Who Won the 2000s Garage Rock Revival War? A Ranking Circa 2014

The rock’n’roll dreams of 2003 are alive in this month’s record release calendar. Yeah Yeah Yeahs leader Karen O released her debut solo album, Crush Songs, last week, while her NYC compatriots Interpol attempted to mount another comeback with their fifth album, El Pintor. Later this month, Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas will release his debut with The Voidz as his backing band, entitled Tyranny.


September may be heavy on the nostalgia for leather jackets, Lower East Side bars where you can still smoke inside, and swagger-heavy guitar music, but that nostalgia is nothing new. By the end of the year, the five most successful acts associated with the early 2000s garage-rock/post-punk revival will have released new albums. White Stripes mastermind Jack White dropped his second solo LP, Lazaretto, just weeks after The Black Keys’ eighth effort, Turn Blue, hit shelves. But besides Interpol, the major players have evolved distinctly from their original musical aims, so much so that it’s easy to forget that White helped lead the charge of this wide-ranging trend.

Sure, there were other “The” bands that didn’t get hurled into oblivion à la The Vines when Indie’s Emotional Side (see: Death Cab for Cutie, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists) took over. The Hives still tour behind their ferocious Swedish garage-punk. Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” still gets synched in car commercials, right?

Still, we’re going to focus on the major players here for the sake of a good fight. We’re grading on a few scales: reinvention, artistic quality in recent years, hustle, and enduring legacy. They’re ranked from worst to best.