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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, November 14, 2011

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

Mint Julep

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MINT JULEPWHY DON’T WE: Having already once dazzled with an IndieLondon single of the week (Days Gone By), Mint Julep now release another cracker in the form of Why Don’t We, the final teaser of what to expect from their forthcoming album Save Your Season (out on November 21). Built around sweeping harmonies, delicate female vocals and luminous melodies (but with a shoegaze meets ethereal quality about it), this is an entrancing track that is vital and quite beautiful. Based in Portland, Oregon, Keith and Hollie Kenniff are the husband-and-wife team behind Mint Julep and their album promises to deliver a keen mix of Hollie’s seductive, dreamy vocals and soaring melodies and Keith’s vivid keyboards and distorted guitars. It should be something special.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Franc Cinelli

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: FRANK CINELLIFORTUNE TELLER SONG: Italian born singer Franc Cinelli releases his catchy single Fortune Teller Song on the same day as the deluxe version of his album Goodtimes Goodtimes. The album contains a host of anthemic songs showcasing the tones of the great songsters of the American western migration, including Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the desperado chic of Gram Parsons, the New Orleans warmth of Randy Newman, the cool Canadian folk rock buccaneers, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell with Cat Stevens, The Band, Bruce Springsteen and the venal mischief maker Frank Zappa. But if anything, Fortune Teller Song marks something of a departure by offering an uptempo rhythm alongside some husky vocals and a catchy chorus. It also weaves a fun tale of a con-man that is, admittedly, steeped in Americana values. Says Frank: “I liked the idea of writing a song that was soncially really upbeat and bright with a storyline that was quite dark and from a very different place; like the two facets of a fortune teller really; a simple con artist that tells you what you want to hear and promises you the world if your price is right.” If anything, it carries a Tom Petty vibe.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Snow Patrol, This Isn't Everything You Are

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: SNOW PATROLTHIS ISN’T EVERYTHING YOU ARE: Now this is what Snow Patrol do best… moody, slow-building ballads. Featuring another set of distinct vocals, some atmospheric instrumental layering (featuring striking guitar riffs and powerhouse drumming), as well as those distinctly evocative vocals, it’s a skyscraping slice of empowering rock that should fill the highest corner of the band’s forthcoming O2 Arena dates in the most emphatic fashion. If you liked former classics Chasing Cars and Run, this offers more of the same, albeit with an even more layered chorus (that draws on a backing chorus). The vocals manage to take issues of despair and turn them into something more positive, as Gary Lightbody declares ‘this isn’t everything you are’ in the most inspiring of fashion. The video, too, is packed with provocative images, offset against the band performing live. It’s an emphatic taster of what to expect from new album, Fallen Empires, which also hits stores today.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Crowns

CROWNSKISSING GATES: “Now there’s no one to kiss at The Kissing Gate,” lament Crowns over the top of their boisterious new single Kissing Gates. It’s a rousing offering from the Cornwall natives that sounds more like it belongs in Ireland… a folk-rock offering that channels both the ramshackle energy of The Pogues, the contemporary savvy of Mumford & Sons and the bombast of Bellowhead. It’s backed by the similarly fun Whose Pint’s Whose?… the type of offering that should bring many a party vibe to a Saturday night down the boozer.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Watch an acoustic performance of Kissing Gates:

Beth Jean Houghton

BETH JEANS HOUGHTONLILIPUTT: There’s no denying the hypnotic quality of Beth Jeans Houghton’s vocals, especially as she harmonises over the opening moments of new single Liliputt. But there’s also an enjoyably adventurous nature to her song-writing and instrumental composition. For while the track starts in quite stripped back fashion, her fellow band mates The Hooves of Destiny soon contribute all manner of layering, from violins and percussion to bass and electronics. Put together with her thought-provoking lyrics, keen ear for melody and striking voice, it’s an intoxicating mix that offers an appealing first taste of what to expect from the forthcoming debut album, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose (out next year).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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General Fiasco, Waves

GENERAL FIASCOWAVES: Northern Ireland’s General Fiasco release the hook-laden single Waves as the lead track from their new EP and immediately get into your head (in that catchiest of ways). A break-up track of sorts (“I’m a wave, I’m a wave, and I go back like a wave to the shore, I don’t think about you much now anymore”), it’s alive with positivity, great indie-pop guitar riffs and an infectious chorus that’s all about the power of recovery. Incredibly, it’s not even the track that was singled out recently by Radio 1 on the EP – that honour went to The Age You Start Losing Friends, which was singled out by Huw Stephens as a ‘Hottest Record In The World’ while Zane Lowe was on holiday.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hyde & Beast

HYDE & BEASTYOU WILL BE LONELY: One of the highlights to be taken from Hyde & Beast’s current album is You Will Be Lonely, a country-tinged offering that emerges like a British take on a distinctively American bluegrass sound. With its quick guitar licks and jaunty harmonies, the music is upbeat but the lyrics are dark with the chorus lamenting: “You keep on knocking but you can’t come in, no one’s ever going to let you in… you will be lonely, you will be lonely.” Admittedly, the vocal style might take some getting used to (emerging like Minnie Mouse on speed at times) but there’s no denying that once you have the measure of them, Hyde & Beast offer some great musical fun. They are, of course, Dave Hyde, from The Futureheads, and Neil Bassett (aka Beast) from Golden Virgins and their album, Slow Down, is worth checking out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Bobbie Gordon, Matters of the Heart EP

BOBBIE GORDONMATTERS OF THE HEART EP: Bobbie Gordon is widely being tipped as one of the artists who will break big in 2012. Early evidence of why this might be the case is on show on her debut EP Matters Of The Heart, which can legitimately lay claim to offering a fresh, intimate folk-pop sound with a heavy dash of soul. Upon moving in with her band she wrote and recorded Matters of the Heart at home, and started to film her online fortnightly Turnpike Sessions, featuring collaborations with Shinghai Shoniwa (Noisettes), Aloosh, Zarif and a great list of other talented industry friends booked in to perform for the rest of the year. Musically, Bobbie offers a beautiful representation of modern London in the ilk of Lily Allen and Adele but with a soulful disposition. First offering Fallen From Grace really does underline this soulful element, and though upbeat musically, actually showcases a humble individual who is trying to put her life back together. Title track Matters Of The Heart ups the tempo even more, though, to come over all breezy and folk-pop and introduce a grittier vocal sound. It’s shimmering and quite lovely, especially by the time it hits its richly melodic chorus. Better offers yet another style, incorporating dub-step elements and reducing Gordon’s vocals to a more talky style akin to Lily Allen. I actually prefer her in Matters of the Heart/Fallen From Grace mode, but Better still showcases her versatility and searing honesty. Of the two remaining tracks, Fight You offers a foot-tapping slice of acoustic-pop that once more finds engaging melodies, catchy choruses and some nice vocal layering, while Radio rounds things of with another thoughtfully layered slice of spoken word pop (which comes to life during the vibrant chorus). Yep, she’s a talent to keep an eye on as we venture into 2012.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Matters of the Heart video:

The Saturdays, My Heart Takes Over

THE SATURDAYS – MY HEART TAKES OVER: After redefining themselves to a certain degree with former single All Fired Up, The Saturdays return to more familiar territory with a power ballad that takes its cues from both Sugababes and Rihanna. Moody and supposedly powerful, this is all about an inevitable break-up and the heart dictating the head and comes backed with a similarly atmospheric video featuring the girls in all manner of harsh weather conditions (well, not that harsh). There’s an R’n’B element underneath the pop values that lends the track extra weight but it also leads to the suspicion that The Saturdays are also taking their musical cues from other artists rather than doing anything that’s really surprising of their own. As generic pop-balladry goes, though, it’s OK… even if the vocoder-laced finale adds a disappointing final touch.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Westlife, Lighthouse

WESTLIFELIGHTHOUSE: And so the farewell begins… Westlife, fresh from selling out Croke Park in five minutes, and all set to deliver their Greatest HitsLP now drop the single Lighthouse. And it’s pretty much business as normal. Penned by Gary Barlow (ever prolific), this is a mid-tempo ballad chock full of cheesy, soulful sentiments (“you’re the port in the storm, and I need to find the shore, but I can’t swim anymore… you always get me back to solid ground”) that have become something of a hallmark (complete with now obligatory bouning piano chords and layered vocals over the chorus). Still, if you’ve fallen for their charms before, this competently maintains the standard without really offending anyone (well, almost). The end is near…
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website l Westlife sell out Croke Park l Westlife announce split l Westlife announce farewell tour dates

Fingersnap, Smokehouse EP

FINGERSNAPSMOKEHOUSE EP: Fingersnap is the creative coupling of artist David McAlmont and Guy Davies. Their first release comes in the form of the Smokehouse EP that was written whilst on a writing retreat in Ireland earlier this year and recorded in London over the summer. Featuring lead single I Wanna Rise, it’s actually a mixed bag that left me undecided over their overall merits. I Wanna Rise is actually part of the problem… a falsetto-strewn slice of cheesy pop-soul that feels like a throwback to The Bee Gees, albeit with impossibly upbeat strings as a bedding and slick beats. It’s actually pretty forgettable in terms of disco-soul. Better is the mid-tempo, piano-backed offering Some Kind of Masterpiece, which finds the double act getting a little more serious and even cinematic. Again, it harks back to classic values. Mister, meanwhile, drops an infectiously foot-tapping beat and seems to be offering a contemporary update of Footloose that actually deceives with some powerful lyrics about domestic violence. But while fun instrumentally, I’m not sure they’ve struck the right tone to get the full power of the song across – you shouldn’t really be dancing to a song that talks of mother’s crying because of assault and battery! As if that weren’t controversial enough, final offering The Bishop of New Hampshire rounds things off with a searing look at London life that’s juxtaposed with the life of a fundamentalist bishop. Addictive lyrically, it’s also another example of a song not quite working in terms of message and delivery. Like we said, a mixed bag that doesn’t entirely convince.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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X

TRIOVD – X: Cult experimental Leeds outfit trioVD respect The X Factor. So much so, they have crafted a conceptual EP called X, consisting of four songs inspired by the four personalities that make up the award-winning television series’ judging panel. TrioVD guitarist Chris Sharkey, also known for his acclaimed work in Acoustic Ladyland with Tom Herbert (The Invisible), Seb Rochford and Pete Wareham (both Polar Bear), explains: “Our intention here is not to mock this programme, the judges and, most importantly, the brave souls that enter this coliseum of contemporary culture. It is a musical response to the show. Some people vote. We make music.” Little-known to the average X Factor viewer, trioVD (whose 2009 debut became MOJO Jazz Album Of The Year) dive through a blundering thrash-metal take on Tulisa, through the celtic-jig-on-steroids come pseudo-power-ballad of Walsh, to the ‘90s pop peaks and monotone slumps of Barlow and the sensitivity and grace of trip-hop infused Kelly over 20 minutes. But the key word in all this is ‘experimental’… and we defy anyone to get to the end of this 20-minute self-indulgent mess without wanting to scream the house down with words such as “enough already”! Fair play to them, though, they’ve actually managed to come up with something that’s even more annoying than The X Factor itself. They deserve each other!
Rating: 1 out of 5

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