14 Great Rock Bands From North Carolina
Written by C.I. DeMann on March 12, 2018
Superchunk – “Precision Auto”
When you mention North Carolina rock ‘n’ roll, the Chapel Hill band Superchunk is the first band a lot of people will name. They’ve been playing great punk rock for almost 30 years and this is my favorite song by them.
The Connells – “Fun and Games”
Probably my favorite North Carolina band, the Connells were on the forefront of the “jangle pop” genre of the early 1980s. Though not as well-known, to my ears, they’re every bit as good as R.E.M.
Cry of Love – “Bad Thing”
Believe it or not, this Raleigh band had a number one hit in 1993 with the song “Peace Pipe.” Number one on the rock charts, at least. It’s hard to believe they didn’t make it bigger, since their sound fits perfectly on every classic rock station you’ve ever heard.
Flat Duo Jets – “Froggy Went A-Courtin’”
Guitar, drums, a heavy blues influence, and tons of energy. You can see why Jack White has listed this two-person Chapel Hill band as a major inspiration for the White Stripes.
Stranger Spirits – “Aggression”
I can’t get enough of the energy in this song. It’s full-speed, start to finish. The background singers are a perfect touch, too, with their “hey’s” and “woo’s” and hand claps. It’s just a wonderful song, from the feedback at the start to the war drums at the finish.
Sex Police – “To the Bone”
I honestly don’t know how to classify this band. They’ve got the horn section, but they’re not quite ska. They’ve got the energy, but they’re not quite punk. I guess they’re their own thing. If you like this song, check out the entire album Medallion. It’s first rate.
The Rosebuds – “What Can I Do?”
This song always makes me think of surf-pop, with its fun, driving beat, and the perfect mix of male and female voices. It sounds like a sunny day at the beach. If you like this, check out the song “Hold Hands and Fight.”
SWASO – “Sunshine”
I can’t get enough of this song. So much swagger. It’s not a SWASO song, though. It was originally written by the Pneurotics, but was covered by SWASO as part of the Musical Chairs compilation put out by Nightsound Studios in Carrboro.
Ben Folds Five – “Battle of Who Could Care Less”
Earlier, I called the Connells my favorite North Carolina band, but honestly, Winston-Salem’s Ben Folds gives them a serious run for their money, especially when you consider his solo work. This one’s off the 1997 album Whatever and Ever, Amen.
Corrosion of Conformity – “Clean My Wounds”
Formed in Raleigh back in the early ’80s, this band started as more of a punk rock thing, but over time evolved into more of a heavy metal thing. This is my favorite song of theirs. Hard, bluesy, with a great guitar sound.
Paper Tongues – “Ride to California”
Formed in 2007 in Charlotte, this is another band that’s hard to classify. They’re definitely rock, but with elements of pop, hip hop, and electronica. Whatever you call them, if this groove doesn’t get your head bobbin’, I feel sorry for you.
Far Too Jones – “Best of Me”
This band out of Raleigh came oh-so-close to making it big in the late 1990s. But despite this song and the song “As Good As You,” they could never quite break out nationally.
The Avett Brothers – “When I Drink”
The Avett Brothers, on the other hand, have blown up. This foot-tappin’ little sing-a-long is my favorite by this folk band out of Concord.
The Mountain Goats – “You Were Cool”
There’s an argument to be made that the Mountain Goats are actually a California band, but my counter-argument would be that, back then, it was just one guy with a boom box. It wasn’t until John Darnielle moved to Durham, signed with Merge Records, and found some backup musicians, that he turned the Mountain Goats into an actual band.
And there you go! 14 great rock bands from the state of North Carolina. And guess what? This isn’t just a list I came up with. This was an actual hour-long radio show. Want to hear it? Here’s the link. A solid hour featuring some of my favorite bands from North Carolina.