The top 10 best garage rock albums, as chosen by Bad Mannequins

a press shot of bad mannequins

The influence of garage rock from throughout the ages on Glasgow-based duo Bad Mannequins is writ large all over their latest EP, Deny Til U Die Part 1. Blending tongue-in-cheek songwriting with a garage-punk guitar tone which would’ve made The Strokes proud, the Mannequins channel sounds from the 60s (and, notably, the garage rock revival of the early 2000s) for a sound that is steeped in heritage while remaining decidedly modern.

Below, we catch up with the band to hear which 10 garage rock records most influenced them over the course of their musical career, and made them the band they are today.

The Hives – Your New Favourite Band

“Technically this is a compilation, but it has to be included for us as it was a genuine watershed moment buying this record. Hate To Say I Told You So is an amazing opener and even though there’s a bit of a front-loaded feel to the record, it’s only half an hour long so the energy of it sustains throughout. Die, All Right! is a stand out with its trashy drum-fill at the top, killer guitar riff – as soon as the vocal hits, you’re sold. The ‘Alright!’ shouts in the chorus contribute to our own ‘Alright!’ exclamations in most of our songs.

The White Stripes – Elephant

“There’s a bit of mythology about Toe Rag Studios in London for bands like us, and the fact that this record was made there in less than two weeks gives it an exciting mystique. I guess most people are sick to death of Seven Nation Army now but you have to remember what it was like hearing it for the first time. It’s an iconic riff and it blew us away first listen. Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine is a scuzzy dream. Jack White’s vocal sound on this is so memorable and we’d love to get somewhere even close to it when we’re in the studio.”

Eagles Of Death Metal – Peace Love Death Metal

“I’m sure we’re in the minority in that we prefer Eagles Of Death Metal to Queens Of The Stone Age and I’m sure we’re in the minority choosing this particular album, but it’s an essential for Bad Mannequins. We love the fact that the lack of production is the production. It’s raw from the first beat of I Only Want You and it stays that way until the last beat of Miss Alissa. The falsetto vocals on So Easy are effortlessly cool and the guitars show you what you can do to a pretty trite riff if you move to some unexpected chords. The guitar sound on English Girl is one that we would kill for.”

The Black Keys - Rubber Factory

“I guess this album could be described more as garage blues, but it sounds like garage rock to us, and it was the first album of theirs to cross our path and a great record to jump in on. I defy anyone with a guitar in hand to not instantly want to join in with 10 A.M. Automatic. It’s everything you want from a drums/guitar duo. Simple and effective, it gets in your head right away and doesn’t leave. Grown So Ugly has that growly vocal with the call and response guitar/drums intro you can’t argue with. This record has a sound that harks back to original 60s garage rock bands and it’s probably due to its blues influence. It’s great to revisit this album for its stripped back energy and power.”

The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics!!!

“Most of the albums we’re writing about here are garage rock revival, but this is the real deal – this album gets mentioned in all top tens for a reason. This record was a really raw departure from the traditional R&B of the mid-60s. We checked it out after a friend recommended listening to Strychnine and it was a revelation. Gerry Roslie’s primal screaming vocals are unbelievable and the piano rocks away, easily matching the rest of the band for vibe. The album opens with The Witch, a standout on the record, which is cool because both these tunes are the band’s own material. Most of the album is made up of R&B tunes like Good Golly Miss Molly and Roll Over Beethoven but every track is delivered with the kind of energy and conviction that would make this record a major influence on bands for decades.”

13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators

“We’re going back to the source again here with Roky Erickson’s seminal psychedelic rock album. Right from the word go on You’re Gonna Miss Me this record hooks you in. The killer guitar suddenly being joined by the electric jug is a freak out moment but I guess that’s what they were going for. That howl before the vocals kick in for real is like an announcement of what’s coming. It’s wild and gritty with the kind of sounds that are still dirty even when they’re clean. This is another album with a massive influence on future bands. The bass guitar tone on Don’t Fall Down is classic and cool and the repetitive chant of the title is sort of hypnotising and insistent. Roky’s songs are still fresh sounding now which is amazing given they’re over 50 years old.”

The Stooges – The Stooges

“John Cale produced this record and the resulting collaboration is an envelope-pushing classic. I Wanna Be Your Dog is just another level. When the insane fuzz guitar on the intro kicks off, you know you’re in for something special. Iggy’s vocal delivery on this tune is as cool as it gets. The band sounds so tough and doesn’t let up. No Fun has the best handclaps ever and we try our best to emulate them every chance we get. They do something to the groove that takes it to a new place. With only eight songs it somehow manages to pack a lot of classic moments in there. Much has already been written about how this album and this band changed the game.”

Thee Oh Sees – Help

“This record was definitely influenced by the aforementioned 13th Floor Elevators. The rainbow bat cover was enough to sell us this album. It’s crazy and cool in equal measure and San Francisco is the place to be making this sort of vibe. Again, a great measure of a great album is often how it opens and Enemy Destruct has an insane wall of sound coming from the guitars. We love the slap-back vocals and the drums are trashy, crashy and sensational. The Turn Around is a tiny minute long masterpiece with those explosive tom hits over a killer 60s West Coast riff. Most of the sounds on this record I would file under ‘How did they do that?’ This is just a cool record from start to finish and surely the closer Peanut Butter Oven is one of the best song titles of all time.”

The Strokes – Is This It

“When they arrived, The Strokes seemed to bring back the post-punk sound and bring it to everyone’s ears again. There’s a lot of great playing on this record that flies under the radar because of that no fuss approach to the production. Julian Casablanca’s vocal delivery on the title track is so mellow but still keeps you interested, which is a tough thing to do. We’re fans of a great second track and The Modern Age delivers that for sure. The drum beat with the snare on all four is tried and tested but the song keeps you engaged with all the guitar interplay and changes it up at the right times. New York City Cops is one that really does it for us on this record, no frills. The songwriting and playing are top level on this album and the production style makes it seem naïve at the same time. How do you pull that off? Who knows but it influenced us big time.”

The Kills – Midnight Boom

“This is the most ‘produced’ sounding record on our list here, but we have to mention it as the guitar work had a major influence on how we pull off our set live. Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince are about as cool as they come and this record somehow manages to give off the garage rock vibe and at the same time it felt cutting edge and modern when it was released. It still sounds fresh and cool almost ten years on. The duet vocals on the opening U.R.A Fever draw you into the album immediately and when the drums kick in its understated and a sound you’re not familiar with but that’s okay because it’s amazing. Sour Cherry stands out to us for it’s weird drum loop and those grungy guitar strikes. The production elevates this album but it still keeps a raw vibe.”

Bad Mannequins’ new EP Deny Til U Die Part I is out now via Triple Denim Records

Bad Mannequins: "We like to play with the tensions of everyday life"