Exclamation Pony, Le1f, Carl Barat
Exclamation Pony – ‘Rumours’
Last month, Ryan Jarman told NME that The Cribs would reach a career ‘semi-colon’ following the release of the forthcoming ‘Payola’ compilation. The reason? For his part, Ryan has moved to New York, hooked up with Jen Turner – formerly of local indie types Here We Go Magic – and formed Exclamation Pony, which will surely make for a band T-shirt you’re less likely to spot Harry Styles wearing. So what does it sound like? Honestly? A lot like The Cribs. The ragged drums are there, as is the guitar that squawks like a strangled bird. But there are notable differences too – namely undercurrents of effusive ’60s pop, cooing backing vocals and sci-fi sound effects. And the biggest difference of all is this: Ryan sounds happy. Following his angsty contributions to the last two Cribs albums, ‘Rumours’ captures Ryan in breezy, bounding-down-the-street-with-a-bluebird-on-your-shoulder mood. He practically purrs through contrastingly biting lyrics about – unsurprisingly – rumours. And there’ll be plenty of them about this band, given that Ryan and Jen are supposedly dating. The band make their UK debut at an NME Awards show on February 19. You’d be mad to miss it. If anything’s going to drag Ryan away from his brilliant brothers for a while, Exclamation Pony seems like a good swap.
Chvrches – ‘Recover’
As depressing a hellhole as Glasgow can be for many, it is home. So as gloomy as the synth lines are on ‘Recover’, there’s also a sense of vitality, shimmers of ecstasy, a glimpse of anticipation and something VERY uplifting. Another blinding single that’s sure to be a favourite during 2013’s festival season.
Washed Out – ‘Sound Of Creation’
The good news: former prince of chillwave Ernest Greene has returned after a brief hiatus. ‘Sound Of Creation’ has synths that sound like cherubs cooing and some surprisingly ravey keys. So far, so exhilarating. The bad news: it’s written for Philips, who are better known for making electric toothbrushes and kettles.
Autre Ne Veut – ‘Play By Play’
The problem with a lot of this hipster R&B business is that it thinks ‘innovation’ means wishy-washy textures and sadface emoting. Brooklyn’s Autre Ne Veut is certainly a bit downbeat but he sure belts it out on ‘Play By Play’, a sparkling digital update of TV On The Radio’s future-soul testimony.
Le1f – ‘Coins’
This standout track from the NYC rapper’s new mixtape ‘Flyzone’ bounces and jiggles like money in a pocket, with appropriately gloopy-sounding producers Drippin and Souldrop the perfect match to a sharp flow. The whole thing costs exactly £0 from le1f.com. Kerching!
Surfer Blood – ‘Weird Shapes’
“I’m younger today than yesterday”, lies singer John Paul Pitts on this gem from the Weezer school of indie pop. He’s not, though. He’s aging and decaying from the inside out, just like all the rest of us pathetic humans. Still, try not to think about all that stuff and have a dance to this instead.
Kevin EG Perry
Cat Power Feat. Angel Haze – ‘Manhattan (Ryan Hemsworth Remix)’
The breeziest moment from Cat Power’s brooding ‘Sun’ becomes a neon-lit stroll through the city’s ripped backside in the company of the surly, casually brilliant Angel Haze, who drops a deft, rapid-fire verse. Producer Ryan Hemsworth leads the way down unexpectedly brilliant nighthawk-R&B back alleys.
Pond – ‘Giant Tortoise’
Perth’s joint finest (hi Tame Impala!) return in fine fettle. Skunked out and less scrappy than last year’s ‘Beards, Wives, Denim’, the riffs are still key here. The fact there’s about 10 separate Jack White-inspired breakdowns shoehorned into proceedings proves the band know exactly what they’re doing…
Carl Barat – ‘War Of The Roses’
Carl fires out the first demo from his second solo album. Amusingly, it’s most reminiscent of Babyshambles’ ‘Sedative’ – but considering that’s pretty much the best song the ’Shambles ever did, it’s a promising, if not quite revolutionary, start to Solo Carl Phase Two.
The Family Rain – ‘Carnival’
The Cribs might not be recording for a while, but here to fill the void is another band of brothers with a taste for festival-friendly anthems. ‘Carnival’ spins like a waltzer on its bubbling bassline, but there’s a sad tale within, about being rejected by a girl. Who will they give their oversized teddy bear to now?