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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, December 3

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

Beth Rowley

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BETH ROWLEYVIOLETS EP: Beth Rowley is another hotly-tipped new artist that comes armed with a timeless voice (much like Duffy) and a femme-fatale look. Born to British parents in Peru and raised in Bristol, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter has the very real potential to become a stellar soul songstress. Her Violets EP is certainly worth getting excited about given that it’s steeped in quality. Lead track Nobody’s Fault But Mine is a real highlight – a brooding slow-burner that’s delivered in a smooth, deliciously soulful style that’s perfectly backed by some low-key organs and some classy backing singers late on. The guitar work, late on, is also really nicely delivered. Sweet Hours, meanwhile, finds Rowley in a sweeter, more dreamy tone that delights in different ways, while Only One Cloud is an old school ode to thre style of PP Arnold and the Ronettes that positively basks in its retro qualities. Last but by no means least is her soaring intepretation of Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released, which ends things on a really upbeat high. It’s a fabulous introduction to an artist who looks set to become one of the big hits of 2008. Her debut album, Little Dreamer is due for release sometime then, so keep an eye out for her!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Duffy, Rockferry

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: DUFFY – ROCKFERRY: In August 2004, Duffy came to the attention of Rough Trade’s Jeannette Lee who became both her manager and mentor. Just as Vicki Wickham guided Dusty Springfield to the best musical collaborations of the day, Rough Trade pointed Duffy in the direction of Bernard Butler in London’s Crouch End. The fruit of their very first musical session is the excellent new single Rockferry, which set the tone for the musical direction of the album. It’s a moody, atmospheric effort built around Duffy’s powerhouse vocal delivery and some genuinely thrilling background drum loops and strings. Butler’s influence is evident throughout but the song certainly marks Duffy out as a fierce talent to watch. Her vocals are positively incendiary and it’s little wonder that they moved The Observer’s Music Monthly to state that Rockferry makes the hairs on the back of your neck prickle with its bewitching grace. It’s a fine description indeed for a song that you really ought to get acquainted with very fast. It’s available as a download from November 19 and released as a two-track 7” vinyl on December 3, through A&M. Duffy looks set to be something very special indeed.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Arctic Monkeys, Teddy Picker

ARCTIC MONKEYSTEDDY PICKER: Arctic Monkeys release the third single from Favourite Worst Nightmare in the form of the hyper-active Teddy Picker (another of its many highlights). The song takes a typically biting swipe at the NME culture of music journalism with wit and intelligence. It’s a spiteful track that shows the Monkeys clearly aren’t too comfortable with the critical acclaim and hype they’ve been afforded over the past year or so. The guitar-work is as frenzied as anything on their debut album and the incessant back beat fuses the trademark blend of Brit-pop, punk rock and hip hop swagger that they’ve become synonymous with. It’s not in the same league as the altogether excellent Flourescent Adolescent and nowhere near as catchy, but it does capture that vibrant Monkeys sound.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Foo Fighters, Long Road To Ruin

FOO FIGHTERSLONG ROAD TO RUIN: The second single to emerge from Foo Fighters latest album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace is the melodic Long Road To Ruin. Less heavy than previous single Pretender, it’s evidence of the band at their most accessible and mainstream – and therefore most enjoyable. There’s a keen sense of melody and a delightful video that looks and feels as though the band is having a lot of fun. That said, it’s also somewhat familiar for them and fails to scale the heights of their very best work, such as Times Like These, DOA, Everlong and Walking After You that helped to broaden their appeal so much in the first place. We like it – but not enough to turn it into a record of the week or to hail it as the first great track to be released from the new album.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Enemy

THE ENEMY – WE’LL LIVE AND DIE IN THESE TOWNS: The Enemy look to cap an incredible 2007 with the release of the anthemic We’ll Live And Die In These Towns, the title track from their debut album. With a thumping back beat and some urgent guitar work, the song triumphantly emerges as the best song that Paul Weller and The Jam never wrote. It’s a rallying call not to be dragged down by life in the towns in question and is delivered as confidently as we have come to expect from the Coventry based outfit. The Enemy’s year so far has seen their debut album shoot straight into the UK charts at No.1 and three singles hit the Top 20. They also recently won ‘Best New Band’ at the prestigious 2007 Q Awards beating off fierce competition from the likes of The Twang and Pigeon Detectives, sold out three UK tours, and supported some of Rock’s royalty in the form of The Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers and Kasabian. It seems only right that they should look to finish things on a high by releasing one of the album highlights.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ian Brown, Sister Rose

IAN BROWNSISTER ROSE: Sister Rose is the second single to be taken from Ian Brown’s fifth solo album The World Is Yours. Specially remixed from the version that features on the album by Steve Fitzmaurice, the track features ex-Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook on guitar and drums respectively, with the CD format featuring an exclusive Pharoahe Monch vocal version of the track. The song itself begins with a long strings intro that’s indicative of the more epic focus of the new album as a whole, before dropping a funky backbeat over the singer’s distinct vocals. It’s a vast improvement on lead single Illegal Attacks that demonstrates the wider diversity of Brown’s songwriting and composing talent. Stone Roses fans will doubtless lap it up too. The video, too, is memorable for featuring plenty of atmospheric shots of the singer in between extended montages of a martial arts battle between a beautiful swordsmith and her balletic male opponents.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Maximo Park, Karaoke Plays

MAXIMO PARKKARAOKE PLAYS: Hot off a sell-out UK tour, including three nights in Brixton, Maximo Park release the fourth single from their acclaimed sophomore album Our Earthly Pleasures. Karaoke Plays is the sound of the band at their most melodic and radio-friendly, the shimmering guitar licks working well in tandem with some sparkling versus and an epic chorus that quickly established itself as a firm live favourite. It’s one of many highlights from the album and sure to become another big chart hit for them. What’s more, the single release features a cover of Justin Timberlake’s Like I Love You taken from their contribution to Radio 1’s 40th anniversary album, plus some karaoke friendly sheet music and lyrics. It all adds up to a nice little Christmas package and seems like a great way to round off a sparkling year for them.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Kate Walsh, Tonight

KATE WALSH – TONIGHT: The beautiful vocals of Kate Walsh deliver another bittersweet offering in the form of Tonight, from the excellent Tim’s House album. Built around some soft acoustic guitar licks, a gentle rhythm and some sweeping strings, the song is the kind of dreamy, imagery-laden ballad that seems tailor-made for inclusion on a top-rated US TV show like Grey’s Anatomy (during one of many life or death moments). Ironic, then, that another of Walsh’s songs Your Song, has already featured on that show’s spin-off series Private Practice, starring, erm, Kate Walsh! For anyone wanting to know more about the singer, however, Walsh became an internet phenomenon when, at 23, she recorded her debut album in a friend’s bedroom with a guitar and named it Tim’s House in his honour.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Aynzli Jones, I Don't Listen

AYNZLI JONES – I DON’T LISTEN: Born in Hammersmith, west London but raised in Jamaica, Aynzli Jones is a new urban artist that’s tipped for great things in 2008. Evidence of this is promising new single I Don’t Listen, a hip blend of dancehall, rap, pop, reggae and soul that really does grab the attention. Opening with a striking vocal from Aynzli, the track then drops a telling rap before cleverly dropping a nod to “it’s like a jungle sometimes, it make me wonder how I keep from going under” and weaving in a telling back beat and instrumental. The track feels raw and urban but crucially it remains capable of appealing to a wide cross-section – and it really ought to help Aynzli get noticed ahead of his big new year. The artist is currently working on his debut album with Salaam Remi (Nas, Fugees, Amy Winehouse), Squeak e.Clean (The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Pharcyde, Nasa) and Steve Dub (Chemical Brothers, Roots Manuva) and it will be out next summer. We’re waiting in keen anticipation…
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fightstar, Deathcar

FIGHTSTAR – DEATHCAR: Fightstar release Deathcar, the second single to be taken from their new album One Day Son This Will All Be Yours. The track positively explodes into life with the heaviest riffs on the album and some Goth-style wailing, before trading between melodic verses and menacing choruses. It’s actually a fairly decent track that provides evidence of the brighter new direction lead singer Charlie Simpson has taken since his Busted days. What’s more, the release for the single will be on the new VINYLDISC format, which features a CD on one side and a vinyl on the other, building a bridge between both analog and digital audio on a single format. Fightstar and Institute Recordings take the honour of commercially releasing the first record on the VinylDisc format in the UK. This limited edition single includes the title track, plus three exclusive tracks recorded at the band’s recent sold-out show at London’s Koko.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bon Jovi, Lost Highway

BON JOVILOST HIGHWAY: The title track from Bon Jovi’s tenth studio album is the message-laden Lost Highway, which tackles issues of freedom and self expression. The track finds the band going back to basics and features a strong central melody, some vibrant guitar and some reflective vocals from John Bon Jovi himself. It’s all hopelessly safe, of course, in that big American rock-pop power-anthem kind of way, but it’s better than a lot of the band’s material of late and is certain to become a firm favourite during their live show next year courtesy of the “hey hey”-laden chorus. The video, too, suggests a breeziness that’s not always evident in the somewhat more serious vocals that reflect religion, self-discovery and triumph over doubt. It’s unassuming and pleasant enough but ultimately forgettable.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Tom Baxter, Better

TOM BAXTER – BETTER: Eagle-eared movie fans may recognise Tom Baxter’s Better from the soundtrack of Simon Pegg’s Run Fat Boy, Run comedy earlier this year. The song is a tender ballad that’s a glorious ode to a friend, companion and lover who always makes the day better. It’s steeped in classic sentiment and dripping with piano-based melodies and a slow-build style, while Baxter’s heartfelt vocals flirt with a falsetto style in places. It’s a song for the hopeless romantics and one that’s perfectly suited to a romantic movie moment – but it never quite makes the leap from being good to great. For those who would like to find out more about Baxter, however, it’s worth noting that he has also produced an enchanting book of songs, poems, paintings, photos and memorabilia, which chronicle his creative journey so far. This book gives you an insight into Tom’s thought process from his art to his music, some private musings all presented in a beautiful, first and limited edition collector’s item. Only 5,000 books have been produced for this first run and these are for sale exclusively on Tom’s online store
Rating: 3 out of 5

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James Blunt, Same Mistake

JAMES BLUNTSAME MISTAKE: James Blunt returns with a particularly dreary pre-Christmas ballad in the form of Same Mistake, the latest to emerge from sophomore album All The Lost Souls. Written by James and produced by Tom Rothrock (Back To Bedlam), the song opens with some supple guitar chords, before building steadily towards a fuller chorus that’s accompanied by lush piano keys, supposedly soaring melodies and a somewhat cheesy “oh ooh we ooh” vocal harmony. It’ll probably appeal to the broken-hearted, especially given its sense of loss, longing and regret, but you can have too much of a depressing thing and it eventually drags you down. This, unfortunately, falls into that category and is evidence of why All The Lost Souls is so curiously hit and miss! The Maxi CD release features two bonus tracks – an acoustic version of One Of The Brightest Stars (shed session) and the Ashley Beedle remix of former single 1973. There’s also the video by groundbreaking director Jonas Akerlund, of Madonna and U2 fame.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Lee Mead, Gonna Make You A Star

LEE MEADGONNA MAKE YOU A STAR: Having captured the hearts of a nation with his Joseph breakthrough in the BBC series, and now doing the same in London’s West End as the eponymous hero, Lee Mead now branches out into pop territory with this cover version of an old David Essex classic. It’s much more polished than the original, of course, but it’s a fair enough interpretation that crucially doesn’t make you want to head for the dial change. And it’s quite a savvy choice for the star, given that it’ll probably appeal to both the housewives and mothers who helped to vote for him in the first place, as well as the younger generation of viewers and Joseph fans who queue outside the theatre to get autographs from their new hero. It’s taken from the eponymous album that was released into stores last week.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Dannii Minogue, Touch Me

DANNII MINOGUE VERSUS JASON NEVINSTOUCH ME LIKE THAT: While big sister Kylie continues to re-invent herself and appeal to generation after generation of listeners, Dannii Minogue continues to exist in her shadow and toss out the same old thing. For Touch Me Like That, she’s teamed up with Jason Nevins in a bid to send temperatures soaring on dance floors. The track is designed to become a cool club-pop hit based on the 1970’s Sylvester classic You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real). But it’s a hopelessly generic offering rammed full of bland, repetitive beats and electronic loops and a vocal that seems ripped right out of Kylie’s songbook. It’s a curiously below-par offering that seems to exist in the space occupied by Kylie years and years back, and which is a clear sign that her sister is still struggling to keep up. Avoid!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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