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Music - Singles of the Week - Monday, March 8, 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…

The High Wire, The Midnight Bell

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: THE HIGH WIRETHE MIDNIGHT BELL: The High Wire drop their gorgeous new single The Midnight Bell to coincide with the release of their debut LP, The Sleep Tape. Built around dreamy vocals, ingenious melodies and a trippy sensibility that’s tailor-made for summer loving and warmer climates, it’s a luscious slice of “ecstasy pop” that recalls the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Mercury Rev, with a little Joy Zipper thrown in. Tim Crompton (lead vocals, guitar), Stuart Peck (guitar, vocals) and Alexia Hagen’s (keys, vocals) charming songwriting offers a lush blend of acoustic based melodies and blissfully chanted vocal harmonies that really do put you into a good mood and keep you there… meaning that the album is well worth visiting too. The Midnight Bell single comes with a remix by Disco Bloodbath and the accompanying video for the track is directed by Mat Whitecross (of Ian Dury: Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll fame). Trust us, The High Wire are going places…
Released as a download
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Fanfarlo

FANFARLOHAROLD T WILKINS OR HOW TO WAIT FOR A VERY LONG TIME: Following hugely successful US shows, Fanfarlo return home to the UK to release new single, Harold T Wilkins, and broaden their appeal on these shores. One of the highlights to be taken from their acclaimed album, Reservoir, it’s an excellent blend of guitars, distinct vocals (that bear Talking Heads-style comparisons) and instrumental layering that keeps getting better (and richer) with each listen. The keen sense of melody is designed to make you feel uplifted. The 7” and download releases will come with a re-working of Comets, another of the album favourites. Their debut album, Reservoir, made several Best of the Year lists at tastemaker indie record stores the length and breadth of Britain, despite its somewhat unorthodox release pattern last year; only available by mail order or from the band’s website for most of the year. Even now, it’s still self-released!
Released as a 7” and download
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Album review

The Constellations

THE CONSTELLATIONSSETBACK: Atlanta group The Constellations land in the UK for the first time this spring with the release of their debut single, Setback, and a clutch of live dates that are designed to show us Brits why this seven-piece band is being touted as one of the most exciting new acts to emerge this year. Based on the success of Setback, the hype surrounding them appears to be very much justified. Setback is a psychedelic freak-out of wiggling synthesizers and vintage organ, shot through with a nasal drawl reminiscent of the Beastie Boys, and a wordless chorus that just won’t let go. It’s trippy, but deliriously so, and a real good-time record into the bargain! The Constellations are led by magnetic frontman and vocalist Elijah Jones, the ringleader of the twisted circus that makes up the group. Jones has spent two years writing and recording with producer Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley), along with a collection of personalities from the Atlanta music scene, among them Cee Lo and Asher Roth, both of whom will feature on the band’s debut album, expected for release later this year. On the evidence of this, and bonus track Love Is A Murder, we can’t wait to hear the rest of it!
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

John Mayer, Heartbreak Warfare

JOHN MAYERHEARTBREAK WARFARE: Written by John Mayer and produced by Mayer with Steve Jordan, Heartbreak Warfare is one of the standout tracks from the recent album Battle Studies that comes wrapped in an instantly memorable melody with an epic guitar sound. The album opener, it sets a swirling electronic backdrop over painful lyrics that are delivered either huskily or in a pained falsetto. The mix is an effective one, however, especially when delivering the epic chorus that delivers such provocative lines as “clouds of sulphur in the air, bombs are falling everywhere” and “no one ever really wins in heartbreak warfare”. The track is the second to be released from Battle Studies, which shot straight to No.1 in the US and has sold over 750,000 copies so far.
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Order the album l Album review

Alberta Cross

ALBERTA CROSSOLD MAN CHICAGO: Following their critically acclaimed autumn released debut album Broken Side Of Time, New York based soul-drenched rockers Alberta Cross kick-off 2010 with the single release of live favourite and stand-out album cut Old Man Chicago. It’s a folksy slice of American-rock that finds guitarist/vocalist Petter Ericson Stakee in Dylan/Petty vocal mode. His vocals are as soaring as they are heartfelt, and perfectly backed by the supporting instrumentation. West London’s own Mumford & Sons have already declared their love for the track, playing ‘Old Man Chicago’ during an interview on Zane Lowe’s Radio One show and inviting the band to tour with them live on air! It’s well worth checking out to see what the fuss is all about, as the album’s pretty great too. The video, meanwhile, was shot in LA’s Viper Rooms and the Catskill Mountains outside of New York by director Jess Holzworth (who recently directed and produced Beck, Basement Jaxx and The Slits).
Released across all formats
Rating: 4 out of 5

Order the album l Album review

Bonobo

BONOBOEYESDOWN: Simon Green – aka Bonobo – returns with another cut from his forthcoming LP, Black Sands, in the form of the chillout track Eyesdown. Alas, it’s a bit of a disappointment! Featuring the soulful vocals of Andreya Triana, it combines fuzzed-out sub-bass and dub-step with the occasional stab of brass and the laidback electronics we’ve come to know Green for. But rather than being as essential as some previous offerings, such as Nightlite from the last album, the result is more underwhelming… the type of background music you might here in a trendy restaurant like Roka, or even one of your own dinner parties, rather than something you might want to seek out and listen to on its own merits. It’s also pretty formulaic for the Bonobo sound. Remix duties come from Floating Points and Warrior One – which adds a rave vibe and, admittedly, injects a little bit more life. Fingers crossed, this is just a blip and not the norm for the keenly-anticipated LP!
Released across all formats
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Goldfrapp, Rocket

GOLDFRAPPROCKET: Goldfrapp return with the engaging, if slight, single Rocket, from their fifth album Head First. Written and produced by band mates Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, it’s a cute piece of synth-pop that maintains the overall general quality of Goldfrapp’s material, complete with a hopelessly catchy “oh oh oh” led chorus. The ‘80s vibe, too, is kitsch and fun without being too pronounced and cheesy. But what really makes it stay the right side of enjoyable are the lovely vocals supplied, as ever, by Alison, and some wistful lyrics. Remixes come from Tiesto, Richard X, Penguin Prison and Grum – the latter of which really does ring out the ‘80s vibe. The one to really look out for, however, is the Richard X Eight Four Remix, which adds a harder synth edge and is tailor-made for a proper dancefloor workout.
Released across all formats
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bombay Bicycle Club, Evening/Morning

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUBEVENING/MORNING: Bomaby Bicycle Club release one of the fan favourite tracks from their recent live dates, Evening/Morning ahead of a new album. The single is a super limited edition 7” (only 400 copies) with the band doing the artwork for each one of the copies individually. And it’s a lively, edgy offering that’s driven by a striking central guitar riff (that combines the best elements of Placebo and Modest Mouse), with a vocal style not dissimilar to Interpol at times. The central lyric of “I am ready to owe you anything” is also one that’s sure to be embraced as an anthemic chant for Bombay followers. The band is currently putting the finishing touches to a new acoustic album which they aim to release later this year. Singer, Jack Steadman’s love of Appalachian music coupled with the folk heritage of guitarist Jamie MacColl (son of Neill and grandson of Ewan) has given these new tracks a distinct acoustic feel, as heard on the band’s recent cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s Motel Blues. Their critically acclaimed debut album, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, is out now.
Limited edition 7”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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North Atlantic Oscillation

NORTH ATLANTIC OSCILLATIONDRAWING MAPS FROM MEMORY: After a busy and exciting 2009, releasing their debut EP and playing shows with the likes of Porcupine Tree, Explosions in the Sky and Cymbals Eat Guitars, North Atlantic Oscillation announce the release of their debut album, Grappling Hooks, a taster from which comes in the form of new single Drawing Maps From Memory. Boasting a layered, slightly trippy, but big rock sound that, by turns, evokes favourable comparisons with the likes of Engineers, Sigur Ros and Pink Floyd, it’s a rousing and take-notice offering that suggests Artrocker magazine might not be wrong in declaring NAO to be your “new favourite rock band”. The hooks are tight, there’s a keen sense of melody, while the ambition in the layering suggests they’re not content to pander to the mainstream – while being capable of appealing to it as well. We’re looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.
Released as a download
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Pixie Lott, Gravity

PIXIE LOTTGRAVITY: Fresh from being asked to support Rihanna on her UK tour, Pixie Lott releases Gravity as the latest offering from her smash hit debut LP, Turn It Up. The song, while no great shakes in pop terms, does at least showcase a maturity that’s belies her tender years, and a moodiness that evokes the Sugababes in their prime, complete with sweeping string chorus. It’s an easy listen, tailor-made for the term “radio friendly”, but one that goes some way to explaining why Pixie is so popular right now. Since the release of the album, she has received three Brit nominations, sold 1 million singles (two of which went to No.1), had three airplay No.1 hits and sold 500,000 copies of her album globally.
Released across all formats
Rating: 3 out of 5

Order the album l Album review

Beverley Knight, Soul Survivor

BEVERLEY KNIGHTSOUL SURVIVOR: It was kind of inevitable that Beverley Knight would get round to releasing Soul Survivor as one of the singles from her latest LP, 100%, given that it features a duet with Chaka Khan. It’s worthy of the outing, too, showcasing the vocals of two great soul divas and a rousing gospel choir backed chorus. The single is the lead track from The Soul Survivor EP, which will also contain Turned To Stone as well as live tracks from Beverley’s hugely successful 100% tour this Autumn. A defiant, old-skool stomper of a track, it’s a useful reminder of why Knight is considered one of the UK’s pre-eminent soul performers. Commenting on the song itself, which was co-written with Guy Chambers, Knight said: “When me and Guy first wrote this song I recorded it alone initially, but I knew there was another dimension to it – and Chaka was that dimension! She’s incredible. Everyone knows there are ebbs and flows in a career in the music industry. That’s what this song is about. People fall in and out of favour all the time. The thing that gets you through is the love of what you do.” Sadly, Turned To Stone is one of the album’s weaker tracks… but then you can’t have everything!
Released as an EP
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Order the album l Album review

General Fiasco

GENERAL FIASCOEVER SO SHY: “Let’s get wasted… it’s all we ever do, we’re so stupid…” – so sing General Fiasco over the opening moments of new single Ever So Shy. Taken from the forthcoming album Buildings, the song was produced by Neal Calderwood, while Arctic Monkeys and The Enemy cohort Barny Barnicott handles mixing duties. Rather like most songs on the album, Ever So Shy melds rock and pop with plenty of energy and a kick-ass chorus that’s designed to be sung loud in live venues. The guitar-led focus is to be admired, while the tight hooks and provocative lyrics are a nice touch, too, suggesting that General Fiasco could yet emerge as an appealing new act. The single is good, without being great… but there’s bags of potential. Let’s hope…
Released across all formats
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

TeenagersinTokyo

TEENAGERS IN TOKYOPETER PAN: Sydney’s favourite dark pop quintet TeenagersinTokyo release new single Peter Pan and aim to build their UK fanbase. Like their PR states, the band offer a mix of serrated punk-pop a la Gang of Four with the twilight drama of Souxsie & The Banshees – hence, Peter Pan contains a dangerous, synth led, dark beauty that’s stangely compelling in small doses. They’re not anywhere near as addictive as they could be, though… perhaps because there’s an over-reliance on an established sound (the synths!), which they’re not really offering anything different with. But there’s variety in the various single formats, with a six minute plus Horrors remix the pick of the bunch and certainly worth checking out. It amps up the electronics, and drops an insistent synth loop that’s ‘80s, kitsch and kind of dark and funky with it.
Released as a download
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Sound of Guns

SOUND OF GUNSALCATRAZ: Sound of Guns release their new single Alcatraz through Distiller Records and look to build on the success of their Elementary of Youth EP, which duly caught the attention of Zane Lowe. It’s a powerhouse rock anthem that re-establishes the band’s penchant for anthemic power chords set over jangly guitars and riotous gang vocals. Loud… but proud with it, the track eschews the sound more commonly associated with their Liverpool roots in favour of a brashness that’s more in keeping with stadium filling rock acts. Bonus track Knots isn’t bad either. The single will be available on 7” and digital download and is the first track to be released from their forthcoming debut album, which will be out later this year. The omens are pretty good at this stage, so long as they diversify their sound a little along the way.
Released as a 7” and digital download
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Shy Child

SHY CHILDDISCONNECTED: Brooklyn duo Shy Child’s latest single Disconnected is a bouncy, self-consciously dizzying euphoric head-rush of a pop anthem that’s full to bursting at the seams with a beautifully controlled sense of chaos. It serves as a precursor to their new album, Liquid Love (released on March 15), and is something of a mission statement from a band that could have become overshadowed by other euphoric pop acts such as Passion Pit if they weren’t careful. The track was concocted by Shy Child duo Pete Cafarella and Nate Smith with a little help, ironically (given the comparisons) from producer Chris Zane, who is also responsible for modern classics from Passion Pit and Holy Ghost – and it’s a blissful pop romp that bodes well for the LP. It is also packed with remix action from the stellar likes of new French hotshots Anoraak, Shuttle (Passion Pit’s drummer and Ninja Tune golden child) and others.
Released as a download
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Noisia, Machine Gun

NOISIAMACHINE GUN: Thumping drum ‘n’ bass outfit Noisia have created a cult following in recent years thanks to underground hits like The Tide, Gutterpump and Exodus, as well as various high profile remixes for the likes of Moby and The Prodigy. As 2010 unfolds, they also aim to make an even bigger impression with the release of their debut long-player Split The Atom, the first single from which is Machine Gun. So called because the guys thought the cacophony they’d created sounded like a Machine Gun, it’s described as a veritable aural attack, that lasts for 4 tedious minutes and 8 unnecessary seconds! If this is music, then I’ve sadly been mistaken over the years, for this is every bit as incessant, one dimensional and unappealing as listening to a machine gun blast – and seemingly never-ending. If you don’t get a headache, or feel the need to scream “enough” within the first 30 seconds, then there’s clearly something wrong. The track features on the Wipeout HD Playstation 3 computer game and is said to be one of the highlights from the Split The Atom long-player. Oh dear! A remix package includes work overs from Amon Tobin, Spor and 16 Bit, while a vinyl version will be released on April 19.
Released as a download
Rating: 1 out of 5

Website

Steve Aoki

STEVE AOKI – I’M IN THE HOUSE: I’m In The House is billed as the epic collaboration of America’s biggest superstar DJ, producer, and fashion mogul, Steve Aoki, and [[[Zuper Blahq]]], a mysterious new side project from a certain global megastar (rumoured to be part of the Black Eyes Peas!). The track has been a club anthem for the past few months and is already receiving daytime spins on BBC Radio 1 and Kiss FM, with everyone from Pete Tong to Fearne Cotton leading the charge. It’s built around chugging electro riffs and thumping bass, crowned with [[[Zuper Blahq’s]]] call-to-arms vocal – and in the States it’s being credited with getting America’s rave on like never before. Sadly, the rave element is tiring and indicative of why the rave/Ibiza/dance scene is so monotonous. The beats, the lyrics, the synths are all repetitive and the track, as a whole, sounds like a bad Black Eyed Peas remix. When Zuper declares he’s “in the house” like some deranged party starter, you might want to consider locking him inside and throwing away the key. There really is nothing to rave about on this epically bad collaboration.
Released across all formats
Rating: 1 out of 5

Website


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