13 Incredible Bands Similar To The Replacements

Written by Dan Farrant

Formed in 1979, The Replacements’ music was a beautiful chaos, a reckless dance between vulnerability and defiance that would go on to define the alternative rock movement.

From the heart of Minneapolis, The Replacements created a sound that was authentically their own. Yet their influence reverberated far beyond their city’s limits, inspiring countless artists who would infuse their own music with that same spirit of rebellion and earnestness.

Thus, we invite you to embark on a musical journey with us as we explore 13 incredible bands like The Replacements. So strap on your headphones, turn up the volume, and dive in.

1. Hüsker Dü

We begin with the punk rock band Hüsker Dü. Formed in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1979, the band consisted of Bob Mould (guitarist and vocalist), Greg Norton (bassist), and Grant Hart (drummer).

They released a series of influential albums on the independent label SST Records, including Zen Arcade and New Day Rising. These albums showcased the band’s ability to infuse their aggressive punk sound with melodic hooks and deep lyrics.

Despite critical acclaim and a growing fanbase, tensions within the band led to their dissolution in 1987. Although their time as a band was relatively short, Hüsker Dü’s legacy endures in the alternative rock and punk rock scenes.

2. R.E.M.

Alternative rock would not be the same without the band R.E.M., which was formed in 1980 in the city-county of Athens, Georgia. They gained a dedicated underground following with their jangly guitar-driven sound. However, it was in the 1990s they achieved widespread mainstream success.

With albums like Out of Time and Automatic for the People, R.E.M. garnered critical acclaim and commercial success, while songs like “Losing My Religion,” “Everybody Hurts,” and “Man on the Moon” became anthems of the ’90s and won them Grammys.

Unfortunately, R.E.M. disbanded amicably in September 2011, with the members moving on to various other musical projects. However, their influence lives on, and their music continues to be appreciated.

3. The Pixies

Our next band, The Pixies, emerged as a pioneering force in American alternative rock, forming back in 1986. In many ways, they shared The Replacements’ penchant for blending punk with melodic pop sensibilities.

The band released their breakthrough album Doolittle in 1989. With its mix of alternative rock, punk, and pop influences, it became a landmark release in alternative rock history.

Songs like “Letter to Memphis” and “Here Comes Your Man” landed in the Modern Rock charts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but none made it to the Billboard Hot 100. Nevertheless, their influence extends far beyond chart rankings.

Many popular bands of the ’90s cited them as major sources of inspiration due to their unique fusion of styles and distinctive guitar work.

4. Dinosaur Jr.

Next up, Dinosaur Jr. emerged from Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1984 and quickly gained a reputation for their distinct alternative rock sound that draws similarities to The Replacements.

Their distinct fusion of grunge, punk, and melodic pop has attracted fans from various genres, demonstrating their expansive influence within the music industry.

Notable tracks, such as “Feel The Pain,” showcase their mastery of balancing heavy guitar riffs with catchy melodies, making Dinosaur Jr’s music memorable.

Throughout their career, Dinosaur Jr.’s innovative approach to songwriting and performance has earned them a loyal following among fans who appreciate authentic musicianship.

5. Minutemen

Since The Replacements was also a punk rock band, we must include The Minutemen. Formed in 1980 and made up of D Boon and Mike Watt, the band quickly became a remarkable force in the American punk rock scene.

Their music tackled important issues such as patriotism and war while also incorporating humor into their lyrics. Some essential tracks to check out are “This Ain’t No Picnic,” “History Lesson Part II,” and “Corona.”

Sadly, The Minutemen’s career was tragically cut short when Boon passed away in a car accident in 1985 at just 27 years old. The band may have been around for only a few years, but their impact on music history is still significant.

6. The Lemonheads

Formed in 1986 by Evan Dando, Jesse Peretz, and Ben Deily, The Lemonheads initially started out as a hardcore punk band but soon shifted their sound towards more rock-oriented music.

They have been compared to other influential bands like The Replacements due to their fusion of different genres, such as punk, power pop, and jangle pop.

The Lemonheads’ early releases, including their debut album, Hate Your Friends, and its follow-up, Creator, were well-received. However, it was their 1992 album It’s a Shame About Ray that was their mainstream success.

After a hiatus in the late 1990s, The Lemonheads returned in 2005. Since then, they have continued to make music, tour, and inspire fans around the world.

7. Sonic Youth

A band that emanated from the bustling streets of New York City in 1981 and created ripples in the world of music is Sonic Youth. Their unique sound was a breath of fresh air in the alternative rock scene, just as The Replacement was during their heyday.

Sonic Youth’s discography is a treasure trove of groundbreaking music. Their 1988 album Daydream Nation is often hailed as their magnum opus, a sprawling double album that’s considered one of the greatest of its era.

Songs like “Teen Age Riot” and “‘Cross the Breeze” encapsulate the band’s innovative approach to songwriting. Other notable works worth exploring are “Goo,” “Dirty,” and “Kool Thing.”

8. The Jam

Another band that shares similarities with The Replacements is The Jam. A punk rock trio from England, this band was active in the late 1970s and early 1980s during the new wave movement.

The Jam’s influence on alternative rock cannot be overstated, especially in their homeland of Britain, where they were one of the most popular bands of their era.

Throughout their career, The Jam released 18 singles in the UK. Each of these consecutively reached the top 40, while four landed the #1 spot: “Going Underground,” “Start!” “Town Called Malice” and “Beat Surrender.”

In December 1982, The Jam disbanded at the height of their success. Even though their journey as a band came to an end, their legacy lives on in the many bands influenced by their works.

9. Mission Of Burma

Originating from Boston, Massachusetts, in 1979, the post-punk band Mission of Burma was composed of Roger Miller, Clint Conley, Peter Prescott, and Martin Swope. Together, they crafted a distinct sound that blended avant-garde experimentation with post-punk dynamics.

In 1981, they released the EP Signals, Calls, and Marches, which marked the beginning of their journey in the independent music circuit, earning them recognition for their innovative approach to music.

Unfortunately, their journey was cut short. After only four years, Mission of Burma had to disband due to Miller’s development of tinnitus, which was exacerbated by the loud volume of the band’s live performances.

10. Meat Puppets

Formed in 1980 by brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood, the rock band Meat Puppets earned themselves a dedicated following with their fusion of punk, country, psychedelic, and alternative rock.

The Meat Puppets initially gained attention within the underground punk scene, releasing their self-titled debut album in 1982. Then their breakthrough came in the 1990s when they were invited by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain to perform with them on their iconic “MTV Unplugged” session.

The band’s songs “Lake of Fire” and “Plateau” were introduced to a wider audience, helping to solidify their status as influential and respected musicians. Fans of The Replacements, don’t hesitate to explore The Meat Puppets’ discography!

11. Guided By Voices

Another alternative rock band sharing musical styles as The Replacement is Guided by Voices (GBV). This group was formed in 1983 by singer-songwriter Robert Pollard.

GBV’s music is a blend of jangle pop and arty post-punk, creating a unique sound that has made them stand out in the indie rock scene. Their lo-fi aesthetic and infectiously brief pop songs have become their trademark.

The band’s career is marked by several breaks and lineup changes over the years, yet their releases can only be described in one word: prolific. From their inception to the current date, they dropped 37 studio albums, 19 EPs, 12 compilation albums, and 39 singles.

12. Pavement

Penultimate on this list is the American indie rock band Pavement, formed in 1989. Their sound encapsulates the essence of 90’s indie rock with a unique blend of noise pop and post-punk influences.

They have released five albums to date. All have been well-received, while their sophomore album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain has achieved Silver status. Fan-favorite songs include the top-10 hits “Cut Your Hair” and “Carrot Rope.”

It seems their cultural impact extends beyond just music too! Pavement recently made headlines when they were referenced in a “mansplaining” scene featuring Ken in the recent Barbie movie.

Even though they’ve had a ton of success, Pavement has managed to stay true to their roots. They’ve kept that cool underground vibe and never let go of their indie spirit.

13. Big Star

Founded by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummell, and Jody Stephens, Big Star came to life in Memphis, Tennessee, back in 1971. Their sound was a defining force that helped shape power pop, a style marked by bright melodies, and boyish vocal harmonies, all driven by urgent rhythms.

Despite their significant impact on the music scene, they were often referred to as the “unluckiest band in America.” The ’70s saw them gaining positive reviews for their albums and influencing countless followers, but they never quite managed to reach stardom.

Their records, while not commercially successful during the time of their release, have since been championed by subsequent generations of rockers, solidifying Big Star’s legacy in the annals of rock & roll history.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like The Replacements

And so, we’ve come to the end of our exploration into bands that echo the distinctive sound and style of The Replacements.

We hope that this has led you to some new favorites to add to your playlist and deepened your appreciation for punk/alternative rock.

We might have missed some bands that you think share a similar vibe with The Replacements. If so, feel free to let us know who so we can add them to this list!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.