1. The Twang – Another Bus
They may have fallen from grace faster than a greased sloth from a glass tree, but we’ve still got a place for The Twang in our hearts. And anyone whose heart has ever ached over the course of a lengthy coach journey (say the Megabus from Aberdeen to London, approximately 12 years in duration) will feel the pain that Phil Etheridge oozes on The Twang’s epically smarting free-download comeback. Gentle and resigned, haunted by a nagging memory of reverb, it’s achingly weary. “I don’t need this rush no more… on and on, on and on”, croons Phil before a sliver of Vervey guitar breaks through the clouds. Oi! No kissing in the back seats.
2. Manic Street Preachers – Vision Blurred
The Manics’ cover of The Horrors’ non-album track ‘Vision Blurred’ should be of particular interest to those fans who expected ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’ to be ‘The Holy Bible Pt 2’. For while ‘Journal…’ was an unexpectedly subtle record, ‘Vision Blurred’ is a roiling, visceral outpouring which could easily have come from the Manics’ dark masterpiece. “I surrender, my vision has blurred” screams James Dean Bradfield desperately, over a brutal riff, and you’re left thinking a supergroup may not be such a bad idea.
3. Julian Plenti – Fun That We Have
Goat-voiced lord of the gloom that he is, it seems Interpol’s Paul Banks has a shady double life. By day the exponent of epic, sweeping desolation, by night… he’s been writing as Julian Plenti since before Interpol released their debut and the fruits are now ripe. This weird, garagey effort sports raw, Frank Black-ish guitar intercut by incongruous bleeps and odd shifts of rhythm. Mind you, he still sounds like his idea of ‘fun’ involves nylon rope, surgical gloves and sharp implements.
4. The Joy Formidable – Whirring
The loud/quiet dynamic is a tried and tested method to get people waiting… waiting… then jumping about, yeah! Which doesn’t mean it can’t feel fresh when done well, and on ‘Whirring’ The Joy Formidable slowly build an anguished love song until it explodes. If you don’t respond to this, you’re either dead or chained to the floor.
5. Django Django – Storm
As brooding and brewing as the title might suggest, this odd, echoing little track from London duo Dave and Vinny (OK, they don’t sound very eccentric, but stick with us) will prick up the ears of fans of The Beta Band and The Bees, being a similar blend of psych-folk and dance influences that creates endearing freak-pop. The lyrics describe a road-trip that’s gone horribly wrong. We’ve all been there – that’s why you always buy the Haribo before you set off.
6. Ash – Return Of White Rabbit
Ash’s no-more-albums plan means they’ll instead put out 26 singles over the course of the next 12 months. Sounds like a recipe for some serious mediocrity, but ‘Return Of White Rabbit’, a free download preview of the series, is actually a weirdly effective funk-pop song. It sounds like New Kids On The Block singing with Franz. Looks like these 26 singles will be full of surprises – here’s hoping for at least one full-on Boyz II Men stool-ballad.
7. Mika Miko -I Got A Lot (New New New)
If terrifying, seminal no wave brats Teenage Jesus And The Jerks had spent less time thinking about alienation and hate-fucks and more about drinking Kool-Aid until the additives sent them bouncing over their mattresses in scuffed Converse, they might sound like Mika Miko. Young veterans of LA’s inspirational Smell scene, they recently released their ace second album ‘We Be Xuxa’, and gave us this stand-out scuzzy bundle of lo-fi punk fun free to celebrate their appearance at last week’s Stag & Dagger festival. Brilliant.
Free MP3 from The Daily Download
8. Rose Elinor Dougall – Stop/Start/Synchro
Having left The Pipettes, the former Rosay has left retro in the past and, well, done something amazing. This is her first solo single and it sounds like ‘Desert Shores’-era Nico having its bleakness painted gold by Stereolab. Yet its psychedelic electro-folk also has very modern pop sass to it, as RED sadly but smartly says to her man: “I was once beautiful to you… but we can’t escape the fact that I will never be her”. Like all the best British pop music, it’s smart, mournful and quite breathtaking.
9. Paloma Faith – Stone Cold Sober
You know that Lynx ad where women run into each other and implode into an über-babe? If Amy Winehouse stumbled into Katy Perry, the result might swish her hips like Paloma Faith. Time will tell whether this former magician’s assistant can pull more surprisingly sassy rabbits from an essentially naff, Gabriela Cilmi-shaped hat, but we’ll take at least 12 steps round the floor with her.
10. The Lemonheads – I Just Can’t Take It Anymore
The Lemonheads are back, so it’s time to grow your hair, smoke a load of dope and loll around in the park with a big grin on your face, just like it’s the summer of ’93. This Gram Parsons cover from new album ‘Varshons’ is a lovely southern-fried chicken drumstick of a record.