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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, April 20, 2015

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

Madonna, Ghost Town

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MADONNAGHOST TOWN: Madonna releases one of the highlights from her current album in the form of the moody power-ballad Ghost Town. One of the more thought-provoking cuts from the new album, this starts out amid some sombre electronic notes before dropping a massive but moody back-beat that elevates the song to some pretty great heights. Madonna’s vocal, meanwhile, remains as distinct and powerful as ever, lending extra emotional heft to the vulnerable lyrics. It’s less dance orientated than most recent Madonna material and benefits from the change in pace. It’s arguably one of the singer’s best offerings to date.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: JOHNNY MARR – I FEEL YOU: Johnny Marr marked this year’s Record Store Day with a numbered limited edition 7” release of his interpretation of Depeche Mode’s 1993 classic I Feel You – and it rocks just as hard as that original. A gritty offering that marked one of Depeche Mode’s career undisputed highpoints, the song was marked by a crunching central guitar riff and a powerhouse vocal that proclaimed “I feel you… the rising sun, my kingdom come”. Marr recreates that riff is in his inimitable style, delivering a crunching central riff that really does exhilarate as much as the original, while his vocals are every bit as pained and emphatic as Dave Gahan’s. It’s a treat whether you know the original or not… and one of Record Store Day’s best releases. For the record, Marr played the track live during the closing shows of last December’s North American tour and it went down such a storm that he felt compelled to revisit it in record form. What’s more, the single’s B-side is a live version of The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gemma Hayes

GEMMA HAYESPALOMINO: Irish singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes releases the seductive Palomino as the latest taster from her forthcoming LP Bones + Longing. Wrapped around a sultry vocal, this also boasts an intoxicating central melody that’s both catchy and upbeat, as well as strangely haunting (especially when paired with the way Hayes delivers the vocals). It’s evidence of an artist at the top of her form and capable of widespread crossover appeal (not to mention a shot at a soundtrack moment). The more you hear it, the more you’ll be smitten, while also singing along “ride with me, on my palomino”. The track is also available as a limited edition release for Record Store Day.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Kut, I Don't Want Your Therapy

THE KUTROCK PAPER SCISSORS EP: Having impressed with last week’s single release, I Don’t Need Therapy, The Kut now unleash their Rock Paper Scissors EP. And it’s all good stuff. I Don’t Need Therapy remains our personal favourite, thanks to its crunching riffs, insistent beat and head-bangingly good vibe (which is akin to classic Hole and L7). But also worth shouting about are the even heavier Alekhine’s Gun, which mixes heavy grunge-style rock with even more emphatic Goth-style waving, to create the type of song that bands like Linkin Park, Deftones and Nirvana would be proud to call their own. We’re not usually a fan of too much wailing but it works a treat here. Bad Man, meanwhile, has a gritty rock vibe that also exhilarates thanks to its smart guitar work and Nirvana-esque vocals (albeit in female form), while I Want You Maniac is a fun punk-rocker that – again – taps into a certain Hole/L7 vibe, albeit in grittier style than I Don’t Need Therapy. It’s a strong collection of songs. The EP was produced by James ‘LeRock’ Loughrey who also produced the band’s Make Up EP. He is better known for his production with Skindred, White Zombie and Def Leppard amongst others.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Many Things, Holy Fire

MANY THINGSHOLY FIRE: London-based indie trio Many Things will release their debut album Burn Together this summer on Australian label Dew Process (London Grammar, Circa Waves, Mumford and Sons, James Vincent McMorrow, The Hives…). The first single to be taken from it is Holy Fire, a livewire slice of rock-pop that was inspired by Jon Hopkins’ notion of envisioning mixes as 3D shapes in infinite environments. Boasting an infectious pop hook, and a deep set of vocals, this is a live-wire offering that is almost certain to get those toes tapping (especially thanks to that hopelessly catchy electronic hook). If the vocals let it down slightly, lending it an unnecessary ‘80s vibe, it’s a small price to pay as the instrumentals are so endearing. The track was written by lead singer Michael Tomlinson late at night on a New Year’s Eve spent alone driving coastal highways and wandering the beaches alone. You’d never have thought it when hearing how upbeat the ensuing song is. The video was directed by artist/director Simon Green and Many Things’ Macks Faulkron and shot in a desolate landscape in the outskirts of Amsterdam.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Fred Abbott

FRED ABBOTTFUNNY HOW GOOD IT FEELS: Fred Abbott, former guitarist and keyboardist for the recently disbanded Noah & The Whale, releases his debut solo record in the form of Funny How Good It Feels, a subversive slice of retro-laced indie rock that is something of a blast. A parting shot to his former band (“funny how good it feels to say goodbye”), this is driven by some breezy guitar riffs that almost have a classic ‘80s vibe about them (especially when you hit the solo). There’s a touch of the glam about it, too, while the overall vibe wouldn’t sound out of place on either an ‘80s Brat-pack soundtrack or even a Queen or Darkness record. Nevertheless, it’s also the sound of an artist cutting loose and having some fun on his own terms. It’s taken from the forthcoming LP, Serious Poke, which is currently scheduled for release on July 20. The track itself is also available as a free download.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Broken Hands

BROKEN HANDSDEATH GRIP: Canterbury’s Broken Hands specialise in fuzzed out rock that has already helped to see them play the likes of Reading & Leeds and Sonisphere. Their latest offering, Death Grip, merely underlines their penchant for delivering fuzzed out space-rock that has a Muse meets Manic Street Preachers kind of vibe. The guitars, in particular, stand out and swirl around in heady fashion, while the vocals flit between the band’s two singers to impressive effect, providing plenty to listen to and a nice mix of styles. It’s a song that has already been championed by the likes of Annie Mac at Radio 1 and Xfm and it’s easy to hear why. If you like your music to err towards the heavy, yet ambitiously cinematic, then this – complete with its self-consciously sci-fi elements – ticks all the right boxes for you.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Wealden

THE WEALDENLIFELINE: The Wealden, aka composer/guitarist Justin Quinn and vocalist/songwriter Tim Dickinson, release their debut EP in the form of Rushes today. The lead track is Lifeline, a moody slice of atmospheric post-punk that recalls the likes of Bowie and Queens of the Stone Age. The track is notable for its chugging central guitar riff and funky back-beat, while the moody vocals only heighten the Bowie comparisons. It’s an addictive listen that bodes well for future material. Quinn and Dickinson are perhaps two of London’s best-kept secrets, yet it is likely you have come across them in another guise. Tim Dickinson is an immensely gifted songwriter and vocal polymath whose background lies in choral music (his classical credits are far too many to mention here). He was the voice of Frank Zappa with The London Sinfonietta and David Bowie in Dylan Howe’s ‘Berlin Trilogy’ with Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Hugh Cornwell (The Stranglers). He was praised for his “amazing voice” by BBC Radio 2 in Charles Hazlewoods ‘The Beggar’s Opera: Reborn’ project. He has gigged and recorded with London-based rock band Enamel alongside his own ‘other bands’, Elephant Juice and The Silver Lining. Justin Quinn is a critically acclaimed guitarist and composer whose very early career lies in jazz. Versed in multiple plucked string instruments including lap steel and banjo, he is winner of a BBC Jazz Award for Innovation and was described by Mojo as “a startlingly fresh and deeply individual talent” when awarded the Number 1 Jazz Album of the Year in 2005. Aside from his own critically acclaimed recordings, he has performed and recorded with artists in countless genres of music, from Jack Bruce, Tom Hickox, Shpongle, The Webb Sisters and Leafcutter John, to the Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, Halle and John Wilson Orchestras.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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