of interest shown by major record labels, a number of talented garage style bands started promoting their music at parties, teen clubs and school and college dances. Occasionally few garage rock bands got an opportunity to open at shows for popular touring bands. The British scene witnessed the emergence of Freakbeat, a more stylish and sophisticated equivalent of garage rock. Even though garage bands did not achieve mainstream popularity in the ‘60s, the works of many bands from the decade served as an influential movement for the later development of the genre.

100-best-garage-rock-bands

Garage Rock Bands of the ‘70s

As the garage band boom of the ‘60s faded, few bands carried on the garage music tradition with a heavier sound. The proto-punk movement that emerged strong in the ‘70s started being associated with garage rock. Politically-charged songs became a staple among these bands. Several bands popularized the over-amplified sound that gave proto-punk garage rock its distinctive identity. Certain record labels started promoting this new league of garage bands of the ‘70s in a big way.

Bands that released albums in this decade did not achieve huge album sales; however, a significant number of these bands had breakout hits. A number of Michigan-based bands that broke onto the scene with their heavily distorted power-chord sound in the ‘70s had a strong impact on the garage blueprint of the ‘80s. Certain bands infused the British blues sound and psychedelic rock sound in their style of garage music thereby paving the way for refurbished proto-garage bands.

100-best-garage-rock-bands

Garage Rock Bands of the ‘80s

Garage rock underwent a significant makeover in the ‘80s. A number of bands associated with the genre emerged from the realms of punk. The American garage rock tradition identified with primitive sounding rock music fusing styles with varied elements of punk. Certain garage bands started experimenting with textural synth-based sound which later became the signature identity of new wave bands. Many garage bands with punk-oriented song structure had a cult following in the underground punk movement.

The varied punk acts that emerged in the mid-80s had their stylistic origins rooted in garage rock. Certain acts in the realms of garage-punk developed a large following due to their stage antics and mayhem during live performances. Garage-punk bands with a nihilistic approach became hugely popular with non-mainstream audiences. These bands rejected moral principles and religious beliefs advocating principles pertaining to a meaningless life.

100-best-garage-rock-bands

Garage Rock Bands of the ‘90s

A number of hybrid garage movements emerged through alternative music in the ‘90s. The power pop sound heavily influenced by punk and garage rock became hugely popular in the decade. An aggressive form of garage rock came through the revivalist movement in the ‘90s. These bands had a hard-hitting sound that featured anthemic choruses in their songs. Themes pertaining to social issues, political issues, alienation, angst, betrayal, jealousy and hate were exceedingly popular with garage rock bands of the ‘90s.

As alternative rock diversified in the mid-90s, many garage acts started infusing protopunk elements with garage rock to form a highly sophisticated pop-punk sound. This hybridization of distorted rock with melodic punk and garage opened doors for a new form of garage punk. The crop of garage pop punk bands, indie-garage bands, and garage power pop bands grew considerably in the late ‘90s. A number of bands from these genres had mainstream success with their debut albums.

100-best-garage-rock-bands

Garage Rock Bands of the 2000s

The 2000s are notable for the revival of garage bands through the post-punk scene. The success story of garage bands reached a new level in this decade. Although bands in this decade infused garage elements of the ‘60s, they created a new hybrid in structural soundcapes incorporating lo-fi elements. The Detroit rock scene and the Michigan rock scene came alive with a flurry of new retro-inspired garage rock bands. In the mid 2000s hybrid garage rock movements emerged through Europe catapulting the success of the genre to new heights.

The second wave of garage bands that emerged in the decade had tremendous mainstream success with their albums. This new garage sound became popular with fans of pop punk, indie rock and alternative rock. Radio stations promoted the new garage revival in a big way thereby increasing popularity of the genre. Although major record labels began scouting for upcoming garage bands, majority of bands in the garage tradition released their albums with small garage punk labels and independent labels.

100-best-garage-rock-bands

Garage Rock Post 2010

Post 2010 a new wave of garage bands with a softer sound has emerged. Unlike their predecessors known for their heavily distorted fuzzbox sound, the new bands employ crisp production techniques rooted in a raw style of rock and roll tradition. This diversified sound in the realms of garage rock has paved the way for a cross-pollination of bands that are categorized in varied rock subgenres.

Certain bands have had significant crossover success with their hybrid polarization of sound while staying rooted in the classic garage rock tradition. While the new wave of garage bands have been severely criticized for selling out to a generic mainstream audience, the fact remains that these bands have paved a new roadmap for garage in the future.

The lines below showcase a diverse list of garage rock bands from different decades. If you are a true fan of this genre you will have a lot to say. Feel free with your views and opinions in the comments section.

100-best-garage-rock-bands

Top 10 Best Garage Rock Bands

  1. The White Stripes
  2. The Sonics
  3. The 13th Floor Elevators
  4. The Stooges
  5. Count Five
  6. Arctic Monkeys
  7. The Black Keys
  8. The Strokes
  9. The Hives
  10. The Troggs

#11—20

11. Kings of Leon

12. The Standells

13. Oh Sees

14. The Kingsmen

15. The Seeds

16. The Vines

17. Yeah Yeah Yeahs

18. MC5

19. Cage the Elephant

20. ? and the Mysterians

#21—40

21. The Killers

22. The Guess Who

23. The Electric Prunes

24. The Cramps

25. Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

26. The Fuzztones

27. The Music Machine

28. Blues Magoos

29. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

30. The Shadows of Knight

31. The Raconteurs

32. The Chocolate Watchband

33. The Remains

34. Franz Ferdinand

35. The Kills

36. Bloc Party

37. The Outsiders

38. The Trashmen

39. Jet

40. Paul Revere & the Raiders

#41—60

41. The Libertines

42. The Gories

43. The Rockin’ Ramrods

44. Oblivians

45. The Pleasure Seekers

46. The Monks

47. The D4

48. Them

49. The Chesterfield Kings

50. The Pretty Things

51. Electric 6

52. Daughters of Eve

53. The Castaways

54. Syndicate of Sound

55. The Mummies

56. Richard and the Young Lions

57. The Ace of Cups

58. The Leaves

59. Goldie and the Gingerbreads

60. Thee Headcoats

#61—80

61. The Dead Weather

62. Interpol

63. The Squires

64. Luv’d Ones

65. The Atlantics

66. The Gentlemen

67. The Barbarians

68. The Nashville Teens

69. Five Americans

70. The Unrelated Segments

71. The Easybeats

72. New York Dolls

73. Editors

74. Royal Blood

75. The Dirtbombs

76. The Creation

77. The Datsuns

78. The Golden Earrings

79. The Pandoras

80. Electric Eels

#81—100

81. The (International) Noise Conspiracy

82. The Northwest Company

83. Q65

84. Zakary Thaks

85. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

86. Death

87. The Savages

88. Guitar Wolf

89. Queens of the Stone Age

90. Evil

91. The Whigs

92. The Monks

93. Japandroids

94. Los Saicos

95. The Von Bondies

96. The Saints

97. Black Lips

98. Death From Above

99. The Punks

100. The Outcasts

Other Notable Garage Rock Bands

  • The Fifth Estate
  • Strawberry Alarm Clock
  • The Vagrants
  • She
  • The Continental Co-ets
  • Love
  • Amyl and the Sniffers
  • The Little Boy Blues
  • The Grodes
  • The Banshees
  • Parquet Courts
  • The Haunted
  • Cannibal & the Headhunters
  • Thee Midniters
  • The Rattles
  • Moving Sidewalks
  • The Move
  • The Mynah Birds
  • Los Mockers
  • We the People
  • The Gruesomes
  • The Creatures
  • Bass Drum of Death
  • Sahara Hotnights
  • Royal Headache
  • The Ugly Ducklings
  • Cherry Glazerr
  • The Hellacacopters
  • Laughing Hyenas
  • The Modern Lovers
  • Three Mighty Caesars
  • Los Yorks
  • The Droogs
  • King Khan and the Shrines
  • The Masters Apprentices
  • The Reatards
  • Downliners Sect
  • The Sorrows
  • Girl Trouble
  • The Fratellis
  • Thee Headcoatees
  • The Growlers
  • Caesars
  • The Moods
  • Beware of Darkness
  • The Black Angels
  • Royal Republic
  • The Launderettes
  • Girls
  • The Vaccines
  • Capsula
  • The Detroit Cobras
  • Cheap Time
  • The Horrors
  • White Reaper
  • The Liverbirds
  • Deap Valley
  • The Missing Links
  • The Equals
  • Sic Alps
  • Fidlar
  • The Clarks
  • The Pleazers
  • Deja Voodoo
  • The Greenhornes
  • Digital Leather
  • The Coathangers
  • Sheermag
  • The Jim Jones Revue
  • Little Barrie
  • The King Khan & BBQ Show
  • Lyres
  • The Tigers
  • Mika Miko
  • Thee Hypnotics
  • Pond
  • The Fugs
  • The Willowz
  • Dead Moon
  • The Intelligence
  • Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
  • The 5.6.7.8’s
  • Mozes and the Firstborn
  • Carbon/Silicon
  • The Premiers
  • The Go
  • Jacuzzi Boys
  • The Cynics
  • Mondo Topless
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra
  • Kaleo
  • The Regrettes
  • Gas Huffer
  • Clinic
  • Lost Sounds
  • The Dictators
  • Mando Diao
  • BabyshamblesClinic
  • Eagles of Death Metal
  • Los Dug Dug’s
  • The Black Diamonds
  • Foxbro Hot Tubs
  • The Wytches
  • Mono Men
  • Locksley
  • The Last Drive
  • Shannon and the Clams
  • The Loved Ones
  • Harlem
  • The Real Kids
  • Grinderman
  • The Soft Pack
  • The Frights
  • Drenge
  • Wand
  • The Black Box Revelation
  • New Colony Six
  • Dwarves
  • The Monolators
  • The La De Da’s
  • Mean Jeans
  • The Basement Wall
  • Tokyo Police Club
  • The Stairs
  • Los Shakers
  • The Paragons
  • Tricky Woo
  • Thee Michelle Gun Elephant
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Operation M.D.
  • The Golden Cups
  • Wavves
  • The Young Werewolves
  • The Mooney Suzuki
  • Soledad Brothers
  • The Bluestars
  • Smith Westerns
  • The Priscillas
  • Mudhoney
  • Best Coast
  • 1313 Mockingbird Lane
  • The Subways
  • The Paupers
  • Coachwhips
  • The U-Men
  • The Crusaders
  • The Action
  • Total Control
  • The Aardvarks
  • The Spiders
  • The Dearly Beloved
  • The Stems
  • The Fleshtones
  • Almighty Defenders
  • The Milkshakes
  • The Smoke
  • Meatbodies
  • Los Bravos
  • Thee Shams
  • Be Your Own Pet
  • Together Pangea
  • Plan 9
  • The Spits
  • Useless Eaters
  • The Deep
  • Band of Skulls
  • The Pink Finks
  • Dirty Pretty Things
  • The Original Sins
  • Rocket from the Crypt
  • Fortune and Maltese
  • The Del-Vetts
  • The Prisoners
  • Night Beats
  • The Muffs
  • Wimple Winch
  • The Morlocks
  • Peach Kelli Pop
  • The Bellrays
  • The Strange Boys
  • Allah-Las
  • The Throb
  • The Nomads
  • Chants R&B
  • Bleached
  • Los Speakers
  • Deerhunter
  • The Litter
  • Electric Frankenstein
  • The Orwells
  • Reigning Sound
  • The Purple Hearts
  • Catfish and the Bottlemen
  • The A-Bones
  • The Three 4 Tens
  • The Ravellions
  • Silent Border
  • The Pack A.D.
  • Blood Red Shoes
  • The Murder City Devils

© 2020 Ansel Pereira

Related Articles