Redbrick Music writer Seb Rolley lays out five tracks that have had an important impact on his life, including the likes of Nick Cave and Kendrick Lamar

Written by Seb Rolley
English Lit student, music lover and confused jazz bass player
Last updated

These 5 tracks have all had a profound impact on my life, but in very different ways. However, if there’s a single common denominator to these songs, it’s that they all acted as gateways to more music. Each track has pushed the boundaries of what I listen to. Whilst these may not necessarily be my absolute favourite tracks, these are certainly some of the most influential for me.

Ian Dury and the Blockheads – ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’

If there was one album that defines my childhood musical exposure as a child, it would be New Boots and Panties by Ian Dury, in particular ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’. There is something infinitely charming about this humorous yet deeply heartfelt tribute to Gene Vincent, one of Ian’s favourite singers. Ian’s voice is instantly identifiable, injecting more character into every syllable than almost any other singer I know. This album received more play in the car during journeys than any other when I was a child, sound tracking journeys all over the country. It remains one of the few albums from that period that I truly love; a highly underrated classic record.

Kendrick Lamar – ‘King Kunta’

‘King Kunta’ is possibly the single most important song in my life for opening new areas of music to me. Before listening to this song, at the release of To Pimp a Butterfly, my interest in rap and jazz music was minimal. However, over three minutes this tune opened the gates to both of these genres, and introduced me to some of my favourite artists of all time: Kendrick Lamar and Thundercat. I can remember listening to this track on repeat for at least a day, finding new things on every listen. It was like absolutely nothing I’d ever heard before. Having only heard the pop rap of the charts, Kendrick’s style was mind-blowing, showcasing musicianship I had incredibly naively believed was restricted to musicianship outside of rap.

My Bloody Valentine – ‘Only Shallow’

The first 4 seconds of this song took everything I thought I knew about guitar playing and destroyed it. The sounds that Kevin Shields creates on this track are furious, noisy and unbelievably beautiful. With absolutely no understanding of how a guitar could make these sounds, like a (very nice-sounding) tortured hoover, my first listen of this track sent me on a mission to try to make my guitar sound even vaguely like Kevin’s. This was also one of the first truly experimental songs I loved, pushing me to open my ears to weirder and weirder sounds, leading me to tackle albums and tracks which would have otherwise been way to unusual for me enjoy.

Fugazi – ‘Waiting Room’

As probably my first proper gateway into hardcore and its associated genres, I owe a lot of who I am today to this track. Fugazi are a band that not only influenced me musically, but also socially and politically. Ian McKaye’s lyrics about social mobility and social injustice really struck a chord with me, inspiring me to become more socially aware and to begin to engage in activism. The track’s individual significance to me aside, the fact it then led to some of my absolute favourite bands such as Minor Threat and Bad Brains means it’s easily deserving of a place on this list.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – ‘Magneto’

This song was the single most powerful live experience of my life, as well as being off one of my absolute favourite albums of all time. This track perfectly encapsulates for me the tone of Skeleton Tree, an absolutely bleak, yet somehow unspeakably beautiful record dealing with grief. Adding to its significance, in September 2017 at a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gig in Nottingham, Nick chose to sing a verse of this tune directly to me, a moment which will forever cement this song as one of the most special and meaningful to me. It’s impossible for me to listen to this track now without getting instant Goosebumps. A ridiculously powerful statement on grief from my all-time favourite songwriter.