Available now, Sound And Vision collects the illustrations and writings of London-based artist John Riordan musing on his favourite subject: music. He talks us through a selection of his favourite images here.
Illustrations © John Riordan
"Annie Clark AKA St Vincent is an idiosyncratic songwriter and one hell of a musician, her lopsided songs punctuated by bursts of angular guitar. On tour to support her eponymous fourth album, she incorporated shuffling robot dancing into her act and writhed down a large pink ziggurat."
"Bowie pretty much invented alternative pop music and inspired many of the indie and alternative musicians who followed him, from Morrissey to Kurt Cobain. He was alive when I began writing my book but had sadly had departed the planet by the time it went to press. What an album to leave us with though: 'Black Star' is up there with his best!"
"If George Clinton did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. He used the amorphous, overlapping bands Parliament and Funkadelic to create a rich cosmos of sci-fi funk, populated by star-children, maggot brains, fun-hating noses and men in nappies. An enjoyable wormhole to get lost in."
"The poet laureate of punk, Patti Smith fused spoken word with rock to create an incandescent, often spiritual music. On the cover of her classic album 'Horses' she also created an enduring look that every androgynous indie singer has copied ever since."
"I love the Specials. They were the authentic sound of multicultural, economically depressed Britain in the late '70s and early '80s, combating racism with wit and ska-tastic energy. With great serendipity, their masterpiece of urban alienation, 'Ghost Town', went to Number One and stayed there for three weeks during the riots of 1981."
"To start one influential, world-changing band may be good fortune; to start two begins to look like showing off. After the tragic death of Ian Curtis it’s a miracle that Sumner, Hook and Morris, with the addition of Gillian Gilbert, managed to continue, let alone going on to define the innovative sound of the 1980s."
"Perhaps more than any other band, The Smiths became the template for what a British indie band should be – a dynamic cult group on a hip label (but close enough to the mainstream to get on Top of the Pops) with a direct line to their loyal fans. In five short years they produced a peerless run of albums and singles, full of witty and melancholic gems."
"Starting out as a hardcore punk band, the Beasties became obsessed with the fledgling sound of hip-hop and morphed into one of the most inventive and best loved rap groups of the '80s and '90s. Their career boasted many highlights but 1994 single 'Sabotage' is hard to beat, especially when coupled with Spike Jonze’s goofy cop-show video."
"Public Enemy brought politics to hip-hop, fiercely articulating the experience of Black Americans facing institutional racism and socio-economic disadvantage. If that sounds a little po-faced don’t forget the contribution of manic jester Flavor Flav, who punctuated Chuck D’s preaching with moments of inspired nonsense."
"Blur are probably still my favourite band. The further we get from the spectre of ‘Cool Britannia’ the more they look like what they were – a clever pop band who combined a love of the UK’s musical heritage and a more arty sensibility. The things that Graham Coxon can do with a guitar continue to astound me. Damon Albarn of course went on to world domination with Gorillaz and is now the busiest man in showbiz."
"In the 1990s they were kings of 'complaint rock', a phrase coined by that barometer of a generation, Cher from Clueless. Since then Thom Yorke and co have combined the guitars with electronics and forged a path as cranky, experimental doomsayers, releasing albums on their own terms and timetable."
"Bjork is everything a modern musician should be, fearlessly exploring new musical territory, incorporating pop, folk, classical, techno, hip-hop, trip-hop, house and performance art into her music. I saw her live for the first time a few weeks ago and just to be in a room with that voice was amazing."
"Arctic Monkeys started out as chroniclers of Britain’s provincial city centres, singing about crap nightclubs and drunken brawls in taxi queues. Later on they morphed into brylcreemed lotharios, with a beefier sound infused by funk and hip-hop. Both phases are great, but it’s the early stuff I really love, with Alex Turner as world-weary observer of the teenage condition."
"Tame Impala are the most psychedelic thing to come out of Australia since the 'Bouncer’s Dream' episode of Neighbours. Kevin Parker’s songs are steeped in the psychedelic rock of the '60s and '70s but with a more modern, synthy sheen. Far out, mate."
"Father John Misty’s second album 'I Love You Honey Bear' is one of the best albums I’ve heard in years. Revelling in his egocentric flaws, FJM (real name Josh Tillman) plays with the ambiguity of where earnest songwriter ends and constructed character begins, and the songs are peppered with withering put-downs. Misty’s a difficult character to be sure, as could be heard in the recent car-crash of a radio interview he recorded with 6Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie."
Sound And Vision by John Riordan is published by Dog ’n’ Bone Books (£14.99), and is out now