Pixies - Here Comes Your Man (1989)
Surf guitars, impenetrable lyrics and a zesty melody that brims with confidence, this pop perfection from the Pixies was the closest the Boston (MA) quartet strayed to the mainstream. Guitarist Joey Santiago’s Byrds-style riff, multitracked on a Rickenbacker and Telecaster, has more jangle than Sir Jimmy Savile, while singer Black Francis imparts a sweet vocal line with just enough...
Elliott Smith - Bled White (1998)
Smith’s pop sensibilities come to the fore in this psychedelic, sun-kissed little number which boasts a distinctly west coast vibe. The lofty acoustic guitar intro hovers like a hummingbird before being swept aside by a wave of tumbling piano and crashing drums. Chugging guitars keep the carefree melody afloat as Smith sings discordant lyrics of apathy and loneliness. ‘So here he...
King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man (1969)
Blazing horns meld with grinding guitar to create a heart-stoppingly devastating intro. The tower block rocking beat then swells to near unmanageable levels as Greg Lake’s heavily distorted vocals push the corrosive bluster even further. The eye of the storm, the jazz rock middle section, Mirrors, plays around with wonderfully disjointed rhythms before Robert Fripp’s dissonant guitar...
Joni Mitchell - River (1971)
Beatific ballad that’s as stark as it is bold. The iceiness in Mitchell’s soaring voice belies the song’s real warmth of feeling. The well-worn musician’s plea for escapism is given a new twist here, with the vibrant River choosing self-deprecation above the usual ‘poor me’ fare. ‘I’m so hard to handle, I’m selfish and I’m sad’. A...
Ultrasound - Floodlit World (1999)
A skyscraping guitar riff kickstarts this neglected indie pop classic that bursts into life like a shooting star. The soaring rollercoaster melody almost scratches your knuckles on the ceiling before freefalling through the neon wilderness of its floodlit world. ‘Sometimes when it rains there’s a rainbow … behind every shadow is light’. Bold, cocksure and, like all great...
Weezer - Only In Dreams (1994)
Toy box guitars and a walking bass line slowly build into a three-minute squall of noise. Hazy and sweet, this is the track that really made people sit up and take notice of songwriter Rivers Cuomo. At nearly eight minutes, it’s a proper guitar-lovers wig-out. Get it: Weezer (‘The Blue Album’)
Marah - Round Eye Blues (2000)
Gutsy, edgy, melodic. This affecting elegy to the Vietnam war spits out rich imagery on a wave of pointed guitars. Instead of watching from the sidelines, Marah dive headfirst into the muggy and terrifying fog of jungle warfare: ‘Take the hits boys take the hits, don’t smoke your bible and don’t lose your wits. Because the sky is filled with shrapnel, and your eyes are filled with...
Teenage Fanclub - Going Places (1995)
Chiming guitars and a lilting melody make for a wonderfully sanguine track. ‘Got the notion that this rain’s never gonna last, ‘cos the scene always moves too fast’. Wistful, nostalgic and full marks for an acoustic guitar solo too. Indie pop with real heart. Get it: Grand Prix
Public Enemy - He Got Game (1998)
What should be an unworkable blend of meshing Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth with an uncharacteristically restrained ‘Enemy vocal, He Got Game far outweighs the sum of its parts. The result is a blissfully chilled hip hop anthem that’s perfect for the summer. Get it: He Got Game single/album
Simon & Garfunkel - The Only Living Boy In New...
‘I get the news I need on the weather report’. A wonderful carefree line that encapsulates all that’s great about Paul Simon’s shimmering, summery-sounding masterstroke. Radiating a hazy warmth despite its pangs of loneliness, the song is one of the duo’s finest. Get it: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Aztec Camera & Mick Jones - Good Morning Britain...
Surprisingly potent collaboration that sees Jones and Roddy Frame ricocheting barbed lines off each other in an impassioned plea for a brighter Britain. The state-of-the-nation lyrics burn with a genuine anger that’s neatly tempered by the song’s over-arching call for redemption. ‘The past is steeped in shame, but tomorrow’s fair game’. Get it: Stray
Bomb The Bass - Bug Powder Dust (1994)
Propelled along on a snaking bass line, rapper Justin Warfield’s brutal delivery sounds unstoppable on this classic 90s hip hop track. An unlikely sounding homage to Beat Generation author William S Burroughs, the stream of consciousness lyrics and clawing drums just pummel you into submission. Funky and loads of fun. Get It: Clear
Yo La Tengo - Let's Save Tony Orlando's House...
Coolly delivered songbird vocal glides through a fragile and disarming melody. Hushed drums, muted guitars and intriguing lyrics about a jealous Frankie Valli create a shadowy air of real mystique. A very pretty song. Get it: And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
Oasis - Listen Up (1994)
The snarling Listen Up harnesses all that was utterly spellbinding by a young and hungry Oasis. This swirling storm of defiance, with Noel Gallagher’s tumbling guitar lines falling like rain around his younger brother’s bravado delivery, is the sound of a band reaching for the stars. ‘But I don’t believe in magic,’ sings Liam. We do. Get it: Cigarettes &...
The Strokes - Under Control (2003)
Brooding ballad Under Control sees frontman Casablancas in full-on croon mode. Computer game guitars intertwine to create a unique dark pop gem. A proper highlight from the unfairly derided Room On Fire album. Get it: Room On Fire
Idlewild - Little Discourage (1999)
Spidery guitar riff introduces a muscular indie classic. Raw and energetic, we encourage you to check it out. Get it: 100 Broken Windows
The Flaming Lips - Waitin' For A Superman (1999)
Achingly beautiful, life-affirming, majestic. Peerless songwriting at its very best. Kind of like getting a hug, Waitin’ For A Superman acknowledges life’s ups and downs but reminds you that, really, everything is ok. A proper modern classic. Get it: The Soft Bulletin
Blur - Tame (1996)
This is a wonderfully melodic little tune. Dreamy vocals and a pop hook so sweet you’ll be humming it all day. Get it: Stereotypes single (b-side)