Follow Us on Twitter

Music - Singles of the week - Monday, September 17, 2012

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

First Aid Kit, Wolf

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FIRST AID KITWOLF: First Aid Kit, comprised of sisters Klara and Johanna Sderberg, release yet another highlight from their excellent The Lion’s Roar LP in the form of the rousing Wolf. Built around intricately woven guitar licks, atmospheric percussion and a heady mix of vocals, the song builds to a cracking chorus complete with distinct ‘hey ya-i-ya” harmonies. There’s something equally foreboding and beautiful about it, lending it an instantly striking quality. But it’s one of several gems from an album that’s also simultaneously getting a re-worked package. The LP has been lavishly re-packaged for release on the same day with bountiful bonus material including DVD (on-the-road documentary and single videos), additional tracks, a poster, a 20-page booklet and FAK guitar pick. The album has sold 150, 000 copies world-wide (30,000 in the UK alone) and is fast becoming one of the biggest indie breakthrough success stories of 2012 – and deservedly so.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Album review

Listen to the track:

The View, The Clock

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE VIEWTHE CLOCK: Think you know all there is to know about The View? Then check out this new single, The Clock, a cracking indie ballad that showcases a less cheeky side to the band. Rather, it’s a gritty, yearning song infused with emotion that neatly encapsulates the band’s mission statement of creating an album akin to “Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours done by The Clash”. This strips away any punk elements, though, in favour of some strikingly classic British guitar riffs and a similarly striking brooding element. The chorus probably rates among the most powerful in their back catalogue to date, while the change of pace is refreshing. The Clock was written by vocalist/guitarist Kyle Falconer, bassist Kieren Webster and Angelo Petraglia, the unofficial fifth member of Kings of Leon. It’s no small compliment to say that this would sound just as good coming from that band too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Album review

Watch the video:

Patterson Hood

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: PATTERSON HOODBETTER OFF WITHOUT: Drive-By Truckers’ frontman/co-songwriter Patterson Hood has just released his debut solo album, Heat Lightning Rumbles in The Distance and now drops Better Off Without as the latest single. And it’s a gem. Featuring the singer’s gritty vocals and a classic American rock vibe akin to the likes of Dylan, Petty and Springsteen, this is a gloriously feel-good rocker that boasts a catchy, sing-along chorus, a bittersweet vibe and some solid riffs and tinkling piano chords. The chorus is made for singing along to thanks to its central refrain of “and I’m thinking about things that I’m better off without”… in this case, a woman who has got away. It may lead one or two of you to reflect on what you’re better off without… but you’ll be having a good time toe-tapping along while doing it. Masterful stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Listen here:

Melinda Ortner, Strangers EP

EP OF THE WEEK: MELINDA ORTNERSTRANGERS EP: Melinda Ortner was born and raised in California, and for the past five years she’s been based in LA, launching her music career. Her first single Heartbeats was originally written for the US movie I Hate Valentine’s Day. She also penned tracks for the Finnish movie Gone With The River – her track of the same name made it into Billboard Top 100 in Finland, while Heartbeats was instead chosen for the major film American Pie: Book of Love, which really introduced Melinda to a vast audience. Since then it’s had more than 40,000 views on YouTube, been aired on several US radio stations, was regularly featured on MTV2, Showtime, HBO, USA Network and Pay-Per-View. Her debut EP Strangers only looks set to raise her profile further. Comprised of four tracks, the EP showcases an honest songwriter who likes to use the piano as her main tool of composing, but who also brings in percussion, electronic/acoustic guitar, bass, effect pedals and cello when in the studio with producer and co-writer Asaf Rodeh. Title track, Strangers, is arguably the most striking… building from a lone cello opening, before showcasing a dark electronic sound and a striking set of vocals that sound vaguely haunted (“maybe it’s a bad dream, nothing’s what it seems to be, you’re all I see”). It grips and has an atmospheric, cinematic quality about it that could easily find its way onto another soundtrack. The melodies are insantly brighter on Wait Another Day, which boasts a smoother set of vocals from Ortner that, in turn, lend the song a warmer vibe (even if the song has a bittersweet quality to it again). Sweet Little Lies, meanwhile, drips with romanticism and is a classic slice of chillout that showcases her vocals at their most dreamy (bearing comparison with the likes of Sia Furler). It’s sultry, composed and a really nice listen. Somethin’ Sorry rounds things off with a foot-stomping piano arrangement, some snappy, jazzy electronics and a playful, sexy vocal that only serves to enhance Ortner’s diversity and likeability even more. She’s an artist to keep a close eye on.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Watch the video for Strangers:

No Doubt, Settle Down

NO DOUBTSETTLE DOWN: No Doubt’s return has, perhaps, struggled to gain the momentum it deserves but Settle Down could well change things for them by reverting to the type of formula that first got them noticed. That is to say ska-inflicted beats, rousing guitar hooks and a belting lead vocal from Gwen Stefani, still sounding as fresh, lively and playful as ever. It’s a celebratory song that also offers something of a statement of intent lyrically, with Stefani declaring “I’m trying to get a hold on this, and I really mean it this time”. The wey hey hey chants are designed to enhance the feel-good value, while Eastern influenced additions at the start and midway point also embellish the sound and add to the layering. When they’re on form, No Doubt are difficult not to like.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website

Watch the video:

The Cribs

THE CRIBSANNA: The third single to be taken from The Cribs’ top 10 charting, current album In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull is the lively Anna. Featuring some crashing drums, an incendiary central riff, a touch of Beach Boys harmonising and a sometimes shouted verse and chorus, it’s the type of song that’s designed to set the mosh-pit going in giddy unison and has quickly become a fan favourite. But while certainly lively, even riotous at times, it’s missing something… maybe a maturity that would really set it out as a great anthem for them. The video was made by Turner Prize winning artist and fellow Wakefield musician Martin Creed.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Listen here:

Tom Williams & The Boat, Little Bit In Me

TOM WILLIAMS & THE BOATLITTLE BIT IN ME: Little Bit In Me is the new single from Tom Williams & The Boat and is being released through their own Pledgemusic funded Wire Boat Records. It’s arguably one of the most instantly accessible tracks on the current album, Teenage Blood, offering a classic melody draped in Tom’s intuitive story-telling (which errs towards the very dark, even violent). Evidence of an imagination run wild, Tom’s lyrics meander and stagger through a landscape of scarred and pitted characters, all ever present in a nightmarish gene pool he seems to yearn to escape from. The edgy guitar sound, intricately woven violins and rousing chorus create a heady brew, while the sudden stripping down of the elements for the final stretch (prior to the rock-out finale) only makes you stop and take notice even more. It’s another great piece of song-writing from their likeable act. What’s more, it’s all been brought to life by Ceri Amphlett, creator of The Go! Team’s memorable artwork for Thunder, Lightning, Strike, for a beautiful yet suitably eerie pagan-esque woodland video. Explains Tom: “The masks seemed especially relevant seeing that the song is about monsters in some respects. Ceri also had a cinefilm camera which gave it that elephant man feel. For the first time ever we went into the video shoot, without any idea of what we were meant to be doing and we just did whatever Ceri asked us to do. It was really fun to make and all over in a couple of hours!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Read our exclusive interview l Album review

Watch the video:

Example, Say Nothing

EXAMPLESAY NOTHING: Example – aka Elliot Gleave – drops the rap element of his repertoire in favour of singing over his latest offering, Say Nothing, and perhaps endears himself more. Built around rock riffs and a euphoric electronic element, this is a rousing, crowd-pleaser of a song that clearly has one eye on filling stadiums. He can’t quite resist dropping in a rap during the song’s latter stages, set against the backdrop of a soaring guitar riff, but while that may be the most ill-advised part of the song, the Coldplay-esque “woo hoo”s that follow that interlude are genuinely euphoric. You can forgive some things… and Say Nothing has enough going for it to place it among the more recommendable chart-bound releases of the week.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Watch the video:

Lianne La Havas, Forget EP

LIANNE LE HAVASFORGET: Fresh from her Mercury Music nomination, velvet-voiced Londoner Lianne La Havas re-releases the single Forget. Bringing a classic tongue to a classic style, the 22-year-old jazz-soul chanteuse delivers a post break-up retaliation song about being dumped and then a year later asked to sing on a song by her ex. It’s a suitably feisty, fiery offering that finds La Havas’ distinct vocals set against a buzzing bass line, some funky back-beats and an angry energy that provides a perfect backdrop to the no-nonsense lyrics (“if you heed my sound advice, there is no need to tell you twice”). It’s also compulsive evidence of why Le Havas is among the hot tips for Mercury success (as one of only two women shortlisted).
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Watch the video:

Rockburn, Better Man

ROCKBURNBETTER MAN: Scottish rock five-piece Rockburn have previously made it big in America after their past single Red Dress got picked up and used by hit TV show Burn Notice. Their latest, Better Man, could well be similarly successful for them. Displaying the band’s penchant for easily likeable songs, this combines booming, bluesy beats, foot-stomping piano chords, monstrous guitar riffs and a great raspy set of vocals. What’s more, it has a classic American vibe to it that makes it ripe for crossover appeal on both side of the Atlantic. It really lets go at the end, too, delivering a rabble-rousing finish to a song that quickly gets into your head and refuses to shift in a good way.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website

Watch the video:

Rodney Branigan

RODNEY BRANIGANMUDDY JESUS: Rodney Branigan comes over all moody for his latest single Muddy Jesus, a fine acoustic track that’s nicely embellished with some evocative piano. Comparable to the likes of Ben Howard and Newton Faulkner, Branigan also stands out by virtue of his Texan tones (he’s London-based) and – in this song’s case at least – a darker vibe. The percussion element of the song, achieved by a combination of pounding his hand against the wood of his guitar’s body and employing some bongo drums, also gives the song an extra element of atmosphere. Those deep, distinct vocals provide the perfect focal point too. It’s a nicely achieved mix that further enhances the whole singer-songwriter scene that seems to be thriving right now.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website

Watch the video:

Pitbull feat Shakira, Get It Started

PITBULL feat SHAKIRAGET IT STARTED: Pitbull has already collaborated with the likes of J-Lo and Usher to chart-topping success, so it’s little wonder he continues that trend by hooking up with Shakira. Alas, the combination is pretty awful. Pitbull’s rap is unappealing, the Ibiza-leaning synths and beats generic and soulless and Shakira’s input feels as though it belongs in its own, better song. It’s one of the least successful fusion of styles that I’ve heard in a long time and actually sounds like two songs spliced together – neither of which is particularly appealing. Get It Started is mainstream, commercial dance-pop at its most bland and awful.
Rating: 1 out of 5

Website

The Tuesday Club

THE TUESDAY CLUBDOLLY DYNAMITE: The Tuesday Club release their debut single in the form of Dolly Dynamite, which sounds like The B-52s mixed with The Cars and Roxy Music… or, as one critic put it, “Roxy Music doing The Rocky Horror Show”. That certainly lends the song a kooky, even camp-rock vibe that could well get them noticed, while the delivery is cheeky and celebratory enough to endear them too. But as sharp as some of the riffs are, and as theatrical as the production values are too, there’s a reluctance on my part to fully embrace it. There’s a kitsch element that suggests this band could be more of a one-hit, retro-laced wonder. Still, it could liven up the odd party.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5


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