Birmingham's prince of indie, Sam Lambeth, takes a look at the songs that defined March 2017.
1). Gorillaz – ‘Andromeda’
Gorillaz have forged a reputation for wonderfully eclectic collections, with equally diverse contributors. Of the four new songs released, in preparation for new album Humanz, ‘Andromeda’ hits the right spot – ambient loops and a brooding bass give way to squealchy synths and a moody 2D vocal.
2). The Bay Rays – ‘Satisfaction’
The idea of losing oneself in the moment is always a frightening thought – get it right and you become flushed with confidence. Get it wrong and you look an egotistical fool. On ‘Satisfaction’, punky rock upstarts The Bay Rays address this fear over an irresistible electric stomp.
3). Real Estate – ‘Darling’
Real Estate may not break the mould, but with each album they continue to hone their craft of wonderfully laconic jangle pop. New album In Mind adds on welcome maturity, and ‘Darling’ pitches itself between the synth daze of Beach House and the coastal grooves of Seapony, all shimmering arpeggios and Martin Courtenay’s sweet whine.
4). The Drums – ‘Blood Under My Belt’
And then there was one. With each Drums album it almost feels inevitable they’ll be one less member, and upcoming record Abysmal Thoughts proves no different. However, the most distinguishing feature here is the quality – with its summery riff, swooning lyrics and wistful bass, ‘Blood Under My Belt’ is a return to the hazy melancholy of the band’s best work.
5). Spoon – ‘Hot Thoughts’
Spoon’s legacy as one of Metacritic’s highest-rated band continued with the lush layers of Hot Thoughts. The title track may occasionally confuse allure with perversity, but its jagged riffery, cinematic keys and Britt Daniel’s angsty howl make it all the more enticing.
6). The Jesus and Mary Chain – ‘Always Sad’
When not trying to beat the living daylights out of one another, the Reid brothers are able to coax out beautifully bittersweet shards of bludgeoning rock. ‘Always Sad’ is one of the softer songs on their spectrum, but the boy/girl reflections are propped up with some typically swirling fuzz.
7). The Magic Gang – ‘How Can I Compete’
With their third EP freshly pressed, The Magic Gang’s reputation for playful indie thumpers has well and truly been established. With ‘How Can I Compete’, though, they give their sound a subtle, but telling, overhaul, the choruses given some rough love and the outro dripping with kitchen-sink pathos.
8). Temples – ‘(I Want To Be Your) Mirror’
The paisley-patterned rockers made a two-fisted return with the shimmering Volcano, and one of the standouts is ‘(I Want To Be Your) Mirror’, a baroque-style jaunt that blends the psychedelic struts of Bowie, Tame Impala and MGMT.
9). Wavves – ‘Daisy’
With Nathan Williams prepping new record You’re Welcome, as well as a support slot with Blink 182 on the horizon, ‘Daisy’ doesn’t stray far from Wavves’ winning formula, but when Williams can knock out lovingly face-melting fuzz with such effortless grace, why change?
10). Dream Wife – ‘Somebody’
Released on International Women’s Day, ‘Somebody’ continues scuzzy indie rockers Dream Wife’s admirable determination for changing feminist perceptions. “I am not my body, I am somebody” they rally over jagged, but joyous, guitar chords and a punk-fuelled beat.
11). QTY – ‘Dress/Undress’
New York’s QTY are only on their second single, but they’re already rapidly gaining plaudits. It’s no surprise when they coax out songs as irresistible as ‘Dress/Undress’, Dan Lardner’s uncertain, but sensual, vocals grinding against bright guitars.
12). The Orielles – ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’
The Orielles have been ploughing a strong furrow for some time, and after years of brimming buzz they signed to Heavenly last year. The first song to be aired since that inking is also their most ambitious – ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’, blending post-punk etherealness with a dance-tinged edge.
13). Girlpool – ‘123’
The ominously sweet vocals of Girlpool have been sorely missed. ‘123’, the first taster from new album Powerplant, is almost epic in its soaring harmonies, doleful arpeggios and pounding drums.
14). Kasabian – ‘You’re In Love With A Psycho’
They announced their comeback with typical bluster, but while their iteration that guitar music is ‘dead’ proved wide of the mark, Leicester’s laddish survivors return with a surprisingly softer side. ‘You’re in Love…’ takes the twinkling outro of ‘Re-Wired’ and bathes it in swooning sighs and Meighan’s moody drawl.
15). Dude York – ‘Something in the Way’
One of the many bands that wowed the recent SXSW, Seattle trio Dude York’s sophomore record Sincerely specialises in misty-eyed power pop, ramped up with hardcore riffs and a youthful bent (think Ash for the closest comparison). ‘Something in the Way’ is the three-piece at their sweetest.