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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, November 5, 2012

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

Dinosaur Jr, Pierce The Morning Rain

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: DINOSAUR JR – PIERCE THE MORNING RAIN: Dinosaur Jr drop the second single from their I Bet On Sky LP in the form of the hard-rocking Pierce The Morning Rain. A kick-ass track in every regard, this is built around robust guitar riffs, a chorus that’s high on melody and those distinct, disarming vocals of J Mascis. If you don’t feel the need to thrash around the living room playing air guitar or jump into a car and find some coastal highway to cruise with the speakers turned up loud, then there’s clearly something wrong. This is a joyous celebration of all things great about Dinosaur Jr and it’s not even one of the very best tracks on the LP.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Severin, Ways to Distract

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SEVERINWAYS TO DISTRACT: London electronic duo Severin drop Ways To Distract as their follow-up to the impressive Everything Breaks EP earlier this year and it’s a pretty good new offering. The first single to be taken from the band’s debut album, due for release early next year, this boasts some sharp, distinct electronic loops set against some kick-ass beats and a distinct set of vocals from Elizabeth Anne Martin. The opening 40 seconds are extremely atmospheric, almost teasing the listener, before suddenly hitting you with those killer beats and stabbing synth arrangements. It’s dark and edgy yet simultaneously catchy and cool – a rare dance track that is worth checking out and getting on down to. On the evidence of their material so far, Severin could be set to deliver one of the best electronic albums of 2013.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Skinny Lister

SKINNY LISTERFORTY POUND WEDDING EP: Skinny Lister look to round off a successful and hard working 2012 with the release of their Forty Pound Wedding EP. Comprised of four tracks (and dedicated to ensuring you have a knees-up while listening), the lead offering is a comic tale of cash-strapped love if ever there was one, with Lorna Thomas taking lead vocals and the boys chiming in around her at several moments. The livewire fiddles and flutes are a chirpy addition to what is one of the highlights to be taken from their excellent album, Forge & Flagon. Also included is Seventeen Summers, a waltzing track about moving from a northern seaside town to the dirty delights of London. It’s a nice change of pace. A Psychemagik remix of album favourite Colours adds zip and dance elements to a lovely song (not necessarily for the better) and Plough & Orion gets a Sunday Best remix that’s arguably the weakest offering on the EP. If there is a niggle, it’s that Skinny Lister haven’t included a new track among the four on show here. But as a showcase of why their album is among the year’s best, it’s another winning release from them.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Kosheen

KOSHEENSPIES: Kosheen’s emphatic comeback continues to gain momentum with the release of Spies, from their new album Independence. Combining a throbbing electronic beat with some slick beats and San Evans’ distinct vocals, this is a rousing dance anthem that underlines just why Kosheen remain at the forefront of all things good about the dance scene. There’s darkness inherent within the electronic loops that’s appealing, energy to the beats and a commercial appeal that means they can live in the mainstream without rigidly sticking to formula or convention. This is catchy as hell. Moth Equals, Polarity and High Frequency all deliver remixes of varying degrees of quality. Moth Equals strip things back and come over all atmospheric in a post-Massive Attack kind of way (and impress), while Polarity go for warping the synth sound and stripping things back to more of a dub sound (less successfully). High Frequency, on the other hand, crank up the speed and opt for a more drum ‘n’ bass informed workout. Again, it pales by comparison to the original.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Christina Aguilera, Your Body

CHRISTINA AGUILERAYOUR BODY: Christina Aguilera looks to get her career back on track with new single Your Body, a sexy and suggestive dance track that’s built around grinding electronics and pounding beats. Complete with a sexy video, this is designed to set the temperatures soaring with lyrics like “I don’t need to know where you’ve been” and “don’t even tell me your name” before hitting you with the chorus: “All I wanna do is love your body, tonight’s your lucky night, I know you want it.” You could call it promiscuous, you could call it slutty, you could definitely call it a desperate attempt to get back on the mainstream radar, but there’s no denying the track has an intensity about it that’s eye-catching. By no means a classic, it’s evidence of a star slowly getting things back on track, even if it adheres to a certain formula for success.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Wanted, I Found You

THE WANTED – I FOUND YOU: The Wanted retain the Ibiza-leanings of their former hit single Glad You Came with its follow-up, I Found You. The result is another surefire chart-pleaser that plays to the strengths of Steve Mac’s production ability. Alas, the propulsive electronics and dance backdrop lend the song a generic and soulless quality that are only partially enlivened by the boys’ decision to drop in a falsetto vocal over the super-charged chorus. For all their efforts, though, this still smacks of pandering to the mainstream rather than shaking it up… while the cheesy lyrics add very little to the whole boy band thing (why do so many resort to desperate romanticism that sounds contrived?).
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Mikill Pane, Dirty Rider

MIKILL PANEDIRTY RIDER: Mikill Pane (pronounced Mike-ill Pane) is a quick-thinking hip hop artist from Hackney in London who is hitherto best known for his collaboration with Ed Sheeran on Ed’s Little Lady. He also attracted popularity for his stint on the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds this year. He’s known for his innovative, original, funny and poetic flow and has now been Rider, which does seem to suggest the arrival of a new hip hop talent. The Dirty Rider EP is inspired by the world around him. A keen cyclist, he travels the streets taking everything in, building a rich musical collage built around his own unique adventures. Built around some insistent electronic hooks and a beat that flies close to drum ‘n’ bass levels of intensity, it’s an ode to speed that is delivered in typically quickly rapped style. The chorus, though, finds Pane singing and adding a lot of melodic structure that make it easy to sing along with. It’s a catchy offering and suggestive of a worthwhile and likeable new UK hip hop artist.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sam Lee

SAM LEETHE BALLAD OF GEORGE COLLINS EP: Following on from his Mercury ‘Album of the Year’ Prize nomination, Sam Lee releases The Ballad Of George Collins EP, which features the title track, alongside Goodbye My Darling and On Yonder Hill. If you’ve not yet heard the album, Ground of Its Own and like the folk movement, then you might want to investigate after hearing this. Title track The Ballad of George Collins is particularly strong, showcasing Lee’s distinct baritone vocals over a robust folk foot-stomper that also includes some fantastic banjo playing. It’s a track originally collected by Bob Copper from a Sussex Shepherd, Enos White. But it’s given a distinct delivery here. The remaining two tracks are more of an acquired taste and shy away from the mainstream folk of the likes of Mumford & Sons and company. On Yonders Hill, for example, explores the ever-popular theme of the invincibility of the hare in folklore and is under-stated, building from a minimalist backbeat and incorportating some lovely brass touches (which playfully skip around the main beat and vocals like the hare of the subject). It’s intelligently crafted, if a little long at over six minutes. But it is evidence of why Lee is getting a lot of attention from what is an extremely popular (and flourishing) genre at the moment.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Plea, Stagger's Anthem

THE PLEASTAGGERS ANTHEM: There are moments when listening to Staggers Anthem, the new single from Donegal rock merchants The Plea that you could be mistaken for thinking you’re listening to the new record from U2. The guitar riffs are big, the vocals very Bono-esque (in a good, get them noticed kind of way) and the chorus is suitably anthemic. It’s designed to rouse sing-alongs in live form and has the confidence of a band that has been successfully filling stadiums for years. It’s little wonder that Snow Patrol have welcomed their Northern neighbours to the stages of arenas in Dresden and Cologne… it surely won’t be long before The Plea are headling their own massive venues. Staggers Anthem may have that feeling of being heard before but it’s so confidently delivered that it really doesn’t matter. Springsteen fans may also want to check in and give it a try too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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FaltyDL, Straight + Arrow

FALTYDLSTRAIGHT + ARROW: Drew Lustman, aka FaltyDL, drops his latest dance track in the form of the electronic Straight + Arrow. Billed as beautiful, widescreen club music, this combines a funky, playful electronic bed with some bluesy vocals that provide a generally satisfying whole. It also serves notice of why Lustman is so highly regarded within the Ninja Tune ranks. Remixes come from Four Tete and Gold Panda… the former re-imagines the original initially with the vocal hook and the shuffling beat but evolving it into a late-night crescendo of acid-tinged electronica. Gold Panda, meanwhile, chops things up to create an alternate groove. In between, Mike Q and Divoli S’vere concentrate on the beat, piling kicks and claps together for a sparse but compelling floor-filler. It may just be our favourite of the remixes given the energetic vibe it creates.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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City Reign, Ahead of Ideas

CITY REIGNAHEAD OF IDEAS: Idlewild combines with REM for Manchester indie-rock trio City Reign’s new single, Ahead of Ideas. Taken from their forthcoming debut album, Another Step, the song is an anthemic offering that successfully combines rising guitar lines with well versed melody. Vocalist and guitarist Chris Bull has a very Roddy Woomble like vocal, while the backing vocals are layered in like a classic REM track, resulting in a chorus that is as invigorating as it soars. To heighten the sound, the band took to Sacred Trinity Church in Salford to record the track to bring out the most of its natural reverb and to add depth to the band’s classic guitar sound. Bull states: “It’s one of the most ambitious tracks we’ve recorded. But we’re really happy with the rich and atmospheric sound we achieved.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sebastopol

SEBASTOPOLSEND THE BOATS: Send The Boats is taken from Sebastopol’s debut album, Hello All Stations, This Is Zero, and is a pretty likeable indie-pop offering that is built around classic sounding jangly guitar riffs and gritty vocals. The band have been likened by many to The Police but this adheres to an earlier form of guitar pop that is even more retro and accessible. Nick Powell, vocalist and bass player, drew inspiration for the song itself while making a documentary about seals being murdered by a mysterious ‘corkscrew killer’ on a remote island in the North Atlantic, during which he became marooned with his production crew for two weeks. The experience of literally being lost at sea, and the consequent feeling of helplessness, became the inspiration for the single and much of the album. And if you don’t get that while listening to the guitar backed song, they’ve also delivered an a capella version that really brings the despair and uncertainty in the lyrics.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Stooshe, Waterfalls

STOOSHEWATERFALLS: Having delivered their biggest hit to date with the Motown leaning Love Me, Stooshe now take a step backwards with their latest offering, a cover version of TLC’s Waterfalls. And while the decision to focus more on their vocal prowess than their cheesy pop/dance inclinations continues to pay off, the song itself didn’t need revisiting or updating. The girls have a decent set of lungs and could well become the new Sugababes if they continue in this vein, but they need to choose their material a little more carefully. In this case, the familiarity inherent in the cover version merely breeds contempt.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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