1. Cat’s Eyes – ‘Cat’s Eyes’
Mrrrrrow, baby! Dreamboat Faris Badwan and his tragic operatic heroine Rachel Zeffira blend the moodiest smack-rock, the most hypnotic psychtronica and the sassiest Shangri-Las death-disc melodrama, and the result is silkier and more seductive than black slacks and nonchalant smoke rings. The name of the band and the name of the song suggests not only the glamour of beatnik-chic eyeliner, but also the glinting lights of the krauty highway along which the rhythm of this song trips.
It’s the opener to a delicious treat of an EP, ‘Broken Glass’, which also features ‘The Best Person I Know’, an echo-filled take on The Horrors’ own previously unreleased ‘Sunshine Girls’, and the pure Dusty deliciousness of ‘Love You Anyway’. True to a project that started from shared obsessions on swapped mixtapes, these songs are full of Faris’ promise of lyrics that deal with timeless romance and pain. Here, though, the moggies are at their most playful, Faris surly and sexy as Rachel hisses saucily over the top, “one stray cat… on the highway”. It’s Pussy Galore (the Bond Girl, not the garage-rock brats) does Spiritualized by way of Broadcast, and it’s hot-tin-roof sexy.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
2. Fleet Foxes – ‘Helplessness Blues’
The vocals might be clearer and the production sharper, but this is still the same group we went nuts for in 2008. A shimmering dream of escape (“If I had an orchard I’d work ’til I’m sore”), halfway through it blooms into a different song. Love it when bands do that.
Luke Lewis, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
3. Young Buffalo – ‘Only We Can Keep You From Harm’
Taken from the Mississippi trio’s forthcoming debut single, this soul-infused song blends Southern spiritual pathos with a touch of the old ‘Soweto Strokes’ rhythms. Head-spinning, yes, but in a giddy way that suggests there are wider musical horizons to come.
Paul Stokes, Associate Editor
4. Erland & The Carnival – ‘Map Of An Englishman’
E&TC may have an Englishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman among their line-up, but far from being a bad joke waiting to happen, this first single from their second album ‘Nightingale’ adds an electronic pulse and earworm chorus to their intelligent folk-pop.
Nathaniel Cramp, Sub-editor
5. Lower Dens – ‘Hospice Gates’
In recent years, most singer-songwriters with a thirst for metamorphosis have turned to the synth. Solo acid-folker Jana Hunter, however, assembled a band to delve into woozy, dream-rock drones like this, which suggests Television jamming alone in an echoey cavern.
Tom Pinnock, Sub-editor
6. Cold Cave – ‘The Great Pan Is Dead’
If you weren’t a fan of Cold Cave MK I then MK II might be for you. On new album ‘Cherish The Light Years’ they’ve sprinted onto the arena stage and shouted, “Good evening, Springfield!” dressed as Simple Minds and New Order. White Lies and Editors should pay attention.
John Doran, writer
7. The Streets – ‘Close The Book’
And so this is the last Streets song. Ever. So we dry our eyes, as the drum snaps click around the kind of string sample Ian Brown gets gushy for and say goodbye. Until we see Mike on his UK tour and at the festivals…
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
8. Cat Power – ‘Untitled’
From the wobbly videos we’ve seen of Chan Marshall’s new stuff, it seems the pomp of ‘The Greatest’ has fallen by the wayside in favour of her trademark disaffected drawl and ‘Myra Lee’-era bruised guitar, tempered by Jim White’s soft-splashing cymbals. Which is just dandy by us.
Susana Pearl, writer
9. Echo Lake – ‘Young Silence’
Just when you thought wall-of-din shoegaze was forever trapped in a state of eternal Jesus beard, here’s a London four-piece armed with one big pair of shears. Their swoonsome cacophony is set to breathe a brisk gust into a stuffy scene.
Jaimie Hodgson, New Music Editor
10. tUnE-YarDs – ‘Bizness’
You could hear every corner of the room on her debut thanks to Merrill Garbus’ super-rudimentary equipment. With her new hi-fi single, sounds reverberate through Garbus herself; her vocal cords a thumb piano, a hummingbird impersonating Aretha in her throat.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
This article originally appeared in the February 19th issue of NME