Music Features

Singles (2007/01)

So it's January already. The last three weeks have passed by in a blur and I was so busy compiling our end of year feature that I forgot all about our fledgling singles section. The prize for my disorganised approach to reviewing? A rather daunting stack of CD singles at No Ripcord HQ. My aim is to diligently work my way through them this month, hopefully with a little help from some of my writer friends.

If you'd like to contribute to these pages yourself why not a look at our advert for writers here? Seriously, what have you got to lose?

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29 JANUARY, 2007

Tobias Froberg - 'God's Highway'

Poptones (Listen at MySpace)

A dreamy exchange of jangly, finger picked acoustic guitars and breathy, double tracked vocals, the latest single from Poptones' Tobias Froberg bears an alarming to the work of Simon & Garfunkel. And guess what? Froberg lists Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel as influences on his MySpace site. As far as imitations go this isn't half bad, but two albums into his career one can't help but feel that Froberg should be finding his own voice by now. (6) DC

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The Bronx - 'Shitty Future'

Wichita (Listen at MySpace)

Taken from The Bronx's second album - which Rock Sound alarmingly named album of 2006 - Shitty Future is the sound of a very confused punk band. Essentially a very commercial, structurally dull pop song, this would probably fit quite nicely onto MTV playlists and the like. The guitars are reasonably heavy, but it's all very glossy and neatly packaged, the kind of thing misguided suburban teenagers who think they're a bit edgy listen to. The fact that the track is called Shitty Future also means it'll be represented in public by a credibility sapping clean version. I hope they're embarrassed. (4) DC

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23 JANUARY, 2007

The Hours - 'Back When You Were Good'

Polydor (Listen at MySpace)

Dubbed Britain's most powerful new band by The Guardian, The Hours a.k.a. Martin Slattery and Antony Genn certainly offer a more palatable alternative to the current deluge of mediocre Britrock acts. Having worked with artists as diverse as Black Grape, Joe Strummer, Pulp and Elastica, Slattery and Genn have obviously got a wealth of experience, and it shows on this shimmering orchestral number. A simple piano melody and sombre string arrangement is the soundtrack to this tragic tale of a faded talent; lines like "you're like a vampire, you suck everybody's blood, oh how I wish I knew back when you were good" could apply to a multitude of musicians, artists, or people in general, but I'd suggest there's probably an element of autobiography in here too. So, maybe the Guardian is right? I guess time - and the band's upcoming album - will reveal all. For now, though, this is clearly one of the best British singles of the year so far. (8) DC

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The Enemy - 'It's Not Ok'

Stiff (Listen at MySpace)

This tedious would be anthem, the second single from Coventry's the Enemy, encapsulates everything I dislike about the more middle of the road brand of British guitar rock. For starters, the production job from Owen Morris (Oasis, Ash, the Verve) is horribly dated, imbuing the track with the stale beery atmosphere of Britpop at its worst. And then there's the vocal; that heavily accented, laddish whine synonymous with 'the swaggering, charismatic frontman'. Of course, this wasn't even vaguely interesting ten years ago and it certainly doesn't stand up now. One to avoid. (4) DC

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The Answer - 'Come Follow Me'

Albert Productions (Listen at MySpace)

Is there a place for The Answer's brand of shamelessly retro classic blues-rock in 2007? Not on my hard drive. Come Follow Me is well executed and far less gimmicky than other recent 70s inspired acts (I'm thinking the Darkness here, obviously) but it's also incredibly predictable. And funnily enough the solo's pretty rubbish too. (5) DC

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19 JANUARY, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - 'Satan Said Dance'

Wichita (Listen at MySpace)

This refreshingly dark little number is the lead single from CYHSY's second album Some Loud Thunder, which hits shelves later this month. Dominated by a simple yet persuasive 2 note bass riff and finished off with some of producer Dave Fridmann's trademark bleeps and squeaks, Satan Said Dance heralds a refreshing new direction for the band. Not that we didn't love their first record; it's just nice to see band's taking risks once in a while. Standing still is for the Coldplay's of the world. By the way - interested parties can check out the whole album over at the band's MySpace page. (8) DC

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9 JANUARY, 2007

Taxi, Taxi! - 'Old Big Trees / To Hide This Way'

Rumraket (Listen at MySpace)

Copenhagen's excellent Rumraket label is fast becoming one of the most interesting of its kind. Swedish duo Taxi, Taxi! is the latest addition to a roster already bursting with talent as diverse as Efterklang, Cacoy and Kama Aina, and if the two tracks available on Miriam and Johanna Berhan's MySpace site are anything to go by, their upcoming EP could bring the label the more widespread acclaim its flawless catalogue deserves.

Old Big Trees is a beautiful, childlike gem. The vulnerable lead vocal reminds me of a more palatable Joanna Newsom (without the Bjork-isms or occasionally silly lyrics) while the soaring harmonies easily overcome the slightly scratchy quality of the recording. To Hide This Way is better still. This time the mood is less playful, more melancholic, with a fragile finger-picked guitar figure that Cat Power would kill for. When the sparse piano counter melody comes in, only to be followed by a more confident vocal and, you guessed it, yet more sublime harmonies it's hard not to get carried away. 2006 was a great year for Swedish music. If Taxi, Taxi! have anything to say on the matter 2007 might even eclipse it. (9) *SINGLE OF THE MONTH* DC

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5 JANUARY, 2007

Little Barrie - 'Love You'

Genuine / PIAS (Listen at MySpace)

The latest single from London-based trio Little Barrie is a jaunty slab of old school rhythm & blues. Lively, inventive drum work is complemented by playful bass and choppy guitar, and the only thing resembling a weak link here is Barrie Cadogan's vocal performance. Harmless retro fun.

(6) DC

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4 JANUARY, 2007

Popup - 'Chinese Burn / Stagecoach'

Art/Goes/Pop (Listen at MySpace)

From Chinese Burn's opening chords of urgent, fuzzy guitar to the climactic chorus - firmly embedded in your memory by this point - it's clear that Glasgow four-piece Popup are determined to convert their obvious potential into genuine success in 2007. The more pop influenced Stagecoach is an innocent tale about the perils of public transport, featuring some fun lyrics and decent vocal harmonies. How's that for range? Expect them to be one of this year's SXSW success stories.

(7) DC

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The Earlies - 'No Love In Your Heart / Breaking Point'

679 Recordings

I enjoyed These Were the Earlies but I wasn't expecting this. Sure, No Love In Your Heart starts off traditionally enough with a rather tasteful cello intro. Then at around the 20 second mark a Moog enters the fray, the cello exits, and the track marches off ecstatically into a psychedelic heaven of synths, stunning vocal harmonies, triumphant horns and massive drum fills. The five minute plus prog inspired instrumental Breaking Point is equally ambitious and - you guessed it - just as impressive. Perhaps these two tracks are our first taste of one of the 2007's finest albums? I for one can't wait to find out. (9) DC

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