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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, November 26, 2012

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

Liz Lawrence

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LIZ LAWRENCEBEDROOM HERO: Singer-songwriter Liz Lawrence scores her second successive Single of the Week with Bedroom Hero, the charming follow-up to Oo Song. Packed with hope, fantasy and desires, the song is an ode to the hopeful bedroom songwriters out there, recalling their hopes, fears, victories and demise and how they look out to the world beyond their bedroom with expectation and trepidation. The song builds from a simple opening melody with Liz’s instantly endearing vocals and gently acoustic guitar before layering in the instruments and broadening out the sound to equally endearing effect. Come the finale, you’ll also hear perfect harmonies, piano, marching drums and a brass section – all neatly realised so as not to seem showboating. It’s exemplary stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Give Me Love

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: ED SHEERANGIVE ME LOVE: Ed Sheeran continues his impressive run of form with the emotive new single, Give Me Love. Driven by brooding acoustic licks, subtle strings and a husky set of vocals, this is a song about longing and desire that screams desperation and passion without overdoing things. The depth of emotion that Sheeran brings to his song-writing is what marks him out as one of the best acts of the moment (try listening to Small Bump without crying) and which, again, makes this song stand out. And just when you think you have the measure of all it has to offer, it comes to life in the final few moments with a really rousing finale. The video is striking too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven

BRUNO MARSLOCKED OUT OF HEAVEN: Bruno Mars funks and sexes up his image with new single Locked Out of Heaven and really kind of impresses. Employing those trademark soul vocals and a fusion of ‘80s leaning funk and slick beats that The Police would have been proud of, as well as an insistent central hook, this is a slick, snappy, effortlessly cool new offering that should only win Mars more fans. With an ultra catchy chorus and an easy to sing line in “your sex takes me to paradise”, it’s made for feeling good and getting on down. Whether this will feature on as many wedding first dances as some of his earlier material is debatable… mum’s and grans’ would blush. But that’s no bad thing.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Will Miles

WILL MILESSHALLOW WATER/ANGELA: New London alternative folk/rock singer-songwriter Will Miles releases the double A-sided single Shallow Water and Angela and succeeds in immediately underlining his diversity. The former is an Americana drenched foot stomper swelling with dirty electric and slide guitars, echoing the likes of Van Morrison and Neil Young. It’s a rousing introduction, complete with gutsy vocals and an edgy disposition that brings a great deal of urgency to the folk-rock scene. Angela, on the other hand, slows down the tempo, comes over all brooding and staggers mournfully with haunting harmonica, mandolin and piano. It’s thought-provoking, reflective and, if anything, evocative of both Morrison and Angie era Rolling Stones. Miles says of the songs: “They’re sister tracks, written at the same time – one is about awakening, the other about solace.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Pink, Try

PINKTRY: Pink remains on auto-pilot for her latest offering, Try, taken from her sixth album, The Truth About Love. Lyrically, it’s another lament for a hot-headed relationship that finds Pink putting herself through the emotional wringer. But it’s not without quality… the melodies are tight, the chorus hums and it’s all very easy to listen to as so many of Pink’s songs are. The central sentiment of not giving up (or rather “you’ve got to get up and try”) is a noble one too, lending it a typically empowering quality that is inherent in so much of the singer’s work. Fans will be satisfied even if it won’t bring many new followers.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kei$ha, die Young

KE$HA – DIE YOUNG: You’ve got to hand it to Ke$ha… she knows how to do catchy. Die Young, the first offering from her Warrior LP, is a finger-clicking, toe-tapper of a pop track that is brimming with infectious melodies, sing-along choruses and a tremendous sense of euphoria. Lyrically, it combines a party spirit with something a little more dangerous (“let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young”), suggesting that the wild child in her is still alive and well. But while it bears easy comparison with several of her contemporaries, it’s also likeable enough not to be too much of a problem.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Broadcaster feat. Peggy Seeger, Bad Bad Girl

BROADCASTER feat PEGGY SEEGERBAD BAD GIRL: The latest offering from Broadcaster’s Folksploitation LP, featuring Peggy Seeger, is opening track Bad Bad Girl. And while not one of the album’s best it still showcases the success of this marrying of styles: dance with folk. Bad Bad Girl was originally transcribed from an Alan Lomax recording of Ozella Jones in Florida State Prison in 1936. It now finds Seeger’s haunting, even lamentful vocals set against Broadcaster’s powerful backdrop of swaggering beats and snarling guitars. A remix even comes from dubstep producer Bluze, who has created a deep and soulful alternative that similarly adds some menace to the lament. A south London mix, meanwhile, brings a skank influence but is the weakest of the lot.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kelly Clarkson, Catch My Breath

KELLY CLARKSONCATCH MY BREATH: Where Pink can get away with this kind of power pop thing, Kelly Clarkson sounds like she’s merely copying. Indeed, it’s a faint compliment to suggest that if you closed your eyes and tried to guess whether this was a Pink song or not, you might lean towards thinking it was. Clarkson can carry a tune but this is a strictly generic offering that lacks that certain zip that Pink gives her material. The soaring guitars and swirling electronic backdrop, combined with a powerhouse chorus, are designed to illicit feelings of euphoria and empowerment but it somehow falls flat.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Chemical Smile, Thanks for The Company

CHEMICAL SMILETHANKS FOR THE COMPANY/SUEDE GLOVE: Chemical Smile are an eclectic three-piece from the south coast of England who blend sounds of late ‘60s garage and psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll with the angst and swagger of classic indie acts – or so their PR would state. Instrumentally, they’re pretty solid. But their overall sound stands or falls on how you agree with vocalist/bassist Simon Davies’ distinct deep vocal sound. For me, it just doesn’t work and continually pulls you out of the song, whether on the robust opener Thanks For The Company, or on the more sedate, bluesy Suede Glove. Admittedly, it’s better on the latter but maybe that’s because the guitar work on that track is very good. If you could get hold of an instrumental version, it would be far more rewarding. Alas, Chemical Smile don’t do anything for us whenever the singing begins.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Charlie Lankester, Brixton Road

CHARLIE LANKESTER AND THE MOJO KILLERSBRIXTON ROAD: Charlie Lankester And The Mojo Killers release Brixton Road as a single to coincide with the same day physical release of their album, Song In A Minor Key. A blues standard that’s shot through with great guitar work and some lively piano, this actually comes alive during the instrumentals (and particularly the guitar solos). Vocally, it’s assured, while the lyrics tell a volatile story of life on Brixton Road. But it’s the guitar work that leaves the biggest impression and which has got the critics raving about this performer so far.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Lancashire Hotpots, The Beer Festival

THE LANCASHIRE HOTPOTSTHE BEER FESTIVAL: The Lancashire Hotpots deliver more of their comedy pop-rock in the form of The Beer Festival. Taken from their recent sixth studio album, A Hard Day’s Pint, it’s a comical ode to drinking that does amuse in fits and starts. But once you get past the novelty value, there’s not much to like. The spoke-sung style of delivery fails to get you behind it, even though there’s a karaoke version, while the guitars lack much spark. It’s a short-lived curiosity track, much like a lot of Hotpots’ material.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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