EVANSTAR: I Won’t Regret.Absolute blast of a single from the Midlands rockers powered by a tumultuous percussion deluge that smoulders before bursting into a blaze of glory. A huge instant melody-driven impact and a high standard they’ve set themselves to match and, ultimately, beat.
ANDY BURROWS: Because I Know That I Can. The former Razorlight drummer and songwriter – he co-wrote the number one single America – and more lately We Are Scientists member has gone easy-on-the-ear here with a soft-edged strut complete with banjo and mandolin. And you don’t hear them too often.
PET SHOP BOYS: Leaving. Synth-led melodies don’t come any more lush than this even though someone’s walking out on someone else. The sound sweetens the bitterness.
SHY AND DRS: Before Too Long. A debut album riddled with Scottish hip hop. Yes, you read it right, the rap map’s gone to the extreme. The first few have to be a spoof – please don’t let them be for real – as they talk about their pulling power to every possible kind of girl and then hit you straight between the eyes with two brilliant collaborations with Scottish rockers Nazareth. The love children that result from this strange but ultimately beautiful friendship are the huge 80s American rock sounding Enough Love and Day 2 Day. The Aberdeen brothers’ strong Scottish accents never come to the fore more than on the deep soul synth of Tease and they’re not afraid to dip a toe and then the whole foot into sampling with Marillion’s Kayleigh providing the backdrop for more unexpected teamwork, this time with Sandi Thom.
DOG IS DEAD: All Our Favourite Stories. This canine is certainly alive and will make you sit up and beg at times as they sniff out some cleverly-crafted pop goodies.
KATE RUSBY: 20. It marks 20 years of music-making from the Barnsley-based folk star (Inset) and this includes her favourite songs from the traditional to those she penned herself. One thing’s for sure, she never looks remotely like getting noisy as her style is gentile troubadouring. Anyone who has a thing for folk would be mad to miss it.