Loading…

“Dolby’s Top 100 Coolest Bands to Get a T-Shirt of”

In an attempt to be half as obnoxious as PopMatters, I thought I’d put together this summer fashion spread you see before you here of my favorite band t shirts. Band shirts have always been an entity near and dear to me since probably my Everclear one I copped Freshman year in high school and although they might not be as prevalent as they were in the ’90s (with the bulbous popularity of record stores), you still do see them here and there and they’re one of the best ways to send a message about what kind of person you are (that day, that is). Now, whether they’re cooler than the plain t shirt with the hat that depicts the words “Anti-Social Social Club”… that’s a different matter entirely.
..
100 Jimmy Eat World
.
You might be surprised by this particular choice I made here, so please allow me to divulge a key rule of band shirts: it’s actually good to get one of a band that a lot of people hate, for confrontational, edgy purposes. I mean, you don’t want to be too obvious in life, do you? What if we were all the SAME? Ugh. As if. To my ear this band has never made an especially bad album, even 2013’s Damage and 2016’s Integrity Blues (and how ‘bout that title).
..
99 Aerosmith
.
Boston bands and those of larger Massachusetts faired PRET-ty well on this list and here is one band which is maybe not so much misunderstood but just so multifarious and storied, befallen of so much crazy upheaval in their backgrounds that it’s almost impossible to pin them down to one little thing or image. At the end of the day, aching rockers like “Livin’ on the Edge” and “Janie’s Got a Gun” can be “pumped” for some pretty gratifying evening time listens, for sure, the real gems probably being “Sweet Emotion” and that ’90s comeback anthem “Amazing.” As for the specific shirt, I’m’a go with the classic black short-sleeve t with the crazy-cursive-all-caps band name with their picture on it and the “World Tour” printing.
..
98 Cracker
.
Cracker is a lo-fi bay area act out of the early ’90s that usually finds a way to weasel its rapscallion buns onto my site, whether it’s via the “Low” video featuring the actress I thought was Juliette Lewis but might not be, to gracing my last playlist, a selection from an overall brilliant album.
..
97 Jefferson Airplane
.
Jefferson Airplane garners serious points for being a band so steeped in imagery, whether it’s the 2400 Fulton Street house they all lived in together in San Francisco, the whole Haight/Ashbury scene or that Alice in Wonderland white rabbit thing, hence definitely making for some nice psychedelic symbolism.
..
96 Prince
.
Prince was a living embodiment of our times, appropriate enough since one of his best songs is even called “Sign ‘O’ the Times”… he’s a little bit ridiculous and very IMMEDIATE so that wearing a shirt of his comes off as sort of funny, along with its representing some pretty vital tunes like “When Doves Cry”, “Delirious” and such.
..
95 Blitzen Trapper
.
It doesn’t get more blue collar and everyman than Blitzen Trapper, for proof of which I look to their awesome Facebook interactions — I think on at least two occasions I’ve actually gotten comments from the band, either thanking me for giving them props or agreeing with me about what I was saying about another band (I think it was The Budos Band, a snazzy jazz outfit). Also, their tunes are great and 2011’s album American Goldwing was way underrated.
..
94 AC/DC
.
I’ll be straight up: I don’t like EVERY famous song by this band but this shirt gets the nod on pure virtue alone of Butthead rocking it on Mike Judge’s comedy Beavis & Butthead. I’d give the average person a fighting chance of looking as cool in it as Butthead does (which is more than I can say for Beavis’ Metallica one), but I’m not making any promises.
..
93 Four Tet
.
Four Tet is the London IDM brainchild of Kieran Hebden, owning to some flourishing songs, some well-sequenced gritty LP’s and, also importantly for this list, one he** of a catchy name.
..
92 The Shins
.
I’m really not 100% sure that I’m right about this inclusion: I’m a fan of pretty much all the music of this band even last year’s Heartworms though, so if wearing a shirt of them implies that you’re a genius you could always just actually be a genius, I guess.
..
91 The Black Keys
.
You’ve gotta admit The Black Keys have put together a pretty stout catalogue over the last decade and a half, between especially Rubber Factory and 2011’s more streamlined, rock-oriented El Camino. In the true spirit of Midwest bands, they’re a definite case of substance over style, though you still might find some “styles” to ingratiate you properly at Hot Topic or online.
..
90 Yes
.
I actually have a dark blue Yes t shirt which I rock with regularity (I think it’s featured in two of my Facebook pictures) and I seem to always get compliments on it — it surprises people when they see it, which is an auspicious attribute for purposes of this post here.
..
89 Phish
.
When graduating high school I was being a real brat — during the commencement rehearsal I was rocking this white Phish t with the rainbow logo writing and some John Lennon-y sunglasses, my robe buttoned down, spitting wintergreen Grizzly into a Mountain Dew can. Hey, I THOUGHT I was funny… that counts for something, doesn’t it? I just listened to Billy Breathes all the way through the other night and had a great time.
..
88 Bob Marley
.
This is another shirt I’ve owned, meeting somebody who actually had the exact same style I had — the technicolored face on a black shirt, to find him rocking it to the desk where I worked at, beaming from ear to ear. I always thought if they would have played “One Love” in the White House around that time that George W. Bush never would have gone to war with Iraq.
..
87 Chuck Berry
.
I think Chuck Berry sort of gets a bad rap for that “My Ding-a-Ling” song, a tune which actually isn’t even on my favorite CD The Great Twenty-Eight… actually I forget what I was reading but I found out that that song actually came out way past his prime, in like 1970 or so, as a sort of last-ditch lunge at revenue on the part of some record label, or something like that. Ahem… he’s the godfather of rock and roll… that should be enough reason.
..
86 The Doors
.
I had one friend with a pretty cool sort of tan colored one with the band’s picture and their name in black… the black one with multicolored writing would certainly do, too, particularly if Jim Morrison actually has a shirt on on it.
..
85 Tom Waits
.
I saw one lame one one time that just said “Waits” on it but there are many great ones, in black, beige and other colors, and you’ve gotta admit the absolute pinnacle of apparel greatness is when you can just illustrate the artist’s face, without the name on it, and anybody who’s anybody knows just who it is.
..
84 Howlin’ Wolf
.
I’ll admit, Howlin’ Wolf gets by on here partly for his awesome name. He’s a passable to good blues legend from about the 1950s, regrettable partly for the song “Back Door Man” but still owning to some classics like “Evil” and “Smokestack Lightnin’.”
..
83 Black Milk
.
Now here in this case, while Milk is obviously an awesome rapper and beatmaker, I think the shirt gains a certain knack BECAUSE the name is sort of weird — it’s like its ability to be embraced despite this obstacle grants it an added valence, sort of. Tronic and Album of the Year duke it out, probably, for best album, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad one.
..
82 The Misfits
.
I would say that any band that pulls off the “Teenagers from Mars / And we don’t care” lyrical pairing and still transmits it into a digestible song definitely deserves your money… also you’ve gotta love that classic skull illustration, and the band laying claim to a distinct logo like that.
..
81 The Verve
.
How’s this for a little touch from outta left field… if you don’t let your hatred of all things British get in the way, this could be a very rewarding shirt to own, both for your own satisfaction and in socializing. They’re best known for “Bitter Sweet Symphony” but “Sonnet,” “The Drugs Don’t Work” and “Lucky Man” are all just about as good, at least.
..
80 Crash Test Dummies
.
The Verve is out of left field… this one would be more like out of McCovey Cove or so, a band out of Winnipeg, Canada that had a couple of minor hits in the mid-’90s (“God Shuffled His Feet” and the gibberish-embracing “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”). The singer’s baritone voice is definitely an inimitable icon of rock, though, for anyone who listened to music around this time.
..
79 Oasis
.
Blah… this band is better than “Blur” (which if a British guy is saying it kinda sounds like “Blah” anyway) for shirt purposes because it would cause more arguments, maybe even fights, and you’d look like less of a poseur what with Blur’s acclaim on the online music journal Pitchfork.
..
78 Gang Gang Dance
.
Gang Gang Dance is an electro-rock outfit out of New York, starting sometime in the ’00s, very experimental and pretty critically acclaimed across the board — what really jumped out at me was when cokemachineglow.com ranked Saint Dymphna THIRD best album of ’08, indeed usually the LP I turn to from this band to nicely compliment their great band name, obviously.
..
77 The Libertines
.
Wow, I never in my life thought The Libertines would be a DIVISIVE entity, save of course for that one little Strokes mini-feud which happened at a point when there was enough going on in music that it never really materialized into too much of a story (also he happened to be RIGHT that the members of The Strokes had a really cushy upbringing). Well now this band is bizarrely HATED by a lot of young people, also making an interesting story in light of one of their best songs “Death on the Stairs”: “There’s a little boy on the stairwell / Who says I hate people like you / I got matchsticks and cable TV / …He got nothin’ at all”.
..
76 Bad Religion
.
Bad Religion is sort of the pinnacle of Cali Punk, which is basically the initial AMERICAN brand of punk rock, an entity to me which is also honestly so scary usually that I sort of hold them at a little bit of a distance, hence making for a cinematically intimidating t-shirt figure sort of like Pennywise the clown or something.
..
75 Flying Lotus
.
Perennial Kendrick Lamar collaborator, Flying Lotus has zero to prove here toward being the authoritative figure on American electronica, and of course great name.
..
74 Puscifer
.
What a bizarre and awesome shirt this would be of a bizarre and awesome band, TOOL frontman Maynard James Keenan’s OTHER side project apart from the more serious-minded, brooding A Perfect Circle. Puscifer’s entire existence is essentially predicated on making fun of people, which can often excuse their simplistic albeit amusing blues-rock, at that.
..
73 Miles Davis
.
And I quoth that one old lady in Billy Madison: “If wetting your pants is cool, then consider me Miles Davis.” Yup, she about hit the nail on the head.
..
72 ZZ Top
.
ZZ Top I feel like would be sweet definitely for a lot of reasons: their name, the fact that they’re from Texas hence likening it to those “Don’t Mess with Texas” shirts, their awesome look of the suits and beards and most of all, the fact that they put out such slop as “Tush,” “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man” late in their careers and actually had the idiotic grey masses biting at it.
..
71 Jesu
.
What a mind fu** this band is for sure, like “Jesus” without a letter… I actually worked with this big ol’ dude one time who had this Jesu hoodie (pronounced yaa-zoo). They’re a great ambient metal act a subsidiary of Napalm Death.
..
70 Broken Social Scene
.
This one should work… one thing I like about this band’s shirt game is their longevity and multifariousness, and also the fact that in the band lie key females in the music scene such as Feist and Emily Haines of Metric.
..
69 Kanye West
.
Oh God… I made this list two days ago… to be honest I have no idea what I was doing putting Kanye on here. Don’t wear this shirt, probably, unless you’re in the ghetto and armed, or something.
..
68 E-40
.
THIS DUDE’S FLOW is unbelievable… to be honest I’m not too familiar with most of his stuff but I’ve got “Dusted n Disgusted” on my “Dolby’s Top 100 Hip-Hop Tracks of All Time” list, a song on which 2pac is a GUEST emcee, which should give you some idea right there.
..
67 Green Day
.
I justify this sure on pure grounds of two fat dudes pulling it off in the ’00s — one real funny looking dude in band rocking the beige, sh**-colored “Dookie” variety for all your dinner party delight, and then this da** near invincible looking fata** on the IUPUI campus going with the black style, walking around and yelling at nobody in particular.
..
66 Bo Diddley
.
I might sound like a cracker here, but I sort of think that Mr. Diddley gets some bonus points for Bob Dylan’s “From a Buick 6” line: “She walk like Bo Diddley and / She don’t need no crutch”, arguably Dylan’s greatest song. Along with a great name, this dude originated the “Bo Diddley beat” (how’d we not see that coming).
..
65 The New Pornographers
.
It’s sad to say but I’m sort of an imitator — this one gay dude in college just looked so cool in his royal blue Electric Version t shirt, constantly relating this story of talking to this hardcore like ’80s metal head complimenting it with: “They’re the best pop band since the Beatles.”
..
64 Jimi Hendrix
.
The hair, the guitar, the inimitably placid gaze as he sends you into the psych-rock cosmos… there’s nothing at all lacking from this aesthetic apparel development here.
..
63 Soul Asylum
.
This is sort of one of those bands I go to bat for pretty hard for better or worse… I actually own a Soul Asylum shirt, which is black with white cursive-y writing depicting something to be honest I don’t know — it’s sort of blurry but I do get compliments on it and they churned out a great commercial blues-rock, very much entrenched in and ingratiating to the competitive mid-1990s.
..
62 Supergrass
.
Another one of those bands that got buried amidst the gaggle of catchy acts during the ’90s, Supergrass definitely pumps forth with some anthemic gems like “G-Song” and “Jesus Came from Outta Space,” along with “Alright,” their most famous tune which is featured in Clueless.
..
61 Pink Floyd
.
This may be the most common band t shirt among Americans and really I never COMPLAIN about it.. Floyd should be commended as a general entity for mastering psych-pop on A Saucerful of Secrets, only to have to abandon it for expansive prog of The Dark Side of the Moon with the hazard of “English accent” in tow.
..
60 Bob Dylan
.
Here’s another iconic figure, recognizable like Tom Waits from just his face and no name attachment… I guess my personal two cents on Dylan, my old weird story, is that I cry every time I hear “Idiot Wind,” which I guess should give you an idea of how addled and jaded I am.
..
59 Killing Joke
.
I have this bizarre memory of the moribund record store in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana (or technically Mishawaka, the South Bend suburb) having this one Killing Joke shirt in stock for like 10 years straight. It was so dorky I thought for sure it was some local band like The Crutches or Walker Texas Punk Band, but it turns out that all the while it was a spirited and founding British noise act from the early ’80s. Couldn’t imagine a better shirt if I tried, comrades!
..
58 Guided by Voices
.
I find it tickling to see that Guided by Voices are still doing it — at best they’re basically the Beatles with louder guitars, but, while that’s obviously not a bad thing, one other amusing thing about them is that they’ve got like a million albums and singer Bob Pollard has like a million side projects, all the while maintaining employment as an elementary school teacher.
..
57 Girls Against Boys
.
Girls Against Boys separate themselves from the rest of the late-‘90s industrial pack, to me, basically for lack of tackiness — although they have the thick reverb and rhythmic knack of Nine Inch Nails or The Chemical Brothers, the drums are actually real, giving more of an organic listen, all the while lyrically dwelling on the depravity of everything which was certainly the general trend.
..
56 k-os
.
Almost nobody knows about this Canadian rapper from the zeros decade, I’m guessing… I was lucky enough to hear the gargantuan Joyful Rebellion LP at a recommended listening station and I immediately bought it. The rapper had this preternatural way of sounding like multiple people while only being one. “Crucial” is essential reggae pop within a generally hip-hop-grounded LP.
..
55 Belly
.
Most known for the ’93 single “Feed the Tree,” Belly is a pretty edgy and reliable act featuring Tanya Donelly, formerly of The Breeders and Throwing Muses, toward some pretty hard-won lo-fi expertise.
..
54 Cream
.
There’s nothing in rock quite like the founding blues-rock trio of wolverine intensity that is Cream, which, as I didn’t know until about four years into fandom of them, is fronted not by elite lead guitarist Eric Clapton but by bassist Jack Bruce, whose vocal chops do every bit of justice to the timeless guitar solos.
..
53 Helmet
.
Helmet gets props for getting name-checked by Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus — for a while their music was a little bit unapproachable to me, being definitely a seen-it-all type brand of ’90s alternative hard rock. The band was based in New York.
..
52 Beck
.
In particular, I had a friend who had this classic beige one with the Odelay “jacka**” on the front (I mean the donkey, not a jerk of a person). Another great one I bet would be the Mellow Gold album cover, although I don’t think I’ve ever heard this particular one.
..
51 A Place to Bury Strangers
.
At some point “getting” a band becomes not so much a feather in your cap as a clue that maybe you belong in an insane asylum… nonetheless, this band is sort of a necessary evil, you might say, with a classic metal-show type name and some catchy industrial songs that were rightly lauded on Pitchfork.
..
50 Hercules & Love Affair
.
When I popped this self-titled disc back in on my last road trip, an album which was very critically acclaimed upon release but has since seen 10 years fly by, I was floored all over again by its INTENSITY and SURETY. It sounds like music that just had to be made, answering to no one but the reducible bundle of the world itself the singer faces.
..
49 Fishbone
.
This is the first and only all-black ska/punk band, I believe, sort of proving that there’s relevance to that enterprise, since to my knowledge there hasn’t been a black punk band since Bad Brains, either. The whole Essential Fishbone disc is quite enjoyable, on which you can trace their evolution from reggae to enjoyable and brisk grunge of “Sunless Saturday.”
..
48 R.E.M.
.
I remember my sister had this really cool one with the whole band’s faces from either the Monster or the Up era… I was just looking online anyway and there are some real rad ones like the black with the Reckoning cover art and the yellow with a black printing of that big Automatic for the People cross looking thing. Good show.
..
47 Brainiac
.
It doesn’t get much faster, funnier or weirder in rock music than Brainiac’s second and final LP Hissing Prigs in Static Coutre. Before the lead singer Timmy Taylor would die in an auto wreck, the band “raced” through some inimitable and electrifying pop/punk, very rude, unceremonious and socially cutting (my favorite might be the sarcastic lyrical quip “Let’s all give a warm warm hand / For the 70-kilogram man”).
..
46 The Black Angels
.
Slowly, but surely, The Black Angels are gaining a following, after putting out a classic album in ’06 in Passover to basically deaf ears, following it last year with the desperately named Death Song (which is desperate not only for its ominous theme but its verification of the band’s initial m.o., which was to emulate the Velvet Underground song “Black Angel’s Death Song”). They feature well on the festival circuit of this summer, playing an eerie and grungy sort of blue-rock to please just about anybody, I’d imagine.
..
45 Rancid
.
I think I’m the only person on the planet who actually, or who will actually admit that he, likes Rancid more than Op. Ivy — I dunno they seem to always offer me everything I need, whether it’s the over-generous pop opus of …And out Come the Wolves or the bona fide hardcore punk of their underrated self-titled album.
..
44 Blondie
.
Blondie’s one of those bands to be that’s like pretty-good, or good-enough, but sure to start a discussion (actually I saw one of their shirts and the back it read “Nobody can say we didn’t hold out for 15 minutes, which is pretty clever you’ve gotta admit). They’re definitely a group with a lot of side stories, like how they erroneously dub this late-’70s New York scene a “punk” movement, for instance.
..
43 Led Zeppelin
.


Here you see my personal one depicted — complex, grandiose and glorious, just like their music itself. Another favorite I saw was just a black t with the classic white “Led Zeppelin” writing, in that sort of gothic-looking logo font they seem to use quite often.
..
42 The Smashing Pumpkins
.
Ack… I got this white Siamese Dream shirt from Hot Topic (I like owning tees that aren’t black sometimes, just for a change of pace and lightening of mood) and it ended up getting full of holes after like a year and a half of use. And trust me, I am not one of those villainous culprits who overwashes t shirts.
..
41 Soul Coughing
.
To be honest, I’ve scoured the Internet for some time now and have not found a Soul Coughing t… this band initially was iconic for all the wrong reasons, for the feature on MTV’s Austin Stories and the one dude borrowing the other guy’s Soul Coughing CD only to quip “It was awful! I could barely get three bucks for it!”
..
40 The Jimi Hendrix Experience
.
Yes, I am one of those stick-in-the-mud bloggers who separates “Jimi Hendrix” as an entity from “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” (the former advantageous in that in such a case you can just put the picture on with no words and people will recognize the person)… also it might seem strange to put the Experience ahead of the solo entity, but maybe I’m biased in that I used to have a white shirt depicting the Axis: Bold as Love cover art, which always got pretty good feedback.
..
39 Yo La Tengo
.
For as multifarious, long and hard to categorize as this band’s catalogue can be, they amusingly also have crafted for themselves a very distinct BRAND of mellow pop/rock, fronted by the spousal duo of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, still at it after all these years too with 2018’s excellent There’s a Riot Going on (closely likening Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ on, obviously).
..
38 Man or Astro-man?
.
If somebody asks what’s on your shirt just be like “Alien surf rock from Atlanta Georgia”… they’ll understand.
..
37 Ride
.
It took me a long, long time to “get” this band and as a huge grunge fanatic I find myself sort of antithetical to the non-riffy, non-melodic style of shoegaze in general, on my last listen I found Nowhere pretty complex and masterful, and its cover would make for a great shirt design, too.
..
36 Shadows Fall
.
I remember this one dude at IU who would eat in my dining hall having this real hot girlfriend and always rocking this Shadows Fall (I think he might have fronted a band called Forever in Effigy, which was a way poppier outfit put still pretty entertaining).
..
35 Sonic Youth
.
You can’t go wrong in general with this band… actually one funny thing is that none of them have ever really done any great solo work. It’s like they need each other for the artistic in-studio symbiosis. And really, nobody else could have done what they did — channel out these blistering noise-rock eruptions and make them catchy and anthemic enough that we’d still be hearing them in bars 30-plus years later.
..
34 Don Caballero
.
Don Caballero is an awesome, much-listened-to and much-imitated post-rock instrumental three-piece out of Pittsburgh which was signed to the iconic Touch and Go label in Chicago. Based on how much great rock comes out of the Steel City, it’s a little surprising that they isn’t a major capitalistic music imprint stationed there.
..
33 The Rolling Stones
.
Yup.. the Stones… gotta love ’em… actually I think I positioned Forty Licks about 30th all time on my albums list from August ’14. It’s like I’m not gonna be obvious enough to rank ’em toward the top, but I definitely wouldn’t wanna do without ’em, either. “Angie” is like a song I’ll always love in spite of my best intentions otherwise.
..
32 Third Eye Blind
.
You gotta love that self-titled album cover… I used to have a shirt with that on it in high school. The Blue cover is sweet too, and as we know, these are some handsome gents, which would make for a fine piece of apparel too.
..
31 Ween
.
It doesn’t get much more iconic than that lil’ misbehavin’ skull dude… I’ve worked with one dude who had that thing tattooed on his calf and another guy (both these guys were from the East Coast) who had a red shirt of that little spiky head thing. For a while I had it as my profile pic on Facebook. It’s great stuff.
..
30 Gary Clark Jr.
.
For as talented as this guy is, he’s probably still pretty little-known: America will always need blues-rock in its diet and this African American from Austin, Texas does it about better than anyone right now, like a Black Keys with more technical skill and longer, more expansive songs.
..
29 Black Sabbath
.
Buoyed perhaps partly by Lester Bangs extensive article extolling them as a legitimate spiritual deity, and then their inclusion alongside his depiction in Almost Famous, Black Sabbath you might say is a fairly unimpeachable entity in today’s society, even preferable to Led Zeppelin in most hipster or show-going circles.
..
28 Women
.
I’ll admit it look me a long time to get into this band just because of its name… well, as we know, such a thing is definitely a feather in their cap in the shirt game. I first saw them open for Abe Vigoda and was blown away — it was like better than Sonic Youth. Some gems include “Sag Harbor Bridge,” “Black Rice” and “Narrow with the Hall.”
..
27 The Smiths
.
From an American Midwest perspective, one notable thing I suppose is that though they have a pretty big gang of devotees these days, when they were around they didn’t really get much radio play outside of Chicago’s alternative-minded WXRT and “Rockin’ Ryan Murphy,” who during the ’90s was one of the leading DJ’s playing Pavement.
..
26 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
.
I have sort of a complex relationship with this band because I had them EMPHATICALLY recommended to me around ’03 or so, to the tune of like, “I’ll cut your balls off if you don’t listen to these guys”… sure enough I like their first two albums, used to have the shirt and get a lot of compliments, but found myself digging into it more deeply than ever this past winter, with “Head up High,” especially.
..
25 Heartless Bastards
.
To be honest I’ve never SEEN a Heartless Bastards shirt, either online or on anybody… I’m sure you could find a handsome one if you tried, and they’re a great organic Midwestern troupe of folk rock which leaves an indelible impression on most listeners, I’d say.
..
24 Lush
.
Lush make what I’d call just about sonically perfect rock music, a brand of shoegaze that walks an edge and plays with a sense of urgency, with a cool name, too. They hail from England.
..
23 Weezer
.
I used to get reprimanded extensively by the girls in my high school for rocking my black Weezer shirt with all of their faces on it like every week or so (of course they’d exaggerate and be like “You wear that shirt like every day!”) The band’s prime might have been the early ’90s, but the green album and Maladroit both came out when I was in high school and I think we can all agree those albums have aged well. Also, I just heard “Beverly Hills” on the radio not too long ago, a cut I’ve always enjoyed.
..
22 Everclear
.
This was another of my favorites in high school and might have been the first band t shirt I ever owned — black with the So Much for the Afterglow cover art on it. Though I might SLIGHTLY prefer Sparkle and Fade, the whole Afterglow album definitely holds up really well, ranging from easy pop like “I Will Buy You a New Life” to the blistering punk of “Amphetamine.”
..
21 Wire
.
Not so much a hipster icon at all, this is a band that every fan of rock music should listen to regularly, arguably the biggest influence on U2’s debut album Boy (yes, U2 could have easily been a punk band if they didn’t have Neil Young’s songwriting knack along with them).
..
20 The Jesus and Mary Chain
.
Definite arbiters of “black leather cool,” which was a phrase I often heard ascribed to The Strokes, these 1980s-and-beyond shoegaze rockers pushed the envelope big time for crushing mountains of noise inundating catchy rock songs, and they even have a song called “Bo Diddley is Jesus” that goes “Walk along the railroad track / Where I go I don’t look back / Head to toe I’m dressed in black”.
..
19 Filter
.
I saw this one dude a little older than me with a rad Filter shirt at a Get up Kids concert in Indy one time… in a lot of ways this band is a great blue-collar favorite, a less gimmicky alternative to Nine Inch Nails (Richard Patrick was actually a member of the Nails for their really early work).
..
18 Nirvana
.
There’s lots here to choose from, from the black t with the yellow x-eyed face (which I have now) to that one where Kurt Cobain looks like he’s measuring out some heroin to shoot (not too sure about that one). What I never understood is why they didn’t make some turquoise ones with the Nevermind cover art on them.
..
17 T. Rex
.
T. Rex will always be there — always an underrated and catchy mainstay of mid-’70s classic rock, always too weird and infectious for the weak-minded, and always with a leg up on Bowie for the fact that Marc Bolan gave the singer his entrance into the music industry but told him the only gig he’d give him was that of a touring mime.
..
16 Buzzcocks
.
My sister was a Buzzcocks DEVOTEE in high school and I definitely found them a little “annoying” at first (they even have a song called “Noise Annoys”), but as I’ve gotten older I’ve really connected with their breakneck pop/punk, along with the stupefying rhythm guitar part in “Autonomy.”
..
15 Dinosaur Jr.
.
I’ll say this right now though: this band’s best days have been with Lou Barlow as a member and they’re all but saved on this list by their recent resurgence of the last 11 years, with the excellent albums Beyond, Farm and I Bet on Sky. Still, some art of the old stuff would work too, I guess. You’re Living All over Me is a solid outing of distortion-punk.
..
14 Dirty Projectors
.
I was reading an interview on Pitchfork one time of some band that was playing the website’s yearly festival, the interview was conducted by another musician who asked the band who they’d most like to see that year and it was “Dirty Projectors” (I think it might have been the guy from HEALTH, come to think of it). This is definitely a shirt nobody would expect you to have on, more likely to act as an implicit recommendation than conversation starter. 2009’s Bitte Orca is a definite gem.
..
13 Califone
.
I remember this band’s shirts were out of stock on their website and they’d never seem to print and ship more, no many how many times I’d pester them to via email and Bandcamp, or whatever. I think they were orange with a snake looking thing on them, or something. They’ve been my favorite band on the planet for 11 years.
..
12 Beastie Boys
.
I think my two Beasties t’s have treated me pretty well over the years — one of them was “turd brown” with the Hello Nasty tape-machine looking thing on the front, the other being black depicting the Check Your Head cover, the album that would spawn the video for “So What’cha Want,” in which they similarly just look like born emcees.
..
11 Bad Brains
.
I remember this dude out in Colorado had a CLASSIC Bad Brains one that was black with just some multicolored writing on it… another great one is the yellow one which I think has the lightning hitting the white house, or whatever (Bad Brains is a D.C. band).
..
10 Captain Beefheart
.
I’m proud to say I used to have a white shirt depicting the Trout Mask Replica cover, sadly now finding to ruined by wearing it to work a bunch of times (that’s one advantage of black t shirts). It was rare that anybody knew who it was… most people were just kind of grossed out by it, which I suppose is sort of the point, too.
..
9 The Velvet Underground
.
This is sort of an obvious choice, I’ll admit, the favorite probably being the Velvet Underground & Nico cover with the banana on it, but I’d also definitely rock the self-titled album cover in black, if they made it… that’s a nice intimate shot of the whole band and that LP has some great songs on it.
..
8 Throwing Muses
.
Here is where “catchiness” meets the “alternative” in quintessential early-’90s form… I featured this band a little bit on my ’90s singles list but to be honest they never put out their best songs (“Hazing,” “Crabtown,” “Say Goodbye”) as singles. The Real Ramona or University cover shots would work fine and this band strikes me as the types to get creative with such a thing as shirt designing, as well.
..
7 Soundgarden
.
I am very, undoubtedly proud to currently rock the black with the Superunkown cover on it, which I purchased about this time last summer after the incredibly sad ending of Chris Cornell. I might have done it earlier but I thought it went without saying that Cornell and the gang already effectively represented the invincible to us all.
..
6 Goldfinger
.
The Goldfinger shirt is way more than a piece of clothing: it’s essentially a symbol that says “Fu** you” to everything representing the system, success, or the status quo. One clear memory I have of one is this dude in a Chicago festival crowd mocking Third Eye Blind’s song “Graduate” with the exclamation “CAN I MASTURBATE,” and then hearing this eruption of laughter about 20 feet back on the lawn from this dude in a Goldfinger t who was about 17 and had easily the crookedest teeth I’d ever seen in my life. The funny thing is, later in that same set in stage banter, Third Eye Blind singer Stephan Jenkins would admit to habitually masturbating when alone and lonely. Ah, only in Chicago, right?
..
5 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
.
I WANT A BOSSTONES SHIRT NOW and recently I was online searching and specifically had in mind a red tank top with the dog logo on it (the CD to Question the Answers is blood-a**-red and the Let’s Face it design features that color too)… I haven’t found one yet but I did find a black one which I’d probly make a cut-off, featuring that same old iconic bulldog on it.
..
4 Wu-Tang Clan
.
Currently I have a black Wu-Tang tank top (which I’ve also seen a girl wearing one time, somewhat troublingly) and a royal blue GZA t shirt with that big silver “G” on it. If you can believe it, I think I got compliments from black people in Philadelphia at one time on both of them, whereas it’s white dudes in Asheville, North Carolina who assume I’m being wigger-ish. One time after I fell in love and then had to be separated from the girl I listened to Wu-Tang Forever every day for six months straight.
..
3 The Clash
.
There’s no doubt, you just can’t beat The Clash: there’s now an “International Clash Day” every year in February, which I think is sort of a stupid time of year to have it (why not have it in like July, when you can do something fun like grill out or play beach volleyball)… anyway I saw one rather caustic article on I believe Noisey (believably enough) which purported The Clash to be “the only band that still matters.” Well, that’s a pretty good qualifier, I’d say.
..
2 Liars
.
Yat, I’ve never found a Liars shirt online and I’d imagine it’s da** near impossible… the only way to do it would probably be at one of their (or his, Angus Andrews’) shows. Actually, I hope he’s even doing ok these days… I didn’t see much online buzz for 2017’s excellent TFCF. I was thinking the best shirt would just be black with the word “Liars” in white.
..
1 Sebadoh
.
This band impeccably symbolizes the 1990s slacker, which I guess you’d say is the pinnacle of music to me (I mean I am sitting here typing on my computer on a nice day, aren’t I)… they’re full of catchy, funny songs produced on a low budget and rife with lyrics which pertain to the unpostured everyman. One great one I just saw online is a black one with the logo of The Sebadoh, in my opinion their best album, from 1999.

Leave a Reply