Copyright 2005 Haworth Press. Published in Music Reference Services Quarterly 9 (4), 2005, 43-75.


This essay is a brief history of American underground/independent music from 1980 to 2000. The authors examine twenty-one of what they believe are the best and most influential bands of the period and provide an annotated list of representative recordings. These artists provide the inspiration and sonic blueprint for much of today’s cutting edge music. Even so, their recordings are often absent from library collections and many librarians and patrons are unfamiliar with them. The groups discussed are Bad Brains, Beat Happening, Big Black, Bikini Kill, Black Flag, Camper Van Beethoven, Dead Kennedys, Fugazi, Galaxie 500, Hüsker Dü, Melvins, Minor Threat, Minutemen, Mission Of Burma, Pixies, R.E.M., the Replacements, Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth, Throwing Muses, and Uncle Tupelo.