David's Lyre, Caitlin Rose - Singles Round-Up 21/02/11

Luke Langlands 25/02/2011

This week I've been writing an assignment looking at whether technology is detrimental to music. It seems the better technology becomes, the more we're reliant of singles. Records were once as precious as holy relics. Playing the album for the first time was and still can be a true event - pressing 'Play' and waiting for the first bar of music, inspecting the covers, breathing in what the artist wants to show you while you go down the rabbit-hole further by looking at inlays and lyrics. An album is a time capsule that holds the tendencies of an artist at the time, as well as the social factors surrounding it.

Yes. I am aware of the irony of me looking into this subject when I'm the singles sub-editor here. And the fact that I'm typing this up during a singles round-up. Ah well, just gotta hope the singles this week are top banana then won't we, ey!?!

David's Lyre is releasing his new EP In Arms this week with the lead track of the same name. The brainchild of Paul Dixon, this is the second piece he has released under this pseudonym. It's a gorgeous piece of folk-pop (never thought I'd say that!). Dixon/Lyre's voice has a lovely warm, vibrant tone to it that brushes nicely against the rolling drums and stabbing piano. Apart from a few minor extras, there isn't much else to the track in terms of instruments, which in this case works very well. The single makes me hark back to The Dresden Dolls (if they were given ADHD drugs to chill the hell out). It's a very chilled out track with just enough to keep you on your toes...a bit like a tiger that's been reared by humans - it's relaxed and not confrontational, but my word, it could still take your face off if it wanted. Lyre is just wholly interesting - his tracks aren't in the least bit boring, and you can't help but wonder what he'll release in the future. The video for the track is also excellent.

On Monday The Shoes released Wastin' Time - the second single from their new album that is released in a fortnight. Having previously produced tracks for Shakira's new album, the two-piece are giving this music lark a go themselves, with some impressive results! It's all about the percussion here, which isn't really surprise, as they recently performed live with three drummers at once. With Wastin' Time being so beat-orientated, there's something exquisitely natural and indigenous ingrained into it's overall vibe and feel. The French duo have been lorded by 6Music, with Huw Stephens, Annie Mac and Nemone all giving them huge praise. The back-and-forth harmonies give a wonderful illusion of expansiveness in what is actually a rather simple track. The lyrics are strong and give a feeling of being trapped: 'I've waited my whole life for you/Wasted our time away'. It work well with the constant, endless beat. It feels like a European Doves - a lot of gritty realism and deep bass tones coupled with French chic and arty bravado blended on top.

Well this round-up is proving to have a selection of somewhat more interesting tracks than there sometimes is, and the trend carries on with Rainbow Arabia and the magical Without You. Sounding like it's just came straight out of Aladdin during the first ten seconds (in a good way!), the Los Angeles group have a certain panache about them that is infectious and not too dissimilar to Animal Collective and Siouxsie And The Banshees. There's just an open and free identity to the track, with the Arabian sounds originating from fiddling about with an old Casio keyboard. It's just delightfully different. Without You is just over three-minutes long but it's sound is so abstract that it feels much, much longer. It's pretty hard to imagine anyone not liking Rainbow Arabia - even if you don't enjoy the music itself, the inventiveness and creativity they ooze is impossible to not acknowledge.

After some thoroughly different tracks so far, here we have The Computers and their good old-fashioned shouter Group Identity. It's two and a half-minutes of just what you would expect really - just proper, decent, punk-rock slashy guitar and a lot of good fun! The solo half-way through sounds very nice, and helps break up the song well. I'm normally not a huge fan of screaming/shouty vocals but here it works very well (not sure what the guys saying like but nevermind, it doesn't really seem to matter). Dinosaur Pile Up have been getting all the alternative rock plaudits recently, but personally I think this is much better. It's such a cliché, but Group Identity really does make you want to have a bit of a dance (or at least a vigorous head-bob!) after you've had it on a few times. They release their debut album in May, which they recorded in four days - four bloody days! It normally takes at least a week for a band to tune their guitars for a record.

Now for a bit of electronica music, with the dubstep/dance incantation of Magnetic Man and Getting Nowhere. The first time I properly listened to dubstep, I thought it was fantastic. It felt incredibly powerful, mean and highly spirited. Magnetic Man have definitely had that effect in the past, but this time round it's a much more tame beast to harness. Featuring the talent of John Legend (this time without his Roots), Getting Nowhere is certainly a curious track. One side-effect of listening to dubstep is that you're always waiting for the 'drop' - the moment when the bass bursts into life and it “all kicks off maaate, like a 90's kid seeing an XBOX!” (as a friend of mine described it). In Getting Nowhere the drop never really happens and as a result you're left feeling that the track is in a way a little empty. John Legend adds an interesting dynamic to the piece to a genre that is at risk at becoming a bit stale. It's very Royksopp to me, which is a big compliment. Maybe there's just too many genres trying to assimilate in one place on Getting Nowhere, but it just sounds a little disjointed and bare.

And to round up the singles this week, we have Caitlin Rose with Own Side. It's just what you'd expect, really. Thoughtful, well-made lyrics accompanied by soulful, swaying acoustic guitar. It's not doing anything that we haven't heard before, but Caitlin's voice is so delicate and meaningful that it's still an extremely charming song. The fact that Own Side contrasts so much with the other tracks in this round-up probably benefits it a lot, as Caitlin Rose's vocals are now able to slide into your mind and grab your attention much more than if the other tracks were also very slow and melodic. Own Side is a thoroughly charming piece that is a perfect track to finish off your day...or to eat a wheelbarrow full of ice-cream and cry alongside to if you were single on Valentines Day last week. The guy in the video also looks like Napoleon Dynamite's brother, which has to count for something at least!

That's it for another week. It's been an excellent array of different styles and genres this week, and I've liked every track. But, this time round it's going to David Lyre with the excellent In Arms. The more I listen to it, the more I'm drawn in, and the more I can't wait to hear more from him. The remixed version by Bombay Bicycle Club is also well worth a listen.