1. Beth Ditto - 'I Wrote The Book'
Oh, the disco, a sacred space where new freedoms can be carved out with the flick of a hip and the turn of a heel. A strobe-spangled altar where a warrior woman of righteous punk can reincarnate herself as a high-priestess of love-drunk hedonism under neon lights that spell ‘NO POLITICS ON THE DANCEFLOOR’. Under the sure guidance of SMD’s Jas and James, Beth Ditto is stepping into 2011 light of foot and deft of touch. Her new musical handbag could not even be more housey on this standout track from her self-titled EP, but it’s a granite-glossy abode she’s built in revived and fabulous ’90s dance label deConstruction (also once home to Kylie’s first forays into divadom).
Lyrically, Ditters takes on the role of worldly-wise dispenser of hard-earned wisdom to the youthful and reckless, à la Candi Staton on ‘Young Hearts Run Free’, admonishing, “The world is full of good intentions/Paradise is full of lies”. Yet warn you and caution as she may, the sounds suck you deeper into the nightclub underworld; the synths are gleaming, infinity-mirror deep and seductively spare and Beth’s soul-stripping holler is toned down to a tense purr. Come on, chuck your jacket in the corner and join her on the floor…
[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
2. PJ Harvey - 'The Words That Maketh Murder'
Arguably the stand-out track from her staggeringly good new LP ‘Let England Shake’, here Polly manages to juxtapose an exquisite, autoharp-led tune with nerve-shredding lyrics about the grim realities of war. More fun than it sounds.
[Alan Woodhouse, Senior Sub-Editor]
3. Ladytron - 'Ace Of Hz'
The electro nearly-legends are back with a Best Of but this new track is as sublime and hooky as anything they’ve done. If they gave this to Cheryl Cole, it’d be Number One all year. Forget your souls, Ladytron, think of the cash!
[Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor]
4. Waka Flocka Flame - 'Rap Game Stressful'
If Drake is the posh kid in class and Asher Roth and Lupe Fiasco are the nerds, then Waka Flocka Flame is the bully. Waka’s essentially scared his way to the top of the rap’s hierarchy, turning brawn-over-brains into a postmodern artform.
[Jaimie Hodgson, New Music Editor]
5. Mojo Fury - 'Colour Of The Bear'
Biffy Clyro and Oceansize support act bring a drum-heavy shout-fest of a track to the world’s collective battered ear. They ’ll be touring with Hold Your Horse Is to celebrate the release of this second single - and what a sweaty, beer-stained trail of gigs that will be.
[Abby Tayleure, writer]
6. Trophy Wife - 'The Quiet Earth'
The Oxford trio pull off the trick of being stupidly infectious while at the same time seeming discreet and reserved, by marrying Foals and Vampire Weekend’s shimmering guitar riffs with singer Jody Prewett’s gentle yearning vocals. Understated loveliness from beginning to end.
[Tom Goodwyn, writer]
7. Cassius - 'I Love You So' (Skream Remix)
Screechy sirens played across each other at jarring time signatures don’t scream limbs-in-the-air floorfiller, but Skream’s light fingers have made it so. Cassius said when he heard the remix for the first time it made him feel 14 again. Same here.
[Sam Wolfson, writer]
8. Pete And The Pirates - 'Winter 1'
After creating some of the most understatedly hypnotic hooks of 2008, the Reading gawk-troupe seem to be doing it all over again. If their May-bound album extends ‘Winter 1’’s promising wonk-pop further they could be probing their gangplanks deep into 2011.
[Jamie Fullerton, News Editor]
9. Gyratory System - 'Pamplona'
By day, Dr Andrew Blick is a constitutional historian in the halls of Westminster; by night, he makes wonderfully warped electronica as Gyratory System. Oh, and his dad’s in the band, too. Seek out ‘Pamplona’, from the forthcoming album ‘New Harmony’, and allow your neurons to be frazzled.
[Ben Hewitt, writer]
10. Lady Gaga - 'Scheiße'
Potty mouth! This Teuton-tongued remix backs a creepy short film celebrating the appointment of Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti as creative director of the Mugler fashion house, and is the first taste of second album ‘Born This Way’. Through brutal technoid synths, you can just make out a housey shimmer of a chorus. Shit, hot.
[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
This article originally appeared in the January 29 issue of NME
Subscribe here and get NME for £1 a week, or get this week's digital issue