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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, July 5, 2010

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

Bombay Bicycle Club, Flaws

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUBIVY AND GOLD: Bombay Bicycle Club pre-empt the release of their new acoustic album, Flaws, with the double-A sided release of Ivy And Gold and the title track. And, if the quality of these two songs are anything to go by, we should be getting excited. Lead track, Ivy And Gold, drifts along on one of the most beautiful guitar riffs you’re likely to hear in a while, and is complimented by some lush, laidback vocals. While the more even more serene Flaws merges a deliciously lazy slice of acoustic strumming with some ethereal boy-girl vocals. Of the two, Ivy And Gold gets our pick for stand out moment. But there’s no denying the overall quality of both songs, which make the July 12 release of the album as a whole a highly appealing prospect.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Kah

KAHJULY SONG: Kah releases the second single to be taken from her excellent album, More Than Dawn and underlines why she’s just screaming out to be embraced by the mainstream. July Song – one of the album’s many highlights – lays down some infectious beats and electronic loops while conjuring the type of song that should easily become a summer anthem if it gets noticed and promoted right. Kah’s vocals are as warm and lush as ever, while the cleverly woven beats and electronic flourishes have a positive effect, inviting you to nod your head in appreciation, while tapping your toes as well. Kah is a London-based electronica singer-songwriter who is in charge of the entire creative process on the album, from inception to delivery. Writing all the melodies, lyrics, beats and singing all the vocals, she performs and creates every layer on every instrument and then produces the songs too. But in order to create the finished piece, Kah uses a simple combination of a Macbook, a mic, a keyboard, Logic Pro, Absynth and a lot of coffee. The results are entirely mesmerising and worthy of becoming one of the albums of the year.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Album review l Kah interview l Kah photo gallery

Sia

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: SIACLAP YOUR HANDS: You’d expect a song called Clap Your Hands to contain a fair amount of bounce and so it is that Sia’s new single is an upbeat, chirpy affair that brings out a more positive side to her blissful vocals. The song is taken from her forthcoming fourth album, We Are Born (on July 12), which was produced by Greg Kurstin (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Britney Spears) and co-penned with Christina Aguilera. The result would seem to have a more dance-pop quality about it, with Clap Your Hands leading the charge with zippy synth movements, a catchy as hell chorus and some disco friendly beats. Sia, of Zero 7 fame of course, sounds far happier than she’s done for some time as a solo artist, combining the pop verve of singers such as Kylie and Nelly Furtado with her own inimitable vocal style. It’s a great summer track to get on down with.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Bear Driver

BEAR DRIVERWOLVES: Psychedelic six-piece Bear Driver hail from Leeds and share plenty in common with the likes of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene, with whom they’ve favourably been compared. New single Wolves is a fine opportunity to become acquainted with them. Instantly infectious, Wolves screams youthful exuberance and vitality, courtesy of some fine melodies and a nicely layered set of vocals. Bear Driver’s unique take on the alt-rock genre transcends the generic indie tag so often pinned to a guitar based act to form a jagged and playful pop song… and one where mandolins, accordions and three part harmonies are to be found in abundance. Instrumentally warm and upbeat, the vocals provide a fine accompaniment, while the chorus is the type which gets under your skin and refuses to budge after a couple of listens. It’s backed by the slightly more sombre Long Lost Giants, which drops a tremendously laidback beat into the mix and an appealing blend of boy-girl vocals. All in all, Bear Driver have announced their arrival in fine style.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

The Lucinda Bella Orchestra

THE LUCINDA BELLE ORCHESTRADODO BLUES: The Lucinda Belle Orchestra is the sound of one harp, a harmonium, the melodic, some strings, horns, an upright bass, the ukulele, guitar… and a gifted songwriter and frontwoman. Her endearing debut album, My Voice & 45 Strings hits record stores on July 12 (via The First Rule/Universal), and the lead single Dodo Blues precedes it. It’s a twinkling, Gypsy-Jazz lament, with smouldering horns and shuffling acoustics, recalling the likes of Nouvelle Vague. Lucinda, herself, backs things up with some playful, sultry vocals and lyrics (“nothing can go wrong when I’m walking with my baby”), while the horns and strings that accompany it are just brilliantly delivered and almost cinematic in scope. It’s not even said to be one of the highlights of an LP that is brimming with invention and quality.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Kelis, 4th of July

KELIS – 4TH OF JULY (FIREWORKS): Kelis reinvents herself as an R’n’B/Eurodance diva with her new single, 4th of July (Fireworks) but fails to really impress. Known for her willingness to mix up her sound, the artist here hits something of a mundane note… infusing her trademark R’n’B roots with a big club disco sound. The results give rise to a fairly generic dance sound, some hopelessly repetitive lyrics and a single that’s a million miles for her best work (the likes of which is best exemplified by Milkshake). The song itself is about the pride of motherhood and also draws on house elements, thereby making Kelis a trendy mother of sorts. It’s just a shame it couldn’t have been more appealing.
Released across all formats
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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JLS, Club is Alive

JLSCLUB IS ALIVE: Oopsy daisy! JLS serve up the biggest aberration of their career to date with the ill-conceived, Sound of Music referencing Club Is Alive. Featuring an appalling chorus that declares “the club is alive with the sound of music” (really, a moment that’s akin to hearing fingernails scratched across a blackboard whenever it’s repeated!), it also drops some dull lyrics such as “you’re the fire, come and put that heat on me” and “you could be the DJ, I could be the dancefloor”. JLS remain one of the UK’s biggest pop acts and this will be a huge smash for them, but then some acts only have to sneeze to get a following nowadays. This is wretched, vocoder laden, soulless songwriting that deserves to be buried forever. Gwen Stefani took a Sound of Music reference and used it so much better when she did it.
Released across all formats
Rating: 1 out of 5

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Diagram of the Heart

DIAGRAM OF THE HEARTDEAD FAMOUS: With a sound that mixes elements of classic pop with an uncanny sense of euphoric dance, Diagram Of The Heart aim to come across as a unique new British band that cross different genres with ease. They are the first signings to the legendary and recently resurrected Deconstruction label. Dead Famous, self-written and produced by the band’s Anthony Gorry, will be their debut single and is a huge slice of modern pop music that sees a gentle piano and string drenched opening build into a wall of electronic synths and some snappy beat driven hooks. As an attempt to offer crossover appeal to both Radio 1 fans and Xfm listeners, it’s not bad… admittedly, the Ibiza elements probably showcase where the band’s true heart lies (especially if you hear the instrumental version). But this is breezy, pleasant and catchy enough to get those feet tapping whenever it’s played on the radio. And it should be interesting to se how this band progress from here on in. They certainly seem to have their fingers plugged into what’s needed to capture the sound of the summer.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

The Good Natured

THE GOOD NATUREDYOUR BODY IS A MACHINE: Having salvaged her grandmother’s 1980s Yamaha keyboard, Home Counties girl Sarah McIntosh – aka The Good Natured – self-produced her debut EP, Warriors in 2009. A year later, McIntosh sat her A-levels and split up with her boyfriend. With these changes she found a whole new inspiration to write, the fruits of which, Your Body Is A Machine, are plain for all to see now that it’s been released. A driving, dark and subtly dramatic left-field pop song, with shades of Ladytron mashed with Lily Allen, it’s musically atmospheric and inspired by the likes of Japan and David Sylvian. McIntosh’s lyrical intensity is also evident in lines like “we are influenced by our self love and benevolence”… but she’s clearly not messing around anymore, demonstrating a maturity way beyond her teenage years. The overall result is a track that demonstrates some fine musical flourishes – dark, menacing, propulsive – with a damn fine voice to boot. This girl’s clearing going places.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Crystal Fighters, In The Summer

CRYSTAL FIGHTERS – IN THE SUMMER: Intense, and containing elements of Basque music, Crystal Fighters literally unleash their dark summer anthem, In The Summer, as a very clear statement of intent. Built around assertive, multi-layered vocals and chanting, a propulsive dark disco beat and some atmospheric synths, it’s a foreboding single that’s far from the breezy, sunshine offering that its name suggests. Rather, this is an after hours, underground slice of dance that’s designed to leave you disorientated and – perhaps – even angry. Taken from their forthcoming debut album, Star of Love, which is due in September, this is almost the antithesis of acts like MGMT and company, turning the euphoric synth sound into something all the more disturbing and relentless. If you like your dance dark, you may have fun. It’s probably a little too unrelenting to leave to lasting an impression for us.
Released across all formats
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Website

Alexander Price, Rent

ALEXANDER PRICERENT: Rent is the first single to be released by 22-year-old electro pop singer/songwriter Alexander Price following his signing to record label Intense Pressence Records. The track is a dance driven, yet moody and evocative cover of the Pet Shop Boys classic, Rent, which sets his poppy vocals over space disco and electro pop flourishes. Recorded on a vintage microphone especially purchased by Bryan Addams, and known in the industry as ‘The Celine Dion mic’, Rent was recorded as a collaboration between Price and acclaimed producer Ben Dobie, and is an homage that works surprisingly effectively. Price is reverential while stamping his own identity on proceedings, doing enough to suggest he could be quite an interesting new act to emerge on the electro pop scene.
Released across all formats
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Breton

BRETONSHARING NOTES EP: Breton began life in a warehouse somewhere in South East London. Born from the creative force of musicians and filmmakers Roman Rappak and Adam Ainger and expanded recently into a multi-instrumental and visual collective with the inclusion of Ian Patterson, Daniel McIlvenny and Alex Wadey, they first released the very limited and quickly snapped-up EP Practical. It’s followed by the second EP in the proposed trilogy, Sharing Notes, which offers six tracks of disappointing quality. Instrumentally, there’s a great deal of invention and diversity, as well as a cinematic sprawl, but the vocals badly let them down – sounding drab and unappealing. Had Breton opted for instrumentals only, they may have been more interesting. But once the music takes a back seat to the vocals, they almost sound half-hearted. Of the tracks, the string-backed Sharing Notes offers the most all-round quality, but there’s just not enough to get overly excited about.
Released across all formats
Rating: 2 out of 5

Website

Subset

SUBSETAMBROSIA: London lo-fi rollers Subset release their third single Ambrosia ahead of a full UK tour. Low-fi, fuzz-pop, grungy and realist post-punk are among the many adjectives and sub-genres which have been used to describe Subset – and there are certainly elements of those in the track. But while it’s also described as Casablanca-esque, it’s slightly shambolic and occasionally threatens to lose its way during the middle section. The vocals aren’t entirely convincing either. Produced by Robert Harder (Babyshambles, The Slits, Dead Kids, Soho Dolls), Ambrosia is the band’s follow up to August 2009’s Dalston Blaster and December 2009’s But We Barely Know Each Other EPs, which both received an abundance of BBC radio support. The band were relentlessly gigging over 2009/early 2010 but made time to record a new batch of tunes with Harder earlier in the year. Another single and an EP are planned for later this year.
Released across all formats
Rating: 2 out of 5

Website


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