Singles Round-Up 09/05/11


J&TW showing everyone the windy pitfalls of the top-deck of a boat.After a ridiculously short second year at university, I am now freeeee to cavort within the world of work up until September so I can save up lots of pennies. In reality that actually translates to sitting in my shorts whilst watching James Bond DVDs all day, desperately trying to remember that I’m a journalism student. I’ve been off for a fortnight and the line between real-life and Goldfinger have already started to blur. Well, at least it means that I’ll have plenty time to splurge out pointless nothings on the glorious GIITV, and that there’s plenty opportunity to listen to lots of new music – perfect timing for the festival season! Oh hang on…singles round-up. Yes. Here we gooooo…

Firstly we have Frankie And The Heartstrings with That Postcard. Based just up the road from me, the Sunderland ensemble have been gaining lots of attention from the media and fans alike following the 2010 single Hunger. The track has a lovely intro, with the jangly guitars maybe echoing something like The Cure. Frankie Francis’ intonation works very well with the Heartstrings’ accompanied music – he doesn’t go over the top and doesn’t emphasises his accent in any ridiculous ways, which is a trap people often fall into. That Postcard is an excellent example of indie-pop loveliness, and is perfect for mass radio. It’s certainly the most accessible F&TH single to date and could very well spell the beginning of many more fans. The lyrics are rather melancholy and soulful when compared to the upbeat tune (“You left me feeling so torn apart/And now I kiss the ground you walk on/But I don’t want to tread on your toes“), but the result is a contrasting mixture of emotions that give a lot more substance than would have perhaps previously have been thought possible by an ‘easy’ track like this. That Postcard is a ‘proper’ single from a ‘proper’ band – they’ve got a song that isn’t over-the-top and doesn’t go ‘out there’ to try and prove anything, but it’s lovely to listen too and is destined to illustrate what Frankie And The Heartstrings are all about perfectly.

Next up is Moby and his new one The Day. Moby himself has mentioned how he first wrote the track on an acoustic guitar and recording it on his phone – it certainly shows…it’s one thing to take influence from David Bowie and Brian Eno (which obviously many artists do, and rightly so) but it’s another to make a track that basically sounds like an attempt to BE David Bowie. Maybe I’m just being cynical (or most likely just completely missing the point) but he sounds exactly the same as him on here! It doesn’t sound like a track that will stand the test of time. It will be lost in the myriad of forgotten tunes and “How did that one go again?” tracks within weeks, let alone a few months or years (cue it being a massive hit and me looking like a twat). It has the expected slow verse and build-up to a semi-uplifting chorus, along with lots of fuzzy synth noise and dramatic vocals. And that really is about it. Sorry Mobester but I’m not buying it – even if you have claimed that it’s a deeply personal track, it’s still a crap song. The Day sounds like a B-Side, or a mess-around track Moby’s created just for his own enjoyment. I don’t know…maybe that’s the whole point? I suppose one of the best things about being Moby is that you can release whatever you want – and after the ridiculously brilliant Play, I’m almost inclined to say “Fair enough”.

Take note Moby – this is atmospheric music done the right way! (just in case you had forgotten, because I know how much you value my opinion) Because now we have Clock Opera with the beautiful Belongings. The track is elegantly simplistic, and embodies avante garde elements whilst still holding onto the fundementals of a solid single release for a band. The background strings (I think) and keyboard loop in an excellent way throughout the track in order to keep a sense of continuity alongside the more traitional vocals of Guy Connelly, whose warm, deep tones compliment the delicate and fragile composition of the entire piece along with the simplistic yet powerful lyrics (“Sometimes when I wonder about you leaving/The shape of the hole when you’re gone.”) At it’s core, the track frames the way in which a relationship can alter and change the perception of someone, and the way you can change yourself. It all builds up to a final explosive and emotive finish, with a bass synth signalling the obligitary ‘uplifting’ moment that helps to make the track a little bit more interesting (without this the single would perhaps be a little empty and sparse). Belongings feels like a Panzer tank that’s been made out of glass – brittle and frail, yet it possesses an incredible punch.

For some God-awful reason Ra Ra Riot have released Too Dramatic this week. Normally I try to be constructive with my criticism – there’s no point in giving negative reviews just for the sake of it. However, Too Dramatic is so gut-wretchedly awful that I am actually struggling to even consider it a song. It doesn’t even make me mad – it just makes me sad that this THING even exists. I mean, who on earth thought that THIS would be a good idea!? What type of sick individual came up with the idea of releasing Too Dramatic? If you ever wondered what it would be like if someone said “Right, this ‘Indie’ thing is apparently very popular at the minute – lets be INDIE!” Then Too Dramatic is it. Complete with looking like they’ve just spent a million pounds in Topman on all the colourful frilly shite you can buy there now, Ra Ra Riot go through the awful (AWFUL!) motions of a paint-by-numbers track that could be placed in ‘Indie Pop’ without actually having any idea what on earth they’re doing. Now, Scouting For Girls are a band that I do not enjoy, but I can still understand and see what they’re trying to achieve – just nice, simplistic pop songs with very catchy and fun lyrics. I don’t enjoy them, but I at least respect them. But this THING Ra Ra Riot have created? It’s an abonomation. “HANG ONNNN!!!! We have a cello and violin, surely that makes us more interesting!?!?!” I can almost hear them cry – well, no it doesn’t. Over 50,000 views on YouTube already. God help us.

BREATHE!!!!

…//[Normal Service is now Resumed]//…

ANYWAY! Joana and the Wolf now, with their brilliantly brooding single Hide Me. I can hear a bit of Siouxie Sioux somewhere, and perhaps some PJ Harvey in the dark and sinister music. This single is the first thing I’ve heard from this band, but if the rest of their stuff is similar then I can safely say they’ll be an excellent band. My only complaint is that it’s so short! At a mere 2:44 the track is begging to be carried on a little while longer (or perhaps it’s simply me being a little greedy). The flash in the pan nature of the track means that there are no big ‘moments’ or harmony-heavy chorus, but the piece actually benefits hugely because of this. Hide Me is mature, elegant and above all else – ridiculously cool. It feels like a piece of music that isn’t trying to impress or entertain the listener – it exists simply to do so – the result is a track that pouts and sulks manacingly, whilst the listener can’t help but fall in love with it. I am so glad I listened to this cracker straight after Ra Ra Riot.

HANSON ARE BACK! Yes! The geniuses of the 1990’s have released a new track this week, Give A Little. It might be just because of nostalgia reasons (come on, Hanson were the boyos back in the day) but this single isn’t bad at all! It’s Hanson doing what they’ve always done (but with slightly more stylish hair) – just fun pop songs that will make you smile and want to dance – and there’s nothing wrong with that at all! The guitar in the intro is really nice, and builds up the foundations of the track nicely. Taylor Hanson’s vocals sound exactly the same as they did in 1997, with fans of Hanson being able settle into this new vision of the band very quickly. There’s enough in the track to entertain younger audiences as well as adults, with the brass interlude and more mature and up-to-date recording techniques and lyrics.

Well, that’s it for another week my lovely people. There’s been some absolute gems this week and one or two complete and utter stinkers. But, this week my single of the week has to go to Ra Ra Riot (only joking! HO HO HO HO HO). This week I am giving the single of the week to Joana And The Wolf’s Hide Me (although I was half tempted to give it to Hanson, just because). The track is just fantastic. The only thing going against it is it’s shot length, and the fact that it isn’t the most radio-friendly single, which could mean that a lot less people will get to listen to it than it deserves. That’s it for another week. Over and out!

Joana & The Wolf – Hide Me by Leyline Publicity

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