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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, December 1

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles. All you have to do is click on the pictures to order them…

Oasis, I'm Outta Time

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: OASIS – I’M OUTTA TIME: One of the undisputed highlights to emerge from Oasis’ latest album, Dig Out Your Soul is this Liam Gallagher penned and sung ballad, I’m Outta Time. Slightly psychedelic, and featuring a haunted Liam vocal, it’s a terrific piece of songwriting, which even leaves you pining for a little more of the same from the album. It does showcase a more sensitive side to the band’s make-up that’s certain to widen their appeal beyond the laddish football crowds that usually go and sway to their louder anthems. Dig Out Your Soul may not mark a radical shake-up of the Oasis formula but it’s arguably their best LP since the glory days of their first two offerings. Tracks like this merely underline why.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Kyte, Two Sparks, Two Stars EP

EP OF THE WEEK: KYTETWO STARS, TWO SPARKS EP: Kyte will release their new EP, Two Stars, Two Sparks, through KIDS and provide a firm reminder of their under-appreciated talents. The EP sees the band building on the atmospheric, beautiful post-rock that made their debut so exceptional. EP opener Eyes Lose Their Fire is a slice of epic bombast capable of appealing to fans of acts such as Snow Patrol and Sigur Ros, while Bridges In The Sky builds vocal ambience around a striking bed of synths. Of particular worthy mention is their beautiful cover version of Peter Gabriel’s seminal Solsbury Hill, which takes a while before you even realise what it is – ethereal, strangely haunting and yet somehow inspiring, it’s a compelling reason to put this EP on your must-have list! Kyte have gained widespread plaudits in the indie and dance press alike, and in the US their track Boundaries was used on a nationally aired advert for The Sopranos on HBO. It’s well past time that a lot more people cottoned on to their talent.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Gramercy Arms

GRAMERCY ARMSSHINING BRIGHT: Gramercy Arms is a super-group of sorts, featuring members of Joan As Police Woman, Guided By Voices and The Dambuilders, as well as guest vocals from comedian Sarah Silverman, Lloyd Cole and past and present members of Nada Surf. New EP Shining Bright offers a sweet sliece of west Coast power pop, albeit taken from East Coast America. Lead single and album favourite, Shining Bright, shimmers along in splendidly breezy fashion, complete with some great guitar riffs and an upbeat chorus that’s tailor-made for Californian road trippin’. If you like acts such as The Jesus & Mary Chain, you’re sure to dig this. But there’s three all-new, non-album Gramercy Arms songs here – the most striking of which is the sombre Walking Around, a mournful classic in the making that has a strong r&b flavour and a gorgeous set of backing vocals from Joan As Police Woman’s Joan Wasser. It’s worth owning the EP for this song alone! Fell Apart 10, meanwhile, has a dusky/country quality, while the instrumental Laramie is great for kicking back and relaxing with. Gramercy Arms’ eponymous LP remans one of the undiscovered gems of the year – it’s worth picking up when heading out to buy the EP as well.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Florence & The Machine, Dog Days Are Gone

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINEDOG DAYS ARE OVER: For a lot of people, Florence And The Machine are a pretty safe bet to emerge as one of the breakthrough acts of 2009. New single Dog Days Are Over is evidence of why. Darker and more edgy than Kiss With A Fist, the song nevertheless showcases Florence’s striking voice and boasts a stirring chorus that’s terrific if played loud. It’s the sort of track (and this is meant as a compliment) that could easily provide the bedding for an emotional scene from a top US show (such as Grey’s Anatomy) given the evocative nature of its lyrics and instrumentation. The video, too, is very striking and more than a little disturbing. If you like acts such as Bat For Lashes, or even Patti Smith, then Florence & The Machine could prove a perfect meal-ticket to musical happiness in 2009.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Brighton Port Authority, Seattle

THE BRIGHTON PORT AUTHORITY feat EMMY THE GREATSEATTLE: The Brighton Port Authority, Norman Cook’s latest genre-carving outfit, smashed into the world’s collective conscious earlier this year with their debut release Toe Jam. With David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal manning the microphones it was the joyously ubiquitous sound of summer 2008, setting the scene for a truly ambitious musical proposition. They also appear on the soundtrack to the hit show Heroes, with a blistering slice of indie-pop featuring Iggy Pop (it’s going to be their next single). In the meantime, the South Coast collective return with Seattle, featuring the delectable vocals of anti-folkster Emmy The Great. The singer’s evocatively enchanting voice coats a blissfully Balearic groove as spine tingling acoustic guitars filter seductively in and out of the mix, making this a smart, clever and totally alluring crossover track that just about everyone can enjoy. When the PR states that the track features the greatest sing-along chorus that Joni Mitchell never wrote, it’s not far wrong. You can’t fail to be hooked. (Editor’s note: This did feature as a single of the week last week, but it’s so good we’ve reminded people of its worth again).
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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The Gaslight Anthem, Old White Lincoln

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEMOLD WHITE LINCOLN: It’s actually quite spooky how much The Gaslight Anthem sound like a cross between The Cure (musically) and The Killers (vocally) on their new single, Old White Lincoln. Fortunately, the comparisons stand them in good stead for easy accessibility and appeal. Hailing from New Brunswick, New Jersey, the band specialise in anthemic tales of American life… and this new single is evidence of that. It’s a rollicking good, full-bodied anthem that’s built around melodic guitar riffs and a keen sense of storytelling. You’ll probably be into it after one or two listens, such is the easy-going, infectious nature of the track as a whole. The ’59 Sound, their sophomore album, has already been hailed as one of the best of 2008 by NME, while other fans include Rolling Stone magazine and Spin. A live version of The ’59 Sound is also included in the package and also endears.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Wiley, Cash In My Pocket

WILEY feat DANIEL MERRIWEATHERCASH IN MY POCKET: Wiley continues his emergence as one of the brightest of urban/grime artists with the release of the infectious crossover track, Cash In My Pocket, featuring Daniel Merriweather and Mark Ronson. Taken from Wiley’s upcoming See Clear Now LP, the track manages to combine the funk expected from a Ronson workout with the witty lyricism rapidly becoming associated with the Wiley brand. Merriweather, meanwhile, adds a sung chorus that reflects the keen sense of desperation that’s beginning to embrace credit crunch Britain. Could it be that Wiley has actually crafted the feel-good anthem for the financially despondent? Altogether now, “all we really want is money in our pockets!!!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dan Black, Yours

DAN BLACKYOURS: Dan Black first emerged into the limelight with his Notorious BIG cover HYPNTZ. The artist meshes sounds and genres with the same fluidity, ease and cultural nous as his heroes David Bowie and The Neptunes to create his own culture clash of soul, hip hop, rock and electronica. His debut single Yours is a propulsive, electro anti-love song that makes an immediate impression for all the right reasons. With a kick-arse back-beat, snappy guitar riffs and a soulful set of vocals, it’s an instantly addictive crowd-pleaser that marks Black out as an artist to keep a sharp eye on going into 2009.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chemists, Radio Booth

THE CHEMISTSRADIO BOOTH: Produced by The Chemists themselves and mixed by Adrian Bushby (of Foo Fighters/Doves fame), Radio Booth is a pumped up rock anthem that’s taken from their debut album, due for release early next year. Featuring a distinct, rousing chorus, a throbbing bassline pulse and some raw, fiery guitar riffs, it’s meaty, pulsating and should get rock fans genuinely excited ahead of the release of next year’s LP. The Chemists hail from Bristol and have already supported The Bluetones, The Crimea and The Delays on tour this year. They cite their musical influences as Queens of the Stone Age, The Pixies, The Police and Doves, amongst others – with QUOTSA’s influence particularly strong on this track. The Chemists derive their name from the fact they once all lived above a chemist in their local high street, where they also rehearsed as well. They are Johnny Benn (vocals), Sam James (lead guitar), Wayne Jones (bass), Dave Betts (rhythm guitar) and Matt Albon (drums). Make sure to take out an early prescription!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Joan As Police Woman, To America

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN – TO AMERICA: To America is the new single from Joan As Police Woman’s second album, To Survive. A duet with longtime cohort Rufus Wainwright, it’s another useful indicator of why the album could well be destined for several albums of the year shortlists – indeed, it has already been longlisted for the inaugural Uncut Music Award 2008. Rufus and Joan have shared the same stage many times before – Joan was an integral member of his band – but recently in New York saw the tables turned when Rufus made an impromptu appearance with Joan As Police Woman at their Bowery Ballroom show. As ever, Joan Wasser’s lyrics are beautifully striking, while Wainwright brings his own keen sense of style to the duet. It may take a little getting used to, but by the time the song bursts into life at around the two and a half minute mark, complete with brass and a heightened sense of melody, you can’t help but fall in love with it.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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This Is Radio Freedom

THIS IS RADIO FREEDOMSTRIKE SPARKS ANYWHERE: Strike Sparks Anywhere is the first EP release from This Is Radio Freedom, a band dedicated in both name and spirit to action, movement and excitement. They named themselves after the ANC’s pirate radio station, which was famous for subversive and inspiring broadcasts during the years of South African Apartheid. By chance rather than by design, TIRF made a huge leap from their roots in Wales with a growing fanbase throughout the rest of the UK, to making a name for themselves in the States when their songs were synched on nine US TV stations including MTV. The EP was recorded with acclaimed producer Junk Scientist and includes a remix of their first US TV success Family Man, by Dan Le Sac; the man behind the top hit Thou Shalt Always Kill with Scroobious Pip. Lead single Strike Sparks Anywhere is an energetic slice of electro-inflicted punk rock that’s really quite rousing. If you like Editors, The Pixies or even Interpol, you’re sure to find some merit here. Bombthreat, which is also included on the EP and which enjoyed considerable US success, sounds like a Chemical Brothers remix without Tom and Ed anywhere to be seen and is a firm highlight. While Dan Le Sac’s remix of Family Man is pretty darn cool too. Our advice? Tune in quickly to This Is Radio Freedom.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Everything, Everything, Suffragette Suffragette

EVERYTHING EVERYTHINGSUFFRAGETTE SUFFRAGETTE: Everything Everything’s first UK tour has been announced to coincide with the release of their debut single Suffragette Suffragette on December 1. The Manchester four-piece, who are signed to XL Recordings imprint Salvia, aim to produce strong, intelligent and multi-dimensional pop songs complete with original and imaginative song writing. Suffragette Suffragette arrives with some soaring melodies and a constantly changing tempo and style that manages to be both romantic and powerful. It also boasts a chorus that ingrains itself into your brain (“who’s going to sit on your face when I’m gone?”). Vocally, the band switch between a pained and soaring falsetto, and something slightly more emphatic during the properly sung choruses… something which could put as many people off as it impresses. But there’s no denying that this is a band that’s rich in diversity and it should be interesting to hear how they progress over the coming months.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Streets

THE STREETSHEAVEN FOR THE WEATHER: Heaven For The Weather is the second single to be taken from Mike Skinner’s fourth studio album Everything Is Borrowed and one of its highlights. It’s indicative of the optimistic trend on the album and lays down an engagingly melodic platform from which Skinner cheekily talks of wanting to go to heaven for the weather, but reside in hell for the company. It puts a smile on the face as only Skinner knows how. The artist himself describes the track as “the chords to Horses by Patti Smith, but because the base-line is different, it kind of sounds a lot happier”. It’s not often you can say that about a Mike Skinner record.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Estelle, Come Over

ESTELLE feat SEAN PAULCOME OVER: Estelle teams up with Sean Paul for her latest single release, Come Over, taken from her Gold certified album, Shine. The results… well, decidedly humdrum. The switch into pop-friendly reggae territory is certainly designed to showcase Estelle’s diversity and vocal range, but her smooth R’n’B vocals don’t always sit comfortably alongside Sean Paul’s distinctly Jamaican vibe and the lyrics are insipid at best. Having already found massive chart success by collaborating with Kanye West, Estelle is probably anticipating another sizeable hit here that broadens her appeal and listener base still further. But it just feels so contrived and predictable that any appeal it may have offered is lost after the second or third listen.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Will Young, Grace

WILL YOUNGGRACE: Grace marks the second single to be taken from Will Young’s disappointing – but at least it’s one of the highlights. The song is actually a very assured mid-tempo ballad, expertly delivered, mature, yet pop-friendly courtesy of the “whoa whoa” backing melodies. It owes a lot in style to George Michael but is given extra value by some swirling strings and a keen sense of melody. The track is available in a variety of formats, including an iTunes exclusive video single, a digital bundle (including the Ken Bruce Radio 2 sessions and remixes from Fred Falke and Tom Neville), and as a 2-track CD single. Of the remixes, Fred Falke makes a pig’s ear of things with a ridiculously cheesy dance backing, while Neville pumps up the beats and layers the synths to slightly more satisfying effect. At over eight and seven minutes long respectively, though, both remixes are way too long!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Enrique Iglesias, Away

ENRIQUE IGLESIASAWAY: Enrique Iglesias unites with Sean Garrett for his latest single, Away, one of two new tracks penned for his Greatest Hits album. It’s a typically moody pop power ballad that makes good use of Iglesias’ distinct vocals, as well as Garrett’s. The chorus – “I want to know why you want to throw me away” – is all about the anguish of a failed relationship and is delivered with suitably impressive passion. Having sold over 41 million albums world-wide, Iglesias is firmly one of the biggest-selling Spanish artists of all time… and his success only looks set to continue with songs like this. It may be very commercial, but for once it’s delivered in style.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Nell Bryden

NELL BRYDENSECOND TIME AROUND: Weaving elements of bluegrass, American jazz standards and retro soul, Nell Bryden’s Modern Dixie style offers a nice showcase for her strong vocal style. Second Time Around, her latest track, is a feisty offering that contains both a nice bluegrass style and a firm pop sensibility. It’s lively, boasts a keen sense of fun and more than a couple of mesmerising piano interludes, to firmly announce Bryden’s arrival on UK shores. Based in New York, Bryden has performed on the number one radio show in Ireland and has received glowing reviews from numerous BBC Radio 2 presenters. Tracks from the current EP, Second Time Around, are currently getting radio play across the US and Canada on 84 stations, including channels on XM Satellite radio. The release has been climbing the major industry trade charts for the Americana and AAA formats. The EP is being featured on major online radio outlets and local and national radio stations across Europe and is being distributed by Itunes and CD Baby and is being licensed by MTV for their programming. Hence, it probably won’t be long before you hear a lot more from (and about) Bryden.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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dEUS

DEUSTHE VANISHING OF MARIA SCHNEIDER: dEUS release the third single from their acclaimed album Vantage Point with Elbow’s Guy Garvey providing sterling support on guest vocals. An epic slow-burner that’s built around brooding guitar riffs and gruff, provocative vocals (think slow-burning Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam), it’s a lilting, and often quite poignant meditation upon the transitory nature of beauty. And, if anything, it would be worthy of inclusion on an Elbow album as well! The Belgian group are now on their fifth studio album and are increasingly becoming more adventurous and self-assured. Vanishing Point is well worth a place in your record collection.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Leona Lewis, Run

LEONA LEWISRUN: Snow Patrol fans turn away and block your ears now! Leona Lewis is releasing her cover version of their classic breakthrough hit as a download single from Sunday, November 30. To be fair, the song starts in promising fashion – a sombre piano set against a moody, sultry vocal that’s perfectly in keeping with the atmospherics that made Snow Patrol’s version so striking. But once we hit the chorus and Lewis injects a little more hope and optimism into the lyrics, fans of the original may want to run for cover. Lewis definitely has a striking voice but it’s debatable whether they’re suited to a song such as this. It’s not without merit, and is the type of cover version that would sit comfortably on a Radio 1 Live Lounge compilation, but it’s just not Snow Patrol – and given that the memory of the original still lives long and enjoyably in the memory, it does sound like something of a travesty for this particular fan (particularly when she starts warbling towards the end without singing)! The gospel backing, too, feels like a desperate late bid to ring out every ounce of emotion from the lyrics. No Leona, no!
Rating: 2 out of 5

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