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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, February 21, 2011

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

Kanye West, All of the Lights

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: KANYE WESTALL OF THE LIGHTS: This one’s a monster in every sense of the word and testament to the brilliance of Kanye West’s latest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Family. All Of The Lights is another of the album’s gargantuan slices of egotism, opening with a Rocky Balboa-esque horn fanfare, before dropping a Rihanna vocal, and spinning a tale of infidelity. It even finds West as God commanding that the scene be illuminated in order to fully expose the betrayal and vengeance that ensues. It’s a bravura moment from one of the most gutsy hip-hop artists of the moment and it comes backed with further contributions from Elton John, Alicia Keys, Drake, Elly Jackson, John Legend, Fergie and more. If anything, it borders on genius.
Available as a download
Rating: 5 out of 5

Order the album l Album review l Best albums of 2010

Caitlin Rose, Own Side

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CAITLIN ROSEOWN SIDE: Fresh from her acclaimed live performance in London last week, the lovely Caitlin Rose releases the title track from her brilliant debut album. Own Side begins in stripped down, acoustic fashion before building to a soulful offering that includes lush backing vocals, piano and pedal steel. It’s also a heart-breaker, complete with yearning lyrics such as: “I’m on my own side now, Who’s gonna take me home? Cause I don’t wanna go it alone, Who’s gonna want me when, I’m just somewhere you’ve been.” What’s more, the track comes complete with a similarly heart-breaking cover version of You Are My Sunshine and a Marc Riley session version of the tender For The Rabbits – another of the album’s finest moments and delivered here in beautifully mesmerising fashion. Trust us, Rose is a special talent.
Available across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Order the album l Album review l Caitlin Rose interview

Cults, Go Outside

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: CULTS – GO OUTSIDE: New York boy-girl duo Cults are a clever alt-indie act it would seem. They are steadfastly enigmatic. And they expertly mix the kookily endearing with darker elements. Hence, current single Go Outside is shot through with lovely, almost ethereal glockenspiel chimes and atmospheric effects, while dropping some innocent vocals. But the lyrics themselves, while barely audible, carry a darker whiff, as does the opening sample of a quite from Jonestown main man Jim Jones. Nevertheless, this odd mix adds up to a genuinely intoxicating song that makes you want to keep coming back for more. There’s a melodicism and a hypnotic quality about it that really makes you want to know more about them and hear more from them. We like… a lot.
Available across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Beady Eye, The Roller

BEADY EYETHE ROLLER: A huge sense of anticipation surrounds the release of The Roller, the first single proper from Liam Gallagher’s post-Oasis outfit, Beady Eye. And so far, so good. It’s a distinctly Oasis-like rocker that borrows Beatles-esque values to winning effect without really stretching itself beyond the tried and tested formula. Nevertheless, Liam’s vocals are as striking as ever, while the foot-stomping mix of classic Brit-rock guitars and piano chords makes for a satisfying medley that wins you over. The chorus, too, has an instantly catchy, soon to be sing-along vibe that was the hallmark of many an Oasis success story. If we’re being ultra critical, then perhaps we should be asking for something a little more… some sign that Beady Eye are more than just leftover Oasis. But then perhaps that’s being harsh and there’s more surprises to come on debut album Different Gear, Still Speeding. The track will be released on 7” single on February 21 but will also be available from January 24 on iTunes. The 7” features a brand new song on the B-side, entitled Two of A Kind. This is the third track Beady Eye have made available for fans to hear after giving away a free download of Bring The Light via their website in November, and premiering a video for Four Letter Word on Boxing Day on nme.com and the band’s own site. The songs have been viewed over one million times since appearing on the band’s site. Different Gear, Still Speeding is released on February 28 on Beady Eye Records.
Available on iTunes from January 24/in all formats from Feb 21
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Miles Kane, Come Closer

MILES KANECOME CLOSER: Sometimes the simplest things work the best. Miles Kane – formerly of The Rascals and one half of The Last Shadow Puppets – drops Come Closer from his new album and continues to endear himself as a quality solo artist in his own right. And when we say simple, we mean a central meaty guitar riff that’s classic rock, foot-stompingly good back-beats and catchy “woo hoo” and “aaaggh aagggh” vocal arrangements. It’s an obvious live favourite and comes complete with the sort of swaggering, laddish appeal that formed the template for countless Oasis hits. And if it’s not perhaps the track to launch Kane into the stratosphere, it should help get him well on the way.
Available across all formats
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website

CocknBullKid, Hold On To Your Misery

COCKNBULLKIDHOLD ON TO YOUR MISERY: Could this be the happiest song about misery ever? And is that a good thing? Well, if you’re listening to Anita Blay – aka CocknBullKid – then yes. The singer continues to make the transition from underground big name to new pop sensation with the release of new single, Hold On To Your Misery – a sweet, dance-worthy fusion of soul pop and Morcheeba inspired chillout. It’s deftly delivered with a catchiness that belies the more cynical lyrics – “hold onto your insecurities” and “that pain in your chest, your most alive when you’re nearest death” – but which makes her smart and endearing. Commenting on her ‘anti-anthem’, Blay says of the track: “It’s about stopping putting so much value on being happy. When I’m happy, things start to drop. Sometimes you have to go back to that point when you’re 14 and you think everyone hates you.” Her debut album Adulthood is due in April and no-one could even begin to deny that she’s completely nailed it. Co-written by Chilly Gonzales and produced by Liam Howe, it’s fast becoming apparent that CocknBullKid could be in possession of one of the most interesting, credible pop records of the year. Remixes come from a variety of sources, including Hot City (OK), Hercules & Love Affair (arguably the best) and Sunship.
Available across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Pink!, Fuckin' Perfect

PINK – FUCKIN’ PERFECT: Pink is never one to shy away from the controversial. Hence, F**kin’ Perfect is the take-notice name of the latest single to emerge from her Greatest Hits record that takes the form of an anthem of self-respect. Pink, as sincere as ever, makes an impassioned plea for any outsider to remain true to themselves, rather than following trends, but sounds like she means it. But rather than sounding preachy or condescending, she enlivens proceedings with snappy beats, crisp pop melodies and swirling strings – as well as an empowering, almost sing-along style chorus. It’s pure Pink pop of the kind she does best, complete with a hard-hitting video that even contains a shocking – stop the music – sequence involving an attempted bathtub suicide. It guarantees the song will get noticed.
Available as a download
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Website

Watch the video:

Take That, Kidz

TAKE THATKIDZ: You could be forgiven for not realising this is Take That, such is the change of style brought about by Robbie Williams’ comeback. Kidz, the latest offering from the Progress LP is certainly an oddity – an emphatic glam-rock-pop offering that begins with the sound of marching feet and ends with police sirens. In between, it splits vocal duties between Mark (verses) and Robbie (chorus), drops in fairytale references (“mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all”) and big showman values into its tale of disaffected youth and violence. It’s almost like a mini pop opera with glam-disco inclinations, which also doesn’t want to run completely from its radio friendly element – provided by the large doses of “la la la” harmonising. In essence, it’s a bit of a mess. Some will call it exhilarating, brave, bold, bombastic, etc, etc. But we can think of plenty of examples of bands doing the same thing better. An oddity, then… but not really a good one.
Available across all formats
Rating: 2 out of 5

Website

David's Lyre, In Arms EP

DAVID’S LYRE – IN ARMS EP: In Arms follows David’s Lyre’s Tear Them Down, his critically-acclaimed debut single which gained praise in the NME, The Fly and the Guardian, and considerable airplay from Zane Lowe, Huw Stephens and John Kennedy. Co-produced by Luke Smith (ex-Clor, Foals), In Arms is an entrancing single… almost as if Tim Burton was directing the music (as well as the video), thanks to its baroque, even fantastical blend of syncopated dub-step rhythms, blasts of heavy brass and ringing piano stabs. Paul Dixon’s vocals soar from this backdrop, lending the song a very English quality, while somehow simultaneously sounding almost otherworldly. With a video boasting stop-motion animation, it’s clear that David’s Lyre is rapidly emerging as one of the more ambitious and interesting alt-pop stars of 2011. And it’s worth following his YouTube videos and various remixes, which come from the likes of Marina And The Diamonds and Everything Everything.
Available across all formats
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website

Clare Maguire, The Last Dance

CLARE MAGUIRETHE LAST DANCE: Clare Maguire’s second single is a slice of euphoric pop given extra credence by the singer’s heartfelt, impassioned vocal style. Hence, after a choral sounding opening, the song unfolds into a sweeping, epic power ballad about saving the last dance for you. It’s backed by soaring synths, pounding drum arrangements and a stylish vocal delivery that really does go some way to explaining why there’s so much buzz surrounding her at the moment. Shimmering, sky-scraping pop… it’s sure to enhance Maguire’s credentials still further, while forcing you to sing along in the process.
Available as a download
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Magnetic Man, Going Nowhere

MAGNETIC MAN feat JOHN LEGENDGETTING NOWHERE: Magnetic Man – aka Skream, Benga & Artwork – release their new single Getting Nowhere, featuring US soul sensation John Legend, via Columbia and immediately impress. The atmospheric beats and string-like synth loops provide a fascinating backdrop for Legend to work his soulful magic over. Admittedly, there is a repetitive quality to the song at times, but the bass is magnificent, and a lot of the supporting production is hypnotic. It’s actually the type of offering that gets better with each listen, inviting the listener to indulge their imagination while kicking back and cutting loose. The dark, brooding video is an alternative take on the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse set in modern day London and directed by Adrien Picard.
Available across all formats
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website

Watch the video

Jim Kroft, Memoirs From The Afterlife

JIM KROFTMEMOIRS FROM THE AFTERLIFE: Jim Kroft’s debut album was released in July 2010 and made a considerable impact on the blogosphere before returning swiftly to obscurity. He now returns with all new material and a change in emphasis. Where the original LP, Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea crossed ‘90s indie vocals with a folk backing to Bowie-esq with a touch of Fleetwood Mac, new song Memoirs From The Afterlife is like Esther´s staircase set to music and boasts a pseudo ‘60s vibe. It’s a song that, according to Kroft, attempts to portray the shifting realities facing modern man. There’s a vaguely psychedelic vibe, touches of the Vaudeville and a trippy aspect to it that keeps you listening. And while not perfect, it’s catchy and likeable. Whether it’ll prevent Kroft from drifting back to obscurity remains to be seen, though, especially since the B-side Cracked Polaroids is more of an acquired, eccentric taste.
Available as a download
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Video Villain

VIDEO VILLAINFEARLESS: Video Villain are Marie France and Lucy Catherwood and Fearless is their debut single. Self-made, self-released… they even made the video, Video Villain are an act that would appear to rely heavily on electronic sound generation propelled by even bigger beats. Summarised by the band themselves, the new song is “about coming through a difficult time in your life and realizing you are better for it, basically embracing change”. It’s super-charged with electricity and takes influences from the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Aphex Twin and Beethoven – and it’s 5 minutes and 31 seconds of intense, bass driven, electronic rock hedonism. In fact, you could say that it’s in danger of outstaying its welcome, for while there are elements to admire, the length is a little too self-indulgent. It could be over by about two and a half minutes and be much more effective. That said, the vocals are good and the synths effective – while the beats are intense enough to generate dance-floor appeal. On the evidence thus far, Video Villain are worth keeping an eye on if you like your dance-pop to veer towards the dark. The almost occult-like video has already been rumbling in the depths of the web for a few weeks and can be seen below.
Available as a download
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Watch the video

Norman Bedard, Space

NORMAN BEDARDSPACE: Having impressed us with his single Thank You, Norman Bedard returns with Space, another upbeat song. The track is the sort of offering that has an instant catchy appeal to it, combining some nice melodies, a finger-clicking beat and some lush acoustic guitar riffs with some deeper, more meaningful lyrics about relationships and inner space! The inclusion of some horns midway through are also a nice touch, embellishing a laidback, chilled pop record that boasts arguably even broader appeal than its predecessor. Space is actually the fifth single to emerge from Bedard’s ‘zen pop’ LP Vital, and also features remixes from Kiss The Beauty and Zak B. Another past offering of Bedard’s, Sleepy Time, is also worth checking out given that it’s even more laidback and serene – the sort of dreamy pop concoction that eases you into a relaxed state of mind, while thinking happy thoughts. The guitar and electronics are more subtle, the vocals nicely serene and the overall vibe chilled and relaxed. Or zen.
Available as a download
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website

Stanley Odd

STANLEY ODDPURE ANTI HERO MATERIAL EP: Following a highly successful 2010 that saw Stanley Odd release their debut album, Oddio, the band look to kick-start 2011 with the release of new EP, Pure Antihero Material. It’s described as social observation par excellence and contains the song The Odyssey, which was available for free before Christmas as part of their Oddvent Calendar giveaway. It’s the sort of offering that needs to be given away… as it’s an odd brew of rock, electronica and Scottish hip hop that never convinces on any one level. Yes, it’s shot through with social observations about the state of the nation and the world as a whole, but it’s delivery is distracting and clumsy and the mix of styles unconvincing. The same criticism can be applied to the rest of the EP – it’s just too Scottish to convince on a hip-hop/rap level, while the backing instrumentation lacks imagination. And with five tracks to get through, it’s a long listen.
Available as a download
Rating: 2 out of 5

Website


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