Singles round-up 30/05/11

Here we are again folks, with the world-famous ‘Gods singles round up. However, not just any normal round-up, but the first one of June(ish)! Here’s hoping that we see a marked change in the style and feel of our singles from slightly moody and apprehensive to completely ecstatic and intrepid! Although it tends to be that some of the better singles are released at completely the wrong time of the year and as a result suffer in sales numbers – the sunshine-basked song Don’t Falter by Mint Royale (with Lauren Laverne) is a definite summertime repeater, but was released in January! Mind, number fifteen in the charts isn’t to be quaffed at (thanks Wikipedia). Lets see if we’ve got any early summer soundtracks making our way already with this week’s singles round-up.

First and foremost we have Young Rebel Set and their new single Lion’s Mouth. YouTube is telling me they’re from Teeside, which accounts for the fantastic intonation within the singer’s voice if that’s indeed true. It sounds very cheesy but at it’s heart Lion’s Mouth is simply a brilliant ‘proper’ rock song. There’s no bells, whistles or gimmicks – simply a real backline of instruments backed up by thoughtful and thorough lyrics: “And I thank God for all my days/and to forgive my wicked ways/and let him without sin cast the first stone.”. They embody the same feelings of frustration and uneasiness as The Walkmen and Interpol, but with perhaps even more grit and determination. The key factor for Young Rebel Set is that Lion’s Mouth sounds and feels genuine. It doesn’t come across as a track that could have it’s composition thought up on a piece of paper – but had to be experienced. With the likes of Chapel Club helping to rediscover backbone in (semi)mainstream music, hopefully Young Rebel Set will continue the same trend with their new album, which is released this month.

Well, I’m going to continue using my cliche of ‘proper music’ with Stagecoach‘s Jonah Lomu. It’s very similar to something perhaps Weezer would release, with Stagecoach’s singer Luke Barham providing excellent grunge-pop vocals along with the expected (but never disliked) overdriven guitar. Seeing as Jonah Lomu is in fact a big, hulking beast of a man who plays rugby union, it’s fairly safe to say that this namesake song certainly lives up to the guy. At under three minutes it’s rather short, but any longer and the spontaneous, flash-in-the-pan feelings of the track would have been diluted – making the unmovable Jonah Lomu turn into a slightly less scary Joan Collins. It’s a song that could have perhaps been better suited on only an album rather than a single but, at the same time it’s still a very nice, smiley, dance-about-a-bit track that’s sure to get under the skin of many people (in a good way). I do rather like the very moreish chorus, along with the no-nonsense guitar. There’s also not a violin, brass section or ridiculous synthesiser in sight, which is rather refreshing in 2011. I imagine that Stagecoach will work very well in a live setting – probably more than they do on record.

Now we have Cosmo Jarvis and his new track Sure As Hell. Christ, at least it’s a bit better than Gay Pirates, which I thought was poor. The lead track from his new EP gives Jarvis the opportunity to show the world exactly what he can do a lot more than his previous outings (outings…gay…Gay Pirates…see what I did there?) The banjo section of the track is lovely, and goes well with the surf acoustic guitar and practically horizontal double bass. The chorus is upbeat and kicks everything up enough of a notch to make up for the slightly laborious verses. The short guitar-breaks help to mix it up a little bit towards the end of the piece, as well as the nicely rounded harmonies. This is the first of of Cosmo Jarvis’s tracks that I’ve thought had a decent bit of substance and vigour about it, so there’s still hope for him yet. Hey, at least he’s more interesting than Jack Johnson!

Arctic Monkeys now with Don’t Sit Down ‘Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair. They’ve become a band with a bit more bite now, and Don’t Sit… continues that trend. The low, thumping bass notes that permeate throughout the track are deliciously provocative, with the growling Alex Turner holding back just enough to let the music flow around his daunting voice. Perhaps the smallest snippet of Matt Bellamy’s guitar style in Muse can be heard within this single. If anything else it’s excellent to see a hugely successful band evolve and redevelop themselves as time and music changes around them – it would have been all too easy for AM to offer up the same recycled and rebranded tracks whilst making enormous quantities of cash, but this single at least shows how Arctic Monkeys have, and will continue to, alter their musicsphere. It sounds like the muzzle and leash stopping Arctic Monkeys from jumping the indie fence have finally been severed and burned. It’s a track that bares it’s teeth and snarl much more than previous outings. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair could very well change the wrongful opinion some people have about the Arctic Monkeys.

Blooming heck we’re having a moody singles round-up this week. We’re not switching off the distortion pedal just yet as we now have Is/Is with their new EP and the lead track Blackest Beat. The tracks are rather like stepping through a time-machine (yeah, the coolest time machine in the world) back to the times of L7 and about a bizillion other grunge bands. They really are a rather good band (also frustratingly difficult to Google), and have the peculiar advantage of being completely stranded in their genre these days when compared to the mid-nineties when there would have been ten carbon copies of them on every American street. Perhaps Is/Is can become a lone shaft of grunge light (in that case light that is lethargic and very moody) to pave the way for a slow tide of more crunchy and spikey bands like these Minnesota ladies. The tracks are rough-cut and (maybe purposefully) of low-grade quality in terms of clarity, but the only result is that of a nostalgic return and a wonderful feeling of DIY music that is all but lost in the ProTools world today.

Seasick Steve is back with his filthy blues, and the new single You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks. It’s a song that needs to be blasting out of your speakers and sledgehammered into your ear-drums in order for Steve’s vision to hurtle into your brain the way he intended. The single itself is proof of it’s title being just, as the track isn’t anything we haven’t heard before by Seasick Steve, but you can’t help but be enveloped by the sheer dirtiness of the guitar and fall in love with it. The lyrics defiantly plant themselves into the ground: “I’ve been this way for a long long while/There ain’t nothing I need to fix”. I’m with you Steve – if you continue to release gut-busting singles like this then no one’s going to try and neuter you. The fact that his songs continue to feel genuine and just as angry, despite his phenomenal rise into fame in the past few years, is remarkable.

This has been one of the most gutsy and generally all-round annoyed singles round-up I think I’ve ever had to cover – so much so that my rather limited lexicon field under ‘grunge’ and ‘mean’ has been completely exhausted. Wonderful! Brilliant! Finally, some music with a bit of soul and heart! You can stick your indie twangy guitar and skinny jeans where the sun doesn’t shine – I’m much happier with this batch of music any day. And my single of the week? It’s going to Young Rebel Set and their excellent Lion’s Mouth. It’s great to see a bunch of lads just producing some quality music for once. I’m looking forward to hearing their album.

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