Singles Round-Up 17/08/11

By Bryan Gregg


Tribes Sappho

Londoners Tribes release this single on the back of a summer of festivals, featuring a particularly well received set at Latitude. Sappho as a single probably takes just a wee bit too long to get started – with over half a minute of background sounds and faux-radio tuning before the crunch of the first early-Suede style guitar. That Brett Anderson feel continues in the rest of the song, crisp arrangement, nice harmonies and a potential singalong chorus.

It’s a tad “light” if anything to be a real standout single but as a showcase for the band’s style it’s certainly representative and is sure to please their existing fanbase and will appeal to those who caught their summer festival outings; sadly I can’t see it getting a huge amount of radio play.

Mirror Mirror release their second album, “Interiors” later this month and the single Sick City sees them continue to mine their particular seam of Sparks influenced electronica. After some early noodly keyboards, Sick City ushers in some Editors style guitar work overlaid with Achtung Baby era Bono type vocals. This is plodding at best and not the kind of thing which is going to get a band noticed: referencing and doffing a cap to your favourites is all well and good but this rarely lifts itself beyond the realms of tribute to the aforementioned acts which, when there’s so much music about, isn’t the sort of thing we can really call an innovation. I gave this a good few listens wondering if I’d maybe missed something clever but it really does feel like quite a disjointed affair from a band still trying to find their way.

Gnarly old garage-blues troubadour Seasick Steve returns with It’s a Long, Long Way from his well-received album, ‘You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’ which recently spent three weeks in the top 10. This latest single marks something of a departure from the raw sound which first brought the American to public notice – this is a more laid-back, countrified sound which may, if anything, have even broader appeal. The squealing guitar sounds and the floorboard-stomp are gone, relaced by some very spare acoustic picking, Steve’s characteristic drawling delivery and really lovely use of almost choral backing harmonies. There are echoes of Willie Nelson in the lyrics and Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez in the delivery. Are we seeing the old hobo finally settling down? The chorus lends itself perfectly to audience participation in the live setting and, from the point of view of hooking people in for a single, that has to be a good thing.

Psychologist returns with The Propellor EP on Moshi Moshi Records. This is the second part of a two EP collection known as The Epidural Collection and, taken as a whole piece, it works really well. The tracks don’t really stand up in their own right but since they’re part of a concept-piece we’ll forgine him that. It’s real late-night, summer chill-out (argh!) music. Sorry, but it is. The barbecue’s cooling down, the beers have been replaced by something harder and everyone’s having a great time. That’s when this Massive Attack stlye collection comes into its own. There are echoes of all sorts in here but elements of real originality too in the approach to the acapella vocal used as percussion on Propellor itself. This is definitely well worth checking out and Psychologist (aka Iain Woods) has indeed, as his press release states “announced himself as an curious and uncompromising talent.”

Bournemouth-based Rapids! (never sure about punctuation in a band name) return following a string of singles in 2010 with their Fragments EP. There’s a kind of poppier-New Order feel to the opening track, Nameless Faceless which draws you in with a brilliantly insistent bassline and a kind of breathy Jim Bob (Carter USM) vocal – I liked it a lot. Rapids! have soundtracked some of Sky’s football coverage and with this sound it’s not hard to see why. I’m not sure if they’re up there with the Kaiser Chiefs in the anthemic stakes yet but there’s enough here to suggest they could be. This is well produced with the vocal sitting just right in the mix to give the drums, bass and Edge style guitar work a chance to shine through. Another one to check out and certainly the most “single-y” of the batch this week. Lose the exclamation mark though, please?

Pick of the bunch?

Okay, I know I just said Rapids! was the most obvious single of this week’s releases but on a purely personal level, I really enjoyed the originality of the Propellor EP by Psychologist. Uncompromising is a strong term to apply to any artist’s work: it can sometimes suggest confrontation or, in the case of Lou Reed and Van Morrison just grumpy-old-bugger-syndrome; here however it’s well used – I get the feeling that Mr. Woods (Psychologist himself) wouldn’t have listened to anyone in the recording studio who told him the vocal delivery or percussive mix wouldn’t work and just went on and did it anyway. The result is something that lifts itself above the masses and might, just might, be the dawning of a major new talent. A wise investment.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.