A friend posed this question on Facebook the other day, and it seems if REM were the Radiohead of the early 90s, and Radiohead were the Radiohead of the late 90s/early 00s, then there's a slightly younger generation who don't have their 'big alternative band'.
Sure, you could say that Arcade Fire fulfil this role, but I get the impression that even their biggest fans have other bands that they love more. Arcade Fire don't have that 'fuck, you have to hear this band' word of mouth vibe about them.
I'm not sure The National will ever 'do a Kid A' or have an In Rainbows gimmick, which why - as Rob says this week's singles column - they're more like REM http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4147405-dis-does-singles-10-02-14--the-national-annie-modern-baseball
Is there a defining band that most alternative fans can get behind and call our own? The sort of band we've seen grow and blossom, rather than caught up with our elders. The National feel like that band to me.
(I guess this thread may not apply to those of you who are over 35)