Singles of the Week
After the Lord Mayor's show..... Well, that may be a tad unfair but this week's selection of singles isn't up to the standard of last week's lot. Onwards....
Not to be confused with TV show The Voice 2013, ‘This Voice 2013’ is quite the dramatic single. The drumming and Anna Calvi-like singing lend it a kind of theatrical mood, with a tinge of Moroccan bazaar. If Ane Brun's other re-interpretations, from new compilation Songs 2003-2013, are as interesting as this she's onto a winner.
East London-based Bronze Medallists utilise repetitive and catchy synth beats to hit the spot with ‘Empire’. This is a solid electronica track that seems almost dreamy and has an effective music video featuring clips from a 70’s cult film, that you should be sure to check out.
Girls In Hawaii
Folky-shoe-gaze? Well, that may be going a bit far, but the soft dusky voices in 'Misses', from Belgian band Girls in Hawaii, just float along like ghosts in the foliage of acoustic guitars and woodwinds. 'Misses (Cupp Cave Remix)' is a throwaway like almost all remixes, and the annoying 'Dirty Sands' (trying to sound like Beck but failing) doesn't really work. Final song, 'Words Are In The Woods', takes off where 'Misses' left off. It may sound a bit samey to the title track, but it's still pretty and clearly what these guys are best at.
Everything you need to know about Norwegian rockers Helldorado is jammed in to album opener ‘Gallow’s Bird’, an alcohol-fuelled tale of gun-toting rock ‘n’ roll mayhem loaded with mariachi horns and a surf guitar riff that Dick Dale would be proud of. Those four minutes alone would make Bones in The Closet worth investigating but there is plenty more here to keep you listening. The doom-laced ‘Misery & Woe’ makes for the perfect ‘between bar brawls’ ballad for any self-respecting Mexican border town dive bar, while ‘Dead World’ is a psychedelic joy with oodles of lovely Hammond organ rolling along for the ride. Then there are the epic murder ballads (‘John McMiller’, ‘Times of Trial’ and ‘Johnny’s Song’) which would not seem out place on a Nick Cave album. Amazingly, everything fits together perfectly to make for a raucous and unexpectedly joyous collection of spaghetti western-influenced rockers.Helldorado may well be Norway’s best kept secret but if they continue to make music as downright enjoyable as this then the world should damn well sit up an listen. Bartender! One bourbon, one scotch, one beer, these boys are gonna’ keep me entertained for a long time!
A mighty fine collection of spaghetti western and mariachi inspired rockers. From Norway. No, really!
The new Hurts single ‘Blind’ (from the new album Exile is rather reminiscent of Take That - and frontman Theo Hutchcraft sounds like he’s doing the job of four men in this song that tells the listener to cut out his eyes. A love song at heart, a particularly dark one at that, the song uses thunderous drums and synths to create a picture of trust, hurt and betrayal in just under 5 minutes. Overall, a melancholy drenched song that's only enhanced by Hutchcraft's voice.
After releasing such a brilliant debut album this single, from the 'Gold Edition' of Devotion, is a disappointment. It’s a bit like the dark old days of faceless dance-by-numbers from a decade ago. It’s not bad, just a bit dull. Pick up the album instead.
'Spin The Bottle' is a delicate and refreshing offering from Neil Halstead . The raw vocals are paired with a simple yet effective guitar and violin combination, which adds a sense of melancholy to the track.
An emotional synth driven song that sounds as if it’s heading towards a big climax that never quite happens - which ultimately leaves it underwhelming and wondering where the past 4 minutes of your life have gone. However, this does not mean the song is bad by any stretch of the imagination, just a tad deflating.
Sub Focus Ft. Alex Clare
‘Endorphins’ sees Sub Focus leave his drum and bass origins behind to team up with Alex Clare , on a catchy yet unambitious dance track. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the song and it’s sure to be a success in clubs, but in trying something so overdone, debatably, Sub Focus may have lost his niche.
Seriously, this single hasn’t even been released yet? If you’ve not heard it then you clearly haven’t tuned to Radio 2 in the last month - they’ve played this to death. Despite that, it’s a damn catchy tune, although it veers dangerously close to annoying. With a touch of country guitar, it’s a return to form for the band. Now what's the rest of the album like?
This is a curious one, this. After retiring The Streets in 2011, fans of Mike Skinner's laddish lyrical genius have been waiting to see if his threat to disband was a mere PR ploy (Lily Allen, anyone?) or a genuine full stop. It turns out it's neither really, as the everyman Brummy poet has teamed up with Rob Harvey, he of shoulda-beens The Music, to deliver The D.O.T. debut; Diary is a record that hinges on a modern concept, the final fruit of an online video project, but combines elements of Skinner's past musical glories and Harvey's experience as a charismatic frontman to deliver something that will please fans of both yet has fun in throwing up curveballs.Skinner himself takes a backseat to Harvey, who relishes the chance to lead with the same blend of bawdy swagger and surprising sentiment that Skinner triumphantly turned in on his best albums. Harvey also brings with him the same danceable grooves that underpinned his band's best and made them a more exciting proposition than the Razorlights and Keanes that flooded the mid-noughties. The sound is playful, largely setting mid-tempo anthemics to a backdrop of drum machines and synth loops, with some oddball experiments such as the leftfield disco-pop of 'Left Alone' and 'Wherever You May Be' (which, at one point, sounds like Jamiroquai). 'Most of My Time's funky soul is a great highlight but represents something of a hit-and-miss eclecticism about an album that nevertheless retains Skinner's original voice and lyrical charm, while giving Harvey a second chance to shine.
AKA What Mike Skinner Did Next
With it’s catchy hook and sing-a-long-a chorus this is a great choice of second single for The Traps. It’s well produced indie-rock with an almost retro vibe, maybe that’s the trumpets. ‘The Honey Drip’ is a great accompaniment to any sunny days we might see.
Single of the Week
Pleasingly ambitious, Swim Deep might just be onto a winner. At just shy of six minutes, they manage to take shoegaze pop out into the realms of up-on-a-strangers-shoulders gig anthem. Imagine if Chapterhouse had ambitions to be James or U2. I'll hate myself in the morning, but this is really good.