Lots of musicians claim the title of “artist,” but few really walk the walk. Pat Campo, pop/rock artist from Los Angeles, lives the credo so devoutly, however, that he has a stand-in puppet for his films. As Campo says, “People can find my picture online, and there’s no harm in that. That’s just not what I’m selling.” What he is selling, however, is a sound that, while reminiscent of bands like All-American Rejects, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, and recent radio darlings Walk the Moon, is all Campo’s own. His loving care — nay, curation of his craft is evident in every note.

His latest release, Clouds In My Head is full of that melodic pop that gets stuck in your head and sounds consistently fresh, no matter the year. It’s not hard to see why Campo was named one of Music Connection’s Hot 100 Unsigned Artists in 2012. It’s a title clearly that still applies today.

With such a cool sound, we were dying to know more about where Campo’s influences lie. Here are five influential tracks that shaped the man — and the puppet.

1. The Replacements, “Bastards of Young”

From the first words of this song,”God, what a mess, on the ladder of success,” holy shit, I was hooked. One of my favorite bands that have influenced me throughout so many years ’til this day. Every angle of their career was something I always strived for.  Great songwriting with no frills attitudes. Every single time I listen to this band, all I think of is integrity.

2. Soulwax, “Much Against Everyone’s Advice”

I remember when I first heard this song: the electronic drum beat at the beginning quickly turns into this harsh, abrasive, dry, yummy, chunky, in-your-face-type sound that I immediately wanted to recreate for myself. I don’t think I necessarily got the exact same sound. But other great sounds came from experimenting none the less. I always loved there transitions in each song, especially when involves a lot of electronica. Their poppy, yet non-transparent, chord structures are so infectious to the ear.  I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where I don’t listen to these guys.

3. Failure, “Stuck On You”

What can I say about this band that hasn’t been said already by so many? They’ve influenced an entire underground scene by their dissonant, yet hooky, chords and melodies. That’s what influenced me for sure! There’s something about their post-grunge heavy rock that crawls underneath the skin, but in a good way.

4. Foster the People, “Houdini”

I heard from a friend [who] knew Mark Foster that he wrote this song within five minutes! And also did it in this way to impress a girl. What the heck?? If it didn’t impress her, it sure impressed the hell out of me! When I heard this, it totally inspired me to jot down musical ideas quicker than ever, and less obsessively, which I do quite a bit. It just goes to show that great songs don’t need to have a writing span of days, weeks, months, or years. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that process, since I usually write in that fashion to begin with. But great songs shouldn’t ever have a time prerequisite or deadline.

5. Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer, “The Hot Situation”

Super-duper hooky melodies from the get go! I was first introduced to this band by mistake when a friend told me to look up something totally different. But when I first heard the blaring poppy guitar riff accompanied with catchy synth lines, I was like whaaaaaat! How can anyone not like this? Zolof is the epitome of power pop!

Check out Pat Campo’s video for “Without Me” below: