Mark Ronson

Album: Daniel Merriweather, Love & War (Columbia)

The Mark Ronson protégé from Melbourne is best known for his vomitous Gnarls-meets-Moby version of The Smiths' "Stop Me". His debut album reprises the retro soul sound Ronson utilised with Amy Winehouse, and is destined to be almost as ubiquitous as Back to Black. The title is no accident: half the time Merriweather wants to change the world, the other half it's his love life – making this 50 per cent What's Goin' On, 50 per cent Let's Get It On. At its worst, you check the sleeve to make sure it isn't a Conchords parody.

The Rumble Strips, Dingwalls, London

When Devon five-piece The Rumble Strips burst on to the scene, they were an unpretentious, brassy breath of fresh air in a sea of posturing hipsters.

Album: Maxine Brown, Best of the Wand Years, (Kent)

Revered by Dave Godin and the early aficionados of soul, Maxine Brown – who's still singing – has failed to gain her rightful place in the pantheon, perhaps because her good-time, New York City pop-soul lacked southern sass or tragedy in the-making.

How Do I Look?: Mark Ronson, DJ & producer, age 32

We moved to New York when I was eight and there, if you didn't wear the cool sneakers, you'd get teased by the other kids. My mum would inevitably chose the cheapo brand, and we'd be ridiculed at school. I think she never wanted us to be conformist. I had a bleach-blond streak in my hair from the age of 11 to 13, and it had grown out by the time I was preparing for my bar mitzvah. My mum insisted I get the streak put back. She said: "You don't want to look boring, like everyone else."