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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, February 27

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

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Freelance Hellraiser, Want You To Know

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE FREELANCE HELLRAISER – WANT YOU TO KNOW: This limited edition single from bootleg king The Freelance Hellraiser is a compelling first taste of the pleasures to come. A double A-side, the CD is comprised of the deeply mellow and ultra lush Want You To Know and the altogether more edgy and club fixated Pound For Pound. First and best is Want You To Know, a new version of a track that first saw the light of day as a limited white label back in 2003. Here, it’s reworked into a heart-warming, life-affirming Sunday morning anthem of the highest degree, complete with husky male vocals and divine gospel backing. On the flipside is the harder, harsher Pound for Pound, a heavyweight dance anthem that sees the Hellraiser joined by Freeform Five’s Anu Pillai. It’s indicative of what to expect from The Freelance Hellraiser’s DJ sets. Make sure the release isn’t so limited that you miss out on it.

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Jack Johnson, Better Together

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: JACK JOHNSON – BETTER TOGETHER: Jack Johnson returns with another gorgeous song from his last album, In Between Dreams. This is the opening track and it’s a beautiful love song dripping in easygoing, romantic lyrics that conjure hope and happiness). What’s more, it is built around nothing more simple than a few friendly acoustic guitar chords. The basic sentiment is that life is always better together no matter how hard it becomes (or happy). I’m a sucker for the Jack Johnson sound and recently enjoyed the first dance at my wedding to this very Jack Johnson tune. It would be remiss to make it anything other than a single of the week for this is a track that never fails to conjure a smile or a relaxed state of mind. But then that’s the magic of listening to Jack Johnson as a whole.

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Jim Noir, The Key of C

JIM NOIR – KEY OF C: The excellent Jim Noir return with the wonderfully breezy Key Of C, from the top-notch album, Tower of Love. The track is a joyous mix of Lemon Jelly quirkiness and Beatles-era Yellow Submarine that pretty much has you entranced from the opening moments. The hand-clappy beats invite you to bounce along with it, while the numerous stabs of electronica merely serve to embellish the endearing quality. The bonus tracks are similarly compulsive. Hotsy Wa Wa Blues is as kooky and off-kilter as it sounds, trading some simple vocal melodies against a lively tambourine style beat. While the Deep Blue C mix of Key of C comes courtesy of Lemon Jelly’s Nick Franglen and makes an already brilliant track all the more perfect. The beats are a little more defined and deliberate, while the background noises are as eccentric as anything you would expect from one half of Lemon Jelly. It’s a downright essential purchase.

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The Rakes, All Too Human

THE RAKES – ALL TOO HUMAN: Having won many friends with the release of their acclaimed debut album, Capture/Release last year, The Rakes waste no time in building on that vibe with the release of new track, All Too Human. It’s arguably their finest effort to date, not as shambolic as many of the tracks on the long-player and certainly more mature in outlook. It was recorded at Livingstone Studios in London and produced by Elliot James, who has helped the band deliver a maturer, altogether more lively sound that should appeal to a much wider fanbase. Bonus tracks include Vitamin V and Watford, their ode to the town of the same name. With January and February tour dates already having sold out for The Rakes, and more live sessions to follow in May, this looks set to be another significant year in the band’s development.

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The Feeling, Sewn

THE FEELING – SEWN: The Feeling is a promising new band comprised of five ambitious twenty-somethings from the South East who are on a mission to rehabilitate soft rock. Producing slightly quirky yet sophisticated soundscapes that owe their inspiration to the song-writing tradition of Crowded House, Squeeze and Elvis Costello, the band have quickly emerged as one of the most hotly tipped UK acts since Keane. Sewn marks the band’s first full release and is an epic collection of lush, soothing melodies wrapped around some excellent piano and some effective vocal layering. It builds to a suitably passionate finale when guitars collide with the pianos and the vocals become ever-more emotional. On the strength of this enticing debut, the forthcoming album, Twelve Stops And Home could well be one of the hottest releases of the summer.

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The Far Cries, Stepping

THE FAR CRIES – STEPPING: Emerging new Brit rockers The Far Cries deliver a robust statement of intent with their new single, Stepping. Built around a compelling mix of drums and spiky, angular guitars clearly inspired by the likes of The Breeders and, to a lesser extent, the US nu-wave such as StellaStarr*, the band are energetic, raw and gustily defiant. Lead track, Stepping unfolds amid a flurry of menacing power guitar riffs, before then stop-starting its way into the edgy vocals that contain all the raw authenticity of early White Stripes. The decision to drop in some female vocals works wonders late on, especially since they possess a lot in common with the feisty edge of PJ Harvey. Bonus track, The Edge is similarly impressive and probably more mainstream, dropping in some sharp stabs of synth to break up the heavier guitar sound. The Far Cries could soon be really worth shouting about.

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Graham Coxon, Standing on My Own Again

GRAHAM COXON – STANDING ON MY OWN: Graham Coxon fans will automatically be impressed with the solo artist’s latest single, Standing On My Own Again which capably sets the tone for the forthcoming album Love Travels At Illegal Speeds. Described in certain places as ‘a tour de force of inescapable hooks’, the track revels in Coxon’s guitar-playing ability while continuing to provide a reminder of the simple brilliance of early Blur. The title of the song could easily stand as a metaphor for how Coxon sees himself professionally now that he is no longer a part of that band, although in keeping with the album’s theme of love, in all its states, the track is a catchy, defiant observation on yet another failed romance. Talking about what fans can expect from the rest of the long-player, Coxon has said: “This album is like a trip down the fine line between love and hate”.

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Teddy Thompson, Everybody Move It

TEDDY THOMPSON – EVERYBODY MOVE IT: Following the release of his critically acclaimed album, Separate Ways, last November, Teddy Thompson releases his first single in the form of the lively Everybody Move It. The track provides an excellent showcase for the sound of the album in general, with Teddy’s expressive vocals being neatly offset by the smouldering backing vocals of Rufus and Martha Wainwright, as well as some lush instrumentation, courtesy of some folksy guitar riffs and a nice bit of banjo. The song is the type of effort that registers strongly from the very first listen and just keeps getting better thanks to its strong melodies and sing-along chorus. It’s a shame that Thompson has taken so long to deliver a single from last year’s album given the overall quality – but now that it has arrived, you can pretty instantly tell why Uncut was moved to hail the long-player as ‘exquisite’.

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The All-American Rejects

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS – MOVE ALONG: Oklahoma-based quartet The All American Rejects release their new single, Move Along on February 20 in typically hot-rocking, catchy style. The band are famous for the classic anthems, Swing Swing and Dirty Little Secret, which thrived on the sort of joyous, American Pie style frat-pack campus energy. Move Along is slightly heavier than both of those tracks, yet it’s still an enthusiastic alt-rock anthem, boasting a chant-along chorus, an easygoing style and the sort of energy that ought to place it on course for a spot on a US TV show or film soundtrack. They may hail from Oklahoma but their style is all about the Californian feel-good vibe.

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Orson, No Tomorrow

ORSON – NO TOMORROW: California’s Orson look to build on the success they enjoyed at the end of 2005 by releasing the completely infectious No Tomorrow, an insane slab of guitar power pop that’s made instantly recognisable by the vocal histrionics of its endearing lead singer. Some music journos have already hailed them as ‘the missing link between The Rolling Stones and Scissor Sisters’ but while the track contains elements of both, there is also something unique about them that makes them all the more likeable. The stop-start guitar chorus and ‘woo-hoo’ style is tailor-made for the summer sun, while the strong melodies suggest that this is a band capable of delivering many more pleasant surprises on their way to super-stardom.

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Little Man Tate, Agent

LITTLE MAN TATE – AGENT: Don’t be fooled by the Northern songwriting influence, for Little Man Tate have no room for heartache, grey skies or steel cities. Instead, the band prefers to tell you about girls, rock n roll and having a good time in such boisterous style that you’re almost guaranteed to start dancing. Agent, with it’s ‘here we go again’ chant-along chorus, contains the same sort of swagger of early Franz Ferdinand coupled with a vocal sound that’s more punk-based. It’s a riot of lively guitars, catchy melodies and insanely endearing beats. What’s more, it’s backed by the bonus track Just Can’t Take It, which confirms that the band has plenty of potential. Little wonder the online word of mouth is growing and that they attracted 6,000 downloads in the first two weeks of December. Little Man Tate look set to grow and grow.

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Trabant, Loving Me

TRABANT – LOVNG ME: Trabant’s Loving Me sounds like a weird concoction of George Michael mixed with Primal Scream, yet provides an oddly fascinating acid trip into an alternative sound. Inspired by the world of misty love affairs, sweaty beats and free champagne, the track is a suitably off-kilter journey that tip toes the line between indie and electronica. It boasts some insanely catchy vocals as well as some genuinely foot-tapping beats that endear it to the listener with no easy explanation as to why. Bonus track Galdur is similarly offbeat, emerging as yet another crazy concoction of DJ Premiere-style scratching and sampling complete with Pac-man computer effects! For those in search of something a little bit different, Trabant are certainly worth a try.

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Archie Bronson Outfit

ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT – DART FOR MY SWEETHEART: South London R&D (rhythm and dada) combo, The Archie Bronson Outfit, return with Dart For My Sweetheart, one of the choice cuts from their second album Derdang Derdang. Created during an intensive writing and recording spell in London and Nashville, the track is an edgy mix of strained vocals, gritty guitars and boy-girl vocal melodies that come together to create a genuinely effective chorus. “We felt we’d finished writing but because we were relaxed and excited about recording we kept on going,” explains drummer and lyricist, Arp. “Dart came together really quickly when we arrived in Nashville and we knew it was strong. There’s a nursery rhyme feel to the lyric, the counting stuff, though that’s disguising something darker. The simple stuff has often taken a complex route to get there.” Bonus track, In The Shadow of Love is a haunting, atmospheric slow-builder that features a quietly effective set of backing vocals from Liela Moss, complete with some nice blues guitar. Put together, the tracks are definitely worth checking out.

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Gliss, Rugby Road

GLISS – RUGBY ROAD: Alt-rock trio Gliss deliver their second single in the form of Rugby Road, a worthy follow-up to their debut Blue Sky which became a Fresh Meat winner on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 evening show. The band is comprised of Martin Klingman, David Reiss and Victoria Cecilia and could well follow in the stoner footsteps of The Dandy Warhols thanks to their cute blend of easygoing guitar riffs and psychedelic boy-girl vocals. Their sound has already attracted the attention of the Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, who subsequently used them as support for his recent US tour, while Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and We Are Scientists have also been on the road with them. Fans of both those bands will doubtless be impressed with Gliss. Bonus track Girl is slightly less stoned and a little more edgy (think a better version of Babyshambles), so with that in mind it’s another of this week’s releases that’s certainly worth adding to your collection.

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Living Things, Bom Bom Bom

LIVING THINGS – BOM BOM BOM: US rockers The Living Things release their eagerly awaited single Bom Bom Bom through Red Ink (a division of SonyBMG). It’s a politically bleak, yet infectiously catchy dancefloor-boogie-style foot-stomper that boasts throaty vocals and a straightforward, infectious style. The circus-themed video was directed by Floria Sigismondi who has previously worked with Sigur Rós, The White Stripes, Björk, David Bowie and The Cure. Performers from Toronto’s Circus Orange appeared as guests and included a dancing elephant (representing the Republican Party), a camel, a zebra and a trick pony from the Bowmanville Zoo, Canada’s oldest private zoo. In keeping with Living Things’ thematic vernacular, a lion was on hand to represent the US government. In spite of its heavy political bias, the song remains a catchy effort that bodes well for the release of the forthcoming long-player.

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Panic! At The Disco, I Write Sins, Not Tragedies

PANIC! AT THE DISCO – I WRITE SINS NOT TRAGEDIES: Las Vegas-based quartet Panic! At The Disco deliver their much-touted debut single in the form of I Write Sins Not Tragedies. Taken from the forthcoming album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, the track is a fresh blast of indie-rock that makes you take notice from its early moments. The lyrics are packed with acerbic wit (‘what a shame that the bride is a whore’) that is built around some sharp guitar riffs and a vaguely electronic background. The catchy chorus is sure to become a live favourite and has already helped the track reach the number one spot at myspace.com’s indie chart. A forthcoming London tour date with My Academy Is has already sold out. But don’t panic, I’m sure they’ll be visiting the UK a few more times in 2006 yet…

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Jaed, My Way

JAED – MY WAY: Young Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Vanessa Eve and her three-piece punk rock outfit Jaed release their debut album, Dirty Days on March 13. Current single, My Way serves as a mouth-watering appetiser. It’s a supremely feisty track that partly provides an insight into Vanessa’s tough upbringing. At 16, she was forced out of home by an abusive father and left to live on the streets with a drug habit to feed. My Way deals with the consequences of life on the streets and the hold that heroin had over her. It’s as angry, yet hopeful, as you might have expect from one of life’s survivors. Fans of artists like L7 and Hole are certain to be impressed. What’s more, the insanely catchy bonus track Cupid shows that there is plenty more to Jaed than anger and fire, for this is insanely infectious and a nice contrast that shows Vanessa isn’t just prepared to dwell on the bad things that have happened to her in a depressing way.

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The On Offs

THE ON-OFFS – THIS TOWN: Northampton based The On Offs are reminiscent of the early vigour of Paul Weller’s The Jam if their current single, This Town is anything to go by. It’s a fast, furious and strangely catchy introduction to the band that boasts three-part harmonies in abundance and some very urgent guitar work. Front man Danny Connors previously signed as a solo artist to Liverpool label Deltasonic before deciding to hook up with his fellow members to lead an all-new pop-punk assault on the mainstream. Bonus track Grow On You continues to provoke comparisons with the likes of The Jam and early Supergrass, hinting at a very bright future. It’s a little messy and rough around the edges, for sure, but there are certainly some strong signs for the future, particularly if you haven’t tired of the punk scene just yet.

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The Pussycat Dolls, Beep

THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS – BEEP: Having disappointed with their last ballad, Stickwitu, The Pussycat Dolls return to the dancefloor vibe that helped to make their breakthrough hit, Don’t Cha so endearing. Beep isn’t quite as good as that record but it remains a sassy slice of infectious r’n’b beats, risqué lyrics and boy-girl rapping styles. It’s notable for featuring the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am, who kicks things off in suitably attitude-laden fashion, before the Dolls themselves drop in their honey-coated vocals. As far as the mainstream goes, it’s quite good fun that is just as capable of appealing to the adults as it is the sweaty teenagers. Fans of the sound of Beyonce and co will probably adore this the most.

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Kano, Brown Eyes

KANO – BROWN EYES/SIGNS OF LIFE: Urban artist Kano delivers yet more compelling of why he continues to be at the forefront of the urban/grime scene. Brown Eyes is the final release to be taken from his debut album, Home Sweet Home that completes the singer’s progression from underground spitter to street savvy mainstream artist. The track is Kano’s way of expressing devotion to his brown-eyed girl and contains some nice samples, a decent underlying melody and some smart lyrics. Signs in Life, meanwhile, is slightly less successful – charting the harsher urban territory more commonly occupied by the likes of Dizzee Rascal. It does showcase Kano’s vocal dexterity but is nowhere near as appealing as the lead track on the download-only release. The final track, Sometimes, has been remixed by Klashnekoff and is another strong offering that drips with menace, atmosphere and another nice set of vocals from the street poet.

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Shakira, Don't Bother

SHAKIRA – DON’T BOTHER: Don’t Bother is the first single to be taken from Oral Fixation Vol. 2, the latest long-player from Shakira. The track is designed to evoke destructive passion and is described as an emotional ménage of pre and post break-up frustration directed at the man who is cheating on Shakira with another woman. As such, it emerges as a slightly more poppy version of Alanis Morissette and Texas that is driven by some fairly bland guitars and some average melodies. The talk-sing breakdown during the middle of the track, in which Shakira reiterates her anger, does little to add to the feeling of hopelessness I got while listening. In fact, it’s pretty much fair to say that the name of the song, Don’t Bother capably sums up our recommendation for it.

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Keisha White, The Weakness In Me

KEISHA WHITE – THE WEAKNESS IN ME: Nineteen-year-old North Londoner Keisha White returns with new single, The Weakness In Me, an emotionally charged ballad based on a young woman’s tale about her guilt-ridden relationship with another man. The track is Keisha’s interpretation of a love song first recorded by Joan Armatrading in 1975 and is delivered with gusto and soulful intensity by the young singer, evoking memories of an early Whitney Houston. For that reason, though, it’s best to approach it advisedly, for while the track undoubtedly showcases a powerful voice, it’s a little too cheesy to appeal to anyone except those with a passion for heavyweight ballads. Given the buzz surrounding White’s early work thus far, it’s safe to say that she has a very bright future ahead of her and already sounds mature beyond her years.

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Love Bites, He's Fit

LOVE BITES – HE’S FIT: Having broken through with last year’s chart hit You Broke My Heart (So I Broke Your Nose), Love Bites return with second single He’s Fit, another defiantly feisty track that’s designed to give the boys a run for their money. The song was written the morning after the group saw Green Day at the Hammersmith Apollo when they decamped to Hannah’s room to write the melody and lyrics. Yet despite being boisterous and full of energy, the track feels a little too pop-fixated and pretty to really do any long-term damage to the punk-rock sound. Indeed, it’s more McFly in style than Green Day, especially given the playful accompanying video that shows the staff of a rock venue taking to the stage themselves and stealing the show from a lad’s band that’s been delivering the same old same old.

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Test Icicles, Totally Refucked

TEST ICICLES – TOTALLY RE-FUCKED: Noise machines Test Icicles team up with some time touring partner and equally raw MC Lethal B and the Ruff Squad on two limited remixes of tracks from their debut LP For Screening Purposes Only. Boa Vs Python was the first single released by the band last August, screaming with Beastie Boys tourette-isms and Pantera riffs. It wasn’t any good in basic form, yet given a grime makeover complete with urban raps and underground beats, it’s an even more pointless piece of hardcore rhyming. The PR hints that this could be a Run DMC/Aerosmith for 2006, yet I doubt it. Thankfully, the track is only available as a limited edition release. Bonus effort Catch It! is similarly hard-hitting and just as much of a turn-off.

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Freemasons, Watchin'

FREEMASONS feat AMANDA WILSON – WATCHIN’: The follow up to the massive UK hit Love On My Mind, Watchin’ is yet more piano-laced disco that once again seeks to utilise the deep, soulful vocals of Amanda Wilson. It tells the tale of an unfaithful lover caught in the act with the lyrical contents taken from an early 90s R’n’B song by Deborah Cox called It’s Over Now. The best that can be said about it is that it’s a more tolerable modern dance record than a lot of the Ministry of Sound sort of material (which is clearly where it’s destined). But that’s not really saying much given that this boils down to being just another generic dance track that features a bland, repetitive hook and another set of powerhouse female vocals. The yawn-inducing remixes (of which there are plenty) simply prolong the agony.

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Chico, It's Chico Time

CHICO – IT’S CHICO TIME: Is there anything more soul-destroying than this? Former goat herder turned X-Factor ‘sensation’ Chico releases his debut single in the form of the abhorrent It’s Chico Time. A cash-in record in every sense of the word, this is designed to appeal to any sucker that thinks the X-Factor provides terrific entertainment and who stupidly kept voting for the showman on the strength of his personality alone. We only wish that Chico – who is also threatening to turn his attentions to movies – had stuck to the goat-herding given that it would represent a far more worthwhile employment of his ‘talents’. I’d say avoid but the sceptic inside of me knows that it’s bound for the Top 10 (if not top spot itself).

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