1. Race Horses – ‘Disco Pig’
Race Horses are the finest purveyors of inventive pop music to come out of Wales since Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (whose Euros Childs produced their debut album). Trumpet fanfares, a women’s choir and a string ensemble offset this off-kilter but surprisingly moving post-break up song.
2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – ‘We Call Upon the Author’
The pithy pinnacle of 2008’s Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!. Aural assaults – the pounding verses, the juddering chorus, the sound of seven Seeds colliding over and over, the yell of “PROLIX! PROLIX! It’s nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix!” – mean that this author, be it God or be it Cave, has got an awful lot to explain.
3. M. Ward – ‘Epistemology’
No stranger to lyrics dealing with The Big Issues, king of Americana (and ‘Him’ of She & Him) Matt Ward comes up trumps again. The highlight from last year’s Hold Time, ‘Epistemology’ contrasts the religious dogma of his catholic upbringing with the intense emotion of falling head-over-heels.
4. Battles – ‘Ddiamondd’
The most frantic cut from their debut album Mirrored is effect-heavy and at the limits of un-foot-tappable rhythm. Recently having lost alien-vocalist and ingenious composer Tyondai Braxton, we might not hear this sort of thing from Battles again.
5. Gorillaz ft. Gruff Rhys and De La Soul – ‘Superfast Jellyfish’
Here’s the thematic centrepiece of the collaboration-heavy concept album from the cartoon creatures (with additional super furry animal). An amusing critique of the state of food consumerism, Swanson’s microwavable breakfasts have never sounded so good.
6. The Mountain Goats – ‘No Children’
Likely to get you speech-singing along with refrain “I hope you die! I hope we both die!”, No Children’ is the most popular track of their vast back catalogue. Hardly surprising, given how effortlessly lead Goat John Darnielle manages to make a loveless marriage sound a warm, fuzzy affair.
7. Hot Chip – ‘Alley Cats’
One of the most impressive songs of the year. Compared to HC’s dancehall efforts, it’s unassuming and the lyrics don’t explode forth, but it’s full of gentle tensions which resolve before they’ve even made themselves known. After a lengthy build-up, the minute from 3:30 is stunning.
*tracks missing on we7.