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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, February 25, 2013

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

Balthazar

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: 1 BALTHAZAR – DO NOT CLAIM THEM ANYMORE: Having already impressed (and landed an IndieLondon single of the week) with former single The Oldest of Sisters, Balthazar now drp another favourite from their current album Rats (also out today) in the form of Do Not Claim Them Anymore. The song combines slick beats with chugging guitar riffs and a toe-tapping vibe that recalls Beck at this most infectious and cool. Vocally, too, it feels more happy-go-lucky, even declaring at one point that “there’s nothing wrong with this twisted fear”. Again, though, it’s imbued with dark qualities. This is the sound of Balthazar at their most effortlessly cool and mainstream and is glowing evidence of why the duo’s debut album absolutely commands your attention.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Miles Kane, Give Up

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MILES KANEGIVE UP: “You always get what you want,” sings Miles Kane over rousing new single Give Up, a fantastic first taste of what to expect from his anticipated second album. Featuring a delicious central guitar riff and a vocal delivery that combines the psychedelic (over the chorus) with traces of glam rock and kick-ass, Oasis style grandeur, this is a rabble rousing anthem in waiting that could well turn out to be one of the year’s favourites. As ever, Kane delivers the big guitar moments with aplomb, while his vocal delivery contains a swagger that really does recall the confidence of the great frontmen of indie and rock music, past and present. The video, directed by David Mould, highlights Miles’ infectious energy as he tears through the track in front of a writhing temptress locked in a jumbo-tron screen. The new single will be released digitally as a 4-track EP via iTunes on February 24, with a limited edition 7” vinyl format available the following day.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Stereophonics

STEREOPHONICSINDIAN SUMMER: Stereophonics limber up for the release of their eighth studio album, Graffiti on The Train with the release of lead single Indian Summer – and the jury’s out. Although breezy in the extreme, and nicely combining electric and acoustic guitars with the odd touch of piano, it’s a low-key return that doesn’t really feel as though it’s stretching Kelly Jones vocally as the best Stereophonics tracks tend to. Indeed, it’s a love song that declares merrily throughout: “She was the one for me… it was a cold September before the Indian summer.” The string arrangements over the chorus add to the lovey-dovey vibe, while also hinting at the cinematic approach to song-writing they have taken with the new material. But while offering an acceptable enough listen, it lacks the fire of old, or the intimacy of their best ballads, and has more of a generic pop-rock vibe about it. Indeed, you might even be surprised to learn that this is a Stereophonics number if you didn’t already know.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Keaton Henson, Lying To You

KEATON HENSONLYING TO YOU: Lying To You is the lead single from Keaton Henson’s sophomore album, Birthdays (which is also released today) and while it may bear all the hallmarks of a love song, it instead examines how painfully easy it is to be with someone you don’t love. The guitars are intricately woven around fragile vocals, which give extra heartbroken resonance to the emotions at play. There’s an intimacy and honesty about the track that makes it a quietly mesmerising listen, while simultaneously underlining the reasons why Henson has been able to generate such a huge following despite being a recluse. The album may leave you on a bit of a downer overall but it’s worth checking out if you’re taken by this single.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Virginmarys

THE VIRGINMARYSJUST A RIDE: With the release of Just A Ride coming so soon after the release of new album, King of Conflict, it is surely proof enough (if any was needed) that The Virginmarys really do mean business and ain’t here to merely make up the numbers. From the opening guitar salvo, Just A Ride is a furious, exhilarating song and is underpinned by Ally Dickaty’s guttural, venomous snarl and littered with emotional anguish lyrics, which sets them apart from anyone else at the moment. It’s a blistering single that serves as a potent reminder of why the album is one of this year’s heavy guilty pleasures.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Funeral For A Friend

FUNERAL FOR A FRIENDTHE DISTANCE: The Distance marks the second single to be taken from Funeral For A Friend’s forthcoming album Conduit and it’s a typically pile-driving affair. The track is about one particular tour endurance test the band went through and the accompanying video (below) reflects experiences on the road in a van as a five piece. Or, as vocalist Matthew Davies-Kreye puts it: “The Distance is a song about being in a van, on tour travelling around in foreign countries during the summer and going crazy because the van only had one small window that would open and no air con.” It’s a loud effort, complete with bog-standard crunching guitar riffs, power vocals and thunderous drums. It’s an endurance test to survive it, if we’re being honest.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Batille, Pompeii

BASTILLEPOMPEII: Having shot to prominence by fusing Snap’s Rhythm Is A Dancer with Corona’s The Rhythm of the Night, Bastille now unveil a track that is every bit the fruit of their own labour. Built around snappy beats, swirling synth arrangements and euphoric choruses, this is an electro-pop romp that is easy to get behind in spite of its cheesy elements. When Dan Smith sings “how am I going to be the optimist about this?”, and asks “where do we begin, the rubble or our sins?”, you’ll doubtless be singing along while waving your arms in the air. It’s slick, fun and destined to become a huge commercial smash for them.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Dido, No Freedom

DIDO – NO FREEDOM: The first single to be taken from Dido’s forthcoming album Girl Who Got Away (out March 4) is this acoustic ballad No Freedom. An ode to childhood innocence and the idea of love being defined by freedom (and vice versa), this is a thought-provoking, generally endearing piece of work that even has a touch of the Lennon and Marley about it. Dido’s vocals provide as smooth an accompaniment as we’ve come to expect, while the mix of acoustic guitars and subtle beats works well in creating a toe-tapper that also touches the heart (and that’s not us getting carried away). The chorus is particularly catchy after a while.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Paramore, Now

PARAMORENOW: It begins with some atmospheric posturing before exploding to life with some propulsive guitar riffs and the provocative lyric: “Don’t try to take this from me now.” Yes, Paramore are back and they’re as lively as ever. This one combines the trademark heavy guitar riffs with a more ‘pop’ savvy vibe that sometimes recalls the heyday of Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. It also drops a rallying call of a chorus that declares: “If there’s a future, we want it now, now, now.” It’s all geared towards the sensibilities of the band’s long-term fans but whereas some of Paramore’s stuff has sounded a little samey in the past, this one does at least offer broader appeal and crossover potential. It’s got melody to combine with the guts and makes an immediate impact.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hannah Scott, Still Static

HANNAH SCOTTSTILL STATIC EP: Still Static, the debut EP from Hannah Scott, is a useful introduction to a promising new singer. Billed as a collection of thoughtful pop songs that mesh acoustic and folk sensibilities with Hannah’s singular, luminous voice, it’s also a collection of five songs that usefully mix tempos, thereby showcasing Scott’s ability to deliver ballads as well as more happy-go-lucky numbers. Lead track Only Way Out may just be the pick of the bunch thanks to a cracking guitar intro, some melodic acoustic folk and a cheery set of vocals that build to a sweeping chorus. But title track Still Static is good, too, melding some sombre string arrangements into the mix and slowing the tempo to satisfying effect. It’s made even more brooding by the acoustic version that closes out the EP – although on both versions, Scott’s vocals are filled with emotion. The piano-led Your Lullaby is beautifully delivered (sometimes in almost a whisper) but needs a little something more to really stand out from the genre, while Days of Wine has a laidback, Sunday afternoon vibe that eases you into a relaxed state of mind, albeit with deeply bittersweet lyrics about the need to escape failing relationships and the craving of affection eventually turned good. It’s evidence of Scott’s ability to fuse thought-provoking, darker lyricism with sun-kissed melodicism. Like we said, she’s a talent to watch. And her EP also boasts world-class musicians including David Clayton (Simply Red, Take That), and is produced by long-time musical collaborator, Stefano Della Casa.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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