Peace – ‘California Daze’
We first heard rumours of ‘California Daze’ a few months ago when Peace’s friend and tourmate, Will Rees of the Mystery Jets, said the B-Town boys’ newest offering was a 2012 take on Arctic Monkeys’ ‘A Certain Romance’, and “a stone cold classic”. Then, when the quartet debuted the track at Latitude last month, everyone we knew came back raving about it. Some even called it “about the greatest thing I’ve ever heard”. Good news guys: they were all right. As delicate guitar-lines hazily pick their way through surprisingly gentle harmonies, it’s a bit Beatles-y, a bit Oasis-y (without the machismo), a bit, yeah, Monkeys-y. But ‘California Daze’ isn’t a rip-off. It’s fucking classic songwriting, and does all the things truly great tracks do. It makes you wanna close your eyes, punch the air and (like the end of a rom-com) snog the friend you’ve always had a crush on. There’s that warmly familiar opening, the cheesy-in-a-good-way lyrics about girls who “taste like sunlight”, the bit where all the guitars kick in and make your heart flip a little, a SOLO, and the final gentle fade-out. All of it’s held together by Harrison Koisser’s ever-so-slightly fragile, lovelorn rasp. Like Will says, a stone cold classic in the making, and further proof that for all the tie-dye, jokey gang wars and giant billboards with their faces on, Peace aren’t just here to mess around.
Biffy Clyro – ‘Stingin’ Belle’
Bagpipes. People think you can just throw them into a song/set and Scottish people will love it. Thing is, they’re right. And as Biffy near the summit of post-hardcore prog-pop grandiosity by announcing yin-yangin’ double-album ‘Opposites’, it’s good to know they’ve not lost their sentimental, populist heart on this bristling air-puncher.
Drop Out Venus – ‘I Kill Foxes’
Conceived as a reinterpretation of Bill Callahan’s dark-as-ditchwater ‘I Break Horses’, singer Iva Moskovich has said it’s the saddest song she’s written. So no, they aren’t 2012’s true good-time band, but the twisted guitar here suggests they might plumb the emotional depths we were hoping 2:54 would.
Grizzly Bear – ‘Yet Again’
After the ghostly vibe of ‘Veckatimest’, it’s good to hear Grizzly Bear sounding like they’re back in the physical world. ‘Yet Again’ features those spectral harmonies, sure, but also jutting guitars, giving things a new wave via Bon Iver feel. Best of all, Ed Droste sings like a man who’s pleased to be back, and still the master of his craft.
Danny Brown & Araabmusik – ‘Molly Ringwald’
Ginger icon Molly Ringwald is best known for her roles in John Hughes’ genre-defining ’80s teen films, which made heroes of shy geeky types. This is a piece of cool, fast paced hip-hop trickery where rapper Danny Brown is enamored by someone who is “red hair hot”. More proof that nerds rule us all? Most definitely.
Dum Dum Girls – ‘Lord Knows’
Bloody hell, that Dee Dee knows how to write a hook. Grab your mates and stick those lighters in the air because this is a closed-eyes, arm-flailing piece of alt-pop. “Oh boy/I can’t hurt you anymore/Lord knows I hurt my love” she swoons amid the most chest-swelling chord progression you’ll hear this year.
Snoop Lion – ‘La La La’
Forget everything you think you know. Snoop’s dropped the ‘Dogg’, nabbed a ‘Lion’, gone reggae. It’s not even a joke. It’s real. Best bit is, the Major Lazer-produced ‘La La La’ is ace. The vocal’s obviously Snoop, but he’s singing. The riddim is mashed to the max.
Liars – ‘Brats’
Greek myth is stuffed with stories about the Hydra: a beastly, many-headed serpent which thwarted its enemies by growing two new craniums every time it had one chopped off. And so it is with Liars, who’ve ditched the woozy charm of ‘No 1 Against The Rush’ for some throbbing, distorted and downright nasty techno-punk.
David Byrne & St Vincent – ‘Weekend In The Dust’
God knows who wrote what here, but musically we’re going with this being 70 per cent Byrne, 30 per cent Annie Clark. Which makes it fantastic, obviously. It’s all about the way the super-catchy chorus is hung around early ’90s brass parps and NYC gutter-punk guitars.
JJ Doom – ‘Guv’nor’
Nicki Minaj has spent the last 12 months slipping into her ‘British accent’, and now hip-hop legend DOOM has come over all Cockney for this project with producer Jneiro Jarel. “Ello guv’nor” goes the vocal, over a clanking and whistling beat. A tantalising warm-up to album ‘Keys To The Kuffs’.