Queens of the Stone Age – “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”
Chris: I’m going to be honest here…. Josh Homme is dead sexy, but more importantly QOTSA had a huge impact on me growing up. They kind of set the bar for bedroom guitarists everywhere.
QOTSA songs are packed full of strong melodies, infectious grooves and catchy guitar riffs. Most importantly, they aren’t afraid to have a bit of fun.
Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights”
Andy: Two-piece punk party outfit DFA make it very plain that ‘too much’ does not exist when it comes to bass. We defy you to go away not singing the raw, aggressive and unashamedly fun bass line from “Romantic Rights”.
Future of the Left – “Plague of Onces”
Tobias: This song gives me seizures…but in a good way.
FOTL are in equal parts hilarious and totally badass. They remind us not to take the whole music thing too seriously, and not be afraid to rock. Buy everything they’ve ever done then reflect on how stupid past-you was for not getting into them sooner.
The Dismemberment Plan – “Memory Machines”
Tobias: This song has it all, imaginative and earnest lyrics, synths wielded like ray guns pointed straight at the audience, an off-kilter beat, and a killer chorus.
These guys have recently reformed, but I’d recommend going back to their third album ‘Emergency and I’ from 2000 for an alt-rock masterclass.
Battles – “Tij”
Chris: The album ‘Mirrored’ is a masterclass in instrumental arrangement and idea development. “Tij” in particular has everything that an instrumental track needs: melodic hooks, interesting textures, a danceable groove and f*ck you moments.
Maps and Atlases – “Every Place is a House”
Andy: Maps and Atlases sit perfectly in the gap between well-mannered indie-folk and the left-field of instrumental and math-rock bands. On “Every Place is a House”, until-recently-magnificently-bearded singer Dave Davison delivers the kind of melodies you’d expect to hear on a Fleet Foxes track, in between bursts of utter guitar nonsense.
Radiohead – “2+2=5″
Chris: Radiohead have a huge influence on the way we write our music. Every Radiohead song has its own unique character, using elements from a variety of genres to draw the listener in. The way “2+2=5″ builds and develops into that cathartic drop is nothing short of mind-blowing.
Spring Offensive – “No Assets”
Andy: If we had to tip any underground band, it would have to be Spring Offensive. Some of the hardest working musicians we know, these guys cleverly lock together atmospheric guitars, infectious grooves and devastatingly real lyrics about debt, dead end jobs, and paying the rent. The video to “No Assets” also showcases the band’s DIY approach and was filmed using 12 chest-mounted iPhones, check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvu4Dl56cqQ
Fleet Foxes – “Sim Sala Bim”
Andy: ‘Ruffle the fur of the collie ‘neath the table’ sings Robin Pecknold on “Sim Sala Bim”, giving the track a sense of homecoming on every listen. Fleet Foxes are masters of melody and harmony, and essential listening for anyone who thinks ‘Folk’ is a dirty word that implies banjos and hoedowns.
Alan Lomax – “Old Alabama”
Tobias: This comes from a collection of recordings made by the great musicologist Alan Lomax of songs sung by black prisoners while working, breaking rocks, or felling trees.
Singing these songs was a way in which prisoners could reframe their forced labour in a positive way and take ownership of each swing of the axe. These guys are, in a small way, made free though their music, and you can feel it in their singing.
As a result, these songs are immensely powerful, consisting of just the hypnotic beat of their axes and hammers alongside a powerful call and response melody sung as if it might be the last note that any of them sing.
These records directly inspired the melodies in our songs “Strange Times” and “Bitumen”, but more importantly they just proved that if the melody is there and is sung as if your life depended on it, you don’t need anything else.