Zola Jesus, Drake, Coldplay
1. Zola Jesus – ‘Vessel’
Adapt or die is the rule of this hard world, my children. Just as Nika Danilova’s third album ‘Conatus’ is named for the philosophical idea of the will to live, the driving force inherent in all living things, so the track that heralds it is the sound of her high-drama industrial balladry evolving into ever-greater forms. Sounding bigger, richer, redder in tooth and claw than the songs of ‘Stridulum II’, it intimidates with a clanking, slicing, machinating rhythm, the sound of our chilly little handmaiden of doom donning robotic armour and making herself the conduit for something mighty and terrible. Like a goth Transformer, if you will.
It grinds along sexily in this gear before, in a cloud of chorused, eerily chirruping “oh-oh-ohs”s, all grating, metallic hell breaks loose and the jack-hammering beats build to an sharply snapped-off climax. It would be quite terrifying if you didn’t have that mournfully magnificent voice to guide you through it like a willow-the-wisping ghost in the machine. What foxy new sonic mutations will she lead us on to next? Well, we’ll need to wait until the end of September to find out, but with festival dates over the summer, you can be sure Nika will keep on moving onward and upward. Probably best to keep out of her way.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
2. Drake – ‘Marvin’s Room’
After covering TLC, Drake continues his inspired use of leftfield influences. This time it’s a Diane Keaton film (Google it) and a musty production that recalls his pals The Weeknd [SUBS – SIC!]. There’s a nocturnal sadness to this track and a suggestion that fame ain’t all roses and Rihanna flirt-athons.
Priya Elan, Associate Editor, NME.COM
3. Coldplay – ‘Major Minus’
Cunningly unleashed the day before their headline slot at Glasto (“Please forgive us,” said Chris, just before they played it), the latest track from the ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ EP is MILES better than the title track, buoyed by a frenetic shuffle and some trademark rousing “ohh-ooooh”s on top.
Liam Cash, writer
NME Track Review
4. Fixers – ‘Schwimmhaus Johannesburg’
On which the fast-rising Oxford synth-botherers hit the ‘camp’ button with the force of a shirehorse stomp, go all Tears For Fears and Toto and end up with the kind of number so gloriously Euro-pop it’d probably have a chance against Azerbaijan in Eurovision. So maybe not the new MGMT.
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
5. Memory House – ‘Modern Normal’
With lyrics like, “Took some pills in your room / Caught an empty chill from all the fevers you were dreaming”, combined with dissolving piano glimmers and gentle, starry whooshes, Toronto’s Memoryhouse were made to soundtrack moony teenage Tumblrs – but hell, sign us up if it sounds this lovely.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
6. Grass Widow – ‘Mannequin’ (Wire cover)
You can’t really go wrong with ‘Mannequin’. Wire’s most elastic-y, euphoric song is given a lo-fi roughing up by the San Fran punks. It’s taken from their all-round great ‘Milo Minute’ EP, which also includes a cover of Neo Boys’ ‘Time Keeps Time’.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
7. Beirut – ‘O Leãozinho’
Covering Caetano Veloso for the ‘Red Hot + Rio 2’ compilation, which raises money to fight AIDS via ace compilations, Zac Condon lends his rousing vocals to a fine cause. In this lovely live clip, he professes to be ropey at Portuguese, but does a fine job of convincing us anyway.
Abby Tayleure, writer
8. Neko Case & Nick Cave – ‘She’s Not There’ (Zombies cover)
Normally vamped-up covers of ‘60s classics can be dismissed with an eye-roll and a grimace, but leave it to Neko and Nick to breathe darkness into The Zombies. With only a snarl and whisper, they transform the ’64 hit into a menacing threat made true on command.
Anne T Donahue, writer
9. Wilco – ‘I Might’
The Chicago kings of US alt.bopping return with this effusively jiggy first offering from their eighth album, ‘The Whole Love’. If it doesn’t make you want to do wheelies in blazing sunshine then you’re obviously a little bit dead inside. Poor you.
Leonie Cooper, Deputy News Editor
10. Wild Beasts – ‘Catherine Wheel’
Like The Smiths, Pulp and Suede before them, Wild Beasts are perfecting the knack for making even their B-sides something utterly wondrous – and ‘Catherine Wheel’ is no exception, as Hayden Thrope hopelessly croons “It’s making me feel lost” over spindly piano and cavernous, whomping reverb.
Ben Hewitt, writer
This article originally appeared in the July 9th issue of NME
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