Black Lips, Ema, Hard-Fi
1. Black Lips – ‘Modern Art’
On a cruise ship somewhere in the Caribbean, Jared Swilley looks around and shakes his head. “These people don’t know how to vacation. They’re cowards, because they work in an office all day and this is the only time they get to do stuff like this [by ‘this’ he means get off their tits on Black Lips’ inaugural Bruise Cruise in March]. I do this all the time. I’m committed to perpetual adolescence. Tomorrow, these people are going to be worried. Their Monday is going to suck. But on Monday I’m probably going to play tennis.”
These are not the words of a man weighed down by the misery of modern life. This is a man on a quest for stupid fun. Luckily for Jared, the rest of his band share his liking for booze, drugs and racket sports. What makes Black Lips great is that they distil all of the above into stabs of scuzzy garage and make it sound like the best party ever. This one, set at a museum, kicks off yelling about K-holes and pills before losing itself on an escalator somewhere between floors. It’s dumb, it’s immature and it’s brilliant. And now that you love ‘Modern Art’ too, I’ll tell you that Mark Ronson produced not just this, but the whole album. If that’s not a problem, lap it up. If it is, grow up and have some fucking fun.
Mike Williams, Features Editor
2. EMA – ‘Milkman’
Is anyone really going to miss drone duo Gowns now Erika M Anderson has become so deliciously sleazy? “I need you to come inside/I’m gasping”, she screeches on ‘Milkman’ – from her debut ‘Past Life Martyred Saints’ – over a stern military beat and lots of trashy fuzz.
Ben Hewitt, writer
3. Pop Levi – ‘Rock Solid’
Oh, thank fuck. Pop Levi returns to inject some freaky fun back into an alarmingly chaste rock scene. ‘Rock Solid’, from his new free online mixtape, is T Rex doing Beyoncé, a glam-rock blast of sexual pealing: “Wow! C’mon! I’m back, gi’ you a liddle heartattack!” MEAN.
Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor
4. Washed Out – ‘Eyes Be Closed’
As ‘chillwave’ disappears like a faded Polaroid and Friendly Fires ponder stuffing their tennis shorts with shuttlecocks, we turn again to Ernest Greene for our Balearic fix. ‘Eyes Be Closed’ is frazzled and Screamadelic, a tasty morsel from his forthcoming debut.
Priya Elan, writer
5. The Lonely Island Featuring Beck – ‘Attracted To Us’
A bunch of idiots making knob-gag ironic records should be crap, but somehow The Lonely Island aren’t. An A-list cast on second album ‘Turtleneck & Chain’ helps, but Beck’s turn on this tune about being a sexually frustrated, white schmindie type is the best of all.
Liam Cash, writer
6. Ganglians – ‘Jungle’
If Archie Bronson Outfit, Band Of Horses and Fleet Foxes had some kind of spaced-out love-in, then the resultant children were fed on a diet of ’60s psychedelia and recorded their single in an echo-filled cave, it might sound like this. Harmonising, ambient psych-pop.
Abby Tayleure, Festivals Editor, NME.COM
7. Tyler, The Creator – ‘Tron Cat’
If we didn’t know better about Tyler’s desire to piss off all and sundry, lines like “Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome” would, understandably, rankle a lot. It’s grim indeed, and possibly even indefensible, but that’s all part of his enduring, erm, charm.
Susana Pearl, writer
8. Bleeding Knees Club – ‘Have Fun’
Having received props from Wavves and kicked up a sandstorm in Australia, this Gold Coast duo are heading to the UK. ‘Have Fun’ is their calling card: a near-perfect two-and-a-half chord rumble of rock’n’roll raucousness.
Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter
9. Chad Valley – ‘Fast Challenges’
His name may suggest “chicken kiev manufacturer” more than “great ambient-dance hope of 2011”, but ‘Fast Challenges’ sees Oxford’s Hugo Manuel further buttressing the cheesy-in-a-good-way house revival just as strongly as any parrot-wielding guitar types.
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
10. Hard-Fi – ‘Good For Nothing’
While F Scott Fitzgerald declared there were “no second acts in American lives”, it appears Staines is a bit more forgiving. After their tepid second album, Hard-Fi reconnect with their boisterous, Clash/Albarn-inspired roots. A promising soundtrack for some summer bother.
Paul Stokes, Associate Editor
This article originally appeared in the May 14th issue of NME