Singles of the Week
It's time to take a break from building those arks and check out this week's batch of singles. Let's get down to it boppers.
After their terrible "experimental" EP Night Train in which they tried to be edgy and cool (and failed), soft-rockers Keane return with what they do best. 'Silenced By The Night' goes back to basics, a pretty song with lush arrangements, pretty piano chords and sung in Tom Chaplin's very pretty voice. Keane will be well pleased.
Maps & Atlases
Maps & Atlases begin to up their indie-rock credentials with their second full length album, even though it may not be an album which suits the mainstream listener. Before you can really get into Beware and Be Grateful, you first have to get over the tone of the vocals. It’s a shame because the riffs are neat and the melodies catchy, yet singer David Davison sounds like he is suffering from a case of awkward autotune. At times his voice is like a sponge, sucking the energy out of what could potentially be crushing anthems. Think Mumford and Sons without the endearing factor.Beware and Be Grateful starts out promisingly with the muted guitar intro of ‘Old and Gray’ fitting perfectly with the harmonising backing vocals. It gives a simplistic yet somehow misleading introduction the rest of the album. They show their ability to pen an acoustic track with ‘Bugs’, which keeps a steady pulse without becoming boring. ‘Vampires’ picks up the pace, moving from Mumford territory into a more Kings of Leon country twang, filled with energy which is absent across much of the rest of the record. This is a band who potentially have a great sound, if only they could build the courage to leave their comfort zone. ‘Silver Self’ is an example of how they toy with the idea of originality, yet don’t quite grasp it. The six minute song could easily be two separate tracks, the latter half is littered with reverb heavy guitar licks which render the first three minutes impotent. Still hope then, but Maps & Atlases need to find a way to iron out the inconsistencies.
Inconsistent follow-up from indie outfit.
Patrick Watson's first single from forthcoming album Adventures in Your Own Backyard is a dainty blend of string arrangements and complementary alternating male/female vocals. A sickly sweet summer ditty likely to be gracing the soundtrack of your local Starbucks any day now.
Third effort to be taken from Rebecca Ferguson's best-selling debut Heaven, 'Glitter & Gold' doesn't divert from the formula that made her full-length so successful, but why would you when you have such a powerhouse vocal as Ferguson? The result is pleasingly involving and soulful pop that'll be lapped up by fans, even if it won't change the minds of listeners who weren't already enamoured with the X Factor songstress.
All blotchy beats and unique instruments - bathtubs, garbage cans et al - 'Hold On To The Metal' from Canadian six-piece Royal Canoe is an interesting listen if nothing else. It feels too much like a collection of samples rather than a collaborative whole, but you certainly won't be bored. Neat little video too.
The first project to be released from electronic duo Stay+ - that's Stay Positive, not Stay Plus, fact fans - is likely to be warmly embraced by fans of the genre, although perhaps not your casual listener. Arem opens with a wall of distorted feedback on 'Call Him' and proceeds through a series of looped samples and dance beats to craft five tracks of perfectly realised electronic dance with the right splash of weird, particularly on the title track which ends as abruptly as it starts. Guest vocalist Daniel O'Sullivan (Sunn O))) among others) appears on 'Guardian' to steal the show, although it's worth noting that Stay+ fans might already have their hands on that track from its release last month.
Although softened slightly at the start by Alice Gold's vocals, 'Out The Blue' soon transforms into an energy rich, drum and bass anthem - standard stuff from the mighty Sub Focus. The drop comes early and from then on you may as well just hang on and enjoy the ride! Expect plenty of memorable signature synth and a driving bass line to match, from a producer with clearly a great deal of experience in creating music for people to go absolutely mental to. Download it here - http://zaphod.uk.vvhp.net/v-v/120423125911
Sub Focus - 'Out The Blue' by Sub Focus
The Dandy Warhols
US indie rock band originating from Portland, Oregon. Well-known for songs including 'We Used to Be Friends', 'Not if You Were the Last Junkie on Earth' and biggest hit 'Bohemian Like You'. Albums include 'Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia', 'Welcome to the Monkey House' and 'This Machine'. Led by singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor.
Single of the Week
Overcoming what is perhaps one of the longest titles in recent musical history, Dan Mangan's 'About As Helpful...' coasts by with a wonderful, one-two rhythm and husky vocals that make it just about as lovely a two-and-a-half minutes of music that you'll hear all year.