1. Laura Marling (Produced by Jack White) – ‘Blues Run The Game’
It makes perfect sense. One doesn’t believe in the benefits of technology, the other seems to hail from a time where the height of tech was a hand-cranked mangle. Finally, Laura Marling’s sessions from Jack White’s studio surface, and they’re as guilelessly natural as the product of a 25-minute recording session should be – just Laura, a guitar and background clatter.
Jack’s Third Man Records is the Sun Records of its day: a place where the immediate sonic snapshot of the artist tells its own story. Both songs here are covers: the A-side ‘Blues Run The Game’, originally by troubled singer Jackson C Frank, backed with Neil Young’s ‘The Needle And The Damage Done’, about his friends’ freefall into heroin addiction in the ’70s.
As the new folk scene isn’t full of raving skagheads just yet, the poignancy here lies elsewhere; they’ve both been absorbed into a wider folk lexicon, just as Marling’s elegantly modern Brit-folk deserves to be. It almost goes without saying that she makes both songs utterly her own, her sagacious voice warm and fluttery, occasionally cracking like the wood fire that Jack probably uses to power his studio. Breathtaking.
[Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor]
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2. Cloud Control – ‘The Rolling Stones’
These Aussies met performing in The Pirates Of Penzance, and this song proves light opera’s loss is drone-pop’s gain. With euphoric vocals over a simple loop, the song is no tribute to Keef and co, but it delivers plenty of satisfaction.
[Paul Stokes, Associate Editor]
3. Amy Winehouse – ‘It’s My Party’
She may be singing behind the beat in a way anyone who has seen ‘Rehab’ live will be familiar with but, by the ad-libs at the end, the distinction between Amy and nine zillion pitch-perfect X Factorites is clear, as is the reason why people will always, always care.
[Hamish MacBain, Assistant Editor]
4. Suuns – ‘Arena’
Montreal post-punk types Suuns’ debut has been as difficult to dislodge from the stereo as the granules clogged in our turntable grooves since Dirty Pretty Things came in. ‘Arena’ is Metronomy gone Radio 4 via dark Franz. Promising.
[Jamie Fullerton, News Editor]
5. Forest – ‘On Your Way’
Sweden’s Service label, home to The Tough Alliance, has mellow vibes (yes, I did) nailed. Nostalgic like Ariel Pink but sweeter, Forest create a hallucinatory carousel feel – with natty harmonica.
[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
6. Fang Island feat. Andrew WK – ‘Patterns On The Wall’
Basically, anything to do with Andrew WK is going to be either brilliant or dogshit – them’s the breaks when you happen to be a genius. Happily, this is a corker, somehow mutating from a lo-fi Jay Reatard-style singalong into a hands-in-the-air hair-metal anthem in four meaty minutes.
[Mike Williams, Features Editor]
7. Smith Westerns – ‘Weekend’
This beguiling taster from the Chicago reprobates’ second album, ‘Dye It Blonde’ is the sound of Smith Westerns going global. You can, like, hear the vocals and everything now! Undeniably a great thing.
[Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter]
8. Kid Cudi feat. Cage and St Vincent – ‘Maniac’
Indie’s favourite rapper went on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and brought along some friends. On ‘Maniac’, his croak is thrown into relief by a punchy Cage verse and background warbling from fellow Brooklynite St Vincent.
[Luke Lewis, Deputy Editor, NME.com]
9. Primary 1 feat. Harry Tuttle – ‘Never Know’
The pop professor enlists the help of Harry Tuttle – aka Late Of The Pier’s Sam Eastgate – and some elastic bass stolen off Jacko’s ‘Just Good Friends’ for his squelchiest effort yet.
[Tim Chester, Assistant Editor, NME.com]
10. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – ‘Heart In Your Heartbreak’
Calling this taster from the New Yorkers’ second album “hugely anticipated” is in this case justified, as a) TPOBPAH cleverly disappeared from view just as the wider world was starting to fall for them, and b) this is yet more effortless and beautiful gaze-pop.
[Liam Cash, writer]
This article originally appeared in the November 13 issue of NME