This week has been all about preparation. In between writing a scary amount of reviews as I try to get my schedule cleared for next week, I've been making plans for college, having received my offer on Monday and immediately accepted. I've also been booking flights and coach trips for next week - I'm going to Bristol for a few days.

I've never even been to Bristol before now, but I'll be a few miles outside it, spending some time in a field, watching bands play songs. Yep: it's my first full festival, and I'm headed to ArcTanGent toward the end of next week, meaning there will be no NMF column next Friday. Don't look so downhearted; I've also been preparing a selection of music for this week that features a considerable number of gems, as well as one of my favourite songs of the year. Buckle up.



Letters to Fiesta - 'Tears Apart'

Between established bands like Dutch Uncles and Everything Everything, and newcomers like the fast-rising MONEY and Embers, there's a whole lot of good stuff going on in Manchester around now, and it will come as no surprise to many of you to find that the city's added another string to its multi-talented bow.

Letters to Fiesta are led by the astonishing vocal presence of Anna-Louise Etherington, and after unveiling 'Vampires' a while back, they've followed it up with multi-faceted brilliance in the form of 'Tears Apart', a song which starts small, first allowing Andy Fletcher's commanding bassline to set the scene, then gradually building towards a jaw-dropping chorus that's among the very best I've heard this year. There's enough going on that it'll take time to uncover everything, but one thing's clear: Letters to Fiesta have consolidated their position as one of the most exciting new bands in the country.

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MMX - 'Only'

The next band to be featured this week don't have too much in common with Letters to Fiesta, aside from their sense of ambition, but what 'Only' offers us is a slow-burning grandeur trip that gradually unfolds over 6 atmosphere-laden minutes, restless programmed beats keeping the song grounded even when its delay-soaked guitars threaten to break free.

It's a bold statement from a band to seem to have progressed significantly since the release of their Child EP back in February. 'Only' serves as the lead track from the follow-up Heir EP, self-released by the band on the 3rd of September. They've taken several steps in the right direction in the intervening months, and are sounding more and more like a band who are in it for the long haul. 'Only' suggests that they have much more up their collective sleeve than they're ready to show us, and in playing the long game, MMX have made the buzz around them that much more justifiable.

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Malpas - 'Charlemagne'

Oh, look, another Birmingham band! Well, isn't that surprising?! While I'm not sure the 'B-Town' scene is actually a thing yet, Malpas are another shining example of what the city has to offer. Comprised of a producer (Andy Savours, who worked on albums by Sigur Rós and My Bloody Valentine, among others) and a songwriter (Ali Forbes), the duo are set to release their debut EP via Killing Moon Records on September 23rd.

The 4-track affair is titled Promise, and its lead track is a fascinating collage of sound, throwing in everything from a muscular guitar hook, to an obscenely catchy wordless chorus, to an outro in which they've decided to feature a ton of strings, seemingly just because they can. There's a refreshing boldness to 'Charlemagne' that I'm hoping to hear more of on the EP. Malpas' diverse sound will be of interest to anyone who likes their pop songs to be thrilling and surprising.

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This week also features music from Au Palais, Great Skin, School of Night, Loon Lake, 555, Dick Models, Nick Brewer & Elli Ingram, RY X, KaraKara and Cock & Swan.