Garage rock is a subgenre of rock'n'roll that dates back to the late 1950's when amateur bands exploded across the United States. The name comes from the assumption that bands practiced in suburban garages and were often very crude, but this belies the fact that they were diverse in their approaches, ranging from basic one or two chord wonders to very professional acts that even had regional hits. Some bands, like The Monks and The Velvet Underground, were even very experimental in their approach. For example, the Velvet Underground were as much influenced by avant-garde composers like LaMonte Young and Ornette Coleman as they were Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Link Wray and Bob Dylan. While the Monks were less influenced by the Avant Garde, their approach was unusual by using a banjo as a replacement for a lead guitar that gave a wiry sound, lyrics that bordered on surreal minimalistic rants, no use of cymbals and drumming that owed as much to polkas and military marches as they did rock'n'roll.
The most famous characteristics of garage rock are the Fuzztone guitar sound (as used on "The Witch" by The Sonics), Farfisa organ stabs and raw production qualities at odds with the polished production of both major record labels and acts like The Beatles. The Sonics often adopted the production techniques and methods of Link Wray, such as putting a hole in the loudspeaker of their amplifiers to get distortion commonplace in many of the more raunchy R&B based bands. The rough production of garage rock was very influential on many early punk bands, who played and recorded songs in as crude a manner out of necessity.
By The early 1970's, The New York Dolls] and The Stooges] were part of a new wave of bands influenced by and continuing the crude, raunchy, primitive sound of garage rock at odds with the progressive rock that dominated the music industry at that time. By this time, it was being called "punk" (a term coined by Lester Bangs in Creem Magazine, the first band to call their music thus were Suicide). This lead to a garage rock revival in the late 1970's, which continues to this day.
While this is superficial, it is only intended as a potted guide.
Classic garage rock songs:
Pushing Too Hard- The Seeds
You're Gonna Miss Me- Thirteenth Floor Elevators]
Psychotic Reaction- Count Five
Black Monk Time- The Monks
Shut up- The Monks
7 and 7 Is- Love
96 Tears- ? and The Mysterians
Any Billy Childish
Louie Louie- The Kingsmen
The Witch- The Sonics
Boss Hoss- The Sonics
The modern version alternative music--actually an offshoot with roots from the British rock subgenre.
NOTE: Garage rock has changed in the last 40 years. The feel is more fast pased, and it usually gives a "complete" feeling; there are usually no boring gaps or holes in the song. Garage rock shares some qualities with Indie, such as their individuality. Also, these bands are often the lesser known bands, which has no correlation with their talent.
Contrary to emo, pop, metal, punk, goth, "modern" or "anthem" rock, etc...
Garage Rock bands include:Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC), The Hives, The Vines, The Stooges, Sahara Hotnights, The Subways, Caesars, The Libertines, The White Stripes (borders general rock), Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Donnas, Cardigans (borders on pop).
NOTE: This list is only a fraction of accomplished bands. Bands form and die everyday, and some are never known out of their hometown.