The Fugs were the most unlikely of rock successes during the Sixties. Their lack of musicianship influenced countless underground, garage and punk bands, but no one matched their anarchic blend of sophomoric humour, mystical Beat poetry, and scatological revolutionary pacificsm, which owed much to the playful sensibilities of Tuli Kupferberg, the self-proclaimed "world's oldest rock star". Kupferberg was famously the character who "jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, this really happened" in Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl". Though it was actually the Manhattan Bridge, and as he explained in another poem by Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman, "nothing happened... so I swam ashore, went home and took a bath and went to bed. Nobody even noticed". He spent the rest of his life annoyed that people felt his surviving this putative suicide attempt was "a great accomplishment".
Although they've maintained a small but devoted following in indie circles for more than a decade and a half, Portland-based alternative outfit Modest Mouse were first held up as a cause célèbre by the UK press in 2007, with the release of their fifth album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Never mind the fact that it reached No 1 in America – it was the induction of guest guitarist Johnny Marr into the band which saw Modest Mouse and their catalogue welcomed into the British rock canon.
You don't necessarily need to be a good singer, just one who has got something worth singing about, be it stylistically, lyrically, or melodically. The vocalist would need to be someone who understands controlled disorder. Deadpan but melodic. The Pastels sounded like Stephen wrote great melodies but then was too bored to sing them dead on. I've always appreciated his delivery and his songwriting.
Were it possible to make a guitar effect that brings to mind Pacific mist cascading on to a beach of stoned Californian slackers, anyone could sound like Best Coast. But as it is the LA three-piece fronted by 22-year old Bethany Cosentino are peerless in the field of vibrant, scuzzy Americana, showcasing a lo-fi charm that has propelled them, appropriately, into the affections of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore among many others.
Cover is Joan Wasser's Pin-Ups, a compilation of cover versions that reveals much about her approach to music.
You really have to hand it to Sonic Youth: album number 15, with the band's mainstays all in their fifties really is some time for a band to hit their peak.
Singer and guitarist, Sonic Youth, 55
The disciple of 'Dangerous Writing', Chuck Palahniuk, reveals his unusual creative process, and the one place that he won't go in his notoriously bad-taste fiction