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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, March 30, 2009

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

Doves, Kingdom of Rust

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: DOVESKINGDOM OF DUST: There could and should have only been one record of the week this week, so it’s pleasing to report that Doves’ long-awaited return is everything we could have hoped for. Kingdom of Rust represents the band’s first material since the career redefining success of tracks like There Goes The Fear and Pounding and is the sort of epic, sweeping, emotional and layered re-introduction that immediately elevates them onto the same sort of playing field – quality-wise – as Elbow. The vocals are moody and atmospheric, while the instrumentation rich and varied. It opens with a bassline that Johnny Cash would be proud to have called his own, before dropping in beautiful electronic loops and a sweeping sense of style that has drawn favourable comparisons with the cinematic sweep of Ennio Morricone. It slow-builds, changes tempo and sweeps you off your feet in thrilling fashion and we just can’t get enough of it. Welcome back, Doves… you’d been missed.
Released across all formats
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Jack Penate, Tonight's Today

JACK PENATE – TONIGHT’S TODAY: Jack Peñate makes a riotous return with his excellent new single, Tonight’s Today, the first taste of what to expect from a new album that’s generating some serious buzz. Built around a tremendously lively Afrobeat guitar loop and an infectious, impossibly upbeat rhythm (not to mention some chanted vocals), it’s a real eye-opener of a record that re-ignites the heat surrounding the Blackheath based singer. Peñate was, of course, tipped to become of the breakthrough acts of 2007 following the release of early tracks, but suffered a critical backlash and indifferent sales with his album, Matinee. He now returns revitalised and determined to prove the people who wrote him off as wrong. With Tonight’s Today he makes a massive stride towards doing just that.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Operahouse, Genius Child

OPERAHOUSEGENIUS CHILD: Given the opportunity to describe their own sound before that particular right is taken away from them by an imminent swarm of hyperbole employing critics, Operahouse guitarist and vocalist Alexander Kaines – who shares these duties with his fellow songwriter, Johnny Lloyd – chooses to describe it thus: “A big, epic, sci-fi thing.” Evidence of this is immediately apparent on new single Genius Child, an insanely epic slice of epic indie-rock that sound checks everyone from the glockenspial loops of Radiohead’s OK Computer to the angst-ridden anthemic style of Modest Mouse (both vocally and in terms of its guitar-work). The track is unapologetically grand, switching tempos, employing wonky electronic loops, big guitar riffs, layered vocals and a sweeping chorus that’s impossible not to get swept along by. It’s not quite genius… but it comes pretty darn close. Check out the instrumental version, too, in order to properly appreciate the instrumental layering at its best.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Peter, Bjorn & John, Nothing To Worry About

PETER, BJORN AND JOHNNOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT: Peter, Bjorn and John run the serious risk of forever being known as the band that created “that whistling song” – the chirpy indie classic that is Young Folks. They insist they’re not worried about that… and continue to make new music that underlines their ability to create catchy melodies, endearing songs and an easy appeal. And with Nothing To Worry About they do make a compelling argument that they will yet rise above the memory of just the one track with a really catchy indie-pop record. Built around the backing vocals of a group of children and a really compulsive back-beat, it’s a charming slice of musical positivity that defiantly proclaims “I’ve got nothing to worry about”. It’s infectious, snappy, vastly different from Young Folks and pretty darn hip. On this evidence, new album Living Thing should be a bit of a barnstormer.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kaki King, Mexican Teenagers

KAKI KINGMEXICAN TEENAGERS: World renowned guitar player Kaki King releases a new EP, Mexican Teenagers, as an exclusive in Australia and Europe in conjunction with her whirlwind tour of both Continents (and which brings her to London on April 2). Featuring regular collaborators Matt Hankle on drums and Dan Brantigan on the electronic EVI synth, the EP finds King expanding her freewheeling style to a bigger, heavier sound with the use of an electric baritone guitar. Put together with the aggressive drumming of Hankle, it makes for an extremely rousing set of songs, with lead track Mexican Teenagers, arguably the pick of the bunch. It’s a gutsy instrumental that maintains a tremendous energy throughout and a vibrant showcase of King’s guitar skills that’s far removed from the acoustic sound associated with her last album, Dreaming of Revenge. The darkness inherent in many of the riffs is also evident in some of the song names, with the moodily atmospheric Gouge Both Your Eyes Out (But Eat Only One) and Vivian Leigh’s Veins, also emerging as instrumentals of note. The latter, in particular, mixes acoustic licks with a shimmering central riff to superb effect, evoking memories of The Shadows at times. If you get the chance to catch King at the Jazz Café later this week, don’t miss out. On this form, she should be utterly mesmerising.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Just Jack, Embers

JUST JACKEMBERS: Just Jack is back with Embers, the first track from his forthcoming new album, All Night Cinema (out in April). Written and produced by Jack himself, the song finds the artist tackling darker subjects (“all the devilish things we do”), albeit in instrumentally upbeat fashion. Those instrumentals take the form of multi-layered synths and strings, hand-clap beats and equally layered vocals, that demonstrate an ambition and scope hitherto missing from Just Jack’s armoury. It also demonstrates a better singing style than normal and, if there’s any justice in pop circles, Embers should enjoy even greater success than his breakthrough hits Writers Block and Starz In Their Eyes. An exemplary return.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Twisted Wheel, We Are Us

TWISTED WHEEL – WE ARE US: We Are Us is the defiant anthem in waiting from Twisted Wheel’s forthcoming debut album, which is due for release on April 13. A fast, unapologetically rallying record, it underlines the Manchester band’s no-nonsense approach to songwriting in the rock-punk vein. The lyrics are pointed and to the point, the guitars loud and suitably punk-inflicted and the rhythm maintains a consistently stirring energy. It’s not doing anything vastly different from a lot of records in the same genre, though, and isn’t inventive enough to really turn it into an instant classic. But it does do enough to suggest that Twisted Wheel could yet become a punk-rock act to keep an ear out for as the year progresses.
Released across all formats
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Qemists, On The Run

THE QEMISTS feat JENNA G – ON THE RUN: The latest single from the Qemists’ is the heavy-hitting drum ‘n’ bass anthem On The Run featring the vocals of Jenna G. As ever, the track combines relentless drum’n’bass drump loops with rock and a wide ranging set of sounds that place it at the forefront of the hybrid drum ‘n’ bass scene (with the likes of Prodigy and Pendulum). They remain better than the latter, but inferior to Prodigy as this certainly owes more of its sensibility to the super-club Ibiza scene than the Xfm playlist. It’s also vastly inferior to their best tracks, Dem Na Like Me and Lost Weekend, from the album Jon The Q. Disappointing.
Released across all formats
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Xrabit & DMG$, Damaged Goodz

XRABIT & DMG$ – DAMAGED GOODZ: Off the back of their singles so far, Xrabit and DMG$ promised to be one of the better hip hop acts of the moment. Follow The Leader was a great first offering, and its follow-up Damaged Goodz kicks hip hop butt. The track contains zip, coolness and a strong combo of sharp synths and a thumping back-beat that’s both retro and contemporary. The vocal trade-off is busy, the lyrics fly at you thick and fast, while the whole record has a freshness that’s not usually associated with the genre at the moment. You’ll love getting on down and jiggy with it. Sadly, it’s all the more disappointing to report that the remainder of the album fails to live up to the promise shown in the singles… so, stick with the released tracks so far and have yourself a good old time. Also worth checking: the even more deliriously chirpy Xrabit remix.
12” and Download only
Rating: 4 out of 5

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