Singles of the Week
What better way to start your week than checking out the latest selection of singles.
'Cough Cough' is the first taster we've had of Everything Everything's second album Arc (out January 14th) and they seem determined to be as pleasingly unconventional as before. Jonathan Higgs' characteristic falsetto vocals are present and correct, as are the jagged sharp synths that swim in and out of the background. The result? A track that's delightfully idiosyncratic and so very unique.
The debut release from Leeds four-piece Fun Adults impresses for its musicality if little else. Double A-side 'Sap Solid / Acacia' is exquisitely crafted, the soft guitars and percussion melding perfectly with the dreamy vocals, but both tracks wash over you rather than grabbing you with something memorable. It all means that you're almost sure to like them while they last, yet almost as sure not to remember much about them once they're over.
Accomplished, atmospheric and airy indie but I've checked the manual and 'Hands Down' is not a single. It's almost three minutes before it picks up some Joy Formidable-style momentum and then it all just ends in a puff of 'this is an album track'.
You know you are on the fast track to sure-fire cooldom when you have This Is England's Vicky McClure starring in your video as your mum. 'Two Fingers' from young Jake Bugg's impressive debut, is a kitchen-sink drama of boozy step-dads, brooding teenage angst and dreaming of one day getting out, except in this fairy tale ending the dream comes true. The scruffy council estate kid does indeed leave it all behind as he heads out on road to fame and glory. And this is the song to take him there.
If you are 13 years old and think One Direction are musical visionaries ahead of their time, then you may like pretty boy-band Lawson's insipid power ballad 'Standing in the Dark'. Otherwise, no.
Those wacky Scandinavians seem to have a cunning knack for producing quirky and wonderful slices of modern folk music. This jaunty piece of cello and darburka driven chamber pop is no exception and when they combine with Olsson’s crystalline voice the result is simply delightful.
There may be a fuller instrumental backing to Nina Nesbitt's new single 'Boy' than on her most recent EP The Apple Tree, but there's little doubt who the real star is here. Nesbitt's vocals lift this effort above your average singer-songwriter outings; all raw emotion and understated power, they suck you into the track and will leave it spinning round your head for days to come. Superb.
Picture Book put a spin on present day pop with the release of their second EP Songs About Aimee. Dotted with electronica and merging club beats with sugary pop hooks, this is perfect for those who enjoy pop music (it's okay, we won't tell) and are looking for something a bit more credible to satisfy their sweet tooth. It's accessible without being boring, and the effect-laden vocals even manage to escape the auto-tune trap.
Her debut album Heaven was unexpectedly strong, an authentic mix of soul grooves and pinpoint balladry, and here's one of its highspots. It's not much more than piano and voice but the delivery is everything. Ferguson sings with such conviction, you forget she's still so young. And she might be from the X Factor conveyor but here's evidence that sometimes, just sometimes, the cream rises.
One of the standout tracks on The Pond's self-titled album, ‘The River’ fuses classical folk stylings with eastern rhythms to great effect. Add in the brilliant voice of folk legend Kathryn Williams and you have a simply brilliant piece of music that lives long in the memory
Proving even Australians can get in touch with their sensitive sides, 'Frivolous Life' is a technicolour tinnie of soulful electro pop that seems ideal for a spin at the end-of-the-night/new-day-dawning o'clock. We will have been in bed for hours, obviously, but we sleep easier knowing the young people still have quality tunes to come down to.
Single of the Week
See, this might justify the buzz. Smooth, sophisticated and very 2012, the jittery beats don't overwhelm what is, at heart, an old school British soul track that won't scare the horses. If there's a danger, it's that things will get a bit too Soul II Soul and 'Your Drums ...' will just appear on every second cookery programme and BBC trailer, but even so, better than The xx for sure.