Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead
1. Klaxons- Sweetheart
Part of Blast First Petite’s series of Suicide tribute 10-inches that has so far featured covers by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Primal Scream and The Horrors, this luscious cover will most likely be the only Klaxons release this year. So go revel in Jamie Reynolds going all Roy Orbison as he gives props to Alan Vega and Martin Rev, maestros of scary synth noise.
2. Arctic Monkeys – Red Right Hand
Just as the Monkeys themselves take a turn for the dark and strange, they’ve chosen to pay tribute to the evil goth overlord Nick Cave with this B-side cover. They’ve already played it a few times live, but this recorded version is a treat, roughing up the slinky, high-drama original with a scuzzy Sheffield charm. Get it on the flip-side of the ‘Crying Lightning’ seven-inch that’s being sold exclusively through Oxfam stores.
3. Radiohead – Harry Patch (In Memory Of)
Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s tribute to recently deceased veteran Patch is an affecting, slow-burn statement. Yorke’s voice is subdued to the point where you really need to read the lyrics, backed only by elegiac strings recorded in the grand aural space of an abbey. Rather than hectoring, it states simply the horrors of war that Patch spoke so movingly about. All proceeds go to the British Legion.
4. Cougar featuring Paul Smith – Digit Cleaver
Wisconsin’s Cougar explore the rock/dance axis in a similar way to Battles or HEALTH, but with more digital aggression… topped with delightful incongruity by Maximo Park’s Old Bowler Hat himself on this B-side to single ‘Stay Famous’.
5. Who’s This? – Who’s There?
Knock knock. Who’s there? Riton and Primary 1. Riton and Primary 1 who? Riton the club DJ and Primary 1 the electronic maestro who have teamed up on Erol Alkan’s Phantasy label. No punchline, just a damn fine séance-rave tune with a Derek Acorah-goes-clubbing video.
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6. Nurses – Technicolor
Nurses’ forthcoming album ‘Apple’s Acre’ has been one of our favourite discoveries to drop through the letterbox this year. This tune shows why – a perfect synthesis of spectral, Deerhoof-style pysch-pop and the beatified Americana of Fleet Foxes or The Low Anthem, it’s complex but totally immediate, and sort of addictive.
7. Lumina – I’ll Be With You
Faris Badwan and former Ipso Facto girl Cherish Kaya (for it is they) have chosen an odd name for their side-project, as the last thing this Black Lips cover version does is let any light in. Close and suffocating, a bassy rumble of keys and a metronomic beat surrounds Faris’ wine-dark intonations, as he turns the Lips’ rowdy rockabilly paean to friendship into a funereal hymn full of uncertain menace. It’s released as a double A-side with the Lips’ own rambunctious new single ‘Drugs’, and the contrast is so delicious we want to bake it in a cake and eat it.
8. Dinosaur Pile-Up – Cat Attack
We’ve a real soft spot for these boys – they bring the fun. Like Future Of The Left with less venomous rage and more rampant silliness, their chunky grunge-pop is B-movie trashy. Anyone who writes a song about being ambushed by killer felines in an alleyway and then studs it with Josh Homme-style riffs is awesome in our book.
9. Taken By Trees – My Boys
The whole world’s gone Animal Collective-ly crazy this year, not least former Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman. She’s got form with covers – her take on Guns N’Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ has already been a blog hit. This magical Afro-pop take on ‘My Girls’, the high-point of Panda Bear and co’s ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’, is a thing to treasure.
10. Mirrors – Look At Me
These Brighton boys are causing quite a stir with their new romantic pop that’s got more than a touch of ‘Day & Age’-era Killers but also a nod to the likes of OMD. This single pulses gently like a light-up dancefloor in heaven.