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”

    Show Me the Body – Corpus I (2017)

    “We’re two decades into the 21st century, from Fever to Tell. And Show Me the Body is taking things even further forward. Because this is an album of collaborations with other artists from all sorts of very different genres, but they all share an inherent bit of their DNA. It feels very much like a bit of the DNA that is in my band. It expands and expands on all sorts of different genres, but it’s still very much as a rock album. I would say, if you don’t think this is rock in the 21st century, I don’t think you quite understand what rock is.

    Essential Track: “You thought what you saw was it”

    Beak> – Beak>> (2012)

    “I’m going to pick their second album, Beak 2. I think this is our 21st century Krautrock. Again, it’s taking something that already exists, and I could have said Neu! and I could have said the first Kraftwerk album, or I could have said boundless other kinds of bands that followed in that vein, but Beak> takes Krautrock and makes it feel a hell of a lot more isolated. It feels a lot more confusing, and it kind of speaks to a lot of people’s inertia and a lot of people’s feelings today. And I think the Beak> are the ones for me, and again, incredible live, an incredible band, and hugely underrated.”

    Essential Track: “Wulfstan II”

    Sunn O))) – Monoliths & Dimensions (2009)

    “So, people call it ‘drone’ music, it’s metal. I wouldn’t say necessarily, that I would categorize it, essentially, as metal, but it’s definitely on the fringes. But sonically, it is one of those albums that just pushes boundaries. I listen to this album maybe more than any other album, it’s weird. When you listen to this, it’s not necessarily relaxing music, but I listen to it to relax. I love it from the crazy vocals to the unbelievable drone guitars — the depth that they can seem to get to with their guitars is just a complete inspiration to me. It’s one of my favorite things, and if anyone ever gets an opportunity to see them live, I would implore them to — it is a life-changing experience.”


    Essential Track: “Aghartha”

    PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)

    PJ Harvey - Stories from the City Stories from the Sea

    “I could have picked any PJ Harvey album. PJ Harvey is an essential listen to anyone. and I think they should definitely get older records and kind of play through them, because they have some of the best guitar tunes of all time, some of the best and most beautiful music of all time. But I think that Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is a good gateway drug into the dimensions of PJ Harvey’s back catalogue, and I think when she was making this album she said that her goal and intention was ‘sheer beauty.’ I think that wouldn’t be everyone’s idea of beauty, but it definitely is.”

    Essential Track: “Good Fortune”

    Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (2010)

    “Many people would say Grinderman 1 to be the best Grinderman album. But actually I think they’re just saying that because “No Pussy Blues” is such a good song. “No Pussy Blues” is definitely their best song, but I think Grinderman 2 is a better Grinderman album, because it’s chaos. It’s kind of returned to the early days of the Bad Seeds mixed with everything they’ve kind of learned along the way into a more tight — yet not tight at all — mixture. This is real rock music, I think. And I think it should be common for the rock music listener.”

    Essential Track: “Evil!”

    IDLES – Brutalism (2017)

    “If I didn’t believe my band was the best band of all time, then I’m certainly barking up the wrong tree.”


    Essential Track: “STENDHAL SYNDROME”