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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, May 14, 2012

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

Shibuya Crossings

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: SHIBUYA CROSSINGSGAMLA STAN/I’LL MEET YOU AT THE STATION: Shibuya Crossings release a cracking double A-sided single in the form of Gamla Stan and I’ll Meet You At The Station. Many a fan was found when the band released their sophomore album, 2010’s DOYA, to favorable comparisons to the likes of Hefner and Sparklehorse. Now they’re back and brighter than ever. Lead track Gamla Stan is a vibrant indie rocker that recalls the classic likes of Teenage Fanclub and Fountains of Wayne, especially in the way the band meditates on the tragedy of missing love and the brevity of life’s little moments in its lyrics. I’ll Meet You At The Station slows down the pace a little but is a lovely mid-tempo offering that wears its heartfelt sentiments on its sleeve in totally endearing fashion. If its predecessor carried more of an indie/alternative vibe about it, then this track is soaked in classic rock values. It’s little wonder Radio 1 and Xfm have already championed the tracks, while Channel 5 has been using I’ll Meet You At The Station in a number of their prominent TV trailers.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Watch the video for I’ll Meet You At The Station:

Listen to Gamla Stan:

Blood Red Shoes

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BLOOD RED SHOESLOST KIDS: Blood Red Shoes release one of the highlights to emerge from their current In Time To Voices LP in the form of the barnstorming Lost Kids. Underlining the added punch that accompanies their change of direction, the song finds Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell’s vocals double tracked for a potent, layered effect over a killer hook and a huge chorus. The guitar work is meaty and powerhouse throughout, while the chorus is a genuine rouser… if anything, it recalls classic Ash and may even be better. Says Ansell of the song and the anger surrounding it: “This was written bang in the middle of the ‘London riots’. At the time, the images on TV were of streets on fire and smashed up buildings, and strangely Laura and I were fighting like crazy at this point. It just felt there was a lot of destructive, frustrated energy in the air, but we didn’t want to write about it as an overly political song, so this is an attempt to bring together all of that into one.” Job done!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Scissor Sisters, Only The Horses

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: SCISSOR SISTERSONLY THE HORSES: Odd name aside, this is a classic slice of Scissor Sisters that pre-empts the new album, Magic Hour, by two weeks. Written by the New Yorkers and produced by Calvin Harris, this is a euphoric offering in every sense with a kick-ass beat and some good electronic arrangements combining to create an intoxicating brew that comes complete with a grand chorus. It’s dance-worthy, sing-along and utterly feel-good… just as they were intending. Singer-songwriter Jake Shears explains: “I wrote it for one of my best friends. We had so many amazing adventures this past year travelling the world. It’s about being friends with someone you’re so happy to know.” Shears adds that it’s ‘beat-driven future pop’ that ‘style-hops all over the place unabashedly’. It’s also unabashedly infectious and one of the band’s better tracks to date.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ben Howard

BEN HOWARDONLY LOVE: Following the 100,000-plus sales of his debut album Every Kingdom in the UK alone, a sold-out first tour of the US, and contemplating a hectic Summer of festival appearances ahead of his biggest UK tour to date, Ben Howard releases his new single Only Love to underline his rise as one of Britain’s brightest new singer-songwriters. A beautiful, contemplative ode, it’s a deeply romantic offering that finds Howard’s husky tones set against a subtle acoustic guitar backing. There are vague elements of folk, as well as a touch of pop, but this is unmistakeably the sound of an artist at the top of his game – what’s more, the track is released a little over 12 months since the release of Ben’s introductory Old Pine EP in Spring 2011. Ben’s UK tour later this year has already sold in excess of 40,000 tickets alone, with another 60-plus shows lined-up in 2012, culminating in two nights at London’s Brixton Academy. He only just missed out on a single of the week placement yet again (we thought it only fair to give it to some other people for a change!).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Jones, Hit or Miss

TOM JONESHIT OR MISS/BAD AS ME: Tom Jones follows the announcement of the May release of his eagerly awaited new album Spirit In The Room with the double-A sided taster singles Hit Or Miss and Bad As Me. The follow-up to the collection of songs that comprised the acclaimed Praise & Blame album in 2010 sees producer/guitarist Ethan Johns, Tom and a small band of specialist players delving deep into the essence of popular song. Hit Or Miss sees Tom taking on Odetta’s classic track and bringing the song to life with an engaging, down-home country vibe whilst producer/guitarist Ethan Johns, accompanied by Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa on percussion, Richard Causon on piano and Sam Dixon on bass, support with a delightful musical setting redolent of sunny summer festival days. It’s lively, vibrant and virtually guaranteed to put a smile on your face, complete with those distinct vocals of Tom to lead the way. On the flip side is Bad As Me, a colourful Tom Waits composition that Sir Tom delivers with a maniacal cackle that freely expresses the chaos within. It’s a smart double act to really make you excited about the new album, while underlining its diversity.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foreign Slippers, It All Starts Now

FOREIGN SLIPPERS – IT ALL STARTS NOW: Welcome to your new favourite Scandinavian band. Foreign Slippers is predominantly the work of Gabi Froden, singer, artist, author, songwriter and ruling deity of a band who specialise in harmony-strewn pop of enchanting beauty. It All Starts Now is the lead offering from the band’s forthcoming album Farewell To The Ghosts (out June 25) and it’s a slow-builder of a song that builds into euphoric exultation. Froden’s unique voice feels almost fragile early on, as it’s set against a subtle plucked acoustic guitar. But once the layering is introduced and the chorus kicks in for the first time, the song blossoms into an absolute beauty. What’s more, it comes with several bonus tracks, including the similarly slow-building Take It On The Chin, which starts out like a Johnny Cash offering before hitting you with more beautiful melodies and a delicious chorus that’s utterly buoyant and pop, and – perhaps most strikingly – a brave, sombre piano drenched cover version of Abba’s The Winner Takes It All, which re-imagines that song in simply amazing fashion. Don’t miss out on the single or the forthcoming album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Watch the video for It All Starts Now:

Listen to The Winner Takes It All:

Duke Special

DUKE SPECIALPUNCH OF A FRIEND: On June 18, Duke Special will be releasing his first new ‘commercial’ music album, Oh Pioneer and, as a prelude to this new chapter in his musical journey, he will be releasing Punch Of A Friend as a free digital download via his website. The track carries all the hallmarks of a classic Duke Special song, elegantly swooning its way through a melancholic daydream of soft harmonies and tender orchestrated percussion as well as the singer’s laidback, soulful vocals. And yet there’s something more resolutely pop about it, too, that is in keeping with the artist’s new commercial direction. Duke says of the track: “Sometimes only a true friend can jolt us back to life when we’re down or on a destructive path. And only a friend has the ability to speak the truth to us and at the same time help us up again… the punch of a friend.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Finn Bonel, Wedding Song

FINN BONELWEDDING SONG: Finn Bonel returns with his second single release following his well-received debut, Love’s The Only Thing. Wedding Song sees Bonel stay true to his rusky Anglo-Americana roots, but this time he’s given his music an Eastern shimmer, adding an Indian influence with a sitar, tabla and tambura (courtesy of Baluji Shrivastav). Added to this is a string arrangement put together by revered Cellist Audrey Riley who, over the years, has recorded and arranged for the likes of The Smiths, The Cure, Nick Cave, Smashing Pumpkins and many more. The effect is both upbeat and exotic… a song that benefits from Bonel’s distinct, lived-in vocals and the world music elements that lend the track it’s distinct flavour. There’s an instant appeal surrounding it, too, that recalls classic Beatles at times, mixed with a little Kula Shaker, and a set of vocals that could equally be at home on a Bowie record. Bonel is clearly a class act.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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