1). Tiny Little Houses – ‘Milo Tin’
Australia has produced some fine artists over the years – Smudge, The Vines and Courtney Barnett, to name a few – and now we can add Tiny Little Houses to that list. A sweetly lo-fi thrum, ‘Milo Tin’ is a wistful lament on youth that sounds like a zestier Galaxie 500.
2). Parquet Courts – ‘Berlin Got Blurry’
Parquet Courts have been around for quite a while now, but their upcoming record Human Performance could see the New York punk staples make the leap into the publics conscious. The breezy guitars of ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ are counterpointed with an almost Spaghetti Western-style riff and Andrew Savage’s wry vocals.
3). PJ Harvey – ‘The Community of Hope’
With Field Day and Glastonbury slots booked, this year looks another good one for PJ Harvey, following the worldwide adulation of Let England Shake. ‘The Community of Hope’ continues the lo-fi melodies of ‘The Wheel’; it’s a scuzzy rant with an anti-commercialism slant not seen since Talking Heads’ ‘(Nothing But) Flowers’.
4). The Dandy Warhols – ‘STYGGO’
Over the years, Courtney Taylor and his gang of loveable recyclers have been ever so frustrating; for every ‘Sad Vacation’ there has been ‘A Loan Tonight’. They seem to have arrested this inconsistency with new album Distortland, though, and ‘STYGGO’ – some things you gotta get over – zips along on a minimalist groove and Taylor’s typically hushed, cynical vocals.
5). Sundara Karma – ‘A Young Understanding’
While some new bands are ensuring an unfussy production, Sundara Karma are the big hitters – they want their songs to sound big, brash and brilliant. ‘Young Understanding’ continues their trend for bombast, a pounding call-to-arms built around Oscar Lulu’s anthemic yelps.
Molly has been a song matter for a number of bands (Sponge, Kings of Leon and The Vaselines, for example), and Boston grunge merchants Palehound aren’t a big fan either. “Ooh, selfish Molly,” decries frontwoman Ellen Kempner on this melodic yet scuzzy blast of Pavement-style sludge.
7). Dream Wife – ‘Hey Heartbreaker’
Riot grrrl has a gang of new advocates in the shape of London trio Dream Wife. Taken from their debut EP, ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ is a wonderful stomp of traditional, shouty punk rock, building from a Cribs-style verse into a monster of a chorus. It bodes well for their debut album.
8). Nada Surf – ‘Friend Hospital’
American rockers Nada Surf have been remarkably consistent over the years, and new record You Know Who You Are has a number of gems. The best one is ‘Friend Hospital’, a fragile ode to platonic love as Matthew Caws angelically proclaims – “so much better that we’re not together / cos I will not lose you, or be the blues to you.”
9). Catfish and the Bottlemen – ‘Soundcheck’
After the globe-gobbling success of The Balcony, the Llandudno troupe have wasted no time in broadening their scope and ambitions. Going for the arena jugular, ‘Soundcheck’ has a slick coat of radio polish and a moody non-sequitur of a bridge. They’re going to become a KoL-style guilty pleasure, but oh well.
10). VANT – ‘FLY-BY-ALIEN’
VANT know how to raise a pulse. They’ve put on some barnstorming support slots with the likes of FIDLAR, and their upcoming tour for April should really get the eardrums pleading. ‘FLY-BY-ALIEN’ is exactly what you’d expect from the band by now – a blistering chorus, Mattie Vant’s scorching vocals and florid guitars.
11). Skating Polly – ‘Oddie Moore’
Staggeringly, American duo Skating Polly are prepping their fourth album, despite still being fresh-faced adolescents. There’s nothing innocent about their sound, though – ‘Oddie Moore’ is an abrasive, in-your-face diary entry set to the band’s typically wonderful riffs and brooding bass. They should be a national treasure.
12). The Posies – ‘Squirrel vs. Snake’
It’s been six long years since The Posies’ last record, and thankfully they’ve quenched that drought with ‘Squirrel vs. Snake’. A suitably twisting, shimmering song full of Reveal-esque embellishments and a lilting acoustic motif, as Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer’s harmonies wash over the chorus, you know all is well within the world.
13). Flowers – ‘All At Once’
There’s nothing wrong with a blast of pure bubblegum pop, albeit with a darker underbelly – Nina Persson knew it, Molly Rankin knew it, and now Rachel Kenedy knows it. ‘All At Once’, from the London trio’s record Everybody’s Dying to Meet You, is a shimmering indie ode with gossamer vocals.
14). Drowners – ‘Cruel Ways’
Drowners combined Suede-esque beauty with American-style brawn on their debut (the kneejerk ‘Long Hair’ is still a classic), and they’re back with their long-awaited sophomore. ‘Cruel Ways’ is a little poppier around the edges, but it’s no less impressive.
15). We Are Scientists – ‘Buckle’
The lads are back. Known for their cerebral quips on and off the stage, Keith Murray and Chris Cain are letting their music talk once again with ‘Buckle’. The first taster from their upcoming fourth album Helter Seltzer, ‘Buckle’ is a breakneck indie rocker with Murray’s howls puncturing the chorus.