[Attic Lights: recipients of July single of the month]
To look at bespectacled Glaswegian Ross Clark, you might expect him to be a modest, sensitive, home-spun folkster. But, au contraire, Silversword (****, Out Now) is a raucous, joyous, full-band-with-horns blitzkrieg, taking the populist bent of The Fratellis and filtering out all the bad stuff. Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences almost use up their entire word quota with You Can’t Make Somebody Love You (***, 7 July). Which only leaves me to say that this Nick Cave-inflected rock’n’roller is worth a listen. This month’s ‘Next Arcade Fire’ award goes to Californian art-popsters Port O’Brien, with I Woke Up Today (***, 7 July). Chanted chorus? Check. Scrappy folk aesthetic? Check. Ye olde world charm? Check. Sticking with upbeat West Coast (of America, that is) tunesmithery, She & Him‘s debut single This Is Not A Test (**, 7 July) is pleasant, inoffensive guitar pop. Just what you might expect from a collaboration between actress-turned-singer Zooey Deschanel and Portland singer/songwriter M Ward.
At the risk of ‘not getting it’, I have no time for Hadouken! The hoodie-clad, Nintendo-referencing Northerners may set some kind of record for genre agglomeration, but the result, Crank It Up (*, 7 July), sounds like a 15-year-old Liam Howlett’s demo-tape. Officer Kicks are a much more straight-up proposition. But Pictures Of Me (*, 9 July) is attention-sappingly homogeneous rock: not only stale, but well past its sell-by-date. Back in May I praised chipper Londoners The Thirst for their Enya-erasing single ‘Sail Away’, and they stay on form with follow-up My Everything (3stars, 14 July). Sure, the lyrics scream of Radio 1 ambitions, but the musical quality wins out. The Brute Chorus aren’t quite as tight as their Cockney neighbours; just as well the charm of Grow Fins (***, 14 July) lies in its ramshackle, bar-room vibe then.
As a fashion choice, White Denim should be avoided. But as a band, this Texan outfit receives a firm seal of approval. All You Really Have To Do (****, 7 July) is a manic 138 seconds of psychedelic blues-rock. While we’re on the subject of unpretentious American rock, let’s have a listen to The Hold Steady. New single Sequestered In Memphis (****, 7 July) is possibly the best single these Church of Springsteen elders have given us so far – blaring horns, a drum solo and a lesson in legalese to boot. He is just as overtly American, but Kid Rock is American in all the wrong ways. All Summer Long (*, 7 July) is a cringe-inducing Lynyrd Skynyrd pastiche, but what else would we expect? As the shivers of disgust recede, it’s back on home soil for July’s single of the month. Attic Lights are the latest purveyors of jingly-jangly pop to sprout from the fertile West Coast (of Scotland, that is) music patch. Bring You Down (****, 7 July) has more than a hint of Teenage Fanclub; not surprising really, since it was produced by Fannies drummer Francis McDonald.