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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, May 5, 2014

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

Beck

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECKSAY GOODBYE: Beck’s first album since 2008, Morning Phase, was very much a companion piece to his 2002 offering Sea Change, with the tracks erring towards the more sombre, acoustic guitar driven backdrops. A classic case in point is latest single and album highlight Say Goodbye, which layers in laidback beats, gentle acoustics and – belatedly – some stunning banjo arrangements over a melancholy vocal from the lead singer (“these are the words you use, to say goodbye”). It’s quietly addictive, emotionally compelling and definitive proof that Beck remains one of the very best artists working today.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Justin Timberlake, Not A Bad Thing

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: JUSTIN TIMBERLAKENOT A BAD THING: The latest offering from Justin Timerblake’s 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) LP is one of the best tracks, and a nice way to offset some of the darker material. Not A Bad Thing finds Timberlake singing lines like “it’s not a bad thing to fall in love with me” and “how about I be the last voice you hear tonight” over breezy acoustic guitar licks and polished beats. There’s a genuine sense of optimisim and even euphoria surrounding the track, which along with its accompanying movie/video celebrates the giddiness of being in love. It’s a pop moment that comes in contrast to some of the more R’n’B material and evidence of why Timberlake’s return to the recording studio has to rate as a success.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Justin Timberlake – Not a Bad Thing (Official… by gulsen-cangoner

Gianna Lauren, On Personhood EP

EP OF THE WEEK: GIANNA LAUREN – ON PERSONHOOD EP: Originally haling from Ontario in Canada, Gianna Lauren makes a very good first impression (upon us) with new EP On Personhood via Forward Music Group. Stylishly quirky, Lauren makes dreamy songs, which nod gently to the likes of Anna Calvi, Suzanne Vega and Edie Brickell. Hence, On Personhood is billed as a beautiful, melancholy soundscape of crafted indie rock, peppered with atmospheric percussion and warm guitar tones overlaid with Lauren’s soft and beautifully fragile vocal. And this is evident from the outset, with opening track Trouble nicely juxtaposing Lauren’s dreamy vocal style with a gritty backing guitar that has shades of PJ Harvey mixed with Nina Simone. Similarly beguiling is Ghosts, which finds Lauren drifting into even more dreamy vocal territory, while serving up some gutsy guitar riffs and a drum shuffle that adds an empowering, toe-tapping backdrop. It’s hypnotic. A couple of tracks further on and Bitches Brew starts off in wistful, stripped back fashion but unfolds to an epic length, during which those sharp guitar arrangements return to lend the track an almost ethereal, cinematic edge. Anchor Down, meanwhile, picks up the pace a little with some snappy beats, chugging riffs and a Kings of Leon musical vibe that also finds Lauren loosening up vocally to showcase a breezier, more melodic and equally appealing side to her delivery. It’s arguably the EP’s most catchy track. Inspired by artists such as PJ Harvey, Laura Veirs, Nina Simone and Carole King, Lauren grew up on everything from classical to classic rock while studying jazz and training in opera.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Whales in Cubicles, We Never Win

WHALES IN CUBICLES – WE NEVER WIN: Having recently released their debut album Death In The Evening, recorded at legendary Monnow Valley Studio with producer Nick Mailing and mixed by Simon ‘Barny’ Barnicott (Peace, Kasabian, The Temper Trap, Placebo, Arctic Monkeys, Editors), Whales In Cubicles re-release crowd favourite We Never Win. You can hear why it’s popular, slow-building from a likeable drum shuffle and intricate guitar hooks to something quite empowering, despite its downbeat outlook (of “we never win”). The guitar work is the most striking feature, creating some ear-pleasing melodies. But the choruses are strong, too, especially as they layer in the power to create a heady crescendo of noise at several points and a memorably expansive finale.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foxes, Holding Onto Heaven

FOXESHOLDING ONTO HEAVEN: It may open as if it’s about to deliver a power ballad but Foxes Holding Onto Heaven then drops a lively, beat and piano-drenched chorus that picks up the pace in expert fashion. She strips things back down for the moody verses but this aims big and is designed to further enhance her reputation as one of pop’s big new acts. There’s strings, power vocals, a sense of euphoria and the type of vibrancy that’s reserved for the mainstream. In that sense, it should deliver another big hit (her previous record, Let Go For Tonight broke the top 10). But while good, and a fine showcase for her vocals (especially early on), there’s also a sense that Foxes need just that little bit extra to really stand out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Honey Ants, Lies (See You Again)

THE HONEY ANTSLIES (SEE YOU AGAIN): Lies (See You Again), the new single from The Honey Ants, is a song inspired by temptation and sees the duo take a step forward in terms of production following on from their debut single, Give Me Arms, which was completely acoustic. By adding in piano, percussion and backing vocals, Lies builds up throughout, albeit in a very dusky, intimate, low-key fashion. It has a blues-country-Deep South vibe that’s augmented by the melancholy male-female harmonies that serve to underline the real sadness and longing in the lyrics. Hence, you maybe have to be in the right mood to truly appreciate it. But there’s something quietly compelling about it. This angst and slight darkness can also be heard on their Nirvana cover Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle, which the duo are releasing as the B-Side to Lies. That track is a really strong interpretation of an already great song – capturing the Seattle grunge sound honed by the iconic Kurt Cobain and company in acoustic form, and once again letting it all unfold with moody boy-girl vocals. You’ll want to sing along “I miss the comfort in being sad”.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Listen to the Nirvana cover

Chasing Dragons

CHASING DRAGONSBROKEN JAWS: Chasing Dragons return with their new single Broken Jaws. Charging in like a raging typhoon, the female-fronted Leeds based metallers channel mountainous riffs, an earth shaking rhythm section with Laurie ‘Tank’ Carnan’s vocals powerfully exclaiming: “We’ll shout our war cry to the hordes, we’re starting fires and ending fights and breaking jaws, not ashamed of who we are” over a juggernaut of explosive hard rock. Broken Jaws is a call to arms, standing side by side, fight for what you believe in and with the razor-sharp guitar lines of Mitch Sadler tearing through the song like a man possessed, the meaty bass lines of Ant Varenne alongside the apocalyptic drumming of Katie Bullock adding some muscle creating a beast of a return. It’s a powerhouse track that recalls the likes of Bullet For My Valentine, Paramore and Funeral For A Friend. But while the central guitar work has guts, the track struggles to really differentiate itself from the metal masses to truly make a lasting impression. The track will be followed by their new record Checkmate, which will be released on June 2 via Trash Unreal Management.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Heard a great single, but yet to buy it? Well, we may have reviewed it. Previous reviews: