Alternative rock’s most visceral and majestic moments can almost always be traced back to the Pixies. Between 1988 and 1991, the Boston icons released four albums that effectively set the stage for Nirvana’s game-changing Nevermind—an album that Kurt Cobain later admitted was his best attempt at a Pixies rip-off. A controlled chaos of noise rock, art-pop, punk and surf music, moulded around morbid myths and surreal imagery, the Pixies’ sound was never easy to pin down—a major reason why their commercial success would never match their immense influence. In 1986, after moving to Boston from Massachusetts, singer/songwriter/guitarist Charles Thompson IV (who would christen himself Black Francis) and guitarist Joey Santiago put out an ad seeking a bass player. Kim Deal responded, bought a bass and brought in drummer David Lovering. In their first half-decade, the Pixies were prolific: 1988’s Surfer Rosa and 1989’s Doolittle were groundbreaking, as singles like “Where is My Mind?” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven'' delivered sublime punches to the gut with their quiet/loud, start/stop dynamics. Meanwhile, the candied pop hooks of “Here Comes Your Man” lured plenty of unexpected listeners into the Pixies’ madness. Even after they broke up in 1993, that manic-melodic meld had already been embedded in the DNA of bands like Radiohead, Weezer and Smashing Pumpkins. Though the Pixies would reunite in 2004, Deal eventually left the band and was replaced by bassist/violinist Paz Lenchantin, who appeared on their first album in 23 years, 2014’s Indie Cindy. As the Pixies continue redefining their own defining style, they still sound—maybe more than ever—like no one else.