1. 'Pedestrian At Best' - Courtney Barnett
Talk about being late to the party. Countless end-of-year lists prompted me into giving Barnett's album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit a try - and fuck me if I wasn't smitten almost immediately. The whole record is wonderful, but this single, two songs in, is an instant hit. Lyrically and musically, she's very close in spirit to Oxford's own Rainbow Reservoir - here's hoping the latter are inspired to new heights as a result.
2. 'The Jean Genie' - David Bowie
No prizes for guessing why this has been on heavy rotation over the last few days. Glam stomp meets louche New York art-scuzz. Probably my favourite Bowie track, if you pushed me to single one out.
3. 'Duplex Planet' - Deerhunter
My current earworm from Fading Frontier. It changes by the day, but as yet still hasn't been anything from the second half of the album. Time will tell.
4. 'How Long' - Julia Holter
Holter at her most sultry and sensuous, even though the chorus is as mundane as "Do you know the proper way to ask for a cigarette?" She could sing her way through the Yellow Pages and I'd be rapt. A song tailor-made for the soundtrack of a black-and-white European arthouse film.
5. 'Solitude' - Marissa Nadler
it's Marissa Nadler covering Black Sabbath - it was never not going to
feature in one of these lists, was it? (Thanks to Dave for the tip-off.)
6. 'Pipe' - Fuzz
Did someone say "Black Sabbath"? You'll swear Ozzy's on guest vocals. 'Pipe' and Fuzz II, a recent purchase, are just what the doctor ordered to banish the January blues. Ty Segall might as well just borrow my debit card, given the high frequency and even higher quality of his output. (And he's got another album out shortly.)
7. 'Eraser' - METZ
The Canadian trio had somehow passed me by until I came across this single. Neither the song itself nor the accompanying video is for the faint-hearted (or the epileptic) - you have been warned. Fittingly enough for a band on Sub Pop, it sounds like a mash-up of In Utero tracks rolling around on broken glass.
8. 'Feed Me' - So Pitted
Speaking of neo-grunge signings on Sub Pop, here are METZ's tour buddies and odd-looking bunch So Pitted. 'Feed Me' has a chorus that's vaguely reminiscent of Nirvana having a breakdown, with some extra weirdness thrown in just for good measure in the verse (lurching bass, choppy guitar, freaky robotic vocal) and a slowdown/warp that suggests the heavy meds really are kicking in.
9. 'Florent' - Raketkanon
"Monolithic riffs. Wonky synths. FX-laden screams. Lyrics sung in a completely made-up language." All courtesy of four Belgian loons whose second album has been produced by Steve Albini. Suddenly everything else above sounds a little bit tame. (Thanks to Gareth for the tip-off.)
10. 'I Did What I Did For Maria' - Tony Christie
Probably the only song on this list likely to get airplay by Len Goodman on Radio 2 - which is where I first heard it. The subject matter leads me to think it would be fascinating to hear his take on Nick Cave's Murder Ballads. The video is pretty special, too, though not in a good way: Christie smiling and dad-dancing uncomfortably in a pair of yellow slacks, medallion on show, in front of footage of a pier. They don't make 'em like that anymore.