The Playlist: indie

From Adult Jazz and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's cerebral complexity, to Wolf Alice and Jaws, who are riding the new wave of Britpop, here's this month's best new indie tracks

Adult Jazz - Spook

In 2014, it takes a fairly ballsy band to put out a 9m 46s track as one of their first releases, but Leeds-based quartet Adult Jazz are more robust than their lofty, meandering music might suggest. They've supported Wild Beasts and These New Puritans so far – which hints at the kind of sonic company they're keen to keep, and have put out a couple of tracks to test the water; double A-side Springful and Am Gone was chosen by the Guardian Guide in January as the week's best release.

Gawky, almost uncomfortable in its own skin, Adult Jazz's most recent single, Spook, is hard to endure for the first four minutes – stripped of frills, it opens with nonsensical and confrontational vocals and a broken-sounding piano. But like Grizzly Bear (or Daniel Rossen's side project Department of Eagles), it operates on a no-pain, no-gain rule system; and if you stick with its intense, claustrophobic start you're rewarded with an ethereal melody at the end.

Owl John - Hate Music

Celtic indie rock group Frightened Rabbit have set their frontman Scott Hutchinson free momentarily so he can pursue his alter ego Owl John, who appears to have some demons to exorcise. On first single Hate Music lyrics cover "beheading", "broken backs", "cut-throat friends" and "knee-jerk enemies". All of which are pretty sinister, but when sung in such a Scottish rasp it affirms that there's no better accent to ignite a frenzy of anger. Paired with a slide guitar and colossal backing vocals that sound as if they're summoning the dead.

The track was recorded with Frightened Rabbit member Andy Monaghan and good friend Simon Liddell on the Isle of Mull and in LA. Its split location suggests a strange clash of worlds, and could go some way to explain his description of the project as finding freedom in "an anxious, rotting brain" and "BEING ALIEN MAN." Listen for yourself below.

Wolf Alice - Moaning Lisa Smile

Despite receiving a lot of buzz last year, Wolf Alice have been patient with their trajectory: named by Paul Lester as one of 2013's five hot guitar bands to watch this summer– they've yet to release an album, instead putting out two EPs and establishing a solid live fanbase. Fronted by the gap-toothed Ellie Rowsell, who was recently on the front of NME as one of the future stars of rock music, the band began as the underdogs of a bubbling new school of Britpop acts such as Childhood, Superfood, Swim Deep and Peace.

However, the new single from their Creatures EP (produced most excellently by Catherine Marks), is more heavyweight than anything offered by their peers. You'll find a lot of 90s grunge references here, but its overall sheen reminds me of early noughties MTV2; the dark melancholy of My Vitriol or the cinematic desert groove of Queens of the Stone Age.

Jaws - Be Slowly

Their name might imply savageness, but Jaws are a long way off voicing the youth of broken Britain, or anything at all with a cerebral bite. Their new single, Be Slowly, is designed mostly for those fond of fey romance and a Peter Hook baseline. A brilliant piece of indie slush, lyrics appear torn from Robert Smith's book of lovelorn declaration – "Is it something I said to you? Is it something I said I'd never do?"; "I feel so happy today!" – but are sung with the slack-jawed abandon of a Birmingham 20-year-old in a tie-dye T-shirt. Featuring the Foals-indebted Think Too Much, Feel Too Little, their debut album comes out in September.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – As Always

Someone who is keen to take their music down a more erudite route is Alec Ounsworth – who now operates solely under the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah guise. “Lately, I’ve been assaulted by news, both distant and near, that suggests a certain sense of frustration," he said of his new material, a far cry from the somewhat maniacal sound that first found the band fame. "But Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — the entire concept of the band, the name itself — is about balancing optimism in the face of overwhelming odds."

Following his last single, Coming Down, which featured The National's Matt Berninger, As Always is a taster from the forthcoming self-released new LP Only Run, out 3 June. Lyrics are difficult to decipher, but the music surges like an almighty epiphany.


Harriet Gibsone

The GuardianTramp

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