I know I wrote something a bit snide about the whole “Tips For 2009” business the other day. But then, when dutifully and only slightly hypocritically compiling my submission to the BBC poll, I found myself – hugely hypocritically, I suppose – tipping one of the doubtless most-tipped tips of 2009, Florence And The Machine.

I know I wrote something a bit snide about the whole “Tips For 2009” business the other day. But then, when dutifully and only slightly hypocritically compiling my submission to the BBC poll, I found myself – hugely hypocritically, I suppose – tipping one of the doubtless most-tipped tips of 2009, Florence And The Machine.

Because, I guess, in spite of my high-handed disdain for music hacks obediently following the new bands prescribed to them by publicists, I’m not quite pompous enough to be put off by the hype when one I like comes along. So it is with Florence Welch, who seems to have harvested most of her publicity for some performance art-like stunts at live shows rather than the impressive vigour of her music.

I have a new single by her called “Dog Days Are Over”, which I think is out about now, and while I rarely dip my toes into the British indie scene here, please trust me that this one’s pretty impressive. The easy reference point is PJ Harvey – Welch has a similar boom and heft to her voice, that impressive stentorian depth that Harvey can summon up (or at least did prior to the lovely “White Chalk”; it remains to be seen whether to her shift to a higher and more vulnerable register is permanent. I doubt it).

Welch is soulful, too, and there seems to be a harp subtly tracking her through the big James Ford production. That soulfulness comes even more into focus on the flipside, a cover of Candi Staton & The Source’s “You’ve Got The Love”, which treats the song with the respect, passion and muscle it deserves. I was whingeing on about indie types covering pop hits the other week, but this is one of those rare exceptions to the rule.

Good stuff, as is some more traditional Wild Mercury Sound fare on vinyl I got hold of last week. First up is a seven-inch on Sick Thirst which is such a perfect fit for us here it’s almost embarrassingly corny – a cover of Neil Young’s “Vampire Blues” by West Coast psych-drone groovers Wooden Shjips. If you’ve ever heard the Shjips, you’ll be able to guess what happens here: a bobbling rhythm, a shrill organ, profuse distortion and reverberance, the heady stench of the Spacemen 3, and a heartening rock’n’roll classicism which still manages to shine out beneath all the fuzz and drone.

Next, a 12-inch by Sun Araw called “Boat Trip”. Not a generous amount of info on this one, though I do know it’s the work of one of Magic Lantern, who I mentioned briefly a while back. Magic Lantern seem like a high-grade freak-out band from their Myspace (I must get the album actually), but while Sun Araw is still heavily psych, the guitar jams are sunk down in the mix on these two long tracks, deep behind tribal dirge vibes.

Ostensibly, “Boat Trip” plods, but in an utterly intoxicating, potentially menacing sort of way. I’ve seen this 12 (and an album, which again I must get) compared to a wilder Panda Bear, and I can see there’s some hypnotic, exotic affinities. But there’s something distinctly muggier, hippier about Sun Araw; a wasted, oppressive atmosphere and smothered vocals which remind me, abstractedly, of New Kingdom circa “Unicorns Were Horses”. Which is cool. Amazing record. Want more.