100 cult classics that deserve your love, picked by NME writers and your favourite bands
100. Wild Billy Childish & The Buff Medways’ Fanciers Association – ‘Steady The Buffs’ (Transcopic)
Michael McKnight of Frankie & The Heartstrings: “I believe this to be the 100th album that Billy Childish recorded and although it was well received upon its release in 2002 it nowhere near was given the plaudits it deserved considering he is the modern day William Blake. His lyrics are on par with anything written by Charles Bukowski and his guitar sounds like everything that’s great about the Kinks. So few artists write with such honesty and just let the songs stand up for themselves. The album inspired me to start a band when it came out and we make numerous references to it.
99. The Walkmen – ‘You & Me’ (Talitres)
Felix White of The Maccabees: “They’re a band who seem to be known to everyone, including all our mates, as ‘That band who wrote that song The Rat.’ They sound like one of those really insular bands who don’t really listen to much modern music, but the soundscapes on that album are just amazing, the guitar sounds the manage to get are unbelievable, and the songs just really get you. They seem like a band who are making music for music’s sake, and nothing else.”
98. Morrissey – ‘Bona Drag’ (HMV)
Lee from Brother: “This is kind of a compilation of stuff that came out between his first two albums, which has been a bit forgotten by most people. ‘Picadilly Palare’, the first track, is one of my favourites: it’s basically about a secret language that transvestites and gay people used to use, back when it was illegal. That sounds ridiculous now, but you just wouldn’t get anyone signing about such a topic anymore. Same thing with ‘November Spawned A Monster’, another song that doesn’t get aired or talked about much these days.”
97. Frightwig – ‘Cat Farm Faboo’ (Subterranean)
Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera: “Frightwig were great friends of mine. The fact that they could put out a record and make themselves known was a very important thing for me. They were a huge inspiration for L7, too. In face, L7 totally ripped them off in that they end all their songs in German with all that ‘Ein, schwein!’ stuff. They were a huge, attitude-ridden wall of sound with a lot of sexual angst thrown in. In the light of the female bands going down, Frightwig are getting overlooked.”
96. Sun Ra – ‘The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra’ (ESP-Disk)
Pete Townshend: “I got really into that sort of way-out avant-garde jazz, but you couldn’t find his record anywhere. So, one day I was in a jazz shop in Chicago – which I think is where Sun Ra came from – and I said, ‘have you got any Sun Ra?’ The guy says, ‘Yeah, all his stuff.’ I said, ‘Give me everything.’ ‘Everything?’ ‘Yeah.’ He comes back with 250 albums. Most of which I’ve still got in that room over there, still in the shrink-wrap.”
95. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – ‘Howl’ (RCA)
Guy Garvey of Elbow: “People didn’t really get it, and nobody ever really picked up on how good it was, maybe because it was so different to their first two records, being mostly acoustic. But you can tell when you listen to it that the album is really coming from the soul. The lyrics to one of the songs, Fault Line – “Racing with the rising tide to my father’s door” – that’s poetry, that is. Those are proper, Dylan-class lyrics. But the whole album is just beautiful musically, and it was a real departure for the band.”
94. Jackie Mclean and Michael Carvin – ‘Antiquity’ (Steeplechase)
Jamie XX: “It’s a jazz album from the early 70s that’s quite innovative, it has rhythms that could still be played out now in the dance clubs. I would describe it as kind of experimental jazz. It’s great for samples, there’s a lot of percussion and space in it and there’s a lot of weird African vocal chanting, and then there’s also some great heavy drum riffs that sound like they could be sampled in UK garage.”
93. Jarcrew – ‘Jarcrew’ (Gut Records)
The legacy of Jarcrew rests on the unbridled creative brilliance that was their self-titled 2003 debut album. ‘Jarcrew’ wilfully smothered brainstorms before they could ignite, creating a cut and shut line of jagged collusion that veered from sleazy synth-pop to proggy punk and back into hands-in-the-air metal before you could catch your breath. Had this album come out in a post-Bloc Party, post-Dizzee, post-Crystal Castles world, Jarcrew would have been huge. But of course, it didn’t, and they’re not.
92. Fanny – ‘Mothers Pride’ (Reprise Records)
Stella Mozgawa, Warpaint: “Fanny were pioneers, one the first rock bands to feature all women, and the second ever to be signed to a major label when they signed to Reprise in 69. The album was produced by Todd Rundgren. They featured two sisters by the name of June and Jean Millington. They came from California and played dirty rock’n’soul. David Bowie called them the great lost band of the 70’s. This album is filthy, with a really dirty sound.”
91. Sandy Denny and the Strawbs – ‘All our Own Work’ (Pickwick)
Alex Scally of Beach House: “This is a late ’60s album featuring Sandy Denny before she got all Fairported. She was 19 when this one-off album was recorded in 1967, and the guy from the Strawbs, ‘Dave cousins, found her singing at an open-mike night. The next year she went off to join the band that she would end up doing her most celebrated work with, but this record is still amazing.”
90. 90 Day Men – ‘(It (Is) It) Critical Band’ (Southern Records)
Darwin Deez: “This Chicago-via-St. Louis band’s debut album is musical darkness, malaise and existentialism in its own incredibly unique way. This record is for intelligent, desperately lonely 18 year old boys like myself. It’s Slint-ish, it’s pretentious, and it’s more full of ennui than anything else in the fucking world. It’s sad, it’s angry, and every track on it is wonderfully listenable, given the right age, gender, mood and SAT scores. This is music to keep smart, depressed hipsters stuck down in the dumps.”
89. Shit And Shine – ‘Jealous Of Shit And Shine’
Jeremy Pritchard of Everything Everything: “I love ‘Jealous Of Shit And Shine’ the same way I love everything they do; the utter wretchedness coupled with humour; the surprising depth of what could seem initially like a one-dimensional sound; the cast iron but utterly uncontrived ‘absolutely-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-what-you-think-ness’ that it exudes. Although it sounds really abrasive, some song titles and the artwork spell out their playful streak pretty clearly.
I think its safe to say that none of the $$ sound has made it to Everything Everything.
88. Mobb Deep – ‘The Infamous’
Mark Ronson: “The rhyme that always comes to mind is from the song ‘Shook Ones’ where he goes ‘rock you in your face, stab your brain with your nose bone’ which I always thought was one of the most graphic rhymes of violence that existed, certainly on a great hip hop song that you would hear on the radio all the time. The song ‘Shook Ones Part 2’ was just one of the most sinister incredible hip hop records to ever be such a huge club record. It was the absolute biggest song you could play, the dancefloor would just go insane. The song was so aggro and sinister but girls really liked it.”
87. Diamond D – ‘Stunts Blunts and Hip Hop’ (Chemistry)
Mark Ronson: “Nobody’s going to dispute that Dre is the greatest hip hop producer of all time, but there’s something about hearing Diamond over his own beats, you cant imagine any guest star coming on and sounding better than he does. The thing about that era is they’d be laying three or four samples over the two of one track and you had these amazing sound collages that you couldn’t get away with these days because you’d just get sued and no-one can afford top pay for samples anymore.”
86. Brand Nubian – ‘One For All’
Mark Ronson: “Even though Grand Puba was the star of Brand Nubian and went on to have the biggest solo career, all three of them were pretty amazing rappers. It was just before hip hop went downtempo and got a little moodier and all the beats were harder and eerier. It was that era when you didn’t sound soft if you were rapping over an uptempo happy beat. They had great production and used really cool samples from soul and reggae.”
85. Pete Rock and CL Smooth – ‘Mecca And The Soul Brother’’ (Elektra)
Mark Ronson: “The old art was that each song on your record had to have a different kick and snare and you’d be digging the crates for some obscure drum break. Maybe there’d be one bar of something that you could chop up. Pete Rock was known as the king of finding samples and his drums, the way he programmed them had a really human feel as if there was a jazz drummer playing it, except they had these really fucking heavy kicks and snares.”
84. Smif-N-Wessun – ‘Dah Shinin’ (Wreck Records)
Mark Ronson: “These people were just writing shit ‘cause it was good and it was getting on the radio anyway. No-one was like ‘you’ve got to have n R&B sung chorus here’. So you get songs like ‘Bucktown’ and ‘Sound Bwoy Bureill’, where it feels like the beginning, when you listen to great rock’n’roll shit in the 60s there was no formula to it, they just happened to be making really good shit. That’s what a lot of the mid 90s era of hip hop – before people started thinking ‘we’ve got one song for the club, one song for the girls, one song for the radio.”
83. Edgar ‘Jones’ Jones – ‘Soothing Music For Stray Cats’ (The Viper Label)
Edgar Jones’ sprawling 2005 solo masterpiece is a 16-track beast of a record – a musical time machine so rich in its genre-palette that, by rights, it really shouldn’t stay afloat under the weight of its grandiose intentions. But float it does, for ‘Soothing Music For Stray Cats’ is Jones’ crowning glory after nigh on 15 years fronting nearly-bands (most notably early-90s riff-faves The Stairs).
82. Howlin’ Wolf – ‘This is Howlin’ Wolf’s new album. He doesn’t like it. He didn’t like his electric guitar at first either’ (Cadet Concept)
Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman: “It is one of rock history’s more baldly self-explanatory album titles; and any lingering doubt as to the artist’s disdain for the project is abundantly clarified by the Wolf’s subsequent summary of the album as “dog shit”. Howlin’ Wolf was one of the first Mississippi Delta blues musicians to make the transition from acoustic to electric guitar, and he led one of the first all-electric blues combo in fifties; but This is Howlin’ Wolf’s new album finds him well outside his comfort zone.
81. Fleetwood Mac – ‘Mirage’ (Warner Bros)
Elizabeth & Jeremy of Summer Camp: “Anyone with a Fleetwood Mac best-of will remember the lingering images of Stevie Nicks’ “Gypsy”, built around a classic Christine McVie piano line, but it’s Christine’s “Only Over You”, a tribute to her late boyfriend, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, that really throws the emotional punch. Someone needs to sample this tune. Elsewhere Lindsay Buckingham contributes the kind of classic Fleetwood Mac pop gems he made a career out of with the likes of “Oh Diane” and “Can’t Go Back”.
80. Moebius & Plank – ‘Rastaukaut Pasta’ (Sky Records)
Noble of British Sea Power: “Rastakraut Pasta is true loony cross-pollination – krautrock reggae. The album was released in 1980, opening with a cacophony of TV news, pirate-radio chatter and gonzo slide bass. Thereafter, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s near-catatonic studio chasms become home to a shotgun wedding of white garage funk and Rhineland dub. Elsewhere you get what sounds like The Ramones at half speed, plus lovely lilting melodies and sci-fi electronics.
79. The Prids – ‘Chronosynclastic’ (Velvet Blue Music)
Kip Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: “For a band that has created magnificently sincere, dark noise pop since the mid 1990s, Chronosynclastic is filled with concise, near-heroic blasts of melodic 90s American fuzz guitar that wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on a Built To Spill, Dirty-era Sonic Youth, Guided By Voices or early Helium release. But it’s Mistina + David’s often co-sung vocals, delivered with a heartfelt severity, that remain at the core of these songs’ power.
78. Suicide – ‘The Second Album’ (Ze)
James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem: “It’s produced by Ric Okasek from The Cars. He was a big fan. I think he made them a little more layered. There’s this amazing use of professional synthesisers, but it still retains a lot of weirdness and toughness. It’s not the record that everyone thinks of when you think of Suicide but it’s a really remarkable record and it kinda sets up what’s so great about their solo careers afterwards. I bought it because I was a Suicide fan – it was harder to find, it took me a while to get my hands on it.
77. Suicide – ‘Suicide’ (Red Star)
James Allan of Glavegas: “If you’re talking about originators… a genius album in rock’n’roll history that’s innovative, ‘Suicide’ is all things. I got one of the albums, there was a booklet thing inside… I was reading some of the things Alan Vega said, I could recognise something in myself. I carry the booklet around with me. In it, it says, “What was your confrontational stance with the audience pre-conceived or a reaction to the response?” Alan Vega replies: ‘A Combination of both. I always hated the idea of people going to a concert to be entertained.
76. Mclusky – ‘Mclusky Do Dallas’ (Too Pure)
Cardiff trio Mclusky’s position as outsiders was always a blessing and a curse for them. The release of ‘Mclusky Do Dallas’ in 2002 should have been the moment the band went stratospheric. Recorded with Steve Albini, the album saw the band’s feral guitar string whiplash harnessed into taught, crazy-disciplined songs. Its greatness didn’t go completely unnoticed – Mclusky’s cult fanbase bloomed as the patronage of John Peel helped their music bend new ears as much as it made them bleed, but their refusal to actively tool up for an over-the parapet assault meant things never got beyond cult.
75. This Heat – ‘Deceit’ (Rough Trade)
Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip: “It is a truly original sounding record which still sounds like it could have been made this week. In the same way that Miles Davis explored drum rhythms and synth sounds that completely pave the way for parts of drum and bass This Heat have parts which were hugely influential on ‘post rock’ in the 90s but only in, say, one small section of a song, rather than devoting a career to this ‘new’ sound.
74. Superstar – ‘Palm Tree’ (Camp Fabulous)
Ritzy of Joy Formidable: “This Glaswegian four piece sadly broke up before showing their full potential. They had an excellent songwriter in a soulful, charismatic frontman. Who knows what they would have gone on to do, but Palm Tree is still to be very much enjoyed. Just beware of lurking Rod Stewart cover is the only thing I would say (Rod covered their single ‘Superstar’ on his ‘When We Were The New Boys’ cover album from 1998).”
73. Jeffrey Foucault – ‘Ghost Repeaters’ (Signature Sounds)
Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem: “When you set out to carry on a tradition as deep rooted as folk music is, you’ve got to have your story together. You’ve got to study, and have a foundation. Jeffrey Foucault has that foundation and you can hear it in his voice, and feel it in his music. He’s got an understanding that you don’t hear that often.’
72. Skinnyman – ‘Council Estate Of Mind’ (Low Life)
Plan B: “It’s one of the best UK hip hop albums ever made. He talks about the streets, he talks about his life. He talks about the shit he knows. You know, he’s not fabricating anything. His flow and vocabulary is great. It totally influenced me. A lot of the conscious hip hop songs that came after that were influenced by Skinnyman, and I think I’m a product of them guys. Even though I was going in that direction anyway.”
71. The Go-Betweens – ’16 Lovers Lane’ (Beggars Banquet)
’16 Lovers Lane’ is a beautifully judged, deeply moving set of pristine pop songs that focus almost exclusively and intensely on relationship issues, but somehow almost completely avoiding trite sentimentality. That affairs of the heart were on the group’s mind should have come as no surprise as co-frontmen Robert Forster and Grant McLennan were reputedly then involved in relationships around that period with their female bandmates. Because of all this palaver, ’16 Lovers Lane’ has gained a reputation as the “indie ‘Rumours’”.
70. Huggy Bear – ‘Our Troubled Youth’ (Kill Rock Stars)
The dimensions of ‘Our Troubled Youth’ are such that while there’s shit-loads of stand-out songs on there, to really channel its force and magic it needs to be played all the way through. Which considering it is a lo-fi DIY punk record knocked-out in probably a couple of takes, is pretty staggering. The whole thing just feels totally instinctive and effortless. From the title onwards, a more perfect teenage punk album you will not find. It’s disenfranchised and impassioned in the most fun way possible.
69 Junior Boys – ‘So This Is Goodbye’ (Domino)
Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts: “This is one of the band’s favourite albums of all time. Their second LP. It sounds horrible but sexy music is a good way of describing it. It’s slightly deeper music than a lot of stuff in that genre. It’s quite slow-burning, perhaps not as immediate as it could be to be more widely acknowledged. Jeremy Greenspan sang some of my words from ‘The Fun Powder Plot’, which was a weird but beautiful experience.”
68. Serge Gainsbourg – ‘You’re Under Arrest’ (Philips)
Dev Hynes: “This was Gainsbourg’s last studio album before he died. Gainsbourg always adapted to the times; here he went deeper into dance and tight ‘80s funk type grooves with his songs. On top of this, he had refined his songwriting to its most articulate – the lyrics were surreal and very tongue in cheek, more so than usual. Then the melodies were all so precise; he recorded his last two records using amazing session musicians, interestingly enough, which seems to be the reason most people are not a fan of his later work. The word sterile gets tossed about frequently.”
67 The For Carnation – ‘The For Carnation’ (Touch And Go)
Barry Burns of Mogwai: “A lot of people says this record sounds evil – I was going to try and argue that it’s not evil-sounding and that I found it beautiful instead, but then I thought about it for another 20 seconds and they’re right; it’s evil as fuck. If I had to pick one thing that you remember about the record, even above the words and melodies and beautifully arranged string parts, it’s the little noises in the background and the drumming. How many other albums that feature a song comprised solely of one set of looped bells and a drumbeat leave you feeling so musically satisfied?
66. Curtis Mayfield – ‘Live at the Bitter End’ (Curtom)
Tjinder Singh of Cornershop: “It is Curtis at his best, with laid back endearing talk between tracks, working with the best musicians, Joseph “Lucky” Scott bass, Henry Gibson percussion, Tyrone McCullen drums & Craig McMullen rhythm guitar. Funky as hell, and as political as heaven. His first live performance since leaving The Impressions. He had everything to prove, and spanked it with a double vinyl album. No small wonder that reggae stars, and then the rest took so much from him.”
65 XTC – ‘White Music’ (Virgin)
Terry Hall of The Specials: “They’re one of the best groups that Britain ever produced. I don’t know why everyone goes on about someone like Morrissey making the best British pop when in fact XTC did it better that anyone else. I remember when they did ‘This Is Pop’, and I just thought, ‘Yeah this is pop. This is pop.’ It seemed like such a brilliant thing for them to say. Pop is what they were doing and they were writing all these great songs, going on about the whole punk thing and not being embarrassed about writing great pop songs.”
64. Studio – ‘West Coast’ (Information)
Hugo Manuel of Chad Valley: “The record resonates with so many things I’m into – early ‘90s dance music, dub reggae, minimalism. It feels like it was designed to be loved by me alone. Studio probably wouldn’t consider themselves to be involved in any kind of dance genre. Their early stuff is pretty straight-ahead indie rock, and I think this is very important to their sound, that they came from that background. If you like massive basslines, digital synths, and the drumming of the Talking Heads, then you should definitely listen.
63. Lizzy Mercier Descloux – ‘Mambo Nassau’ (Ze)
Jack Goldstein of Fixers: “It’s chic, exciting and a great dance record. You can really hear her ambition within it, it’s got an unintentional geographical beauty about it – it reeks of South Africa, Paris and New York all at once, but at the same time it’s unlike anything else before it.
62. Jens Lekman – ‘Night Falls Over Kortedala’ (Service Records)
Jens’ second album takes place less in the titular Kortedala (his home suburb of Gothenburg, Sweden), more in a world constructed of romantic whimsy. He evokes concrete touchstones through the use of a trillion carefully nestled samples – ‘…Kortedala’ is practically a list of criminally underrated albums all by itself.
61. The Red Devils – ‘King King’ (Def American)
James Skelly of The Coral: “This band used to play live in LA in all these little clubs and Rick Rubin loved them. So he just recorded them live in this club called the King King. The band sound like they’re on fire. You can hear the whole atmosphere of the club. You’re there, you’re with them, you can smell it. As for the band, Lester Butler was just one of the greatest ever harmonica players. He sings into a bullet mic while playing. The guitarist Paul ‘The Kid’ Size was only 21 but he was unbelievable for his age. In fact the whole band were amazing players.
60. Michael Hurley/Unholy Modal Rounders/Jeffrey Frederick & the Clamtones – ‘Have Moicy!’ (Rounder)
Jeffrey Lewis: “Supposedly recorded in a total of three days it’s a collaboration album between two psychedelic folk weirdo-geniuses, Michael Hurley and Peter (Holy Modal Rounders) Stampfel – and additional oddball Jeffrey Frederick – which seems to be an obvious route to greatness – if you put together three really good songwriters, each one only needs to come up with about four brilliant songs before you’ve got a whole album’s worth of great material.
59. Cardinal – ‘Cardinal’ (Flydaddy)
Gruff Rhys: “Released in 1994, this Boston-based duo specialised in a whispered, supremely melodic melancholy pop. Cardinal was the perfect partnership of the supreme song writing of Australian Richard Davies and the lush voice and arrangements of Californian Eric Matthews. Together they were untouchable – Davies had the most instinctive song writing skills and killer melodies since David Bowie, and Matthews had a truly unique soulful voice and the arranging skills of Burt Bacharach.
58. The Pretty Things – ‘SF Sorrow’ (Columbia)
Serge Pizzorno: “I first heard this when I was 17. When I put it on, it was like being totally woken up, because it hits you like the fucking Beastie Boys or something. It really takes your head off! The Pretty Things were really out there. With ‘SF Sorrow’ they really were pushing it to the absolute mac. They were pushing it just as hard as The Beatles but in a different direction. They recorded it at Abbey Road. It’s a record you go back to if you need to be reminded what being in a rock’n’roll band is all about.”
57. The Kossoy Sisters – ‘Bowling Green’ (Tradition)
Jack Steadman, Bombay Bicycle Club: “It’s this old folk record from the ‘60s by two ladies who called themselves The Kossoy Sisters, they were part of the whole New York folk revival. The whole album is consistently brilliant. It’s just folk standards. They’ve got beautiful harmonies together. I think the biggest influence it had on us is exactly that, like sometimes you’ll be adding more and more instruments, but then you go back and listen to this record and you realise the virtue in keeping it simple. A great song doesn’t have to be complicated.”
56. Orphan Boy – ‘Shop Local’ (Concrete Recordings)
Matthew White of The Heartbreaks: “The debut Orphan Boy album is one of the most interesting and unique records of all time. An arsenal of post-MDMA, post-post-punk, anti-love songs. It launched a thousand stage invasions across East Lancashire and North Lincolnshire; each song is like a Bukowski short story, upended and restaged in Grimsby, set to the sound of a dodgy amp and out tune Squire Telecaster. The die hard few who decided they were not content with the rubbish took these songs to their hearts.
55. The Germs – ‘(GI)’ (Slash)
Kim Gordon: “I LOVED the singer and his words. We went to the same High School. He was a really fucked-up kid. This was in the late Seventies. I didn’t get into punk straight away. I was at school in Toronto when the LA punk thing happened. It sounded too much like English punk. There were a lot of punks in LA cos it’s such a fascist place, but there was never a punk scene in New York, where I moved to after school, cos there was nothing to tear down – it was already fucked-up.”
54. Queen – ‘Queen’ (EMI)
Will Rees of Mystery Jets: “I was very young when I bought a cassette of ‘Queen’ from Our Price. Washed out choirs of Freddie’s voice flit from your left to right ear, songs build up to epic crescendo’s while hair raising guitar harmonies crackle out at you and lyrics that belong in the Old Testament more than a child’s Walkman scream, coo and soothe. It’s a record not for the faint-of-riff and as a guitar player I was enthralled, yet saying that, there’s songs that could lull a person into the most peaceful sleep.”
53. Nico – ‘The Marble Index’ (Elektra)
The number of people who’ve listened to this album is dwarfed by the number who have been scared away by its reputation as ‘unlistenable’. It’s a nightmarish and very un-rock mix of seesawing and droning harmonium, hammered arhythmic piano, squealing distorted viola and incantatory vocals racked with despair and regret. But there’s a surprising amount of genuine beauty among the terror. Nico and Cale approach it with 100% conviction.
52. All Night Radio – ‘Spirit Stereo Frequency’ (Sub Pop)
Jonathan Rice: “After The Beachwood Sparks broke up in 2001, Dave Scher formed this band. It’s a modern psychedelic record. The album began as a concept which became progressively more difficult to achieve. They wanted it to be an actual radio station, one far left of the dial, and you could just tune into it and they would constantly be creating new music. Whenever you would tune it would either be them having a conversation, or jamming, or writing a song, and it would only happen at night. The idea was of tuning into a spiritual frequency.
51. Freestyle Fellowship – ‘Innercity Griots’ (4th & B’way)
Jenny Lewis: “They’re part of a ‘90s hip-hop collective called Project Blowed. They made this hip-hop record, which was smart, political, funny and nasty. As a songwriter, my earliest inspiration came from hip-hop. I never listened to the classics growing up – I’d never listened to Neil Young, or Bob Dylan, but I listened to A Tribe Called Quest, Freestyle Fellowship and the Jungle Brothers, and those records made me want to become a lyricist. This one in particular, there’s just something about the flow. And the fact that it was from the west coast.”
50. Chick Corea – ‘My Spanish Heart’ (Polydor)
Joe Mount of Metronomy: “Back in the 70’s, synthesisers seemed to fall into the hands of two types of people: young futurists like Kraftwerk or classically trained musicians, able to use their skills to create a world of strange ‘out-there’ sounds. My Spanish Heart is one of the most accessible and celebratory jazz/fusion records you are likely to hear. Chick Corea was an early supporter of Scientology. Worth mentioning because maybe only a Scientologist would have the balls to create a Jazz/fusion record based on traditional Spanish music and played almost entirely on synthesisers.”
49. Motorbass – ‘Pansoul’ (Different Recordings)
Friendly Fires: “Motorbass consists of two members: one is Philippe Zdar who is Cassius and produced the Phoenix record; the other half is Etienne de Crécy, who is a bit of a dance music legend. They kickstarted a lot of that French dance movement. This album came out in 1996 and it never succeeded as it should have. Motorbass came out about two years before Daft Punk released ‘Homework’, so they were the forefathers of all that.”
48. Boards Of Canada – ‘Twoism’ (Music 70)
Friendly Fires: “This is from before they signed to Warp, and was originally a cassette that they just made themselves and distributed by hand. It’s somewhere between naïve and creepy. There’s something always a bit weird about those sort of childish, music box melodies, and this has that weird kind of balance of moods. It was probably done on early primitive synths, but talking about how it was made doesn’t really do the mood of it justice. It just seems to be quite psychologically powerful.”
47. LFO – ‘Frequencies’ (Warp)
Friendly Fires: “I first started going to raves in London when I was about 17. At one of them, they handed out a mix, and the first track on that was LFO. From that I wanted to investigate more. This is the first techno album that I bought, and can still listen to as an album, rather than just enjoying one or two songs off it. The whole album only has a certain amount of sounds on it – you could probably count them on two hands – but there’s still an amazing variety to it.”
46 Position Normal – ‘Goodly Time’ (Rum Records)
Friendly Fires: “When I first heard Ariel Pink, it reminded me of this in that it’s about taking something kitsch, then warping it and making it sound like a relic. I don’t know whether you’d describe this as electronic but it’s sample-based. They’ve used the samples from kitsch ’60s lunge music interspersed with ’70s, sort of TV humour – it’s weird lounge music. One of the songs, ‘Sunny Days’ was used on the Dead Man’s Shoes soundtrack.”
45. Organisation – ‘Tone Float’ (RCA Victor)
Friendly Fires: “This is the pre-Kraftwerk group that featured Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider. They didn’t want to call themselves Organisation, it was the UK label who felt that Kraftwerk wouldn’t wash well with the UK market, which is quite amusing – especially when the album flopped, and no one gave a shit. There’s a great clip on Youtube of them doing a track called ‘Rucksuck’ on a German TV show, and Florian is playing a flute with distortion on it and there’s all these ’70s-looking kids stood watching going, “What the fuck is this?””
44 The Dancing Did – ‘And Did Those Feet’ (Kamera)
The Dancing Did were a short-lived four-piece from Evesham, Worcestershire, who spanned post-punk, punk, goth, psychobilly and folk-rock in the freakiest, most flawless way. Their perfectly formed debut locates a point where the corners of the shifting musical tectonic plates of the early ’80s intersect. For all the melodrama and vast range of influences, they never sound like anything but classic English eccentrics. Not just a fascinating missing link in musical history, they’re a band that prefigured today’s most exciting weirdos.
43. Cocteau Twins – ‘Heaven Or Las Vegas’ (4AD)
Anna Calvi: “Liz Fraser’s voice is really amazing, and it’s weird how even though there’s no lyrics it’s so moving through melody alone, and it makes you feel so many things. But at the same time, they have really amazing pop songs. Even though they’re really obscure. It’s the best kind of pop music that actually makes you feel something as opposed to just being easy. The production on every single one is exactly the same, but it doesn’t matter – it really works because it creates this atmosphere and you can get lost in it.”
42. Eater – ‘The Album’ (The Label)
J Mascis: “I was too young to be into this at the time, but the record store where I lived had 50 copies so I got one. I really got into Eater cos they had Dee Generate Strummer on guitar who was about 14, and I was pretty young at the time so I thought that was pretty cool they thought the Pistols were too old. Did this record shock me? No, I’d already heard The Stooges. I had a pretty normal rock ‘n’ roll upbringing. I had spiky hair, then I went skin for a while, then I went kinda Nick Cave.”
41. John Cale – ‘Fear’ (Island)
Noah & The Whale: “Fear is an album that refuses to tell a straight story. Sweeping through its many voices, sounds, moods, landscapes it is as much a lost experience as a lost album. John Cale is most famous for The Velvet Underground. He is less famous for almost everything else: for being Welsh, his classical music sophistication, and his prolific thirty-plus album solo and producing career. In 1974 he returned to a townhouse in Chelsea where he turned up the Mahler, poured the brandy and assembled ‘most of the available drugs’ on the King’s Road.
40. Crass – ‘The Feeding Of The 5000’ (Crass Records)
Brett Anderson of Suede: “Crass were too confrontational to be mainstream because they dealt with sexual and geographical politics. This album was such an incredibly exciting record for a 13-year-old. It was fraught, angry, strange and threatening. One of the strangest memories I have is that with it being vinyl you were supposed to play it at 45rpm. But because it was an album, I played it at 33rpm. So for the first few months I was playing it at the wrong speed. It sounded like some bizarre death metal record.
39. The Bodines –’Played’ (Magnet Records)
James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers: “They were just a perfect C86 band. They were on the seminal NME tape with ‘Therese’, which is one of THE indie-pop singles of all time. The singer, Michael Ryan, had bee-stung lips and a perfect fringe – there was something going on there. This album, its ambition, drew me and Nicky and Ritchey and Sean in. Back in ’85/’86, for proper indie kids to have the ambition to want to break out of the NME scene was quite brave. They did want it, they didn’t get it. But this album doesn’t matter any less for that.”
38. Jeffrey Lee Pierce – ‘Wild Weed’ (Megadisc)
James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers: “There was something eminently real about The Gun Club. It was on the brink of collapse all the time, but they managed to harness it in the music. So when I read that Jeffrey Lee Pierce was doing a solo album and that it was a bit of a production number, I was intrigued. But it’s just a perfect melding of high production values and a swamp-rock sensibility. It’s dated a tiny bit now, but it’s still fucking brilliant. I hate the idea of people like Kings Of Leon or Fleet Foxes not knowing about this record, because it’s part of their heritage.”
37 ABC – ‘Beauty Stab’ (Neutron Records)
James Dean Bradfield: “There was a review I remember that said, “Don’t expect to love this album” which drew me in, and then the cover, which is of a bull and a matador, drew me in further. And then I listened, and I just thought it was one of the most perfect meldings of pop sensibility and rock, which is the hardest thing to do. You can hear that there’s something in this band where they’re going, ‘You know what? I just want to do this once in my life.’ It’s not a perfect album, but I think there’s something really interesting on there that everyone is missing out on.”
36. Simple Minds – ‘Real To Real Cacophony’ (Zoom)
James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers: “The change that Simple Minds went through from their album to this is as startling as any change a band has been through. The ‘Life In A Day’ version of Simple Minds was a really acceptable version of post-punk, these snotty kids from Glasgow. But this album is utterly embroiled in Neu!, Faust, Cluster, Kraftwerk, ‘Station To Station’… and yet it sounds completely natural and unselfconscious. They never, ever get the credit for being one of the most inventive British bands ever.
35. Thomas Dolby – ‘The Flat Earth’ (EMI)
James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers: “It was Sean who introduced me to this when we were about 13 or 14. I was right in the middle of my indie/Clash phase. People always go on about how they want to “have a cinemascope in our music” or “be like a film soundtrack”, but this guy was actually doing it, in a full blooded, committed way. It’s an album that is absolutely lost in the middle of a jungle in another world, and not a record that an Englishman like Thomas Dolby should ever have made. It evokes a place that you’ve never been to and you’ll never go to again.”
34. The Cardigans – ‘Long Gone Before Daylight’ (Stockholm Records)
Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers: “The minute me, James and Sean heard the lead single ‘For What it’s Worth’, we all phoned each other up within about five minutes and all just felt that everything we’d tried to get on ‘Lifeblood’ had been a complete failure, and that The Cardigans had done it so much better. It wasn’t a commercial success for them, which I find staggering ‘A Good Horse’ is brilliant, ‘Lead Me Into The Night’ makes me cry every time I hear it. There’s something deeply spiritual about this record that is heartbreaking.”
33. Cluster – ‘Zuckerzeit’ (Brain)
Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers: “This is just because of my krautrock obsession. I’m fascinated by that whole era, how so much creativity can come just from an idea. And the way that so many bands can splinter into each other – from Neu! to Harmonia to Cluster – but all of them sound different. I think the whole sound of this record is revolutionary and ahead of its time. There’s a track on here called ‘Caramel’ that I think Damon Albarn might have nicked for the Blur track of the same name.
32. 60 Ft Dolls – ‘The Big Three’ (Indolent)
Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers: “They were truly mental. They were from Newport, and when they came out they really slagged us off saying they were gonna take us out. They were talked up as a kind of Jam/Strokes/Manics hybrid. I still go back to this record now because there’s something about it that’s fearless. They had a track called ‘Hair’ that was very soft and sentimental, that I think could have been a massive hit if it’d been done properly.
31. The Prisoners – ‘TheWiserMiserDemelza’ (Big Beat)
Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers: “I used to have a friend in college who was massively into them. Sometimes it’s almost too mod, it’s a bit dated, but there’s just something really pure about them. On this album in particular: there’s a song called ‘Hurricane’ that’s amazing; ‘The Dream Is Gone’ is still a record I play millions of times a year; and ‘Coming Home’ has got one of the best drum fills ever. They had James Taylor on Hammond, one of the all-time great Hammond players. They just didn’t bend to any rules. If they’d been around in the ’60s, they would have been huge.”
30. McCarthy – ‘I Am A Wallet’ (September Records)
Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers: “For me, this is the greatest political album ever made. In terms of lyrics, some people might think that it’s awkward, but to me it’s just brilliant. ‘The International Narcotics Traffic’ – brilliant title. In fact, all the titles are brilliant. There’s a brilliant one, ‘Anti-Nature’, that Richey thought was amazing – we wrote a song called ‘Anti-Love’ after that (which never saw the light of day!). They were lumped in with C86, but they were the only Marxist, Communist C86 band, really!
29. Arthur Russell – ‘Calling Out of Context’ (Audika Records)
Lewis Bowman of Chapel Club: “Over the last few years, I’ve come to regard Arthur Russell as one of the four or five most important musicians of the 20th century. For anyone new to Arthur Russell, the record you have to hear is the posthumous compilation Calling Out of Context. I don’t know how to describe it other than as the sound of someone who has found and really understands his own artistic voice. The music exists at the crossroads where New York disco, hip hop, spaced out electronica and pure, perfect melody meet. Oh, and cello.
28. Floraline – ‘Floraline’ (Minty Fresh)
Cee-Lo Green: “It has that kind of Euro club, 80s synth thing, a disco thing with female vocals. You hear this sound popularised and done more modern these days, but when I heard it, I thought that they had done the best rendition. My favourite track is the one called ‘Fade’. It kind of struck me the way that Amy Winehouse’s album did. You can associate it with a time period, but it’s so well done, her voice is so genuine, and it’s a true story, for her so it’s sung with that sincerity.”
27. Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard – ‘One Fast Move Or I’m Gone’ (Atlantic)
Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club: “I discovered this album in a record store in San Francisco earlier this year. I wasn’t familiar with Jay Farrar but I’ve been a huge fan of Ben Gibbard since I can remember, from Death Cab for Cutie to The Postal Service and All Time Quarterback. This whole album is an homage to a Kerouac novel. With great care, Farrar and Gibbard lifted original text from the novel and placed it on top of their music. I have read that there was a lot of controversy around this at the time.
26. Pop Levi – ‘The Return to Form Black Majick Party’ (Counter Records)
Pop Levi could have gone either way: the biggest superstar the world has ever seen, or a fringe cult oddity. No prizes for guessing which way the tight pants split. The alter ego of a little bloke from Liverpool who used to be in Ladytron, Pop Levi is a fantasy glam-rock star of awesome abilities, combining the puckish strut of Marc Bolan, the enigmatic swagger of Bowie, and the erotic slyness of Prince.
25. The Associates – ’Sulk’ (Beggars Banquet)
Björk: “My love affair with the Associates started when I was 15. I was looking for my identity as a singer and I really admired the way Billy Mackenzie used and manipulated his voice on that record. He was an incredibly spontaneous and intuitive singer, raw and dangerous. At the same time, he always sounded like he was really plugged into nature. I’ve heard people describe him as a white soul singer, but I’ve always thought his voice was more pagan and primitive, and for me that’s much more rare and interesting.
24. Magazine – ‘Real Life’ (Virgin)
Jarvis Cocker: “This was such an important record for the time because it showed that you could still do something that had attack to it combined with a real intelligence, without going into ponce territory. Punk established a Year Zero because you weren’t really allowed to reference things from the past, even though people ended up doing that. Magazine were seen as the Great New Hope when the single “Shot by Both Sides” came out, but I remember them getting criticised when the album came out for using synthesizers and for having long songs.
23. The Field Mice – ‘Skywriting’ (Sarah Records)
Jacob Graham of The Drums: “The production on this is pretty impressive. It’s kind of like our production in that it’s all it needs to be and nothing more. Anything more on ‘Skywriting’ would seem extraneous, and anything less wouldn’t be quite enough. This album is what a lot of people would call lo-fi but I don’t really consider it that at all. It anything, it’s kind of mid-fi. It’s exactly what it should be, and it’s just right.”
22 Eliane Radigue – ‘Adnos I-III’ (Table Of The Elements)
Zola Jesus: “Eliane Radigue’s work could be considered ethereal, dream-like soundscapes that drone so quietly the ear barely takes notice. But to me, they are rougher than that. Her use of tone in the Adnos piece creates a frequency I often hear in my own head, among the silence of an empty room. There is no movement, no sound, no other bodies, but it is so loud. The mind is running; thoughts are taking form and slowly growing into a firestorm of anxiety, question, fear, hope, desire, fantasy, worry, critique. It grows and grows until that inner voice cries “make it stop!
21 Satisfact – ‘The Unwanted Music Of Satisfact’ (Up Records)
Angus Andrew: “It’s a really great dark pop record, with a lot of synths, and danceable noise. This band put out a few records in the 90s. I think they were from Portland, Oregon. I first heard of them when we were on our first tour and there was this other band and one of them had that record, even at that point it was old. It was sort of a precursor to the early 2000s and electroclash, it had that use of synth and that darkness but also those bellowing, Paul Banks-from-Interpol-style vocals. But I guess they missed their window.”
20. The Zombies ‘Odessey & Oracle’ (CBS)
Paul Weller: “When it came out in 1968, no-one bought it, and by the time it had come out the band had split. I didn’t hear it until the mid-’70s, but when I did it just blew my head off. Me and my mate used to sit around in his flat, as teenagers, in the Autumn with leaves on the ground everywhere in Woking park, listening to this, writing songs, making plans… It’s obviously a very English-sounding record, and melancholic. There’s jazz and classical influences in there, as well as the psychedelic touches.”
19 The Television Personalities – ‘They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles’ (Whaam! Records)
Andrew Van Wyngarden of MGMT: “It might not be to some people, but this is psychedelic to me. It’s definitely an album that was directly influenced by psychedelia. The first song on it is ‘Three Wishes’, and it’s a pretty unique-sounding song; I really love ‘Anxiety Block’ as well: that’s another song we were covering, only in soundchecks, for a while. We were going to play it on the last UK tour, but we found out that band Titus Andronicus had already released a cover of it, so they beat us to it. Not that it matters, really, we should have done it anyway.”
18. The Red Crayola – ‘Parable Of Arable Land’ (International Artists)
Andrew Van Wyngarden of MGMT: “I was pretty blown away by the fact that people were making sounds before ‘Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ and all the other ‘classic’ psychedelic albums, and that the sounds were being made by guys in Texas doing shitloads of LSD and making these completely wild records.. I think it’s good that more people listen to them, because they go unheralded a lot of the time.”
17. The Electric Prunes – ‘Underground’ (Reprise Records)
Andrew Van Wyngarden of MGMT: “I was in a thrift store in North Carolina a long time ago and I came across this. I didn’t know anything about the Electric Prunes. It wasn’t until we were working on the last MGMT album that I really got into it. It all made sense. Like, the Spacemen 3 song ‘Big City’ just comes straight from a song on there called ‘Big City’. There’s loads of great songs on there: the opener, ‘The Great Banana Hoax’ is brilliant, and we’ve covered a song on there called ‘I Happen To Love You’ before.”
16 Love – ‘Da Capo’ (Elektra)
Andrew Van Wyngarden of MGMT: “This isn’t ‘lost’ really, but it’s one of my favourites, and not as celebrated as ‘Forever Changes’ is. I like it more than that album – it’s a much more whimsical record, truly psychedelic. It has loads of flutes, and I’m all about flutes! There’s also a Brazilian influence. I don’t know how or where musicians from back then were getting music from around the world, but they definitely were. The second side is just one 18-minute song ‘Revelation’ which is a nice contrast to the first.”
15. Euphoria – ‘A Gift From Euphoria’ (See For Miles Records)
Andrew Van Wyngarden of MGMT: “I got hold of this before we started making the first MGMT album. I just found this on some random guy’s psychedelic blog. I spend a lot of time on those sites going through and downloading stuff: records that are super-rare and you might spend $300 to get the physical copy. I guess you could call the whole album psychedelic-country. It sounds almost like Spiritualized or something, there’s no way you would think it was made in 1969.”
14. John Philips – ‘John Wolfking Of LA’ (Dunhill)
Bobby Gillespie: “I like the atmosphere, it’s kind of dark but warm, acoustic-y, kinda country gospel soul record. It makes me feel warm and safe. The Mamas & The Papas are one of my favourite bands, but the fact that John Phillips made this record that’s a bit more down and darker and weirder – it’s just got that end-of-the-sixties sound, it’s kind of druggy. It’s a personal record.
13. Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers – ‘Modern Lovers 88’ (Demon)
Win Butler of Arcade Fire: “This is not one that I knew of in the canon, but the lyrics… there’s this song on it called ‘I Love Hot Nights’ which is one of my favourite ever tracks lyrically, he’s talking about walking around in the summertime, at night, and he just nails it exactly, the feeling of when the weather first gets warm. To me that’s like a real classic that I never heard of as a classic.”
12. Atlas Strategic – ‘That’s Familiar’ (self-released)
Win Butler of Arcade Fire: “There’s a band in Montreal called Wolf Parade and one of the lead singers is Dan Boeckner, who played in Atlas Strategic. Their second album, ‘That’s Familiar!’ has this song called ‘Smooth Nights’ that is one of my favourite songs. It holds up really good, especially for something that was probably done by a 19-year-old. It’s kind of got a punk feel, somewhere between Bruce Springsteen and Jonathan Richman, but they were the first band I ever knew of that didn’t have a bass guitar, it was just really raw guitar and drums.”
11. Bad Brains – ‘ROIR’ (ROIR)
Dave Grohl: “The Bad Brains studio albums are great, but for me ‘R.O.I.R’, this unofficial bootleg, comes closest to capturing their live sound on tape. I was living in DC in the early ‘80s and got into the hardcore scene but nobody else blew me away as much as Bad Brains. I have never ever, ever, ever, ever seen a band do anything even close to what Bad Brains used to do live. They were connected in a way I’d never seen before. They made me absolutely determined to become a musician, they basically changed my life, and changed the lives of everyone who saw them.
10. Felt – ‘Forever Breathes The Lonely Word’ (Creation)
Felt are one of those bands about whom there sometimes seem to be more good tales than there are tunes. Most famously, there was Lawrence’s obsession with symmetry: He was determined Felt would exist for 10 years, during which they would release exactly 10 albums and 10 singles. But this strict order did not always extend to the music itself. By Felt’s fifth album, all but their most devoted of followers had given up on them. At which point, Lawrence delivered his masterpiece, comprised of wall-to-wall melodic classics. This truly, truly is pure pop music, from start to finish.
9. The Shaggs – ‘Philosophy OF The World’ (Third Word Records)
Kurt Cobain [originally from Melody Maker in 1992]: “They were all sisters, with their evil uncle making plans for them. I heard this one live song – a Carpenters song, maybe? – where they must have been playing a day centre, and the screams in the background are louder than the music. The Shaggs are another archetypal K band. Am I a Calvinist (named after Clavin Johnson, leader of Beat Happening and founder of K records in Olympia, where Kurt used to live)? No.
8. Jad Fair – ‘Great Expectations’ (Bad Alchemy)
Kurt Cobain [originally from Melody Maker in 1992]: “I like to listen to Jad Fair and Half-Japenese with headphones on walking around the shopping malls, in the heart of American culture. I just think that, if people could hear this music right now, they’d melt, they wouldn’t know what to do, they’d start bouncing off the walls and hyper-ventilating. So I turn up the speakers really loud and pretend it was blasting through the speaker on the malls.”
7. Shonen Knife – ‘Burning Farm’ (K Records)
Kurt Cobain [originally from Melody Maker in 1992]: “Eventually, after a week of listening to it every day, I just started crying. I just couldn’t believe that three people from a totally different culture could write songs as good as those, because I’d never heard any other Japanese music or artist who ever came up with anything good. Everything about them is just so fucking endearing I’m sure that I was twice as nervous to meet them as they were to meet us.
6. The Wipers – ‘Is This Real?’ (Park Avenue)
Kurt Cobain [originally from Melody Maker in 1992]: “The Wipers were a Portland punk band who started in the late ‘70s by Greg Sage and released maybe four or five albums. The first two were totally classic, and influenced the Melvins and all other punks rock bands. They’re another band I tried to assimilate. Their songs are so good. Greg Sage was pretty much the romantic, quiet, visionary kind of guy. What more can I say about them? They started Seattle grunge rock in Portland, 1977.”
5. Young Marble Giants – ‘Colossal Youth’ (Rough Trade)
Kurt Cobain [originally from Melody Maker in 1992]: “This music relaxes you, it’s total atmospherics. The drum machine has to be the cheesiest sound ever. I had a crush on the singer for a while – didn’t everyone? I don’t know much about them. I first heard ‘Colossal Youth’ on the radio, after I started getting into K music when I live in Olympia. It was a year before I put out the ‘Bleach’ album. At the time, I was just painting and doing art stuff. I still do, but now I use oils because I can afford them. I like Goya a lot – I use animated dolls a fair amount.
4. Leadbelly – Last Session (Folkways)
Kurt Cobain [originally from Melody Maker in 1992]: “Burroughs said that if you want to hear true, honest music with passion, then you should hear Leadbelly. The songs are just amazingly heartfelt. Leadbelly was this poor black man in the early 1900s who went to jail a few times for wife-beating and robbery and getting into fights and bootlegging liquor. While he was in prison, he started playing the guitar, and he sang so well that the governor started to like him and let him out of jail.
3. Jenny Wilson – ‘Love And Youth’ (Rabid Records)
La Roux: “It’s a great afternoon album. There’s nothing better than putting the whole thing on and pottering around the house. It’s got at least four out and out singles on it. She’s been blessed with this ability to effortlessly write really sweet and catchy melodies. Whether I’m playing it to my mum or to my friends, they’re always really into it. I think she’s from Scandinavia or somewhere like that. She’s really odd looking, too. Sound-wise, it’s fairly poppy, but overall has this odd European-sounding twist. Those melodies! As soon as I hear them I’m like, ‘Oh my god! Give me more!”
2. Performance – ‘We Are Performance’ (Too Much Information Records)
Theo Hutchcraft of Hurts: “The first time I heard ‘Surrender’ by Performance, all of a sudden a spark lit up inside my brain. I was 18, and ‘Surrender’ was a pop song with an almighty globe-straddling melody, electronics which had the depth of M83 and Depeche Mode and lyrics so vivid and abstract, they split my mind wind open. At the time Performance were flying the flag for Manchester – a city which hadn’t had one flown for a long time. Equal parts New Order and The Smiths, and yet something totally fresh.
1. Clor – ‘Clor’ (Parlophone)
Clor were a band out of time when they released their self-titled only album in 2005. Back then it was all about The Rakes, Editors and Babyshambles, Kaisers, The Cribs and The White Stripes. Clor, with their retro-futurist laboratory-pop and Sparks obsession never stood a chance. Had they been birthed twelve months later, they’d have been facing off against more comfortable competition like Hot Chip, CSS and Lily Allen. Instead, five months later Clor split.