Easy Ryder – Why The World Still Needs Winona

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‘Winona Forever’ goes the slogan. Immortalised by a generation raised on the Gothic glamour of Beetlejuice, it was also the phrase that was, ironically, temporarily etched onto the arm of eccentric movie alternahunk Johnny Depp. Even more ironically, such a statement – delivered in honour of Winona Ryder – hasn’t exactly rang true, for career-wise, Miss Ryder’s adulation has been the very definition of transitory.

Admired in the ’80s, adored in the ’90s and abolished in the noughties, recently Winona Ryder has undergone something of a career resurgence. Thanks to the cyclical nature of commercialism and a new generation raised on vintage fodder, Winona’s clout has been freshly anointed, young people the world over fawning over her antics in Heathers or her giddy graduate in Reality Bites. Not only that, but her new role in the stunning Netflix show Stranger Things has won her the kind of plaudits last uttered when she inadvertently played second fiddle to Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted.

Stranger Things has succeeded in capturing kudos thanks to its love-letter approach to nostalgia – the science-fiction forays recall the gloriously kitsch ’80s output of E.T., the “kids fight back” ethos of The Goonies and generally enticing, character-driven stories of Spielberg. The scripts are strong and it is the perfect show for Netflix, a platform where binge-watching is almost a pre-requisite.

For Ryder, it’s an important role. Since her infamous shoplifting incident and appearance in an Adam Sandler movie, she became something of a Tinseltown pariah; or so you’d be led to think. Instead, she became more selective about her roles, taking on acclaimed performances in Show Me A Hero, Turks and Caicos and, most notably, Black Swan. However, Stranger Things marks a strong resurgence, the chance to re-appeal to a younger generation that have no doubt swooned over her slight, offbeat personalities in movies by Tim Burton and Ben Stiller.

It has also been a chance for Ryder to a play a role devoid from the rest of her output. From Edward Scissorhands to Mermaids, Ryder’s roles have generally been that of the proactive, the kooky and the off-kilter. She also often played characters a lot younger than her actual age, thanks to her seemingly ageless exterior (it’s startling to accept that she is now actually 44). As an actress, Ryder has shown consistency and versatility throughout her career, and taking on a role different from her previous posts has shown another side to her considerable acting talents.

From the 1980s to present day, anyone of a certain bent will adopt the same individualism, fashion styles and traits of Ryder, from her dark, luxurious hair, junkets of jewellery and her adoration of indie. She is an actress that has stood out for standing out, her Generation X wardrobe, pixie haircut and string of myriad roles giving her indefinite credence.

 

Winona Ryder still emulates the effortless chic that she did when she was hailed as the queen that wouldn’t conform all those years ago. Mixing adolescent innocence with a detached, world-weary reticence, Ryder’s personality is aloof, exciting and lovingly ironic. Her characters, always killer, sometimes cartoonish, have the ability to slide from enigmatic to excitable with one glance of her trademark wide-eyed stare. A born outsider, for those who struggle in their own skin, Ryder’s development in the public eye has been perversely refreshing, watching someone different, secluded offering glimpses of hope and realism to a generation raised on catwalk perfection. Her style, films and personality are permanently endearing, relatable and, above all, real.

Winona Forever…maybe it was apposite, after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fresher 15 – The Songs That Shaped June

1). Band of Horses ft. J Mascis – ‘In A Drawer’

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Taken from the band’s sublime Why Are You OK? album, Band of Horses weave a sense of wonderful nostalgia on the atmospheric, gentle ‘In A Drawer’. To add to the sense of wistfulness, J Mascis pops up – like the loveable neighbour in a long-cancelled ’90s sitcom – to propel the contemplative chorus.

2). Spring King – ‘Detroit’

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Championed by Zane Lowe (although, to be fair, he has done a fair bit of championing in his time), Manchester’s Spring King are the latest band to firmly fly high the British indie flag. Luckily, ‘Detroit’ is just one of many examples of the band’s ability to rise above the indie landfill, a thumping blast of brawny guitars and drummer Tarek Musa’s delivery.

3). Teenage Fanclub – ‘I’m In Love’

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It almost seems like Teenage Fanclub are becoming cyclical with dog years. Almost. ‘I’m In Love’ is their first single since 2010, but as soon as Norman Blake’s harmony-heavy vocals glide over the Glasgow band’s typically sterling melodies, you realise time doesn’t matter when you craft songs this good.

4). Two Door Cinema Club – ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’

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Speaking of comebacks, it’s been four years since fidgety Northern Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club bought their brand of dancefloor-ready rock. ‘Are We Ready?’ continues the electro bleeps and bloops that dominated 2012’s Beacon, although the pace changes frenetically and fantastically.

5). Car Seat Headrest – ‘1937 Skate Park’

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A recent lawsuit and an incredibly prolific output may have dented Car Seat Headrest’s clout somewhat, but their latest collection, Teens of Denial, is well worth a listen, not least for this woozy, woobly but brilliantly lo-fi song ‘1937 Skate Park’, which somehow blends Wavves with Nada Surf in an unholy, but wholesome, racket.

6). Slotface – ‘Get My Own’

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A name change from Slutface may have censored this Norwegian band a little, but you’ll never censor their music; their new EP, Sponge State, is a vitriolic statement of equality and involvement. ‘Get My Own’ is the spiky opener, all bulging veins and the kind of brio last heard when Britpop MK II was in full swing.

7). Happy Accidents – ‘Leaving Parties Early’

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With a drawling vocal that recalls The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, meshed with the punky energy of Ash and The Subways, London’s Happy Accidents have an innocence and energy that is incredibly endearing. ‘Leaving Parties Early’ is an angular soundtrack to wishing you were at home with Netflix and Neurofen.

8). INHEAVEN – ‘Baby’s Alright’

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Kudos from Julian Casablancas, plus support slots with VANT and The Big Moon, have elevated INHEAVEN to the next indie suitors. On the evidence of ‘Baby’s Alright’, it’s justified – a propulsive post-punk track bathed in Will Sargeant-esque guitar riffery, the chorus is incessantly infectious.

9). Ladyhawke – ‘Wild Things’

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Nee Pip Brown, Ladyhawke has been missing in action since 2012’s underwhelming Anxiety. Still blending articulate rock with heavy electro impulses, the title track from her third LP is a gloriously rousing slice of poppy melancholia. It’s also relentlessly catchy. Marriage suits her.

10). The Parrots – ‘Let’s Do It Again’

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If you want garage rock in its purest form, it looks like the perfect destination is Spain. After Hinds ripped up the rulebook with their brand of lo-fi rock, The Parrots are echoing those statements with similarly sublime garage hooks. ‘Let’s Do It Again’ has a Beatles-esque classicism, drip-dried into a boisterous rage.

11). Descendents – ‘Victim of Me’

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In a month where pop-punk legends Blink 182 began prepping their new album, it only felt right that their fellow peers Descendents made a long-awaited return. Their first music since 2004, Milo’s malcontents rip through their trademark breakneck punk in under two minutes, without missing their ear for rip-roaring melodies.

12). Jamie T – ‘Tinfoil Boy’

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Beginning with a jagged, Radiohead-esque riff, Jamie T’s new single soon dissolves into a frenzied clash of distorted vocals, muffled but morose drums and some gloomy harmonies. His trademark rap bluster is surprisingly missing in action, instead creating something far more ominous and lurking. Bloody thrilling.

13). Blood Orange – ‘Chance’ 

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Dev Hynes has proved something of a musical polymath since first emerging with Test Icicles towards the start of the noughties. ‘Chance’, taken from Blood Orange’s acclaimed album, is a sultry collection of tranquil synths, Hynes’ hushed howl and a brooding bassline.

14). Methyl Ethel – ‘Twilight Driving’ 

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Perth has proven Australia can provide some excellently atmospheric music, from Luke Steele’s The Sleepy Jackson to, of course, Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala. Fans of both will love Methyl Ethel, the project of Jake Webb. ‘Twilight Driving’ has a maudlin groove that’s embellished with some strident horns.

15). Lina Tullgren – ‘Grace’

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A fellow alumnae of Captured Tracks (the home of, among others, DIIV), Lina Tullgren’s new EP Wishlist is an intimate collection of maudlin melodies and Tullgren’s effervescent vocals. Recalling Daniel Johnston and The Mountain Goats – as well as a more traditional Girlpool – ‘Grace’ is a delicate ode to love and time.

 

 

 

 

Twenty Years On – How ‘Homerpalooza’ Captured the Transience of Music and Youth

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Eventually, and sadly, all of us find, or will find, ourselves losing our grip on what’s current and contemporary. We’ll accept Bono for his humanitarian work, we’ll listen to James Blunt because of his computer cracks and the forgiving fitting of Marks & Spencer will slowly engorge our filled-out figures. It happened to Homer Simpson, and even though that episode aired twenty years ago, while the bands and cultures it parodied are no longer current, the underlying message still remains incredibly potent – cool doesn’t stay.

Abe Simpson produces the most telling, and accurate, line in Homerpalooza, an episode that captures a specific moment of pop culture before it rapidly transcended. “I used to be with ‘it’, but then they changed what ‘it’ was,” he scoffs. “It’ll happen to you.” He’s pointing his despondent digit at a young Homer, but really that finger can be placed upon any one of us – down the line, we all become Grandpa and, eventually, Homer; I envision in ten years’ time, when I’m driving my kids to school, I’ll be babbling boisterously about the “good old-fashioned sludge of Peace and Superfood, which paved the way for Catfish & the Bottlemen, which I believe was a kind of hovercraft.”

Homerpalooza serves as a time capsule, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it slice of a part of the ‘90s that seems laughable now. The show recognises this, too, and instead of casting a heartfelt haze over a carefree culture, they instead satirise and gleefully acknowledge that this specific timeframe will be left in a bargain bin, along with copies of Reality Bites and Come On Feel the Lemonheads. In short, the show’s creators had to parody the “it” Abe lambasts, for that “it” was changing far too frequently to accurately homage. By 1996, the real Lollapalooza festival was being headlined by Metallica; by the turn of the millennium, it had died. The fickle aura of youth had breezed by.

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“They changed what it was” is the episode’s motif, and becomes more prevalent now as the bands the show spotlights – Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins and Cypress Hill, to be precise – are no longer the key cultural forces they were (although their influence has had more longevity). Heck, Billy Corgan’s most prominent recent promo work involved an article in a cat fancy magazine and Corgan looking petrified on some sort of children’s fairground ride.

The episode has occasionally been criticised for being too gimmicky and of-its-time, but in truth the show has a strong core before the festival comes in. Homer’s new-found role as the school runner (or driver) throws into sharp focus how his rock and roll beliefs are now dated and formulaic, casting a low thrum over our central character. His bedside confessions to Marge about his superannuated state feel true and troubled, the kind of self-admittance that many people would have had to have faced when they saw vinyl records on sale in Tesco. The Dazed and Confused skit, where Homer tries to board the ‘second-base mobile’, also provides a comical glimpse of a self-anointed cool Homer.

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When the show introduces Homer to a young festival crowd, his hearty but ham-fisted attempts at appearing relevant hit him almost as hard as Peter Frampton’s inflatable pig. However, the episode later provides us with an interesting theory – does Homer actually want to be cool? Or is he just on a frivolous chase of critical clout? For when Homer finally does get acclaim for being the festival’s human cannonball, he soon realises maybe he was content enough being with his family and eating a club sandwich. There have been times where I myself have longed for the acclaim, no matter how fair the weather, for my music or even these blogs. But when I sometimes get that, I realise I’d much rather be a wallflower. The grass isn’t always greener, especially when roadies are gobbing on it.

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While newer episodes of The Simpsons would see flat readings delivered completely straight, here such wooden words embellish the so-so nature of alternative rock (Kim Gordon isn’t likely to be winning an Emmy any time soon, put it that way). Elsewhere, I like how Homer forms a believable friendship with The Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgan serving as a credible comic foil), Cypress Hill’s surprisingly tuneful classical rendition of ‘Insane in the Brain’ and Sonic Youth’s theme tune. However, the surprising star turn here has to be Frampton, who’s obviously a really good sport to play such a curmudegonly, crusty version of himself.

Homerpalooza’s longevity stems from, ironically, representing such a disposable, transitory period of cultural history in a satirical way that’ll confuse and irritate future generations, while bewildering the ones that lived through it. They may have changed what ‘it’ was, but they never changed what ‘it’ meant.

 

 

Fresher 15 – The Songs That Shaped April

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1).        The Goon Sax – Boyfriend

Australia’s music scene is certainly in rude health at the moment, and in The Goon Sax, we have a 21st century update on The Go-Betweens – girl drummer, slightly angular, flamboyant frontman, literate pop offerings. It’s all here in ‘Boyfriend’, a Girls-esque lament set to up-tempo tunes and lovely harmonies.

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2).        Misty Miller – Next to You

When Misty Miller first emerged, she was a misty-eyed folk rocker. Now the ukulele is missing, presumed plucked, for she’s dyed her hair and changed her style for the rollicking album The Whole Family Is Worried. ‘Next To You’ is an irresistibly catchy slice of pomp rock.

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3).        Nap Eyes – Stargazer

Part Michael Stipe, part Lloyd Cole, Nigel Chapman’s emotive, crystal-clear vocals radiate through ‘Stargazer’, an almost Americana-esque pluck which invokes some wonderful imagery. The Halifax quartet’s beautifully restrained album Thought Rock Fish Scale is a cracking breakthrough.

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4).        Diet Cig – Dinner Date

Boy-girl duo Diet Cig’s first EP, Overeasy, was five blink-and-you’ll-miss it odes to ‘90s aesthetics, from the scuzzy riffs to the Simpsons references. ‘Dinner Date’ rocks a little harder, but is all the better for it as Alex Luciano blasts “the turkey is tasty, just like the shit that you’re taking.”

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5).        Bob Mould – Hold On

Mould’s latest record, Patch the Sky, continued his purple patch. Full of crystalline melodies and Mould’s trademark tortured howl, ‘Hold On’ slows the pace but is no less powerful, a crunching highway hymn of epic brevity. As ever, the rhythm section of Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster keep it tight.

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6).        The Last Shadow Puppets – Miracle Aligner

Everything You’ve Come To Expect was a winning follow-up, and after that long wait, it contained the same string-drenched sentiments that made TLSP such a big draw back in 2008. ‘Miracle Aligner’ is one of the strongest tracks, a haunting pop ditty as Alex Turner urges us to “go and get ‘em, tiger.”

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7).        Weezer – California Kids

After an undeniably lengthy period stuck in a musical malaise, Weezer have made their best album since The Green Album with, well, The White Album. Opener ‘California Kids’ sets the bar high, beginning with a wistful guitar motif before a typically explosive, catchy chorus.

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8).        Thee MVPs – Edgar

One of the many bands who tore up SXSW this year, punk rockers Thee MVPs’ Edgar is a stuttering, arms-aloft anthem that will sound great in pretty much any Camden haunt. “Give me another hit, me another hit,” they urge, and you know that don’t mean a southpaw.

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9).        Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math

Margaret’s first clutch of songs saw her perfect a grizzled folk warble over minimal acoustic guitars. Now, she’s back with a snarl. ‘Emotions and Math’, taken from her forthcoming record of the same name, is a pumping beat of lo-fi garage rock. Her newfound attitude is refreshing.

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10).      Frankie Cosmos – If I Had a Dog

Frankie Cosmos’ SINGER has previously stated she wrote a lot of songs about her dog, now sadly deceased. Here she puts that bereft feeling into a lovelorn ditty, which serves up as a nice metaphor for loss and love. One of the many great songs from Next Thing.

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11).      Julia Jacklin – Pool Party

Julia Jackin’s haunting voice blew away crowds at SXSW, and it’s well emphasised on ‘Pool Party’, a slow, lilting track that exhumes heartache.

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12).      Travis – Radio Song

While Travis may have a reputation for, well, ‘pleasant’ melodies, ‘Radio Song’ is anything but – a taut, atmospheric sucker punch where Fran Healy is in concerned Bono mode. Musically, though, the song is ominous and full of welcome guitar bombast.

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13).      We Are Scientists – Classic Love

With sixth album Helter Seltzer now out, Brooklyn-based stand-up / indie rock duo We Are Scientists are back. ‘Classic Love’ successfully blends an urgent guitar motif with Keith Murray’s melancholic vocal. “Classic love isn’t good enough anymore,” he sighs on the irresistible chorus.

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14).      Man Made – Raining In Our Hands

Man Made’s TV Broke My Brain EP is gaining a significant amount of plaudits, and it’s no surprise on the evidence of this twisted number, where the vocals recall, oddly, Gene’s Martin Rossiter. The song is equally enthralled to the darker sides of Britpop.

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15).      Band of Horses – Casual Party

After a four-year wait, Ben Bridwell and his folk indie rock troupe are finally back. ‘Casual Party’, the first taste from their forthcoming record Why Are You OK, leans more towards the southern-fried rock of their magnum opus Infinite Arms.

Fresher 15 – The Songs To Hear This Month

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1).        SEA PINKS – Yr Horoscope

Northern Ireland just can’t stop churning out great bands. Ash, General Fiasco, Fighting With Wire, the list is endless. Now add the literate pop of Sea Pinks to that list. Beginning with a chugging indie riff reminiscent of The Housemartins, this blink-and-you’ll-miss it slice of delicious rock makes horoscopes much more fun than Mystic Meg.

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2).        DIIV – Out of Mind

The prodigal son has returned. Zachary Cole Smith, ‘Cole’ to his friends, returned after a four-year absence for new record Is the Is Are, which has a darker undercurrent than his debut Oshin. ‘Out of Mind’ is the opening track, which builds from a crackle of feedback into Cole’s irresistible, chorus-inflected riffs. It’s good to have him back.

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3).        TELEGRAM – Godiva’s Here

Telegram are the latest band to be touted as ‘the next big thing’, and upon listening, it’s hard to disagree with their shamelessly catchy tunes and bravado. ‘Godiva’s Here’ changes tack from a thunderous intro into a reflective chorus.

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4).        PUBLIC ACCESS TV – On Location

Currently supporting Spanish garage rockers Hinds on their UK tour, four-piece Public Access TV will hopefully be giving the shiny, up-tempo strut of ‘On Location’ an airing. The band have already garnered plaudits for their previous single ‘In Love and Alone’, but ‘On Location’ takes their bright rock and knocks it out the park.

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5).        ULRIKA SPACEK – Beta Male

Despite having a band name that sounds like a Swedish astronaut, Ulrika Spacek are certainly ones to watch. ‘Beta Male’ begins with reverb-drenched feedback before a taut, distorted bassline and haunting guitar motif creep into view. The song continues to build, blending Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with My Bloody Valentine.

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6).        PRIMAL SCREAM ft SKY FERREIRA – Where the Light Gets In

Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, like The Charlatans before him, continues to keep his relevance alive well into the 21st century, despite staggeringly getting ever close to age 60. ‘Where the Light Gets In’ is embellished with a fantastic guest spot from Sky Ferreira, who’s hazy guitar strums and fervent call-backs give this dance-inflected number real purpose.

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7).        DAY WAVE – Gone

Beginning with a trademark dream pop riff, ‘Gone’ piles on the shimmering effects until it sounds like a long-lost ‘80s offcut, particularly the soothing, Drums-esque vocals.

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8).        TRAVIS – 3 Miles High

Aw, Travis. Love or loathe them, they have the sweetness of a boy who never once asks for a shag after giving you a lift home. ‘3 Miles High’, from their upcoming album Everything At Once, is a breezy, Beatles-esque acoustic number with wistful melodies and Fran Healy’s breathy sigh.

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9).        PJ HARVEY – The Wheel

After the critical acclaim of Let England Shake, PJ Harvey is finally back with this taster from her forthcoming album. ‘The Wheel’ is a lo-fi crunch, recalling the splintered grooves of Uh Huh Her, with the catchy refrain of “I’ve heard there was 28,000.” It bodes well for the new album.

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10).      TWIN PEAKS – Walk to the One You Love

It may be another ‘70s-style riff to add to the list of ‘Get It On’ pilferers, but at least here it’s subtle – ‘Walk to the One You Love’ has strong sax beats behind the funky guitars, and is made stronger with the vocals of Cadien Lake James.

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11).      I KNOW LEOPARD – Perfect Picture

I Know Leopard have been around for quite some time, and have achieved notable success in their native Australia. Whether or not it will cross over into England remains to be seen, but the hushed boy-girl harmonies and delicate dream pop of ‘Perfect Picture’ deserve some recognition.

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12).      KULA SHAKER – Infinite Sun

And this month’s unlikely comeback heroes are…yes, Kula Shaker have been ploughing a spiritually-rewarding, but hardly lucrative, furrow since reforming in 2007, but their new album K 2.0 really does feel like a comeback. ‘Infinite Sun’ contains Crispian Mills’ usual brand of kooky sitars, religious lyrics and a pounding chorus.

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13).      YUCK – Cannonball

It’s brave to name a song ‘Cannonball’, especially when you’ve got the likes of The Breeders and, erm, Damien Rice to compete with, but Yuck take the mantle and run with it with this sludgy slice of grunge pop. They’re still living in the flannel-flecked ‘90s, and we love them all the more for it.

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14).      JAKE BUGG – On My One

Jake Bugg loves a moan, so it’s no surprise to hear that his new single – his first in nearly three years – is a curmudgeonly gripe about touring and being betrayed by God. Luckily, Bugg can back up these gripes with strong melodies, and this moody shuffle sounds like a long-lost La’s outtake.

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15).      RICHARD ASHCROFT – This Is How it Feels

‘Mad Richard’ may have mellowed as the years have progressed, but he still knows how to achieve notable bombast. ‘This Is How It Feels’ is his first offering since that disastrous weird rap record, and it seems he’s relocated the string-drenched, solemn rock that made Alone With Everybody such a compelling record.

Fresher 15 – The Songs to Hear this Month

January is usually a depressing month; Christmas has left you bereft of money and replete of flab, the nights are dark and long, and your New Year resolution to not murder anyone isn’t going very well (at least you sanded off your ‘prints).

However, fear not, for if everything else in January is pretty miserable, music is not. With a slew of bands, both old and new, announcing forthcoming albums and EPs, this month has seen a flurry of new, exciting tracks. We’ve had sterling work from the late David Bowie, and here’s a further 15 songs to listen to.

  • SUEDE: No Tomorrow

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Once the torch-bearers for the skinny, unappreciated waifs of suburbia, Suede are now firmly settled into their ‘elder statesmen of indie’ role, and their forthcoming album Night Thoughts has already garnered rave reviews. In this taster, Brett Anderson wails to “fight the sorrow” over a sprightly guitar riff, which mask the depressing air that lingers throughout.

  • RAT BOY: MOVE

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Looking like a slightly more dishevelled Craig Nicholls and being apparently named after a Bart Simpson retort hasn’t stopped Rat Boy – he’s gaining every plaudit going at the moment, and the Beastie Boys-inflected ‘MOVE’ won’t do anything to dissuade his charm.

  • THE 1975: The Sound

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After the greyscale-tinged, kitchen-sink dirge of their debut, The 1975 have embraced technicolour for their sophomore album, due out in February. ‘The Sound’ is the third track to be premiered from the album, in which Matt Healy’s hushed vocal is glided along on an almost Balearic-esque piano lick.

  • QUILT: Roller

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Their debut album Plaza is set for release later this year, and on the evidence of ‘Roller’, it’s going to be one of the finest debuts to emerge in recent years. Strewn with warped, Alvvays-style guitar grooves, as Anna Fox Rochinski’s honeyed voice sings and vents in endearing fashion.

  • HINDS: Warts

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Hinds’ album Leave Me Alone is the first opus to enter the ‘Best of 2016’ canon, with its woozy, Pavement-style guitar riffs and lovelorn ditties, reminiscent of Mac DeMarco. It’s hard to pick a standout track, but ‘Warts’ and its neat guitar motif and slightly askew vocals are a real treat.

  • MYSTERY JETS: 1985

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Mystery Jets, rightly or wrongly, have almost become the WH Smith of indie – you know they’re there, but perhaps you’d only really notice them if they disappeared. Well, that’s sort of happened…their new album Curve of the Earth is their first in four years, and in that time their eclectic, restless approach to rock has been missed. ‘1985’ is a grandiose, stately affair with pianos and a lilting steel pedal.

  • YUCK: Hearts in Motion

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Remember Yuck? In 2011/12, they were the saviours of grunge, sipping champagne with Surfer Blood and trading fist-bumps with Avi Buffalo. They’re back with their third album, and despite the main riff sounding like ‘Today’ by The Smashing Pumpkins, its face-melting fuzz and delightfully disgruntled verses are still enough to make J Mascis bow his Jazzmaster.

  • CAGE THE ELEPHANT: Mess Around

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Releasing an album before Christmas must be like asking for candy two weeks after Halloween – you’re either going to be ignored or reported. Kentucky-fried rockers Cage the Elephant made this mistake, but don’t let their fourth album pass you by; ‘Mess Around’ is a sugar rush of Black Keys-indebted blues rock.

  • HARRIET: Inheritance

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The American four-piece may sound like a 15-year-old pop sensation, but in actual fact they’re an awesome rock band. ‘Inheritance’, with its pounding production and soaring synths, sounds like a more restrained Phoenix, while the falsetto vocal brings to mind long-lost indie darlings Delays.

  • SLUTFACE: Kill ‘Em With Kindness

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The best thing to come out of Norway since the Vikings, this bratty punk-pop nugget rolls along at breakneck speed, and brings to mind the Britpop MKII revival, from singer Haley Shea’s appreciation of The Long Blondes to the Black Kids-style call & response.

  • BEACH BABY: Sleeperhead

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Sounding like a mix of Splashh and The Vaccines, the latest track from London four-piece Beach Baby is built around an intricate, chorus-addled guitar riff and a fidgety bassline. They’re touring throughout the early part of 2016, so one would recommend you check them out before they outgrow such venues.

  • WEEZER: King of the World

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Back with their fourth self-titled record (this time being dubbed ‘The White Album’), ‘King of the World’ is a slick, radio-friendly anthem that recalls the band’s mid-to-late noughties era, as opposed to the back-to-basics approach of their last album. It’s a positive indicator, although tracks on the new record are called ‘LA Girlz’ and ‘(Girl We Got A) Good Thing’. Let’s not worry yet…

  • RA RA RIOT: Absolutely

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Indier than thou New York band Ra Ra Riot return in February with new album Need Your Light, and ‘Absolutely’ is a good start. Produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, you can hear his band’s baroque pop prowess running through this fiddle-flecked indie stomper.

  • JOY AGAIN: How You Feel

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According to the Philly-based band, ‘How You Feel’ was written in a dorm room during a period of relationship breakdown. However, you really wouldn’t know it; ‘How You Feel’ is a twinkling slice of lo-fi pop, with dream-like verses and a warbling, reverb-drenched chorus.

  • THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS: Bad Habits

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Last but not least, The Last Shadow Puppets first emerged in 2008, creating ‘60s-tinged psychedelica amid cinematic, vintage strings. Now they’re back and ‘Bad Habits’, with Miles Kane’s shout and the shriek of violins, is a positive sign of nostalgia and progression.