1. Jay-Z –DOA (Death Of Auto-Tune)
One thing that Jay-Z’s otherwise triumphant appearance at last year’s Glastonbury proved is that the man isn’t the best singer, so quite why he’s so eager to forecast the demise of the computerised pitch-perfecting device is beyond us. But there are other, more pressing questions, like just why he chose to release this brilliant, haphazard mess of clattering drums, confusing spidery guitar lines and genuinely disquietingly discordant violins as a single? “This ain’t a Number One record”, he acknowledges, “it’s practically assault with a deadly weapon”. And he’s right.
2. 30H!3 – Don’t Trust Me
All rap kids obviously hate 3OH!3, ’cos they’re two comedically goony-looking white, suburban kids with hard-ons for crooning emo hooks over bass-ruptured electro-crunk that Lil Jon would run a mile from for being “too dang nasssty”. The emo kids hate them ’cos they aren’t so fussed about guyliner and plastic neon trinklet bracelets and are more concerned with bragging about fantasy “rope chains”, and smirking at “daddies owning dealerships”. Everyone else hates them because they’re effectively 2009’s answer to the Bloodhound Gang. How the fuck have they sold 1.2mill in the States then? Here’s why.
3. Reverend And The Makers – Silence Is Talking
Based around a vibrant horn sample from ’70s funkers War’s ‘Low Rider’, and flying defiantly in the face of semantics, this is the Rev back to his ebullient best. Think what you like about his politicking, but the man knows his way around a banging tune that keeps one toe in the waters of post-punk musical history and one fist pumping in the air.
Blog – Why Jon McClure is spearheading a new mood of political engagement in rock
4. Blur – Bank Holiday
Teases! As if our excitement couldn’t be ramped any higher for Glasto and their Hyde Park shows, the Blur boys released this rehearsal footage online last week. As well as a hypnotic sounding run-through of ‘Death Of A Party’ and a brilliant rompy intro to ‘Song 2’ that shows just how much fun the reunited band are having (Damon leaping up and down and chanting “Go Dave, go Dave!”), there’s this, the classic track from 'Parklife'. And it sounds brilliant. Squeeeeeee!
5. Darker My Love – Two Ways Out
“You don’t want to go saying that round Salford,” observed Mark E Smith of this band’s name when Tim Presley and Rob Barbato filled in as Fall members. He was probably right about that, but DML are no mere sidemen. Recent album ‘2’ proves them to be prolific miners of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club/Brian Jonestown Massacre-style fuzzy fun-times smack-rock, here flaunting an uncharacteristically sunny chorus pickpocketed from Teenage Fanclub.
6. Gang Gang Dance – First Communion (TV On The Radio Mix)
Two of our favourite albums of last year were TV On The Radio’s ‘Dear Science’ and Gang Gang Dance’s ‘Saint Dymphna’. Picture our goofy joy when these two fellow travellers on the road of American weirdness decided to hitch a lift together. Sitek and the boys add an extra tapestried layer of rich ornament to the already radiant original, with just a hint of dubsteppy menace.
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7. The Plasticines - Barcelona
If NME was a Svengali type with a Savile Row suit, a leather armchair and a white Persian cat, the kind of band we ’d put together would be exactly like The Plasticines. Four super-extra-hot French girls with fat, chunky riffs and brilliant new wave pop tunes, they are literally too perfect to be true. There must be a catch – they must drown kittens in sacks in their spare time or listen to Keane or something. Don’t look too hard for problems though – just enjoy the flashing colours and the promise that “there’ll be dancing like no tomorrow”.
8. The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club – Parrot
Substituting euphemistic nouns in order to talk about your genitals over the airwaves – if it’s good enough for Jack White and his doorbell, it’s good enough for too-long-absent Cardiff clangers VEGC. “Make my parrot talk”, demands Adam Taylor, “…it hasn’t said a word for the past few days”. Ladies beware: this is NOT an innocent request for sunflower seeds. Fitting in perfectly with the gothic aesthetic of the moment with clanking bass and skeleton-shuffling percussion, it’s like Royal Trux being chased down a dark alley by a zombie Blood Red Shoes.
9. Carl Barat – So Long
The cup of the Libs lover runneth right over: reunions, tabloid stories, gigs left right and centre, and now – Carl solo! Dirty Pretty Things this ain’t, as El Barât peforms at Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall backed by a violinist in a suit that looks like he half-inched it from the Telstar costume department. The song is a Celtic-tinged ballad, Carl crooning, “So long my lover, it’s over…” You can’t get rid of us that easily, Carly boy.
10. Lil Wayne – Kobe Bryant
It’s not that 'Kobe Bryant’ (he’s a basketball player, by the way), with its curious tippy-toe synth drums, bombastic keyboard flourishes buried slightly too deep in the mix and Wayne’s trademark raspy lyrical nonsense, is bad, it’s just that it seems strangely sane in the week that one of hip-hop’s biggest names (see: Jay-Z) effectively commits an act of commercial suicide. Perhaps, to preserve the balance of things, the eccentric loon should have come through with a bundle of poppy hooks and choral catchiness instead. Or maybe not…