Singles & Downloads

The Xcerts

The Xcerts

Hurrying past James Blunt and Bryan’s Adams’ new singles, let’s start at the only logical place, the ‘Start Beginning’ (FDM Records) ••• with Nizlopi (of ‘JCB Song’ notoriety) and their relentlessly optimistic, acoustic pop rainbow of a song that could be coming to a mobile phone advert near you.

It seems to be a fortnight for positivity. One of the established acts pumping out the happy tunes this spring is Panic at the Disco who are reliving the first flush of love in ‘Nine in the Afternoon’ (Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen) •• but compared to their unhinged back catalogue it just feels forced. boykillboy fare better with ‘Promises’ (Vertigo) •••, which launches sonorous vocals over clattering guitar pop.

They’d better watch their backs, though. Loitering nearby is a whole gang of would-be usurpers with their own upbeat compositions. Echobeat announce their arrival with the apocalyptic debut ‘Cobra Kai’ (Organic) •••, mixing rock, Karate Kid references and side-swept hairdos. The Metros also swagger into view with their mouthy debut, ‘Education Pt 2’ (Columbia) ••, to which reactions will depend on your tolerance for estuary vowels. Slipping quietly up the outside, Yusuf Azak’s ‘Gazelle EP’ (Demo) ••• channels Jose Gonzalez with earnest, frenetic, percussion-heavy acoustica and an insistency that announces him as one to watch out for. Add in ‘The Witch’ (Domino) ••• by Clinic who are billed as experimental but sound very like Deep Purple meets the Velvet Underground, and more lush, glamorous electro indie complete with an atonal meltdown in the middle from The Long Blondes in ‘Century’ (Rough Trade) ••• and they’re a jolly old bunch of music makers all round.

But the ones with the most right to be cheery since they have won the highly coveted (joint) Single of the Fortnight are Aussie bro and sis duo Angus and Julia Stone, who are elegantly ‘Wasted’ (EMI) •••• with vocals that almost sound like an oestrogen-injected Louis Armstrong and The Xcerts. These clever little Aberdonians manage to combine tight indie rock with heartfelt lyrics and still sound fresh on double A-side ‘Do You Feel Safe’ / ‘Listen. Don’t Panic.’ (Mannequin Republic) ••••, which is some very good advice for staying positive.

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