Other than the ubiquitous Ellie Goulding and the oft-mentioned Coco Sumner, there are some unusual female indie acts looking for their chance to make it big this year.
Two of them are offering free downloads this week, courtesy of Caught in the Net. Caitlin Rose (right), is a Nashville country sensation with a voice so wry and heart-breaking it seems no coincidence she shares a birthplace with Jack Daniel's whiskey. 'Shotgun Wedding', an ironic rumination on the troubles of pregnancy out of wedlock, is available for free, along with an interview about her upcoming album here. The second of our pick for the new year is the Mancunian songstress LoneLady (real name Julie Campbell), whose 'Immaterial' betrays the age-old artistic conjuring trick beloved of northern musicians of finding beauty in the everyday detail of modern life. Download the song and read her Independent blog about the challenge of building her own studio to record her forthcoming album, the excellent 'Nerve Up' at the address above.
LoneLady - Immaterial
Caitlin Rose - Shotgun Wedding
For fans of Stephen Malkmus's cult lo-fi heroes Pavement, there could hardly be a better prize than the opportunity to see the band play in New York's Central Park, with flights and hotels included and a full set of 12" albums thrown in. To be in with a chance, Matador Records are asking fans to guess the track-listing for the band's forthcoming 'best of' album, which will be entitled 'Quarantine the Past' after a lyric from its first track, 'Gold Soundz'. Picking the other 22 songs is up to you, using an interactive website which helps select possibilities from the band's nebulous back catalogue. Try your hand at pop-picking here.
Dev in an Elvis disguise
ou need look no further than his debut project, Test Icicles, for evidence of Dev Hynes' wicked sense of humour. Now performing as Lightspeed Champion (right), his cover of 'Devil in Disguise' – a tribute to Elvis, whose 75th birthday would have been this week – is being given away for free online. Thanks to 'a popular band having leftover studio time at New York's historic Avatar Studios', Spacecamp provide backing. Grab it here.
WU LYF show their satanic majesty
Another taste of Manchester comes from the mysterious WU LYF (World Unite/Lucifer Youth Foundation, to give them their full name), who have attracted rave reviews in the blogosphere while maintaining an unusually low profile in the real world. With enough reverb to make Sigur Rós blush and a growl of which Kings of Leon would be proud, 'Heavy Pop' is a must-listen. It's available to download from urb.com.
Radiohead may have blazed the trail for self-released albums but for smaller bands getting fans to pay for songs they could just as easily download for free has proved difficult. Step forward Duke Special, who have used the Pledge Music website to release their album using fan funds and to get their devoted followers to fund their recording process in future. After raising £10,000 in the first hour, the appeal hit 50 per cent of its target in one day, selling everything from a digital download to dinner with the band and a private concert. The money has gone on establishing the band's own DIY operation and some mysterious-sounding "theatrical experiences" this year.