Singles of the Week
Free! Free at last! My last ever Singles of the Week - unless I do that whole Player-Manager thing when the gifted frontman goes down with cramp and I swap the suit for an ill-fitting pair of shorts and the number 19 shirt on a dark Tuesday night away at Grimsby.
What have I learned in all these years? Very little, beyond the fact that too many acts put out music that next to no-one will ever listen to. You wonder 'Why is the label releasing this?' Do they sit around and think, 'This is amazing! This deserves to be heard!' Surely not?
Most of what lands on the mat week in, week out, is just alright. Not terrible. It's usually well played, well recorded. You may give it a mental 6/10 but you never return to it and you probably forget it by the time you've done that week's admin. There are always exceptions, of course. That one track that stops you dead. I wonder if this week is gonna have one of those?
12 Dirty Bullets
'Motown' from London band 12 Dirty Bullet is a deliciously dark and dirty little number. Jamie Jamieson's whiskey-soaked vocals and the cacophony of drums and guitars really propel the song along. An excellent slice of old-school rock and roll.
Ex-Magic Dirt vocalist Adalita turns in an assured solo debut. Comparisons with PJ Harvey are valid, this almost dreamy track underlies a much deeper sound that kicks into a dirty, almost psychedelic mid-section. A gorgeous, frequently surprising listen.
If you find Ladytron too human, then Austra's cold mechanics may just fit the bill. Sexy, like the touch of cold steel on flesh.
Benjamin Francis Leftwich
What starts off as a thoroughly nice, yet little else, folk track is elevated by a finale boasting an utterly gorgeous male/female harmony; 'Atlas Hands' is slight and genteel, bordering on nondescript, but Benjamin Leftwich Francis manages to craft a track that lingers long after the final note. Marvellous.
Fine taster for the album (also released this week). If you like this kind of yearning girl/boy indie, then the full length is a no-brainer.
City of Glass
What is it with Canadians and their uncanny ability to produce smar,t snappy pop music? The latest purveyors are Vancouver’s City of Glass and this collection of shimmering synth-led beauty is a perfect introduction to their carefully constructed, melodic stylings. ‘The Tourist’, with its hypnotic rhythms, is probably the pick of the bunch but there really are no weak spots on the wonderfully laid back EP.
Double A-side from electronica’s latest ice queen. With its growling dubstep bassline, 'Professional Loving' is the stronger of the two tracks and it certainly works as an antidote to pop's assimilation of the genre. Emika successfully creates an air of detachment - but should hardly be surprised when, at least in this case, the listener remains unmoved.
Vintage Bells, 'Into The Sky' is familiar as these things can get. At time Juanita appears to be channeling Kate Bush, a comparison that gains more acceptance when accompanied by the retro video. It's a welcome return that bodes very well indeed for the album.
Certainly an odd, but welcome (in our eyes), choice for a single, 'Who's Laughing Now' is easily Jessie J's Marmite track. A defiant middle finger up at her detractors, it's a track full of vocal quirks and unique instrumental backing but equipped with an undeniably catchy chorus that should win over fence-sitters. There's every chance that there'll be as many who are turned off by it as well though...
Leona Lewis / Avicii
Hmm, somebody needs to tell Leona Lewis that synths do not a dance-pop diva make. Her vocals are first-rate as ever, yet there's nothing escaping the fact that they're just on the bland side; we should be lifted once she shows her full range during the chorus but instead we're just left focusing on how the two elements (synths and vocals) don't seem to match. We'll reserve full judgement until we hear a whole album of her "new sound", but first impressions aren't exactly inspiring.
Pop's perkiest peroxide returns. Not nearly as soulful as 'Cry Me Out' or as damn catchy as 'Turn It Up', Pixie swaps sweet pop for club beats. A bit predictable and market-led, sadly, as is the video, in which tattooed bad lads compete with clumsy product placement and Pixie's perfect pins. (Note to record company: if you don't want us reviewing your artist's legs, then don't make them the focus of her video.)
A rollicking fuzzed up piece of 60s infused surf pop that gets better with every listen. If everything on their upcoming debut LP is as fun as this, it should be a blast.
The second single to be taken from their forthcoming debut album Whatever, 'Flowers' is a short, sharp burst of futuristic electro pop that might bear all the hallmarks of a bad video game soundtrack, yet is moulded by TEETH into a distinctive lo-fi gem. Essentially it's like Crystal Castles on happy pills - make of that what you will.
Flowers by TEETH
There are times in this job that your heart sinks as soon as you put in a CD. Kicking with the same hideous synths that marred their debut single 'Already Gone', the EP's title track doesn't bode well for the rest of the three tracks. However, leaving them off for 'Begin At The End' marks a lift in quality and the McFly-y 'There She Goes Again' is decent enough guitar pop and probably the EP's highlight. 'Close To Me' strips everything away for an intimate acoustic moment at the end, leaving you wondering just why they are so obsessed with modern sheen when they do good, old-fashioned ballads pretty well. More A1 than Take That, but there may be hope for The Kixx yet.
Tomson & Benedict ft. Bantu Soul
This inoffensive soulful house track never rises above sounding like dance mix filler.
With its African rhythms and guitar lines, 'Pepita, Queen of the Animals' somehow manages to sound more like Vampire Weekend than Vampire Weekend do. It's pleasant enough.
Single of the Week
DELS feat Roots Manuva + Joe Goddard
A collaboration between DELS, Roots Manuva and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, 'Capsize', full of darkness and fight, is the aural equivalent of three heavy weights slugging it out. The squelchy bassline rivals Roots’ own 'Witness (1 Hope)', processed horns add a touch of funky chaos, and the lyric has it in for our current political rulers while pleading for people solidarity. ‘Cameron better stay clear of my arse.’ When was the last time a single sounded so riotous and so essential in message?