Panda Bear, The Walkmen, Skream, The Twilight Sad
1. Maximum Balloon – ‘If You Return’
Not exactly renowned for being Mr Giggles, Dave Sitek, is he? One third of TV On The Radio, yes. Noted producer of alternately swamp-rich and ice-crisp records, yes. An uncanny doppelganger for the cheerleader’s evil dad from Heroes, yes. But the guy who brings the fun? Nah. His public image has generally been of a man serious, high-minded, and with the same regard for journalists as for festering sores. Attendees of TVOTR’s gigs, though, will know quite another Dave, an exuberant bawler who incites the crowd to dancing frenzy. Who’s this mugging through a field of inflatable rubber orbs, now? Only Party Dave, finally letting the world see his silly side with new project Maximum Balloon!
The focus here is firmly on the dancefloor. Sharp, upbeat, poppy tracks driven by synths, and as you might expect, a variety of guest vocalists including TVOTR’s Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone plus old mockers Holly Miranda and Karen O and one David Byrne. This second single from the album (following ‘Tiger’) opens with Yazoo-esque bleeps before a slinky hip-hop rhythm shunts it firmly into the modernist synthpop territory of The Knife or New Young Pony Club oiled by Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon’s sultry vocal. We’ll have 99 more like this, please.
[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
2. Panda Bear – ‘Slow Motion’
To say that Noah Lennox’s new solo album ‘Tomboy’ is feverishly anticipated would be an understatement. So the online leak of the single of the same name and this B-side is met with some excitement. A scratchy hip-hop beat underpins four-and-a-half minutes of sonic ebb and flow, with all the usual Animal Collective sounds present and looped to infinity.
[Nathaniel Cramp, writer]
3. Mystery Claws – ‘Phony Checks’
One half of this Los Angeles pair is Matt Kivel of Princeton, the other is a girl called Julie. Together, they make a quite lovely robust-rather-than-twee ‘Girl Afraid’-style jangle topped off with handclaps and lyrics such as “You heard Tom Waits/But what about us?” The whole thing lasts 98 seconds, which is coming round to being a good thing again.
[Hamish MacBain, Assistant Editor]
4. The Walkmen – ‘Stranded’
The Walkmen’s new album ‘Lisbon’ isn’t out ’til September, but this suggests they should put it back until December. Not because it’s shit, but because the brass parps smothered all over the lazy, lolloping snare patters are so delightfully Christmas-y they could motivate Tiny Tim Cratchit to sprint up a mountainside.
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[Jamie Fullerton, News Editor]
5. Gaggle – ‘Bang On The Drum’
One of three new songs the Gaggle girls have been playing out live recently, this six-minute headfuck is pitched somewhere between ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ – but performed through the sludge of blue Monday. Another comparison would be ‘November Rain’ sung by a school choir.
[James McMahon, Features Editor]
6. Mona – ‘Lines In The Sand (demo)’
A surprisingly fully-formed demo effort from Kings Of Leon’s neighbours, these Nashville newcomers have got the tastemakers twitching. For once though, trendy haircuts aren’t required, as this is a slab of hard-worn, heart-pulsing rock’n’roll. Expect a vinyl-only first ‘proper’ single next month.
[Paul Stokes, Associate Editor]
7. Skream – ‘Listenin’ To The Records On My Wall’
Apt that Skream’s comeback video should pair Bible stars Adam and Eve in lusty, unclothed clinches: unravelling as it does over broken, junglist Amens and synths that drum’n’grace guru LTJ Bukem would bow to. Dubstep has mutated loads since 2006: now its favourite son has returned to snatch back the reins.
[Kev Kharas, Writer]
8. The Knocks – ‘Blackout’
If you go down to a Brooklyn warehouse party today, you’re sure of a big surprise… Because cred-pop’s answer to Neptunes are kicking the living shit out of the Big Apple’s loft raves right now. Within seconds of this hip-pop riot van kicking into gear, it’s easy to see why this stoner party duo are being courted by all from Flo-Rida to Rihanna.
[Jaimie Hodgson, New Music Editor]
9. The Twilight Sad – ‘Wrong Car’
It’s something of a mystery why people who like their music ‘epic’ and ‘anthemic’ buy Editors and Interpol records by the armful, yet mostly ignore The Twilight Sad, whose U2-gone-grumpy emoting deserves a wider audience. This track from their new EP is not quite up there with ‘I Was Born A Prostitute’, but it’s stern and rain-sodden and doleful in a way only the Scottish can pull off.
[Luke Lewis, Deputy Editor, NME.com]
10. Tricky – ‘Murder Weapon’
This reworking of Echo Minott’s dancehall classic – familiar as the theme to The Blues Brothers, oh yes – is a swaggering, carefree return to form for Tricky, who here enrolls Franky Riley to add sex to the gun-obsessed vocal. “Shine your gun, shine your gun, rude boy” it goes. We’re against the glamorisation of guns and penises, but this is dead cool.
[Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor]