Singles & Downloads

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

The challenge for The View is to avoid ‘doing a Fratellis’, i.e. delivering an underwhelming second album thereby massaging the feeling that all your early promise was based on one good song. Sad to say, the rowdy but slight jangle of ‘5 Rebbeccas’ (1965) ••• looks like sending the jury out for a long deliberation.

Another Scots bunch it's hard to get a handle on are Glasgow's Punch and the Apostles, whose new double A-side ‘I’m a Hobo/Can of Beans’ (Lucky Number Nine) •••• is long on saxophone, tin pan percussion and ranty Tom Waits vocalising. This bunch are well worth the benefit of the doubt, although the trick could get old very soon. They do have more polish than Edinburgh's pleasantly indiefied Kid Canaveral though, who provide a decent effort in ‘Second Time Around/Missing Me’ (Straight to Video) •••.

Elsewhere, Adele is going straight for the heart of the coffee table blues circuit with ‘Make You Feel My Love’ (XL) ••, which rather cannily sounds very much like Norah Jones' 'Don't Know Why'. Sold, say malcontent housewives across the land! Much more exciting within the field of quirky female singer-songwriterliness is Lykke Li, the Swedish vocalist whose ‘Little Bit’ (Atlantic) •••• is confident and distinctive.

Not so Rodney Smith, aka Roots Manuva, the one-time biggest hope for UK hip hop. His new track ‘Let the Spirit’ (Big Dada) ••• is fairly flaccid urban soul, which only the inclusion of a Hot Chip remix on the flipside can rescue. Much more attention-grabbing is the lithe minimalism of US hip hoppers The Cool Kids’ ‘Mikey Rocks’ (XL) ••• and, dare it be said, the gauche but somehow utterly pop-attuned new ravers Late of the Pier with ‘Bathroom Gurgle’ (Parlophone) •••.

So it's a two-horse race for Single of the Fortnight this time, and just being pipped at the post are The Last Shadow Puppets with ‘My Mistakes Were Made For You’ (Domino) ••••, on account of the fact it's more or less interchangeable with the rest of Alex Turner and Miles Kane's excellent Scott Walker phase. Instead, top prize goes to The Hold Steady’s ‘Stay Positive’ (Rough Trade) ••••, an urgent and expansive kind of rocker – a win which will hopefully offer the band suitable consolation while illness has temporarily forced them off the road.

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