An Appreciation Post for Boston Alt-Rock


Graphics by Maeve Huttner

By Ro Batcheller, WERS Staff Writer

When thinking about the underground music scene of the late '80s and early '90s, one of the first things that probably comes to mind is the West Coast. While it's true that a lot of big-name bands came from that area, Boston had its fair share of grunge and alternative rock bands. Here are just three of our many favorite early alt-rock bands-with some of our favorite songs of theirs-that hail from the Greater Boston area that we want to show some love to.


Arguably one of the biggest bands to ever come out of Boston, the Pixies have been making music since their first album, Come On Pilgrim released in 1987. Their first hit came in the form of the popular song, "Where Is My Mind?" Though achieving more popularity with their "loud-quiet" sound in Europe, the band managed to influence musical acts like Nirvana and Weezer. The band disbanded in 1993 after releasing five albums and reunited 2004. Their second song on the playlist, "Hey," comes off the band's 1989 album Doolittle. The song has a rockin' baseline provided by Kim Deal and a funky guitar riff played by frontman Francis Black. Try not to get lost in the surrealness of Black's lyrics.

Dinosaur Jr.

Kurt Cobain once acknowledged Dinosaur Jr. as one of the other great underground grunge bands of the time. There were a lot of great reasons this band rose to the top, such as their lyrics and guitar sounds they brought to the table. Joseph D. Mascis formed Dinosaur Jr. in Amherst back in 1984. The group quickly developed a local following and released their debut album in 1985. One of their biggest hits came off of Where You Been in the form of "Start Choppin'," which consists of two separate heavy guitar solos. "Freak Scene," on the other hand, is off of the band's 1988 album Bug. The song gave the band international recognition, reaching number seven on the UK Indie Chart. It's an incredibly catchy song that you'll definitely find yourself head-banging to.

The Breeders

Formed in 1989 by Pixies bassist Kim Deal as a side project, the Breeders called Dayton, Ohio home despite the fact half the band was from Boston. The band quickly became a full-time project in 1990 with Deal's twin sister joining the group and the release of their first album, Pod. The album received praise from fellow artists such as Kurt Cobain, who said it was one of his favorites albums of all-time. "Doe" is off of the Pod album and combines the styles of indie and grunge so perfectly into one song. The Breeders' biggest hit is undoubtedly "Cannonball." Starting off with the Deal sisters making siren sounds followed by some soft percussive noises. All of a sudden, Kim Deal kicks in with an awesome bassline and is then combined with drums and a groovy guitar riff.

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