1. Black Milk feat Jack White – ‘Brain/Royal Mega’
It had to happen sooner or later. Jack White, man, musician, Raconteur, flogger of red and white merch and memorabilia, he of NME’s recent iPad app, has only gone and done a Joaquin. However, this rap manoeuvre is no joke – and sadly doesn’t feature the mainman spitting verses himself. Rather Lil Jack (or Whova, The Notorious JACK or whatever rap epithet you want to give him) has teamed up with Detroit hip-hopper Black Milk for two new tracks, ‘Brain’ and ‘Royal Mega’, that feature the White Stripes singer on guitar and drums respectively, and producing both.
‘Brain’ is a slow slung A-side that stutters from the speakers all jittery vintage organs, funky bass clips and muttered lines about waking up and “bitches on display” displaying short but deadly bursts of Jack guitar, while ‘Royal Mega’ is a horn-stuffed, ’tude-filled epic reminiscent of Oregon’s Youngblood Brass Band that Jack Dogg takes for a punk rock walk from the drum stool halfway through. With Lil Wayne promising to retire in two years and Diddy announcing he’s “taking his artist hat off”, the stage is wide open for the Jackfaced Killah to complete his metamorphosis.
Tim Chester, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
2. Veronica Falls – ‘Come On Over’
Yes, of course VF’s clattering, cardigan-clad take on third-album Velvet Underground by way of ‘Some Candy Talking’ and The Pastels is ersatz as cheese slices. But you’ll be whistling this melody all the way to the second-hand bookshop and, hey, at least they’re not American.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
3. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – ‘Tigers’
Done with his Pavement dabblings, Mr Malkmus sits Beck down in the producer’s chair for ‘Tigers’, a lilting, “la-la-la” addled and Birkenstock sandal name-checking piece of alt.grooving plaid pop. We expect ’90s throwbacks Yuck’ll be rinsing this one out just as much as we are.
Leonie Cooper, Deputy News Editor
4. Elliott Smith – ‘The Real Estate’
The guy traded in pop songs, but pop songs darker than the under-shadows of Rupert Murdoch’s soul – it’s no surprise Elliott’s posthumous contribution to a Portland charity compilation is another sojourn into delicately understated depths of elliptical gloom. Zealots: treasure its existence. Newcomers: go explore, sharpish.
Jazz Monroe, writer
5. Ganglians – ‘Sleep’
Taken from brilliant new album ‘Still Living’ – out August 28 – Ganglians prove that not only can they out-Beach Boy the likes of The Besnard Lakes with their gushy ooohs and ahhs, but with cries of “Sandman! Whaddya know about that?”, they could probably kick the shit out of Metallica too.
Mike Williams, Deputy Editor
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6. Real Estate – ‘It’s Real’
New Jersey’s Real Estate are releasing their second album soon and, as far as impressive introductions go, this teaser is up there with the time we met Warwick Davis, the dwarf actor who fights Ricky Gervais in Extras (and is also about to star in Gervais’ new show Life’s Too Short). Shiny, Shins-y and just a little bit psych-y, if the album follows suit it’ll be a slacker cracker.
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
7. Chairlift – ‘Amanaemonesia’
They’ve been AWOL for way too long, but now the NYC heroes return in triumphant form. ‘Amanaemonesia’, out on Chris from Grizzly Bear’s Terrible Records, is nothing short of epic – merging about five separate songs/genres/freakouts into one ridiculously hummable mantra.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
8. St Vincent – ‘Surgeon’
The peerless Annie Clark returns with album number three, ‘Strange Mercy’. This, the first song from it, weighs languorous and barbiturate-laced like a Stepford Wife on a hot day, and ends with one of the finest guitar freakouts you’ll hear all year.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
9. Transfer – ‘Losing Composure’
If you enjoyed Ronnie ‘Big Talk’ Vannucci from The Killers’ solo effort and fancy more of the same fire’n’brimstone fun, then San Diego boys Transfer – ex-touring buddies with White Lies and Brandon Flowers – are just the ticket; all redemptive riffs and Arcade Fire’s raucous evangelicalisms.
Susana Pearl, Writer
10. Nicola Roberts – ‘Disco, Blisters & A Comedown’
You can take the girl out of Runcorn, but not even a whirlwind reality-pop career and five game-changing Girls Aloud albums can take Runcorn out of the girl. This discotronic cautionary tale wonders “Why do the lights in the kebab shop/Make this guy look less hot/He’s looking like John Prescott”. Haven’t we all been there?
Dan Martin, writer
This article originally appeared in the July 23rd issue of NME