Singles of the Week
Children In Need is out of the way for another year and it seems to have taken our charitable side with it. Good thing too: all praise and no scathe makes a music critic a dull boy. Onwards.
Lovely indie-pop nugget from London band Being There. I can hear nuances of The Smiths with undertones of REM. Light, sweet and refreshing.
Debut from the South coast trio which should prick up the ears of anyone who's worn out their Vaccines album. Older readers may hear hints of House of Love. Short, reverb-heavy indie pop of a kind that's been a permanent fixture in student discos for at least 25 years - and this is a solid entry in the canon.
Chase And Status & Sub Focus
Taking a welcome mellower turn, 'Flashing Lights' sees Chase And Status team up with Sub Focus and deliver something subtler than their useful heavy dubstep beats, although they do make an appearance towards the end. It's solid without being remarkable, but with over a million singles sold from their No More Idols album, we don't think they particularly care what we think.
What can you say about a man like Chris Cornell? Is he even human? In the flesh he is unbearably good looking, affable and down to earth. Then he opens his mouth and [i]that voice[/i] comes out, reaching notes high and low that are usually impossible for even the most accomplished singers. Yet years of abuse and stretching his vocal chords to their limits seem not to have affected its power. Listening to this collection, recorded during Cornell's tour last spring, the voice is still as remarkable as it ever was during his Soundgarden years.[i]Songbook[/i] is drawn from Cornell's entire career, with just Cornell and his acoustic guitar. Highlights (of which there are many) include the Temple Of The Dog classic 'Call Me A Dog' (this stripped down version perhaps even more beautiful than the original), and the dreamy rendition of Soundgarden's 'Black Hole Sun'. For Cornell fans old and new, this wonderful collection makes an ideal stocking-filler.
Former Soundgarden and Audioslave vocalist opens his Songbook.
Value-for-money seven track package including all manner of remixes and doo-dahs, taken from Vince and Andy's solid, if unspectacular, Tomorrow's World album. Those who neglected the duo for a while may be most interested in how Andy's voice has deepened over years, giving it pleasing Broadway edge that suits the new material.
Gently beautiful, the debut EP from trio High Highs has much to admire about it. Subtly building tracks with layers of instruments and delicate vocals, the four tracks on offer slowly reel you in and refuse to become background music. Highlight is the gorgeous 'Open Season' which is like a musical match made in Heaven between the jauntiness of The Polyphonic Spree with the ethereal charms of Sigur Ros. Brilliant stuff.
Is / Is
Another slice of blissed out shimmering guitars and cymbals from Minneapolis' google-defying Is / Is. Sarah Rose just gets better on vocals. When you plough a furrow this corruscating, it's a fine line to stay the top side of muddy, but this succeeds in remaining fresh and exciting.
A nice slab of low-key, icy electronica awaits you on Jessie Ware's debut single 'Strangest Feeling'. It's all held together by Jessie's dreamy vocals and some interesting instrumental backing, but we half wish she'd gone for a touch more soul as we reckon she could belt it out like the best of them. For now at least, it's close but not quite right.
Strangest Feeling by JessieWare
kanon x kanon
Frilly dresses; leeks; cellos with names! TMF takes in a slightly odd but enjoyable UK debut performance from this lively duo.
Second single taken from Velociraptor! by Leicester's favourite sons, this is classic Kasabian: infectious beat, arena-sized chorus, just what they do best. The band are definitely on a roll, literally (see excellent accompanying video).
It seems a little while now since Little Boots was part of a mini-wave of female fronted electro. 2009 to be precise since the last last album; the new one will be out early in 2012, and this is the advanced guard. Big squelching bass lines that could have come from some Belgian bed-room producer, a bit of snaky intrigue, the voice of a disco queen, this has mahoosive club hit written all over. The only thing I'm not convinced about is potential to cross-over.
Double a-side from the Ninja Tune stalwart. Both tracks have a kookiness that wouldn't be out of place in a funky chill out bar, but 'Feel It' has a welcome deep house vibe too.
It's often the case that - Leona Lewis aside - X Factor winners often don't have the strongest careers and, as such, last year's runner-up Rebecca Ferguson should be in the perfect position to cash in on the post-Adele public appetite for soulful female singers. She's going to have to do better than 'Nothing's Better Than Love' though. There's no denying the voice, but it's all painfully MOR and dreary as a result. Let's hope her debut full-length Heaven is a bit more dynamic.
"Head down like a lesbian." This may well be the best lyric of the year, but otherwise this taster from Speech's forthcoming album, seemingly both about the process of making music and being a fan, is just kinda... okay. Still, it's free to download from here.
Sport of Kings
Hailing from Brooklyn seems to impart a level of cool that doesn’t always reflect itself in the music you are listening too and Sport of Kings are prime example of the hideousness that can emanate from the borough. ‘Free Jazz’ kicks of Logic House with a combination of bad whistling, annoying clapping, dull jazz noodling and unbearably cloying tweeness that make one want to switch off there and then. Being the trooper I am I listened right through to the end and it really doesn’t get any better as a mix of bad prog rock dull jazz and irritating AOR batters the senses until you have to dive in a cold shower to wash away the pain. Awful.
It's no surprise that Leeds' The Dunwells have secured themselves an American deal, their smooth take on roots-rock seemingly petri-dish grown for the US radio, with 'I Could Be King' defining the notion of driving music. Not life-changing, except maybe for the Dunwell brothers and their colleagues, but well-crafted and catchy. A small sigh of relief echoes round the Treasury as the UK's trade deficit improves ever so slightly.
The Savage Nomads
A pleasant piece of brit-rock/pop from these young lads that bounds along energetically but does little to linger long in the memory.
Originally released as a free download in anticipation of their excellent third album Money And Celebrity, 'It's A Party' is still an absolute cracker of a track - unashamedly loud, catchy and just born for the live arena. If you haven't given them a spin yet, there's not many better places to start.
A bit Muse and a bit White Lies and a whole lot of good, Worship's 'House Of Glass' slowly builds into a thundering beast of a electro-rock effort with its chunky riffs and gloomy vocals. Promising.
Lovely brooding tune from Younghusband. The Smiths' influence really haunts this track, and though it can't come near the original it's still a pretty good try. It's nice that these young bands are reaching into their musical history for inspiration, and if you're going to pilfer, then pilfer from the best I say.
Single of the Week
Erin K & Tash
We like Erin K & Tash. A lot. Debut effort 'Coins' should see you won over to their brand of offbeat, delightful anti-folk as well with it showcasing their supreme talent for story telling and their ear for a winning melody. Add into the pot some lovely vocal harmonies and you have one of the debuts of the year.