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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, March 4, 2013

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

Sarah Louise Owen

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: SARAH LOUISE OWENFIREWORKS: Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for songs that boast sweet female vocals and toe-tapping melodies, but the new single from Sarah Louise Owen lives up to its name, Fireworks, by being a bit of a sparkler. Combining some breezy acoustic licks with sweet electronic elements, the odd splash of horn and the loveliest of vocals, this is a bittersweet offering that remains tremendously life affirming in spite of some lyrics that are rooted in self-doubt (“maybe I’m expecting too much from my heart”, etc). Welsh performer Owen is clearly a name to look out for and Fireworks is a daydream of a record that ought to get picked up by some kind of soundtrack soon.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Of Monsters And Men, King and Lionheart

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: OF MONSTERS AND MENKING AND LIONHEART: Taken from Of Monsters And Men’s multiple award-winning album My Head Is An Animal, new single King and Lionheart is ample proof of why their debut LP has proven so accolade laden. Built around the wonderfully effective vocals of Ragnar þórhallsson (which, in turn, can be both enchanting and beguiling), this has a dreamy folk-pop vibe that’s rich in ear-pleasing melody, instrumental layering and easy to get behind choruses. In fact, there’s not much about the song that doesn’t work – it’s positively dripping in great qualities, from the effective use of electric guitar towards the end, to the echoed vocals and the brash acoustics underpinning it all. The new folk-rock and pop movement continue to gain momentum, spearheaded by the likes of Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters And Men. The video, directed by WeWereMonkeys has notched up an impressive 1.3 million views and it’s also easy to see why – it’s stunning.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jake Bugg

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JAKE BUGGSEEN IT ALL: Jake Bugg releases another of his eponymous debut album’s classic cuts in the form of the rousing Seen It All. Built around a cracking sense of pace, some chugging guitar riffs and a toe-tapping back-beat – not to mention those classically retro sounding vocals – it’s a crowd-pleaser par excellence that proclaims “I’ve seen it all, nothing shocks me anymore” while paying lip service to party crashing and hedonism. And just when you think you have the measure of all that it has to offer, Bugg strips things almost completely down for the song’s finale, which brings it a superbly realised climax. This kid has the world at his feet right now and his debut album was one of last year’s best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dinosaur Pile-Up, Arizona Waiting

DINOSAUR PILE-UP – ARIZONA WAITING: There’s a touch of The Smashing Pumpkins at times surrounding Dinosaur Pile-Up’s new single Arizona Waiting, which from its very name alone suggests a strong American pull. It’s been two years since the release of the band’s critically acclaimed debut, Growing Pains, and this comeback hints at a deeper, more confident sound. Opening with the foreboding line, “sky may come crashing down”, the record is very much in keeping with the forthcoming new album’s themes about the forces around you having ideas of their own (it’s called Nature Nurture). But the guitars have eral bite, the verses are belted out in breathless fashion, and the chorus is explosive without losing sight of the melody needed to keep it radio friendly. It’s an emphatic return.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ke$ha, C'Mon

KE$HA – C’MON: Ke$ha returns with an attitude-laden song that is designed to further her claim to being on a par with the likes of Gwen Stefani or Lady Gaga. But while C’Mon boasts a catchy enough chorus and the sort of grand-standing appeal that could attract a Glee cover, it’s also a somewhat annoying listen when delivering its verses. The sing-speak, semi-rapped interludes are just plain awful (“give me some of that yum like a lollipop girl”), while the euphoric synths that swoosh throughout are pretty darn generic. Ke$ha certainly knows how to concoct a radio-friendly track that’s down with the kids and evocative of their rebel spirit (“I wanna just live right now” etc) but this one sounds like, maybe, she’s trying a little too hard when a little more of her own identity wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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What Now

WHAT NOWMOVE LIKE A SINNER: South African trio What Now reelease the title track from their new album (out March 11) in the form of Move Like A Sinner. Dark, seductive and combining foreboding electronics with edgy hooks, the track is designed to ooze with all the provocative sleaze of a stripper (complete with lines like “taste the sweat from off your neck like a river”). It’s brooding, confident and flaunts its huge chorus (“one touch and you shiver, we move like a sinner”) as though they want it sung from the highest reaches of the biggest stadiums around the world. It’s an impressive statement of intent that suggests there’s more good stuff to come from the album. And don’t be surprised to find it adorning some soundtrack soon either.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Daniela Brooker

DANIELA BROOKERHEARTBREAKER: Nineteen-year-old Londoner Daniela Brooker limbers up for the release of her new album PS with the new single, Heartbreaker. But despite showcasing a silky smooth set of vocals in the classic style, the song itself underwhelms. Opening with a guitar solo that evokes memories of Santana, it then drifts into a sweeping song about a heartbreaker (complete with string-saturated backdrop) that feels like comfortable Saturday afternoon soul-pop, the type of which you’re more likely to hear on Radio 2. It’s melodic enough – just not doing anything special.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Showbizheroes, 21

SHOWBIZHEROES – 21: Following the release of their three previous offerings, Showbizheroes kick off 2013 with their latest offering, the sharp, catchy 21. The track marks a return to the band’s more driven guitar flavour, combining cheesy ‘80s keyboard elements with some grungy ‘90s guitars and a melody that’s easy to let slip into your head. Such is its broad appeal that comparisons with the likes of Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr are also relevant, although a teasing guitar solo (backed by a brooding bass) midway through showcase Showbizheroes at their own inimitable best. The track is taken from their forthcoming debut album, Tales From Behind The Curtain.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tunde Baiyewu, Move

TUNDE BAIYEWUMOVE: Tunde Baiyewu, former frontman of The Lighthouse Family, releases his first new material in eight years in the form of new album Diamond In A Rock and this lead single, Move (released on the same day). Billed as a more soulful, personal and eclectic offering than his prior work, and recorded in Portland (aka ‘the new Nashville’) the single is a classy offering that combines elements of soul and pop. Baiyewu’s vocals are typically assured, there’s a nice mix of instrumentals and thoughtful lyrics, and some fine supporting vocals from Catherine Feeny (who guests on several of the album’s tracks). The finale is particularly satisfying, when all of the song’s various components converge in slick fashion.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bridgit Mendler, Ready Or Not

BRIDGIT MENDLERREADY OR NOT: “Ready or not, here I come… whether you like my song or not,” professes 20-year-old singer Bridgit Mendler over the chorus of her debut offering, Ready Or Not. Well, we have to say we don’t like her song that much, which feels every bit a generic pop-pleaser that’s designed to appeal to tweens who already know Mendler for her sitcom Good Luck Charlie. It’s supposedly happy go-lucky and life affirming, with a positive attitude to match it’s la la la laden harmonies. But when put together, it’s also processed, calculated and hugely derivative of countless other female pop performers. And the lyrics are bad… including “you’ll be my William, I’ll be your Kate, we can live a fairytale” – pass the sickbag please!
Rating: 1 out of 5

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Sebastopol, The Hateful Mob

SEBASTOPOLTHE HATEFUL MOB: Sebastopol are credited with creating atmospheric sparse rock that has been described as like a modern, darker reboot of The Police, blending elements of dub with post-punk and art rock. New single The Hateful Mob certainly contains elements of that description but is a much less interesting creation than anything Sting and company had to offer, darker lyricism besides. The sparse sound doesn’t really do them any favours, while the vocals are more washed out and uninteresting. It’s a well-written song in search of something to make it really stand out, both vocally and instrumentally.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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