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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, November 12, 2012

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

Luke Ritchie, Butterfly

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LUKE RITCHIEBUTTERFLY: Luke Ritchie releases another of the highlights to emerge from his debut album, The Water’s Edge, in the form of Butterfly. The intricately layered, banjo-led track soars throughout and delivers arguably the best chorus on the LP (complete with positive Peter Gabriel comparisons), showcasing both Ritchie’s intelligence as a song-writer and his excellent ear for melody. You’ll be toe-tapping and singing along within one or two listens. The track comes backed with a stonking B-side too, in the form of a live version of the song Right Then And There, which unfolds in brooding, dusky, stripped back fashion while drawing on female backing vocals from The Angels. It’s a show-stopper and evidence of why Ritchie is one of the breakthrough successes of the year.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lana Del Rey, Ride

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LANA DEL REYRIDE: Lana Del Rey is undoubtedly THE breakout star of 2012 and now she’s set to release a deluxe Paradise Edition of her debut album, which is given extra appeal (for those who haven’t already bought it) by the release of this new track, Ride. An epic song (clocking in at 10 minutes if you watch it complete with video), this opens with a spoken word account of her life and feelings to date set against some emotive, cinematic string arrangements. Then, at the three and a half minute mark, a sombre piano announces the start of the song proper, a soul-pop ballad with elements of blues that also make use of the strings. It’s a day-dream of a record, enlivened by those distinct vocals, and a sense of melancholy that is quietly inspiring. It’s ample evidence of why Lana Del Rey has been able to enjoy the gargantuan success she has so far. And the chorus is a doozy.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sivert Hoyem, Where Is My Moon?

EP OF THE WEEK: SIVERT HOYEMWHERE IS MY MOON?: Former Madrugada frontman Sivert Hoyem releases his Where Is My Moon? EP and takes the first steps towards a lighter style of song-writing. Where last year’s album Long Slow Distance was a dark and angst-ridden affair, this has a little more optimism as evidenced by title track Where Is My Moon? and it’s melody-soaked balladry. Although hailing from Scandinavia, the vocals on the track have a love-lorn Eddie Vedder style about them, but the mix of heartfelt sentiment (about being reunited with a distant loved one) and its subtle guitars is a winning combination. The darkness isn’t completely abandoned (far from it) as the track So-Lo is wreaked in sadness and melancholy, by virtue of lines like: “Why can’t I find it in my heart to forgive myself? I don’t even know what I’ve done wrong.” But it’s brooding in the right way. And EP closer I Was A Rolling Stone offers a compelling rock track, complete with cracking guitar solos, that rounds things off in absolute style. It’s a great four-track collection of songs that come steeped in classic qualities.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Soft Bullets, Hyperreality

SOFT BULLETSHYPERREALITY EP: Soft Bullets are a two piece, trans-Atlantic collaboration with a predominantly alternative-indie sound but drawing too on electronica, hip-hop and progressive rock. Comprised of Christopher Wall (UK) and Dan Capaldi (US), the duo use multiple instruments and triggers to cover many bases live, giving as much of a full band sound as they typically produce in their recordings. Inspired by live performances from recent Electronic duos (Justice, Daft Punk) the intention is to strike a balance between DJ and band – a huge sound but with a much more live focus. Their new Hyperreality offers ghostly harmonies and sleepy tempos that have already drawn comparisons to the likes of Radiohead. Eerily haunting opener History: a memory employs disorientating synths to unnerve you at first, before then introducing a kick-ass percussion (that works really well) and, finally, some ghostly vocals that are undoubtedly where the Thom Yorke comparisons come in. Another Chance, on the other hand, throws in some warmer melodies but still offers a subdued chill out groove (complete with falsetto, Prince-like vocals), while there’s atmospheric, stumbling piano-driven balladry on Broken Circuits, which emerges as quite beguiling (in an Aqualung kind of way). It’s moody and pretty great. The weightless, washed out Hyperreality ends the ambitious EP with of moment that’s designed to be simple and poignant. There’s a strange pained beauty to it – but it’s arguably the least accessible of the four and a bold choice for a jumping off point. But I guess Soft Bullets wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re worth checking out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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One Direction, Little Things

ONE DIRECTIONLITTLE THINGS: Aaaah, how sweet! One Direction come over all sensitive and acoustic with new song, Little Things. Splitting vocal duties and delivering one sentimental bombshell after another about the nature of the ones they love, it’s designed as a cigarette lighter moment in waiting as well as a timeless ballad that will probably become a mainstay of countless first wedding songs in the near future. It’s not that bad, actually, and benefits from having been penned by Ed Sheeran. The acoustics are suitably subtle and the shared vocals make for an appealing listen, although Harry Styles arguably comes off best courtesy of his huskier tones and more mature delivery. It’ll be massive even though it’s just above average.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Example, Close Enemies

EXAMPLECLOSE ENEMIES: Example delivers another slice of darkness-infused pop with new single Close Enemies. Designed as a warning track that suggests keeping friends close but enemies closer, it opens amid some brooding, UNKLE-esque guitar licks and electronic sounds before drawing on his more trademark dub-step elements and a grandiose chorus. It’s better when keeping things brooding early on, when the more cheesy elements are kept in check, but it’s not a bad effort – although a last act rap is equally unnecessary and becoming a bit old.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Funeral For A Friend, Best Friends and Hospital Beds

FUNERAL FOR A FRIENDBEST FRIENDS AND HOSPITAL BEDS: Having recently announced the forthcoming release of the sixth studio album of their career, Funeral For A Friend have now unveiled the first single to be taken from Conduit. The track, Best Friends And Hospital Beds, revolves around themes of friendship and death with the accompanying video (directed by Ryan Mackfall) set in a bleak and derelict landscape. It’s a typically power-house offering driven by ferocious guitar riffs (bordering on the metal) and impassioned vocals spewing lines like: “How many friends will I lose before it all makes sense?” There’s an anger and intensity to it that’s sure to appeal to the die-hard big rock fans out there. But to everyone else, including myself, this is yet another offering from a band who places thrashing and crashing above anything really ear-pleasing.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Colt 45, Inside The Triangle

COLT 45 – INSIDE THE TRIANGLE EP: Cumbria-based COLT 45 are preparing to climb the next rung of the rock and roll ladder, having built up a loyal following after relentlessly touring the UK club and festival circuit. The band’s new EP, Inside The Triangle, was crafted with legendary rock producer Romesh Dodangoda (Funeral For A Friend, Kids In Glass Houses, The Blackout, Twin Atlantic, Motorhead, Glassjaw, Manics…) at the helm at his Longwave Studios in Cardiff. It’s aim is to combine good storytelling through melodic punk rock and that’s partly true. On slower EP track Think For Yourself: Question Authority, for instance, there’s a heightened sense of melody that is genuinely appealing (and a slight Manics vibe vocally), while the lyrics are strong and emotive, building towards the EP’s most accessible chorus. Opening track Happiness Is A Dying Art, meanwhile, intriguingly offsets a phone conversation with some psychedelic tinged guitars that have a certain Pink Floyd feel to them (especially once the central riff sends the track to sky-scraping heights). But one senses that COLT 45 are at their happiest when just letting things explode, as in Everybody Will Let You Down or final track Brick Wall, in which they pump things up and sound less innovative. Thus far, they’re a mixed bag – one that’s capable of pleasant surprises but equally one that could just as easily switch to being another generic punk-rock act. Their own personal favourite, it would seem, is Happiness Is A Dying Art, which has elements of both – a generic rock sound but some sharp melodies that invite anthem-like chants of approval.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Evanstar, I Won't Regret

EVANSTAR – I WON’T REGRET: Keeping things heavy, Evanstar release their new single, I Won’t Regret, and look down to lay some hard-hitting credentials as a Midlands-based alternative synth/rock act. The synth part of that equation is evident in the opening moments of the single, which then quickly give way to skyscraping guitars and heart-on-sleeve lyrics about “I drank to fight, I drank to lie, I tried to run a thousand miles…” before finding God. It’s a heady mix and perhaps comparable to the likes of Angels & Airwaves for the way in which it successfully combines the heavy with the melodic. It’s not particularly original but it does show plenty of potential and is more in keeping with the likes of Blink 182 and Foo Fighters (who they cite as influences) than You Me At Six and Paramore (who they also name). Let’s hope they keep things that way. I Won’t Regret could even end up getting picked up for use on a future film or TV soundtrack – it has that quality about it.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Victor Talking Machine, Had Enough EP

VICTOR TALKING MACHINEHAD ENOUGH EP: Victor Talking Machine drop their Had Enough EP and generally leave you wanting more. Beginning with the title track, which successfully combines some cute pop guitar licks with some nice fuzz and melody, as well as a decent chorus, the EP then proceeds to deliver its highlight with live set opener Muggy June, sees the band showing off their love of west coast vocal harmony aficionados Big Star. The guitars on this one are particularly rousing, while the vocals have a shoe-gaze quality that makes for easy, laidback listening. Penny Arcade then takes the band into psychedelic rock territory with a rolling rhythm section underpinning searing guitars and spaced out vocals. Again, it’s great for just kicking back with and probably comes a close second in the favourite stakes, especially once the meatier guitar sound kicks in around the minute and a half mark. The EP is rounded off with an Always Dub remix of Had Enough but it’s probably the least successful offering. Up until that point, though, they’ve done enough to make us take notice for the future.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Arcane Roots, Resolve

ARCANE ROOTSRESOLVE: Arcane Roots are getting ready for a big 2013, having signed to a new label, Play It Again Sam, and putting the finishing touches to their forthcoming debut album, which is due for release in April. The first taster of that is new single Resolve, a pile-driving rock track that showcases the confident, big sound they now boast. The guitars are arguably the most striking thing about the track, which mixes tempos between pared back verses and powerhouse choruses, intricately weaving those riffs around the quiet moments to intriguing effect before really coming over all heavy for the solos and chorus. Lead singer Andrew Groves belts things out for all his worth and adds to the empowering vibe. It’s one of the better hard rock tracks I’ve heard this week. Groves says of the song himself: “Resolve is about all of the guilt and conflict of emotions that come with finding your own happiness.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Little Mix, DNA

LITTLE MIXDNA: Another of those turgid X-Factor groups is Little Mix, who pretty much sum up all that’s bland, generic and soulless about the mainstream. New single DNA has the DNA of countless other songs in its make-up from the use of breathy R’n’B vocals to swirling electronic arrangements and generic back-beats. The split vocal duties aren’t doing anything different from countless other girl groups (from Girls Aloud to Sugababes) or boy groups, while the chorus has a very formulaic feel to it. The video does show a little more sign of ingenuity but even then it’s clear that it’s taking Sin City as an inspiration. Oh dear.
Rating: 1 out of 5

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