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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, January 26, 2015

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

The Little Secrets, All I Need

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE LITTLE SECRETSALL I NEED: Liverpool’s The Little Secrets are Kevin Dixon and Stacy Jo. Formed in 2010 after meeting at Liverpool’s world famous Cavern Club, Stacy was singing with another band when Kevin spotted her. Blown away by her talent, Kevin decided on the spot to ‘steal’ Stacy for his new project, and after two years of writing together and experimenting with different line-ups and sounds, the pair found their sound in infectious pop, echoing the likes of Camera Obscura and BMX Bandits with a nod to Phil Spector’s production style. New single All I Need is firm evidence of this sound – a bright, breezy slice of guitar pop that feels sun-drenched and celebratory. Stacy’s vocals provide an endearingly sweet focal point, while the sharp guitar hooks and slick beats (coupled with a handclap breakdown mid-track) are all geared towards getting those toes tapping and that head nodding along. It’s a joyous record and one that sweeps you along with its positivity.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bipolar Sunshine, Daydreamer

BIPOLAR SUNSHINEDAYDREAMER: Bipolar Sunshine is the Manchester raised alternative pop sound of Adio Marchant. With an eclectic new-age ambient soundscape and melancholy soulful lyrics, he conjures up the romance of escapism, drawing inspiration from life’s wonders and imperfections. He has built an avid following through the release of two EPs and a collection of singles, most recently with Deckchairs on the Moon and Future (Part 1) feat. Goldlink. New single Daydreamer incorporates everything Bipolar Sunshine has become so known and so loved for. An a-typical pop track, which blends both the despondent and the upbeat with intelligent and unique lyrics and a vast, all-encompassing chorus, this is one of the week’s best releases. It’s lively, it’s fresh, it manages to be bittersweet and radio friendly and it grows on you the more you hear it (which will be quite a lot come the end of the year given Bipolar Sunshine’s burgeoning appeal). The song is a collaboration with SBTRKT and was produced by Fraser T Smith (Adele, Lily Allen, Sam Smith). The video, a kaleidoscopic vision of a daydreamer’s wild mind, was directed by Tomek Ducki and illustrates the mind behind the man better than anything has before.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Roam, Warning Sign

ROAMWARNING SIGN: Eastbourne-based five piece Roam drop Warning Sign as the lead track from their new Viewpoint EP (also out today). The track is a lively slice of pop-punk that actually provokes favourable comparisons with some of their former US counterparts (bands like Lit and early Blink-182). The guitars, in particular, stand out with some riffs that combine the edgy and punk-leaning with the melodic and endearing. The drums, meanwhile, crash and bang with the manic energy of all good pop-punk recordings, while the vocals are full of life and rebellious energy. It’s a useful snapshot of a band that look set to make quite a big splash on both sides of the Atlantic.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bright Light Bright Light, There Are No Miracles

BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHTTHERE ARE NO MIRACLES: There Are No Mircales is the title track from Bright Light Bright Light’s (aka Rod Thomas) new EP (also out today). The track is taken from his acclaimed second album Life Is Easy and is, says Rod “about seizing the moment and making your own luck by hard work”. “This is what Elton [John] has taught me, and what the last year has been about,” he continues. “I hope the joy my band and I felt throughout this whole experience comes across on these exclusive live recordings.” Actually, it’s the sort of record that tells things like they are, denouncing the idea of miracles and talking up the idea of hard work and making your own luck/success. The backdrop is a series of swirling synths, background harmonies and disco-pop beats. It’s an OK listen but it won’t set the world on fire, no matter how notable the sentiments underpinning it.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Nathan Rateliff, Closer

NATHAN RATELIFFCLOSER: Nathan Rateliff releases a new six-track EP, Closer, to kickstart another year, the lead track of which is the title track. A live favourite, it’s a stripped back, heart-on-sleeve offering that finds Rateliff at his most open and personal. Early on, especially, it’s just Rateliff’s vocals before a very subtle, lightly strummed acoustic guitar joins the fray for the chorus. Rateliff declares throughout: “We’re closer now than we’ve ever been.” But there’s almost an inherent sorrow to the vocals that lends the track a bittersweet quality. It’s a distinct sound but perhaps a little too stripped back for some tastes. Indeed, the sparsity of the record is a problem that prohibits the song from earning broader appeal. For while Rateliff certainly has a powerful voice, it perhaps needed a little more instrumental backing to earn the song wider appeal on this occasion.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Dizraeli & The Small Gods, The Depths

DIZRAELI & THE SMALL GODSTHE DEPTHS: Dizraeli & The Small Gods are a six-piece band playing their very own breed of psychedelic hip-hop music. With award-winning rapper and multi-instrumentalist Dizraeli on lead vocals and featuring World Female Beatbox Champion, Bellatrix, they are unlike anything you know – and on this evidence, that’s not necessarily a good thing. The psychedelic elements don’t work at all well with the hip-hop, while the surreal, oddly sinister electronics create a disorientating sound that is both uneasy and ultimately annoying. Even the belated inclusion of female vocals from Bellatrix can’t do much to save this. It’s an oddity – but not in a good way. And while the track does sort of come alive around the two and a half minute mark, it still fails to ignite any excitement.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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LuvBug

LUVBUGREVIVE (SAY SOMETHING): LuvBug drop a slice of soul-heavy dance-pop that is notable for changing genres mid-track but which falls a long way short of inspirational. Early on, there’s a soulful refrain to the vocals as the singer goes in search of the perfect love and a second chance. But it then suddenly drops a dance vibe akin to the super-clubs of Ibiza for a heavier, dance-orientated chorus. It’s then the kind of sound that Faithless might have pulled off. But while elevating the track momentarily, it then drifts back to the bland soul territory and only intermittently re-introduces the harder dance stuff. The overall impression is something that doesn’t really work on either level and which eventually becomes repetitive.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Iggy Azalea, Beg For It

IGGY AZALEA feat MO – BEG FOR IT: “I’m gonna make you beg, I’m gonna make you beg”… so sings Iggy Azalea over another sassy, attitude-laden slice of hip-hop infused rap-pop. It’s more urban leaning than some of Iggy’s previous efforts and jacked up on the kind of attitude that belongs in a Fast & Furious movie. But while the beats are suitably slinky and the electronics are atmospheric, the song only really comes alive when Iggy starts to sing “I know you like the way I turn it on”. Otherwise, the aforementioned attitude becomes something of a turn-off. Beg For It is far from Iggy Azalea’s best work.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Selena Gomez, The Heart Wants What It Wants

SELENA GOMEZTHE HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS: Selena Gomez comes over all moody for her latest single, The Heart Wants What It Wants. An ode to a struggling romance that features lines such as “save your advice because I won’t be hear it” and “there’s a million reasons why I should give you up” this nevertheless finds the singer pursuing a doomed relationship because “the heart wants what it wants”. It’s strangely appealing, though, in the way that it drops those melancholy sentiments with finger-click beats, breathy vocals, atmospheric synths and a yearning chorus. As pop songs about heartbreak go, this is better than average and boasts the kind of appeal that could even reach beyond the Gomez fanbase.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Fergie, LA Love (la la)

FERGIE feat YG – LA LOVE (LA LA): L.A.LOVE (la la) is Fergie’s first new music since A Little Party Never Killed Nobody, which appeared on the platinum soundtrack to the 2013 film The Great Gatsby. It’s a typically feisty offering from the Black Eyed Peas luminary, with breathy vocals, a catchy urban-pop electronic hook, finger-click beats and a grinding beat. If the verse is laden with attitude, then the chorus opens out into something more instantly ‘pop’ and sing-along… something the obvious inclusion of the ‘la la la’ element serves to heighten. It’s Fergie doing what Fergie does best and you can’t deny it has an engaging quality that sweeps you along with its grinding rhythms. If it appeared on the soundtrack to a Fast & Furious-style movie no one would be surprised. As it is, the video celebrates the love Fergie has for L.A. by featuring her rolling through the streets of the city, from downtown to South Central to Venice Beach and up to Hollywood Boulevard’s Mann’s Chinese Theatre, on a custom psychedelic party bus. Fergie personally invited several L.A. icons to the video shoot, who all appear in the video, including YG, who raps on the track, the song’s co-writer and producer DJ Mustard, Kelly Osbourne and Chelsea Handler amongst others.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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GHXST, Nowhere

GHXSTNOWHERE EP: Following the release of a few infectious singles, Brooklyn-based doom/blues trio GHXST return with the release of Nowhere EP. The EP has been recorded over the last year between New Orleans, Nashville and Brooklyn. Even though the band’s characteristic doomy/grungy sounds of their first releases are all there, Nowhere EP also shows a more ethereal and grounded side to their music. The second track to be taken off the EP is No Luck, a song that captures the band at their heaviest and most intoxicating, as singer Shelley X’s moody vocals echoes against a wave of droning guitars. It’s also the sound of the band at their most accessible, with the towering riffs providing a thrilling focal point and almost drowning out the vocals, which have something of a foreboding/monotonous quality. Elsewhere, the doom/blues can get a little heavy-handed, with tracks like Slow Down and Nowhere creating an uninspired wall of sound that offers little in the way of variation or ear-pleasing melody.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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