1. BoB feat. Hayley Williams – ‘Airplanes’
Lending her epically lunged sweet female attitude to the first of this two-parter from rap’s next mahoosive thing, Bobby Ray Simmons, Paramore singer Williams’ first foray into hip-hop is a much subtler, far more credible affair than you might think.
2. Kelis – ‘Acapella’
She appeared to have lost her knack of staying ahead of pop’s curve – but divorcing Nas seems to have given Kelis a creative jolt: this is her most thrilling tune since ‘Milkshake’.
3. Wolf Gang – ‘Back To Back’
Much moodier and more xx-y than Max McElligott’s perky new romantic Sparksian shtick so far has suggested, this is a big ol’ swoony love song with a throbbing bassline to knock your feet from under you.
4. The Shimmer – ‘Crash’
Hailing from the Isle Of Sheppey, The Shimmer know a thing or two about cold waves. While their synthesized swagger owes a debt to the once unknown pleasures of minimal ’80s machine pop, they are led with lustful lustre by David Hanks, who has a voice carved from black ice and a face built for bedroom walls.
5. Monarchy – ‘The Phoenix Alive’
For anyone questioning the blood, sweat and tears shed in the world of synth-pop, look no further. From its title onward, the second single from London’s camera-shy disco drama queens sounds like one of the battle scenes from Clash Of The Titans set to the beat of Kylie’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’.
6. Maps & Atlases –‘Solid Ground’
This Chicago four-piece weld the intricate quirks of Animal Collective with a backdrop of clomping wooden guiros and woozy synths, while mastering the vocal melancholy of TV On The Radio so majestically that singer Erin Elders sounds like a Tunde Adebimpe in the making.
7. Gold Panda – ‘You’
We like glo-fi, although after a while it is a bit like having quick-drying cement poured in your ears and then having to listen to I ♥ 1983 while suffering from concussion. Gold Panda, aka Derwin, an Essex-born remixer with an obsession with Japanese culture, serves up a glittering antidote slice of minimal J-techno.
8. Young Rebel Set – ‘Borders’
It might not seem like it, but the derelict steel mills and ship-building warehouses of Stockton-On-Tees are the perfect backdrop to peddle Springsteen-heavy blue-collar buddy rock. Dusty, uplifting and piano-led: who needs The Boss and a £65 arena ticket when the workers have gaslight anthems like ‘Borders’ on their doorstep?
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9. Blondes – ‘Moondance’
It’s hard to know where the hell you are with Blondes. Their strung-out instrumentals take you on a magic carpet ride from Kompakt HQ in Berlin to Chicago’s house clubs via a bedsit in Bristol for some Fuck Button pushing. Fans of The Field or Merok’s previous might want to prick up their ears.
10. United Nations Of Sound – ‘Third Eye (Columbus Circle)’
Featuring the line “This is some kung-fu shit”, the second song we’ve heard from Richard Ashcroft’s new project has No ID amping production up to The Roots-like levels of swoopy string samples and guitar noodling. Dicky, meanwhile, croons over the top about souls, ie, a bit like a recent Ian Brown song, ie, it’s ace.