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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, October 20, 2014

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

Josh Pyke

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: JOSH PYKELEEWARD SIDE: Acclaimed multi-ARIA Award winning (think an Aussie version of the BRITs) acoustic troubadour Josh Pyke returns to the UK this autumn to promote his latest record The Beginning And The End Of Everything, his fourth Top 10 Album in his native Australia. The latest single from the LP, meanwhile, is this brilliant gem, Leeward Side. Boasting a typically strong set of vocals from Pyke, this unfolds as a slightly dancey and alluring acoustic affair that is also shot through with stabs of harmonica. The woo-hoo harmonising heightens the melodic structure, while the toe-tapping energy is utterly infectious and completely life-affirming. Pyke has previously impressed with Memories & Dust, which boasted such memorable tracks as Middle of the Hill and Sew My Name. The Beginning And The End of Everything is just as good.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Whyte Horses, The Snowfalls

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: WHYTE HORSESTHE SNOWFALLS: What happens when you put an obscure Mancunian music chronologist on a three month sojourn in the heart of the Italian countryside with some battered analogue recording gear, some cheap guitars and a female vocalist and friend to explore themes of the human condition and daydreams of fantasy with one piece of decoration: a poster of their favourite band Os Mutantes looming large on the wall, offering some company and direction during this time of solitude? The answer is new groyp, Whyte Horses. And if you want to get an idea of what this actually sounds like, then look no further than beautiful new single The Snowfalls. The song is a retro-leaning ode to winter landscapes and romance that combines ‘60s flower power elements with hazy psychedelia and dreamy melodies that lend it some contemporary nous as well. It’s a daydream of a record that keeps getting better with each new listen and is great for putting you in a chilled out, nostalgic mood – perhaps even pining for some snowfall of your own!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Animal House, Sour

ANIMAL HOUSESOUR: It’s difficult to resist hailing Brighton based, Brisbane born garage-rockers Animal House as the new Strokes after listening to new single Sour for the first time. And it’s no small compliment to say so, either. The post-punk guitar sound that rattles along is present and correct, as is the vocal sound that accompanies it. Sour is a rollicking garage rocker that’s high on energy and instant appeal. To coincide with the release, the band have also dropped a sharp new video that takes the song’s title at its most literal – it captures the band and friends’ reactions to chomping down on lemon slices!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fiction, Lonely Planet

FICTIONLONELY PLANET: Following the release of their critically acclaimed debut album The Big Other, London-based Fiction have announced a new EP on November 3, ahead of which comes the new single Lonely Planet. The song is a trippy journey through the planet we call home that drops a haunted, almost falsetto vocal and some ghostly synth strands. It also comes alive whenever the guitar loop is introduced, adding a compelling element to a song that entrances and beguiles in equal measure. Fiction formed in South West London in the late-2000’s by brothers Mike and Nick Barrett and friend James Howard. Their early chaotic, yet thoughtful excursions into post-punk were later refined by the addition of David Miller on bass and Danish drummer Jacob Smedegaard. The band’s debut album, The Big Other – its name borrowed from French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan – layered intricate melodies around themes of nostalgia and introspection, showcasing an expansive range of ideas and sounds. The last 18 months have seen the five-piece evolve a more candid approach to their songwriting. Co-singers Mike and James weave a narrative that balances contemporary concerns such as hyper-connectivity and cultural stasis with a human vulnerability and desire for tenderness. Sonically the band have continued their exploration of alternative 80’s soundscapes whilst adding unexpected textures that also reveal a love of psych, prog and early rave. The forthcoming In Real Life EP – named after the web-chat acronym IRL – forms a compelling bridge between their debut and their forthcoming second LP, which is due for release in 2015.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Bonnie Prince Billy, Quail & Dumplings

BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLYQUAIL AND DUMPLINGS: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s Quail and Dumplings single plays in the wake of his latest album, Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongues, which exists simultaneously as a new album, an alternate-reality version of Wolfroy Goes To Town, and the concluding record of two separate perceived trilogies within the Prince’s catalogue. The track manages to balance contrasting perspectives within itself – one of great lack and wanting, and the other of a sense of greatness coming. This shifting tone is greatly enhanced by the fiddle of Billy Contreras and the additional vocals of the well-travelled Caroline Peyton. The song alludes to travellers who may be unclear on when their next meal is coming, but are still determined to keep their positive outlook on the journey of life. While the video operates with a set of conflicting perspectives. The track is intelligent and melodic, with the fiddle and contrasting male-female vocals providing it with a compelling hook, from which it really grabs you and takes you on its journey.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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John J Presley

JOHN J PRESLEYHONEY BEE: John J. Presley seeks to take his electrified blues to explosive levels in new single, Honeybee, which positively crackles with edgy energy. Following in the dirty footsteps of his riff-ridden debut single, Left, Honeybee sees Presley harness the saturated fuzz of Jack White, the unrelenting momentum of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the whisky soaked vocal howl of a certain Mr Waits. It’s a raw, lived-in, hedonistic romp of a blues rocker that thrives on its firecracker guitar work and gruff vocals. Honeybee was recorded by Presley in the short time between playing the highly regarded BBC Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds , and preparing to join The Jim Jones Revue on their last ever tour through Europe, ending with their biggest show to date at The Forum in London. Growing up with a distinguished record collection at his disposal and a penchant for vintage guitars, John J. Presley has honed his distinctive blues sound from an early age, citing the likes of Tom Waits, Duke Garwood and PJ Harvey as his personal influencers alongside the soundscapes of Archie Bronson Outfit and early Black Keys too. On the evidence of Honeybee, it has delivered some sweet rewards for fans of the medium – old school and vital.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Whyte Horses, The Snowfalls

SALT ASHES – IF YOU LET ME GO: Emerging singer Salt Ashes, aka 22-year-old Veiga Sanchez, will release her second single If You Let Me Go through Radikal Records.Written and produced while sleeping on floors between Ibiza, New York and Berlin, it takes in her love for epic electronic grooves and melancholy drenched melodies with a nod to early eighties Madonna and the New York club scene. As a result, you can well imagine the track enjoying bigger success in the US than here, where the penchant for that ‘80s sound remains stronger than ever. Here, it sounds a little dated, albeit kitsch and fun in small doses. Sanchez has a decent set of vocals, that do occasionally echo early Madonna infused with something ethereal, as well as a touch of Cindy Lauper. The synths, meanwhile, have that cheesy ‘80s energy that could turn off as many people as it turns on. But there’s something catchy about it that makes it a passable, if nowhere near essential listen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hayden Calnin

HAYDEN CALNIN – I CORRUPT: Hayden Calnin is an electronic/progressive/folk artist hailing all the way from Melbourne, Australia. His sound combines atmospheric ambience with a touch of honest folk and is quite often under-pinned by a hypnotic electronic beat. New single I Corrupt looks set to appeal to fans of Bon Ivor and Volcano Choir in the way that it drips with atmospheric instrumentals and thoughtful lyrics. It’s a minimalist track to begin with that’s marked out by the haunted, echoed vocal that is to the fore. But the eventual electronic flourishes that weave their way in and out every so often also lend it a hypnotic, even cinematic vibe. It’s not entirely successful and you have to be in the right mood, but when you are it does grip in an ethereal kind of way. And Calnin would seem to be one to keep an eye on.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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