Published Jul 01, 2000As diverse as "garage" music is, it's united by a raw, primordial energy that drives the music and gives it an intense sense of immediacy. Inspired by boredom, booze, drugs, horniness and easy access to musical instruments, the first wave of garage rock began in the late 1950s, and continued through the 60s. Reissues of 1960s gems like the Nuggets and Pebbles compilations inspired a second wave in the 80s, while current sounds combine the two in a mess of primitive populism.
Originated by mid-60s bands like the Sonics, the Fabulous Wailers and countless other pimply-faced, out-of-tune, fuzz-mongering no-names. These were primitive songs played like the apocalypse is imminent by guys who could barely play guitar. It was revived in the 80s by bands who "punked" the sound out even further. Orchestrated by labels like Estrus, many are still thriving.
1st Wave: The Sonics Here Are The Sonics (Etiquette); Teenage Shutdown comps (Crypt), The Wailers The Fabulous Wailers (Golden Crest)
2nd Wave: Gruesomes Gruesomania (Og); The Primates We Are (Voxx); Pandoras Stop Pretending (Rhino)
3rd Wave: The Mummies Never Been Caught (Telstar); Coyote Men Vs. El Mundo (Estrus); The Headcoats Heaven's to Murgatroid (Sub Pop)
In the words of the Cramps' Lux Interior, psychobilly is "half hillbilly, and half punk." It features musicians of questionable mental health playing music they think is perfectly normal. Music archivists the Cramps absorbed a lot of these sexy, yet horrific influences and recycled them into their own music. The British had their own take on this sound, with 80s bands like the Meteors and the Guana Batz playing at extremely fast tempos and adding a nose-bloodying, soccer hooligan element to the music. Today psychobilly mixes with other influences, such as swing and surf.
1st Wave: Hasil Adkins The Wild Man (Norton); Jack Starr Born Petrified (Norton)
2nd Wave: The Cramps Songs the Lord Taught Us (IRS); The Gun Club Fire of Love (Ruby); Deja Voodoo Blast Off (Og)
3rd Wave: Reverend Horton Heat Smoke Em If You Got Em (Sub Pop); The Amazing Royal Crowns s/t (Velvel)
Inspired by the early British invasion and the Beatles' own Cavern Club sound, this genre's sound is set in stone. Billy Childish made the best of this situation with his great 80s band the Milkshakes. Newcomers like Japan's Neatbeats and Scotland's the Kaisers keep the memory of the pompadour and leather vest-wearing Beatles alive today.
1st Wave: early Beatles
2nd Wave: The Milkshakes Nineteenth Nervous Shakedown (Big Beat)
3rd Wave: The Neatbeats Near And Far (Get Hip); The Kaisers Squarehead Stomp (Get Hip)
Surf music was the sound of early 60s California culture: girls, cars and beach parties. Guitar-dominated, reverb-drenched, fast-paced and laced with Eastern melodies, the mid-90s saw this sound hit the mainstream a second time after Pulp Fiction made Dick Dale a household name. 1960s bands like the Ventures led the way with some great albums, though they were never really considered a surf band. Link Wray took instrumental rock and gave it a crazed hillbilly groove and created a monster with "Rumble."
1st Wave: Dick Dale King of the Surf Guitar (Rhino); Pyramids Penetration: Best Of (Sundazed); Link Wray Mr. Guitar (Norton); Ventures Ventures in Space (Pickwick)
2nd Wave: The Dragsters Stoked (Great Jones); Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham (Cargo)
3rd Wave: Phantom Surfers The Exciting Sounds of Model Road Racing (Hobby Hut); Bomboras Head Shrinkin Fun (Zombie A Go Go); Los Straitjackets The Velvet touch of (Yep Roc)
A bastard mixture of Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, punk rock and the Cramps, grounded in the use of infectious, primitive, and unpredictable grooves and a wildly unhinged approach to structure. Largely a 90s phenomenon, blues punk rips elements of noise, funk, and even electronic music. Bands like the Delta 72, Tricky Woo and Danko Jones are morphing this sound into a harder, stadium-rock style where the groove is still king.
1st Wave: The Gories I Know You Fine, But How You Doin' (Crypt); Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Crypt Style (Crypt); Andre Williams Silky (In The Red); Cheater Slicks Whiskey (In the Red); The Beguiled Blue Dirge (Crypt)