I know what you're thinking- I'm stressed, I've got exams coming up, the football season is nearly over, and Glastonbury is still over a month away. Have no fear, Single of the Week is (belatedly) here, and I have some absolute gems for you, from my own personal favourite in Tom Williams & the Boat, to Clock Opera and Ghostpoet; I think our selection may go a long way to defining the term 'eclectic'. To wrap up last week's contest, Joana & the Wolf came out on top with 67% of the vote, with Deatachments and Miles Kane lagging behind. I was again shown up, with my choice of The Computers and 'Music Is Dead' collecting a frankly underwhelming one vote.
Tom Williams & The Boat - 'Concentrate'
Photobucket So much more than your bland, stereotypical folk music, 'Concentrate' represents further evidence of the genius and importance of Tom Williams' lyricism, gorgeously soundtracked by a brooding, Arcade Fire-esque backing from 'The Boat'. Taking the “I'm going to be talented and tell a story with my music” route rather than “I'll cobble some rubbish together and sell it with a derivative guitar riff”, Tom Williams & The Boat are deservedly making waves following the long-awaited release of Too Slow earlier this year, and in 'Concentrate' take another big step down the path to their inevitable mainstream success. Veering wildly from the anthemic chorus of “I'm a modern man” to the intricate realism of the verse, there is a maturity and depth to the track ensuring a certain longevity, all the while based on the inner monologue of a suicide bomber. Take that society.
Let's Wrestle - 'In Dreams Part II'
A stonking garage anthem from Let's Wrestle is up next, all lovely and bristling with attitude and surrealism. Owing as much to Neutral Milk Hotel as Weezer, this is an authentic slice of the alternative underground, blending nineties Americana and twee high school lyrics to create an accessible, British answer to Wavves. Recently announced to support Yuck around the country this month, the grunge influences are undeniable, but the song stands up to it's predecessors as a contemporary hit rather than a sad glance back to better times.
Frankie & The Heartsrings - 'That Postcard'
I know that they divide attention, I know that it's not particularly clever, but Frankie & The Heartstrings make brilliantly catchy pop songs, and at the end of the day when you're lying in bed and trying to switch off, that's the music that you remember. 'That Postcard' is again based around a Dexy's Midnight Runners chant, with the jangling guitar and the distinctive vocals informing a good clean romp of a track, perfect for dancing like an idiot and forgetting about the Tories.
Clock Opera - 'Belongings'
Now I'll be honest, the last few weeks have been arguably lacking in consistently strong releases, and almost any other time Clock Opera would have walked over our competition, so it falls to rank bad luck that 'Belongings' is simply another very strong single out this week. All shimmering, glitchy pianos and melancholic vocals, like an introspective Elbow, this track builds and builds into a glorious wall of sound, taking every possible effect that shouldn't work together and creating something both powerful yet distinctly delicate.
Austra - 'Lose It'
Pre-empting the release of their debut album Feel It Break next Monday on Domino, Austra offer another dark, heady slice of synthed up gold in the form of 'Lose It', following the success of acts like The Knife. Described as “suitable for both ritual incantations and clubs”, there really is something quite menacing in the gloomy, authoritative vocal, with the timeless harmonies leaving you feeling disorientated. The dizzying piano that sporadically crops up emphasises the dance vibe that thankfully refuses to get all 'gyrating women and foam parties' on you.
Stalking Horse - 'Heathen Head, Howling Heart'
Take a less ethereal, more realistic and world-weary Everything Everything, then squeeze it through a Thom Yorke sized hole.. This is a track which works a lot better than my description suggests it should, combining insistent drummings with the ever vogue falsetto to create an intense, impassioned single in the lullaby lineage. Lovely stuff.
Ghostpoet - 'Survive It'
It is so refreshing to listen to some genuine rapping about honest, real life, exclusive of all the watered down grime shite floating around Radio One. Minimalist in both it's delivery and production, Coventry's finest, Ghostpoet takes a wry, melancholic expressiveness and juxtaposes it with a gentle, innocent chorus totally at odds with the gritty banality of subject matter. There is no ego, no sterilized tales of this girl or that club, just relaxed beats and authentic potential.