1. Frankie & The Heartstrings – Use Me For What You Want
He’s a bit a heartbroken, young Frankie Francis. While the taut, Dexy’s-esque strut of new single ‘Hunger’ outs him as a brash young fireball of a frontman, this, the track’s B-side is an altogether more sultry beast.The title is probably the closest thing the Heartstrings lads will ever get to an S&M call-to-arms (thank the lord), but musically it’s all rather sweet and tender.
Tailor-made to send indie hearts-a-flutter, Frankie’s on full-on charm offensive here, and it’s all in aid of a special little lady who’s gone done him wrong. We have no idea who she is, of course, but it must be important because he coos things like “I can’t focus or function without you by my side” while arpeggios recoil around him. The poor lamb!
Essentially, this is very good news – boding extremely well for the band’s debut album by proving simultaneously that rock stars can still have feelings and that diversity is one of the Heartstrings’ key traits. The band are on tour soon, so if you see a lonesome-looking guy moping around outside the shows with a bunch of wilting flowers and tear-filled puppy dog eyes, wish him luck onstage…
Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter
Frankie And The Heartstrings play a Shockwaves NME Awards show at London’s Heaven, February 21. Order tickets here
2. Micachu & The London Sinfonietta – Everything
These New Puritans, Dirty Projectors, Micachu – in the indie world you’re no-one until you’ve performed with an orchestra. Having collaborated with the London Sinfonietta last May, Mica is now releasing live album ‘Chopped & Screwed’. This heartbreaking, itchy alt-pop gem is taken from it.
Abby Tayleure, writer
3. Cat’s Eyes – Not A Friend
Beneath that crow-haired scowl, Faris Badwan’s always been a lovelorn lyricist. This taster from his new project with Canadian soprano Rachel Zeffira is a tear-stained romantic haunting, Zeffira cooing softly over a ghostly, Grizzly Bear-ish calypso-doo wop lament.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
4. Yuck – Coconut Bible
We’re falling for Yuck’s plaid-rock more and more every day. This B-side (to ‘Holing Out’) is yet another bendy-bassed, Pavement-crawling reason why 2011 could be theirs.
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
5. John Foxx & The Maths – Shatterproof
Since his days in pre-Vienna Ultravox, Dark Lord Of The Synth John Foxx has been a master of dystopian electro, and here he looks to future conquests as he teams with young apprentice Benge. The result is a track as menacing as an interrogation in 2211, a robot holding a sparking cattleprod to your nethers.
Luke Turner, writer
6. Dutch Uncles – Face In
Not to be confused with farty duvet trick “the Dutch oven”, Manc five-piece Dutch Uncles deal in catchy, staccato pop. This, the first track from their upcoming Memphis Industries debut sounds just like you’d imagine Pop Levi would if he’d never discovered scrying. In a good way.
Mike Williams, Features Editor
7. The Mountain Goats – Damn These Vampires
Forthcoming Goats LP ‘All Eternals Deck’ sees death metal legend Erik Rutan produce. But never fear, timid folkies, its opening tune is yet another an appropriately toothsome dose of literate indie.
Jazz Monroe, writer
8. Skull Defekts – Fragrant Nimbus
It starts like a rabbit stepping on a toy guitar and ends like a jet taking off. Sweden’s Skull Defekts, featuring Daniel Higgs of Lungfish, take the hypnotic repetition rock of The Fall and Fugazi and build it in acid house intensity.
John Doran, writer
9. Earth – Descent To The Zenith
Although Dylan Carlson dedicates each of Earth’s pioneering drone-rock albums to a certain inspiration, it’d take a sonic scientist to decipher the references here. Yet this taster for album seven genuinely feels imbued with a new sense of hope.
Jaimie Hodgson, New Music Editor
10. Panic! At The Disco – The Ballad Of Mona Lisa
Former guitarist Ryan Ross seems to have taken Panic’s shonky ’60s pop with him as they’ve returned with an absolute belter of a comeback single. Full of the faux grandiosity and contagious choruses that made their 2005 debut ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’ so much fun, they’ve even gone and brought the exclamation mark back…
Tom Goodwyn, writer
This article originally appeared in the February 5th issue of NME