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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, July 7

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

The Kooks, Shine On

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE KOOKSSHINE ON: One of the highlights to emerge from The Kooks sophomore album is Shine On, an effortlessly feel-good offering that combines a self-knowingly kooky melody with some Beach Boys harmonising and a darker lyricism (“why do you bite the hand that feeds you?”). The chorus, in particular, is a really catchy one that’s destined to have the fans singing along whenever it’s played live. But the guitars are lush, predominantly acoustic-based, while the inclusion of an organ succeeds in kicking things off with a shimmering melody. It’s evidence of the quality that’s to be found throughout the band’s latest long-player, Konk, which has been unfairly criticised in certain quarters. For us, The Kooks are still one of the better indie-pop outfits doing the rounds.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Cure, Sleep When I'm Dead

THE CURESLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD: The third of four singles The Cure are releasing ahead of their latest album is the gritty Sleep When I’m Dead, which finds the guitars at their most prounounced and threatening, and Robert Smith’s vocals at their most anguished. It’s been going down well in live form and suggests that the album will offer a trademark mix of dark and light when it’s finally released (that is to say, keen melody one minute, dark foreboding the next). Certainly, they look to have recaptured that old fire. For those that haven’t been keeping up, The Cure are to release four A & B side singles, one each month, starting May 13, 2008, and leading up to the release of their 13th studio album, as yet untitled, on September 13. If everything’s as good as this debut blast, we could well be talking about one of the great LPs of 2008. So, let the good times keep on rolling and bask in all things Cure-related.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Portishead

PORTISHEADRIP: We’ve come to expect brilliance from Portishead over the years and latest album Third is no exception, as this excellent new single The Rip sublimely illustrates. Opening with some tender acoustic guitar licks and those distinct, soothing vocals of Beth Gibbons, it’s a beguiling effort that’s deliberately paced and utterly thought-provoking (talking of white horses take people away and feeling relaxed). In many ways, it’s a sad song, and even haunting, but there’s also a simple beauty to it that’s really quite breathtaking, especially when the synth bassline kicks in around the halfway point to take it in even more brilliant directions. If you’ve not had chance to savour the delights of Third as yet, then maybe now’s the time to try.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Newton Faulkner

NEWTOWN FAULKNERGONE IN THE MORNING: The UK’s most successful new singer-songwriter, Newton Faulkner, goes into summer 2008 with the release of his latest single Gone in the Morning through Ugly Truth Records. A massive live favourite, the song is the perfect summer anthem-in-waiting, ideal for beach, picnic or garden with its infectious chorus, supersharp vocals and rolling bassline. The distinct chorus sets the tone early on for the feel-good chorus that follows, while the breezy lyrics are underpinned by Faulkner’s trademark acoustic licks. It’s a delightful record that should win even more fans over to his debut album – as well as providing insight into why he’s more commonly referred to as “the UK’s Jack Johnson”. Faulkner’s spectacularly successful No.1 and double platinum debut album Hand Built By Robots has so far sold over 700,000 copies in the UK alone. We’re among its many fans.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Last Shadow Puppets

THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETSSTANDING NEXT TO ME: The Last Shadow Puppets – aka – come over all Sixties pop-lite and Beatles focused (in the video) with new single Standing Next To Me, a punchy, melodic slice of indie-pop. Taken from their recent No.1 album The Age Of The Understatement, the song finds Alex and Miles on duel vocals, injecting a sense of flair and drama into a song that only lasts a punchy 2 minutes and 18 seconds. It’s actually quite an appealing listen that adds further proof to the feeling that The Last Shadow Puppets is actually quite a worthwhile spin-off project. The single features three exclusive, new and is available on two heavyweight vinyl 7’s and via digital download. The retro leaning video was shot in London by Richard Ayoade. The Last Shadow Puppets will be making their debut live performance at the Reading and Leeds festivals in August, before embarking on their first UK tour later this year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Blood Red Shoes

BLOOD RED SHOESTHIS IS NOT FOR YOU: Heavy guitars proliferate on Blood Red Shoes’ new single This Is Not For You, the latest to emerge from their debut album Box Of Secrets. The song also features the band’s trademark mix of duelling male/female vocals, racing drum beats and speeding guitars that build towards a rousing climax. Commenting on the track themselves, the band states: “This track is about being in a situation or relationship where you know there is something very wrong but you choose ingore it and just act like everything is alright. It’s one of the last songs we wrote on the album and its our favorite song on there.” Certainly, the rallying call of “are you listening” suggests at the turmoil that’s evident throughout. But while its certainly buzzing in an aggressive, in yer face kind of way, it only partially rocked our world.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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N*E*R*D

N*E*R*D – EVERYBODY NOSE: The lead single from N*E*R*D’s latest LP, Seeing Sounds is the vibrant dancefloor filler Everyone Nose – aka “All The Girls Standing In Line For The Bathroom”. It’s driven forward by a thundering bassline and some deep, drum heavy rhythm and brass that cuts a funky strut across the dancefloor. It’s fun, infectious and frivolous as only N*E*R*D know how to produce, without ever quite emerging as the ultra-hip cut they continually threaten to deliver. Nevertheless, if its cheap thrills you seek, with an utterly throwaway sentiment, it’s lively enough to tick all the right boxes for a party crowd-pleaser. And yes, it is one of the highlights to emerge from their latest record.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Underworld

UNDERWORLDRING ROAD: Underworld return with their new single Ring Road taken from their recent album, Oblivion With Bells. Taking the listener on a point-of-view trip around the band’s stomping ground, it’s a day in the life of Romford – a snapshot in time that’s both observational and abstract. And despite a somewhat innocuous start, which just lays down a set of urban vocals over a minimalist beats, it gradually finds its stride without ever really re-capturing the sound of Underworld at their most vibrant and essential. Remixes, of which there are typically plenty, come from Laidback Luke, Autokratz, Kris Menace and Fake Blood. The pick of these comes Laidback Luke, which adds a thumping back beat to the mix, while Autokratz plays up the electronic angle with reasonable success. Kris Menace and Fake Blood versions are largely forgettable.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Those Dancing Days, Run Run

THOSE DANCING DAYSRUN RUN: Swedish pop darlings Those Dancing Days clearly have a good ear for a sharp indie-pop guitar melody, as there are some tricky riffs running through the otherwise ordinary new single Run Run. The song has a manic energy that’s epitomised by the thumping drums and frenzied, Inspiral Carpets-alike organs, but it only really endears during those heavily harmonised choruses and appealing guitar loops that follow (think Cure in their prime). Still, if it’s some energetic summer pop you’re seeking, this might just deliver the goods. Bonus track Home Sweet Home is, quite possibly, even more manic and even incorporates some steel drum sound effects. But it’s not much of an improvement.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jupiter One, Platform Moon

JUPITER ONEPLATFORM MOON: Jupiter One are credited with producing an electrifying, invigorating sound that recalls the pogo-party frenzy of the late ’70s-early ’80s underground club scene with a contemporary guitar punch that has drawn comparisons to The Killers, Super Furry Animals, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. New single Platform Moon is the first to emerge from their imminent self-titled album (out July 14) and it’s a punchy record that – certainly guitar-wise – recalls the sound of both Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. Vocally, there’s that post-punk feel to things that can only have come from East Coast America, as well as slight traces of Simon Le Bon and Gruff Rhys. But it’s well worth giving it a few listens, for this is a grower that bodes well for what lays in store on the rest of the album. A remix from Mark Saunders adds some disco energy that isn’t a bad thing.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Holly Rose, Apple

HOLLY ROSEAPPLE: The past six months have been a bit of a rollercoaster for Holly Rose… Upon releasing her debut single, I Don’t Care, she started to win over media-land with her infectious ditties and personable attitude. She got invited to perform at the Venice Festival Of Media to play in front of 500 of the World’s biggest Media company CEOs, invited to open the Teenage Cancer Trust sessions gig at the Royal Albert Hall for the likes of Amy Macdonald, Newton Faulkner and The Who, and this is just the start of it. She was also on the Radio 2 play list for six weeks with her first single, and also supported Ocean Colour Scene on their Hard Rock café tour across the UK in aid of Nordoff -Robbins music therapy. Her follow-up, Apple, is a laid back but personal affair, that’s characterised by summer harmonies and ballsy lyrics. It’s already a firm fan favourite on the live circuit. But while it’s certainly not without charm, it’s also resistibly sweet at times and you really have to be in the right frame of mind to stick with it. Still, it’s clear that vocally Rose is one to watch for the future and her career seems to be blossoming nicely.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Metronomy, Holiday

METRONOMYHOLIDAY: With their new album in the bag and slated for release this September, and a wealth of festival appearances on the horizon for the coming months, Metronomy drop new single Holiday to get the ball rolling. At its core, the song is a shadowy, spooked disco track that contains flecks of Blue Monday mixed with a little of Bronski Beat’s Small Town Boy to carve out a dark, measured, disco pop anthem. Explains Joe Mount, Metronomy’s founding member and chief songwriter: “I went to a pub quiz one night, came back to the studio drunk and recorded the vocal. It’s about a girl wanting to go on holiday with her boyfriend, but being very picky about where they go because she gets jealous easily. He’s up for a holiday but says she’ll never really be able to have him properly to herself.” Holiday is therefore designed to fly the flag for the darker, disenchanted elements of Metronomy’s new long player. Sadly, it’s just too strained, leftfield and off-kilter for our tastes, with a set of vocals that are, quite frankly, more irritating than haunted. One to file under “what were they thinking”? Pack your bags and head for The Kooks particular brand of sunshine indie if you want to find some musical joy!
Rating: 2 out of 5

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China Dogs

CHINA DOGS – A SOCIAL BLACKOUT EP: In the tradition of great British front men, China Dogs’ lead singer Rod Kitson is uncompromising in his approach. Most commonly compared to Paul Weller or Joe Strummer, Kitson’s gritty style and hypnotic stage presence has also been likened to Ian Curtis and Richard Ashcroft. He’s a no-nonsense and typically London-based singer who belts out his lyrics with genuine power and passion. Though not overtly political, the lyrics always say something, whether it’s “I have got to leave this country, it is getting the better of me” on Small Town Boy or commenting on media hype in A Social Black Out. But they have the music to back it up, even though there’s a strong sense of their influences (The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Bowie, perhaps?), not to mention shades of Hard-Fi and The Jam. China Dogs, though, could well emerge as a punk-rock Brit band that has plenty to say for the growing army of followers that are willing to listen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hadouken!, Crank It Up

HADOUKEN! – CRANK IT UP: Fresh from the release of their top 15 debut album Music For An Accelerated Culture, a 13-date sold out tour and riotous instores across the country, Hadouken! now release new single Crank It Up. Frenetic-paced, it’s billed as the album’s defining track – but not in a good way. It’s a loud and unapologetic slice of sonic punk-rock-rave that calls upon a new generation to “show some love”, while nodding to the file-sharing, myspace-bound, digital revolution that helped to spawn the Leed-formed five-piece. Sadly, it’s a real mess of a recording that feels like second-rate Prodigy without any of the exuberance or charm. And when it’s described as the sound of the album, it’s not far wrong given that Music For An Accelerated Culture is every bit as bad for most of its duration.
Rating: 1 out of 5

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Dizzee Rascal, Dance Wiv Me

DIZZEE RASCALDANCE WIV ME: Dizzee Rascal returns with the new single Dance Wiv Me, which boasts production values from Calvin Harris. Despite an OK chorus, however, it’s the usual blend of hardcore grime and indie – or grindie – that comes complete with wailing horns and supposedly humourous social observations. Sadly, it’s way too generic from an artist we’d started to expect a little more from. The presence of Harris certainly lends it a more radio-friendly edge and suggests Dizzee knows who to hang with in order to heighten his own cred, but two such combined talents ought to have been able to come up with something much, much better than this.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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The Buena Vista Social Club, Chan Chan

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUBCHAN CHAN (live): The global music sensations The Buena Vista Social Club are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their historic Carnegie Hall performance with the release of the single Chan Chan, which was also the theme tune for the hugely popular documentary film based on the gig. The single will be available to buy digitally from July 1. This will be followed later in the year by a very special double CD album set, featuring some of Cuba’s finest musicians. Produced by and featuring Ry Cooder and a galaxy of Cuba’s greatest musicians, including Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez, Eliades Ochoa and Cachaito Lopez, this promises to be a really special album for anyone who has ever savoured the Social Club’s particular brand of brilliance. Needless to say, Chan Chan is a typically assured piece of music that succeeds in effortlessly capturing the feel-good sound of Cuba, as well as the enthusiasm of their live sound. It’s not to be missed and serves as a perfect appetiser for the forthcoming main event!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sparkadia

SPARKADIAMORNING LIGHT: Sydney’s Sparkadia release new single Morning Light as a proper digital download on July 14, through Ark Recordings. Prior to that, it’s being given away free by MySpace.com for one week from July 7. The single showcases the band’s ability to create addictively catchy guitar pop with a darker lyrical undertone. Vocalist Alex Burnett comments: “This was the first song David and I wrote back in 2004. It’s a slight contradiction of sorts – on the one hand, I was reflecting on a new years eve spent at Bondi Beach where I’d experienced mixed emotions about the massive expectations of the night and was somewhat reserved about the celebration of retrospection. As far as I was concerned back then, the unknown was far more exciting than old memories. But then at the same time, David and I were buying dozens of cheap second hand vinyl each week by artists we’d never heard of from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. As we were kids of the 90’s we weren’t aware of Elvis Costello, Buddy Holly, the Pretenders and Burt Bacharach, and each day we were discovering hundreds of other artists that blew our minds and inspired us as musicians. It was an exciting time for us as songwriters.” It’s a catchy indie-pop offering that bodes well for the forthcoming new album, Postcards, which is due for release on July 14.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Blakes, Don't Want That

THE BLAKES – DON’T WANT THAT NOW: US trio The Blakes release their debut self-titled album on July 16 for Strange Addiction having just completed a short UK tour with The Wombats which culminated in a couple of headlining shows in the capital. They’re also poised to return later this July for dates with The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Propelled by punchy, punk-rock inflicted guitar riffs and a set of vocals that sound borrowed temporarily from The Strokes, they’re nevertheless a pretty appealing act whose unbridled enthusiasm and quickfire energy are utterly infectious. The chorus on Don’t Want That Now seems designed to have you singing along. Bonus track Village Green demonstrates a more British side to their make-up, the meaty guitars giving rise to some psychedelia-laced vocals that ever so slightly tip their hat to both The Beatles and Oasis. It’s all pretty thrilling stuff actually.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Avenged Sevenfold, Dear God

AVENGED SEVENFOLDDEAR GOD: Avenged Sevenfold come over all earnest and Bon Jovi like with limited edition single Dear God, to coincide with their festival dates and Twickenham Stadium show with Iron Maiden. The song adds a country tinge to the band’s patented attack and is a heartfelt slow-builder that talks of protecting a loved one from life’s hardship (“dear God, the only thing I ask of you is to hold her when I’m not around”). But while the restraint is to be welcomed musically (we’d been expecting more powerhouse riffs and pounding drums), it’s actually a shamefully sentimental heart-strings tugger that’s laboured and mundane. Bon Jovi do it much, much better – and that’s only damning them with faint praise! The CD release also features an alternate versiou of album favourite Afterlife that’s also included on the iTunes DMD along with Crossroads.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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