What bands most "owned" their sound?

I started thinking about this reading about the Kinks vs. the Beatles thread.

While IMO the Beatles were a better band, the Kinks were more identifiable. They owned their sound, there was something about their music that you could listen to and think “Sounds like a Kinks song”, even if it wasn’t one.
I’d say the best example has to be Creedence Clearwater. John Fogarty had that incredible voice and his writing seemed to somehow link all their music together and as “their sound”. The Beach Boys had vocal surf music locked up.

The Stone had blues rock but over time became more diverse, less reliably “Stones-like”. And that’s not a bad thing – they broke their mold and tried out new things. That’s why the Beatles never owned their sound, they were always making excursions into new areas before they became dominant in one.

Just to be clear, I’m not asking about vocalists. There were many many incredibly distinct vocalists who were instantly recognizable by their voice and style. I’m asking about the “voices” of bands and music.

A couple of others that fit in like this – Boston, Santana. I’m also going to throw in Chuck Berry despite that he’s maybe best known as an individual artist. The music he wrote was identifiable as his even when performed by others.

AC/DC–every song they have sounds pretty much like every other song they have.

Led Zeppelin–more diverse than AC/DC, but readily identifiable

Lynyrd Skynyrd–perhaps between Zep and AC/DC in terms of diversity, but definitely a distinct sound.

Let’s see: Cake. The Doors. My Bloody Valentine. Primus. Red Hot Chili Peppers (I’ve heard lots of bands try to sound like them, but nobody seems to pull it off.) The Smiths. Phish. Grateful Dead. U2. Neu! System of a Down. Smashing Pumpkins. Stereolab.

The Who. I’m listening to them today and it’s clear there is a certain sound to all their songs (though the sound evolved over the years). It was bass-driven, with power chords by Townsend, plus Moon’s distinctive drumming.

Same for the Doors. The organ-heavy music made things very distinctive.

And, of course, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. :wink:

The Who, the Doors, Pink Floyd, RHCP and probably the Clash and the Sex Pistols. And NWA for rap.

Oh, yeah, definitely the Who. You can hear Moon’s drumming a mile away. When he died and they got a replacement, though, it no longer sounded like the Who to me.

And maybe Zappa, whatever style what was.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience. No mistaking that guitar, although the first time I heard Stevie Ray, I thought it was Hendrix back from the dead.

Chuck Berry, another distinctive guitar sound.

I thought they owned everybody’s sounds. :smiley:

That’s totally 100% true, but at least some of that was due to their popularity. There’s plenty of times when I’ll hear a song only only to look at the radio display and see it says Jan & Dean. I know Brian Wilson has some involvement in there somewhere and there the Beach Boys covered some of their songs, but if you hear Surf City or Little Old Lady from Pasadena, it’s probably not the Beach Boys.

No band in the world sounds like Tool.

(Except Tool, of course.)

Queen – Freddy’s voice, of course, but the combination of Brian’s Red Special guitar, and the Deacy amp, is unmistakable.

I was going to mention Rush, a band that has evolved immensely over the decades but it still instantly recognizable. Then it occurred to me that, having been a Rush fan for almost 40 years, and having spent a lot of time playing bass and singing along, I’m intimately familiar with their songs and can instantly identify them on that basis alone. So perhaps not a good example.

So I’ll pick a band that is/was popular, but of which I’m not a devout fan and so I don’t already know every song: Van Halen. I’ve found that I can almost always identify an unfamiliar Van Halen song within the first couple of bars. Interestingly (to me, anyway), it’s not Eddie’s guitar sound that does it. It’s Alex’s drumming. Specifically, his high-hat. He almost always plays with a “loose” hat, and for some reason his hat is always very “up front” in the mix.

R.E.M.'s signature jangle guitar sound and Stipe’s unique timbre.

Violent Femmes’ acoustic punk sound is definitely a stand out.

Belle and Sebastian’s twee-infused chamber pop is definitely engrained on each of their songs.

Hehe… reading your thread title, my first thought was that I could think of one band who you could say doesn’t own their own “sound.”

I feel like Pearl Jam’s guitar and vocals are a common thread through all their songs, as much as with The Who (who are a huge influence on Eddie).

I would definitely count Rush. That said, I feel a good portion, if not most, of successful bands have a sound they “own.”

Jethro Tull
Steely Dan
Talking Heads

Nirvana. Every song sounded drearier than the last one.


The Fall

Roxy Music

With those two it seems like one long song going on for years.