1. Wild Flag – ‘Future Crimes’
The word ‘supergroup’ is a thorny one, carrying connotations of jostling egos, a blaze of pomp and the inevitable involvement of Damon Albarn. So it’s best not to describe the arrival of Wild Flag as such, even though each of the women involved is arguably brilliant: the sadly defunct Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss join Mary Timony (Helium) and Rebecca Cole (The Minders). Given that they’re pretty much a who’s-who of the seminal ’90s riot grrrl movement, we were sold on pedigree alone. So it only sweetens the deal that both sides of their first single are lessons in how to write incredible, direct punk that’s economical without being reductive, emotional but not glib.
To put it bluntly, there’s not a “ra ra ra” in sight. Clocking in at 2:14, A-side ‘Future Crimes’ is a tiny vignette, but Carrie’s fist-clenchingly anxious, angry drawl gives way to what feels like a lifetime of failed relationships past and anticipated. “I’m so hardwired to be alone,” she laments to no-one in particular, Rebecca’s organ needling an insistent uneasiness, the guitars furious and fuzzing. B-side ‘Glass Tambourine’’s a jauntier affair – twice the length with such an epic psychedelic howl at the end that you suspect the fragility of its title might be in jest. Screw the idea of some ageing supergroup; Wild Flag are vital, in both senses of the word.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
2. Katy B – ‘Broken Record’
Not so tough after all, club-kid Katy reveals herself as a euphoric romantic on this trancey, jungle-tinged fever-dream of love’s little hiccups. Her triumphant affirmation, “I know though we make our mistakes/That you’re holding every breath I take”, is gorgeous dancefloor poetry.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
3. Art Brut - 'Unprofessional Wrestling'
The king of awkward, enthusiastic sex tales, Eddie Argos, combines two of his favourite things – wrestling and bedroom acrobatics. Carpet burns, grazes, leotards; ‘Unprofessional Wrestling’ is a great sign for new album ‘Brilliant! Tragic!’
Abby Tayleure, writer
4. Marques Toliver - 'Charter Magic'
Sounding like a cross between Bruno Mars and Robert Johnson (if he hadn’t sold his soul for that damn guitar) this ex-busking violinist from the streets of NY croons about going, “On a journey to
a place I’ve never known”. Maybe he’ll let us come too, if we’re lucky.
Ailbhe Malone, writer
5. Gang Gang Dance – ‘Glass Jar’
This 11-minute taster for GGD’s first album on 4AD is less of an amuse-bouche as it is a right old boucheful, starting out in a haze of Can-like atmospherics before soft-exploding like Rihanna gone quietly drum’n’bass. Amazing.
Alex Denney, writer
6. 2:54 – ‘On A Wire’
The debut single from sister duo 2:54 is a wonder in sludgy guitars and breathy vocals. Listen to singer Colette’s sultry curse: “Round and round, you’ll never know, out of time, but I will find you”. You’ll see why we’re cowering in the corner…
Sam Elliot Connor, writer
7. Alex Turner – ‘Piledriver Waltz’
The lead track off an EP composed to soundtrack Richard Ayoade’s film Submarine, ‘Piledriver Waltz’ is a swirling cocktail of fairground Wurlitzers, acoustic guitars and Turner’s advice for would-be messiahs: “If you’re going to try to walk on water, make sure you wear your comfortable shoes”. Practical stuff, that.
Paul Stokes, Associate Editor
8. Oupa – ‘Forget’
If there was one band we thought would never walk within throwing distance of a piano, it was Yuck. Well, singer Daniel Blumberg, judging by the lead tune off his mini-album with side-project Oupa (a development of Yu(c)k), is as comfortable flicking out echo-laden ivory ghost-ballads as he is hammering an amp into gutter-rock overdrive.
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
9. JJ – ‘The End’
This is a pretty thing from our Swedish bliss-pop duo – pretty fucking massive. It sounds like Spiritualized quitting the smack, venturing outside for the first time in six months, and discovering a tropical rainforest has grown in their back garden. Lush, sweet, epic, fun.
Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor
10. Ausrta – ‘Lose It’
Katie Stelmanis’ voice has the power to make humans fall apart, quivering with emotion like a blancmange ona treadmill, to the extent that she’s in danger of being used as a weapon in a future sonic battle. Listen at yourown luxurious peril.
John Doran, writer
This article originally appeared in the March 19th issue of NME
Subscribe here and get NME for £1 a week, or get this week's digital issue