Arcade Fire, St Vincent, Austra
1. Arcade Fire – Speaking In Tongues/Culture War
Summer waxes blustery and bright and Arcade Fire’s thoughts turn to festivals; right about now they’re starting a run of US and European dates in the run-up to London’s Hyde Park at the end of June. Entirely coincidentally, there’s also a deluxe edition of ‘The Suburbs’ with a DVD and extra tracks coming out on August 1, but there’s no harm in lovingly stroking the tail end of their marketing strategy when it’s full of such wicked wags. ‘Culture War’ is a lazy, rustic stroll with half an eye on Neil Young, picking up the vague and terrible conflict of generations that haunts ‘The Suburbs’’ title track.
“These are different times…” muses Win fretfully, like an old woman who sees the apocalypse simmering in quiet streets, “now the kids are growing up so fast, paying for our crimes”. ‘Speaking In Tongues’ is a more urgent, Television-sharp number where the betrayal is personal, and relationships soured: “Hypocrite reader, my double, my brother/Where did we lose our way?” pleads Win over a simple, chiming riff, Regine gently chirruping in the background like a starling on an electricity line singing in the coming storm, before David Byrne’s otherworldly yowl floats in like some strange angel heralding a grim Rapture. Seems the backstreets of ‘The Suburbs’ just keep on yielding precious new secrets.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
2. St Vincent – Kerosene (Big Black cover)
For her last album, ‘Actor’, Annie Clark watched Disney films on mute and re-imagined the OSTs. Steve Albini presumably never took the same approach, but Clark’s cover of Big Black’s ‘Kerosene’ is extraordinary, her usual regal calm traded for a ferocious growl.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
3. Austra – Woodstock
It’s a surprise that the icy Katie Stelmanis and co have covered Joni Mitchell (who once likened her openness to “a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes”), but the resulting meeting of opposites is a fire of synths expounding ‘Woodstock’’s apocalyptic message.
Priya Elan, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
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4. Bon Iver – I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt cover)
Not sobbing and muttering, “It’s… just… so… beautiful…” by the end? You’ve got a heart made out of old death metal vinyl and safety pins. Justin Vernon covered this classic for the ‘Calgary’ 12” B-side and performed it on …Jimmy Fallon.
Abby Tayleure, Festivals Editor, NME.COM
5. Tom Vek – World Of Doubt
Ah, so this is what Vek has been doing for the last five years: ransacking his noggin for snarling riffs aplenty and furnishing them with grooving synths. A half-decade well spent, we think…
Ben Hewitt, writer
6. Beyonce – End Of Time
‘Run The World (Girls)’ was a bit messy, but this second song from Beyoncé’s forthcoming album is more focused, opening with a sped-up sample of Jai Paul’s ‘BTSTU’ before her harmonies glide over military drums and the best use of horns this side of ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’’.
Michael Cragg, writer
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7. Porcelain Raft – Amateur Feeling
It took Mauri Remiddi seven years to release an album with his last band, Sunny Day Sets Fire. In his new guise, he’s prolific – and it’s good news really, as this one from his new EP is quite beautiful (in a boo-hoo kinda way).
Mike Williams, Deputy Editor
8. Iceage – Broken Bone
Don’t underestimate these thin’n’wispy Copenhagen brats: having just upstaged Fucked Up on their UK tour, their schtick rollicks along with Wire-y precision while embodying the brutal, bulldozing force of classic Crass.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
9. Yeasayer – Devil And The Deed
The next leg of Yeasayer’s voyage into hipster-delica is underway – they’re starting work on their new album this summer. This track is the most melodic thing from them since ‘Ambling Alp’.
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
10. Nicola Roberts – Beat Of My Drum
Sarah Harding had Filthy Dukes, Kimberley had Aggros Santos. Nadine cosied up with, erm, Tesco. The Pale One’s made the best choice, hooking up with Diplo for an MIA/CSS monster whose “L-O-V-E, dance to the beat of my drum” will catch out many an indie snob.
Tim Chester, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
This article originally appeared in the June 4th issue of NME