The Long Ryders
You can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting an Alt Country band that identifies Gram Parsons' California country as a key influence. Energized by the punk scene, the Long Ryders were paying homage to Cosmic American Music back when most of these new-fangled Alt Country bands were still grooving to Motley Crew. But a love of Parsons and the Byrds isn't all the Long Ryders had: they were a hard-hitting, rootsy rock 'n' roll band that bridged the gap between fellow L.A. bands such as Punk/Roots rockers Rank and File and the dreamier Rain Parade. Led by Parsons biographer Sid Griffin, you will find Long Ryders records filed under "Ahead of the Times." Definitely scoop them up, as their two best releases -- 10-5-60 and Native Sons -- are available on one reissue. The Long Ryders never excelled at poignant ballads, but they were one of the hardest rocking bands ever to hit the stage with banjo, mandolin, and steel guitar.