5. Portland, Oregon, USA

Creative Commons / WaferManeuver

Portland became a noted hub of indie and alternative rock in the USA in the 1990s, and has since cemented its place as one of the most prominent cities in American culture today.

The city and its thriving music scene has been a welcoming host and inspiration to a wide-range of acts originally from elsewhere, including the late Nebraska-born musician Elliott Smith (whose previous band Heatmiser were also formed in the city) and indie rockers Modest Mouse, The Shins, Spoon and Stephen Malkmus.

Smith in particular became synonymous with the often-rainy city, with his intricate and introspective folk and ornate rock music touching the hearts of critics and fans alike before his untimely death in October 2003.

The Kingsmen were the perhaps the first significant Portland based group though, emerging in the 1960s with their classic cover of the Richard Berry song “Louie, Louie”. Then the acclaimed punk rockers the Wipers really begun to make Portland cool. The legendary Greg Sage-fronted band arguably did more than anyone to establish Portland as a significant place for independent rock and punk. The first three innovative and distortion heavy records the Wipers cut – namely Is This Real? Youth Of America and Over The Edge – are widely recognised as classics, influencing everyone from Beat Happening to Nirvana and laying much of the groundwork for the grunge explosion of the late 1980s.

In recent years ornate folk pop band The Decemberists have had considerable success, and singer-songwriter M. Ward is another to have ascended out of the fertile Portland scene, gaining recognition first as a solo artist and then alongside actress and singer Zooey Deschanel in She & Him.

Portland also boasts the Satriycon Club, reportedly the place where a certain Kurt Cobain & Courtney Love reportedly first locked eyes on each other.

Associated acts: The Kingsmen, Wipers, Elliott Smith, The Shins, The Decemberists, The Dandy Warhols, Modest Mouse, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Sleater-Kinney, Heatmiser, Quasi, M. Ward

Landmarks: Satriycon Club, Crystal Ballroom