James Blake & Bon Iver – ‘Fall Creek Boys Choir’
To say that ‘Fall Creek Boys Choir’ isn’t exactly a singalong number would be an understatement. Even so, despite a seemingly impenetrable sheen of glitch-heavy harmonics, vocodered mysteriousness and the vague, distant whirr of what sounds like a washing machine, this is a proper grower. Debuting online last week, this unlikely pairing of James Blake and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, two of the most vital but unexpected success stories of recent years, probably won’t have middle England grooving in the aisles of Morrisons, but then they’ve already got ‘Limit To Your Love’ and ‘Calgary’ for that.
Vernon and self-confessed Bon Iver fanboy Blake decided to join forces after meeting at this year’s SXSW and, instead of meeting up in swanky hotels, getting giddy on Cristal and backslaps à la ‘Watch The Throne’, they composed this track over email. While the song’s aches and breaks are undeniably a product of the digital age, there’s a raw emotion sandwiched between the multi-textured sonics. On the first listen, you’ll probably get cold sweet nothing, but by the third play the warmth will creep through, and the glorious fifth? You’ll just have to discover that treat for yourself.
Leonie Cooper, Deputy News Editor
Kurt Vile – ‘In/Out Blues’
The delicious lie-in laziness of this minimal meander (one of three new songs on a split UK tour seven-inch with Woods) belies a bitter heart, Vile’s voice as sleepily gorgeous as a hand stroking your bed-headed hair as he drawls, “Whose side are you on?”
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
Niki & The Dove – ‘The Drummer’
Rogue synths pile over each other like primary colours on a chalk board, lyrics come at you like a hundred questions popping up into your brain at once… yep, Niki & The Dove continue distilling the elemental into cautionary, unpredictable electronic shapes on this, perhaps their most gleaming pop moment to date.
Priya Elan, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
New War – ‘Ghostwalking’
Dry-boned percussion, querulous incantations and lost iceberg synths carry New War up from the ever-fertile Melbourne underground with this simple yet poltergeist-persistent 12-inch, which reaches us via the medium of Gossip guitarist Nathan’s new Fast Weapons label.
Luke Turner, writer
Rachel Zeffira – ‘To Here Knows When’ (My Bloody Valentine cover)
Less a cover of the MBV classic, more a complete orchestral re-imagining, which is further proof that the non-Faris half of Cat’s Eyes is one of the most exciting musicians we’ve become acquainted with this year. Rachel Zeffira’s solo project can’t come soon enough.
Hamish MacBain, Assistant Editor
New Look – ‘Nap On The Bow’
If the New Look chain are looking for a new look they should look no further than New Look. The Canadian boy/girl duo’s deft hybrid of breathy vocals and hypnotic drum pad pads, a minimal xx/Alpines-meets-silky ’80s production type thing, is the perfect zeitgeisty noise to buy bangles and ballet pumps to.
Tim Chester, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
Spector – ‘What You Wanted’
It’s third time lucky for London indie warhorse, former Les Incompetents and Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man frontman Fred Macpherson. He’s done his time in the trenches, now he’s ready for the glory. Which means a comely new band line-up and a gleaming stockpile of stomping Killers melodies like this one.
Krissi Murison, Editor
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Future Islands – ‘Balance’
The Baltimore trio’s unsurprisingly stellar third LP is a thing of no small beauty, flecking its tidal rumble with enough summery, cerebral oomph to knock you into the Jacuzzi. ‘Balance’ is appropriately bubbly, gently rubbing Samuel T. Herring’s gruff grumble against the polished fleece of a neon Panda Bear.
Jazz Monroe, writer
Slow Club – ‘Where I’m Waking’
Whisper it, but have Slow Club gone a bit… sexy? We had the duo pegged as the type who would plump for a type of old-fashioned courting in which holding hands would be a tad too risqué, but here singing drummer Rebecca Taylor purrs “You’ve got the brains, I’ve got the body”
over a wash of jingly-jangly sound. Ooh er, missus.
Ben Hewitt, writer
Bjork – Moon
Björk’s stuttering vocal soar has always seemed wise beyond this world, as if she were dispatched from space to deliver sagacious prophecies and swaddle us from the future’s ills. This latest song to appear from ‘Biophilia’ is a cosmos of pearly harps, darkened by Björk and her siren choir warning that only rebirth can save us now.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor