1. Dirty Projectors – Stillness Is The Move
Following Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, the moment is ripe for US weirdos to break through. Enter Dirty Projectors: a bewilderingly awesome act whose most famous album was a glitchy, globally experimental, freak-folk-filtered reconstruction of Black Flag’s ‘Damaged’ pieced together from teenage memories. Vocalist Amber Coffman sprinkles shiver-inducing Mariah-style R&B gymnastics over a deliciously tense Afro-hop backing. Lush like skinny-dipping.
2. Pink Mountaintops – Vampire
The softer, more experimental alter-ego of Vancouver’s psych-howlers Black Mountain allows frontman Stephen McBean to get all lovey-dovey and throw tambourines around. This slow-strummed, lovelorn waltz is doomily romantic and the lyrics will tear your heart to tiny bleeding rags.
3. Franz Ferdinand – Womanizer
Now, we know covering chart pop on Jo Whiley’s Live Lounge is approximately as crazy and original as eating soup with a spoon, but hold up! Franz’s shonky, skiffley take on Britney’s saucy strut finds them sounding more invigorated, lusty and louche than they have in, like, ever. Plus, Alex Kapranos adds an extra debonair menace to “Lollipop, must mistake me, you’re the sucker” in the way that only he can.
4. The Phenomenal Handclap Band – 15-20
Counting. We can all do it, sure. And the old 1-2-3-4 in rock’n’roll is always special. But now, this eight-strong stateside gang are upping the stakes. “Five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30…” woah, steady on! With an old-school Sly & The Family Stone funky shuffle multiplied by a Tom Tom Club New Yoik sass, you don’t need to do any maths to know this is ace.
5. To The Bones – Lips On Red
This is full-blooded rock’n’roll to blow the cobwebs from your skull. Staccato QOTSA rhythms, a chugging cascade of guitar and full-throated Biffy screams. “Hey hey, come over to me and put your green lights on”, Rhys Bradley barks. Seductive? No. Addictive? Yes.
6. Black Moth Super Rainbow – Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise
Emo song-title much? Thankfully, the divine sexy-spacey feel of this dippily delectable waltzer-spin of a track is more B-52’s by way of The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, with a touch of Eels and Dandy Warhols. If you fed The Virgins just enough hemlock to fuck them up a bit, then gave them back their instruments, they might knock out something like this flipsy weirdness.
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7. Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band – Nikorette
Canoeing music, you say? Well, grab your oar and your boxset of Grey’s Anatomy
and set sail on seas of Ryan Adams-ish warm-hearted country whimsy. Driven by
an antsy, addictive lyrical hunger for love or the evil weed, its fag-free frettings are couched and soothed by friendly, bouncy strums and cosy, honky-tonk piano that
takes a spin round the room with late-’70s Dylan. Seems ol’ Bright Eyes has given
up the angst for good, along with his former moniker. Now, if only he could give up
8. Bjork – Nattura (Switch Remix)
Oh, don’t look so shocked. She may be the grande-dame of avant garde artcore nowadays, but Björk can still be the sex-fixated, beat-hungry queen of the dancefloor when she fancies. Shift up, MIA, Santigold, Amanda Blank: Iceland’s mama of free-love would like a word with Mr Switch. The best thing is, stripped of Thom Yorke’s vegan-friendly vocals, and with Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale’s blast beats replaced by a warpy filth-bass swamp, it still benefits the Icelandic environment-protection project of the same name, but it’s about as sonically hippy as a Scud missile down the barrel of a flower. Everyone’s a winner!
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9. Silhouette – Masquerade
Once upon a time in the dark capital of the north – Leeds – there was
a band called The Ivories, who were doing this whole goth revival thing before SCUM had even thought of wearing their mums’ blouses. Then they split up. Boo! But now their frontwoman Helena Gee is back with a new project, Silhouette. Woo! Smouldering and spaghetti-Western desolate, like Nancy Sinatra slinking through early-Bad Seeds-style clattering hoofbeat drums and twanging guitar, it might murder you in your sleep, but it’d be worth it.
10. The Hundred In The Hands – Dressed In Dresden
Boy-girl disco-punk from NY – heard it all before? Well just for us check these out. Nonchalant vocals, juddering guitars with rumbling doom bass… Jason Friedman, formerly of rock’n’rollers The Boggs, and TV On The radio collaborator Eleanore Everdell are worth taking a new spin round the Brooklyn block.
A version of this article originally appeared in the 25 April issue of NME.
Don’t miss the next issue of NME, on sale from Wednesday 29 April, for the latest 10 Tracks You Have To Hear, featuring Gossip, Jarvis Cocker, Ebony Bones.
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