The 10 Greatest Alt-Country Bands Ever

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For all practical matters, alt-country began with Uncle Tupelo's album No Depression in 1990. Shortly thereafter, the magazine of the same name was published. and it seemed that every city had its own selection of alt-country acts, with St. Louis very much included.

Although none of the following bands were commercial blockbusters, all of them have made some incredible music by fusing country, folk, rock and punk, and the majority of them are still going strong.

See Also:
- The 10 Greatest Alt-Country Bands Ever Spotify Playlist
- Son Volt's Jay Farrar on Honky Tonk, Ralph Mooney and Bending the Rules

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Kholood Eid
The Bottle Rockets in 2012.
10. The Bottle Rockets
Closely associated with Uncle Tupelo, the Bottle Rockets began life in 1992 as a balls-to-the-wall, extremely loud alt-country act, and these guys have never looked back. In fact, it's pretty hard to discern much difference in any of the band's ten albums (acoustic forays notwithstanding). However, when it worked, as it did on 1995's The Brooklyn Side, the results were bone-crunching and anthemic.

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The Blood Oranges.
9. The Blood Oranges
Led by one Mark Spencer (who now plays with Son Volt), the Blood Oranges is another band that deserved better recognition. Between 1990 and 1994 the band released three superb albums. The final one, The Crying Tree, is an alt-country gem waiting to be rediscovered. Bassist Cheri Knight has made a couple of solid solo efforts as well.

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Todd Owyoung
The Old 97's.
8. Old 97's
A Dallas-Forth Worth institution, the Old 97's tried to part ways with alt-country after the release of the seminal Too Far to Care in 1997. After not making it to the mainstream, Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond steered the band back to the fold with 2004's Drag it Up. Impressively, the band seems to be back on track to making music better suited to honky-tonks than corporate shindigs.



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14 comments
darby8
darby8

no love for Blitzen Trapper? Boo

Keith Stephens
Keith Stephens

Gram was great, but this is post-punk. Jay never has liked any of those labels.

Aaron Coombs
Aaron Coombs

Gram Parsons was Cosmic American Music.... get it strait!

Kyle Thompson
Kyle Thompson

I've long considered Workingman's Dead and American Beauty to be the first "alt-country" records

Eugene Lawson Primm
Eugene Lawson Primm

Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and The Fallen Angels?....Number 1 and 1a in my opinion.

S. Eric Ketzer
S. Eric Ketzer

Loved the way you listed 2a/2b and 1, nicely done.

bored
bored

such an easy, predictable list.

sadeuel
sadeuel

Seriously, Son Volt's TRACE could be the best Alt Country album of all time.

Jen Pruitt
Jen Pruitt

I would have liked to have seen Lucero on this list or at least honorable mention.

Colin Suchland
Colin Suchland

Uncle Tupelo, Sun Volt, Wilco & Bottle Rockets!!!!

Bob Hartzell
Bob Hartzell

The Uncle Tupelo photo was taken by the great Marty Perez at Lounge Ax.

Bob Ell
Bob Ell

Bottle Rockets, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and Wilco, perhaps?

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