10 Rock Albums IDLES Thinks Every Fan Should Own

Guitarist Mark Bowen picks albums from Death Grips, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and PJ Harvey

idles interview
Illustration by Steven Fiche

    Crate Digging is a recurring feature in which we take a deep dive into a genre and turn up several albums all music fans should know about. In this edition, IDLES guitarist Mark Bowen shares his exclusive picks.

    2022 was as good of a year for IDLES as it could have been. After their stunning 2021 album Crawler found them touring the world with a loaded schedule, they played Coachella, Glastonbury, toured the US twice, and, most recently, nabbed a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album. Since their breakthrough in 2018 with Joy as an Act of Resistance, IDLES have been a leader among their post-punk contemporaries, and their dominance both in their native England and beyond is a testament to their position as one of the biggest rock bands of the last decade.

    Guitarist Mark Bowen is particularly grateful to have his band acknowledged in America — Bowen admits that while IDLES frontman Joe Talbot tends to lean into the band’s “British idiosyncrasies” and discusses life in the UK, he also shares “personal truths” that have the capacity to rouse and unite listeners regardless of their backgrounds. “Actually, we find that people get the ‘violent’ joy and love best in the United States,” Bowen tells Consequence. “I think they appreciate the joy and the humor and the love that is supposed to go hand in hand with this violent, caustic music.”


    Though their music can be experimental, explosive, and punk-gilded, IDLES is a rock band through and through, and all five members share a similar adoration for the genre. For his selections, Bowen picks ten albums that range from mildly obscure to renowned rock efforts, spanning from 1991 to 2017. While Bowen honors some major British artist of the last few decades like PJ Harvey and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ side project Grinderman, he also picks some newer boundary pushers like Death Grips and Show Me the Body.

    Below, Mark Bowen of IDLES takes Consequence through 10 rock albums he believes everyone should own, including IDLES’ 2017 debut, Brutalism.

    Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003)

    “I’m gonna start with one that everyone actually should have, and that’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Fever to Tell. I think this should be included in everyone’s record collection because it really exemplifies 21st century rock music. It has encapsulated everything about any band that came up from New York in the 20th century. So you’ve got your new wave, you’ve got your New York punk, you’ve got your New York post-punk on there. You even have touchstones of the bands that were contemporaries at the time, like The Strokes and things like that. And it’s all like mashed together in this singular thing. That, to me, is 21st century rock music that is no longer caught up in genre or even movements or scenes. It’s a woman who sounds like she was playing in CBGBs back in the day, but the drums on that album will sound absolutely nothing like they sound now, like something that was maybe made in the UK in the ’90s. That’s where we’re at with 21st century music and I think Fever to Tell exemplifies that and kind of kick started it.”

    Essential Track: “Date with the Night”

    Richard Dawson – The Glass Trunk (2013)

    “This is a very weird, obscure one, but I love folk music, and folk music is a huge part of IDLES — I think it’s in our DNA. I think that IDLES, in many ways, use some of the tools used in folk music, and I think that IDLES is kind of folk music, or we would hope that it is, in a way. Richard Dawson has put this new, noisy spin on folk music, and The Glass Trunk is a collection of a capella songs that I believe are based on newspaper cuttings that he’s read, either contemporary or from a very long time ago, in the area that he lives in. And so there are a capella songs, and in between every a capella song, there’s like a pure, no-wave noise track with a guitar making incredibly dissonant sounds, and it kind of reflects the mood of the rest of the album that you hear in the vocal delivery. And I think that it’s one of the most incredible albums ever.”

    Essential Track: “Pearled Horse”

    The Jesus Lizard – Goat (1991)

    “It’s a kind of quintessential noise rock album. I’d even say it’s one of the most overlooked albums from the ’90s. I think that it has its place as much in the cultural identity of rock music, especially in America, as Nevermind does. It’s just incredible. It sounds fresh if you put it on now, you would think that it could be a new band from Austin, Texas, or a new band from New York or even a few bands from LA, so I think that its impact is long lasting. I mean, it’s just incredible.”


    Essential Track: “Monkey Trick”

    Death Grips – The Money Store (2012)

    “So, most people would classify this as hip hop. I believe that Death Grips are an unclassifiable group, but if you’ve ever seen them live, they’re 100% a rock band. They’re like post-post-post-post-post-post hardcore, and in the best possible way. Their shows are absolute chaos. And the drumming is unbelievable. The vocals are everything you want from a rock singer. So yeah, I mean, it’s controversial as a rock record, because a lot of people say it’s not one, but I think it is a rock album It should be in every rock aficionado’s record collection.”

    Essential Track: “I’ve Seen Footage”