Muse – Absolution (Lewis Mutch – Bass and Backing Vocals) For me, this album is the perfect combination of orchestral and rock instrumentation. The strings don’t take away from the band, they complement them and the classical influences are fully embraced, the most obvious example being the piano solo in Butterflies & Hurricanes. This is one of the few albums where I genuinely like every song. I learnt most of the bass lines to the songs growing up. Chris Wolstenholme is the pinnacle of rock bass guitar playing for me, he knows when he can play technically, but he also knows when he needs to hold back. When coming up with bass parts the first thing I usually ask myself is what would Chris do?
Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen (Lewis) Despite way the name suggests, the band is a 3 piece. The album veers for poignant to ridiculous. Deeply personal and restrained songs like Brick rub shoulders with One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces, the latter being quite possibly my favourite story in a song. I love the rough and raw production of the album, the lack of effort to cover up mistakes just adds to the charm. In Kate, Ben Folds tries to start the song twice, in Stephen’s Last Night in Town, you can hear a phone ringing. Each member is allowed to go wild at separate points, Ben Folds piano playing allows Robert Sledge to play some outrageous bass guitar lead lines, most notably in the explosive Song for the Dumped. At its heart it’s three great musicians having fun, what’s not to love about that?
Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones (Lewis) A music teacher first introduced me to Tom Waits at school. Seeing a video of him screaming down a megaphone to Chocolate Jesus was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I adore the changes in his voice and stylistic choices in each record. For a favourite album I could pick Closing Time or Small Change for the beautiful lyrics on love and loss, The Black Rider for the twisted carnival setting, Blood Money for the bleak lyrics and disturbing vocals to accompany. I think I have to pick Swordfishtrombones as it was the turning point in his creative output. Going from mostly melodic ballads and then the insanity of Underground and what follows, the contrast is unrivalled. The morbid sense of humour of Frank’s Wild Years and the lunacy of In the Neighbourhood will never fail to put a smile on my face. Ask me in a week and I’ll probably be raving about another one of his albums
Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can (Robert Humphries – Lead Vocals and Guitar) This album was my go to music everywhere I went for absolutely ages. Its orchestral folk vibe just made me smile no matter how many times I listened to it. I thought the lyrics were so poetic, naturalistic and meaningful that it ended up inspiring a lot of my own writing. Her voice was something very delicate and pure. It was very original but it just sounds like velvet to me. The album just became my life for a few months. Everything about it moved me.
The La’s – The La’s (Rob) I used to play this album on a loop in the car every time me and my dad went anywhere. There is nothing that sounds like it. The songs just impart optimism and happiness. We could be having an argument and all of a sudden this album would come on and all problems would drift away into a competition of who can sing the chorus the loudest.
They Might Be Giants – The Spine (Rob) This album is the craziest, drug trip, random, hilarious album on the face of the Earth. Not a song on here makes an ounce of sense but it doesn’t matter. By the end of listening to the album, you’re a bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf trying to promote your experimental film with your racist friend planning prevenge (pre-planned revenge on someone that hasn’t done anything… yet). This is the first album I knew all of the words to and none of them make any sense. Yet it’s a really beautiful album with some of the catchiest songs on it.
Blackened Sky – Biffy Clyro (Terry Knight – Drums) My favourite album by my favourite band I always forget. Biffy Clyro are a band I’ve listened to since I was entering teenage life. I just took up drums and was fascinated in how they sounded like no other band I’d ever heard. They were rock, but kind of poppy, but not even remotely poppy at the same time. They have a drummer that seamlessly sings lead vocals in choruses and it was just chaos, beautifully crafted musical chaos. Trying to drum along to Justboy as an early drummer is something I will always remember. And the trying to drum to 57 and not being able to work out why I couldn’t get the fills in the intro timed right. I now know it’s in 5/4. For sentimental reasons, I’ve picked this album over every other Biffy Clyro Album
In Utero – Nirvana (Terry) This isn’t me trying to not be ‘mainstream’; I genuinely prefer this album over Nevermind. I know that Nevermind is sonically richer, was recorded, mixed and mastered better but to me In Utero had that perfect rawness that I felt served Nirvana better. They weren’t supposed to be a pop band at the end of the day, call it what you like, grunge or Alt Rock, fact of the matter is, they were trying to be The Melvins, a punk band. In Utero had better-crafted songs in my opinion and it really did just sound like they’d gone in a room and performed their songs as hard and loud as possible.
Led Zeppelin I – Led Zeppelin (Terry) I love Led Zeppelin more than most people under the age of 50, that’s no secret. The reason I’ve chosen this album over any other Zep album is because it was the first one the entire world and I heard. I always try to put myself in the moment of time when this album would have first been heard. Imagine, it’s 1969, the heaviest thing you’ve probably ever heard is Helter Skelter by The Beatles, You stick this Vinyl on and Good Times Bad Times starts. Never would you have heard a band like that, a solo that impressive a drummer hit that hard or use a kick pedal like that. I wish I could have been a teenager in 1969 just to have been part of that.
Broken Boy Soldier – The Raconteurs (Terry) A modern blues rock band that sound like they recorded back in 1972. Big roomy drums, guitars gritty enough you make you need a shower and a bass turned up so loud that your guts rattle every time you hear it come in a song. That with the vocals and song writing ability of Jack White (And Brandon obviously) and you’ve got a recipe for some true modern rock. They sound like a classic band despite all still being alive. This album just gets better with every listen and the louder you have it.
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