Certain bands sound almost anachronistic because of their creativity. These bands often sound “alien,” as if they had never heard music before, since no other bands of their time sound like them. One fairly commonly cited example of this is My Bloody Valentine. Although they didn’t totally exist in a vacuum, the screeching noise pop of artists like The Jesus And Mary Chain were a profound influence on the band and their sound was unique for the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Talking Heads – I don’t really know of any contemporary new wave bands that have the heavy funk influences they have. Sure, Gang Of Four, ESG and A Certain Ratio had some funk stuff going on too, but they all turned it inside out. Talking Heads were able to stay true to the funky groove but push it in such interesting directions.
Madvillainy is on its own plane of existence in my opinion. DOOM’s lyrical flow, multisyllabic rhymes and diction are normally one of a kind, but add that to Madlib’s obscure samples and the pair’s ability to make a 23 song album sound too short, and the result is remarkable and no other hip hop album has come very close.
Autechre – Electronic music pioneers. Release by release their work evolves into a whole new territory of music theory. Difficult to get into for some, but most rewarding. Just sample some Amazon reviews for further information.
Massive Attack – They essentially made trip-hop a thing, and the end result is just so damn polished. They’re still just about everyone’s go-to for trip-hop, despite there being lots of other stuff about that’s… well… nearly as good.
Kraftwerk – It’s astounding how much of their older stuff sounds like it only came out last week, still so fresh and original decades later.
Jimi Hendrix – The legendary blues-smith who considered himself pretty good but knew in his heart that he had a pioneers’ spirit with a long road ahead of him. So much left to learn, so many guitar techniques to explore.
I’m convinced that had he lived, he would have invented Djent by himself by the mid-80’s.
Throbbing Gristle – I still don’t think ANY band has ever reached as deep into the depths of depravity as Throbbing Gristle. Seriously, it has to be the filthiest music I’ve ever heard. They really push the limits of what I can listen to comfortably.
Björk – I feel that her voice, and how she uses it, alone makes her qualify. Her evolution through her albums has certainly made her one of a kind.
Talk Talk – Started as a fairly popular and qualitatively decent synth pop band, but after their second record they gave up on their synthesizers and during their artistic evolution displayed in their final three records, they developed a sound and musical philosophy that was unique at the time. Hell, it still is, and as of today they are considered forerunners of the post-rock movement and highly influential on alternative acts.
And, of course, Daft Punk – As Thomas Bangalter once said: “We like the idea of trying to be pioneers, but the problem with that is when you’re too much ahead, the connection doesn’t really happen at the time. At Coachella, we still may have been five years ahead of people, but the connection was happening at that moment. It was the most synched-up we ever felt”.