Christopher Owens (Girls) – ‘Here We Go’
When Christopher Owens announced he was leaving Girls back in July (booo!), he promised he would “continue to write and record music” (yay!). “I need to do this to progress,” he wrote. And that’s exactly what he’s done. First up, he’s looking smouldering as the new face of fashion house Saint Laurent, formerly known as Yves Saint Laurent. But the progression has been musical too, as the first taster of his forthcoming solo album proves. Kicking off with a medieval Jethro Tull-esque flute intro, ‘Lysandre’s Theme’ (which die-hard Girls fans will recognise from a set of previously unreleased live tracks called ‘Lysandre’), ‘Here We Go’ is a slicker ballad, doused with choral “ahhs” and orchestral licks that are more akin to Girls’ latter-day back catalogue than the lo-fi of ‘Hellhole Ratrace’ and ‘Lust For Life’. The magic of Owens is his capacity to mould his tales of heartbreak and despair into consistently flawless pop songs. It’s music that says “don’t worry if you’re fucked up, because I am too”. It’s a skill he alludes to in ‘Here We Go’, and its promise to an ex-lover: “If your heart is broken, you will find fellowship from me/And if your ears will open, you will hear honesty from me”. It’s precisely that which we thank him for.
Esben And The Witch – ‘Death Waltz’
Having strayed as far as is advisable into the blasted goth hinterlands for 2011’s ‘Hexagons’ EP, Esben make a welcome return to the Citadel Of Actual Songs for their upcoming January 2013 album ‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’. This hazy, surprisingly sweetly sung taster leaves you wanting more.
Chromatics – ‘Looking For Love’
The Italo-disco revival has been, gone and left me with loads of baggy sparkly leotards. But who cares, when bands like Chromatics are still around? ‘Looking For Love’ is five minutes of slinky space dance made for stalking a club for a soulmate (or a one-night grind).
Violet – ‘What You Gave To Me’
Respect won’t come easy for Pixie Geldof – she’s the daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates, she’s been papped since she was a tot and she’s the subject of general ridicule. Which could be why she’s decided to call herself Violet for the purposes of her pop career. The verdict? Given her unexpectedly big voice, it’s surprisingly OK.
Angel Haze – ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’
Layered over Eminem’s ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’, rapper Angel Haze reveals graphic details of sexual abuse and its effects on her, proving she’s as good at writing tearjerkers as she is at making people move with her non-humble brags.
Cheatahs – ‘The Swan’
This London four-piece’s debut EP ‘Sans’ is everything good about UK rock and ’90s US grunge combined, and lead track ‘The Swan’ is their Ash moment. One day they may collapse under the weight of their enormously heavy riffs.
Deap Vally – ‘Creeplife’
You know what it sounds like, you know what they sound like, and if you don’t like it you’re a fool. This previously unheard and unreleased track is the one that most stuck out in their quite awesome Radio 1 Rocks set the other night. And it’s super-primal, motherfucking garage-Zep noise. Obviously.
Hercules And Love Affair – ‘Release Me’
The only problem with HALA songs is that Andy Butler has already written the greatest modern-day house tune with ‘Blind’, featuring Anthony Hegarty. The disco stabs and cowbells of ‘Release Me’ are loadsa fun – and way more ‘up’ than last year’s ‘Blue Songs’ album – but it’s not quite perfect. These guys are capable of perfect. We want more perfect.
Major Lazer – ‘Jah No Partial’
Putting the dub into dubstep, this starts off sampling ’80s reggae star Johnny Osbourne’s ‘Mr Marshall’ before taking a turn for the womp womp womp after 80 seconds courtesy of Flux Pavilion. It might be cold outside, but turn this up loud and drink a bottle of rum and summer never, ever, ever has to end.
Kevin EG Perry
A$AP Rocky feat. Dake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar – ‘Fucking Problem’
Like Michael Douglas and Tiger Woods before him, A$AP Rocky is addicted to it. Luckily, he’s joined at Shaggers Anonymous by the cream of hip-hop on a track from the long-awaited ‘LongliveA$AP’ album. Everyone on this tune has put out better stuff than ‘Fucking Problem’ already in 2012, but Drake’s confession that he likes to “stare at the stars and listen to The Beatles” makes it worth the admission price alone.