Lightspeed Champion, Chickenhawk, Robyn
The sounds rattling round the skulls of the NME staff this week
1. Lightspeed Champion – ‘’Til I Die’
There are approximately 3,234,523 Beach Boys songs that fall into the ‘lost’ category, and ‘’Til I Die’ is one of the finest. The original – off ‘Surf’s Up’ – is Brian Wilson at his spaciest, a simple lounge groove topped with all manner of organs and harmonies. Here, adding some hip-hop squelches to the mix, Dev Hynes has done a fine, fairly faithful version that shows off the angelic quality of his voice. The Beach Boys connections don’t end there: ‘’Til I Die’ may be the lead track on the forthcoming ‘Bye Bye’ EP, but of equal interest are the three other songs that have been arranged by the legendary Van Dyke Parks (who wrote the lyrics for ‘Smile’).
It’s a strange-but-beautiful marriage: the intricate, often wildly off-kilter strings (and human whistles and melodicas and all manner of other strange instruments) are a perfect fit for the eccentricities of ‘Bye Bye Icarus’, ‘The Mess You’re In’ and ‘Underwater There Is Nothing’ (the latter re-worked from the version on the last Lightspeed album). A worthy package, and hopefully not the last we will hear of this coupling.
[Hamish MacBain, Assistant Editor]
2. Cold War Kids – ‘Royal Blue’
The first cut from their third album, ‘Mine Is Yours’, sees the Kids get their funk back. The bass twangs so much, it’s like they’re using strings made from elastic bands, while there are handclaps and widescreen atmospherics too. The Cold War is far from over.
[Paul Stokes, Associate Editor]
3. Life In Film – ‘Sorry’
This is only their first single, but from the sound of it – sort of a super-confident Maccabees with a stadium anthem sensibility – this London lot don’t have much growing left to do. The singer is also ridiculously good looking, if that sort of thing matters to you (which it should).
[Liam Cash, writer]
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4. Fixers – ‘Amsterdam’
There’s an art collective in Oxford called Blessing Force. It includes the likes of Chad Valley, Trophy Wife and the cosmic-minded Fixers, whose Animal Collective-in-a-wind-tunnel noodling would make an ideal soundtrack next time you guzzle a saucepan full of Ayahuasca and indulge in some astral projection.
[Luke Lewis, Deputy Editor, NME.COM]
5. Chickenhawk – ‘Scorpieau’
Chickenhawk will swoop down and rip out your intestines through your nostrils with this opening track to new album ‘Modern Bodies’. In doing so they join fellow Leeds four-piece Pulled Apart By Horses in the ‘spit in your face and scream in your throat’ sweaty school
[Abby Tayleure, writer]
6. Flashguns – ‘Come And See The Lights’
The closest thing we have to Fugazi right now show their melodic side with a soaring new single that’s almost Human League-ish. Almost. It’s all far too unhinged to actually be poised pop, and its pulverising climax will knock your fringe off. Keep an eye on this lot.
[Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor]
7. Robyn – ‘Indestructible (Electronic Version)’
First trailed acoustically on ‘Body Talk Pt 2’, ‘Indestructible’ was amazing all along. But this full-bleep version finds us all 4am, down the disco, glitter everywhere, hopelessly convincing ourselves that tonight’s conquest is The One That Lasts Forever. Doomed and amazing.
[Dan Martin, writer]
8. Walls – ‘Gaberdine’ (Nathan Fake Long Mix)
Walls’ self-titled debut offered a crisper soundbath than this year’s wash of anodyne chillwave. Now they’re releasing the graceful ‘Gaberdine’ as a five-track remix EP, including two versions by electronic wünderkind Nathan Fake. This long mix adds heft and menace to the track, driving it down a much darker lane.
[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
9. Dead Skeletons – ‘Dead Mantra’
This deviant blast comes down out of Iceland like an ash cloud straight from Beelzebub’s backside, beats lolloping like apocalyptic horses on the prowl under scuzz that makes the Big Pink sound like a Fisher-Price music box.
[Luke Turner, writer]
10. Gruff Rhys – ‘Shark Ridden Waters’
With Super Furry Animals ‘chillaxing’ for the foreseeable, it’s time for more Gruff solo stuff – this time without the help of a heavily-moustached Brazilian inventor. This album taster, with its skiffly lollop and cigar-fug trumpet, is just hypnotic enough to put us in a whirl-state where we forget we won’t be going mental to ‘Slow Life’ for a very long time.
[Jamie Fullerton, News Editor]