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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 9, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Meadowlark

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MEADOWLARKAPPETITE: Meadowlark have returned with a surprise new single, entitled Appetite. Streaming everywhere now, this stand-alone offering is the first original material we’ve heard from them since the release of their debut album Postcards 18 months ago. Anchored by their stylistically straight talking and emotionally charged lyrics, Appetite is a typically mellow, beautifully layered offering that bridges a sonic gap between Meadowlark’s debut LP and new material they’ve been busy working on for a forthcoming second LP. Speaking about the track the band sid: “Appetite is one of the most recent songs we wrote for the next album. It’s all about having sympathy for your enemy. In our case, we used a relationship as an example of this idea. Trying to understand why a person would cheat on you, what was their motive and was there something deeper going on. It’s not about forgiving them, sometimes things can’t be forgiven, but merely understanding them and their reasons.” It’s thought-provoking in that respect and questions your own capacity for forgiveness. And yet, there’s a serenity and charm to the offering thanks to the dreamy vocals, the cinematic pianos and the subtle back-beats. It builds nicely to a deliciously layered final chorus, where the song really comes alive to sweep you away on its tidal wave of thought-provoking emotion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Bad Liar

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: IMAGINE DRAGONSBAD LIAR: Imagine Dragons look to mix things up again with Bad Liar, the fourth offering to emerge from their keenly anticipated new album, Origins. Where the likes of Monster and Natural had a fiery, bombastic intensity to them, and Zero tapped into an ’80s element as well as the type of fun you’d associate with a song being used on Disney’s Ralph Breaks The Internet, this one comes over all stripped back, heartbroken and moody. And it’s little wonder, given that it was inspired by frontman Dan Reynolds’ near divorce from wife Aja Volkman. It’s a tale of being on the verge of break-up and the emotional upheavel that brings. Hence, the accompanying synths are far more melancholy, the beats more compact and atmospheric, while the slow-building approach works well in really allowing the anguish to break through during the emotive chorus. It’s a nice contrast to the tracks released so far, which also goes some way to suggesting that Origins could be a collection of songs boasting genuine diversity.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Houssein, Walking Away

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: HOUSSEINWALKING AWAY: Endearing newcomer Houssein has released a new song in the form of the intimate Walking Away, which follows on from the likes of Summer Night and Tokyo. Described as a stripped back, carefree production, the song showcases a greater depth to the songwriter that genuinely charms. Opening with lyrics such as “Gonna put all my cards on the table, But you keep on getting so upset, Everything we had before is wasted, Now I’m dealing with all of these issues in my head”, this is an honest look at a failing [or failed] relationship, in which Houssein attempts to right the wrongs that contributed to the state of disrepair. It speaks of confusion, loneliness and hope, yet in no way feels too depressed. Rather, the slick acoustic plucks, the finger click beats and the keen sense of melody make this a toe-tapper of a track that effortlessly gets into your head from the moment you hear it. If anything, it could well become one of Houssein’s biggest anthems (try not singing “cos I’m lonely, lonely, lonely without you”!). Commenting on the track himself, Houssein said: “I worked on Walking Away with Dan Dare, Ryan Keen and Aiden Grimshaw, who are really talented artists. We recorded it at their place in London, over a few sessions, and then Ed Carlile, who produced my two previous singles, finished off the mix. I’m really pleased with how the song turned out, and it’s quite different to my other singles, so I’m excited to see what my fans think of this more acoustic style.” We think they’ll love it!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Editors

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: EDITORSCOLD (UNKLE REMIX): James Lavelle’s UNKLE outfit have taken the latest single from Editors, Cold, and given it a juicy makeover. Built around some of UNKLE’s trademark beat-making skills, as well as a chiming electronic pulse, this enlivens a moody, atmospheric track and takes it to a different level. It remains nicely slow-building, with the instrumentation gradually building, but it also feels a little more vibrant, thereby building on the elements that already made it a standout offering from the band. It takes a while for the vocals to drop, as if to deliberately give space for UNKLE’s remixed elements to breathe. But when they do, they’re as striking as ever, with lyrics such as “it’s a lonely life” and “be a ghost tonight”. And while UNKLE reign back their remix elements to allow those stark vocals to remain as powerful and resonant as ever, the instrumental interludes are extended nicely, to strike a perfect balance between the two styles. This is something special.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Johnny Marr, Spiral Cities

JOHNNY MARRSPIRAL CITIES: Johnny Marr has surprised his fans by dropping a new single, Spiral Cities, in typically enigmatic fashion. In keeping with the themes that permeate throughout his recent Top 10 album Call The Comet, Spiral Cities finds Marr addressing ideas of how alternative societies and urban centres could look in the future. It was particularly inspired by the ‘Crystal Chain Letters’, which Marr describes as “a book by different architects in the early 20th Century, writing and conceptualizing the utopian city of the future”. And like the tracks on the LP, this also taps into a Bowie-esque quality, especially vocally. Marr adopts a somewhat glam-meets-trippy sound, here, which is further enhanced by the guitars, which also hark back to a classic Smiths/Cure/Ziggy Stardust style of riff-making. It’s slightly more reigned in than a lot of Marr’s stuff, lacking the fire of some of his tracks. But that actually works to this song’s advantage, helping to underline the lyrical themes that Marr is driving at.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters, Goin' Harder

CRYSTAL FIGHTERS feat BOMBA ESTEREOGOINHARDER: To coincide with the announcement of a major European tour next year (including a night at London’s Brixton Academy), Crystal Fighters have sharing the new track, Goin’ Harder, which features Bomba Estéreo. Together they’ve stirred up an exuberant concoction of influences: Latin America grooves, pure Basque energy, psychedelic pop and punchy electronic beats. The result has a crazy, celebratory feel that’s tailor-made to get the dancefloor buzzing. There’s a somewhat off-kilter, manic energy to the song at times, as the various influences collide in often spectacular fashion, but the song is also kept balanced by the keen sense of melody, the infectious ryhthm and the central chorus that’s made to be sung out loud. Graham Dickson, of Crystal Fighters, commented: “Goin’ Harder is a song about feeling the burn to tear it up so badly that you are willing to sacrifice anything in the moment. Life is too short not to go as hard as possible, so this one is an anthem for those who shred life to the fullest! Turn it up and let’s rip!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSALONE ON THE ROPE: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have released the lyric video for their latest single, of sorts, directed by Grain Freeze. The song is the B-side to the band’s latest single, If Love Is The Law, which is taken from their No.1 album, Who Built The Moon?. The video is a trippy collection of retro images that slowly spin around in somewhat psychedelic fashion, complete with the lyrics to the single in subtitles underneath them. It’s eye-catching, if unspectacular. The track, meanwhile, is a more low-key offering than some of the tracks on the new LP, dripping in hazy, laidback, borderline psychedelic values. Gallagher’s vocals have a melancholy undertow to them, and sound reflective (in keeping with the lyrics), while the guitars have an understated, bluesy quality. But it’s an engaging listen and further evidence of how, just like Gallagher’s Oasis days, the B-sides to the band’s singles are just as polished and full of quality as the A-sides. They deliver value for money.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Julius Meyvant

JUNIUS MEYVANTLET IT PASS: Júníus Meyvant has released a new single, entitled Let It Pass, the latest to be taken from his forthcoming second album, Across The Borders, which is set for release on January 25, 2019 via Record Records / Glassnote. Typical of the rich orchestration and soulful, charming melodies in Meyvant’s previous work, Let It Pass is the central feel-good moment on the album, courtesy of its Northern Soul inspired string arrangements and electronics, as well as his own soulful vocal delivery. There are some cute bass guitar licks, too, as well as a genuinely toe-tapping beat, which help to create a warm, feel-good vibe that’s steeped in retro values. Speaking about the unusual origin of the track, Meyvant said: “Let It Pass came to me in a dream. My wife woke me up because I was beatboxing in my sleep. In this dream my good friend Andri, who helped me a lot in the making of this album, was running around a chair screaming ‘RECORD THIS! IT’S A HIT!’ In the background I could hear the melody of this song and the chorus was going: ‘Let it pass, let it pass.’ The next thing I know, my wife is standing over me asking what I’m doing with my mouth. I jumped to my feet and recorded the song there and then on my phone.” The new single lands as Júníus Meyvant makes his return to the stage with a homecoming show at Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavik this weekend..
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Micra

MICRACHILD GROWS OLD: Child Grows Old, the new single from Micra, turns cheek to the sounds of Zero 7, Beach House and Deerhunter for inspiration, drawing once more on rich atmospherics and swooning guitar lines. Speaking about the new single, producer/guitarist Robbie Cain said: “The song explores a time in life which felt like nothing had changed for too long. Waiting around for something to happen without knowing where to begin. It’s an internal conversation about forcing yourself to jump into the next phase of life and facing the obstacles that come out of that.” The resulting track is steeped in atmosphere for long periods, but gains momentum around the midway mark thanks to a more edgy guitar riff, which offsets the trippier vocals and electronics. The song does strip things back once or twice, but it also quickens the pace too. It’s a grower of a record. Comprised of the Bulgarian born-and-raised singer, Ivana Kay, and Aussie native, Cain, Micra started out at the turn of spring this year, earning attention from Triple J for their early demos and compelling live shows. The pair met at an Unknown Mortal Orchestra gig late in 2017 in which they serendipitously got sat next together after both arriving alone to the concert – following a back and forth over email, Micra was formed in January of this year.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Ben Holland, Midnight Blue

BEN HOLLANDMIDNIGHT BLUE: Ben Holland, like Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Lucy Spraggen before him, was an artist ‘discovered’ by Joan Armatrading, who first came to see the sound Londoner busking at Waterloo – one of many Underground stations he was playing at the time. Immediately impressed, Armatrading asked him to be a part of her Local Talent project comprising live dates and a double album. Holland went on to join Armatrading on her tour and has since gone on to support her at major venues across Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the UK and Ireland. He’s also now clocking up plenty of gigs on his own. Evidence of what Armatrading saw is to be found in new single Midnight Blue. Boasting a deceptively simple melody, an impassioned vocal and intricate acoustic guitar work, this is a track that speaks about its roots – you can almost hear the steam train coming down the tracks – and its performer. It’s intimate, dusky and passionately delivered in true troubadour style, combining elements of rock, folk and pop. It’s a bright marker for Holland that suggests the arrival of an interesting new talent.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Shoji

SHOJIBLISS: Shoji are an electronic duo that combine ethereal textures with calming beats. Composed of Josh Oliver and Alex Arcoleo, the pair met at school, although it wasn’t until a few years later that they started writing music together. Shoji was later formed in the summer of 2017, when they released their debut single, To The Start, which received a number of glowing reviews. Their latest release, Bliss, is their most mature to date, blending their contrasting backgrounds in folk, pop and underground electronic music. This instrumental blend is then complimented by the lyrical imagery that explores self-destruction, attachment, addiction and surrender. And while that may sound borderline pretentious, there’s an easy access to it that removes any doubts about being too experimental or out there. The synths have a cinematic quality, the hushed vocals are nicely atmospheric and the slow-build works really well in creating a swirling electronic backdrop that intoxicates. Shoji explain: “The lyrics, devil’s acre, is a metaphor for being stuck in a claustrophobic headspace. The line came from a poetry book that Josh read and it immediately struck a chord. The contrast of the last line, ‘I know I’ll stay as long as I feel Bliss’ plays with the idea of addiction and using voices to self-remedy. The track title, Bliss, we wanted to use as a contrast for the meaning of the lyrics, to symbolise being in a dream state.” It’s intelligent, captivating stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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CLAY

CLAYORANGE: Having grown up in San Francisco, a city with such deep roots in many social and political movements, Clay seeks to use her voice to make music that reflects what is going on in the world…. music that moves people and sparks conversation. Clay therefore hopes that in delving into herself, her own experience and truth, she can open up space for others who feel the same. Her new single, Orange, attempts to do just that. She explains: “I wanted to write a song about Donald Trump, and this is what came into fruition. It has since taken on so many additional meanings. The colour orange is often associated with joy, light and happiness, and to me, given the current social climate, through all the hate, discrimination and injustice, these sentiments are hard to feel. This song is meant to be sung with two middle fingers up and a big smile on your face, as sometimes all you can do is either laugh or cry. While writing it, I did both.” And yet, in spite of the bittersweet sentiments underpinning the poignant, thoughtful lyrics, there’s an upbeat, jazzy quality to the accompanying instrumentation. The beats are crisp, the electronics have a late summer nights laidback jazz vibe and Clay’s vocals are a classy, classic sounding accompaniment. It’s a classy offering – easy listening and thought provoking. A fun song that still has plenty to say. Written over the course of a politically embattled year, Orange finds Clay reasserting herself, and focusing her energy inwards. This led to the idea for the eye-catching accompanying video, directed by multi-disciplinary artist, Kanya Iwana, who also directed the visual for Clay’s previous release, Forgotten How to Fly. In the video, shot by a creative team comprised almost entirely of women, Clay sought to – in her words – “create a vivid and colorful visual that embodied my own personal and emotional journey within the orange regime”.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 2, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Imagine Dragons, Machine

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: IMAGINE DRAGONSMACHINE: Our love affair with Imagine Dragons continues unabated with the release of Machine, the third track to emerge from their forthcoming new LP, Origins. Following the same kind of formula as past release Natural (with the use of a shouted, bombastic chorus), this also deviates a little in the way that it juggles some crunching synth arrangements, with some similarly edgy guitar riffs. The beat structure, meanwhile, is as lively as anything they’ve put together before, hitting the same kind of fun intensity as Thunder. And once those chanted choruses landed, the song really takes on an anthemic status that looks set to be a whole lot of fun in live form. And while there is undoubtedly a disposable quality to it, there’s also something empowering in lyrics that defiantly state “I am not a part of your machine”. If you’ve not previously been won over by Imagine Dragons, then this will probably do little to change your mind. But if you’re already a fan, then this is a lively romp of a record. It’s a blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Professor Green, Photographs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: PROFESSOR GREEN feat RAG ‘N’ BONE MANPHOTOGRAPHS: Now here’s a collaboration that’s worth it. Professor Green teams up with artist of the moment Rag N Bone Man for a suitably intense fusion of r’n‘b/pop and rap. It’s an intensely personal track, too, as Professor Green uses the song to open up about his father’s suicide. The artist then posted a video to his 815k followers on his Instagram page which was made up of photos fans had sent him of lost loved ones using the hashtag #wishthatitookmorephotographsofus. Given the power of photographs, the central line of “wish that I’d took more photographs of us”, is something that can resonate with every single one of us. But then Professor Green adds even more telling lyrics, such as “we all thought we’d live forever, we all thought that the moments would last… but the moments don’t last, the only thing that lasts are the photographs… but what about the moments that we forget, what about the memories that we’ve lost?” He delivers those with his trademark rap, while the Rag N Bone brings a typical gravity to his sung chorus, which is further enhanced by those R’n‘B/hip hop beats. It’s a song to inspire love… to stop regret and to make you delve back into countless photograph memories, while also making sure to capture some for your own future.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Clean Bandit, Baby

SINGLE OF THE WEEK/VIDEO OF THE WEEK: CLEAN BANDIT feat MARINA & LUIS FONSIBABY: Clean Bandit have unveiled their new single, Baby (featuring Marina and Luis Fonsi), alongside the band’s self-produced official video. A breezy, Cuban-influenced dancefloor-filling single, Baby is also notable for featuring vocals from Marina and Luis Fonsi. The song and official video (shot in LA) follows a storyline of lost love and marks the band’s second collaboration with Marina following Disconnect, a track drop that set the Internet alight last summer after its live debut at Coachella. Baby stands out by virtue of its Cuban influenced beats and guitars, which have an intoxicating dancefloor vibe, as well as the Cuban guest vocals, which further infuse the dance vibe, as well as the sweeping sense of romanticism that also can be found throughout. The hip-hop leaning dance beats are a bonus, too, further enhancing its dancefloor appeal. It’s a red hot record for these cooler autumn evenings. Announced last month, Clean Bandit’s new album What Is Love? is confirmed for release on November 30.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Arthur, Empty

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: JAMES ARTHUREMPTY SPACE: The striking video for James Arthur’s new single Empty Space has now premiered and features Harry Potter actor Tom Felton. The video perfectly captures the emotions contained within the lyrics, and has a movie-style quality befitting an actor of Felton’s quality. Who knows… it could be the perfect romantic drama audition tape for him! The song itself is a beautiful, soaring, guitar-led song about love and loss. The lyrics are trademark Arthur… raw and honest, they document the pain and self awareness that follows a break-up. It includes lines such as “I’ve been drinking, I’ve been doing things I shouldn’t do. Over thinking, I don’t know who I am without you. I’m a liar and a cheat, I let me ego swallow me. And that’s why I might never see you again. I’m alone in my head looking for love in a strangers bed. But I don’t think I’ll find it ‘cause only you could fill this empty space.” James himself commented: “This song is for anyone who has ever deeply loved and lost someone dear to them, and is then faced with the struggle of trying to fill that void. It is about coming to terms with the fact that only that special person can truly fill the empty space.” As ever, it’s nicely impassioned, emotionally intense and utterly stirring.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Gray

DAVID GRAYTHE SAPLING: David Gray has confirmed release details for a new album, Gold In A Brass Age – his first album of new material in four years – alongside a 17-date tour of the UK for 2019. The album will be available on March 8, 2019, through IHT Records / AWAL Recordings, with first single The Sapling out now. Produced by Ben DeVries, son of producer and soundtrack composer Marius, Gold In A Brass Age finds Gray in renewed creative form. And this is evident in first offering, The Sapling, which adopts a slightly more pop style than normal, whilst maintaining the vocal intensity that is a Gray trademark. A song about life and love (“don’t ask me where the time has gone”), this is beautifully delivered vocally, while drawing on elements of Northern Soul-inspired beats, toe-tapping beats, traces of gospel and slick electronics. It’s a nicely composed, lushly layered and highly appealing return from an artist who has long been impressive to us.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kawala

KAWALAMOONLIGHT: Kawala make a welcome return with their harmonious new single Moonlight, a genuinely breezy, easy listen. Built around lilting vocals and joyous electronic harmonies, the track has a really laidback, feel-good vibe that translates effortlessly well to the listener. It’s also celebratory in its lyrics, which have a hypnotic appeal. Speaking about the track, Kawala explained: “Writing Moonlight was really the first time we’ve set our main focus on a storytelling lyric and consistent harmonies, over rhythms and instrumentation. We’ve tried to balance a super chilled feel with a heart-warming positivity, while taking you on a personal journey in search for an escape from their mental demons.” In that sense, it’s nicely empowering and even inspiring, especially at a time when there’s renewed focus on understanding issues of mental health – be they diagnostic or just anyone going through a difficult time. Moonlight is a follow-up to Kawala’s compelling debut DILYDEP, which featured the singles Small Death, Do It Like You Do and Funky, and which has collectively reached over seven million streams. This London-based band looks set to release a heck of a lot more based on the strength and easy appeal of Moonlight.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Chvrches, Graffiti

CHVRCHESGRAFFITI: Chvrches uncanny ability to marry sorrow with beauty is fully evident on new single Graffiti, the opening track from new album, Love Is Dead. Instrumentally, there are some striking electronic arrangements (especially during the track’s opening salvo) and disco friendly beats, married to an impassioned yet bittersweet vocal from Lauren Mayberry. But lyrically, the song really taps into the sadness and regret that comes from heartbreak – a sentiment that’s to be found throughout the new material on the LP. Lyrics here include such pearls as: “I’ve been waiting for my whole life to grow old / And now we never will, never will.” It’s a sad lament, which becomes all the more tearful the longer you hear and ponder it. But rather than bringing you totally down, those synths and beats help to keep the song as a whole on the right side of radio friendly. It’s another great offering from Chvrches that could yet win them even more friends.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anne-Marie, Perfect To Me

ANNE-MARIEPERFECT TO ME: “I’ll eat my body weight in chocolate and ice-cream… I’m OK with not being perfect”. So sings Anne-Marie over catchy new single Perfect To Me, which offers a shout out to maintaining a sense of one’s own happiness and refusing to conform to society’s need for perfection. The song itself is more ballad than pop song, with the beats a lot more sedate than we’re perhaps accustomed to. But that only endears the song’s sentiments even more, helping the listener to pick out a handful of lyrics that are sure to put a knowing smile on your face. Lyrical gems include “don’t feel like putting make-up on my cheeks… love every single part of my body… I’m not a supermodel from a magazine”, as well as “sometimes I wake up late and don’t even brush my teeth” and “you know I get depressed, are you impressed with my honesty?” That’s a resounding yes from us.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dolores Haze

DOLORES HAZESUCK ON MY EGO: Given that the name of Dolores Haze’s new album is Play Hard F**k Hard Love Hard, it should come as no surprise that the tracks comprising it are similarly provocative. And so it is with new single Suck On My Ego, a typically no-nonsense effort that underlines their capacity to make you sit up and take notice. Suck On My Ego is one of the more hip-hop infused tracks on the LP and was inspired by producer Lil Pz first meeting with the band’s Groovy Nickz, claiming ‘her spirit’s so high, I’m getting vertigo’. The track is an ode to the diva in all of us and unrelenting confidence in just being yourself. The beats are slick and urban in hip-hop leaning, the synths have a haunted quality, while the main vocals are semi-rapped and ultra sultry (in a kind of confident, ‘I don’t give a f**k’ style). But the inclusion of a foreboding background male voice ruins things a little and detracts from the overall quality. Nevertheless, it’s fearless, provocative and catchy for most of the time.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lokki

LOKKIHIGH: High is the first new music from Lokki – the solo project of Glass Animals’ Drew MacFarlane – since his debut EP Cirrhi, which arrived earlier this year. Sprung from writing sessions at his flat in leafy South London, the off-beat pop of High finds Drew fleshing out the nocturnal vulnerability which characterised so much of the gauzy Cirrhi EP. Picking at that disconnect between the individual and collective experience, High refracts a nervy questioning of identity through MacFarlane’s love for classical composition. Hence, there are some very cinematic arrangements that sound strings-based, along with bouncing pianos and some brisk beats. MacFarlane, meanwhile, employs the kind of flamboyant vocal style that artists such as Freddie Mercury or Rufus Wainwright might be proud of themselves. The track arrives with a stop-motion video, which animator Tayo Kopfer filmed with Drew in the quieter corners of a London arts centre. Created via a painstaking process during which Kopfer added hand-drawn illustrations to thousands of stills from the resulting footage (before stitching the whole thing back together), the video intersects with the track’s acceptance of imperfection and temporality. Says Drew of the video: “A big part of the song is about zooming way out, seeing your life (and other peoples’ lives) fast forwarded, a bit like a time lapse. The paint moving across the screen plays with everything in the video, including me, mirroring how all of our actions ripple out into the world, even though we don’t always see it.”
Following solo shows across 2018, the release of High will be followed by soon-to-be-announced live dates from Drew.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lucia, Cheap Talk

LUCIACHEAP TALK: Glaswegian indie rock four-piece Lucia have just released their highly anticipated Cheap Talk EP on Sweet Jane Recordings. Produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele) and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Florence) the EP features the new single and EP title track Cheap Talk, their critically-acclaimed recent single Summertime and two more new tracks: All The Money and What I Am. The title track is a livewire listen, propelled by some blistering guitar hooks and a typically feisty central vocal from Lucia Fairfull. It’s a lament about the state of the world and the power of cash, featuring lines like “she can promise anything because her money talks”. But it’s equally countered by lines such as “but I can see right through her” and “shut up, shut up”. Fairfull is a no-nonsense kind of singer and that brash, go-for-it approach works to this particular song’s advantage.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 26, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Ian Brown, First World Problems

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: IAN BROWNFIRST WORLD PROBLEMS: Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown has marked the announcement of a new solo album in March next year with the surprise release of lead single First World Problems. And Stone Roses fans may want to rejoice. This is a chirpy throwback to the trademark Brown sound… baggy beats, distinct riffs and those distinctly laidback vocals that decry some of the world’s problems. As a piece of social commentary, it’s pretty much on the money. He sings: “There you go again with your first world problems, when your living is easy, opening your mouth and making sounds, but there’s nothing coming out, driving everybody crazy”. And the sentiment could be appropriate to a lot of society, given how self-important some people have become, often at the ignorance of wider social problems. And yet, in spite of the sharp observations, this never feels too preachy. Rather, courtesy of those baggy beats, it’ll just as likely have you up dancing, while hopping back to the Stone Roses record collection to root out some old favourites. The new album, Ripples, will be released on March 1, 2019. Brown produced the LP as well as writing the majority of the tracks on the album. Three of the songs were co-written with his sons, who also play a multitude of instruments across the release. Covers of Barrington Levy’s Black Roses and Break Down The Walls, by Mikey Dread, complete the album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Broken Hands, Friend's House

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BROKEN HANDSFRIEND’S HOUSE: To celebrate their recent signing to Atlantic Records, Broken Hands have shared two new tracks, Friend’s House and Split In Two, both of which are accompanied by performance videos streaming exclusively with FLOOD Magazine who declared: “Canterbury’s new contribution to the Atlantic Records roster overcomes the odds to serve up a pair of hard-hitting singles.” Produced by Julian Emery [Nothing But Thieves, Lower Than Atlantis] and mixed by Tom Dalgety [Royal Blood, Pixies, Ghost], Friend’s House is a particularly striking track. It opens amid a fuzzy guitar riff and some keyboard strokes that Depeche Mode would be proud to use. Dale Norton’s vocals build nicely, too, channelling a nice sense of atmosphere, before really opening up during the robust chorus. It’s then that the song feels like it could fill stadiums. But the band then strip things back down to those brooding beats, that scuzzy riff and those piano chords, rebuilding to another towering chorus. It’s the type of song that fans of big acts like Depeche Mode and Muse should instantly be able to warm to. Comprised of brothers Dale [lead vocals] and Callum Norton [drums, backing vocals], Jamie Darby [lead guitar], Thomas Ford [bass], and David Hardstone [rhythm guitar, keys], Broken Hands have been finishing work on their Atlantic Records debut LP, expected for release in 2019. On the evidence of this, it could be well worth looking forward to.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zara Larsson, Ruin My Life

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ZARA LARSSONRUIN MY LIFE: Heartbreak has never sounded so catchy! Sweden’s other pop trailblazer, behind Robyn, finds Zara Larsson trying to get over heartbreak by demanding the return of a lover so that they can “fuck up my life”. It’s striking stuff. But it doesn’t sound so desperate. Rather, the pop sensibilities are rife, with the type of catchy chorus that Kylie Minogue would be proud of. It’s got a genuinely satisfying rhythm to it that you almost forget the sentmients behind it. And the beats that go with it are just as toe-tapping, lending the song a dancefloor energy that is totally celebratory. But then, while undoubtedly damaged by the break-up she sings about, Larsson has a playfully confident sensibility to her, too, as she begs: “I want you to ruin my life, yeah to ruin my life.” In this age of #MeToo movements, it’s probably not the most politically correct single of its time, but there is a confidence to it that’s difficult to resist – and Larsson is clearly a master of how to juggle tough emotions with playfully catchy pop sensibilities.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ellie Goulding, Close To Me

ELLIE GOULDING, DIPLO AND SWAE LEECLOSE TO ME: Pop princess Ellie Goulding returns with a lively calling card in the form of the Diplo-produced Close To Me, a sexy, even horny, ode to new love. Built around slick beats (as you’d expect from a Diplo production), occasional acoustic guitar licks and a lustful set of vocals (“I don’t want to be somebody without your body”), this confidently proclaims that she’s “an animal”. And yet, in spite of the sinful narrative, Goulding displays a keen sense of fun, that’s further backed up by Swae Lee’s guest rap. It works smoothly in tandem with those beats, furthing the good work he put out on last week’s hit single, Sunflower, with Post Malone. It’s fun, flirtatious stuff, that’s set to put a smile on your face whenever you hear it. And it also confirms that Goulding is back with a bang, confident in her pop ability and daring enough to shake up the formula a little.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rudimental, Walk Alone

RUDIMENTAL feat TOM WALKERWALK ALONE: Walk Alone, the third single to be taken from Rudimental’s new album, Toast To Our Differences, features vocals from Tom Walker and is billed as a heartfelt ballad that is designed to inspire and bring warmth. In taking the popular refrain of many Liverpool FC fans, this attempts to bring the same kind of inclusive feeling to those listening, seeking to foster a sense of community and family for those in need. It’s a rallying call to anyone who may feel alone, while providing a sense of empowerment through self-confidence too (with lines like “I am a rock”). Walker, who is working with Rudimental for the first time, drops a suitably reassuring set of vocals, to further enhance the overall warmth and broad appeal of the song. Walk Alone follows two huge singles from Rudimental’s new album so far this year – the smash hit UK No.1 These Days (featuring Jess Glyne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen), which is also currently the biggest-selling record of 2018 in the UK, and Let Me Live (produced with Major Lazer and featuring Anne Marie and Mr. Eazi).
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Olly Murs

OLLY MURSTAKE YOUR LOVE: Olly Murs follows up Moves, his surprise collaboration with Snoop Dogg, with the release of something a little more traditional, in the form of Take Your Love. But while this does feel a little more signature, it’s no less enjoyable. Murs retains a sense of cheeriness in the delivery of the track, courtesy of brisk beats, finger-click snaps and some swirling synth arrangements, which belatedly owe a lot in style to acts such as Chainsmokers. Indeed, come the chorus, the song assumes a disco-pop vibe that will certainly have those arms in the air at concerts. It’s anthemic. And that’s in spite of lyrics that suggest something darker, as Murs sings about taking love away and being let down (“you keep calling, calling, calling me every time he’s gone”). It’s sung from the point of view of an onlooker who is becoming increasingly frustrated by his subjects’s failure to see she is being used – but who remains hopeful for his own prospects. It’s nicely bittersweet stuff, with a darker edge than is necessarily obvious. Could Murs also be learning a little something from the Ed Sheeran form of songwriting?
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Natty Rico, Summer Vibe

NATTY RICOSUMMER VIBE: French artist Natty Rico is a multi-faceted talent: not only is he a top DJ, he is also a world-renowned sax player, performer, composer and remixer! Evidence of these talents are available on his fresh, feelgood single Summer Vibe. The inspiration for the track came when Natty was driving in perfect Californian weather with the top down on his car in LA. He heard the melody of a ‘summer vibe’ in his head but decided something was missing. Back home in Corsica, where his mother’s side of the family come from, he played the track again on the beach and decided to add some summery sax – and the single was born. The track aims to help us feel good, energised, in summer party mode with a big smile on our faces. As Natty says himself: “The track Summer Vibe is about a feeling. I wanted people to feel that when they listen to the song, anytime anywhere, they feel like it’s the summer, even if they have snow around them, or rain!” And to a certain extent, those that enjoy the big club scene of the Balaeric isles, or the Calvin Harris-inspired party vibes, will get a kick out of this. The beats and electronics have a cheesy dance element to them, albeit made more distinct by the inclusion of that sax. And while the song is the very definition of cheesy, it does have an undeniably upbeat energy to it that’s difficult to resist, no matter how sceptical you may be towards it initially.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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The Pale White

THE PALE WHITEEND OF TIME: Newcastle indie-rock trio The Pale White follow-up their critically-acclaimed Wisdom Tooth with the blistering End of Time. Taken from their forthcoming EP Take Me To The Strange (out November 2), the new song is alive with robust guitar riffs, an atmospheric set of vocals (that recall Josh Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age), and some equally brooding drums. It’s also got an apocalyptic feel to the lyrics, which seem to herald an impending sense of doom. It’s a livewire rock anthem. Speaking about the new single and EP, frontman Adam Hope commented: “We’ve been living with Take Me To The Strange for a little while now and we’ve been absolutely itching to release it into the world for people to dive into it. End of Time is the closing track and the second single we’ve chosen to share. It was pretty difficult to pick a second single from the Ep, as we love all the tracks on it. People should listen to it in full, start to finish, and go for the ride. We think Take Me To The Strange shows a few different sides and shades to the band that people may not have been expecting, and we’ve been counting the days until we can take the reigns off it and watch it run wild.” That’s confidence for you…
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Siren

THE CHAINSMOKERS feat AAZARSIREN: We’re having a bit of a love and hate relationship with this one. Having previously been big fans of The Chainsmokers, we’ve come to look forward to any new release. But this one is, by turns, good and ugly. In its quieter moments, heralding the sound of the sirens, there’s an easy accessibility that epitomises the easy-going melodies that have long been a Chainsmokers hallmark. But whenever it taps into French DJ Aazar’s territory, it loses focus terribly and becomes the type of modern dance monster we’ve also come to loathe. The hard-hitting electronic element is a huge distraction that derails the song’s momentum and turns something formerly sedate and beautiful into something hard and ugly. The Chainsmokers have delved into this type of territory before in search of being more diverse, but for us this marks a step in the wrong direction.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Childcare

CHILDCAREMAN DOWN (KING KONG SHAKE): Childcare have dropped a satirical video for their laidback new single Man Down (King Kong Shake). The video, like the single itself, tackles the constraints of the male stereotype. It features a squash battle between two of the band members, as captured by guitarist Rich, who explained: “When Ed and I play squash, it’s 30 minutes (usually 25 due to punctuality issues) of mildly colossal warfare. A battle of feeble technique fought by two nice boys with the desire to win. My slow-motion archiving of our games unintentionally created the video (my initial purpose for filming was to dispute Ed’s interpretation of squash obstruction rules). Man Down explores the bits of masculinity that reaches even those of us who are aware of when we do ‘manly’ things. The ego, the competition, it all goes on, whether we benefit from it, or not.” The record itself finds the band’s laidback vocals sitting atop their first use of a metronomic drum machine, which helps to ground the song’s message in an amicable, radio-friendly fashion. It’s an appealing listen and a fun video.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Creeping Jean

CREEPING JEANBANDIT: Swagger is an overused modern term for showing off, but in the case of Brighton duo, Creeping Jean, there is no other word. They intentionally drip swagger and attitude. From the George Best via George Harrison (on drugs) look of the lifelong friends down to the driving fuzzy bass line which undercurrents the new single Bandit, this is a way of life for this lot, not a fad. The band reference The Doors, The Zombies and Jack White throughout the single, combining the wig out complexities of all those with a modern twist and a festival shaking hook. The accompanying guitars are lively and just occasionally a litle trippy, the beats are geared towards having you dance, and the vocals display that swagger that comes with all indie-pop bands of late. It’s dripping with confidence and displays both a keen sense of nostalgia and a fierce contemporary edge. It’s a fun listen. Describing the single, frontman Oliver Tooze said: “Bandit is about getting about life as a member of the club in the dark side, living like a villain and the joys of doing so while Avoiding the government living a Bandit’s life… it’s life that would be nice but isn’t a reality.’’ The track was recorded by Dan Crook (Nadine Shah & Gang Of Four) at Ben Hillier’s (Pixies/Depeche Mode/Blur) personal farm based studio near Lewes in East Sussex.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 19, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Post Malone, Sunflower

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: POST MALONE feat SWAE LEESUNFLOWER: The more we hear and see of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, the more we’re starting to believe we’re going to love it. The two trailers so far have rocked. As have the accompanying soundtracks to those trailers. Now, hot new rapper Post Malone has unveiled his new track, Sunflower, taken from the film and featuring Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee. Anyone expecting a hard slice of urban-laced hip-hop on a par with Eminem’s Venom had best think again, though. This is a trip-hop laced delight that’s more sung than rapped. Having previously collaborated on Post’s Spoil My Night from Beerbongs & Bentleys, this is dripping in strong melodies, soulful vocal exchanges, a catchy chorus (“you’re a sunflower, I think your love would be too much”) and classy back-beats that maintain a smooth groove, hip-hop crossover vibe. It’s effortlessly cool. And it comes complete with yet more footage from the Marvel film, which slides alongside the music in hypnotic fashion. It’s brilliant.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975, It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE 1975 – IT’S NOT LIVING (IF IT’S NOT WITH YOU): The 1975 drop yet another gem from their new album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships with the ultra catchy new single It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You). Arguably, this could be their catchiest track to date. And yet, in spite of the catchy nature of the chorus (which combines retro 80s elements with something typically contemporary and cool), there’s a darkness inherent in the lyrics, which speak of the despair of heartbreak and being torn apart from someone you love. Frontman Matty Healy once more shows a keen knack for juxtaposing sentiments, so that you may yet find yourself singing along to one of the saddest songs of the year, albeit in giddy fashion. And if that weren’t enough, there’s even a sly nod to Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place on Earth in the later choruses… only once more flipping the melody inherent in that single with the achingly sad sentiment in this one: that is, “it’s not worth living if it’s not with you.” Put together with Give Yourself A Try, It’s Not Living looks set to become another of the new album’s standout moments – and one of The 1975’s biggest anthems.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jon Spencer, I Got The Hits

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: JON SPENCER – I GOT THE HITS: New York underground rock legend Jon Spencer, of Pussy Galore/Blues Explosion/Boss Hog fame, has a new album out in the form of Spencer Sings The Hits (released on November 2 on In The Red Records). As a taster, he’s dropped the incendiary new single I Got The Hits, complete with rip-roaring new video. The track is shot through with spikily infectious guitar riffs, complete with Spencer’s trademark gruff vocals. It’s a song that, lyrically, delves into the darkest corners of America, albeit in a blisteringly old-skool rock and roll fashion. Hence, while decrying the current state of the US, it also blows the cobwebs out of the speakers and makes you want to thrash about the living room (or office) playing some deliriously riotous air guitar. Anyone who found their way to Jon Spencer’s material via the soundtrack to Baby Driver won’t be disappointed with this new slice of underground blues rock. And the video is great too. Explains Spencer: “Over the past year I kept seeing wonderful and strange music videos that had one thing in common: all were directed by an Alex Italics. I determined to track down this young auteur with the aim of getting a similar cinematic sensation for my new album, Spencer Sings The Hits!. Alex turned out to be a mild-mannered young man from Tucson Arizona living in Southern California. I gave him a free hand to pick the song and devise a treatment. The result is the scary slice-of-life that you can now see for yourself.” He continued: “I love the creepy contrast with the song’s punk abandon. We filmed at a rented house in Santa Ana. At the end of each day, after the nearby nightly Disneyland fireworks had faded and the cast and crew had left, I would sleep in a bunk bed in the child’s bedroom. Turns out doing an entire video laying on the floor is harder than it looks!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Editors

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: EDITORSCOLD: Platinum-selling British band Editors have unveiled the stylish video for Cold, the fourth single taken from their sixth studio album Violence, released in March via Play It Again Sam. The moving video, directed by celebrated artist Rahi Rezvani, was shot in Iceland and stars US ballet dancer Drew Jacoby. It’s dramatic, yet stark style perfectly compliments one of Violence‘s stand out moments. The track is best described as a desolate, yet beautiful cry of longing that pleads with a friend/lover not to be “so cold”. And yet in spite of the desperation and heartbreak inherent in that plea, the track has a euphoric element once it reaches its epic conclusion. Yes, it’s slow-building and as masterfully layered as we’ve come to expect from Editors. But there’s a radio friendly element, too, born from catchy hooks, a throbbing background synth, some strings-like additions and a chorus that is shot through with ear-pleasing melody. But the central emotions are reflected in the video, which was fittingly filmed in the barren beauty of Iceland. Vocalist Tom Smith describes the track as “the comfort and connection still found in a dying relationship”. He continues: “A break up song of two people not wanting to give up on the relationship”. Director Rezvani portrays this poignantly, using ballet dancer Jacoby’s gracefulness and Smith’s trademark operatic spasms to portray two different sides of a couple that are both together and yet painfully apart. It’s eye-catchingly beautiful.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zak Abel, You Come First

ZAK ABEL feat SAWEETIEYOU COME FIRST: North-London singer/songwriter Zak Abel has unveiled his new track, You Come First, featuring rising hip-hop star Saweetie – and it’s a breezy, easy listening pop-meets-hip hop confection. It’s dripping with toe-tapping beats, slick whistling and a catchy chorus that insists “you come first”. Bay-area rapper Saweetie, who is known for bringing her swag and ‘boss-ass-bitch’ attitude to tracks, then drops her trademark sassy rap mid-way through to lend the pop sheen some street smart urban edge. It’s disposably mainstream stuff, but it does satisfy whenever you hear it – especially when that whistle starts up. Zak had this to say about the track and the collaboration with the ICY GRL rapper: “This song is about priorities. It’s about putting your lover first – a matter very close to my heart. I’m so happy that Saweetie is on the track. She completely understood where I was coming from and the feel of the track, and subsequently killed her verse.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Benjamin Folke Thomas, Tasteless and Complacent

BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMASTASTELESS AND COMPLACENT: Scandinavian-born Benjamin Folke Thomas has announced new album Modern Man, to be released on November 9, as a follow up to 2017s Copenhagen. It includes the new single Tasteless and Complacent, which showcases Thomas’ ear for a well delivered folk-pop hook. The 10 songs on the album draw from folk, country and the blues, to reveal the inner thoughts of a songwriter torn between supreme self-confidence and fear of the future. The new single contains elements of folk, pop and country and oozes a sense of Americana at times, courtesy of the singer’s dusky delivery. But the woo-hoo harmonies bring a radio friendly sensibility that neatly offset those vocals, which – the more we think about them – boast a Roy Orbison meets Johnny Cash kind of quality. There’s a sense of optimism inherent in the lyrics that, while certainly wrestling with life’s uncertainty, deliver pearls of wisdom such as: “I heard a wise men once say that even a dog can shake hands.” It’s thought-provoking, catchy stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Major Lazer, Blow That Smoke

MAJOR LAZER feat TOVE LO – BLOW THAT SMOKE: Major Lazer comes over all calypso and Caribbean for his lively collaboration with Tove Lo, entitled Blow That Smoke. There’s an infectious quality to the rhythms that Lazer creates, while Lo’s sweet vocals provide a cute focal point that ease you into a feel-good spirit (especially when she’s singing lines like “love that fire” or “good for me”). It’s got a celebratory, late summer vibe that should make it a surefire winner at beach parties, nightclubs or wherever else it is played to invoke a party atmosphere. Commenting on the track herself, Lo said: ““This song has been long in the making. It started with me and Diplo just sending ideas back and forth until I sent this vocal I was unsure what to do with, and they made magic with it! To me the song is about the sweet escape from your troubles or just mundane life by being a bit reckless and romantic.” Who knows? Once you’ve heard it, you may well want to go out and do something romantically reckless on your own terms!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Amy Rigby, Tom Petty Karaoke

AMY RIGBYTOM PETTY KARAOKE: Fans of the late, great Tom Petty will definitely want to check out this beautifully realised, catchy tribute. Inspired by J Mascis singing Don’t Do Me Like That at karaoke, which was premiered by Brooklyn Vegan, Rigby has delivered her own inimitable take on the artist. The song is a mix-tape of seminal Petty moments, cleverly combining some of his standout riffs with his equally memorable lyrics, taken from his career-spanning back catalogue. Hence, there’s blasts of American Girl, Freefallin’, I Won’t Back Down and Don’t Do Me Like That (among others) included, yet immaculately pieced together in a truly affectionate tribute. Fans will delight in picking the lyrics and riffs apart, while tipping their hat to the overall catchiness and brilliance of the song as a whole. Rigby, who will be releasing her first solo album in a dozen years, The Old Guys, 0, explained: “Tom Petty is a guardian angel for me, like he was and is for many musicians. I’ve written about him on my blog a lot because anytime I’m on the road it’s like Tom is there on my shoulder, saying “that’s cool” or “you can do better”. This was true when he was alive and even more now that he’s gone. After another week of discord and divisiveness in the news, I saw a video of J Mascis singing Don’t Do Me Like That in a nearly-empty karaoke bar. I’d sung American Girl with Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express the night before and felt the power of that song reach out and lift people up. Mascis’ karaoke performance was the opposite, it was internal, like prayer. He wasn’t doing it for an audience, he was doing it for himself. I imagined I was J, strummed some American Girl chords and wrote this song.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dead Naked Hippies

DEAD NAKED HIPPIESYOUNG MALE RAGE: Maintaining frontwoman Lucy Jowett’s penchant for insightful lyricism, Young Male Rage, the new track from Dead Naked Hippies, turns attention to themes of gender norms and conditioning in society. Speaking about the track, Jowett explains: “This is about gender norms – the conditioning we subject our children to from a young age in the values we instill and in particular the idea of male dominance and the toxic effect it can have. Earlier this year, this topic was constantly cropping up between us, and Young Male Rage was the result of these conversations – from the perspective of a mixed gender band. We wanted to flip this on its head and project it from the female voice.” It’s a timely release, for sure, and potent to boot. But sadly, the lyrics are sometimes difficult to gauge given the volatility with which they’re delivered (and sometimes screamed). It’s a riot of punk rock, feminist fury that’s shot through with gutsy guitar riffs (of really, really spiky intensity). As if to underline the anger throughout, there’s a reverb heavy mid-track instrumental that – again – feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. It should have maintained its focus on those crunching central riffs, which have a Smashing Pumpkins meets Nirvana fire about them. It’s loud but not always equal to the sum of its parts or good intentions.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 12, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Niklas Paschburg

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NIKLAS PASCHBURGANEW: Niklas Paschburg drops the charming new single Anew, complete with hypnotic, retro-leaning video. As ever with this artist, Paschburg’s compositions charm and bewitch with melodies and notes, mesmerising sounds and a cinematic atmosphere. Anew is built around beautifully melancholy piano notes, subtle beats and some uplifting background electronics to create something entirely enchanting and utterly mesmerising. It’s also highly cinematic. The accompanying video uses original footage from a short film shot by legendary surfer and filmmaker Bruce Brown, who became famous for producing and shooting much of the film footage for The Endless Summer. It features skateboarding manoeuvres performed by a group of young boys, using slow motion and a variety of camera-angles, which were not typical in ’60s. Put together with the lush instrumentals, it has a beguiling, nostalgic effect that captures some kind of innocence lost. Paschburg’s story is intriguing: he spent as much time as possible on the coast throughout the past year, catching the mood, breathing in the sea breeze, listening to the constant flow of the waves and transposing it all into his music. This period was a defining experience for the young German composer, grown up as a pianist and then attracted by the so-called ‘neo-classical scene’: “As a teenager I used to listen to Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Hauschka and all that world, and my EP was influenced by those artists,” he explained. “Then I moved in other directions: for my first record, I really wanted to make something different, something between piano, classical and electronic music, but also with some pop flavours incorporated – not in harmonies, but in the songs’ structure.” The result is a soundtrack of a landscape with echoes of Bonobo and Kiasmos, on the electronic side, and with Bon Iver as Paschburg’s main pop reference, co-produced and mixed by Gijs van Klooster (who has previously worked with Joep Beving and Tom Trago).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nonono, Dancing Mumbai Wedding

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: NONONODANCING (MUMBAI WEDDING): Swedish alt-pop powerhouse NONONO have released the video to accompany their new single Dancing (Mumbai Wedding). Joyous and uplifting, it touches on the twists and turns we go through in life and the wonderful experiences that can come in the darkest of times. Speaking about the video, Stina Wäppling explained: “The main purpose of the video was to shine light on human beauty by putting it in contrast to tragedy. We wanted to illustrate human gravitation towards love and belonging in a time of darkness. The video paints a picture of a post apocalyptic and broken world where two lovers are moving about. We follow the two charters through debris and waste and we see how they pick up pieces of the litter, taking care of it with the biggest care and attentiveness. Finally, the found pieces of junk are put together and turned into beautiful costumes. The two lovers gather with other survivors of this world and in their colourful costumes they all take part in a ceremonial dance. Throughout the video the light goes from cold to warm and in the final scene we can feel the gloomy world fade away in favour of the atmosphere and emotions shared by the dancing people.” The video is definitely striking and suitably uplifting and empowering, much like the joyous single itself. Built around bright beats that are delivered in a breezy pop style, and some lively electronics and strings-sound alike arrangements, the song drops a vibrant chorus that’s shot through with ear-pleasing vocals and melodies. It’s a song to put a smile on your face and, quite possibly, to get you up dancing.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, 1999

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CHARLI XCX & TROYE SIVAN – 1999: Charli XCX has unveiled her official vide for 1999, featuring Troye Sivan – and it’s a blast. As if to underline the late ’90s vibe, the song finds Charli and Troye recreating various iconic movie scenes in deliciously feel-good fashion, from Titanic to American Beauty via The Matrix. And if that weren’t enough, there’s faithfully recreated takes on pop culture acts such as Britney Spears. It’s fun just trying to see if you can correctly identify all of the references. The track itself is a bass-laced juggernaut beaming with nostalgia, 1999 binds Charli XCX’s commercial intellect with her innovative instincts, feeling as infectious as it does rebellious. Heralded as one of the most exciting and forward-thinking ambassadors of pop at every turn, Charli penned 1999 with guest vocalist Tryoe Sivan – who is also featured on vocals – and the single’s accompanying writers: Noonie Bao, Brett McLaughlin, and Oscar Holter, who also produced the track. In her own inimitable but highly successful style, this combines sassy female vocals, striking synth chords and a chorus that is both retro and forward-thinking. Hence, it manages to recapture the vibe of the late Prince’s own 1999 single offering, with a sound more synonymous with Chainsmokers or Charli’s own infectious back catalogue.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mahlia

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: MAHALIASURPRISE ME: Currently in the midst of her fourth UK tour, British rising star Mahalia has unveiled the video to accompany her latest offering, Surprise Me. Shot in New York last month and directed by Andre Muir, the single is taken from Mahalia’s highly anticipated EP Seasons, which she released in September. The song itself is a dreamy, yet bittersweet slice of smooth groove R’n‘B that finds Mahlia in reflective form. She sings lines like “I thought that you would surprise me, get on a plane and come find me, but instead you surprised me, I guess it isn’t surprising…” Mahlia drops a sultry set of vocals, albeit one’s that are tinged with regret, while there’s a seamless blend of smooth groove soul electronics, slick beats and some cinematic extra touches. It’s a highly accomplished, even sumptuous listen, that is perfectly complimented by its New York-set video. Seasons included four brand new tracks with production duties stemming from Felix Joseph (Jorja Smith, Kwabs, Suspect) – PRGRSHN and Swindle. The EP also featured a guest appearance from British musician, Kojey Radical on One Night Only. The project is a perfect example of her trademark, open-hearted lyricism fusing old-school soul and atmospheric synths with R&B/pop leanings.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Richard Ashcroft, Born To Be Strangers

RICHARD ASHCROFTTHAT’S WHEN I FEEL IT: Richard Ashcroft has released another further track, That’s When I Feel It, from his forthcoming album, Natural Rebel. It’s billed as a timeless classic that oozes with emotion and showcases Ashcroft’s irrepressible swagger and signature vocal. And while the second half of that sentence is certainly true, it’s another example of how Ashcroft’s solo material continues to struggle to match the epic grandeur and indie moodiness of his work with The Verve. This is a pop-rock concoction, with simplistic beats, radio-friendly melodies, the odd country guitar twang and a chorus that declares, somewhat cheesily, “if you’re singing with me, then I’m singing with you”. If that’s not enough, there are sweeping string arrangements, all done with a pop veneer. It’s a decent enough listen. But unlike some of The Verve’s timeless tracks, this one disappears from memory pretty much as soon as you’re done with it.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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St Jimi Sebastian Cricket Club

ST JIMI SEBASTIAN CRICKET CLUB – I STILL GET THE CALLS: St. Jimi Sebastian Cricket Club is a Swedish project led by Jimi Sebastian. The press has described their music as an exciting mix of The Clash, Leonard Cohen and Pink Floyd or ‘working class indie’. In one critic’s words: “They have highlighted the ability to capture the saddest moments, and then in the catchy choruses turn up the volume so you don’t know whether to look out into the night and cry or get up and dance”. The band’s latest release, Epilogue, where the social-realist narrative is of great importance, garnered fantastic reviews both in Sweden and the UK. New track I Still Get The Calls is a fine example of what they’re all about and why they’re attracting such positive buzz. There’s a brash guitar sound that has elements of The Clash, with bolshy vocals that are as punk inflicted as they are indie-pop (think early Blur too). There’s social commentary to be found in the lyrics, which lend the song a greater lyrical intensity. But the lively nature of the delivery and the melodic nature of the chant-worthy chorus lend the song an anthemic quality that makes it difficult to resist. It’s another terrific calling card from this Swedish outfit.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Clean Cut Kid

CLEAN CUT KIDEMILY: Emily marks something of a departure in sound for Clean Cut Kid, leaning towards a more lo-fi, American East Coast sound as opposed to the indie-pop of their debut album Felt released last year – but it’s no les impressive. The sound of Americana works really well, evoking a sound that’s reminiscent of classic Fleetwood Mac at times, especially in the chorus that manages to combine the melancholy undertow inherent in the lyrics with something capable of soaring in an alt-rock fashion. Hence, the track has a timeless quality that’s shot through with great harmonies, great guitar work and a great emotional intensity. Speaking about the track, frontman and songwriter Mike Halls said: “Emily is about someone very close to us who was suffering from a severe bout of depression. It’s us reaching out and saying, ‘we know you’re ‘unwell’ here and not just ‘sad.’ The ultimate thing is to take the deepest emotions and work it in to a message that isn’t miserable.” Taking that into account, the song couldn’t be more timely (both given that it was World Mental Health Day earlier this week and as we, as a society, wake up to the realities posed by mental health issues in general). It’s a rewarding listen that comes complete with an equally striking video. Emily is taken from Clean Cut Kid’s upcoming Painkiller EP, out on October 22. The EP precedes a headline UK tour that includes a sold out show at London’s Omeara venue on November 28.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Thom Yorke

THOM YORKEVOLK: Thom Yorke has unveiled the haunting instrumental Volk as the third song to be released in advance of his Suspiria (music for the Luca Guadagnino Film). The unveiling of Volk follows the release of second track Has Ended and first single Suspirium, which was described by The New York Times as “sweetly chilling” and Rolling Stone as “peak Yorke, and scary good.” Suspiria… consists of 25 original compositions written by Thom specifically for Guadagnino’s re-imagining of the 1977 Dario Argento horror classic. The album is a mix of instrumental score work, interstitial pieces and interludes, and more traditional song structures featuring Thom’s vocals, including the previously released Suspirium, which features the melodic theme that recurs throughout the film and its score. As scoring a horror film presented Thom with altogether new challenges and opportunities, Suspiria stands apart from any of his other work. Piano/vocal ballads, Krautrock-esque modular synth work inspired by the film’s Berlin 1977 setting, multi-layered vocals, and melodies that convey terror, longing and melancholy combine to create a chaotic yet cohesive musical spell. Volk is no exception. It’s hauntingly addictive… both retro leaning and containing an undeniable sense of foreboding and hidden terror. One can only imagine what it will be like when paired with Guadagnino’s imagery in the film. Hence, as a stand-alone piece, it’s effective in conveying a sense of dread… but it’s also one that defies easy listening and which, therefore, works best as a companion piece to the film, rather than an enjoyable piece of music in its own right. It’s impressive in the cinematic horror sense. But you won’t want to keep coming back to it outside of the film. Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) will be released October 26 on XL Recordings.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Yonaka, Own Worst Enemy

YONAKAOWN WORST ENEMY: Unrelenting Brighton four-piece Yonaka have announced details of their four track EP, Creature, which will be released on November 19 (pre-order now). As a taster, they’ve dropped the lively track, Own Worst Enemy and continue to heighten expectation surrounding the new material. Built around the kind of riffs and sound that Placebo would be proud of, the track also hits a Goth-rock vibe by the time it reaches it later choruses, with Theresa Jarvis (the band’s formidable vocalist and songwriter) belting out the vocals in typically passionate fasion. Lyrically, the track looks inwards, traversing themes of love, anxiety and the pressures of day-to-day life. But while there’s an emotional intensity born from lyrics that suggest inner turmoil, the livewire nature of the guitars ensures that this is invigorating, adrenalin-inducing stuff. It’ll be blisering in live form. New EP Creature sees the band’s bassist, Alex Crosby, take on production responsibilities again [he co-produced their last EP Teach Me To Fight], with help from Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Pixies) – a partnership that has provided explosive results previously, most notably for their preceding single release, Fired Up, which garnered huge Radio 1 support from Annie Mac, Jack Saunders, Huw Stephens, Phil Taggart, Abbie McCarthy, and Dev and Alice. Own Worst Enemy looks set to continue the bands’s upward trajectory. Indeed, as if proof were needed of that last statement, the band are delighted to announce that they’ll be supporting Bring Me The Horizon on their European tour throughout November, which will come to London’s Alexandra Palace for two nights on November 29 and 30.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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ViVii, Sucker Punch

ViVii – SUCKERPUNCH: Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii release their new single Suckerpunch through Dumont Dumont (Ry X, Charlie Cunningham, Josin). Ethereal, delirium-laced pop bolted thick with layers and gossamer strands, this truly lives up to the dream-pop description being levelled at it. It’s effortlessly laidback thanks to Caroline Jonsson’s impossibly dreamy vocals and those trip-hop infused beats. But there’s also some lush electronics that lend the track a pop warmth too. Hence, as dreamy as things get, there’s an accessibility, too, that keeps things radio friendly. Suckerpunch follows on from ViVii’s critically acclaimed debut EP Savant, which was released at the end of May and features lead single Savant and debut single Siv (You & I). It can only win them over more fans. Commenting on the inspiration behind the new track, the band state: “Been trying to stay out of trouble our whole lives, trying to do it all right. But that doesn’t really matter when life comes around and knocks you out cold with a suckerpunch.” The trio is made up of Emil and Caroline Jonsson and their enigmatic work partner Anders Eckeborn. They’re well worth keeping an ear out for, particularly if you like the sound of Lykke Li and artists of that kind.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Little Mix, Woman Like Me

LITTLE MIX feat. NICKI MINAJWOMAN LIKE ME: Little Mix seek to make an emphatic return with their new single, Woman Like Me, featuring extra support from Nicki Minaj. The ensuing track is a harmony led, urban, reggae pop smash in waiting. Whether that’s a good thing is a different matter entirely. But in this case, it’s close to the truth. Minaj lends an urban vibe and attitude that gives a more raw and ready edge to Little Mix’s pop sheen, while the reggae vibe is also a bonus. Little Mix themselves drop the kind of sassy all-girl vocals that would have Beyonce nodding with approval too. Indeed, the song seems to take a lot of its inspiration from that kind of R’n‘B/pop hybrid. But what else can you expect from a track that drops lyrics like: “I always say what I’m feeling, I was born without a zip on my mouth. Sometimes I don’t even mean it, it takes a little while to figure me out. My mama always said girl you’re trouble, and now I wonder could you fall for a woman like me?”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Wallows, Drunk on Halloween

WALLOWSDRUNK ON HALLOWEEN: Wallows are celebrating the start of spooky season by unveiling their new track, Drunk on Halloween. The song, produced by Will van Boldrik, is now available worldwide, alongside a self-directed lyric video. The track has already been described as the “morning-after ballad for last night’s Halloween party” by Flood magazine, and it’s an apt fit. It’s a laidback gem that combines some slick acoustic guitar riffs with lovely horn sections and a hazy, kind of hangover leaning central vocal. You could almost compare it to Weezer on the morning after a riotous gig… it has that slacker vibe, as well as an alt-indie one too. And while the Halloween theme suggests darkness and decay, don’t be deceived. This has a kookily endearing quality that’s difficult to resist. Wallows’ acclaimed debut EP, Spring, is available now for streaming and download. Produced by Grammy® Award-winner John Congleton (St. Vincent, Alvvays, Future Islands), the EP also includes critically acclaimed tracks, These Days and Pictures of Girls. Having spent much of the past year selling out shows from Los Angeles to London, Wallows –Braeden Lemasters, Cole Preston, and Dylan Minnette – are wrapping up 2018 with performances at Austin City Limits Music Festival (October 13th), Voodoo Music & Arts Experience (October 27th), and Camp Flog Gnaw (November 10th and 11th). Additional dates – including a North American headline tour – will be unveiled soon.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 5, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Tom Speight, Collide

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: TOM SPEIGHTCOLLIDE: Tom Speight delivers another classic slice of folk-tinged rock with new single Collide. Built around soft acoustic folk guitar licks, gentle rolling drums and ear-pleasing harmonies, this has a timeless style of delivery that’s worthy of comparison with everyone from Paul Simon to Joshua Radin. It’s effortlessly infectious and beautifully delivered. Heck, there’s even some electric guitar late on that’s reminiscent of classic Coldplay. Commenting on the track himself, Speight said: “Collide feels like a good introduction to my forthcoming album… it started life in Belfast and was finally finished in Devon with Chris Bond (Ben Howard). I was heavily influenced at the time of writing and recording it by early Fionn Regan and Joni Mitchell. I like experimenting with different guitar voicing’s, using the open D tuning and the result was the foundation of Collide. I always knew I wanted it to be a dual vocal because the lyrics are about two people coming together. Lydia Clowes always brings a charm to my songs. I know she would be perfect for the track.” And so it proves.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kyson

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: KYSONFOREST GREEN: Kyson – the moniker of Australian-born and now Berlin-based producer, singer and songwriter Jian Liew – has now released Forest Green as the final instalment of his four-track singles series with B3SCI / Majestic Casual Records. If the first two singles in the series showcased an electronic soundscape, the final two tracks have introduced a more indie-fuelled sound to Kyson’s repertoire, channelling the likes of King Krule and Mac DeMarco. Forest Green, in particular, is built around Jian’s vocals, which have gradually become a more prominent feature of his work as he’s delved into fresh indie influences. Hence, there’s even greater traces of artists like Jose Gonzalez in the vocals, while the layered beats and lush electronics owe plenty to the cinematically influenced compositions of more alternative electronic artists such as Bonobo and DJ Shadow. It’s a slow builder, but one that pays huge dividends the longer it continues. Speaking about the latest release, Kyson said: “Forest Green came about from a poem I wrote a while ago. The line ‘there’s a river in a corridor’ was the starting point and I guess it’s my way of asking the question or exploring the idea that we are all so often subconsciously pushed or harassed by our own egos, problems, and pain in directions we may not want to be. It’s about just taking a minute to ponder life, death and love and perhaps defending our right to be able to think about these things in a little more depth.” Forest Green is streaming everywhere now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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You Me At Six

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: YOU ME AT SIXBACK AGAIN: You Me At Six celebrate the release of their new studio album, VI, by unveiling the highly entertaining music video for their latest single, Back Again. Inspired by the Coen brothers’ classic The Big Lebowski, which turned 20 years old this week, the video follows frontman Josh Franceschi’s 3AM antics, this time, set in a bowling alley. On the themes of the new video, director Daniel Broadley explained: “Following on from 3AM, I wanted to carry on doing something that fans of You Me At Six wouldn’t expect. With dancing ticked off the list, I felt like comedy and playing homage to a cult classic film would be a fun way to go, and the guys really ran with it. I’m not sure I’ve laughed more whilst on set!” Franceschi added: “Back Again is a really fun and lighthearted song for us and we wanted to have a video which also reflected that. As soon as we read Dan’s treatment we knew it was perfect especially as we’re all fans of bowling and it was an excuse to do that and also chill with my dog for the day!” The Lebowski visual references are spot on and make for a great video experience. But the song itself is just as fun. It’s a light-hearted, breezy slice of indie-pop that is the epitome of being radio-friendly for this kind of thing. There’s slick riffs, foot-tapping beats and a falsetto vocal that heightens the breezy nature of the song. It seems You Me At Six will abide with this one.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Twenty One Pilots

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: TWENTY ONE PILOTS – MY BLOOD: To mark the release of their critically-acclaimed new album, Trench, Twenty One Pilots have dropped the video to standout single My Blood. And it’s well worth the wait, demonstrating the cinematic verve that has now become a hallmark of their videos. It was well worth the wait and features characters dressed up in Halloween outfits, doing all manner of bad things. It’s a very timely offering, both in terms of the time of year and the arrival of THAT new album. When originally released as a single, My Blood marked the first track release from the new album to stand apart from the three-part narrative first established in the official music videos for Jumpsuit, the chart-topping first single, the LP’s second release, Nico And The Niners, and ultimately concluded with Levitate. And yet, the song is another blistering offering… albeit one that shows a somewhat more mellow side. There’s a hip-hop element to some of it, with vocals that are virtually rapped in places. The beats, too, are nicely delivered and have a hip-hop leaning. But there’s electro-pop elements, too, as well as a chorus that is very mainstream. Hence, while some of Twenty One Pilots material has a tendency to be heavy, this has the capacity to breakout and bring them an even wider following beyond their rock core fans. It’s the sound of a band not afraid to diversify and broaden their popularity, while maintaining their overall quality. It’s arguably the album’s standout track.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, 1999

CHARLI XCX & TROYE SIVAN – 1999: A bass-laced juggernaut beaming with nostalgia, 1999 binds Charli XCX’s commercial intellect with her innovative instincts, feeling as infectious as it does rebellious. Heralded as one of the most exciting and forward-thinking ambassadors of pop at every turn, Charli penned 1999 with guest vocalist Tryoe Sivan – who is also featured on vocals – and the single’s accompanying writers: Noonie Bao, Brett McLaughlin, and Oscar Holter, who also produced the track. In her own inimitable but highly successful style, this combines sassy female vocals, striking synth chords and a chorus that is both retro and forward-thinking. Hence, it manages to recapture the vibe of the late Prince’s own 1999 single offering, with a sound more synonymous with Chainsmokers or Charli’s own infectious back catalogue. It’s hugely commercial, of course, and geared steadfastly towards the mainstream. But it’s done so well that the sound and vibe is entirely infectious, effortlessly making you want to hit the dancefloor or turn the radio up loud whenever it comes on. It’s going to be another monster smash for her.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Plan B

PLAN B – WAIT SO LONG (CADENZA REMIX): Following the release of his critically-acclaimed fourth studio album Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose back in May, Plan B has unveiled a special Cadenza remix of album standout Wait So Long, featuring Ms Banks and Cadenza. In original form, the track is rousing as hell, adopting elements of soul, reggae (think Marley) and pop. It’s got an upbeat energy that belies some of the darker, more questioning lyrics that soulfully ask: “Why do I have to wait so long for your love?” And while those elements are retained in the remix, there’s a greater emphasis on urban rap and sassy girl attitude, courtesy of Ms Banks. Indeed, a large portion of the remix is given over to Ms Banks’ lyrical flow and, when it does, the vibe is somewhat different – less soulful, more urban and gritty. It’s an eye-catching remix that, while not quite as good as the smoother original, reminds listeners of Plan B’s original hip-hop roots.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Matt Corby

MATT CORBYALL THAT I SEE: Following the dreamy psychedelia of No Ordinary Life and the heartfelt, stripped-back ballad All Fired Up, All That I See, the new single from Matt Corby, finds him opening up about the state of the world he envisages around him, honing in on current affairs, politics and psychology. “All That I See is a blanket observation of the current state of affairs socially, politically and psychologically”, he explains. “It is based on the hypocritical nature in all of us.” It’s a likeably soulful listen, fuelled by slick beats, lush soul-infused vocals and a seamless blend of electronics and brass. Indeed, there’s a classic vibe surrounding the instrumentals, which hark back to It’s A Beautiful Day in some ways… albeit laced with the harder hitting lyrics that reflect the state of the world that Corby is seeking to highlight. As such, there’s instrumental beauty married to lyrical intelligence, making this another highly addictive offering from the singer. It also raises anticipation ahead of his multi-textured new album Rainbow Valley even more, given that it’s reportedly sparked by hints of both soul and futuristic psychedelia. What’s more, the LP is produced by Dann Hume (Amy Shark, Client Liason) and engineered by Matthew Neighbour (Avalanches, Missy Higgins) and releases on November 2.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dan Caplen, Hosanna

DAN CAPLEN feat DAVE B – HOSANNA: Rising singer-songwriter Dan Caplen has released new single Hosanna, featuring Seattle rapper Dave B, which comes fresh off the back of quick-fire singles Trouble (ft. Ms Banks), 4am (with Caitlyn Scarlett) and a run of dates supporting George Ezra on his recent UK tour. Compounded by the extraordinary global success of Rudimental’s These Days – a song Caplen wrote for the band and also features on alongside Jess Glynne and Macklemore – Hosanna is the latest track to further spotlight his bold and impactful song-writing. The single itself offers up a slick fusion of hip-hop and soul. Caplen channels the 80s pop sound of The Police in his use of guitar licks, as well as the soulful vocal style of Plan B at times, in the way he draws on that soul influence. But the beats are pure hip-hop, albeit pop-focused, while the presence of Dave B adds a greater urban influence when it comes to delivering his flow. It’s arguably Caplen’s best offering yet. Following the release of Hosanna, Caplen has also announced a special headline show at London’s Jazz Café on November 7.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Halsey, Without Me

HALSEYWITHOUT ME: Halsey has dropped an intensely personal but equally immensely satisfying new single with Without Me. Dripping with angst-ridden, yet somehow sultry vocals, this also drops some slick, atmospheric beats and electronics to deliver a potent slice of break-up pop. The sense of melancholy is tangible throughout, but it’s tempered by the accessibility of the song, which in no way feels downbeat in spite of the heartbreak inherent throughout. It’s easy to see why Halsey has become such a mainstream force on both sides of the Atlantic. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song, Halsey said: “Questioning your purpose and your effort in a relationship can be confusing and draining. But it’s important to self-reflect and know your worth and value. This record is about understanding your worth. It’s a very honest record. And it helped me prove to myself that I can still manifest my feelings into art after all this time. My music will always be the vehicle that carries my heart.” It’s the intensity of the honesty that makes it stand out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Youth Sector, Automatic

YOUTH SECTORAUTOMATIC: Brighton’s Youth Sector return with their new single Automatic and continue to champion their alt-rock meets art-rock sound. As with previous releases, the song features drawled vocals, sharp crooked guitars, a healthy injection of synth-like textures and driving basslines… much of which takes its cues from Talking Heads and Devo. It’s sharply delivered to offer maximum appeal to the alt-rock crowd, with the infectious guitar hooks and livewire chorus delivering the biggest highs. The band have this to say about the single: “Automatic is written from the perspective of an individual who struggles to interact with human beings and instead much prefers the convenience and predictability of technology. The protagonist picks on the humanistic flaws in those around him ‘it’s automatically in time / you’re so dramatically inclined’ and struggles to maintain relationships without the aid of technology ‘electrically enhanced romance couldn’t fight this, even though I meant every word you know. The track includes plenty of glitchy computerised guitar sounds, and the theme of human/technological interaction comes through in the artwork by Cameron JL West.” It’s smart, urgent stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sarah Close, Crazy Kind

SARAH CLOSECRAZY KIND: Continuing on from the momentum of her praised single You Say, Sarah Close releases the infectious pop track, Crazy Kind, out now via her own label The Kodiak Club/AWAL. Boasting an upbeat, punchy production fuelled by tribal sounding drum patterns, this nevertheless also retains a sharp pop sensibility thanks to the radio-friendly melodies and the woo-hoo harmonies in the chorus. Close also drops a charming set of vocals that are, by turns, playful, sexy and fun. The track is about the thrill of being in a new relationship and the intense, exciting feeling of doing outlandish things and being with someone you’re besotted with. Sarah explains: “I woke up one day last year and felt like doing something crazy, so at 4pm I was on a flight to Barcelona and I had 23 hours to do whatever I wanted. I left feeling so inspired (and knackered). It’s quite hard to bundle all the sights of a city into 23 hours it turns out! But I came to the studio on Monday morning and wrote this song.” The accompanying video follows Sarah around the city and was filmed in the summer. It’s a big bundle of fun, shot through with upbeat energy and the unbridled enthusiasm of the crazy kind of trip that inspired it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 28, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Saint Clair, I'll Stay

SINGLE OF THE WEEK/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: SAINT CLAIR – I’LL STAY: Rising Radio 1-supported Londoner Saint Clair (aka Emma Topoloski) has shared the video for her new single, I’ll Stay – and both the song and the accompanying visuals are great. Emma created the video for I’ll Stay with Black Dog Films (also behind videos for Father John Misty, Ólafur Arnaulds and Hurts). It intersects with the cautionary counsel of the track’s lyrics, says Emma: “Suppress your inner-demons and they may come back to haunt you to devastating effect. We took the story of addiction and created a feminist noir to explore mental health against the backdrop of corporate London. Violence is used as a metaphor to depict the power of irresistible and irrepressible urges. We follow our protagonist as she battles for control in the face of mounting pressure; as we seldom acknowledge female anger and violence, this felt like a powerful way to probe our central character’s struggle.” The song, meanwhile, is a moody, atmospheric and – yes – cinematic tale of soul-searching that finds Topoloski employing a dreamy set of vocals over moody beats, hushed vocal harmonies and striking string arrangements. It’s quietly mesmerising. I’ll Stay is lifted from Saint Clair’s latest EP, D2 (out now via her own Dearly Beloved imprint), which comes produced variously by Blakey (Pusha T, AlunaGeorge) and Terrible Records’ (Blood Orange) signing Rahm.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Wombats

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE WOMBATSBEE STING: The Wombats have released the official video for their new single Bee-Sting, a genuinely rousing indie-pop romp. The video arrives in the wake of the announcement of their highest profile and biggest UK headline tour to date. Six huge shows across the isles, including a night at London’s SSE Wembley Arena, will see the 2019 tour further cement the band’s meteoric rise to one of the country’s biggest guitar acts. The track serves as an example of the band’s ever-growing abilities to write the finest indie tunes and ignite crowds around the globe. It boasts an effortlessly catchy and achingly addictive central guitar riff, some foot-tapping beats and the type of crowd-pleasing chorus that recalls both classic Brit-pop and something more contemporary. It effortlessly showcases how The Wombats have been able to emerge as one of Britain’s brightest and most popular guitar bands, capable of winning hearts and minds both here in the UK and overseas. Bee-Sting is a blast, fuelled by those brilliant guitar licks.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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John Butler Trio

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JOHN BUTLER TRIOTELL ME WHY: John Butler Trio celebrate their new album, HOME, (available now), with a video for the track Tell Me Why, completing a quadrilogy of videos from the album, including the first single Home, the current single Just Call and fan favourite Wade In the Water. And the result is every bit s good. The song is a great slice of pop-rock that’s shot through with ear-pleasing melodies, bittersweet lyrics and a strong mix of classic songwriting values and John Butler’s own style. That being said, if you’ve liked tracks from Jack Johnson, Kodaline or Jose Gonzalez in recent times, then this is another to add to your playlist. It’s got a great central guitar riff, some nice layering (the belated strings are a great addition) and some bright vocals (that occasionally come over all moody and husky). It’s another reason why HOME could easily become one of our favourite LPs of the year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Muse, Pressure

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: MUSEPRESSURE: Muse pull out all of the stops for the latest offering from their Simulation Theory LP with new single Pressure. The video is a blast, for instance, featuring Terry Crews, Chance Michael and Julia Robinson in a tale of high school musical battle of the bands gone wrong. It’s a retro ’80s blast, referencing everything from Back To The Future to Grosse Point Blank with a touch of Gremlins! It needs to be seen to be believed (and enjoyed). The song itself is a lively, guitar-driven romp, shot through with robust drums and hand-clap beats. The aforementioned guitars are awash with funky riffs, while Matt Bellamy delivers an equally livewire vocal, flitting between some trademark falsetto and something more gritty. It’s basically a classic slice of Muse, sound-checking some of their own back catalogue and expertly delivering everything fans could have wished for and more. It’s fresh, invigorating and lively – and one can only imagine the kind of frenzy it will deliver when played live.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Robyn, Honey

ROBYNHONEY: Robyn drops another sleek, sensual dance-pop offering with new single Honey. And yes, it’s as sweet as the title suggests, with the singer positively purring her echoed, sexy vocals over a classic house beat and some snappy synth arrangements. It’s a late night club banger, tailor-made for the sexed up late night crowd. But then what else would you expect from a track that teases an opening line such as “no, you’re not gonna get what you need, but baby I have what you want”. It’s clear the singer is having fun, here, while maintaining the ultra-cool vibe that has now become something of a trademark for her brand of pop. It’s mature, it’s fearless, it’s innovative and it’s continually exciting to hear what this artist comes up with next.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Olly Murs, Moves

OLLY MURS feat SNOOP DOGGMOVES: Now here’s a collaboration we never thought we’d be writing about! Breezy pop hero Olly Murs teams up with rap legend Snoop Dogg for a surprisingly effective partnership. It helps that the song adheres more to the Murs template of feel-good breeze-pop. But when it comes the time for Dogg to drop his inimitable rap, this slides into the song seemlessly. If anything, Murs seems to be borrowing from the fast-singing style of artists like Justin Timberlake and Maroon 5, albeit with his cheeky swagger emblazoned across the thing. But there’s definitely a greater sense of funk to the record, which is in keeping with lyrics that reflect senoritas dancing in beautiful dresses and learning to dance. If anything, this is closer in style to the feel-good nature of Timberlake’s Trolls anthem, Can’t Stop The Feeling, albeit with added street value thanks to the presence of rap maestro Snoop. It’s a lively, fun record – and it could just become one of Murs’ biggest anthems yet, capable of crossover appeal on both sides of the Atlantic!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Alec Benjamin, Outrunning Karma

ALEC BENJAMINOUTRUNNING KARMA: Rising singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin has dropped a new song in the form of the endearing Outrunning Karma, available now at all DSPs and streaming services. An acoustic pop offering, this finds Benjamin mulling over the issue of karma and whether it’s possible to outrun the inevitable. As ever, the songwriting displays a maturity beyond his years, while the instrumentals are warm, layered and add to the song’s overall appeal. The acoustic strums are intricately delivered, interweaving themselves around each other, while the dreamy vocal harmonies and subtle bac-beats create a notable backdrop. If the vocals sound soft and young, then it’s hardly a surprise given Benjamin’s youthfulness. But they are distinct and enhance this singer-songwriter’s own sense of identity. We’re fans. Benjamin simply refers to himself as a ‘narrator’. Inspired by Eminem, Paul Simon and Citizen Cope, the Phoenix-born, Los Angeles-based songwriter fashioned a cinematic, lo-fi sound that stirred up a buzz online right out of the gate, landing him a major label deal by the age of 18. A day after he turned in his first album, he was dropped by the label he thought would take his artist project to the moon. However, it was going to take a lot more to stop him. Alec immediately hit the road for a self-booked European tour in May 2016. He performed ‘parking lot shows’ for fans outside of Shawn Mendes and Troye Sivan concerts, handing out business cards to leave a tangible keepsake for those listening and building his brand from the ground up. It did the trick and he continues to build a name for himself, quietly working under his own steam to garner more and more success and attention.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Pale White, Wisdom Tooth

THE PALE WHITEWISDOM TOOTH: Newcastle indie-rock trio The Pale White have dropped their raucous new single Wisdom Tooth in incendiary fashion. Produced by John Martindale and the band at Blank Studios and mixed by Stereophonics producer Jim Lowe, the song is the first track to emerge from the band’s forthcoming EP, which is due to drop in November. The result is a blistering, spiky rock anthem that has traces of Queens of the Stone Age and Muse in its style of delivery. The guitars are raw and scuzzy and infuse the track with an undeniable energy, while the vocals are moody and atmospheric in the build up to the chorus, before opening out for the type of sound that’s designed to fill stadiums. Speaking about the track, frontman Adam Hope said: “Think of Wisdom Tooth like having a big clear out. Parting with something that you don’t exactly want to let go of, but you don’t need or isn’t good for you anymore. It’s the first offering from our new EP, which is deeper and darker than we’ve ever delved.” Sounds exciting…
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Richard Ashcroft, Born To Be Strangers

RICHARD ASHCROFTBORN TO BE STRANGERS: Following the positive response to latest single Surprised By The Joy, Richard Ashcroft has unveiled a second track from album, Natural Rebel, titled Born To Be Strangers. It’s billed as a slick rock ‘n’ roll record bristling with charisma, featuring authentic guitars and Ashcroft’s vocals shining with splendour. And the rock ‘n’ roll vibe is definitely there. There’s a classic rock twang to the guitars, while Ashcroft drops a moody set of vocals. As ever, he struggles to reach the heights of his Verve frontman heyday. But as a change of direction from indie to pure rock, this showcases a more mature side and comes complete with a rather blistering guitar solo midway through. It’s worth hearing for that moment alone. Says Ashcroft of Born To Be Strangers: “This record has more guitar playing on it than the last. We’ve reached the point where the guitar has to do something if you’re gonna play it. It’s got to move you in some way. It doesn’t have to be intricate or muso, it just has to have soul.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Houssein, Tokyo

HOUSSEINTOKYO: Following on from his hit debut single 5 Bucks, and the recently released Summer Night, 19-year-old singer Houssein returns with infectious new track Tokyo – and it only looks set to further his appeal. Described as a captivating electro-pop production that evokes a hazy, dream-like state, this finds Houssein reminiscing about a whirlwind romance that ended before it could become something more. And yet in spite of the sorrow inherent in the vocals (which drip with melancholy over the falsetto highs), this is a spritely dance-pop anthem that has real energy to it. If you’re into acts like Kodaline and Chainsmokers, then this is well worth taking the time to listen to. Talking about the song, Houssein commented: “The track isn’t really about the city of Tokyo, but instead the city’s name is being used as a synonym for euphoria. Tokyo can be anywhere or anything. It’s just meant to represent a wonderful and important memory – the kind of memory that makes you sad that it’s no longer happening, but happy that it ever happened at the same time.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 21, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Mumford & Sons, Guiding Light

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MUMFORD & SONSGUIDING LIGHT: Three years after their third album Wilder Minds topped the UK charts, Mumford & Sons return with new offering Guiding Light, the first taster of their forthcoming LP Delta. And true to form, this is a slow-building slice of folk-rock that conforms to the tried and tested formula that the band have honed over the years. The album itself is said to keep the epic scale of 2015’s Wilder Minds while also bringing in an “intimacy and jubilance”, which is certainly evident here. Early on, for instance, there’s the intimacy, as the stripped back nature of the song allows the heartfelt lyrics to shine. But as the song builds, the electronics, drums, guitars and banjos serve to create a heady, atmospheric and inspired backdrop that enables the track to reach the epic heights the band is clearly striving to achieve. And it’s then that you can well imagine the song taking flight in live form, where the climax will reach and inspire the furthest corner of the stadiums they will undoubtedly be sung in. The central lyric of “even when I had it all on the line” is sure to be one that fans can get behind as they chant in tandem with it. Welcome back, boys.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Peter, Bjorn and John

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: PETER, BJORN AND JOHNGUT FEELING: The second of Peter, Bjorn and John’s three new singles (see below), Gut Feeling – from forthcoming new studio album, Darker Days, is a riff-driven, drum-oriented slice of effervescent pop music that, according to the trio, “we haven’t really done since PBJ favorites like Second Chance and Young Folks.” And it’s absolutely true! The beats, particularly, recall the same effortless energy and breeze of Young Folks, with indie guitars shooting in and out, and vocal layering delivering happy harmony after happy harmony. The mix of deep and falsetto vocals also works well, creating a lively, continually shape-shifting track that really is a bundle of fun. Explains Bjorn: “The story of Gut Feeling begins at the first gig in the US after our last album, Breakin’ Point. Backstage in the club in Nashville I was waiting for soundcheck and started writing what was to become Gut Feeling. The words came subconsciously: “I think we need to talk about it, if we don’t wanna live without it.” We actually did talk on that tour, and conflicts were resolved. It all became fun again.” That sense of fun translates so well to this particular song and how you will feel upon listening to it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Zero

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: IMAGINE DRAOGNSZERO: Imagine Dragons have the knack of being included on soundtracks, it seems. Having contributed a track to sci-fi romance Passengers last year, they’ve now got a cut on the soundtrack to Wreck-It Ralph sequel Ralph Breaks The Internet – and it’s fun. It marks something of a departure, again, from their trademark sound (if they now have one), being built around rapid-fire beats, finger-clicking and a really bouncy energy. Indeed, it’s a perfect fit for the type of thing you could expect to find on a Wreck-It Ralph soundtrack, complete with lyrics that reflect the sense of worthlessness its principal characters sometimes feel (“let me tell you what it feels like to be a zero”). And yet in spite of some of this downbeat lyricism, the energy of the song is so lively that you’ll be dancing around the living room, or dancefloor, like some crazy animated figure or a loony dancer. It’s a whole bunch of fun – and further evidence of why we’re continuing to love the continued evolution of Imagine Dragons.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, This Feeling

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: THE CHAINSMOKERS feat KELSEA BALLERINITHIS FEELING: If ever there was a song that wraps up a band’s signature sound, then The Chainsmoker’s latest This Feeling exemplifies it! That means short, sharp stabs of synth, slick beats, boy-girl vocals and a sense of regret and reflection in the lyrics (“no one listens to me, so I wrote this song”). But listen you will. Teaming up with Kelsea Ballerini, this is a bright and breezy anthem in waiting that manages to be both bittersweet and euphoric at the same time. Ballerini opens proceedings with a sassy, sexy vocal, which is then augmented by The Chainsmokers’ instantly recognisable ones. But they work well off each other… and far bettr, in our opinion, than previous collaboration, Side Effects, with Emily Warren. In terms of familiarity, the song owes a lot in style to Paris, another of their anthems. But that’s no bad thing, as this is a classic cut too. Hence, while it probably won’t bring The Chainsmokers too many more converts (which they hardly need anyway), it’ll be a blast for those that already love them.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Justice, Love S.O.S

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: JUSTICELOVE SOS (WWW): Justice have shared an otherworldly and brutal video for Love S.O.S. from their recently released album, Woman Worldwide, on which the duo recorded revitalized versions of their songs based on the metamorphoses they underwent over the past several years of touring. Directed by Edouard Salier (who previously directed Justice’s Civilization, plus Atlas Air and Splitting The Atom for Massive Attack and I’m Aquarius for Metronomy), the cinematic video is the story of a bodybuilder pole-dancing in a cage in a bizarre, futuristic nightclub when everything abruptly goes off the rails. Speaking about the video, Salier commented: “Xavier and Gaspard wanted Love S.O.S to be sexy, strange and brutal. The song is sweaty and weeping; the visuals needed to illustrate this and to be as beautiful as they are disturbing. I wanted the spectator of the video to find themselves in the same voyeuristic position as the audience attending the show: first, to find ourselves fascinated by the performance of the pole dance, then surprised and hypnotized by its outcome.” The video is, indeed, striking by virtue of the way it lulls you into a false sense of security, before dropping its brutal, violent finale. As such, it reminded me of a Gaspar Noe style of filmmaking. The song, too, is just as striking, wallowing in the synth-pop elements we’ve come to love from Justice, compelte with sweeping falsetto vocals that manage to combine retro ’80s elements with something futuristic and empowering. It’s the complete package.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Guy Sigsworth

GUY SIGSWORTHNIRAI KANAI: Over the past 20 years, Guy Sigsworth has helped shape some of the most iconic music of our generation (from Madonna to Imogen Heap via Robyn and Alanis Morissette). For the first time, the man behind the music steps into the limelight with the announcement of his first solo studio album, stet, out on Mercury KX on March 8, 2019. The first taster is this new single, Nirai Kanai, which is as mellow, beautiful and cinematic as you can get. As an album as a whole, stet sees Sigsworth drawing on his roots as a harpsichordist and composer, resulting in a collection of lush, sinuously arranged electronic compositions that suggest the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, the ground-breaking work of Björk, and the otherworldly soundscapes of Vangelis. Nirai Kanai feels more like a Sakamoto composition, with a hint of Japanese influence to it. The harpsichord is bittersweet, yet compelling. And while the pace is sedate, and the beats barely there until late on, the song still has a trance-like quality to it that makes it highly cinematic. It’s as polished and stylish a solo piece of work as we’ve come to expect from Sigsworth – and it makes us very excited for what remains on the new LP.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Peter, Bjorn and John

PETER, BJORN AND JOHNONE FOR THE TEAM: Peter, Bjorn and John have released the first three singles – One For The Team, Every Other Night and Gut Feeling – from forthcoming new studio album, Darker Days, due October 19. The new album really is The Story Of 3, as each band member took the reins both in writing and production for their songs, while staying connected by the central theme and musician. The breezy One For The Team is a catchy, breezy slice of soul-pop that truly reflects Peter’s love for old-school soul. It’s designed to reflect some of Peter’s influences, from Al Green to The Jackson 5, and has that effortlessly danceable vibe to it. It’s a genuinely positive listen. Says Peter: “It’s a pep-talk sort of song. A positive call to arms really. It’s been a ‘bumpy ride’ as the song says. But the good thing you’ve found together is really worth fighting for, especially after all this time. We really ARE stronger together. We all GAIN from helping each other out. We CAN’T make it ourselves. At least not as good or as vigorous. All very corny but also all very true, most of the time. And the title is kind of corny, too, but I love calling a song One For The Team.” It will, like this message suggests, put a smile on your face no matter how bad your day has been!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Peter, Bjorn and John

PETER, BJORN AND JOHNEVERY OTHER NIGHT: The third of Peter, Bjorn and John’s three new singles, Every Other Night – from forthcoming new studio album, Darker Days, is the darkest of the trio. An echoed, atmospheric guitar riff underpins things here, albeit offset with another set of brisk beats and a set of vocals that err towards the falsetto. However, there’s a sense of regret in lyrics that find the trio singing about “kicking myself” in both the morning and the night, as if reflecting on those missed opportunities. It’s more thought-provoking, in that regard, but still retains an infectious energy that is very Peter, Bjorn and John. Explains John: “This song is about what’s keeping you awake between the midnight hour and the hour of the wolf. It’s like a warning sign in neon letters. Sonically, it’s a homage to my indie-pop/rock-heroes and the opposite of the snappy arrangements on our previous album (Breakin’ Point). What you hear is just the three of us, Peter on guitar, Bjorn on bass and me on drums and vocals.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters, Another Level

CRYSTAL FIGHTERSANOTHER LEVEL: Crystal Fighters latest offering is the highly contagious Another Level, taken from the soundtrack to FIFA 19. As such, it’s hardly surprising to find a samba-style ryhthmn throughout, as well as the sort of tic a tac style that conjures memories of Spanish football at its best. What’s more, it’s celebratory, feel-good and utterly anthemic. There’s “oh my my” harmonies, chant-worthy choruses, rousing back-beats and chiming electronic sounds reverberating throughout. It’s designed to inspire and energise and it does just that. And with deliriously feel-good lyrics such as “got me going like a hot volcano”, it’s aiming to trigger a sense of fun that’s difficult to resist. Hence, while FIFA players may well rise to the occasion in scoring goals and playing the beautiful game as it was intended whenever the track drops, this transcends that medium to offer a genuine blast of summer sunshine music to dispel the grey clouds of autumn as they approach.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kandace Springs

KANDACE SPRINGSBREAKDOWN: Singer and pianist Kandace Springs has released her second album Indigo (Blue Note), a 13-track LP of originals and choice covers that showcases the full breadth of Kandace’s artistry from smoldering R&B (People Make the World Go ‘Round) to gorgeous jazz ballads (Unsophisticated featuring Roy Hargrove) to the pop songcraft of Breakdown and Don’t Need The Real Thing. If anything, new single Breakdown is a ballad. It’s a tender listen, expertly delivered, to showcase the true emotional depth of Springs’ soulful vocals. There’s subtle back-beats, tender piano arrangements and a stark, almost sombre vocal that pleads with the listener: “Don’t you breakdown on me”, before adding: “I’m going to need you now.” As if to showcase the breadth of Springs’ songwriting ambition, there’s even a gospel element added towards the middle section of the track, which only serves to make the sentiments on show more stirring. It’s a classy, highly cinematic offering that only endears this singer to us even more.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ivory Wave, Frankie

IVORY WAVEFRANKIE: Birmingham’s party provocateurs Ivory Wave have dropped a retro-tinged blast of indie pop in the form of Frankie. Formed of George, Connor, Luke, Rob and Seb, the band have become known for their hooks and good vibes to boot – and Frankie certainly drops more of those. There’s a swagger in the vocal delivery that’s reminiscent of indie stalwarts such as Liam Gallagher and Shaun Ryder, with an overall vibe that feels like Happy Mondays combined with Flowered Up (circa Weekender), with a little Hard-Fi thrown in. As such, fans of the ’90s indie scene should definitely rush to check this one out, for an old-school fix. But there’s plenty to recommend it to more contemporary listeners, too, with vibrant beats, slick hooks and an exuberantly brash chorus that’s tailor-made for singing along to. It could put them on a lot of people’s radar. Ivory Wave are clearly a band on the rise. They’re dropping Frankie fresh from sets at festivals such as Tramlines and Truck Festival, as well as Birmingham’s SHIIINE ON Weekender. What’s more, they have just supported The DMA’s by personal invitation.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 14, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

The Smashing Pumpkins

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE SMASHING PUMPKINSSILVERY SOMETIMES (GHOSTS): Hot off the back of news confirming the release of new album Shiny And Oh So Bright, Vol 1/ No Past. No Future. No Sun (their first in over 18 years to feature founding members Billy Corgan, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin), The Smashing Pumpkins drop the rip-roaring new single Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts). Built around an insistent, and very Pumpkins’ inspired alt-rock hook, this has an easygoing vibe attached that makes it difficult to resist. Corgan’s distinct vocals also take you back to classic Pumpkins, while the guitars also ramp themselves up for the chorus and solo, delivering some blistering solos to infuse the track with a keen sense of urgency and energy. Indeed, you could be listening to classic era Pumpkins here. They’re back and rejuvenated, which can only be a good thing as the album’s release rapidly approaches. The band also just finished shooting a music video for Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts) with Corgan as the director.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ben Howard

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BEN HOWARD feat SYLVAN ESSOHOT HEAVY SUMMER: Ben Howard returns with three all-new songs, written and recorded during the sessions for his recently acclaimed third album, Noonday Dream. One of the best of the trio is Hot Heavy Summer, a collaboration with American electro pop duo Sylvan Esso. Commenting on his fortune at being able to record with her, a clearly delighted Howard said: “Amelia (Sylvan Esso) is just incredible… fortune prevailed and we managed to get in the studio. I had it in the back of my mind as soon as we initially recorded Hot Heavy Summer that the track just felt right for her.” And so it proves. There’s a great echoed guitar riff, some minimalist beats, and a smooth boy-girl vocal between the two that works achingly well. A belated guitar solo is also terrific, plugging the sound in and coming over highly atmospheric and cinematic. The beats, meanwhile, have a minimalist style but are also highly effective in lending the track a distinct identity. It’s arguably one of Howard’s finest offerings – which is no mean feat given the overall quality of his back catalogue. Indeed, it’s little wonder that the song has also featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on Radio 1.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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John Butler Trio

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: JOHN BUTLER TRIOJUST CALL: The John Butler Trio have released Just Call as the third music video from their upcoming record HOME (released on September 28, 2018). The video is the final in a trio of visual works (including Home and Wade In The Water) made in partnership with director Nick Mckk, and long-time collaborator Kester Sappho. The video is a single shot tour-de-force, combining careful planning and timing to film a stunt that took six takes to get perfect. The ‘jump’ was filmed at the flood waters of the Murray River in Pinjarra, Western Australia where John lived from age 11 – 20. The song and video hold a lot of significance to John, who describes the lyrics as an ‘unabashed love song’ to his wife, Danielle Caruana. In regards to Pinjarra, John remarked: “I grew up on this river and it became one of my best friends. I surfed it, swam it, jumped outta trees into it, explored abandoned farm houses along its banks and generally lived out a ‘Huckleberry Finn’ existence on this river. What a blessed wonderland to grow up in. I’m a lucky man to have had this country teach me and hold me through the ups and downs of my formative years. This location is ‘Graveyards’, it’s legendary to the kids and locals of Pinjarra.” The video is stunning, much like the locations it was shot in. But the song is great too. A rousing, inspiring, beautifully constructed love song, this grows more and more anthemic the longer it lasts, while wrapping you in the warmth of its positivity. The mandolin-style guitar licks provide a wonderful backdrop, while the chorus is made for singing aloud. Coming off the back of the similarly brilliant Wade In The Water, it would appear John Butler is on a roll.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Starling, You

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: STARLINGYOU: Having recently released her new single You, which featured on Spotify’s NMF and The Guardian’s ‘Tracks of The Week’, who described it as “swooning”, Starling has now unveiled the beautiful visual to accompany the single. Speaking about that video Starling said: “I’m so proud of this video as I feel it is the visual representation of the meaning of the song. I decided to work with my stylist, Rachel Holland, and photographer, David Yeo, as video directors as I love their understanding of fashion and art; they were incredible at realising our vision. The contrast of smoke and the billowing colours against the angular cube is the contrast I wanted to show visually – to mirror the song emotionally. Love is a ride.” The art-pop infused single is a genuinely upbeat offering, featuring a sweet set of honey-dued vocals (the “all I want is you” delivery is guaranteed to send shivers down the spine, in a good way), while the shimmering synth pop loops ensure the song effortlessly slides into your subconscious. But there’s edge, too, courtesy of lyrics that are playfully devilish. The beats also maintain the overall upbeat nature of this track, which should have no problem appealing to mainstream sensibilities (think Sia mixed with Imogen Heap).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ben Howard

BEN HOWARDANOTHER FRIDAY NIGHT: Ben Howard returns with three all-new songs, written and recorded during the sessions for his recently acclaimed third album, Noonday Dream. The first, Another Friday Night, is interesting by virtue of the fact it emerges as something of a paradox. And by that we mean it opens with an insistent beat that suggests a change of direction from the folk-rock style that is now his trademark. But in no time at all, the guitars roll in and have a gentle, acoustic folk quality to them, while Howard drops a restrained, almost fragile vocal over lyrics that reflect on a sense of melancholy about reaching the end again. Indeed, there’s a sadness to lines that reflect “I wish I had all my friends again”… as if the passage of time has robbed the singer of good times. If that suggests a depressing listen, it’s not. Rather, it’s relatable. And the decision to include a female set of vocals over the chorus adds a laidback, serene beauty to it, too… as does the majestic acoustic guitar solo. Typically, this is a classy offering, built around the slow build style that is also now something of a Howard trademark.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Ben Howard

BEN HOWARDSISTER: Ben Howard returns with three all-new songs, written and recorded during the sessions for his recently acclaimed third album, Noonday Dream. The third and shortest, Sister, is a rare oddity. Clocking in at a mere 1min and 57seconds, it’s a stripped back, haunted song that eschews many of the elements that we’ve come to know and expect from Howard. If anything, it’s experimental. There’s a dull background hum and an echoed vocal… and that’s it. The lyrics, too, are sometimes hard to discern, while there’s a nagging background sound of someone talking [maybe]. It’s oddly compelling in the way that it draws you in, especially when you first hear it. But of the three songs that have been newly released, it’s the least satisfying and least likely to draw repeat listens. Still, three tracks in one day from one of the UK’s premiere artists is no mean feat and if this one isn’t for everyone [even fans], then we’re still being spoilt, aren’t we?
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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The 1975, Sincerity Is Scary

THE 1975 – SINCERITY IS SCARY: The fourth track to be taken from The 1975’s new album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is perhaps the most experimental to date… as well as their most sincere. Featuring lyrics that question “why can’t we be friends, when we are lovers?”, this takes a deep probe into the nature of relationships that almost sounds as if it’s coming from a place of hurt [if not confusion]. Singer Matt Healy is at his most vulnerable here, and it’s kind of endearing… if lacking in the urgency of Give Yourself A Try or potency of Love It If We Made It. Rather, the instrumentals here are more jazzy than indie or alternative. For starters, the guitars are absent, replaced instead by brass, piano and dragging beats. And like all classic jazz, there’s a shuffled sense of doing its own thing… hence the quasi experimental vibe. Heck, there’s even a gospel tinge to some of the latter choruses. Fans are used to The 1975 mixing things up by now but it’ll be interesting to see how they take to this record… it may be their most divisive yet. We like it… just. But it’s also our least favourite of their new material.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sunset Sons

SUNSET SONSTHE RIVER: Sunset Sons have shared the video for The River, the title track of their new EP, produced by MPG UK Producer of the Year Catherine Marks (The Big Moon, Foals) and issued via LAB Records (Now, Now and Hockey Dad). The new video was filmed at the band’s recent packed out London headline show, which sold out in under 24 hours. Speaking about the track, keyboardist and lead vocalist Rory Williams said: “The River came after a conversation I had with my sister on the phone – she had been in a bad relationship that was abusive mentally and physically. I felt she had lost her confidence and character. The song tells her story and hopefully offers some words of wisdom for finding herself again and being strong.” As such, it’s a powerful anthem, built around swirling piano arrangements, slick guitar hooks and moody drum beats. The lyrics are sung with real meaning and have a sense of empowerment when it comes to lines like “I’m glad you closed the door”. A finale in which the guitars temporarily take on a harder sound underlines the cinematic nature of the song as a whole, before things get stripped down to piano and vocals once again. It’s hard not to be moved. The track’s accompanying video is drawn from live footage shot in London around a euphoric sold-out headline show, itself postponed to allow band and fans alike to watch England beat Colombia on penalties during summer’s World Cup, just before Sunset Sons took the stage. Alongside Demob Happy, Sunset Sons will support Nothing But Thieves across their November headline tour, including London’s Alexandra Palace on November 23, 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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St Lucia

ST LUCIANEXT TO YOU: Brooklyn-based indie-pop band St Lucia have unveiled another new track from their upcoming third album, Hyperion, out on September 21 via RCA/Sony. Next To You showcases a more genteel side ttheir sound – away from the pulsing indie-pop they’re renowned for. It features swathes of acoustic and electric guitar, intertwined with flashes of brass and a dense soundscape of synths. It’s also very mellow and laidback. But then what more could you expect from a song that boasts such lovely lyrics as “it’s alright when I fall asleep next to you and turn off the lights and look up at the stars” over a chorus that’s tailor-made for kicking back with a loved one and doing just that! The mix of guitars and brass also has a nicely intoxicating vibe over the instrumental, lending it a cinematic feel befitting a night of relaxation therapy, when the stresses and strains of the world can all but fade away in the company of this song. Next To You follows on from previous tracks Walking Away, A Brighter Love and Paradise Is Waiting. It suggests Hyperion could easily become one of your favourite albums of 2018.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Billy F Gibbons

BILLY F GIBBONSROLLINAND TUMBLIN’: ZZ Top leading man Billy F Gibbons has indulged his passion for all things blues with sophomore solo album, The Big Bad Blues (out September 21). The first taster of this is the rip-roaring cover of Muddy Waters’ Rollin’ And Tumbin’, which neatly pays homage to a blues-rock classic while imbuing it with an unmistakeable sense of the ZZ Top. A fast-paced rabble rouser of a blues track, this showcases a louder, more pronounced blues sound than some people may have been anticipating… one that drops toe-tapping drums and rollicking guitar solos. It’s also tailor-made to showcase Gibbons’ own guitar skills, with some blistering solos thrown into the mix. His distinctly gruff vocals lend it a keen sense of its own identity, of course, but the delivery of the instrumentals is pure Muddy Waters. It’s clear Gibbons is having a good time and that sense of appreciation is entirely infectious. On the evidence so far, The Big Bad Blues could be a whole lot of fun for blues fans and ZZ Top afficionados.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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LANY

LANYTHICK AND THIN: LANY have released Thick and Thin as the third track to be taken from their upcoming sophomore album, Malibu Nights on Polydor Records. And it’s best described as a slice of retro-tinged cheese-pop with a keen sense of sentimentality. As the title suggests, this is about a friend or lover who should be there through thick and thin… but who isn’t. As such, it’s a track that’s tinged with regret (“is this the end?”). And yet it’s delivered in an upbeat pop style that recalls memories of acts like Go West or Hall & Oates. There’s fasletto vocals galore, lightweight beats, synth hooks and woo-hoo harmonies. Pop fans and those with a love of all things ’80s should check this one out. Thick and Thin follows the band’s two latest releases, I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore and Thru These Tears. The two songs have racked up over 34 million streams combined since release. The band has also passed a milestone 1 billion streams worldwide across all DSPs.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 7, 2018

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

Maverick Sabre, Drifting

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MAVERICK SABREDRIFTING: Irish soul singer Maverick Sabre makes a belated but welcome return with new single Drifting. Aimed as part of a multi-track ode to cinema and other video influences, Drifting has a laidback soulfulness that’s entirely intoxicating. Sabre drops some falsetto-based vocals over trip-hop beats and a subtle soul chorus. There’s even some Indian-style chanting at times, to draw on other world influences and enrich the overall sound. It’s a highly impressive, expressive and – yes – cinematic listen. Speaking to The Fader, Sabre said of the track: “I wrote Drifting to numerous different visuals that I was inspired by, from Kendrick Lamar’s Khalil Joseph documentary through to La Haine. That’s why it has this cinematic feel within the music before we even created the film.” He continued: “I was brought up in Ireland and Irish cinema has always grabbed me, so we wanted to carry that on through and make sure it was captured as beautifuly as possible. The aim is to tell as many different untold Irish stories within a grander film. Drifting is scene one.” We’re hooked.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Metric, Now Or Never Now

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: METRICNOW OR NEVER NOW: The latest offering from Canada’s Metric is the rousing Now Or Never Now. An epic offerinbg that clocks in at a litle over six minutes, this deftly combines Emily Haines’ beautiful vocal style with throbbing synth arrangements and lively drum beats, plus the odd guitar riff. It’s the kind of song that effortlessly soundchecks Regret-era New Order, ’80s synth pop and Ladytron while somehow still managing to pull off a sound that’s very definitely Metric’s own. The song is also notable for hitting the ground running (thereby hooking you in straight away) while continuing to grow in sonic ambition the longer it lasts. There’s a lot going on with those instrumentals, which make for a compelling backdrop. Lyrically, there’s a certain sense of loneliness and trepidation in lines that explore what it is to “be nowhere left alone” – but in addition to being thought-provoking, it elicits a sense of vulnerability that only endears the song even more. Art of Doubt marks Metric’s first LP since 2015’s Pagans in Vegas. It was recorded at their own Giant Studio in Toronto with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen. Along with Now or Never Now, the group has shared album cuts Dark Saturday and Dressed to Suppress, all of which have impressed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Spraggan, Stick The Kettle on

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: LUCY SPRAGGAN feat SCOUTING FOR GIRLSSTICK THE KETTLE ON: Lucy Spraggan’s empowering new single is as inspring as it is comforting. A team-up with indie pop favourites Scouting For Girls, this is an endearing ode to saving yourself that aims to raise awareness of mental health issues, while offering an anthemic sing-along to boot. Commenting on the track herself, Spraggan said: Stick The Kettle On is a song about making sure you’re looking after yourself and your friends. We live in such a fast-paced environment at the moment and sometimes it’s so easy to miss the signs that something isn’t OK. Like my best mate says, ‘There’s nothing a good brew can’t fix.” The song is also in support of the charity CALM, aka Campaign Against Living Miserably, which aims to bring down the suicide rate among men. Hence, it’s a song that carries an important message about never losing hope that’s delivered in an amicable, upbeat, even breezy manner. It’s all the more notable for doing so, helping to inspire debate and happiness. You’ll be humming along in no time, while quite possibly sticking that kettle on yourself to deliver a much needed brew. Heck, it may even help you to get on top of your own problems by pausing to think your way around them… or possibly reaching out for help.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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John Butler Trio

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: JOHN BUTLER TRIOWADE IN THE WATER: Australia’s highest selling independent artist of all time, John Butler, shares the second installment in a three-part video series for album track Wade In The Water, taken from the forthcoming album HOME, out September 28). Directed by Nick Mckk, produced by longtime collaborator Kester Sappho and filmed in one continuous shot, the video features Butler and son Jahli skateboarding through the streets of rural Australia. While the first video for title track Home showed the competing elements of life on the road and being away from family, the latest chapter captures the uninhibited feeling of cruising indefinitely through uninterrupted, open roads without the distractions and limitations of modern life. The song itself is fantastic. Built around a tremendous slide guitar riff, this is a gutsy, bluesy rocker of a track that is steeped in classic values. Vocally, there’s shades of Americana, or even Pearl Jam, while the guitars just keep getting better. The solo roars. It’s why guitars are so great. Commenting on the track himself, Butler said: “Wade In The Water is one of my favorite songs off of this album. It’s a soul searching proclamation and a journey back to myself. The words just kinda fell out and I didn’t really know what they meant for a long time until I stood back and took a look at the song and the passage of time I’d just been through. This song celebrates my love for Led Zeppelin, Hip Hop back beat, Indian classic music and is one of my favourite songs to play live.” We can well imagine why.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kyson, Have My Back

KYSONHAVE MY BACK: Continuing his series of single releases with B3SCI / Majestic Casual Records, Kyson – the moniker of producer, singer and songwriter Jian Liew – has unveiled a third new track, Have My Back. While the first two singles in this series showcased an electronic soundscape, Have My Back introduces a more indie-fuelled sound to Kyson’s repertoire, channelling the likes of King Krule and Mac DeMarco, and setting a new tone for the remaining two singles in the four-part series he’s currently in the midst of. Speaking about this sonic diversity, Kyson himself said: “Have My Back came out of a bunch of sessions when experimenting on songs for my new album. It comes from a very different place to Every High and Clear Air and I really wanted it to sit separately from them, so we decided to break the original EP format and go for a collection of two double a-side singles instead.” The ensuing track is certainly more pop as well. Early on, there’s a minimalism that feels more folksy. But once the beats and electronics drop, there’s a sound that’s instantly more accessible to mainstream followers, as well as an indie sensibility that continues to set Kyson apart from his peers. Hence, there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be felt in listening to this one… coupled with a sense of bittersweet as the singer laments the story of someone who “used to have my back but now you don’t”.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jessie Reyez, F**K Being Friends

JESSIE REYEZ – F**K BEING FRIENDS: Following last month’s MTV VMA’s performance of Apple Juice, a remixed release of Body Count featuring Kehlani and Normani, appearances at US festivals AFROPUNK and Made In America, two notable features on Eminem’s newest album Kamikaze and now topping over 230 million streams worldwide, Jessie Reyez has announced that her second EP, Being Human in Public, is set to be released on October 19, 2018 via Polydor / FMLY. As a further taster, she’s shared another new track, the provocative F*ck Being Friends, to kick off the sale of her North American Being Human on Tour autumn dates. The track, like its name suggests, is as no-nonsense as Reyez can make it. Indeed, it kicks off with the lyrics in question, suggesting that the loss of a friendship doesn’t much matter. But there’s a seductive background electronic and some slick beats to accompany the vocals, which conform to a sassy rap style. Hence, you will want to sit up and take notice as Reyez drops ‘f**k’ and pussy bombs all over the place. With that in mind, it’s not a song for the easily offended. But as smooth groove R’n‘B mixed with hip-hop elements goes, Reyez knows how to deliver the provocative goods.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Juiceboxxx

JUICEBOXXXRIPPING UP MY SOUL: Milwaukee enigma Juiceboxxx has released the lead single from his forthcoming EP, Ripping Up My Soul. Described as a rock and roll appraisal of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, the singer states. “This song is about sub-culture as a weird spiritual surrogate, and trying to navigate a life after years of rock and roll damage. Coming to grips with this force that has both given your life meaning but also made it deeply confusing. Sometimes I feel trapped in the basement, the dive bar, the warehouse, whatever… There is a punk rock version of ‘Catholic guilt’ and I don’t really know how to process it. Some people end up dying. But I continue write songs. And try to take it one day at a time.” The ensuing song has an instantly in your face vibe, driven by spiky, punk-inflicted guitar riffs and some quick-fire drums. The vocals are raw in a kind of post-punk, post-Strokes kind of way. But while that lends it an alternative-meets-punk energy, there’s also a keen sense of melody in the chorus that makes it well worth chanting aloud whenever it’s belted out in live form (or even played on the radio). In his one of a kind career — how many people can say they have had a book written about them (The Next Next Level by Leon Neyfakh) before the age of 30 — Juiceboxxx has touched on a variety of American music forms (everything from noisy rap to freaked out hardcore), but the past few years of live shows have zoned in on a one of a kind synthesis that combines the fury of punk with a cathartic, hook-happy approach. That is more than evident here.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Fergus, Willow

FERGUSWILLOW: London-based singer songwriter Fergus has released the supremely tranquil Willow, taken from debut EP Purple Road (due for release Autumn 2018). The track continues along a poignant emotional journey as this gifted tunesmith celebrates a new life. Produced by Jake Gosling, it’s a song that’s drenched in lush, almost whispered vocals (tinged with a bittersweet element), as well as haunting melodies. And yet, there’s a beauty to offset the apparent sadness, too. It’s a warm song that transfixes by virtue of its tranquility, especially when taking into account the inspiration behind it. Speaking about the track, Fergus explained: “This one started out as a poem set to music really – a lullaby, after close friends had a baby girl called Willow! I wanted to paint a beautiful, peaceful image lyrically, inspired by this new life, a new beginning, and voyage into the unknown. The message is, that fundamentally, everything is going to be ok – “don’t weep for me, Willow”. It’s as much a message to me, as it is to her and makes an uplifting (and welcome!) contrast to the first two songs.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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She Drew The Gun

SHE DREW THE GUNRESISTER: She Drew The Gun have dropped the livewire lead single from their sophomore album, Revolution of Mind, which is out on October 5. Propelled by a buzzing scuzz guitar riff, the song bristles with an unbridled energy that is further enhanced by pulse-pounding drums and a sexy vocal that seduces over a sleek chorus. It’s a shot of female-driven indie pop-rock that really delivers the goods. Commenting on the song themselves, Louisa Roach – the band’s guitarist and frontwoman – said: “Resister is a song for people who find themselves on the edges of society… it’s about not giving up, not becoming cold, keeping your heart open and resisting the powers that be in whatever way you can. For the video, we carried on the theme we used in the album artwork, taking inspiration from feminist artists such as Judy Chicago, Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger. We played around with the lyrics using text art, the female body is so entangled in pop music and art so we used this is as something to work from.” As such, it’s also an empowering anthem for those willing to listen, which also comes complete with a genuinely rousing guitar solo.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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