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

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

Dinosaur Jr

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: DINOSAUR JR – DON’T PRETEND YOU DIDN’T KNOW: The album opener from Dinosaur Jr’s latest LP, I Bet On Sky, is also one of the highlights. Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know is a robust record, with powerhouse guitar riffs floating above an electronic bed and J Mascis’ vocals adding a softness that’s appealing and which neatly offsets the harder elements. It also marks something of a one-off messing with their usual recipe for success by including the keyboard element, which merely embellishes that mix of jangly guitars, country and speed metal. It also pulls off that rare combination of feeling laidback as well as empowering. J Mascis and company have seldom sounded as fresh or better – this is tailor-made to be enjoyed in the summer sun. The only question for us Englanders is… where is that sun?
Rating: 4 out of 5

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30 Seconds To Mars, Up In The Air

30 SECONDS TO MARS – UP IN THE AIR: Jared Leto and company marked their return in the most emphatic way possible – launching new single Up In The Air in space. The ensuing track boasts similarly grand production values – skyscraping synths, crunching guitars and a euphoric vibe that should boast plenty of crossover appeal between their rock followers and, quite possibly, the dance crowd. It’s a neat trick and one that’s carried off with considerable aplomb, complete to “whoa oh” chanting over the chorus (designed for those arms in the air, sing-along moments) and guitar-backed punch to match its dance bite. You can be pretty sure this is going to become an anthem for them – and deservedly so.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chvrches, Recover

CHVRCHESRECOVER: Scottish electro-poppers release new single Recover and continue to impress. Built around the striking central vocals of Lauren Mayberry and the euphoric synth sound that is rapidly becoming a hallmark, this combines a darkness with that pop savviness that is helping to get them so noticed. On this occasion, Mayberry seems to be recovering from a strained relationship, yet holding out hope for a second chance. But with lyrics like “I’ll give you one more chance to stay if we can change our hard ways”, there’s also a melancholy sense that things may never change. It’s a solid offering from an appealing band.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Daytona Lights, Midnight Beach

DAYTONA LIGHTSMIDNIGHT BEACH: A mixture of jagged guitars and euphoric harmonies, Daytona Lights’ new single Midnight Beach also draws its inspiration from the melting pot of New York’s disco culture, while yearning to become a bigger summer anthem for venues like the beaches of Miami and Ibiza. It has a certain infectious quality about it, complete with the kind of arms in the air anthemic chorus you’re likely to be singing along to (quite possibly on a midnight beach of choice). But while it’s infectious and lively, generating the sort of hip-shaking energy that the disco scene would be proud of, it’s not quite as hip as it thinks it is.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Miss 600

MISS 600 – HELLO: Jazz-pop duo Miss 600 prepare for the release of their debut album, Buying Time (on April 15) by dropping the chirpy, aptly named single Hello. Boasting the honey-dued vocals of songwriter Hannah Garner and a snappy guitar, drum and horn backing from multi-instrumentalist David Amar, this zips along in effortlessly feel-good fashion, getting those toes tapping with a style that’s both freshly contemporary and retro savvy. When Garner declares “the rhythm’s here inside of me” you’ll probably be nodding your head along in agreement. If the album’s half as fun, it should be a great listen.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Rae Morris

RAE MORRISFROM ABOVE: Having enjoyed an incredible 2012 in which she toured with the likes of Noah & The Whale, Blackpool’s Rae Morris has also got 2013 off to a flyer with concerts alongside the likes of Tom Odell and Lianne La Havas. She now released her debut EP, From Above, and demonstrates why she’s one of the year’s hot prospects. Fusing delicate vocals alongside beautiful piano arrangements, this is a collection of three songs that are imbued with genuine emotional feeling. Title track From Above is arguably the pick – achingly poignant in sentiment and delivery, the piano arrangement on this one is particularly beguiling, while the longing vocals both inspiring and heart-breaking. On Wait A While, the pianos are so stripped back as to virtually be non-existent at times, allowing for an incredible showcase of Morris’s vocals, while This Time finds her upping the ante vocally to hit some impossibly sweet notes. It’s similarly bittersweet. But while some songs of this nature can bring you down with them, Morris’s particular brand of songwriting only makes you want to hear more from her.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Leisure Society, Fight For Everyone

THE LEISURE SOCIETYFIGHT FOR EVERYONE: Double Ivor Novello nominees The Leisure Society limber up for the release of new album, Alone Aboard The Ark with the new single, Fight For Everyone, a genuinely catchy crowd-pleaser of a record. The song, which features celebratory melodicism, cute piano hooks and snappy stabs of brass, stemmed from Nick Hemming’s eight hours a day spent watching last year’s Olympics. Rather than being completely celebratory of Team GB’s many successes, however, Hemming decided to spare a thought for those who also ‘had this spine-tingling roar of support, but could only ever be an also-ran’. The track also marks the band’s first foray into synths, utilising as it does six different vintage synth lines, layered up by Helen and Christian. It’s a joyful offering.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Huey & The New Yorkers

HUEY AND THE NEW YORKERSTHE WAY IT WAS BEFORE/FALL INTO ME: To mark his current UK tour, Huey Morgan and his New Yorkers release the double A-sided single The Way It Was Before and Fall Into Me. The Way It Was Before is the pick of the two… a cathartic assessment of how times have changed complete with Tom Waits Closing Time-esque bar room piano and feel good drive-time bass. It’s an upbeat track instrumentally, which belies the thought-provoking and sometimes hard-hitting lyrics. Fall Into Me, meanwhile, has a laidback country vibe that’s a million miles removed from the funky sound we more commonly assocate with this artist. An ex-US Marine, Huey is admirably sentimental about his time in the military and has pledged his cut of record sales to military charities on both sides of the Atlantic. The profound impact military service has had on Huey is clear with his new work, not least with that country opus Fall Into Me, which in-between the slide guitar and sunset harmonies, reveals the importance of ‘mail call’ (when soldiers receive letters in the field).
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mike Marlin, Skull Beneath The Skin

MIKE MARLINSKULL BENEATH THE SKIN: Drawing influence from, and comparisons to, Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads, Mike Marlin’s new album, Grand Reveal, is due to hit UK record stores on April 8. Prior to that, however, he drops the lead single Skull Beneath The Skin, a dark, brooding rocker that’s couched in dark lyricism. The chorus itself proclaims, “so touch my face, and feel the skull beneath my skin”. It’s arguably kind of creepy but isn’t without its merits – the most notable of which come in the form of the screeching organs and rousing guitar work, which come courtesy of The Stranglers’ Baz Warne. Vocally, Marlin is sure to draw comparisons with Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen but married to Warne’s guitars, they make a potent combination. The B-side, Building A Bridge, finds Marlin a little more stripped back and even more brooding.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Trade

THE BLUEVEILSQUIET RIOT: Five piece Harrow-based indie rockers The Blueveils follow the release of their debut EP, Out Of The Blue in 2012 with new single Quiet Riot. Built around cute, snappy guitar hooks, a melancholy set of lyrics (“nothing is as it seems”) that reflect the sobering state of modern society and politics, and a lively chorus, it’s a decent offering that suggests they could well have a decent future ahead of them. Instrumentally, they are particularly good, with a rousing guitar solo midway through really grabbing your attention, when perhaps the vocals let the side down a bit. Nevertheless, Will ‘Jackpot’ Jackson (vocals), Craig Kirrane and Sean Durkan (the guitarist), are worth checking out if you like the indie rock scene.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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