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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, April 1, 2013

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles.

Andy Burrows, If I Had A Heart

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ANDY BURROWS – IF I HAD A HEART: Former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows continues to impress on his own with the release of new (or rather re-released) single, If I Had A Heart, from his excellent Company LP. A synth-led slice of smart pop, it’s a catchy, cool and totally sing-along piece of work that showcases Burrows’ ability to effortlessly slide into people’s musical sub-conscious and stay there for some time afterwards. Slickly produced but by no means cheesy in the way that some pop songs are, this feeds off the current trend for electronic backdrops without feeling outdated or derivative, while also embellishing the sound with some sweeping string arrangements that lend it a cinematic edge. The chorus is tailor-made for singing along to as well. Burrows is currently riding high off his work on the new version of The Snowman, which has deservedly brought more success and appreciation to his excellent album, one of last year’s best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Black Manila

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BLACK MANILASHAKE THAT THING: Sometimes the simplest things can work out best… Black Manila’s debut offering Shake That Thing sounds like a cross between The Strokes and early Rolling Stones and is all the more enjoyable for embracing such classic values. Fusing together sunny west coast garage riffs with a distinctly British charm and swagger, Black Manila have created have successfully bridged the gap between London and the flourishing garage scene across Europe and America. Shake That Thing may declare “it aint easy now” but their mix of retro elements, snappy beats and funky guitar hooks is an effortless winner. What’s more, the B-side Hoverfly underlines the fact that this is a band that clearly know how to deliver an instantly catchy song… it’s another hook-laden breeze through garage rock riff-making that only endears them to the listener more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Biffy Clyro, Biblical

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: BIFFY CLYROBIBLICAL: You’ve got to hand it to Biffy Clyro… they know how to deliver a kick-ass tune. New single Biblical (aptly released to coincide with Easter) is the sort of offering that has helped them to become one of the biggest rock acts in the UK right now. This one opens amid a cute guitar hook and then builds into the type of stadium-sweeping crowd-pleaser that has become their hallmark. With lyrics like “I think you’re wonderful” and “I’m not invisible”, this is both empowering and celebratory, with the type of lyrical sentiments you want to shout out in unison with the band. The guitars are crisp, the melodies tight and the whole thing just a really, really, really great listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Haim, Falling

HAIMFALLING: Haim are a trio of sisters who have the backing of Polydor and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation in their corner. It’s certain to hold them in good stead for chart success. As is new single Falling, which successfully combines a retro, ‘80s leaning synth sound with some slick beats and a really strong set of vocals. The chorus is rife with melody, the layered harmonising genuinely striking and the overall feeling one that combines the likes of Shakespeare’s Sister with more contemporary acts such as Florence + The Machine and Bat For Lashes. It’s immediately apparent that this is an act that’s going places.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Taylor Swift, 22

TAYLOR SWIFT – 22: “Yeah, we’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time, it’s miserable and magical” sings Taylor Swift over new single 22. Yet, she’s feeling 22 and enjoying it as well… and it’s kind of impossible not to get swept along in the feel-good vibe generated by this impossibly catchy new offering from latest album, Red. This is the new Taylor Swift sound we like, the one that trades country ballads for chirpy guitars and a melodic pop sound that feels liberated and empowering. It may not be that cool for us to admit it, but we’re digging the upbeat new sound of Swift and she’s chosen the releases from her latest album really well so far.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Odell, Hold Me

TOM ODELLHOLD ME: Man of the moment Tom Odell releases his latest offering in the form of the surprisingly punchy Hold Me. Having made a name for himself by balladeering, this marks a refreshing and take-notice change of pace. It opens amid some atmospheric electronics before dropping in some lively percussion and some pounding piano chords that suggest a party about to start. Odell then delivers a gutsy set of yearning vocals that find him utterly smitten and seeking the comfort of his lover’s arms. The chorus is lively, the guitar and piano genuinely rousing and the Odell express train (he won the Brits’ Critics’ Choice Award earlier this year) shows no sign of running out of steam just yet.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Iggy Azalea, Work

IGGY AZALEAWORK: Iggy Azalea is another of 2013’s hot tips having already amassed something of a global following off the back of two mixtapes and a high profile Twitter row with MC Azealia Banks. New single Work is very much a mission statement designed to get her noticed by the mainstream. It’s an attitude laden combo of hip hop and pop that finds Azalea declaring “I give it work, been working on my shit” over emphatic piano chords and a pounding hip-hop beat (during the chorus). It’s unapologetically provocative, complete with swearing aplenty and nods to girls giving blow-jobs but it’s got enough going for it to get it noticed by the circles she’s clearly aiming for. Hence, the pumped up Fast & Furious/Spring Breakers crowd may well be getting their jollies off to it for the coming summer months.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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K, Too Young To Die

K – TOO YOUNG TO DIE: Born out of the ashes of Larrikin Love, The Treatment and Marner Brown, K now release their first single in the form of Too Young To Die. A rock song that draws on classic elements as well as trying to offer something fresh and in the moment, it’s a gutsy debut that displays a decent ability to marry the melodic with the heavy. There’s a slightly psychedelic vibe surrounding the chorus, too, which smacks of a Zeppelin influence. But while certainly accomplished, the song isn’t immediate and thrilling enough to challenge the likes of Kasabian or Stereophonics for a place at the top table just yet.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Scholars

SCHOLARSBLACK AND BLUE: Scholars release new single Black and Blue one week ahead of their debut LP, Always Lead, Never Follow, and underline their penchant for extravagant rock. Taking its cues from the likes of Muse, Hundred Reasons and Twin Atlantic, the track finds vocalist Sam Nicholls hitting a varied vocal range as he relates the tale of a dangerous woman “who has her evil claws buried in your back”. The verses are lively enough but there’s a falsetto-driven rock-opera style chorus that screams out Muse (and to a lesser extent, The Darkness at times). It’s the type of track that just gets louder and more busy the longer it lasts, as though it wants to be screamed from the highest corner of the biggest stadiums. And without ever coming close to raving about the song (for it is flawed and perhaps a little too over-enthusiastic), they seem equipped to tick all the right boxes for lovers of this type of rock on a grand scale soon. Bonus track Wreck merely underlines that view.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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These Reigning Days, Too Late

THESE REIGNING DAYSTOO LATE: These Reigning Days have been enjoying a good year so far. One of the tracks has already featured on the soundtrack of the film Song For Marion and now they’ve dropped a likeable new single in the form of Too Late. A fiery rock number that drops some vaguely retro leanings (we detected a hint of Duran Duran in some of the delivery, both guitar wise and vocally during the chorus), this unfolds in straight-forward, no-nonsense fashion, combining ear-pleasing melody with a chant-worthy chorus. It’s not doing anything particularly different or special but it’s the type of track that effortlessly gets the toes tapping and which you could well find yourself singing along to over the catchy chorus.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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DUKE DUMONT feat AMENEED U (100%): ‘People’s producer’ Duke Dumont releases new single Need U (100%) with the help of A*M*E (an 18-year-old newcomer). Sadly, it’s as generic as they come for the dance scene, combining ‘90s house with techno. The synths, though, have a washed out sound to them, the vocals add little or nothing you’ve not heard before on countless songs of this type, and the beats kind of plod. It’ll doubtless become a big club anthem for the coming months but you can’t help but feel it’s been produced (and written) with exactly that in mind… ticking all the right boxes for instant credibility and success without really daring to be different or try anything new.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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