Alabama Shakes – Don’t Wanna Fight

It ain’t easy to sound this lo-fi. Lovely old-radio ambience, earthy crack-and-fizz in the drums and terrific fretless bass sound. A soulful product seasoned with disco and just enough of today’s production techniques to ensure adequate drive.

Hozier – Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene

Hozier’s back, digging a few things out from around his Irish roots to populate this dark nursery rhyme. Smooth with complexity and bite, a proper neat whiskey of an audiofable. Quality.

Sam Smith – I’m Not The Only One

Soulful account of infidelity real or imagined. Smith’s ear-catching voice is the major strength and the material is more or less up to scratch, with some brief soaring moments but just a bit too predictable to get over the parapet to freedom. I’d like to hear him sing for himself and not for the charts.

Hozier – Take Me To Church

Sound and images seem congruent – dark, tortured, strong, rich – but lyrics less obviously so, as a paean for a lover who causes one to reassess personal values is laid over a short film on love, hate, intolerance and, eventually, brutal violence. Akin to Band of Horses in the chorus but soulful folk poetry in between. There is a lot going on here and this young Irish musician is one to watch.

Hamish Anderson – Howl

Nice mid-tempo rocker delivered with style and muscle. Healthy measures of noise in guitars and drums and just enough grit in the vocal to spark the interest. Wastes no time getting to the multi-layered chorus and throws in some fun guitar blazing for good measure.