1. The Naked And Famous – ‘The Sun’
When we first heard that people were whispering about a new Kiwi band called The Naked And Famous, named after a Tricky lyric and set on bring parping – shhh, no-one mention new rave – synth action back to the indie disco, we sucked air between teeth. Then we heard the first singles, and suddenly remembered the glorious gut-twisting abandon that only great us-against-the-world pop can induce. Then we travelled all the way to Auckland where they’d just gone to Number One and spent a couple of days hearing how they essentially started as a Nine Inch Nails tribute band, and witnessing their mountainous live show, as M83 as it was Klaxons.
It was then we realised: not only was this a band with quick-fix radio hits, but they had brilliantly brooding depth, with the ability to take the crowd on a Tolkien-esque journey in an hour-long set. It was not so long after that we decided they were the worthiest of recipients of NME’s hallowed Philip Hall Radar Award. This exclusive track from their forthcoming debut depicts this more fantastical, meditative side of the band. You can almost hear Tricky blowing giant plumes of skunk smog into Trent Reznor’s gob as it skulks its way to a perilous climax.
Jaimie Hodgson, New Music Editor
2. Bat For Lashes – ‘Strangelove’
It may have only come to fruition because of a perfume ad, but, like everything Natasha Khan does, her haunting take on Depeche Mode’s ‘Strangelove’ transcends its beginnings, stripping away beefy electronics to leave something frail and lovelorn. Brittle and brilliant.
Tom Goodwyn, writer
3. Jamie Woon – ‘Lady Luck’ (Al Fresco)
After ‘Night Air’ captured imaginations with its delicate, crisp thuds, Jamie Woon returns with ‘Lady Luck’ – less sedate but sassier, where trickles of his exotic, quavering voice coat rippling beats.
Chris Mandle, writer
4. Flats – ‘Never Again’
Rumble, rage and rambunctious silliness in less than three breathless minutes, er, flat. There’s about as much genuinely seditious danger in Flats’ fuzzy racket as being gummed by a newborn kitten, but that’s not the point, doofus. Glee, noise, hormones: punk rock distilled.
Duncan Gillespie, writer
5. Colin Stetson – ‘Fear Of The Unknown And The Blazing Sun’
Starting with the kind of primitive recording that would make Mark E Smith cringe – it sounds like the rhythm is being banged out on the pause button of the Dictaphone being used to tape the track – this is sitll brilliant lo-fi from the sax offender so beloved by Arcade Fire.
John Doran, writer
6. The Sound Of Arrows – ‘Nova’
Not an homage to a popular chain of cheap hotels, this single ticks all the boxes. With swoony synths, dreamy vocals and lyrics about waiting forever, it’s like a precursor to ‘With Every Heartbeat’.
Ailbhe Malone, writer
7. Kurt Vile – ‘Ghost Town’
Synth makeovers for identity-starved songwriters are all well and good, but you can bet your neon bangles it’s one trend Kurt ain’t buying into. While mumbled asides of “In the evening I guess I’m alive” conjure an icy chill, a warm dose of reverb’s the perfect medicine.
Jazz Monroe, writer
Listen HERE HERE
8. Avi Buffalo – How Come!
The most laidback we’ve ever heard Avi Buffalo, this track appeared on their Soundcloud without warning last week. It’s new, it’s raw and it’s got a keyboard line that sounds like its been nabbed straight off a great, lost Bob Marley tune.
Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter
9. Summer Camp – ‘I Want You’
We’d assumed the sugary Summer Camp found handholding a bit risqué. Nuh-uh. On the whomping first song off their debut, Elizabeth redefines the term ‘bunny boiler’, singing, “If I could I’d kiss your lips so hard your entire face would bruise”. We’re as deeply, darkly obsessed as she is.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
10. Patrick Wolf – ‘The City’
There should probably be laws against videos in which people frolic on golden sands as if on a package holiday ad. But strip away the ludicrous presentation and this is a brilliantly uplifting pop song, in the our-love-against-the-world tradition. In a parallel dimension, wedding DJs play this instead of ‘Come On Eileen’.
Luke Lewis, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
This article originally appeared in the March 5th issue of NME