!!!, We Are Animal - Singles Round-Up 01/11/10

Luke Langlands 01/11/2010

Alarm, wake, bus, work, bus, work, eat, sleep…Alarm, Wake, Bus, Work, Bus, Work, Eat, Sleep…ALARM WAKE BUS WORK BUS WORK EAT SLEEP! Ever feel you need more hours in the day!? How about more hours in the entire week, mate! I shouldn't complain, really - it's not like being at university and in a working band is exactly a chore. It's my fault that I'm tired - I'm that much of a tight-arse I walk a mile to uni to save 60p instead of getting a second bus. Although I also blame the fact that it's now dark in Edinburgh all day, apart from maybe 11am-1pm. Alas, I digress…at least I can now get my teeth into some new chooooons, via the GIITV Singles Round-Up!

We Are Animal unveil themselves this week with the single Black Magic . Talk about doing things the long-winded way - originally from North Wales, the band were first picked up on by a Japanese art label (images of Mr. Miyagi negating his way around a soggy sheep farm searching for the Next Big Thing spring to mind). The group are now set to be known throughout Europe and the U.S, with their debut album Idolise. The single feels soooo good compared to the near-perfect, robotic musak-esque tracks we're force-fed by artists who are constantly tweaking their 'sound', and ensuring that all the creases are removed - put the iron down, you fool! We want the creases and blemishes - it gives a song soul. We Are Animal are DIY music-making at its best, with songs bashed out in a matter of a day or two wherever and whenever they're able to record them. It's Super Furry Animals blasted together with the 'anyone can play music' mantra of punk (even though it sounds nothing like punk). The track benefits so much with its basic sound that still feels intricate at the same time. The pummeling drums are hypnotic, and the background sound effects prod the listener nicely to stay attentive. I can't go without mentioning the Welsh accent in the vocals - it's lovely not having an Americanism in a British song. They've been formed for less than a year - Christ on a bike.

Anyone who has been donned 'The Riff Machine' has quite a lot to live up to. This is the task posed to Sebastiano Ferranti - one half of the Portuguese duo Youthless, who have released the riff-tastic single Golden Age. It sounds to me quite a lot like LCD Soundsystem, but with an extra sprinkling of bite and clout to boot. The bassline is fanbloodytastic and drives the song throughout. It's exciting, fun, and makes you want to go to a club and burn your bank balance. Golden Age could very well be the winter electro-dance song that we all need to get roused into ditching the layers of jumpers, and swapping them for a T-Shirt and making shapes on the dancefloor. It's a bit of an odd name choice for the band - it's a complete oxymoron as Youthless are bursting with the folly of exuberant youth and the desire to have a laugh. As long as the pair can carry on finding new bass hooks then they're laughing…no pressure, Sebastiano!

Well, from one lush bassline straight to another, with Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass by !!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk if you want to actually talk about the band and not sound like an idiot whilst doing so…it's not like I told someone I liked 'That exclamation point band' before…ahem). If this song doesn't make you start a'head-bobbing like a jive-turkey, then what in damnation is wrong with you!? What would you call this? Electro-Funk? Elfunk? I haven't a clue, but it sounds good. The track is quite similar to something Cake would release, but with a gooey, morish, electric-filled core. The guitar is very CSS also. With every play-through of Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass, it sounds better and better (although I still haven't got a clue what they're going on about in the lyrics). The single is savvy, precocious, and makes me sick to the stomach that I haven't gave !!! as much a listen as I should have. It shouldn't and doesn't matter either, but the music video is the best made this year.

And now for something a bit different, but just as nice. Gregory & The Hawk released Olly Olly Oxen Free on Monday. In a similar vain to the We Are Animal single, this track is gorgeously lo-fi and rejects anything that's needless, such as the drummer (harr harr), who is replaced by a simple but perfect drum-loop. New York's Meredith Godreau's voice is heartfelt, genuine, and definitely not fake. This is not my normal listening choice (at all), but the warm, sincere feeling the piece radiates is indisputable - the single feels like Godreau's soul is being panned out through an acoustic guitar and vocal chords. It's not dramatic, over-the-top, or cliché'd- it's just…real. I like real. Normally, acoustic soloists are completely lost on me, and I struggle to relate to the songs (ohhh woe is me! I'm heartbroken and all I have on me is an acoustic guitar to hug and cry on). But this, I 'get'. Her feature-length, Leche, is out on the 15th of this month.

Ack, I feel a distinct lack of 'proper' guitar music this week in my round-up. Step up Sparrow and the Workshop with Black to Red. The heavy, guitar-hungry main hook in the track is excellent, with the male/female vocals adding an interesting twist. Do I sense a certain PJ Harvey in the high-note points? Perhaps I'm just being a pedant (although I'm not being negative about the song!) The fast-paced singing work really well. Black to Red is almost comparable to tracks by The Zutons - but only if The Zutons were also mixed with some American drawl (it's acceptable this time…singer Jill O'Sullivan was raised in Chicago), and a batch of gun-toting flamenco guitar. I can't understand a word O'Sullivan says at the fast parts, but the exciting, frantic vocals work well nevertheless!

If there was ever a track to perfectly define 'Autumnal', it is Hafdis Huld's Synchnonised Swimmers (although you might not have figured with a name like that). She's teamed up with a fair few big-wigs for this one, with engineer Phil Brown (worked with Bob Marley and Rolling Stones in the past) and a couple Grammy nominated producers (as you do). It's got a very nice, humid chorus that's sure to warm a lot of people up, but myself maybe not being one of them. It actually sounds very much like a song by Natalie Imbruglia or The Corrs. It's the Ronseal of MOR songs - it does exactly what it says on the tin. 6Music absolutely love her, and I can understand why - it's inoffensive, NICE music. It doesn't exactly grab me by the balls…It's more Countryfile than X-File.

Leeds-based The Horn The Hunt release Raptor this week. With a name like that, you'd expect a big, angry, snarling BEAST of a song. In a lot of ways, the track comes up with the goods - a sultry, predatorial essence shines throughout, with the bass and deep, pounding drums along with vocal siren Clare Carter stalking it's prey with bayed blood. The backing vocals in the chorus are a bit odd, and rather amateur dramatics, but overall it's a cracking song. Think Goldfrapp if she suddenly turned into a psychopathic murdering cannibal. It's perhaps a little bit empty and bare, but if there were anything else added to the track, the atmosphere of the piece would probably be lost and muddled.

Well, my TV 'Zines (little Marina and The Diamonds reference there), that's it for another whistle-stop tour of some of the most interesting and broadest music out this week, with a bit of more mainstream thrown in just for good measure ('natch). And who wins my most coveted of awards, I here you cry? It's probably been the closest choice I've ever had to make, be honest, but it goes to !!! (Chk Chk Chk) and their funk-tastic single Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass. It could have just as easily have been plonked into the hands of We Are Animal, Gregory & The Hawk or Sparrow And The Workshop, but JMIAB is just too damn fun and cool! Ah well. If anything, this Singles Round-Up will forever be known as the one with the best amalgamation of band names ever.