Singles of the Week
Well, it may have been a bad week for the Coalition, but this latest crop of singles shows that things are going strong on the music front. There are some real doozies here, but only one clear winner. The choice is simple...
Available in no less than seven versions, Archeo's follow up to debut single 'Mr. General' fittingly flies through several styles in just three minutes. There's the slightly irritating, squeaky backing vocals; the smooth-as-silk central vocals that would slot effortlessly into any R&B chart effort; and instruments which appear to have been imported from a funky dancefloor filler. It's quite a concoction and...we rather like it. Why? Beats us. We just do.
Eyes On Film
Recorded and produced by band members Joe Leach and Dan Mills, with mixing duties falling to Teo Miller (Placebo), the three-track debut EP from London-based four-piece Eyes On Film is full to the brim of dirty guitars and distorted vocals, falling the right side of unsettling to be utterly compelling. The title track hits you hard with its urgent guitar riffs, before 'Criminal Mastermind' takes the tempo down a notch with a fabulously heavy bass line and closer 'Itch' comes out of left field with some catchy psychedelia, leaving you wanting to scratch this particular itch again and again.
With echoes of KT Tunstall and Amy Macdonald - not just in her accented vocal tones, but in ability to deliver heartfelt acoustic loveliness - 17-year-old Nina Nesbitt sets her personal bar high with her second release The Apple Tree. The heartbreaking 'Hold You' - "It's getting dark and I'm alone / I sleep next to my window / In case you decide to come home / And I keep saying 'just wait one more day'" - proves to be the five-track EP's highlight, but delve into any track and you'll be greeted with lush melodies and raw lyrics, all supplemented with Nesbitt's passionate vocals that belie her tender years. Stunning.
Rita Ora feat. Tinie Tempah
With some heavyweight names behind her - Jay Z signed her; Chase & Status and Stargate are on production duties - Rita Ora's debut UK single hits all the right spots and is a slickly produced slice of R&B with a strong electro pop edge. Could probably do without Tinie Tempah's guest vocals though as Ora's smooth tones are enough to grab the attention and hold it throughout with 'R.I.P' suggesting that she won't be getting peace any time soon.
The Magnetic Fields
The Magnetic Fields are a band that deconstructed should sound bloody awful. But somehow the androgynous vocals, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, synth bass line and uncanny feeling that I should be in the 1970's works incredibly well. Quirky pop as you probably haven't heard it before.
The debut release from Violet, AKA Pixie Geldof, shares little with the band she took her moniker from (Hole) with 'Y.O.U.' awash in understated melancholia, bolstered by her smoky vocals. It's lovely, dark stuff and is repeated on 'I Come Undone' where acoustic guitars wile away in the background as Violet's vocals take centre stage. It may not be the brightest of subject matters - "In your tears / I come undone" - but there's no denying the musicianship on display in this highly impressive opening salvo.
We were big fans of Willy Moon's previous effort 'I Wanna Be Your Man', so it's a shame to repeat that he's slightly failed to repeat the trick on 'Yeah Yeah'. It's certainly still distinctive and not like anything else out there - even if it is built around a Wu-Tang Clan sample - but it just doesn't quite gel like the rockabilly stylings of 'I Wanna Be Your Man'. There's little doubt that his debut full-length, when it comes, will be something unique to behold though.
While a ukelele might be the only fresh element on Zoë Bestel's debut single '35 Missed Calls', original thoughts are that it's still a well-crafted, subtle acoustic ballad. Then you discover that Bestel is just 14 which puts everything into a whole different ballpark and you realise that for someone so young to deliver such a heartfelt ballad with pitch-perfect vocals, Zoë Bestel is something of a special talent.
Single of the Week
Melodic, atmospheric, beautiful, sumptuous, 'Man Of Simple Pleasures' should finally put to rest the "lads' band" tag that has been dogging Kasabian for years. The song moves at its own deliberate pace spurred on by Tom Meighan's skilful delivery, while the slow brooding melody shadows him, until finally taking off into sweeping Technicolor splendour. Utterly divine.