Über Dinosaur Jr.
Dinosaur Jr.'s mix of Neil Young-style country rock, Sabbath doom and hardcore punk -- along with J Mascis' consistently mind-blowing guitar and laid-back whine -- was truly unique in '80s underground music. A major influence on countless bands to come (most notably Nirvana), Dinosaur's first three records combined metal and punk in a way no one had even attempted since Black Flag's My War, and they introduced the quiet/loud move that defined grunge. With squalling feedback, onion-peeling sheets of distortion and the ability to shred on a hair-metal level, Mascis was the guitar god of the indie-rock era and basically threw punk's "primitive" aesthetic out the window. In 1988, bassist and future Sebadoh founder Lou Barlow left amid mounting tension with Mascis, just as the band was breaking nationally. Green Mind, released in 1991 and featuring unprecedented amounts of melody and less ugly noise than before, made Mascis the first semi-star of indie rock. The band remained in the public consciousness until the late '90s, when Mascis turned his attention to other projects (Witch, Sweet Apple). Barlow rejoined in 2005, and the band returned to both recording and touring.