KATY PERRY: Thinking Of You. From a somewhat unpromising start, the early and unexpected flourish arrives like a bolt from the blue – and then she gives it her all.
RASMUS: Livin’ In A World Without You. Oh-so melodic rock from the Finnish band – probably ought to think about Eurovision with this one. You can already see the disco smoke generators working overtime.
SHINEDOWN: Sound Of Madness. The big boots marching start snares the attention before the psychedelic-strewn rock kicks in and then the roughed-up rumble quickly becomes in-yer-face metal with all the subtlety of a knuckleduster.
KARIN FANOUS: Drama Queen. Quirky look at the dating game that harkens back to songsmith rock’s roots from a man who is almost Famous. As he puts it: “I have a special insight into life and the beauty of its meaning.’’
THE TUNICS: Shine On. A live favourite from Croydon’s indie rockers that goes on about their rock and roll soul, not that you can’t already tell that by the lip-curling sneer.
THE BRONX: Young Bloods. The Los Angeles firepower rockers jut can’t get in-yer-face enough with this one. The hairdryer effect in rock form.
POLLY SCATTERGOOD: Polly Scattergood. She may a fragile voice, but there’s nothing fragile about the subjects the Colchester-born songsmith tackles – fractured relationships, domestic violence and seedy clubs. She lives and breathes the songs, riddled with burning tension, forlorn hopes and broken dreams. Unsettling – and her live show promises to be as arresting. Strange thing is, some are barely above a whisper while you can dance to others, such as the pulsating Other Too Endless. She merges the music, the meaning and the atmosphere brilliantly, never more so than on the slowly meandering and bizarrely-named Untitled 27. Forget X Factor. This is the real factor.
STARSAILOR: All The Plans. Those who once branded this band as shrinking violets had better start thinking again. The Wigan band has come back in total indie rock style – and that statment of intent arrives with the first chord of loud, brash and supremely confident opener and recent single Tell Me It’s Not Over. After a country folk interlude and a harken back to twang-style dark rock, they let loose into majestic, guitar-scarred soundscapes that’ll sweep you away. Now nine years into their topsy turvey career, Starsailor have reached a new peak with an album of stunning elegance and presence.