Belle and Sebastian - Act of the Apostle II
The sound of the summer. Along with Song for Sunshine, this song has taken the credit for all the happiness recently. With wonderfully sardonic self-critical lyrics, it bounces along with upbeat piano chords and gentle dual vocals, until the original tune of Act of the Apostle returns, seamlessly, and the softness of edgy melancholy returns. Very pretty, but multi-layered.
Helsinki - Cheer Up Goth Kid
The title of this song is quite ironic, with this being one of the most emotionally tense and 'black' tracks Drew McConnell has ever aired. Surprisingly Biffy Clyro-esque in lots of ways (instrumentation, vocal layering, dynamics, the 'aaaaaah' section towards the end), Cheer Up Goth Kid sums up an emotion perfectly, I think. When he sings "December", I actually feel for him, deeply. Ask me if you want this track, I can send it, I know it's pretty rare.
Louise Attaque - J't'emmène au vent
This French song came to my attention via a Helsinki live cover, and it's very upbeat and lively. The lyrics are charming but uninspiring end-of-relationship lyrics when translated from French, but it's the fun folk-rock backing with fiddles, and the novelty of the strong French voice, which make this song great for me.
Reuben - Stealing Is Easy
From the new rarities album We Should Have Gone To University, Stealing is Easy has soundtracked a difficult little patch of my existence with its unsympathetic-yet-empathetic lyrics and loud guitar parts. Thanks Reuben.
Sonic Youth - Shadow of a Doubt
I am glad Kim Gordon is in Sonic Youth for this track alone. Usually, her breathy vocals and simple lyrics seem to add nothing to records, but on EVOL, she stands out more, and with better results. This track in particular is made superbly atmospheric and unusual by her sighs and whispers and yelps, and the simplicity of the lyrics describing the strange scene on a train. I love it - percussive sounds and an oriental edge perfect what is already very enthralling.
Belle and Sebastian - We Are the Sleepyheads
We Are the Sleepyheads encapsulates what Belle and Sebastian do so well: put melancholy and bitter lyrics over upbeat and uplifting music. Because of the relentless guitar strumming and cheery rhythms and harmonies, the line "We've been in this town so long we may as well be dead" actually brings a smile to the face. You can think 'so true!' without it bringing you down.
Amy Winehouse - Me & Mr. Jones
I wasn't impressed with this track when the album Back to Black came out, but I've come to realise it's a good song. It showcases Amy's voice and her talent as a songwriter: it's angry, witty, sarcastic and flirtatious all at the same time. Like a strong woman - like Amy Winehouse minus media image.
The Libertines - Dilly Boys
If you don't particularly like the idea of Pete Doherty dressed as a rent boy ("hands on hips, pout on lips") then don't worry, this song has much more to offer. An uplifting chorus that has you smiling along, and then a soft, tender bit at the end, and rather poetic lyrics in the verses which withstand some, if not too much, thinking about.
Reuben - Ways of Staying Pure
Opening with Jamie Lenman's terrific voice singing, rather sexily, "Yesterday was quite a day, and I've been a bad boy", this song is killer, no filler, all the way through. As if I'm not hooked in already, it's packed with loud/quiet sections, a 'big' guitar sound, brittle yet rich harmonies and a wonderful gentle part past half way through with a round of "Oh-ooh-oh-ooh" and then screaming! Excellent! For similar brilliance (with more 'emo' tendencies, however), see Words From Reuben.
Bright Eyes - Coat Check Dream Song
I'm not as impressed by Bright Eyes as I'm told I should be, but I like this track. More atmospheric and more enticingly sung, it is my favourite on the album, and also the most experimental (less Bob Dylan copying, in other words.).