Deerhunter – ‘Nosebleed’ (chosen by Jennifer Gannon)
‘We might have made a mistake!’ This anxious, broken cry from Bradford Cox is the whinnying sound that hurtles you headlong into this exhilarating rush and fumble. A white hot explosive slip of a song that is fuelled on the sense of its own urgency. It’s as if Bradford can’t get the words out fast enough as he trips over lyrics whilst the jumble sale of sounds veers from a drunken Replacements to a tooled up Go-Betweens. Yet again Deerhunter manage to make perfection look effortless as Cox invents a throwaway refrain that is so dangerously repetitive it rips through you like a slash hook to the heart. Such is their prodigious, frankly terrifying talents they can safely relegate this little firecracker to b-side status knowing there’s plenty more gems stashed in the arsenal.
Richmond Fontaine – ‘I Fell Into Painting Houses In Phoenix, Arizona’ (chosen by Steve Cummins)
There are few modern American writers out there to match Richmond Fontaine’s Willy Vlautin. As a musician, those in love with Americana will find much to love in Vlautin’s lyrics of the losers, boozers and gamblers of blue collar America. Like Springsteen in particular, he’s a deft touch at creating lyrically powerful songs that conjure up ceaseless images. ‘I Fell Into Painting Houses In Phoenix, Arizona’, from 2007’s Thirteen Cities, is one such tune. Listening to it, it’ll come as little surprise to learn that Vlautin, having fronted the Portland based outfit for well over a decade, has began to garner huge acclaim as a novelist. Last year’s Lean On Pete was as close as they come to a modern American masterpiece with the Irish Times’s Eileen Battersby proclaiming — “how good is contemporary US fiction? This good: catch your breath good.” One not to ignore.
The Lonely Forest – ‘We Sing In Time’ (chosen by James Goulden)
One of the greatest things I’ve discovered leaving Ireland to go traveling is discovering some great music that hasn’t yet made it back home. When visiting San Francisco recently I met up with The Lonely Forest, a fantastic live band but with proper pop songs. Due to support Two Door Cinema Club on their autumn US tour, let me introduce you to The Lonely Forest and ‘We Sing In Time’…
Mel & Kim – ‘That’s The Way It Is’ (Chosen by Ciarán Gaynor)
Sisters Mel and Kim Appleby released four singles between 1986 and 1988, all of which were produced by Stock, Aitken and Waterman and all of which went top 10. Even though they all had quite Thatcherite lyrics – like ‘FLM’, which was a paean to Fun, Love and Money – and I consider myself a Socialist, I absolutely love them. That’s often a sign of great pop – that it bludgeons you into submission against your better judgement. Tragically, Mel died of Leukemia aged just 23 in 1988 but when the dust settled Kim went on to have an excellent solo hit with ‘Don’t Worry’ in 1990. ‘That’s The Way It Is’, their final single, perfectly captures their appeal.
Thomas Leer – ‘Private Plane International’ (chosen by Darragh McCausland)
Thomas Leer was a quiet pioneer of synth pop whose very earliest bedroom recordings from the late ’70s hum with understated outsiderish mystery. ‘Private Plane International’ is the best of them, a strange paean to air-travel with intimate vocals that drift through a jet-stream of eerie minimal synths. Leer quickly mastered more complicated equipment and recorded increasingly polished sounding songs. But they were progressively less interesting and the weird horizon that opens so tantalisingly on this lost classic was never subsequently explored.