Every day we'll search the globe to find the most interesting new track to give to your ears. Exclusives, remixes, hidden gem album tracks, long-awaited returns and brand new buzz tracks hot and fresh out the kitchen: you'll find them all here.
Listen to all of them as they become available, on this Spotify Playlist
What's the story? It's only fitting that our last recommended track of the year should feature the man that dominated much of it: the legend that is Nile Rodgers. His overdue and much-deserved renaissance has finally seen him take the credit he deserves and this track, released March 2014, should see the acclaim continue into next year. Tensnake's signature Italo-disco sounds are present and correct, and Fiora provides a suitably soulful vocal. This should be big.
For fans of: Grace Jones, Shalamar, Todd Terje
In Three Words: Funky Nu Disco
Who is it? Pure Bathing Culture
What's the story? Not only have this Portland-based group delivered one of the albums of the year, with the beautiful Moon Tides, but they've now radically improved Christmas for us, with this track, released onto the internet yesterday. However, not for them the simple Christmas song, or cover of an established classic, they've recorded a carol. Quite miraculously (appropriate at this time of year perhaps), their version of Good King Wenceslas actually works brilliantly. Put this on and maximise your festivity levels - and check out their entry on our Best Album Tracks of 2013 list too.
For fans of: Fleetwood Mac, Cocteau Twins
In Three Words: Dreamy Christmas Cheer
Who is it? Happyness
What's the story? A London-based 3 piece, but you'd never know it; these guys clearly grew up listening to the very best in US college rock. This track brings to mind Weezer, Wilco, Yo La Tengo and even early Foo Fighters; and it's incredibly refreshing to hear music like this again. Low-slung guitars, slacker lyrics and a dreamy chorus are all present and correct and it could easily be 1995 again. Their Ed Harcourt-mixed self-titled EP is released January 6th and we fully recommend the whole thing.
For fans of: Weezer, Sparklehorse, Wilco
In Three Words: Gorgeous proper indie
Who is it? Duke Dumont, featuring Jax Jones
What's the story? Duke's Need U (100%) was one of the surprise bit hits of 2013; not because it wasn't amazing - it very much was - but because he'd been making great music for a while without getting huge recognition. This new track has now emerged, and it could repeat the feat next year: it's another slab of brilliantly understated house music, continuing this welcome trend which has seen Chris Malinchak's So Good To Me and Ben Pearce's What I Might Do score big hits with less obviously 'in-your-face' tracks. It also has some Sunchyme-esque steel drums, and that is always good.
For fans of: Chris Malinchak, Ben Pearce, Santigold
In Three Words: Balearic Chilled House
Who is it? Kele Okereke & Bobbie Gordon
What's the story: A collaboration as part of the Bacardi Beginnings project, Kele (of Bloc Party and solo success fame) and Bobbie (a London-based vocalist stepping into the limelight following work with Cee-Lo Green, Adele and numerous others), this song has been released exclusively on 3D-printed vinyl - a first for this format. But while it would have been tempting to let the gimmick take centre stage, the track itself is incredibly strong, taking influence from the mid-90s garage of MJ Cole and Wookie, with a few Burial-esque touches too.
For fans of: SBTRKT, Sampha, Disclosure
In Three Words: Soulful Future Garage
What's the story? If 2013 has been about anything, it's been the reappraisal of the early 90s as a classic era in the development of dance music. Unfavourably compared to the glory days of the 80s for a while, it's finally got the recognition it deserved via the Nightcrawlers-esque record Settle by Disclosure and many others. The trend shows no sign of dying down as new producer duo Gorgon City get in on the act, with this track, Ready For Your Love (released in late Jan next year), utilising the vocals of MNEK - himself one of the big tips to break through in 2014. Listen to this, then put on a bit of Livin' Joy afterwards.
For fans of: Disclosure, Rudimental, 808 State
In Three Words: 2013 meets 1993
Who is it? Emily and the Woods
What's the story? Emily and her 3 co-conspirators in The Woods have been performing together since 2012, and this new track and EP apparently marks a change in direction from the previous couple of low-key releases they've put out. We're all in favour if the rest of the stuff is like Helios, taken from the EP Then We Collide (the single is out now, with the EP to follow on January 16). It's jazzy (in a good way), groovy (in a good way) and interlaced with some nice little atmospheric touch. Over it all is Emily's smoky vocals, almost recalling a touch of first-album Amy Winehouse. Very nice indeed.
For fans of: Adele, Cinematic Orchestra, Jessie Ware
In Three Words: Late Night Listening
Who is it? The Lone Bellow
What's the story? A Brooklyn-via-Georgia three piece, The Lone Bellow could just be the next worldwide alt-country breakout band. They formed after singer Zach Williams' wife was involved in a near-fatal accident, but survived: inspiring him to live a more creative life. It's been our gain, with Williams and his two fellow musicians Brian Elmquist and Kanene Pipkin quickly picking up fans across the US including Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien with the close harmonies and personal songs contained on their self-released album. It gets a UK release next year, with an accompanying tour in March. In advance of this, we have an exclusive video of the trio covering the Stones classic You Can't Always Get What You Want, to great effect. Watch below and enjoy, and check out other songs here.
For fans of: The Civil Wars, Fleetwood Mac, CSNY, Ray LaMontagne
In Three Words: Big Sweet Harmonies
Who is it? Champs
What's the story? Two brothers from the Isle of Wight, Champs take us right back to 2000 and Turin Brakes' brief time in the sun. It's not all 'new acoustic moment' though, with some definite traces of Flaming Lips and Empire of the Sun in there too. Savannah is released on December 23rd with the album Down Like Gold due in February - these guys could provide your summer soundtrack next year.
For fans of: Sleepy Jackson, Turin Brakes, Beck
In Three Words: Dreamy Indie Acoustica
Who is it? Jimi Goodwin
What's the story? You'll recognise this voice instantly, as this is the former frontman of the much-loved Doves striking out on his own. After two sensational albums in Lost Souls and The Last Broadcast, Doves never quite followed in the arena footsteps of fellow Mancs Elbow (who Jimi supports on tour next year), but nevertheless were one of the most respected bands around. Goodwin's playing everything on his new record, Odludek, which will be released in March next year, and here's the first taster of it. This is a gorgeous track which meanders nicely; Jimi says the album will be a "mad mixtape...eclectic as f**k", so perhaps the rest of the album will sound nothing like it - whatever, we're very confident of it being one of 2014's standout records.
For fans of: Doves, Elbow, Cherry Ghost
In Three Words: A Welcome Return
Who is it? Leon Else
What's the story? We only recently became aware of Leon, and now we are wondering what we were doing with our lives before then. He's a Margate-born 24 -year-old who writes and self-produces and Protocol is his latest single. There's a host of influences here: James Blake, Burial and Massive Attack all spring to mind but, crucially, it's not just about the dark and silky production - there's a seriously strong song and melody here. Neo trip-hop anyone? (OK, just us).
For fans of: Tricky, Burial, Portishead
In Three Words: Soulful post-dubstep
Who is it? Spies
What's the story? Any rock group coming from Ireland is inevitably going to be compared to U2, but Dublin 4-piece Spies take the best bits from the early output of Bono and the gang and throw in some National and Editors-style elements too. It's not reinventing the wheel, but it's highly effective, with singer Michael Broderick having real potential as a distinctive vocalist; he's not a million miles away from Antony Hegarty's theatrics or Morrissey's croon. We're delighted to premiere their latest video for Distant Shorelines exclusively on The ShortListen - have a watch and a listen - they could be in stadiums waving flags before you know it.
For fans of: Editors, U2, The National
In Three Words: Widescreen Indie Goodness
Who is it? Chloe Howl
What's the story? The annual Brits Critics Choice shortlist has been revealed today, with the chosen three being Sam Smith, Ella Eyre and Chloe Howl; whoever wins will almost certainly be clogging up the airwaves next year, so it's good to be informed in advance what we're in for. You've almost certainly already heard of the first two: Smith featuring on Naughty Boy's number 1 La La La and Eyre on Rudimental's chart-topper Waiting All Night; so, to keep you up to speed, we're taking a look at Chloe Howl (all three have also been featured on the BBC Sound of 2014 longlist). It's pop with an edge, taking cues from Lily Allen and Robyn, with (unfortunately) a bit of Kate Nash in there too. The latest single Paper Heart, conveniently released on Monday, is a good introduction - take a listen and hopefully you'll enjoy - if she wins next Thursday you'll be hearing a lot more of her.
For fans of: Lily Allen, Katy B
In Three Words: Sassy Edgy Pop
What's the story? After lying low for 4 years since the release of their third album Junior in 2009, Röyksopp originally released this astounding track - featuring the beautiful vocals of Susanne Sundfør - in January, earlier this year, but only in their native Norway - where it duly went to number 1. It now receives a UK release through the iconic Wall of Sound label (who released their breakthrough debut Melody A.M.) and should finally get the attention it deserves.
For fans of: UNKLE, M83, Oceanlab
In Three Words: Epic and Amazing
Who is it? Ry X
What's the story? Australian singer-songwriter Ry Cuming - aka Ry X - is based in LA and signed to a Swedish label for the Berlin EP which originally came out in August. Now, having been picked up by Sony for use on a huge ad, the haunting title track gets a deserved rerelease on UK indie Infectious, home of Alt-J and others. Radio 1 have picked up on it and it sounds like just the song for an alternate Christmas No.1 - if you haven't heard it yet, you need to do it now so you can be nice and smug if this does a Mad World.
For fans of: Jeff Buckley, Bon Iver, Jose Gonzalez
In Three Words: Delicate, gentle, captivating
What's the story? Long-time backing band for Erykah Badu, the Gritz, led by RC Williams, strike out with their own record Pay Your Tab, featuring a range of guest vocalists on top on their stunning musicianship. Unsurprisingly, this exquisite slice of latin-tinged soul, featuring Ms Badu showing off her usual sultry vocals, is a highlight; check this out, then invest in the rest.
For fans of: Erykah Badu, Nu Yorican Soul, Jill Scott
In Three Words: Sexy Soulful Groove
For more top tunes, check out our previous choices below - just click on the link:
(Image: Flickr/Steven Snodgrass)