Florence, Summer Camp, Ariel Pink
Florence + The Machine – ‘Shake It Out’
Florence’s thought police are allowing us to call ‘Shake It Out’ a single. We had to call the first single from ‘Ceremonials’, the lugubrious ‘What The Water Gave Me’, a ‘teaser’ track, despite it being available to buy and having a video. Yet, listening to this just once, it makes sense, leaving you in no doubt that this is what a single, in the truest sense of the word, is supposed to sound like, exploding into an invincible rush of a chorus that somehow manages to channel Enya while still sounding magnificent.
Vocally, this is her finest hour to date, really, properly singing where plenty of ‘Lungs’ simply saw her shout. However, as one might expect, the order of the day is still pagan poetry, singing spookily and enigmatically about cutting out her graceless heart and how “it’s always darkest before the dawn”. Or at least, that’s how it seems – so it rather kills the mood when you find out that it’s about having a hangover and wanting to quite literally shake it out by running around a bit. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do to an addled bonce, it’s shake it. You should know that by now, Florence. It might not be a crowded market, but Flo once again proves that as a doyenne of early 20th-century chamber pop, she remains unsurpassable.
[Dan Martin, Writer]
Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse – ‘Body & Soul’
It has passed through the hands of Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and now to Amy. Ensconced in a swath of sugary orchestration and cocktail hour piano, Winehouse’s vocal is ramshackle and sophisticated, kicking with enough spirit to lift this ballad to the heavens.
[Priya Elan, Assistant Editor, NME.COM]
Summer Camp – ‘Probably Right’
Poor Elizabeth Sankey. She loves him, he doesn’t care, it’s driving her crazy. Time to break out the flanger bass and Shangri-Las harmonies for the perfect soundtrack to one of those ’80s teen movies in which a young Sarah Jessica Parker develops powerful feelings for
the class rebel, only to discover that he’s actually a ghost.
[Fraser McAlpine, writer]
Lana Del Ray – ‘Blue Jeans’
Hard to believe that someone in possession of a song as perfect as ‘Video Games’ could muster much more, but smoke-voiced songwriter Lizzy Grant has whipped out another belter for the B-side, a street-tuff Mazzy Star wallow in strings and samples, lust and loss.
[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
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Ariel Pink – ‘Witchhunt Suite For WWIII’
We’re not sure whether it’s touching or creepy to release a 16-minute chill-synth sax opus to mark 9/11, with a video featuring Twin Towers destruction cut against clips of babes in bikinis and featuring a man with an enormous white beard for no fathomable reason, but we’ll give the totally batshit Ariel Pink the benefit of the doubt.
[Jamie Fullerton, Features Editor]
Trash Talk – ‘Awake’
Lee Spielman would make the perfect alarm clock, grinding the microphone into his teeth while simultaneously spitting saliva and lyrics and spraying blood from a gig injury – there’s no way you could sleep through that. Pure hardcore genius from the Sacramento punks.
[Abby Tayleure, writer]
Dog Is Dead – ‘Hands Down’
Has anyone told Dog Is Dead they’re not actually a massive band? Because the Nottingham quintet have a habit for penning gigantic, multi-harmony Mumfordy anthems (in this case augmented with a short Explosions In The Sky wall of guitar) destined for way bigger venues than they’re currently squeezing themselves into.
[Tim Chester, Deputy Editor, NME.COM]
Fionn Regan – ‘100 Acres Of Sycamore’
The spotlight may have moved on from Fionn Regan since his Mercury-nominated debut, but he’s still one of our finest singer-songwriters – Sufjan Stevens with an Irish accent. The title track from his third album finds him in typically bucolic mood, mooning over a complex and unattainable paramour. Duff metaphors aside (“the swan of your heart”?), it’s great.
Luke Lewis, Editor, NME.COM
[Jamie Fullerton, Features Editor]
The Strange Boys – ‘Me And You’
Austin, Texas’ favourite wackos return more rejuvenated than ever – even managing to better their best song (‘Be Brave’). ‘Me And You’ is catchy as nits, daubed in honky-tonk and laced with brilliant timeshifts throughout. Basically, it’s the Charlie Brown theme tune as played by the Stones, circa ‘Exile On Main Street’.
[Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor]
Wild Beasts – ‘Thankless Thing’
Whereas ‘Smoth er’ circled the void left by a broken relationship, this new B-side gives broken love form as a ‘Thankless Thing’, and pummels it with an uncharacteristically aggressive rhythm section. It’s glorious, not least Hayden’s lusty cry of “ooh-HOO! Oooh…”
[Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor]