Chosen by: Alice Cooper

I can’t really remember how I discovered her, but I think it was through a girlfriend. I just went WOW. It reminded me of Broadway. She was a street singer, and she was a white girl singing with all these black girls. She’s as pure a songwriter as I’ve ever heard. I’m just addicted to her stuff, everything from ‘Eli And The Thirteenth Confession’ to ‘New York Tendaberry’.


Chosen by: Pink Eyes, Fucked Up

They’re probably the only band in the world that would cover Anti-Nowhere League and then also cover Sun Ra. They take their music right the way across the board. And they’re also huge fans of professional wrestling (laughs). At the time I got into them, I did not like professional wrestling at all – I really have to credit them for getting me into it!





Chosen by: Alex Hewett, Egyption Hip Hop

Moondog was a blind street musician and poet prominent in the ’50s and ’60s. His father, when he was a child, took him to a Sun Dance, and this famously affected the way he viewed rhythm. He’d record songs in tropical bird sanctuaries or by the Hudson River, with the sound of the foghorns blaring in the background. He was hugely unconventional and original, and I love him.


Chosen by: Charlie Fink, Noah & The Whale

Never to be constricted by genre or expectation, Arthur’s compositions varied from disco to folk to avant-garde classical to minimalist cello drones. The albums ‘Calling Out Of Context’ and ‘Love Is Overtaking Me’ showcase his dexterous skills at their best. Hearing Arthur’s music for the first time was so profoundly influential, like a painter discovering a new colour to use on their canvas.





Chosen by: Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend

I read this alarmist right-wing book about cults in my school library, and there was a section on satanic cults. They had a whole chapter about Venom's ‘Black Metal’ LP. It quoted the lyrics to ‘Sacrifice’ about drinking a chalice of blood – and I remember thinking “This is so stupid and crazy.” I had to buy the album.


Chosen by: Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend

They’re not peers, they’re older, but when I came to New York I interned at the studio they used to run in Harlem. Their first LP (2002’s ‘Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone’) came out before I went to college, and it had such a distinct sound. I love every song. It’s the band I’ve paid most in my life to go see.


Chosen by: Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend

The Descendents don’t have a political agenda or the sense of humour of a band like the Ramones. They’re straight-up suburban punk. They still have this guttural energy and anger which comes from a different place. Just because you grew up in the suburbs doesn’t preclude you from making exciting and important music.


Chosen by: Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend

Even though his music isn’t a huge influence I’d say ‘Expensive Shit’ was probably the first African record I listened to a lot. In my teens, I was into punk rock, and looking at the album cover, it fits that aesthetic. I learned the back story about Fela getting busted for drugs. It was my introduction not only to the music, but also to the political situation.


Chosen by: Lee Speilman, Trash Talk

In terms of punk and hardcore, it’s gotta be Black Flag. With Black Flag, Henry Rollins established the whole touring circuit and tour ethic that bands like Trash Talk still totally follow now. They toured so hard and put 100 per cent into everything they did, and out of that they just established this whole new thing. People like me and my band are still fucking with it today, which is pretty unique.


Chosen by: Matt Bellamy, Muse

He’s an artist who makes me not afraid of growing old. He creates characters in his songs better than anyone I’ve ever come across. He inspired me to want to make an instrument out of human skulls. As a musician, you go through stages where you think you know everything about music or lyrics or whatever. Tom Waits made me realise I don’t know everything.


Chosen by: Sam Halliday, Two Door Cinema Club

I like how he pretty much does what he wants to musically. He doesn’t write the music his record label wants him to and he doesn’t just try to please fans. I heard that one of the shows he played was full of songs he had just written on the flight over. Plus, he’s probably made his millions, and is married to Mandy Moore.





Chosen by: Alex Kapranos, Franz Ferdinand

I saw them on Top Of The Pops 2 doing ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’. I liked that somebody could get something so extreme across and yet it’s still so catchy and direct. A couple of years ago I heard this guy talking behind me about doing this European tour back in 1973. I turned around and it was Ron Mael. I completely froze. Just what do you say to guys like that?


Chosen by: Rhys Webb, The Horrors

Japanese-born Damo Suzuki busked his way around Europe before being invited to join the now-legendary krautrockers Can in 1970. Otherwordly and unhinged, his unique use of melody and rhythm is timeless and inspirational. ‘Vitamin C’ and ‘Mushroom’ are great examples of his psychedelic funk style: heavy, rhythmic and perfect for the dancefloor.


Chosen by: Faris Badwan, The Horrors

Nick Drake’s unique style of guitar-playing contributed hugely to his enduring appeal. His songs are just timeless, built on inimitable tunings and technique, while remaining totally understated. By the time of his death at 26 he had only released three albums, and while the singer-songwriter genre has a larger pool than most, he ranks alongside the very best.


Chosen by: Joseph Spurgeon, Horrors

As soon as I heard this man’s voice, I was sold. The album for me is ‘The Elusive Bob Lind’. My favourite track is ‘What Color Are You?’, and the rest of the album is amazing. He started off at 23, in 1966, and has played with everyone from Jarvis Cocker to Richard Hawley. The first time I heard Bob was on Jarvis’ compilation, ‘The Trip,’ so thanks Jarvis!


Chosen by: Tom Cowan, The Horrors

The Wrecking Crew were a large group of LA session musicians in the late ’50s to the ’70s. Chances are you’ve never heard of them, but you’ve probably been listening to them all your life. They worked behind the scenes, often cutting an album in a 15-hour day. They were so good they defined an era while all the time staying totally unknown.


Chosen by: Joshua Hayward, The Horrors

He first presented himself in the late ’50s as forgotten bluesman Blind Joe Death. The unbridled playing of his earlier records won me over instantly, and his later works are nihilistic and challenging. That’s what I love about Fahey. He’s made music in every decade we’ve had pop, never followed trends but always been relevant and exciting.


Chosen by: NME’s Alan Woodhouse

The frontman of The Fall is notorious for having a vocal delivery basically styled on a tramp shouting. After witnessing the bemused, ‘Why is that drunk man yelling at me?’ looks from those watching Gorillaz’ 2010 Glastonbury headline slot, when Smith put his unique imprint on ‘Glitter Freeze’, it’s clear that his singular vision to his craft is never likely to become part of the zeitgeist.


Chosen by Kyle Falconer from The View

He’s the biggest influence on my songwriting. My sister used to play Crowded House songs when I was younger and I was intrigued about the way he wrote. He talks in metaphorical terms; he’ll explain how much he’s in love with somebody by talking about a daisy chained up in a lion’s den. It always made a lot of sense, and as I grew older I thought I could do it too.


Chosen by: Noel Gallagher

There’s a guy from Liverpool called Edgar Jones, who used to be called Edgar Summertyme. He was in the band The Stairs. He’s incredible – he’s just known as Edgar in Liverpool. That guy gets far out, man. He gets further out than anybody else. People in London seem hell-bent on pushing music forwards, but those cats in Liverpool? They’re going back in time, and Edgar goes further back than anybody.


Chosen by Alex Taylor from Hot Chip

I was really obsessed with his music and particularly his solo stuff. I like Big Star but I went backwards to the Box Tops and then jumped forward to ‘Like Flies On Sherbert’ and pretty much everything else. I briefly met him when I worked at Domino [Records]. I was trying to get in touch with him to get him to sign and do a record with Domino, but sadly it never happened.


Chosen by: Stuart Braithwaite

When I first heard them, I was quite young and into Sonic Youth, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Dinosaur Jr. My Bloody Valentine were a band of that ilk. It might sound a bit wanky but there’s something violent and vicious, yet soft and poetic about their sound.


Chosen by: Brian Wilson

I love The Four Freshmen, but Rosemary Clooney is the hero I have to mention here. She did that song ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’, which I learnt by just copying her. What was it about her that I liked? Her voice! She’s a very beautiful singer, and I just like the sound of her voice. She has this great tone – I’ve loved it all my life.


Chosen by: Jonathan Higgs, Everything Everything

My brother came home with this CD called ‘Mr Bungle’, and I just thought, ‘What the hell is this?’ That album’s literally the sound of a toilet flushing, and then some Transylvanian organs and songs about porn and sex and… John Travolta. It really threw me. But he’s got such a range in everything he does, that’s why he’s so great.


Chosen by: Carl Barat

Django fused two of his fingers together when saving his guitar froma burning caravan, so folklore would have it. And yet he went on to become the best guitarist who ever lived. I used to love his records, every new chord I learned from Django would sound horrible out of context, but in context it’d be perfect. And from every chord I’d end up writing a song.

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