B is for . . .
Belle & Sebastan
Miles: Twee, yes. But more accuratey, pop for grown ups. Sex, drugs, insecurity and lovely Scottish people.
Richard: Updating the fey sensibilities of The Smiths to '90s Scotland, Stuart Murdoch and his merry men melt hearts with their folkish harmonies and toy-orchestra instrumentation
Miles: Here is what's wrong with Bloc Party - The NME loves them. But ignore that and just listen and like me you too will crumble to the charms of Kele Okereke's howling vocals and somewhat Radiohead-esque lyrics over Matt Tong's frequently insane dancepunk drumming. Their second album is shaping up to be quite stunning.
British Sea Power
Richard: British Sea Power deserve a longer write-up from me, because as evidenced by my MySpace name I fucking love them, but here's a taster. They play epic, sweeping, geography-rock (you think of something better) based on ebbing and flowing guitar lines, with haunting, hushed vocals and occasional snatches of birdsong. They've also been known to record one-minute wonders featuring psuedonymed vocalist Yan screaming 'FYODOR YOU ARE THE MOST ATTRACTIVE MAN!' over a wall of barbed guitars. They call these their 'spiky' songs.
Richard: Conor Oberst has apparently been dabbling in this music game since he was a tender 13, and may well still be playing the same acoustic guitar. From the dark heart of Omaha, he was instrumental in the setting-up of so-credible-it-hurts record label Saddle Creek, and is a hero to many with his sinister folk, all wordy warbled nasal vocals and string-breakingly manic strumming.
Miles: I like him. *shrugs* I'm Wide Awake It's Morning is on my To Buy list.
Ben Folds (Five)
Miles: Ben Folds is too indie. Well, maybe. And Ben Folds Five certainly were. Whatever And Ever Amen (yes, The One With Brick On) is one of the finest albums of the 90s (Yes, really) and since then Ben Folds has not weakened, but matured. His most recent LP Songs for Silverman is perhaps a little too close to Radio 2 MOR territory for those who long for his "punk rock for pussies" days but Prison Food is the most haunting song he's ever produced.
Badly Drawn Boy
Miles: I like to think of him as the English Ben Folds, though his weapon of choice be the guitar rather than the piano. Notably did a very good soundtrack for otherwise unimportant Nick Hornby adaption About A Boy.
Miles: His first album sounds an awful like Weezer, his second an awful lot like... Weezer meets Johnny Cash meets Nick Cave. With occasional piano pop interludes. Self titled possible atempt at mainstream breakthrough to be released later this year.
Miles: Click here and go get all the mp3s they have for free on their website. You will not regret it. Unless you are deaf, in which case you just wasted a good 30 seconds of your life.
Miles: Hey, you remember that other band that Damon Albarn had before he became Gorillaz? Yeah? Pretty good I think. Certainly a million miles better than their 90s britpop rivals Oasis. Go find their best of in a bargain bin. It's a very entertaining 17 songs. And then one slightly rubbish dance-techo-experiment thing. Which says it all really.