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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 15, 2019

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

Charlie Cunningham

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CHARLIE CUNNINGHAMSINK IN: Having heralded his return with the song Permanent Way and a sold out show at London’s Omeara, Charlie Cunningham has now gone one step further with the release of a second new track, Sink In – and duly impresses. What Charlie describes as “the slightly ominous guitar part” of Sink In inspired a tale of ambiguous persuasion. It’s nevertheless a striking offering, combining an ethereal quality reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez, with something equally cinematic. Indeed, this could easily be described as dusty driving music that mines that rich seam of Flamenco guitar that runs through much of Cunningham’s music. It’s quiet, thoughtful, emotionally driven and hypnotic in all the right ways. It’s the kind of song that you’ll want to hear over and over again. Sink In was produced alongside Sam Scott and Duncan Tootil and features the White Brothers – better known as Hugo, Felix & Will from The Maccabees – on keyboards, electric guitar and bass, respectively. Cunningham is currently on an extensive tour of the US ahead of a one off headlining show at Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre on June 12. Along with his band, Cunningham then takes to the road again in October for dates across Europe ahead of a headlining UK tour in November.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Howard Kaye, Origin

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: HOWARD KAYEORIGIN: Howard Kaye, former frontman of alternative hip-hop band Croox, has started to release his eagerly anticipated solo material. His captivating debut single Origin bodes well for the future. A track that Howard holds a deep connection to, given that it’s an incredibly raw and touching tribute, and the first song he had written since his father passed away, Origin is beautifully delivered and very emotional (in keeping with its personal themes). Beginning with a brooding violin melody that fades behind sweet R’n‘B vocals, Origin combines different elements that are the result of Kaye’s diverse musical background. But lyrically, the track cuts to a deeper level that can only be reached through truly vulnerable songwriting, with the verse touching on his thoughts at the time, while the chorus takes on a more positive, hopeful slant. Kaye’s vocals are shot through with emotion (combining a sense of loss with hope), while the beats have a hip-hop vibe that’s nicely offset with the more soulful electronics and that striking use of violin. It’s a track that builds to a cinematic grandeur.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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ViVii

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: VIVIIPICK ME UP: Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii have just released their self-titled debut album through Swedish label Dumont Dumont (Ry X, Charlie Cunningham, Josin). Featuring critically praised singles Love Love Love, And Tragic, Suckerpunch, Savant, Siv (You and I), it also now boasts their latest offering, Pick Me Up. As with so many of the songs on the LP, stunning soundscapes abound… all delivered with a beautifully laidback, even dreamy haze. As the title suggests, this is about rescuing someone and making them feel better about themselves… and just like the themes it embraces, the song itself serves as a pick me up in its own right. Dreamy vocals abound, as do lush electronic arrangements and slick beats. It’s a dream-pop offering that floats into your subconscious in effortlessly soothing fashion, making you feel good in the moment it lasts and thirsting for more. But whether it’s just for the quick fix of the single, or for the whole album, it’s well worth becoming acquainted with ViVii. Speaking about the album, ViVii said: “This is our journey that started five years ago portrayed in music, words and pictures, it’s been a long time coming. The album represents creativity, musical freedom and a safe zone for three vulnerable souls. We are truly proud of this baby of ours.” We wish them luck.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kyle Falconer, Kelly

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: KYLE FALCONERKELLY: After five hit albums, a Mercury Prize nomination and countless sold-out shows with The View, the band’s frontman Kyle Falconer released his debut solo album No Thank You late last year on Riverman Records. The album received fantastic critical acclaim and earned Falconer ‘Best Album’ at the Scottish Music Awards. Ahead of his UK Spring/Summer tour, Falconer has now released a video for tender, heartfelt track Kelly. The video was directed by Jordan Shearer, from Neon Waltz, and the track is a particularly emotive one for Falconer, as he explains: “The director, Jordan, had a very artistic and creative vision which I feel mirrors the song well. The song is about self-acceptance. I wanted to get across that in this day and age especially, it’s okay to be whoever you want to be, love whoever you want to love, and be free and confident within yourself, no matter what sexuality you are or how you choose to present yourself to the world. I met a lot of people dealing with these issues in rehab and it opened my eyes to the struggles that people face daily for just trying to be themselves. I wanted to let my fans know that it’s okay to be you in a world where people are heavily scrutinised and judged.” The song itself is an emotive, impassioned listen that – while having something to important to say – isn’t stifled by well meaning. Rather, it’s beautifully realised, with acoustic instrumentals working in tandem with lovely string arrangements and a really stirring central vocal, that builds to some really passionate highs. It’s one of Falconer’s best offerings and indicative of why his solo album has been so well received by fans and critics alike.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FOALSMOONLIGHT: Foals have delivered an odd but weirdly fascinating video for their new album offering, Moonlight. A single shot video, the track opens with just a classic piano sitting in front of the camera, before frontman Yannis Philippakis appears (via a jumpy edit) to deliver the song. Over the course of the song, he barely moves, but the footage – like some old news reel – continues to flicker the more the emotion seeps in. And, eventually, Philippakis disappears, leaving the piano to stand alone once again. It doesn’t do much but remains compelling, in part because of the power of the song itself. There’s a sense of emotional desolation attached to this one, of being lost, given its lyrical themes of walking into the desert and black holes. Early on, it’s relatively sparse… an atmospheric electronic and guitar lick accompanied by those striking central vocals. But gradually, the instrumentals get layered in, with haunting electronics and ghostly beats providing an ever increasing sense of atmosphere that feeds into the vocals. It’s striking stuff – not as in your face and punchy as Foals can be; but ear-catching for a different reason. It’s evidence of the band’s growing diversity, while offering yet another highlight from the current LP, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Spraggan, Lucky Stars

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: LUCY SPRAGGANLUCKY STARS: Lucy Spraggan is in a good place and wants to share it with the world. Hence, she’s announced her fifth studio album, Today Was A Good Day, which is out on May 3 on Cooking Vinyl, and shared the bright and breezy new single Lucky Stars. A celebration of all things family and love, with a cosmic element thrown in, this is driven by brisk, vibrant acoustic guitar licks, breezy whistles and lively percussion. Spraggan’s vocals are alive with positivity, sharing things like “I thank my lucky stars that I discovered you” and “I thank my lucky stars that you’re so close to me, like Venus and Mercury”. It’s utterly infectious songwriting. Commenting on the track herself, Spraggan said: “I thank my lucky stars for my family. I’ve been through some incredibly dark times and although I’ve made many steps forward, I still get anxious and paranoid. This is how I came up with the idea for the video for Lucky Stars – when I feel anxious, I feel like people are staring at me as if I’m from outer space… So I donned an astronaut suit for the entire video. Marrying her wife ‘G’ and fostering children has turned life around for Lucy, which she describes as ‘amazing’ and ‘challenging’ and underlines the common theme throughout the album. “We’ve had 14 kids stay with us so far”, explains Lucy. “We are also trying for our own child so we will see what happens. All this has played a huge part in my writing –it’s an album about growing up.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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RuthAnne, Love Again

RUTHANNELOVE AGAIN: Award winning songwriter RuthAnne is back with highly anticipated music for 2019. Her uplifting new single Love Again, co-produced by George Moore (Yebba – Evergreen) and long-term collaborators Futurecut (Rihanna), sparks a new chapter for the Irish artist as she gives us a taste of what’s to come from her long-awaited debut album, out later this year via independent record label, The Other Songs. Love Again instantly captivates the listener as RuthAnne’s powerful vocal takes center stage. Starting off with just her and an electric guitar, the vibrant track builds into a harmonious chorus as RuthAnne’s soulful vocal is supported with a choir, creating an atmospheric upbeat production. It’s got retro leanings, with Northern Soul elements (especially in her blistering vocals and the use of some brass late on), as well as a sense of triumphing against adversity (which is something we all need at the moment as a global society). The new track is about RuthAnne convincing another that ‘love’ still exists and if they allow her in, she can help them to love again. She explains: “I wrote the idea down for this song after I had a few dates with someone who had just gone through a break up. He said to me ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to love again’ and I immediately wrote it down on my phone and underneath I wrote ‘I know that I can make you learn to love again’. When writing the song I was thinking of all the things in life we do when we lose out, when we fail, when we get our hearts broken. I realised that no matter what happens I always believe in trying again and never giving up on love or my dreams and so I wrote the song thinking about that and how important it is to always keep your heart open and that the love is out there. Go where the love is.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Retro Video Club, Addicted

RETRO VIDEO CLUBADDICTED: One of the most exciting bands in Scotland right now, Retro Video Club have released the incendiary follow-up to last year’s 3AM in the form of Addicted (out now on Manchester’s LAB Records). As with previous singles, it’s another driving indie anthem that can’t fail to get the crowd bouncing whenever it’s played live. There are gritty guitar hooks, a punk edge at times, which gives rise to a more anthemic, chant-along chorus (akin to listening to classic Kaiser Chiefs at times). “Lyrically it’s a song about being dead into someone,” says singer Liam Allison, “only to find out you’re the person on the side. The second choice.” In spite of the forlorn sentiments surrounding the lyrics, the brash delivery sets up an otherwise foot-stomping album that empowers in spite of the sorrow surrounding it. As Retro Video Club get bigger and bigger and extend their popularity beyond their Scottish borders, this song could well become a huge anthem for them. Retro Video Club are Liam Allison (vocals/rhythm guitar), Sam McGill (lead guitar), Michael Ward (bass) and Kieran Burt (drums/backing vocals).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marsicans

MARSICANSYOUR EYES: Fast-rising UK indie quartet Marsicans drop another enjoyable indie rocker in the form of Your Eyes – which veers from melodic to bonkers throughout its short runtime. Lyrically, the track finds the band turn introspective, taking on a much grittier approach to their indie-pop sound than previous singles. An insight into growing up, this finds the band contemplating the bigger things in life and letting go of the juvenile tendencies that have informed their life story to date. And yet, there’s a giddy abandon to the delivery of the track, inherent in the sometimes shouty lyrics and mid-song breakdowns that turn the song from bright and breezy indie anthem into something more chaotic and edgy. In that regard, there are traces of early Blur in those artistic tendencies. Marsicans singer/guitarist James Newbigging offered some insight into the accompanying video for Your Eyes, saying: “For this one, we teamed up with our friends at Sodium, an independent film company based in Leeds who are doing some amazing things. The video basically shows our alternative selves watching our real selves performing. So, it’s something of a “what might have been” if we all didn’t choose to pursue a career in music, tying in with the song’s main theme about choosing your path in life.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kiefer Sutherland

KIEFER SUTHERLANDSOMETHING YOU LOVE: Having announced a selection of UK dates for later this spring, actor/singer Kiefer Sutherland has released single Something You Love and offers up a good time rock anthem that wears its inspirations on its sleeve. The propulsive Petty-meets-Springsteen rocker bursts with energy, and is shot through with American rock values. Co-written with Cole, it pays tribute to the “average person who works very hard just to stay in the middle”, who finds themselves betrayed by big business. “Has it happened to a lot of people I care about?” questions Sutherland. “Yes, of course it has.” It boasts lyrics such as “wasting my time just paying my bills, staying in line but getting no chills”, thereby striking at the heart of a popular sentiment at the moment [albeit a frustrating one], while also tipping his hat to the working man structure of many a Springsteen offering. Rather than wallow in the frustrations inherent in the lyrics, however, Sutherland dresses it up with some hard-rocking elements, indulging in some lively guitar solos as well as delivering his own set of blistering, gutsy, raw vocals. It’s a rabble-rouser with plenty of meaning that nevertheless offers a real good time of a listen. It should go down an absolute storm whenever it’s played live!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSETREAT ME LIKE A WOMAN: Lucy Rose has shared a third track from her forthcoming new album. Treat Me Like A Woman is a devastatingly frank track, boldly capturing self-critical fears with an introspective look at gender equality. It’s a timely release, too, arriving just after International Women’s Day and the #MeToo movement. There’s a disarming honesty, as ever, to Rose’s songwriting. For while empowering in the sense that it’s asking – if not seeking – for equality, Rose isn’t afraid to admit to feelings of being “afraid and scared”. In spite of this, however, the song retains an air of optimism that things can change. Instrumentally, the song is very sparse, with little more than acoustic guitars and subtle strings to accompany the vocals. But this only adds extra emphasis to Rose’s voice, which is as tender, compelling and heartfelt as ever. Treat Me Like A Woman is lifted from Lucy’s fourth album No Words Left, which will be released on March 22, 2019. Commenting on the track itself, Rose has plenty to say: “Treat Me Like A Woman was written one afternoon in Munich after a combination of events which pushed me to think about the way people interact with me purely based on my gender. I’ve often thought things like, ‘Would that have happened to me if I was a man?’ and a feeling of lack of respect at times purely because I’m a woman. For a long time I’ve been unable to express these thoughts, almost scared of what they mean and worried that I would start a battle I wouldn’t be able to finish. I don’t want a debate, this isn’t a song aimed at men, it’s a conversation that everyone needs to have with themselves. Have I ever judged a woman differently to a man? The truth is, most probably at some point in my life I have. And why? I’m so far from perfect, I feel I have no right to judge anyone on their behaviour and this song isn’t about that. It’s very much about my own feelings that until now I’ve been incapable of describing or understanding. The smallest things fester into a huge deal if they happen a lot. This song has been created inside me over years and years of small, tiny, and in ways, insignificant events that have built into a tower of anger. That afternoon in Munich was breaking point. After soundcheck, I isolated myself from my entire touring party, including my husband. I couldn’t explain to them how I was feeling, they knew I was upset, but why? The next night, in Vienna, I played Treat Me Like A Woman for the first time. Like playing any new song, it was emotional, but wow, in all my career I’ve never felt so empowered and liberated to be expressing something that for so long I had felt unable to explore.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 8, 2019

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

Vampire Weekend

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: VAMPIRE WEEKENDSUNFLOWER feat STEVE LACY: Vampire Weekend come over extremely trippy for their latest new offering, Sunflower, featuring The Internet’s guitarist Steve Lacy. Opening amid a flurry of 70s inspired guitar riffs, the song then drops some trip-hop beats and a delicious vocal from Ezra Koenig that talks about sunflowers banishing the evil away. In the background, meanwhile, that 70s classic rock sound becomes more and more pronounced, complete with some trippy backkground harmonies. And then, as the song reaches its climax, the song enters even more psychedelic territory, for a truly gonzo climax. And in spite of its experimental, retro tendencies, there’s something immensely fun about it. There’s a celebratory feel, inherent in those harmonies, and the bouncy nature of the percussion and guitar stabs. It’s designed to put a smile on your face and it succeeds, while remaining lyrically engaging. It’s another excellent taster from their new album, Harmony Hall, which looks set to become one of the year’s highlights.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chemical Brothers

VIDEO/SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS – WE’VE GOT TO TRY: The Chemical Brothers may just have dropped the best track to date from their new album, No Geography (out April 12). Tapping into some of the early style of their Exit Planet Dust days, this combines some dark techno undertones with rapid-fire, sometimes woozy synths and a gutsy female vocal to offer some sweetness. It’s a livewire dance track that boasts edge to match its energy, and it’s totally exhilarating. Put together with the video, though, it’s even better. Directed by Ninian Doff, who last collaborated with the brothers on 2015’s Sometimes I Feel So Deserted, it features an abandoned dog, who works her way through the ranks of motorsport on a journey of self-discovery, before being thrust into space on a mission that looks set to have a very dark ending. There is a feel-good finale, though, which is every bit as surreal as what’s come before (Wes Anderson would be proud). It’s amusing, mysterious, and more than a little disturbing. But it works, perfectly complimenting the track itself.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters, Wild Ones

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CRYSTAL FIGHTERSWILD ONES: To mark the release of their new album Gaia & Friends, Crystal Fighters have shared a surreal new video for one of its highlights, Wild Ones. Always eager to share dazzling surrealist visuals, the band once again share a singular vision. Hence, as a searing sun sets, a mysterious figure rises beyond the earth’s atmosphere to embark upon a playful voyage of discovery that encompasses alien encounters, unknown landscapes and joyous dance moves. The figure evolves from man to woman to baby, before the sun rises on a brand new day. It’s eye-catching, visually stylistic, hypnotic and mesmerising. The song itself encapsulates everything that’s great and life-affirming about listening to the current album. There’s an infectious calypso style percussion and a euphoric chorus with lines such as “tell me how long, can this go on, like we’re floating in the arms of God, with the wild ones, with the wild ones, and we rage on, ‘til we’re blazing in the sun”. The ‘la la’ harmonies add an extra layer of sunshine hospitality. But knowingly so. It’s a song designed to make you feel giddy and good about yourself. And it does so with aplomb.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wallows, Sidelines

WALLOWSSIDELINES: Wallows offer another taste of their highly-anticipated debut album, Nothing Happens, with new track, Sidelines, a bittersweet tale of love and loneliness post-break up. And yet in spite of the sense of loss, there’s an indie slacker vibe attached that’s highly evocative of bands like Weezer. The hazy, laidback vocals add to that, as to the guitars. But there’s also a sharp sense of melody, which serves as a nice contrast to the more despairing elements contained within the lyrics. Hence, while a lament on loss, it’s still lively and hip enough to give it a sunshine kind of alt-rock feel. We like it a lot. Shot at Los Angeles’ Castle Park, the accompanying self-directed video features band members Braeden Lemasters, Cole Preston, and Dylan Minnette as they make their way through a mini-golf course, reflecting on the heartbreak and uncertainty that accompany the ending of a relationship. Sidelines follows lead single Are You Bored Yet? (feat. Clairo) and follow-up single Scrawny, which are all available instantly upon pre-ordering Nothing Happens.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Vampire Weekend

VAMPIRE WEEKENDBIG BLUE: Just as they did with the release of the first two tracks from Harmony Hall, Vampire Weekend have dropped another two tasters: one short, the other long. The shorter version clocks in at just under two minutes and is a low key tribute to the big blue of the title… or rather, a questioning of the big things in life and maybe beyond. Instrumentally, it’s disarmingly simple, opening amid some arpeggios and intermittent drum machine clicks, before eventually blossoming into a lusher song with surf rock style guitars. Ezra Koenig, meanwhile, finds himself questioning some of the big things, albeit with an edge of uncertainty. Hence, while initially insisting “big blue, for once in my life, I felt close to you”, he then questions “So am I learning my lesson? Or am I back on my own?” It’s a typically irresistible, albeit brief, yet highly intelligent offering from Vampire Weekend.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Morabezo Tobacco, Ally McBeal

MORABEZA TOBACCOALLY MCBEAL: Swedish duo Morabeza Tobacco have always been ones to re-purpose cult TV shows into their music. With their previous single, Defenders Of The Glam taken from the 80s cartoon series Defenders Of The Earth, the pair now return with their latest release, Ally McBeal, although it is not actually inspired by the hit TV show. “We’re not sure actually [where the name came from]”, the band say. “We were talking about what to name the song, then Ally McBeal popped up and both of us thought ‘yeah, that’s the one’. One theory we have is that we associated it with one of the lines in the song (‘it’s no big deal’ =Ally McBeal)”. Stepping away from the more groove-filled singles of late, Ally McBeal taps into be the band’s more ethereal and psychedelic side. It boasts notable comparisons to the likes of Animal Collective and Toro Y Moi, and is filled with dreamlike synths and subtle yet commanding basslines that give this new release a very grand and cinematic-like experience. But there’s also a trippiness that’s very defined, meaning that the song has an experimental edge that makes it a very acquired taste. Even fans who have enjoyed the grooviness of past offerings may struggle to embrace some of the more trippy leanings on this song. It’s interesting more than compelling, placing you into a blissed out state of mind-space without necessarily making you want to come back for further repeat listens. An oddity, then, but a fascinating one, nonetheless.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Angie McMahon

ANGIE MCMAHONPASTA: Australian solo artist Angie McMahon has unveiled a new single in the form of Pasta ahead of her appearance at this weekend’s SXSW. Written after she had consumed a whole lasagne, the song itself is about feeling tired and more than a little lose, and seeking solace in pasta! It starts off in pretty disconsolate, downbeat fashion, with a gruff vocal and a bluesy guitar. There’s a sense of despair (“I’ve been lost, I’ve been lost”) and grim resolve, with McMahon eventually admitting that she spends so much time eating pasta. But just as you think you have the measure of the song (and its food), it bursts into life and rocks out. McMahon admits she wanted to evoke a Springsteen vibe with this element of the song, and while that may be a little beyond her reach, the more aggressive nature of the second half of the song is invigorating and fun (a move away from the carb-induced malaise). A quirky official video for the single is also now streaming online alongside a video for Angie’s recent single Keeping Time. Both tracks will feature on Angie’s to-be-announced debut album, Salt, which is expected later this year. Speaking about the Pasta video, Angie shares: “I wanted this video to show how it feels to do nothing, just letting your brain stew, because I struggle with time management and I can be really mean to myself about it. When I needed to make merch for my first tour, I spent so long freaking out about it, worrying that it wouldn’t look cool and I wouldn’t be able to design something that felt genuine. The day before it was due, I quickly scribbled this picture of some dogs lining up to go to a concert (dream come true). I got to the tipping point where I let go of the pressure and just did whatever felt good. This music video is a kind of adaption on that. The gold star reminds me of being a kid and having encouragement, getting a tick of approval or whatever, but the adult version that I’m learning is that you just have to encourage yourself and not wait for other people to do it. And if you can’t make yourself feel awesome, dogs might make you feel awesome. It’s a reminder to go outside.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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REN

RENBLUE HOUNDS: Ren, aka Conor Owen, has released his spellbinding new single Blue Hounds as a follow-up to debut EP A Calling From The Shore, which received over 650K streams on Spotify. Written and recorded in Newcastle, the track takes careful aim at the dogs let slip by a savage Tory agenda from Theresa May’s 2017 Tory manifesto to current EU negotiations. Says REN: “With this song, I wanted to make people more aware of and engaged in current affairs. It’s a call for people to take a stand against policies that infringe on our rights.” Listening to it, though, you’d be forgiven for missing the sharper political edge. The lyrics are certainly intelligent and philosophical (“keep your blue hounds from my door”), but they’re delivered in a laidback, acoustic way that puts the emphasis on enjoyment. There’s a Jose Gonzalez vibe at times, with those lush acoustics beautifully constructed and hypnotic in their own way. The instrumental interludes are also beautifully delivered, adding extra edge to a song that is layered with meaning, yet high on overall enjoyability.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Andreya Triana, Broke

ANDREYA TRIANABROKE: Andreya Triana has shared the video for her latest single, Broke. The powerful video features shots of Andreya performing the soulful track mixed with scenes of a mother and daughter doing everyday things at home, reflecting the song’s heartfelt lyrics about Andreya growing up with her mother. It’s a song that is very personal to Triana and is delivered with suitable convicton, a blues-soul vocal taking centre stage over instrumentals that invoke a Northern Soul vibe. There’s gospel-tinged backing too, to add extra layering. It’s another impressive offering from Triana. Broke is the second single to be taken from the album, and follows first single Woman, while preceding the new album, Life in Colour, which is released on May 24, 2019 through Hi-Tea Records/The Orchard. Commenting on the new track, Triana said: “My new single Broke is for anyone that’s had to live off baked beans and make a tenner last a lifetime. It was inspired by a particular time in my life, but I’m forever thankful to my friends and Mum for always being there to help me out. After all, if we have love then we have the ultimate riches. On that note… must pay Mum back that tenner!”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Deportees

DEPORTEESBRIGHT EYES: While almost unknown outside of Sweden, Umeå-based trio Deportees have long been both a critical and commercial success back home. Their most recent album, 2015’s The Big Sleep, was awarded the Swedish Grammy for Best Rock Album, an award the band had also picked up for their previous long-player Islands & Shores. And now, not before time, Deportees release their first single internationally, Bright Eyes. And no, it’s not a cover and has nothing to do with rabbits. Rather, the song is an empathic plea to a friend to stop crying and start healing. It’s call for new dreams free from dejection and nostalgia, and a mission-statement for the band’s upcoming EP Re-dreaming, which follows on May 17. Lead singer Peder Stenberg explains: “Encouraging a friend to stop their crying might sound harsh, but it’s not because I lack sympathy. It’s because I need this person to function.” The track is emotionally honest and empowering in its own way. But it’s also shot through with ear-catching melodies – the synth-pop sound working to create a highly endearing backdrop. The moody vocals offset the lush electronics nicely, bringing a nice contrast and balance: the song has serious themes but it never sounds so. Rather, it soars once the electronics are allowed to guide you towards its climax.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 1, 2019

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

Zero 7, Aurora

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ZERO 7 feat JOSE GONZALEZAURORA: It’s taken us a week to catch up with this one but Zero 7’s reunion with Jose Gonzalez, Aurora, is as great as we’d been hoping it would be. Built around some ambient synth arrangements, and subtle, layered beats, this is a laidback, beautifully beguiling offering that works wonders because of the return of Gonzalez. We’ve been waiting to hear something new from Gonzalez for some time now and his distinct, hushed vocals shine here, providing a soothing focal point that’s perfectly in keeping with the laidback ambience of the song in general. Lyrically, it sets up a mystery to solve, and is worth contemplating. But perhaps even more striking is the way in which he tees up the song at around the two minute, 50 second mark to suddenly shape-shift. The synths become more pronounced, even cinematic, and occasionally ’80s leaning. The drums also kick in occasionally, providing the track with an added impetus that’s really well realised. Gonzalez takes a back-seat, here, allowing Zero 7 to play around with the instrumentals. But it’s a glorious finale to the track, ensuring that it keeps you genuinely excited and expectant for more Zero 7 material throughout the rest of the year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marina, Superstar

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MARINASUPERSTAR: Superstar marks the second offering from Marina’s eagerly anticipated fourth studio album Love + Fear – and a song that has been surrounded by excitement since Marina teased the title in 2018. The track effortlessly weaves flurries of pulsing beats and soft keys around lyrics that find Marina paying tribute to a partner who embraces all of her imperfections (“we’ve worked so hard and we’ve come so far”). The fizzing synths provide an effortlessly laidback listen, with the equally well realised beats creating a semi-trip hop style state of bliss, which perfectly compliments the tone of the record (which celebrates that special relationship). Marina’s vocals, meanwhile, have that blissful quality that she brings to so much of her work, complete with a keen sense of harmony and a nice change of pace during the striking chorus. They help the track to soar in all the right ways. Written by Marina alongside ‘Electra Heart’ collaborators Captain Cuts (Halsey, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tove Lo), Superstar is taken from the Love collection of the album set, due for release via Atlantic Records on April 26, 2019.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Speight

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: TOM SPEIGHTHEARTSHAKER: London-based artist Tom Speight has dropped the fourth single from his forthcoming album, Collide, in the form of the stirring Heartshaker. Inspired by both Paul Simon and Vampire Weekend, and reminiscent of both, this also adds strong rhyhtmn and African influences and rates as the most upbeat track to be taken from the LP so far. Commenting on the track himself, Tom said: “Heartshaker was written after travelling back from New York City. I was in a relationship at the time and it felt like everything was moving very fast for me and I was struggling to take it all in. I got back from the trip and finally had a chance to write about how I was feeling and had time to process the feeling of being afraid of being left behind in a relationship.” It may be a song steeped in a certain self-doubt, but there are some suitably lovely lyrics about seeing a girl from the West Side on the A train, or “dancing girl watch the sunrise”, while those lively beats and robust acoustic guitar licks provide an inspiring backdrop. It’s a track steeped in classic songwriting values that could easly become one of Speight’s most crowd-pleasing songs to date.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Susto, Homeboy

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: SUSTOHOMEBOY: Charleston-based band Susto’s new album, Ever Since I Lost My Mind, is available now, and well worth checking out on the strength of current single, Homeboy. An Americana influenced alt-rocker, this is driven by a rolling guitar riff that instantly gets into your head and refuses to budge, as well as some gritty vocals and a sharp sense of storytelling. Every so often, that rolling guitar also broadens out to include something more electrifying, with some gutsy riffs to break up the otherwise smooth running of the song. It only makes the song more memorable. The record was produced by Grammy-award winning producer Ian Fitchuk (Kacey Musgraves, Ruston Kelly) with input from Osborne’s longtime creative partner Wolfgang Zimmerman. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song, fronman and lyricist Justin Osborne said: “I kind of found myself on the other side of the fence, the people in town being like, ‘Ok, I wanna get out of here. I want to see it from the other side’. And at the same time experiencing this profound homesickness, or FOMO, because I love what I do, and I am so glad I get to do it, but some of my friends were spending their last days in town when I was gone. So, I felt like this era was ending, and I was already gone. So it’s kind of a reflection of that, of just wanting change in your life and making that change happen. And also once you get there, looking back and seeing where you came from. And sometimes the grass looks greener ahead, and sometimes the grass looks greener behind, and I think the song just kind of goes on both sides.” It’s a terrific listen. Osborne first began writing songs as a teen in South Carolina, performing with numerous bands before forming SUSTO. During a self-imposed hiatus, he moved to Havana, Cuba and befriended local musicians who encouraged and inspired him to start writing music again. “It was a weird moment. I just had to finally quit keeping one foot out of music and dive in,” he explains. The band’s name, SUSTO, is derived from a Latin American term that can be roughly translated as ‘panic attack’.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Arizona

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ARIZONAFIND SOMEONE: Atlantic recording group A R I Z O N A return with the release of their hugely anticipated new single Find Someone. The incredibly catchy ’80s vibe bop helps to give the song a keen sense of immediacy that’s laced with a knowing retro nod. The result is a fun, if disposble, listen that gets your toes tapping. The melodies are tight, the chorus is catchy, and the overall vibe is one of unbridled, self-aware positivity. The accompanying video is shot through with furry animals and is designed to offer maximum cuteness. “We wanted to find a fun way to portray an alternate take on a song like Find Someone with the music video. The idea is: if someone or something is not good for you in your life, there are many simple ways and places to find happiness,” says Zachary Charles. “In the case of our video, that ‘someone’ who can always be there to love you better and turn your day around very well might be your puppy! Or chicken… or turtle… or goat… or baby bunny… or… well you get the idea. We love animals and literally couldn’t contain ourselves the entire day we were shooting this. It probably shows.” Find Someone marks the first single from A R I Z O N A’s upcoming second album, the follow-up to their hugely successful debut album Gallery, which proved among 2017’s biggest global releases, now boasting over 750 million worldwide streams and counting.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ten Tonnes, Lucy

TEN TONNESLUCY: Ten Tonnes has hit a killer run of form in recent months as the May 3 release of his self-titled debut album approaches. Tipped in YouTube’s Ones To Watch 2019 playlist as well as Radio X’s Great X-Pectations list of the best new music for 2019, he started the year by completing a headline tour that sold-out in advance. Now, the artist, aka 22-year-old Ethan Barnett, has added to that momentum by sharing his new single Lucy, which Annie Mac played as her Hottest Record in the World. Firmly established as a fan favourite as a regular closer to his live show, it’s a track which distils all of the musician’s finest traits into one song: immediately captivating melodies, an anthemic holler-along hook and his characteristic lovelorn lyrics. The lyrics are filled with hopeful yearning, but are delivered in a bright, breezy fashion as epitomised by the swooning, Kooks-a-like chorus. As ever, the guitars are lively and the vocals crisp, edgy and vital. It’s easy to see why Ten Tonnes is such a hot tip for big things in 2019. Commenting on the track himself, Barnett said: “I’m so excited to finally properly release this tune. It’s the song that started everything off for me so I’ve always had a special place for it, and it’s become a fan favourite on tour too.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

FOALSSUNDAY: Hot off the back of lively new release On The Luna, Foals return with yet another new offering from Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 in the form of the reflective Sunday. The track finds Foals pushing boundaries and breaking free of genre expectations, as is their liking. Opening in a restrained style – dreamy, atmospheric, elegiac – that contrasts frontman Yannis Philippakis’ apocalyptic imagery, Sunday then belatedly erupts into life in its second-half with a thrilling psychedelic funk-punk burst of energy. It’s a complete contrast of styles within the same song that thrills and excites, particularly in anticipation of hearing it played live when the back hit the capital (Alexandra Palace) later this year. Indeed, by the time it reaches its epic conclusion, there are skyscraping “woohoo” harmonies, befitting the stadium-sized venues the band will be playing. And while the first half of the song is undoubtedly laidback and bittersweet, that epic second half stirs the senses and brings something of a headrush quality that really does exhilarate. It’s so far, so exciting for Foals’ new material.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Novo Amor and Gia Margaret

NOVO AMOR & GIA MARGARET – NO FUN/LUCKY FOR YOU: Novo Amor and Gia Margaret have surprised their fans with the release of a collaborative double A-side single, entitled No Fun and Lucky For You. The two tracks were written in 2018 after the pair met while Gia was supporting Novo Amor’s headline North American tour, marking the release of his debut album, Birthplace, which is out now on AllPoints. Acoustic in nature, Lucky For You and No Fun epitomise the sweetness and fragility found in both musicians’ solo work. Melodically sparse, the tracks are an intimate moment in time. Speaking about how their collaboration came about, Novo Amor’s Ali Lacey recalls: “Gia and I met in Atlanta last November. It was raining, a lot. We spent the first weeks of winter travelling around the country, playing shows together, recognising our creative likeness and just becoming friends. No Fun and Lucky For You were written and recorded together over a long weekend at my home studio in Wales. We saw a bridge across our usual geographical divide and said ‘hey, let’s make some music!’. It feels almost against our nature to try and explain this. We had no preconceptions. We just love music, the process of making it, how it can make you feel and what it can do for people. I think it’s just something that we wanted to share.” Contrary to its name, lead track No Fun isn’t joyless. Rather, its sombre approach lends it a melancholy undertow, but there’s something beautifully beguiling about their dual vocals, which have that kind of reassuring Jose Gonzalez kind of vibe. The gentle acoustics are really nicely composed, as are some of the atmospheric surrounding ones. Lucky For You, meanwhile, picks up the pace slightly, with an instantly warmer acoustic sound and more pronounced boy-girl vocals. But it remains a quietly soothing listen, marked out by its sensitive lyrics and thoughtfully constructed approach. Novo Amor, in particular, continue to impress, off the back of last week’s stunning video releases.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hildur

HILDUR – 1993: Hildur’s new single 1993 invites inevitable comparisons with artists such as Lykke Li and Robyn, given the ethereal pop sound she also indulges in. But that’s no bad thing, either, giving her the opportunity to find a ready-made audience beyond her Icelandic homeland. Hence, 1993 is a sweet slice of autobiographic pop that showcases a lovely set of vocals (vulnerability married to pop saviness), as well as some slick beats that – again – marry a certain humility with something ear-catching and radio-friendly. The harmonies and melodies are tight and slickly produced, while the sentiments behind the lyrics in the chorus are both effortlessly sing-along (“when I grow up, I wanne be me”) as well as empowering. Commenting on the track, Hildur said: “1993 is an autobiographical anthem of my childhood. It was when I was five that I realised my dream was to create, tell stories and stand on stage. As per the hook – when I grow up, I wanne be me, it came to me as it was only recently I realised I had really become the person the five-year-old me wanted to be and was doing all the things I had dreamt of, without really giving myself the credit. This song is my journey and all the loopholes and fallbacks it took, all the disbelief but passion I experienced, all the insecurity and the creativity – which is me. So, if my five-year-old self could hear one song from the future, I would want it to be this one. And I hope someone else on their journey to become themselves can relate.” It’s beautiful stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Murder Capital, Feeling Fades

THE MURDER CAPITALFEELING FADES: The Murder Capital ended 2018 as that rare thing: a band tipped from all corners without having released a single song. In an age where people and bands overshare by default, The Murder Capital have been doing the opposite. With debut single Feeling Fades, the band attempt to fulfil their early promise – delivering a brooding, propulsive slice of post-punk recorded with Flood (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Foals). In one of their rare interviews so far, the band have stated they are driven by the genuine desire to affect cultural change, and when front-man James McGovern repeats the lyric “the now elapsed ‘round you and me, and it kept us all together” on this, their debut single, you begin to realise that their post-punk sound is designed to offer social commentary in a no-nonsense, hard-hitting and occasionally provocative fashion. Indeed vocally, there are throwbacks to bands like The Strangers. But it’s this unfussy, raw, style that also makes them an acquired taste. Hence, if you like classic punk, then you’ll dig this. If not, then whatever the band’s messages may be, they’re likely to fly over your head as you reach for the ‘off’ switch. Feeling Fades is provocative, for sure. But it’s loud, raw and not as great as the hype surrounding them suggests.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 22, 2019

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

Zero 7, Aurora

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ZERO 7 feat HIDDENMONO: Mono is one of two tracks taken from Zero 7’s new Ep, Aurora. It’s a change of pace for them, being less trip-hop than normal. New vocalist Hidden adds an element of smooth soul with some smooth groove vocals, which drift between serene and falsetto. The accompanying instrumentals, meanwhile, drift between laidback and blissful, and cinematic and urgent. There’s a stabbing quality to some of them, before they drift into a smooth soul groove that’s tailor-made for washing over you. The longer the track lasts, the more layered it becomes, though, with bassline grooves, intricate guitar licks and added percussion bringing a greater sense of urgency and cinematic sweep. It’s a beautifully composed listen that finds Zero 7 back on form, while also being evocative of artists such as Bonobo. The second track, Aurora, features regular collaborator Jose Gonzalez.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Novo Amor

SINGLE AND VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: NOVO AMORSLEEPLESS (CHAPTERS I & II): Novo Amor has released a new short film with producer-directors Jorik Dozy and Sil van der Woerd (aka Sil & Jorik). The trio’s most recent collaboration was the now multi-award winning video for the title track from Novo Amor’s debut album, Birthplace. Now, we see the release of a two-part video – Chapter I soundtracking a song entitled Sleepless and Chapter II soundtracking Repeat Until Death, both of which are taken from the album. For this latest project, Sil & Jorik headed to Mongolia and spent almost three weeks capturing spectacular scenery of landscapes rarely seen in mainstream western media. This two-part film tells the tale of a young Mongolian girl battling the health effects of air pollution, and her journey of recovery from modern life in the city to a lifestyle in the countryside that is more in-keeping with nature. Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, is one of the world’s most polluted cities. During winter months, temperatures drop well below -35C and residents rely on burning coal for heat. The consequence of this is an intense period of air pollution which is wreaking havoc on the city’s residents. All the while the city’s population is swelling as an ever-changing climate weakens the habitat of reindeer and the nomadic people who herd them (The Tsaatan) and leads them to migrate to the city to seek alternative employment. Today, only 40 Tsaatan families remain. The first track, Sleepless, has the air of the epic about it. It’s tranquil, beautiful, ethereal and evocative of acts like Elbow and Snow Patrol, its cinematic instrumentals befitting the accompanying video, which carries a timely, striking message. Repeat Until Death continues the momentum, slowing things down to something melancholy yet beautiful. The piano is sombre yet stunning in its simplicity (and belatedly accompanied by some stunning strings), while the accompanying falsetto vocal has an air of fragility befitting the fragility of life, and the presence of snow in the video (for its quiet sparseness). It’s another stunning achievement. Indeed, there’s so much to say about this release, that we’ve written a full story that is accessible via one of the links below.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Vampire Weekend

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: VAMPIRE WEEKENDHARMONY HALL: It may have been six years since we last heard from Vampire Weekend but the wait has been worth it. To mark their comeback, the band have recently dropped two new tracks in the form of Harmony Hall and 2021. The former is stunning. Ezra Koenig taps into some trademark bittersweet elements with the central lyric, “I don’t want to live like this, I don’t want to die”, while summoning swirling melodies around him. There’s tumbling acoustic guitar licks, swirling piano arrangements, classic percussion elements, hints of country, classic ’70s pop riffs, as well as a nod or two to classic acts like Simon & Garfunkel. It’s a work of immense quality, as intricately layered as we’ve come to expect, but different enough to be refreshingly new and oh-so very, very welcome. The song is taken from new album, Father of the Bride, which is already shaping up to be pretty darn special. The accompanying video, while nothing particularly striking, is quirky enough to keep you watching, featuring the band cooking, dancing and, well, being mindful of a snake.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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The Leisure Society, John Simm

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: THE LEISURE SOCIETYGOD HAS TAKEN A VACATION: The Leisure Society share the video for new single God Has Taken a Vacation, featuring esteemed actor (and friend of the band), John Simm. The track has a lazy rock vibe that’s totally endearing, with some laidback riffs to match the easygoing – yet strangely lamentful – vocals. The song itself is questioning of life in general, as well as the global political climate, but was ironically born out of something more intimate – the break-up of a relationship. Speaking on the new single, frontman and songwriter Nick Hemming commented: “I started writing the song about my break-up, but world events started finding their way in too. Division, borders, a loss of hope. There were a lot of shared themes!” The video is stunning. Explains director Matt Campion: “On first listen, I immediately thought about all the things that have gone wrong in the world of late. So, a heist film where Trump, Putin and Kim Jong-un try to steal data, felt like a good starting place in a godless world. Add the brilliant John Simm and a few guns to the mix and we have a film that raises more questions than answers.” It’s a clever political statement that is also evocative of classic genre movies such as Reservoir Dogs (the slow-mo walk) and Point Break (with the dead presidents motif updated for the present day). John Simm said of his involvement: “When I first heard God Has Taken A Vacation, I knew I had to be involved in the video. I have been a fan of The Leisure Society for many years, so was thrilled to be able to work with them on their new album.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis

RHYS LEWISHOLD ON TO HAPPINESS: Accompanied by a simple stripped-back guitar, Hold On To Happiness presents Rhys Lewis’ soulful vocals at the forefront, instantly gripping the listener from the very first note. Produced by Rhys working alongside Aidan Glover, the track was recorded straight to tape at their studio in South London. Speaking about the track, Rhys explained: “We’re simple creatures at heart, I don’t believe we need a lot to be happy, but we live in a complicated world now that seems to make us focus more on the things we don’t have than the things we do. Social media makes people fall into that trap, and I’ve realised how damaging it is. Life just happens, and it’ll pass you by if you let it. So, I’m trying to stay more in the present, to be truly there when the moment’s golden, to make memories I’ll reminisce not regret.” The sentiments behind the song, as well as the idea of holding onto happiness, are worthy indeed, and delivered in a humble fashion that allows the listener to really take in the song’s meaning. Its unflashy, yet compelling… emotionally honest and socially astute. Lewis’ vocals are fragile, and semi falsetto, while the acoustic backdrop compliments them beautifully. It’s a song to enjoy and put into action.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tarantina

TARANTINAHEAL: GRAMMY® Tarantina releases her new single Heal through Quite Crafty. Written and co-produced by Tarantina and Tommy Sheen, the track is an incredibly emotive and stark track that highlights her incredible vocal prowess. Commenting on the track herself, Tarantina explained: “Events can leave an emotional stain on a place, Heal is about trying to live with those ghosts.” The starkness is disarming. There’s a sombre, solitary piano arrangement that’s barely there, yet beautifully emotive. While Tarantina’s vocals have a yearning and sense of loss that somehow finds hope amid the pain. It’s a record about healing. But it’s equally a lament for a lost relationship. And the emotional intensity is impossible to ignore. It’s cinematic. Heal is the second track from the self-taught singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and videographer’s second EP Organs, which is set for a spring release.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Teenage Fanclub

TEENAGE FANCLUBEVERYTHING IS FALLING APART: Teenage Fanclub have released a new single, Everything Is Falling Apart, which marks the Scottish indie band’s first new track since the departure of co-founder Gerard Love last year, following a ‘sadly unresolvable difference of opinion’ concerning the group’s touring schedule. Fortunately, the signature sound doesn’t seem to have departed with him. This is a classic indie anthem that marries downbeat lyrics with toe-tapping instrumentals. The guitars, in particular, have that classic indie vibe, while the beats are toe-tappingly good. The hazy vocals add a slacker vibe that’s instantly recognisable as a Teenage Fanclub record, meaning that the core fanbase will welcome the song with open arms. Whether or not the track will generate much appeal beyond the fan-base is debatable, but as a throwback to the classic 90s indie scene, this ticks all the right boxes and offers up an immensely satisfying, albeit lyrically sobering, listen.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sting and Shaggy

STING AND SHAGGYJUST ONE LIFETIME: In a week where songs and videos seem to have got overtly political, Sting and Shaggy team up for another rumination on the current global scene. And while the tone is upbeat, with easygoing melodies and a slick mix of pop and calypso, the message is undeniably serious. Lyrics include “unite the world and survive” and “the time has come a reckoning, we all knew it was coming”. That’s not to say there isn’t the odd surreal moment, such as “the walrus smoked a cigarette, he claimed it was his last”. But the central ideology of there being one life to live, is worth remembering when contemplating issues such as war, global warming, displacement, refugee crisis and political corruption. The trick here, however, is that rather than hammering it home, the upbeat vibe, toe-tapping melodies and easygoing nature of the song, make it easy to nod along to while slowly considering the meaning behind it. The song is taken from 44/876, the collaborative album inspired by Sting and Shaggy’s mutual love for Jamaica, which was released in April 2018. Since its release, the pair have enjoyed chart success around the world as well as taking their collaboration on tour in North America, South America and Europe to critical acclaim.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Orville Peck, Turn To Hate

ORVILLE PECKTURN TO HATE: Masked enigmatic country crooner Orville Peck has dropped another new single, Turn to Hate, taken from his upcoming debut LP, Pony, which is due March 22 via Sub Pop. Turn to Hate is a song about Orville’s struggle in keeping his resentment from building into hatred. A continuous battle between embracing the strength and freedom of being an outsider and the inevitable struggle of wanting normalcy and familiarity – Orville’s dilemma as a cowboy. He sings about having to constantly repair situations in his wake, and fighting with himself over his decision making. To stay or go; to cry or not; whether to leave without saying goodbye in order to soften the blow; And all the while wishing someone would tell him that they “can’t stay” – to make the decision for him. In the words of Orville himself: “Turn to Hate is essentially a song about the anxiety that comes with being on the outside of things. Treading the line between existing as a loner but not letting that solitude turn into resentment. All that wrapped in a good ole’ country stomping barn-raiser!” The song has a country rock twang to it, which is appealing, while the vocals have a similarly to Lloyd Cole in his prime, with a touch of Johnny Cash. It’s an empowering listen, born from self doubt, that is oddly inspiring. Orville’s debut album, Pony, promises to deliver a diverse collection of stories that sing of heartbreak, revenge and the unrelenting tug of the cowboy ethos. Warm lap steel guitars and echoing drums move through dreamy ballads and sometimes near frantic buzzsaw tunes – all the while paying homage to his country music roots
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 15, 2019

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

Meadowlark

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MEADOWLARK – H.I.T.H.: In the wake of recent singles Appetite and Family Tree, Meadowlark have released another new single entitled H.I.T.H. The track marks the start of an exciting new chapter is the band’s career as their first release on German label Guesstimate, to which they recently signed, and arrives ahead of a European headline tour which will take place throughout April. Speaking of the curiously titled new single, Meadowlark share: “H.I.T.H (Hole In The Head) comes from a place of undeniably wanting to be near someone, but hating the fact that you do. From wanting someone physically but being terrified when emotions follow. Admitting your feelings for someone is one thing, but to let yourself fall in love and take on all that comes with it is one of the scariest places we can go as a human being. We make assumptions about the future to protect ourselves from the fear of it possibly going wrong. But love is relentless… it’s like a hole in the head. You have to address it before it takes over.” As ever, Meadowlark marry lyrical intelligence with addictive instrumentals but perhaps sound more pop than usual [or mainstream]. H.I.T.H thrives on breathy vocals, sweeping beats, sleek electronics and a sharp sense of melody. It’s as radio friendly as Meadowlark get, and deserving of big hit status.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: FOALS – ON THE LUNA: Foals have unveiled a second track from Part 1 of their ambitious dual album project Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, in the shape of On The Luna. Already picked out by Q as one of the album’s highlights, On The Luna stirs Foals’ strident grooves and skyscraping hooks with sparkling synths and a clattering cowbell. Meanwhile, Yannis Philippakis’ lyric declaration, “we had it all but we didn’t stop to think about it”, underlines the track’s foreboding atmosphere, as if giving the band’s listeners something to think about in regards to the current social and political upheavel affecting us all. The track itself is shot through with sharp hooks, off-kilter rhyhthm changes, ’80s leaning vocals and an energy that’s impossible to ignore. It’s a song that refuses to sit still, but one that remains utterly infectious and strangely empowering. The accompanying video offers an observational, documentary-style snapshot of all things Foals… the grainy, Super 8-styled video blends the visceral energy of their live show with intimate, behind-the-scenes footage as they work on Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost. It’s an exciting time to be a Foals fan!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters, Wild Ones

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: CRYSTAL FIGHTERSWILD ONES: Always inspired by new experiences and taking the road less travelled, Crystal Fighters release their new record Gaia & Friends on March 1, 2019. The record has been launched with the new single Wild Ones, an exuberant fusion of psychedelia, global modern pop and bass heavy production. And in true Crystal Fighters style, it’s a blast – a ray of musical sunshine that’s tailor-made to make you feel deliriously happy during these gloomy wintery days. There are giddy ‘la la la’ harmonies, an almost calypso chime to some of the electronics and back-beats, as well as a feel-good fusion of boy-girl vocals that create a self-consciously hip party vibe. It’s a celebration of diversity that stays true to the Crystal Fighters ethos of offering something different. New album Gaia & Friends is being described by the band themselves as a “snapshot of time and a chapter of music” created across continents, with a crew of collaborators and with a clear message at its heart. Featured on the record are Anna Of The North, Colombian superstars Bomba Estéreo and South Africa’s Petite Noir, alongside interludes, samples and field recordings captured by the band on their travels across four continents. The title ‘Gaia & Friends’ is a reflection of Crystal Fighters’ outlook on the world and existence – ‘Gaia’ representing Mother Earth and ‘Friends’ her diverse inhabitants. Humanity, animals and plant-life co-exist in the moment, with the planet representing a gigantic party for life in all of its many forms. The songs naturally touch upon themes of togetherness, inclusivity, conservation and connectivity, all united by the realisation that we need to respect the world that we live in. We can’t wait to hear more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zedd and Katy Perry, 365

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ZEDD & KATY PERRY – 365: Having collaborated with some of the biggest artists on the planet already (including Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande), Russian-German producer Zedd now teams up with Katy Perry for new single 365 – and he could just have delivered his best work yet. A sleek slice of electro pop with R’n‘B influences, this has a modern vibe thanks to the chiming beats, which lend it a futuristic vibe. Perry, meanwhile, drops one of the most sultry vocals she has ever delivered. It’s a mature performance from her that perfectly compliments the subtle electronic arrangements and those memorable beats. The chorus, meanwhile, is catchy as hell… and seductive, with Perry purring “are you gonna be the one that’s on my mind, all the time, 365”. The accompanying video is hot stuff, too. It underlines the futuristic vibe with Perry playing a robot who gets to learn about human love. It has an ex_Machina kind of vibe.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Weezer, Take On Me

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: WEEZERTAKE ON ME: OK, so this is a cover version… and one that meticulously strives to be as close to the inspired original as possible. But on this occasion, it works. Weezer’s covers compilation, aka The Teal Album, is full of highlights, but their version of A-Ha’s seminal 80s hit Take On Me is terrific. It maintains the sweep of the original (which has already enjoyed its own revival on the Bumblebee movie soundtrack), as well as the giddy pop exuberance. Rivers Cuomo’s vocals are deeper than Morten Harket’s, of course, but he delivers the chorus with typical gusto, while some of the guitars provide a nice alterative to the dated synths. But this remains a blast – paying due reverence to that original. The video, too, does the same. Where A-Ha’s iconic original featured a drawing coming to life, so Weezer’s version finds the band practising the song at home and eventually becoming absorbed into a drawn world. It’s highly effective and a deserved selection of video of the week.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Gray, A Tight Ship

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: DAVID GRAY – A TIGHT SHIP: David Gray has just dropped the video for former single A Tight Ship, which he’s created with Rex Russell (son of filmmaker Ken Russell) using green screen techniques. It’s lifted from the upcoming March album Gold In A Brass Age and is suitably strking. Speaking about the making of the video, Gray said: “The central idea came directly from the beat of the song. The first part is in a 6/4 time signature and when I was moving it seemed like a really natural thing to have a little mark on every sixth beat to help accentuate each change. Green screen afforded us more freedom in post-production to really get this concept working. On the day, it was good fun although walking on the walkolator whilst focussing on the camera wasn’t without it’s challenges. I came off several times!” The track itself is classic Gray, with a modern touch. Hence, while you’ll still recognize Gray’s gravelly rasp on the track, the singing is softer, sweeter, more intimate and occasionally falsetto. It’s part of a song-writing shake-up that defines a more intuitive approach from Gray across the album. Using a cut and paste approach to the arrangement of songs, lyrics have been transformed, with couplets closer to poetry, and whilst his guitar and piano playing remain, it’s the ushering in of electronica and the exploring of alternative sound textures alongside new production techniques that take to the fore. Here, we have a trip-hop style back-beat, a distinct vocal difference, an upbeat vibe and some quirkily breezy electronics.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cardi B & Bruno Mars, Please Me

CARDI B & BRUNO MARSPLEASE ME: GRAMMY® Award-winning Atlantic recording artist Cardi B has released her first new track of 2019 in the form of the provocative Please Me with Bruno Mars. A sexually playful, and sometimes risque, offering, this finds Cardi B and Mars striking sexual suggestions off each other, which add up to a chorus that begs “please me baby”. Cardi, for her part, talks about being on the dancefloor with “no panties in the way”, while the object of her seduction, Mars, keeps on pleading “just turn around and tease me baby”. The instrumentals lean towards smooth groove R’n‘B with a little hip hop thrown in. But while slickly produced (with Mars also helping in that capacity), the song becomes tiresome after a while. It’s all tease and no real climax… a beg-athon that just keeps begging. Please Me arrives mere days after Cardi B received the ‘Best Rap Album’ GRAMMY® for her chart-topping, RIAA 2x platinum certified Invasion of Privacy, making history as the first solo female artist to win that prestigious category. Unfortunately, Please Me doesn’t suggest further awards will follow.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Stereophonics, Chaos From The Top Down

STEREOPHONICSCHAOS FROM THE TOP DOWN: Stereophonics have delivered a surprise release with their new song, Chaos From The Top Down, a typically anthemic pop-rock offering. Of the song, Kelly Jones said: “Chaos From The Top Down is a song sung from the imagined perspective of a 15-year-old boy laying in the road after being shot. He’s reflecting in his time of dying about his life and the choices he made through the lack of options and opportunities he felt he had in today’s Britain. It also touches on the tags and labels that have been stuck on him. The stereotypes and clichés that were placed on him. It’s based on a true story that happened just outside my street. It’s happening everywhere. I’ve always written about what’s going on around me or within me since Local Boy In The Photograph in 1996. It doesn’t fit into the style of the album I’m writing and the current political climate inspired me to release it now.” The themes of the song are powerful, indeed, and delivered in a style that give proper pause for reflection. But while designed to reflect both personal experience and collective social responsibility, the surrounding instrumentals are robust, melodic and radio-friendly, thereby helping to get the message even more noticed. Stereophonics fans are sure to embrace the track as another anthem, especially in live form. But this could just as easily appeal to new listeners as well.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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MYKL, Conversation

MYKLCONVERSATION: Sonically reminiscent of 80’s pop, Conversation – the new single from MYKL (MakeYouKnowLovr) – is another self-written and produced track with an atmospheric sound that highlights MYKL’s alluring vocals and ability to conjure some catchy pop hooks. Conversation is about reconnecting with someone after time spent forgetting their undeniable feelings for one another. It’s the type of track, with its emphasis on electronics, beats and falsetto soul vocals, that plays well to fans of acts like The 1975 and Michael Jackson, deliberately tip-toeing the line between ’80s influenced pop and more contemporary indie-pop. And while those comparisons do suggest a sense of over-familiarity, Conversation actually comes across as an effortlessly likeable offering that thrives on those falsetto vocals, slick beats and lush electronics. It’s genuinely likeable, with emotional sincerity to boot.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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KYOTI, Restart The World

KYOTIRESTART THE WORLD: Acclaimed art pop trio KYOTI return with an explosive new single in the form of Restart The World. Kicking off with a sparse backdrop of pounding electro beats and snappy percussion, the track then builds into an energy infused anthem with catchy infectious synth hooks. It sounds like 80s era Depeche Mode mixed with Pet Shop Boys. But it arrives with a timely social message too, being described as an anthem for a technology dependant, politically charged and anxiety-fuelled era. Hence, while upbeat, this dystopian party tune also has a lyrical intelligence that has plenty to say. Speaking about the track, the band said: “Restart The World is about feeling powerless in a quickly changing world. We are slowly losing our humanity and giving it over to machines. Our collective memory is being eroded, falling in to the endless sea. We need to start again.” It’s a strong enough offering to hopefully make people take notice, even if those retro leanings can sometimes be diverting in terms of having you pick out the musical references. KYOTI are Ed Burgon (vocals), David Mabbott (keys/synths) and Benji Huntrods (drums). Collectively, a powerhouse of disparate influences, including jazz, funk, dance and pop, together they create rich soundscapes of synths and beats, interlaced with thoughtful lyricism.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hot Dreams

HOT DREAMSCALIFORNIA: Hot on the heals of releasing their single Stronger in January, London indie quartet Hot Dreams continue apace with the release of their new single California, a slice of hazy sun-drenched indie. Speaking about the record, the band explained: “California is about growing up and moving on. It’s a simple yet heartfelt letter about breaking up and realising the value in independence.” The resulting single offers up that sunshine indie vibe with something altogether more lyrically bittersweet. And it’s a really strong juxtaposition. For while instrumentally, the track sounds tailor-made for hitting the sun-drenched highways of California itself, top down, the break-up anthem nature of the lyrics call for some greater introspection and listening, as you contemplate some of the loves you, yourself, may well have lost. It’s ear-catching stuff from a band that are clearly on the rise. Hot Dreams formed in 2016 over a shared interest in artists such as Pumarosa, Blonde Redhead, Slowdive and King Krule. They’re completed by Kai Fennell (vocals, guitar), Aaron Clarke (bass), Alex Bloomfield (guitar, keys) and Cam Fyall (Drums).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 8, 2019

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

Beck, Super Cool

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECK feat ROBYN AND THE LONELY ISLANDSUPER COOL: A song called Super Cool absolutely has to be as cool as its name suggests. Fortunately, the producers of The LEGO Movie 2 have got two (if not three) of the coolest acts around to deliver it. Beck has long been an advocate for cool, while Robyn is no slouch when it comes to that. The song itself therefore drops hip-hop inspired beats, synth-pop and euphoric melodies to smash the coolness out of the park, complete with some savvy lyrical nods to the subversive nature of the LEGO Movie itself (there’s rap work about the importance of the film’s end credits). OK, so there’s not much meaning attached. But if you’re looking to feel good, funky and to exit the cinema on the highest of highs, then this ticks all the right boxes. Beck’s vocal prowess is matched by Robyn’s ethereal tones, to create something that could be produced by Mark Ronson and occasionally even delivered by The Beastie Boys. You can have some super cool fun with this one.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Seafret

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SEAFRETLOVING YOU: Seafret have released their striking new single Loving You through Kobalt. Sparse and almost desolate at times, it’s an emotional return for the East Yorkshire duo, which explores a relationship in raw, honest and utterly heartfelt passion. It’s a song about an undying love that is bittersweet, yet achingly romantic (especially when they declare that “I’ll still be lving you” and “proud to wear the scars”). The accompanying instrumentals are cinematic in quality, built as they are around strings and pianos. Speaking about the new single Seafret explained: “After the release of the last EP, Monsters, we wanted to follow it up with something a little different. Loving You was one of those songs that seemed to write itself. We first recorded it onto a voice recording memo on a phone and there was something about the rawness in just the vocal and the piano that we loved. With that in mind we took it to the studio and decided to accompany it with a cello and sparse drums played with mallets for more of a texture than a beat, keeping the space and rawness of it’s original form. We love how it’s turned out and hope you do to.” Loving You is accompanied by a very emotive video, directed by Stuart Alexander, who shot the video for their previous single Monsters. Speaking about the video’s inspiration, Stuart said: “The idea for the video is inspired by my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died of a broken heart 11 hours after hearing of her husband’s passing. I wanted to capture the feeling of that person being by your side regardless of how impossible the distance is between you.” He goes further to say: “Skye is a mixture of incredible beauty and isolation, everything that we needed to capture the tone of the video. We filmed through rain, snow storms and a constant sub-zero temperature. People thought we were nuts for attempting something like this in January, especially taking a grand piano up a mountain. It was worth the effort, especially seeing the look on the Brazilian hill climbers faces as they walked past.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Olafur Arnulds

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: OLAFUR ARNALDSEKKI HUGSA: BAFTA-winning artist, composer, musician and producer Ólafur Arnalds has released the new music video for his latest single Ekki Hugsa. Filmed in his native Iceland, the title of the new release translates as ‘don’t think’, and features uplifting synthesised melodies combined with acoustic cello hooks, resulting in Ólafur’s distinctive, multi-layered sound. “The video is about not overthinking and getting lost in a moment. When you turn off the noise in your brain so much creativity can be discovered inside of yourself,” explained Arnalds. The video, produced and directed by Arni and Kinski, features a highly-choreographed routine created by Asrun Magnusdottir and Alexander Roberts, showcasing both contemporary and traditional steps. Ekki Hugsa features Ólafur’s ground-breaking new software, Stratus, which transforms the piano into a unique and entirely modern instrument. The Stratus Pianos are two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos and the centrepiece of Ólafur’s latest works. The custom-built software controlling the pianos is the result of two years of work by Ólafur and audio developer Halldór Eldjárn. The result offers up a cascading loop of electronic melodies that wash over you like sonic waves, albeit with strings weaving in and out. It’s lively, it’s beautiful and it’s inspiring. When put together with the video, it offers up a moment of pause that’s breathtaking.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mullally, Think About You

MULLALLYTHINK ABOUT YOU: Brit-soul contemporary Mullally returns with emotive new ballad, Think About You – a track produced by Grammy-nominated duo Rice’N’Peas, the brains behind G-Eazy hit, Some Kind Of Drug, and Bazzi’s standout smash, Beautiful ft Camilla Cabello. “Think About You is me spilling my feelings on a page, and into a song. Sometimes we forget that the world doesn’t stop when you go through shit. I had to pick myself up and go to the studio when I was emotional and drunk, and in a happy accident we captured a really honest, true reflection of what was happening in my life at the time. Writing this song allowed me some clarity.” Given that the song stemmed from a drunken low, it’s all the more impressive. The soul-searching is piercing and honest as he reflects on a love cherished and lost, yet accompanied by snappy back-beats and electronics that heighten the pop-soul vibe. Mullally’s vocals are suitably emotional, digging deep into the depths of his despair and trying to find some optimisim for the future. Hence, by the time reaches its powerful climax, the song has started to soar.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Who Do You Love

THE CHAINSMOKERS feat 5 SECONDS OF SUMMERWHO DO YOU LOVE: The Chainsmokers return to form with new single Who Do You Love, featuring 5 Seconds of Summer. Tapping into the darkness that’s inherent in a lot of their most recent material, this is a break-up anthem that finds the EDM giants exploring what went wrong and demanding the truth. It’s shot through with that heartbroken emotion, with the hard-hitting beats and darker electronic loops reflective of that. 5 Seconds of Summer also augment the sense of heartbreak with some blistering vocals of their own. Sure, there are some overly intrusive dance elements punctuating proceedings, where The Chainsmokers can’t completely resist the urge to drop in their more trademark club sound. But in the main, this is the kind of easy listening offering that offers up a lively chorus, bittersweet sentiments, and plenty of crossover potential. It is back to doing what Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart arguably do best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSESOLO: Lucy Rose has shared the second track in preview of her forthcoming new album. Solo(w) is streaming now and lifted from her fourth album, No Words Left, which is released on March 22, 2019. A beautifully stark, intense listen and another telling introduction to a record of raw emotion and heart, Solo(w) is a tale of longing and confronting emotions. It’s raw, intimate, tender and quite often heart-breaking, but further compelling evidence of Rose’s ability to confront humanity in an authentic, endearing fashion. The piano work is understated and belatedly accompanied by some sax and strings, while Rose’s vocals have an underlying sense of melancholy that strikes a nice contrast to the sweetness she always brings to her songs. Commenting on the track herself, Rose explains: “This was the last song I wrote for the record. It feels like it was the first time I could look back at a period of time and understand it. I wasn’t out of the dark but I could see a light. Like every song on this record, it’s helped me in a way but this one felt like it was pulling at me to say ‘it’s ok’ and it’s time to move on. I confronted a lot of thoughts in this song, it was time to finally accept it all and come out with a better understanding of it all – ‘I’m afraid of the morning and I’m afraid of the evening, maybe I’m afraid of everything.” The song is accompanied by a black and white performance video.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Cleo Sol, One

CLEO SOLONE: Cleo Sol is a London-born and raised singer and songwriter beginning 2019 with a new release called One. It follows her acclaimed debut EP last year, entitled Winter Songs, which i-D magazine deemed ‘a collection of four heartbreakingly beautiful tunes’. One is being billed as a transcendent track featuring Cleo’s commanding, soulful voice intertwined with an array of hazy, moving instrumentals and rich percussion. It not only demonstrates Cleo’s abilities as a singer but as an excellent lyricist as well, serving as a hazy, blues-infused call to action for the human race to come together for strength, as one entity. And, as the PR suggests, Sol has delivered a genuinely thought-provoking, beautiful song in One that should be embraced by the world as a whole. Her bluesy vocal tones are an addictive guide to the message behind the song [one of global unity], while the R’n‘B infused beats and instrumentals [coupled with those vocals] evoke memories of classic artists from Nightmares on Wax to Diana Ross with Michael Kiwanuka and Macy Gray thrown in.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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ViVii

VIVIILOVE LOVE LOVE: Following their latest well received single And Tragic, and a series of stunning performances at Eurosonic, Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii release their new single Love Love Love and continue to impress. Built around some beautifully ethereal hooks and harmonies, this combines boy-girl vocals to similarly striking, ethereal effect – especially when playing on the dreamy female side of things. But it’s an ode to love that finds warmth in the coldest of places. It’s echoed harmonies, subtle acoustics and delicate vocals are designed to put the listener at ease and allow them to soak in the song’s message from a state of bliss. Speaking about the single, ViVii explain: “Anders recorded a melody on his phone right after his daughter was born, the beginning of Love, Love, Love. And when we met up a couple of weeks later we finished it.” ViVii’s eponymous debut album will be released in March 15, 2019.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marina

MARINAHANDMADE HEAVEN: Multi-faceted, award-winning and platinum-selling pop innovator Marina (previously Marina & the Diamonds) returns with her eagerly anticipated new single, Handmade Heaven. Her first solo material in four years, the track is a lush, surging slice of piano-laced pop and a welcome reintroduction to Marina’s distinctive, ethereal vocals. The powerful, self-penned track finds Marina imagining a world as simple as the beautiful creatures and nature that surround her. It’s an instantly compelling track, fuelled by the potent imagery that talks of escaping from the real world (and all of its pollutants, political upheaval and angst) to something solitary, beautiful and driven by nature itself (“in this handmade heaven, I come alive, blue birds forever, colour the sky”). It’s designed to offer up a piece of musical escape that also carries a timely call for action. Marina’s distinct vocals regularly soar, combining ethereal edge with melodic potency, thereby providing the song with a distinct sound that’s still completely radio-friendly and therefore capable of appealing to the masses. It’s a successful comeback.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 1, 2019

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

Bear's Den

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BEAR’S DENFUEL ON THE FIRE: Bear’s Den are one of those bands that are synonymous with quality. Hence, the arrival of their third album, So that you might hear me (out April 26) is a cause for celebration, particularly as it comes accompanied by two taster tracks. The first, Fuel on the Fire, pulses and blossoms from the visceral throb of drum machine beats and electric guitars into an orchestral beauty that showcases the more electronic side of the band. The electronic pulse is particularly catchy, getting into your head and refusing to budge. But while there is a pop element to it, which is augmented by the snappy guitar riff that also winds its way in and out, the lyrics are typically heartfelt and thoughtful. This finds the band declaring “fuel on the fire, remembering how to love” over some suitably emotionally charged back-up lyrics, which are by turns bittersweet and hopeful. It’s the warmer of the two tracks and – perhaps – the most instantly accessible by virtue of its charming melodies. But it’s also a damn fine reminder of just how great Bear’s Den can be… and why they should have a bigger army of followers by now!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bear's Den

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BEAR’S DENBLANKETS OF SORROW: The second new song from Bear’s Den is as brilliant as the first, albeit completely different. Blankets of Sorrow, is a self-consciously bewitching song that demonstrates the more intimate Bear’s Den sound and explores themes of familial love and of trying to reach someone who can no longer be reached. Hence, there’s a melancholy undertow to be found in the lyrics, as well as the central piano arrangements (which are beautifully composed). At times, there’s a Snow Patrol vibe to the vocal delivery, albeit delivered with less intensity and more laidback beauty. Bear’s Den create some vivid lyrical imagery (“frozen lake or raging storm, the same damn thing…. the water only reflects what it’s been shown”) to compliment their lush instrumentals, which even in intimate form resonate with the listener. It’s a magnificent return.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Odette, Lights Out

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: ODETTELIGHTS OUT: Odette has shared the stirring new single Lights Out ahead of the highly anticipated arrival of her debut album To A Stranger (out February 8). Co-written with Sarah Aarons (Alessia Cara, Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey) and Alex Hope (Troye Sivan, Years & Years), the beginning of the track starts with faint pops of a vinyl record before a beautiful piano melody immediately sets the mood, which moves in perfect harmony with Odette’s lyrics of heartbreak and hope. Odette explains: “I wrote Lights Out in a really awesome session with two very talented women [Sarah and Alex]. It’s a song about realising your precarious situation and feeling a need to protect yourself. It’s a song about my endurance in a time when everything was a little shaky.” Hence, it’s an empowering track, yet one that also builds from a position of vulnerability (“as I found out on the way down”). Odette’s lyrics are particularly striking: soulful, hopeful and beautifully delivered, so as to be inspiring and yet endearing. But the backing harmonies, the trickling beats, the lush electronics and the melodic chorus contribute to a song that is instantly gratifying and well worthy of numerous repeat listens. It’s easy to see why there’s such a great buzz surrounding the forthcoming album. Odette is also set to embark on her first headline UK and EU tour, which includes a London gig date at St Pancras Old Church on February 18 – tickets on sale now. One can only get excited about how songs like this will sound in live form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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HYYTS

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: HYYTSBULLET: Scottisd duo HYYTS have unveiled the video for their new single Bullet, the follow-up to previous singles, Butterflies In My Head and DWY. The track finds them continuing to explore the boundaries of modern pop misic, as swathes of keyboard, a choral backing chant and a hypnotic drum beat built to a likeably harmonic chorus, built over skittering and pulsating beats. It’s a song that purrs seductively, evoking memories of some great soul-pop songs, as well as some R’n‘B ones. The chorus is genuinely catchy, complete with some provocative lyrics that tie into the bullet theme. Commenting on the accompanying video, Adam of HYYTS said: “We were really interested in it being quite shocking and a little bit scary. We teamed up with filmmaker Harry Barber and basically put ourselves into a bunch of sado-masochistic scenarios in a house on the outskirts of London. Harry absolutely nailed bringing the ideas we had to life and really got behind the whole project. When I showed it to my dad, he was freaked out and said that I scared him, so I think that can only mean we did what we set out to do.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jax Jones and Years and Years

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: JAX JONES AND YEARS AND YEARSPLAY: BRIT-nominated Jax Jones and Years & Years channel Supermarket Sweep in the video for their top 10 hit single Play, out now. Directed by Oliver Jennings (behind killer videos for Avelino feat. Stormzy & Skepta, Chase & Status and MIST), the video sees a miniature Jax and Years frontman Olly Alexander take over the conveyor belt, dodging Fruit Loops and fruit n’ veg. The track itself is fairly populist – but the video is worth checking out. Built around slick beats and playful electronic loops, this is tailor-made for the NYE party-seeking crowd. It’s a dancefloor filler that plays to the mainstream, from the Ibiza-leaning, garage inspired beats and synth loops, through to the catchy but repetitive chorus. And while that’s not necessarily a good thing, there’s something disposably catchy about the track that gets under your skin. On the creation of Play, Jax commented: “Olly’s got one of those unique voices – he commands your attention as soon as you hear him sing – he’s a compelling artist. We had a lot of fun writing this song together and it was great to collaborate with someone so down to earth and open to new ideas. After we had written the song I started building a track with a strong UK Garage influence, as well as my love of soul and house.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Interpol, Fine Mess

INTERPOLFINE MESS: Interpol have dropped a new track in the form of the fiery Fine Mess – bit it’s only partially successful. The track continues the urgent and visceral spirit of Interpol’s acclaimed 2018 album Marauder, with Paul Banks’ feverish vocals and haunted lyrics interlocking with serpentine riffs and a thundering rhythm section, coming together around the seditious refrain: “You and me / make a fine mess.” But while the guitars are as angular and art-rock leaning as ever (often impressively so), there’s something deliberately messy about the track [in keeping with the song’s title and emotions] that makes for an uneven listen. It catapults the listener straight into the song, for starters, almost opening mid-track, while Banks’ vocals are as angsty as the lyrics suggest. It means that the band feel more edgy and experimental than on better tracks such as Pioneer To The Falls or Rest My Chemistry. It’s one for the purists. Paul Banks says of the track: “Fine Mess is about a sanguine and starry pair, buoyed and dashed alike by their own dreams and appetites.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Alexander Wolfe

ALEXANDER WOLFEAVALANCHE: Alexander Wolfe releases his rousing new single Avalanche through Dharma Records. The track is featured in BBC 6 Music’s Tips for 2019 and is taken from his anticipated forthcoming album Little Death, which will be released on March 22. Speaking about Avalanche, Wolfe explains: “I initially wrote the bones of Avalanche with my friend Starling in a little studio in Hackney a couple of years ago. The instrumental was knocking around for a while and I loved how raw it was and I wanted to match that with really self-effacing, honest lyrics. It was written as a stream of consciousness when I was feeling out of control, It’s about trying to start afresh, it’s like confronting yourself and saying, you’re not doing good things, you’re not being kind to yourself. There’s some stuff about self-medication and mortality on there.” Going further to speak about the record he adds: “There are a lot of really big themes on my new album, some of it feels a little uncomfortable talking about. Sex, death, religion etc.” The song is big, foreboding and atmospheric, yet robust too. There’s some striking guitar riffs, a brooding back-beat and a vigorous chorus that finds Wolfe dropping incendiary lines such as “I’m just trying to reset… I’m just trying to forget”. It’s stirring stuff, with some really standout instrumental work. Avalanche marks Wolfe’s return after a short hiatus at the end of 2018 where he again performed the music for the critically acclaimed theatre piece The Trench – a dark, otherworldly fantasy set in the World War One trenches- by theatre company Les Enfants Terribles, of which Wolfe was nominated for an Off West End award for the soundtrack, which he also wrote.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chemical Brothers, Got To Keep On

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERSGOT TO KEEP ON: Got To Keep On is the third single to be lifted from The Chemical Brothers’ forthcoming No Geography LP – and arguably the best offering to date. A lighter dance track than the hard sound of MAH, this dips into the psychedelic territory of former tracks such as Star Guitar and thereby delivers one of their most accessible tracks in a while. There are chants to back the song’s title, with a looping “got to keep on, got to keep on, getting me high”, which should appeal to the festival crowds this summer. But the ‘high’ could just as easily not be pharmaceutical, but high on life in general, as the track suggests you should let go, feel its rhythm and just have a good time. It’s easy to do so, too, with chiming bell sounds, trippy electronics, toe-tapping beats and a general feeling of letting go infusing the track and giving added impetus to those vocals. This track boasts genuine crossover potential and is a nice contrast to the far more politically charged MAH.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Astrid S, Someone New

ASTRID S – SOMEONE NEW: Rising pop star Astrid S releases Someone New, out now via Virgin EMI Records / Universal Music Norway, and continues to make a good impression. The track, co-written by Charli XCX [which shows], is a catchy, melodic pop anthem with an energetic bassline that’s paired perfectly with the Norwegian pop star’s stand-out vocal talent. There are some sharp melodic hooks, a catchy chorus and a keen mix of the euphoric and the humble. Astrid says of the track: “Someone New is a song about being a little obsessed with an ex. I wanted it to sound a bit childish and desperate, but still have a chorus you can sing along to in your car. I made it with Noonie Bao, Charli XCX, Jakob Hazell and Svante Halldin. I’m very excited for people to hear it.” The obsessiveness comes in a confessional sense (“I can’t stop myself from thinking about you”), while also being drenched in melancholy (“but you’re thinking about someone new”). But it’s that bittersweet juxtaposition that makes the song so striking… and where it’s easy to find the influence of Charli XCX, whose assistance here looks virtually guaranteed to help land Astrid S a well deserved super smash hit single. Someone New is Astrid’s first release of 2019 and comes just off the back of a successful tour of UK and Europe with Years & Years.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kawala, runaway

KAWALARUNAWAY: Kawala return with a spring in their step in 2019 with the release of their new single Runaway, through Mahogany Records. Speaking about the track, Kawala explain: “With our new single, Runaway, we wanted to start the new year with something more upbeat, rhythmic and dancey. While we’ve maintained a strong running theme of journey and exploration, we’ve also managed to pair that with a video about space aliens and monsters, obviously.” There’s a tremendous sense of energy to the song, with an almost African intensity to it, which is married to some radio friendly ‘pop’ sensibilities. It’s also a song that’s high on positivity, boasting no-nonsense lyrics such as “I’m on an A train and I won’t be wasting my time”. Hence, that energy is married to a sense of optimism that is empowering to boot. It’s a welcome return from Kawala. Runaway is the second single to be taken from their forthcoming sophomore EP, Counting The Miles.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Heather Woods Broderick

HEATHER WOODS BRODERICKWHERE I LAY: Oregon-based artist Heather Woods Broderick will release her new album Invitation on April 19 via Western Vinyl. The cinematic first single from the record, Where I Lay, is streaming online now. Laden with beguiling baroque-pop, Where I Lay is a powerful anthem whose immense drums and persistent piano are sincerely pained, delivering a strong centrepiece for the upcoming album. It’s evocative of the ethereal pop tendencies of acts like Lykke Li (no small compliment), while also being distinct enough in its own right to help Broderick standout. Speaking about the new track, Heather said: “Where I Lay is really a poem about the impermanence of all things. So many of our questions will remain unanswered but if we slow down and appreciate things as they are it can provide a simplicity and an ease that inspires wonder amidst the chaos.” The lyrics are thought-provoking, for sure. But it’s the way they’re surrounded by such cinematic instrumental arrangements that helps them to standout. The electronics and pianos are stirring, indeed, while the percussion is suitably brooding and nicely layered, so as to give the electronics and Broderick’s striking, ethereal vocals the biggest focus. The chorus really sweeps you along.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 25, 2019

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

Vampire Weekend

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: VAMPIRE WEEKENDHARMONY HALL: It may have been six years since we last heard from Vampire Weekend but the wait has been worth it. To mark their comeback, the band have dropped two new tracks in the form of Harmony Hall and 2021. The former is stunning. Ezra Koenig taps into some trademark bittersweet elements with the central lyric, “I don’t want to live like this, I don’t want to die”, while summoning swirling melodies around him. There’s tumbling acoustic guitar licks, swirling piano arrangements, classic percussion elements, hints of country, classic ’70s pop riffs, as well as a nod or two to classic acts like Simon & Garfunkel. It’s a work of immense quality, as intricately layered as we’ve come to expect, but different enough to be refreshingly new and oh-so very, very welcome. The song is taken from new album, Father of the Bride, which is already shaping up to be pretty darn special.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Beck, Tarantula

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BECKTARANTULA: The continually evolving music box of wonders produced by Beck continues unabated with new single Tarantula, a track inspired by Alfonso Cuaron’s award-winning [and now Oscar nominated] Netflix film Roma. Befitting its inspiration, this is cinematic, yet thought-provoking. Dripping with atmosphere, this finds Beck’s distinct vocal offering a hushed, contemplative exploration of life over echoed, atmospheric electronics, the occasional string arrangement and piano. It’s beguiling stuff, evocative of Bowie and Peter Gabriel in its design and scope. The central line of “and when the thunder breaks, it breaks for me” cuts to the core of the film’s message, which offers a very personal journey for its filmmaker. Beck has long been a master of combining outlandish moments of trendy yet original alt-pop with something more sombre, introspective and heartbreaking. Here, he adopts the latter style to conjure something equally brilliant and lasting. Cuaron will be proud.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Julia Michaels, Anxiety

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JULIA MICHAELS feat SELENA GOMEZANXIETY: GRAMMY® Award-nominated multi-platinum singer and songwriter Julia Michaels is set to release her new album, Inner Monologue Part I. To celebrate, she’s dropped the single Anxiety, featuring Selena Gomez – and is simplicity is disarming. As confessional as it is catchy, Anxiety finds acoustic guitar bristling against Michaels’ breathy delivery on vivid lyrics such as: “My friends, they want to take me to the movies. I tell them to f*ck off, I’m holding hands with my depression.” It’s a timely release, too, given the newfound impetus that recognition for mental health issues are generating at the moment. But it’s also honest, underlining the complexity of coping with a mental condition while also struggling to keep up with the demands of modern life (from friends to family). It should, therefore, become a go-to anthem for anyone struggling with such issues. That it does so in a way that’s so catchy, should also ensure that the song reaches a wider audience, thereby fostering a culture of greater understanding beyond those living with it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Twenty One Pilots, Chlorine

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: TWENTY ONE PILOTSCHLORINE: Twenty One Pilots have shared the official music video for standout album track, Chlorine. Directed by long-time collaborator Reel Bear Media, the video finds the band initially inspecting a disused swimming pool before being joined by an alien-like, Gremlin-style creature. Eventually, an unlikely bond develops between band member and ‘beast’. It’s an endlessly fascinating watch and well worthy of video of the week status. And then there’s the single itself, a bona fida classic that underlines why the band’s latest album, Trench, has enabled them to grow enormously in popularity. Marked out by a hip-hop style back-beat, a classic chorus and some really nicely interwoven piano loops, this is melodic, cinematic and catchy as hell – breaking between mainstream and alternative EDM in effortless fashion. It is one of the many highlights to feature on the LP.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Gray, Watching The Waves

DAVID GRAYWATCHING THE WAVES: Watching The Waves is the latest single to arrive from Gray’s forthcoming new album, Gold In A Brass Age. Produced by Ben De Vries, the record takes its name from a Raymond Carver short story, with artwork provided by tattooist London Boy. Speaking about the track, which is notable for its quiet sincerity, Gray said: “In part, this is a song for a friend who died. The lyrics are all over the place. You can extrapolate them in to countless corners of life, depending on your own experiences. It’s up to the listener to decide. I’ve been through a phenomenal amount of emotional upheaval in the past few years. Life itself is often more than you can take and a person can only process so much.” The sentiments behind that statement, as well as some of the lyrics of the song (“Thoughts like crumbs in the sheets, Words thrown like coins in a cup, Just one more house in the rain, Just one more spoonful of salt” or “I gave it all I could give, I took that ghost for my bride, Went day by day trying to live, With my heart on the outside”), are genuinely thought-provoking and applicable to most lives. The accompanying instrumentals, meanwhile, are low-key, electronic and quietly beautiful, allowing Gray’s equally reflective vocals to shine through. It may not be the most instantly accessible of the releases from the album so far, but it’s undeniably thoughtful and it stays with you.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Newton Faulkner, Don't Leave Me

NEWTON FAULKNERDON’T LEAVE ME WAITING: Newton Faulkner has dropped new single Don’t Leave Me Waiting to kickstart an exciting year ahead, having previously announced his new album, The Very Best Of Newton Faulkner… So Far, which will be released in March with a major UK headline tour taking place this Spring. Commenting on the track, Newton said: “I wrote this on a trip to Australia when I was meant to have a day off, which doesn’t normally happen when working so far away so I put a writing session in and I’m very glad I did. It’s a song about a friend’s relationship and a situation I think most people have found themselves in, of waiting to find out if someone wants to go out with you, or not. She said yes, so it’s all cool.” There’s a sense of uncertainty in the lyrics early on, which is echoed in the hushed early style of the song (and its soul-pop vibe). But as the optimism grows, the song begins to soar, layering in background vocals and harmonies, as well as lusher instrumentals. It’s a slow-builder that blossoms beautifully – just like all classic Newton Faulkner records tend to.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Vampire Weekend

VAMPIRE WEEKEND – 2021: The second new song from Vampire Weekend [after their six year hiatus] may not be as great as Harmony Hall [few songs can be] but it’s distinct in its own way. A very short, stripped-down offering that’s barely two minutes in length, this is built around a sample of a track by Japanese musician Haruomi Hosono, which was written to be played in Muji stores in the Eighties. It finds a steely guitar intertwining with a soft synth, while Koenig sings: “2021, will you think about me?/I could wait a year but I couldn’t wait three.” It doesn’t instantly register as a worthwhile single, given its brevity, but there’s a striking beauty and a disarming simplicity that suggests it could work really well within the album as a whole. As a stand-alone, it merely drops more temptation and anticipation ahead of the release of Father of the Bride as a whole.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ian Brown, Ripples

IAN BROWNRIPPLES: Ian Brown has released Ripples, which is taken from his highly-anticipated upcoming album of the same name – his first solo material in nine years. As you’d expect from Brown, it drops a funky back-beat, as well as some unmistakeable vocals, as well as the occasionally playful electronic (a kind of zany loop that zig-zags its way in and out of proceedings from time to time). It’s arguably the type of song that long-time fans of Brown will lap up. But while certainly fun, complete with a blistering mid-track guitar breakdown, it’s not really stretching the singer-songwriter into new territories. It feels like a song that operates well within Brown’s comfort zone – and that’s taking into account the fact that Brown produced all the album’s new material himself, as well as writing the majority of the tracks and playing guitar, drums and a host of other instruments. It’s good, just not as great as we all know he’s capable of. Incidentally, the release date of Ian’s eagerly anticipated album has been brought forward to February 1, 2019.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Diplo, Boom Bye Bye

DIPLO feat NISKABOOM BYE BYE: Following the global success of his acclaimed California EP last year, global superstar Diplo has released the new single, Boom Boom Bye featuring breakout French star Niska. The track will feature on a follow-up sister EP to California, called Europa, out soon. The resulting track is sung in French but embodies many Diplo traits – from its hip-hop beats and slick electronic instrumentals, to its easy appeal (which boasts crossover potetial beyond the hip-hop market). And the French vocals add some European allure, virtually guaranteeing the song’s appeal on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s highly catchy, effortlessly danceable and typically cool. For those that don’t know, Niska is a pioneer of Afro Trap in France, having already achieved 5 diamond certified singles and accrued over 1 billion YouTube views, leading him to become a ubiquitous figure in France and across social media, where he has over 2 million Instagram followers. His influence even extends to Blaise Matuidi, the tireless Juventus midfielder, who celebrates each of his goals by mimicking Niska’s signature gesture. Commenting on the collaboration, Diplo said: “Niska came over late one night in Paris and we played this idea down on a piano loop that I made. I had only been familiar with him because he had every song on the French Spotify chart that moment. I was really excited that he came through and made this crazy idea with me. One year later we finished it, and it’s out for all my Parisians now.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Kut, I Am Vain

THE KUT – I AM VAIN: The Kut have dropped a striking video for their single I Am Vain, a blistering guitar anthem that finds the band in fiery form. Driven by those spiky guitar riffs and a genuine sense of bravado, this epitomises the angry state of American rock at the moment, and is as no-nonsense as the sentiments behind the song suggest. Explains Princess Maha: “I Am Vain wasn’t just about vanity. It was about laughing out loud in the face of criticism. About taking undue negativity with a pinch of salt. It’s like when someone says something about you, to try and put you down, but instead of being affected by it, you are just thinking, hmm, and so what?” The music video sees Princess Maha as pilot of a private jet, rocking out in an aircraft-hanger with Diana Bartmann (drums) and Stella Vie (bass), and spinning out a neat tapping solo to boot. And that’s not forgetting the cracking guitar solo, which should appeal to any airheads out there who need something to get their groove on in this fading scene. The video, the eighth from the new album Valley of Thorns, is well worth checking out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Robinson, Karma

ROBINSONKARMA: Hotly-tipped New Zealand pop act Robinson reveals her new single Karma, out now via Ministry of Sound Recordings. The track is an empowering response to being mistreated in a relationship and the consequences that come with breaking someone’s heart. She explains: “It’s about opening up your heart to someone who ends up taking that for granted, then when you end things, they try and come back like nothing ever happened. I really wanted Karma to explore the pain of early heartbreak… I also wanted it to have real power to it – you can’t break someone’s heart and then act like you didn’t.” Rather than wallowing in a self-pitying vibe, however, Robinson adopts a more sassy outlook. The back-beats are bouncy, in line with the accompanying electronic loops, and the song as a whole carries a sense of empowerment (especially when Robinson declares that “karma’s a bitch and she’s coming for you”). It’s the type of song that has plenty to say and that should easily help to get her noticed. Karma is Robinson’s first release of the year, following an array of successes for the pop newcomer. In 2018, her debut single Nothing to Regret was certified Platinum in Australia and in her home country of New Zealand, she received two nominations at the New Zealand Vodaphone Music Awards for Breakthrough Artist of the Year and Single of the Year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tarantina, Hunter

TARANTINAHUNTER: Self-taught singer, multi-intrumentalist, producer and videographer Tarantina returns following the release of her debut EP Teething in 2018 with new single Hunter. The song is being hailed as a powerful and stirring return from the Londoner and was co-produced by Tarantina and Tommy Sheen. “Hunter is about that feeling in the pit of your stomach, a gut instinct you get when you know someone you love is hiding something from you,” she explains. The darkness inherent in that type of inspiration is also to be found in the atmospheric instrumentals, which are driven by a fierce back-beat that succeeds in getting the track noticed. That said, the opening is stripped back and almost acoustic, with subtle electronics and a fragile vocal laying out the vulnerabilities inherent in those lyrics. The beat soon drops, though, along with layered instrumentation, giving the song a boldness that’s equally ear-catching and provocative. The same can be said for the accompanying video too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 18, 2019

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

LOVA, My Name Isn't

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LOVA – MY NAME ISN’T: Sweden’s fastest-rising new musical export LOVA shares a new single entitled My Name Isn’t and continues to impress. The 20-year-old pop singer and songwriter pulls no punches with this empowering female declaration of independence. Over a backdrop of handclaps, echoing guitars, organic percussion and warbled samples, she announces: “My name isn’t ‘Baby,’ you cannot say whatever you feel like… I am not the things you call me.” The ensuing track boasts a sassy, pro-feminist outlook, some timely point making and a bouncy backdrop that ensures your head and feet will be nodding and tapping along. The hip-hop lite beats are a plus, too, bringing some edge to the pop sheen and tipping its toe into R’n‘B waters vocally. LOVA is obviously someone to watch because this is fiercely empowering power pop that’s as catchy as hell. She comments: “It’s nothing new that we women are tired—tired of living in the background of men, tired of having to raise our voices to be heard, tired of feeling afraid late at night, and tired of always adjusting for men who cannot keep their hands and mouths under control.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE 1975 – I LIKE AMERICA & AMERICA LIKES ME: To mark their sold out shows at London’s O2 Arena this weekend, The 1975 have dropped the single and a 3D animated lyric video for I Like America & America Likes Me, taken from their critically acclaimed new album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The result is as striking as any of the tracks they’ve released so far, albeit a little more experimental. Featuring a vocoder style vocal, fragmented electronic loops and vocals, and provocative lyrics, this manages to be both a compelling listen and a song with something to say. The central line, “I’m scared of dying”, is backed up, throughout, by observations and pleas such as “when you bleed – say so” and “would you please listen!” It’s a song with a lot on its mind. Fans of the band will doubtless lap it up. But this may boast crossover potential for anyone willing to get behind – or who already agrees with – its sentiments. I wouldn’t expect it to feature on Donald Trump’s playlist though!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Slide

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: SLIDEFLOATING: Indie fans pining for the absence of bands like Feeder can console themselves with Slide’s latest offering, Floating. A lively indie-pop anthem in waiting, this has a classic Feeder vibe attached to the guitars, some Flaming Lips-style vocals and some very bouncy piano arrangements, that add up to a very lively, addictively catchy whole. It’s not got much meaning, by the band’s own admission, but it does offer a dreamy slice of indie-pop that’s effortlessly easy to enjoy. Commenting on the track themselves, Slide said: “We aren’t entirely sure what the song is about to be honest. It’s a dreamy one, but it’s supposed to be, you know? We liked the idea of this hallucinatory element of some of the instrumental being present in the lyrics as well. I think it’s about losing yourself in thought, and maybe losing yourself in love too. Ultimately anything can become a ghost and whether it’s just in your head or not doesn’t really matter. Either way you end up spending a whole lot of time in there… behind the eyes that is.” Floating is taken from Slide’s debut EP, Into Happiness, which is set for release in Spring 2019. It’s the follow up to their debut single, Laugh Some More, which was released in November and encapsulates the band’s spirit perfectly. Rough around the edges but with plenty of heart, like all their rock heroes before
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Skinny Lister, My Distraction

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: SKINNY LISTER – MY DISTRACTION: Skinny Lister kickstart their 2019 with a gutsy piece of pop-rock in the form of the foot-stomping My Distraction. The track is already being hailed as a premier piece of procrastination-inspired power-pop goodness given that it finds its touch points in the angular and playful sounds comparable to Blondie or The Jam at their peak. A new-wave flecked, sugar-coated thrill clocking in at just over the two-and-a half-minute mark, the single is the latest cut to be lifted from the band’s highly anticipated new album, The Story Is… out on March 1, 2019. It’s a romp of a record, that suggests Skinny Lister have added some edgy grit to their more amiable pop melodies. Offering further insight into the themes of the new single, Skinny’s Dan and Lorna said: “My Distraction is about being so obsessed with something that everything else falls by the wayside. When only one thing is in focus and everything else is merely background noise. Even though written initially with broader meaning, the lyrics are particularly fitting for our current fixation with modern technology and, even more particularly, our tethering of ourselves to our smart phones.” On typically fun-loving form, My Distraction is of course companioned with a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek new video that sees the band playing on the track’s themes of our tech-binging addictions. In scenes perhaps best described as GoggleBox meets Star Trek, the video finds frontwoman Lorna Thomas unexpectedly transported across space and time at the hands of her TV remote.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dan Caplen, Love Me The Same

DAN CAPLENLOVE ME THE SAME: Rising singer-songwriter Dan Caplen has announced the release of new single, Love Me The Same, which lands as his first new material of 2019. Stripped back and written at the piano, Love Me The Same is a tender, gentle ballad written to honour his mother, with whom he credits for always having his back, through both the good times and the bad. “To put it simply, it’s about my mum,” says Dan. “No matter how far I’ve gone, she’s there to put me in check, and set me straight when I’m outta line.” It’s a personal song, for sure, but it also displays some big ideas. The provocative opening line, for instance, declares “I’m not holy, but tell me who is, a priest can be saintly or a hypoctive”, the song then proceeds to confess “there’s no hiding the things that I do”. It then turns its attention to Caplen’s guiding force, his mother, who loves him no matter what, as well as providing an inspiration and a guiding light. The song is a really nicely composed ballad that is relatable for anyone who appreciates what their mother does for them. The video, too, finds Caplen at the piano, as well as visiting his mother for some touching mother-son bonding. It’s inspiring stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters

CRYSTAL FIGHTERSALL MY LOVE: Supported by Jack Saunders at Radio 1, Crystal Fighters’ latest track All My Love has proved to be the most popular moment of their recent Hypnotic Sun EP. It’s now set to be discovered by a wider audience with the launch of its official video. The track continues the band’s adventurous streak for exploring personal experiences within exhilarating electro-pop anthems. This time around, they capture the uncertainty of a potentially blossoming relationship with a sing-along hook that’s sure to be a standout moment of their future live shows. The chorus, in particular, is catchy as hell… and anthemic. It’s euphoric, almost, yet nowhere near as celebratory as the title suggests. Rather, it asks: “Am I wasting all my time with you?” The accompanying hooks, electronics, beats and vocals are geared to making you want to get up and dance in celebratory fashion. It’s a standout moment. Talking about the song, the band’s multi-instrumentalist Gilbert Vierich commented: “We’ve all been there, right? You’re there, you really like someone, but are you wasting your time? This happens to me on a weekly basis. The people I’m in love with aren’t in love with me.” The accompanying video, directed by Balthazar Klarwein of the O Creative Studio (Solange, A$AP Rocky, FKA twigs) in Barcelona, transports Crystal Fighters’ frontman Bast Pringle to a trippy, psychedelic tunnel. He falls under the spell of mysterious Goddess, her already otherworldly status heightened by her striking four-eyed facial features. The video’s aesthetic touches on the retro-futuristic style of Gaudi and Kubrick.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Orville Peck

ORVILLE PECKDEAD OF NIGHT: Masked enigmatic country crooner Orville Peck has announced he will release his debut album, Pony, on March 22, 2019, via Sub Pop. New single and video, Dead of Night, from the record, is streaming online now. The track is described as a torch song about two hustlers traveling through Nevada desert. Their whirlwind romance takes us on a dusty trail of memories – racing down canyon highways, hitchhiking through casino towns and ultimately, ending in tragedy. It’s a trippy slice of country, with stark, Duane Eddy style guitar hooks and a Chris Isaak meets Nick Cave kind of vocal… laidback but foreboding. And while it’s definitely an acquired taste, it has something addictive and compelling about it, which is only enhanced by the cinematic video that finds Orville and his posse of companions – a washed up gambler, a Cubano boxer, a Senegalese cowgirl and a Wild West club kid (played by Hopper Penn, Alex Cammen, Magné Ndiaye and Dez Sam, respectively) – at the legendary Chicken Ranch brothel (the real-life inspiration for The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas). It features many of the ladies who work there. Dead of Night was directed by Michael Maxxis, and shot on location in Nevada. Orville, himself, will also play a London residency this February and March with three live shows announced.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mull Historical Society

MULL HISTORICAL SOCIETYLITTLE BIRD: Mull Historical Society starts 2019 with a new single and several live shows. Islander Colin MacIntyre, award-winning musician, author and now playwright, is proving himself to be one of the UK’s most prolific talents. He rounded off last year – which included two new book releases – with a very special London show on St Andrew’s Day with Bernard Butler, producer of the latest widely acclaimed album Wakelines, released on Xtra Mile Recordings last autumn. A beautiful new mix of Little Bird, by Bernard (taken from the album) is available now, backed with an acoustic version of MacIntyre’s debut single, Barcode Bypass, released originally in 2000 to wide acclaim, achieving the NME Debut Single of the Year. The new mix plays up the cinematic elements of this soaring ballad, featuring skyscraping vocal harmonies, lush string arrangements and pining vocals that enable the song to reach some giddy heights. As ever, with MacIntry’s songwriting, it’s thoughtfully composed and beautifully delivered.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Kyle Falconer, What's Love Got To Do With It?

KYLE FALCONERWHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?: After five hit albums, a Mercury Prize nomination and countless sold-out shows with The View, the band’s frontman Kyle Falconer released his debut solo album, No Thank You last year on Riverman Records. The album received fantastic critical acclaim and earned Falconer ‘Best Album’ at the Scottish Music Awards in December last year. Falconer has recently returned from Thailand where he recorded a covers EP of some of his personal favourite songs, leading with the surprising What’s Love Got To Do With It?, his take on the Tina Turner classic. And while perhaps a surprising choice, it’s a lovingly delivered cover version that pays suitably stylish homage to the original. The basic construct remains the same, albeit with Falconer’s distinct vocal style replacing the husky tones of Turner, and some brilliant guitar solos replacing the more pop elements of the ’80s original. Falconer injects plenty of passion, too, gutsily blasting out the central vocals over the chorus, and sounding suitably crestfallen as well. It’s a great insight into the type of quality we can expect from the rest of the EP, which also includes the mouth-watering prospect of hearing him cover Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way and Toy Story‘s You’ve Got A Friend In Me (to name but two). Black Eyes, Blue Tears and Four Seasons In One Day round out the playlist.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 11, 2019

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

ViVii

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ViVii – AND TRAGIC: Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii release their dreamy new single And Tragic through Dumont Dumont (Ry X, Charlie Cunningham, Josin). Taken from their eponymous debut album, which is set for release on March 15, the song is as idyllic a listen as only the Swedish trio know how to deliver. The electronics are charming and rife with melody, the female vocals delectably sultry and heart-meltingly beautiful. It’s a song to bring genuine cheer to the January blues, which feels emotionally honest, feel-good and laidback to the point of being horizontal. Speaking about the single, ViVii explain: “We had an idea about what this song was going to be about, but under the process it all changed and the song took its own turn.I guess thats how we like to write music, to let the song happen and to let the music have its own way. But the essence of the song is that life is fun and tragic all at the same time.” As bittersweet and true as that statement is, the lyrical ingredients make for a wholly satisfying listen. Having made their New York live debut at the Sweden Makes Music showcase on December 4, 2018, ViVii are confirmed for this year’s SXSW festival in Texas, as well as Eurosonic and By:larm and will play London’s Hoxton Bar and Kitchen on February 15.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Catfish & The Bottlemen

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMENLONGSHOT: Billed as an ode to success and survival, Catfish & The Bottlemen’s rousing new anthem Longshot is a blistering comeback of sorts. The Welsh rockers have been away for a little while but they have long been the creators of skyscraping rock anthems that tap into a classic songwriting sensibility. Here, some catchy, meaty guitar riffs, some chirpy melodic hooks and a toe-tapping back-beat contribute to a track that is alive with positivity and enthusiasm. It’s a rock track, first and foremost, but it’s also the type of song that boasts genuine crossover appeal, tipping its toe into a pop arena at times. Hence, if you’re fans of bands such as Kasabian and Muse, who know how to tap into the mainstream without sacrificing their core values, then this will tick all of your boxes. It’s a cracking start to 2019 for the band. Expect to hear plenty from them (as well as the song itself) throughout the remainder of the year. The accompanying video offers black and white, simple visuals, courtesy of director Jim Canty. Comprised of a single shot, with no cuts, this finds the camera, McCann’s car and the band themselves in a continual state of motion, as they embark on a journey against a stunning coastal backdrop.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Trapper Schoepp, What You Do To Her

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: TRAPPER SCHOEPPWHAT YOU DO TO HER: Xtra Mile recording artist Trapper Schoepp has premiered What You Do To Her as the latest track from the Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter’s eagerly anticipated new album, Primetime Illusion – and it marries a timely, hard-hitting message with classic rock songwriting values. Featuring vocals from Nicole Atkins, the song presents the grim story of sexual assault’s continued impact in our communities and serves as a call to action in the cultural fight against sexual violence. It boasts lyrics such as “what you do to her, we all see, what you do to her, you should never be free”. You don’t have to strain your brain too hard to guess who the song’s targets are. But it’s also a rallying call to anyone who has suffered sexual abuse and violence, which makes it timely as hell, while furtherhing the momentum of the #MeToo movement. Yet, while socially astute, the guitars and harmonica contribute to a rabble-rousing slice of pure rock, which owes more than a passing resemblance to the likes of Tom Petty in his prime and even The Boss. It’s a song that packs a punch, while offering a good time. The video was created by Milwaukee-based animator, Casey Hoaglund. Commenting on the track themselves, the band said: “This song is about the epidemic of sexual assault and the ripple effects these attacks have within our communities,” says Schoepp. “The verses tell the all-too-frequent story of a man who gets away with his actions, while the the chorus reminds us how we’re all affected – survivors, their families, their friends, and the community as a whole. For too long, men have stood on the sidelines on this issue. I wrote this song to call out behavior like this, and we need to do this in our daily lives, too. It’s one thing to show solidarity behind the scenes, but men need to become vocal allies and do the work to change our culture. The time for accountability is now.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Janelle Monae, Screwed

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: JANELLE MONAESCREWED (feat. ZOE KRAVITZ): “I live my life in a magazine, I live my life on a TV screen, I live my life on birth control, I lost my mind on rock n roll”…. so sings Janelle Monae over the opening moments of catchy new R’n‘B single Screwed. And as some of those sentiments suggest, this is very much a rant against the state of the world, which she aptly describes as “screwed”. Rather than sounding angry, however, Monae has chosen to wrap the single up in lively beats, R’n‘B-tinged, pop soaked melodies and the odd rock guitar twang. But make no mistake, the song takes a very proactive view to society, taking potshots at the emphasis placed on celebrity, sex, power and money in the current climate. She therefore concludes “we’re so screwed”. The accompanying video, featuring Zoe Kravitz, is hard-hitting, too, taking a seemingly carefree opening and turning it into something altogether darker and more troubling, complete with a sobering conclusion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chemical Brothers, MAH

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERSMAH: The Chemical Brothers have dropped a hard-hitting club banger in the form of MAH as the second offering from their forthcoming new LP, No Geography (out in the spring). The ‘MAH’ of the title stands for ‘mad as hell’ and it’s easy to guess that this is a protest record to boot. The central refrain states: “I’m mad as hell” before declaring “I aint gonna take it no more”. And while this could relate to anyone’s personal problems, it’s safer to assume it’s an assault on the state of the world, which sees divided nations expressing their disdain for politicians, bureaucrats and big business. The energy of the accompanying beats and squelchy electronics taps into that feeling of anger, while the rave element hints at something underground bubbling beneath the surface. A sense of rebellion perhaps? Hence, while hard-hitting as hell in a dance kind of way, this is also a Chemical Brothers track with something to say. And while it’s very hard dance, and therefore for the die-hard Chemical Brothers enthusiasts only, it’s still worth checking out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hot Dreams

HOT DREAMSSTRONGER: After having been highlighted as one of her New Names by Radio 1’s Annie Mac, Hot Dreams grabbed further airplay from the likes of BBC London Introducing and Radio X. Now, Hot Dreams move towards the release of their debut EP by sharing new track Stronger. The track’s euphoric mood brims with emotional yearning before it erupts into flight with a soaring, anthemic chorus that deserves to grace larger stages. Self-produced by the band, and mixed by Michael Sealy, it blurs the boundaries between the atmospheric intensity of post-punk and the enticing immediacy of pop. That is to say, there’s edge to offset some of the more radio-friendly melodies instrumentally. Vocally, though, Hot Dreams channel the emotional sweep of singers like Chris Martin when they hit falsetto highs, while also tapping into something a little more rough around the edges in the build-up to those moments. Perhaps more impressive is the message the song holds. Lyrically, Stronger is a personal account of the stigma surrounding mental health and the consequences of (particularly men) not opening up to each other. It’s a call for compassion and conversation when it comes to things we may not fully understand in other people. If the remainder of the EP is as ear-catching, then Hot Dreams look set to make a very big impression in 2019.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Believer

IMAGINE DRAGONS feat LIL WAYNEBELIEVER: Having teamed up with rapper Lil Wayne for a remix of their track Believer during the College Football Playoff National Championship halftime show earlier this month, Imagine Dragons have now released the track as a single. They’ve worked together before, of course, on the Suicide Squad soundtrack. But this is more of a remix that dabbles with the idea of offering something new. In truth, the song isn’t doing that much different. It’s still the same song, albeit with a prolonged rap interlude from Wayne. The chorus, though, is still as big and shouty as before, with brooding electronics and pounding beats forming the lively backdrop. If you’re a fan, you’ll doubtless dig the remix. If not, you won’t be moved. It’s not their best. But it does the job. Perhaps regrettably, there’s no new video – but then the original did, notably, feature a cracking boxing match between Dragons’ lead singer and a certain Dolph Lundgren. That was a bona fida video of the week!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSECONVERSATION: Lucy Rose releases her fourth album No Words Left on March 22, 2019. To introduce the record, the album’s opening track Conversation is streaming now – and it’s typically assured and beautifully composed. A tender acoustic ballad, this finds Rose reverting back to basics and allowing her stark vocals to take centre stage. The acoustics are intricately composed, as are some subtle piano arrangements and strings… but this is really about letting the lyrics do the talking and hearing what the song – about really listening to each other when things get hard – has to say. As a result, the emotions should resonate with anyone who has been through the ups and downs of a relationship (“no one loves me quite like you do, but no one lets me down the way you do”). It’s a beguiling, fascinating listen. The new album, No Words Left, finds Lucy using her voice to devastatingly frank effect throughout. Lyrically and musically fearless, this record is a beautifully intense, but often unsettling listen. It’s a body of work, a fine modern example of the enduring strength of the album format. Following the album’s release, Lucy wil be heading out on a tour of the UK and Europe in April.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Westlife

WESTLIFEHELLO MY LOVE: Westlife’s first new single in eight years, Hello My Love, is as cheesy and predictable as they come. Written and produced by superstar hitmakers Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac, this is clearly designed to be a soaring pop anthem featuring the band’s trademark vocals and harmonies. Shane, Nicky, Mark and Kian exchange vocal duties on a song that celebrates a ‘perfect’ love (“belly and far from perfect teeth” et al), complete with sweeping choruses, fizzing electronics, toe-tapping beats and a general sense of euphoria. Admittedly, the protagonist is full of self-doubt, struggling to believe how lucky in love they are. But any sense of vulnerability is drowned amid the positivity of the song as a whole. Arriving in January, it’s clearly also designed to bring a little cheer to the January blues. But while the fans will doubtless be delighted with the comeback, it’s so perfectly manufactured (and thereby manipulative) that it never rises above a slick pop offering designed to win Westlife back into the hearts of the mainstream. As sceptical as that sounds, the trick is to avoid being suckered in if you’re not a fan already. The presence of Sheeran as a producer, complete with the same kind of melodic structure as some of his songs, only serves to underline this.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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