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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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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 4, 2019

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

James Hersey, My People

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: JAMES HERSEY & JEREMY LOOPS – MY PEOPLE: Keeping the momentum going in 2019, James Hersey releases the new single My People, a collaborative track with South African singer-songwriter Jeremy Loops, out via Glassnote Records. Co-written by Hersey and Loops, the track is a head-nodding upbeat indie-pop track which compliments both artist’s unique vocals as they flow back and forth, then congregate on the infectious chorus over the guitar-led production. With its message of positivity and inclusion, this has an easy-going, feel-good quality to it that is entirely addictive. The guitar strums are breezy and endearing, while the mix of vocal styles works nicely against each other, before coming together for that catchy chorus. If you’re fans of music from the likes of Paul Simon, Ed Sheeran and Jack Johnson, then this will tick all the right boxes for you. It’s just a really good listen. On My People, Hersey explains: “Jeremy and I both lead lives that require us to spend a lot of time away from home. My People is an homage not to the places we come from, but to the people there that keep us coming back.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Balthazar

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BALTHAZAR – I’M NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN AGAIN: Belgium’s finest Balthazar see in 2019 with a new track I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again, taken from their new album, Fever, on Play It Again Sam and released on January 25, 2019. Like the album’s previously unveiled title track, Fever, I’m Not Gonna Let You Down Again features Deprez on lead vocals mining a now familiar vein of upbeat, newly discovered playfulness with the addition of distinct vocal accompaniment from Devoldere. It finds Balthazar in their own hazy world of r’n‘b infused pop, an altogether looser feel that draws on their recent solo outings. But while certainly loose and laidback, there’s a coolness to it, too, that has a very funky vibe. The guitar riffs are simple, retro and highly effective (right down to the cracking solo), while the soulful falsetto vocals have a smooth groove appeal that help the track wash over you in sublime fashion. On the evidence so far, Fever could be the first great album of 2019. Commenting on the track, Deprez explains: “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again is a break-up song with a twist, a groovy soul ode with a synthesizer, a chorus with a Bee Gee touch. It’s shaking it off, wherever it stuck.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Gray, Tight Ship

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: DAVID GRAY – A TIGHT SHIP: David Gray has released his new single, A Tight Ship, as the latest new offering from his forthcoming album Gold In A Brass Age, due for release on March 8, 2019, via IHT Records / AWAL Recordings. You’ll still recognize Gray’s gravelly rasp on the track, but 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. Speaking about A Tight Ship, Gray said: “This was by far the toughest track to get right. It has a quirky chord structure that keeps changing key and I’m singing in an almost Marvin Gaye falsetto, which is in no way comfortable for me. For ages I had the opening couplet ‘The better then, to know myself/Fear be damned, let love be wealth’. Beyond that, I was stuck. The song has a lovely lightness that means the lyrics couldn’t be heavy-footed. The line that unlocked it was ‘To dance like no one sees’. That’s the pay-off.” The effort was more than worth it! Produced by Ben de Vries, son of producer and soundtrack composer Marius de Vries, Gold In A Brass Age – Gray’s first album of new material in four years – will arrive just ahead of a run of 17 headline shows across the UK and Ireland. Dates in Cardiff, Cambridge, Dublin, London and York are already sold-out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fleur East, Favourite Thing

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: FLEUR EASTFAVOURITE THING: Fresh from her triumphant stint in the jungle on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Fleur [almost inevitably] kicks off the new year in vigorous style with Favourite Thing. Written by Fleur herself with Phil Plested and Dayo Olatunji, and produced by Red Triangle, the track is a lively fusion of dance beats, tribal drums and African chants, all held together with an indelible melody. It’s a power pop anthem that’s destined to make a big splash at the start of the year, complete with sexually charged lyrics about touching her body and sending her into ecstasy. The electronics are sharp and bouncy, as are the beats, while the sassy vocals have that Beyonce/Pink kind of vibe that ensure you’ll be taking notice. The video, too, is eye-catching. Fleur commented: “The song has influences from my mother’s side of my family in Ghana. My mum has always made sure I know a lot about my heritage. It’s really anthemic and upbeat. I’m so grateful to be starting 2019 in the position I’m in. I really feel like people got to see the real me in the jungle. I’m so much stronger as a person now and I’m really happy with my new music.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis

RHYS LEWISBETTER THAN TODAY: 2018 was certainly a whirlwind year for London-based singer Rhys Lewis. With his music reaching an ever-growing global fanbase, his music has become known for dissecting his own experiences with an impressive honesty and bravery making it irresistible to listeners worldwide. He looks to kickstart the New Year by building on that momentum with the release of impressive new single Better Than Today. A New Year’s resolution of sorts, the song is an empowering piano-based ballad that finds Lewis once more tapping into an everyman vibe that is ridiculously easy to relate to, courtesy of lyrics such as “because we’re all reaching for something, we’re all craving change, hoping tomorrow, tomorrow is better than today”. It’s a ballad with real emotional depth and meaning… and a fine start to 2019 for Lewis. Speaking of the new track, Rhys said: “We’ve been living through some pretty turbulent times in recent years. I wrote this song to ease my anxiety about the state of the world and remind myself that, whatever our differences are, whatever we choose to believe in, we all live with the same good intentions common, and we’re all hoping for a better tomorrow.” Fingers crossed…
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ian Brown, From Chaos to Harmony

IAN BROWNFROM CHAOS TO HARMONY: Ian Brown has released his new single, From Chaos To Harmony, the latest track to come from his highly-anticipated upcoming album, Ripples, which is released on February 1, 2019. Marked by the wah-wah guitar that permeates throughout, this is something of a departure from the more trademark Brown sound. Sure, his vocals remain as distinct and laidback as ever. But the wah-wah sound is something new, while there’s a psychedelic element that makes this even more laidback than normal, minus the usual backing beat (which has become a hallmark). There’s even a bluesy vibe at times. You could even make a case for saying this is as close to emulating the late David Bowie as Brown can get, complete with a mid-track change of pace, which – like the title suggests – elevates the track from something dark to more optimistic and playful. Ian produced the album, Ripples, and wrote the majority of the tracks, as well as playing guitar, drums and a host of other instruments. Three of the songs were co-written with his sons, who also feature on various instruments on the new record.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lizzo, Juice

LIZZOJUICE: Born in Houston and raised in Detroit, Lizzo adopted her moniker in 2011 and fronted Lizzo and the Larva Ink after moving to Minneapolis. Her work began to intertwine with the city’s indie scene, allowing her to work with artists like Gayngs and Doomtree. She returns with new single Juice and aims to bring a lively disco-soul-pop anthem to kick off the New Year in energetic fashion. But while certainly lively, the track is only partially successful. The disco-soul vibe has a nice retro feel to it… but therein lies the problem. The track has a feeling of over-familiarity without necessarily doing anything new. Hence, while fun while it lasts (and in limited doses), this is just as quickly forgotten.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Oh Land, Human Error

OH LANDHUMAN ERROR (LIVE ACOUSTIC): Danish star Oh Land has put her new track Human Error online and announced a new album, Family Tree, out May 3. To accompany the track, she has also released a live acoustic version of the track on YouTube and showcases just how great the track is in stripped back form. Accompanied by a bittersweet, autumnal piano, this is delicately delivered with Oh Land’s fine vocals to the fore. It enables the lyrics to really stand out, as she unveils a heartbreaking tale of human error and learning (“my baby doesn’t know the rules, he’ll grow up missing me…”). Oh Land – the stage name of Danish composer Nanna Øland Fabricius – said of the album: “Since the release of my latest album, I’ve experienced the biggest ups and downs of my private life. Everything I’d been working on musically suddenly seemed unimportant and irrelevant to the new life I had to slowly piece together. So, I ditched all the songs and recordings I had done and started writing from the uncertainty of where I was.” It was during that period that Nanna had a baby, moved back to Denmark after living in NYC for 10 years, and got a divorce all in the span of 18 months. Produced by Thomas Bartlett (St. Vincent, Florence & the Machine, The National), Human Error is the first single from Oh Land’s new studio album, Family Tree, which unlike Oh Land’s earlier work, is being described as a deeply intimate album. On the evidence so far, it will be a compelling listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

Cigarettes After Sex, Neon Moon

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CIGARETTES AFTER SEXNEON MOON: Ambient American pop trio Cigarettes After Sex have dropped a doozy of a single ahead of Christmas. Neon Moon may not evoke the spirit of Christmas, but it does have a cold winter night feel to it. Dripping with lush, hushed beats, subtle guitar and electronic riffs, and a gentle central vocal from Greg Gonzalez, this dazzles by virtue of its easygoing beauty. The central line of “and I’ll be alright, as long as there’s light from a neon moon” also brings a reassuring quality to the record, which neatly offsets some of the early uncertainty to be found in the lyrics. But overall, there’s a hypnotic beauty to the single, which combines a cinematic majesty with something utterly beguiling and enchanting. If you’re a fan of Cigarettes After Sex already, then this is the perfect Christmas gift from them. If not, then you might just become one after hearing this. It’s a song to take you through winter in a good way. We can’t wait to hear more from them on this type of form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Raconteurs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE RACONTEURSNOW THAT YOU’RE GONE: Rock fans delight! The Raconteurs – aka Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler – are back with the release of their first new music in more than 10 years… or rather, two new songs. The first of those is Now That You’re Gone and it’s a belter. Featuring Brendan Benson on lead vocals, this adopts a classic rock approach with its gutsy, distinct guitars, bouncing piano loops and melodic chorus. There’s a very definite sense of melancholy in the lyrics (which reflect on a desperate life ‘now that you’re gone’), but the instrumentals help breathe a sense of life into the despair. The guitars, as you would expect, exhilarate – albeit quietly. They’re reigned in but they’re distinct and given plenty of room to breathe. There’s a throbbing bass at times, too, which raises the excitement levels, while some of the piano arrangements have a bounce and energy that invokes the spirit of Motown. But part of the track’s appeal lies in its ability to reference classic songwriting values while bringing its own sensibilities, Raconteurs-style, and a contemporary edge.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gaspar Narby

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: GASPAR NARBY feat D.A.N. – SIGHT: Following on from the release of single Words of July, featuring British singer LEES, the London-based, Swiss producer Gaspar Narby has now unveiled his A Stare Makes Two EP. This is accompanied by the single Sight, a great track that also boasts an eye-catching video. The video follows two people through the streets of New York, both going through the pain of heartbreak and surrounded by memories of their time together. One of the most poignant lines in Sight perfectly sums up the unpredictability of a broken heart: “You never let me in, so I let you go, then I cut you out, now the tables have turned, and the glass is all broke.” Speaking about the video, Gaspar explained: “The video was shot on 16mm by Theo Le Sourd, in Manhattan. I was really happy to work with the same director on all the videos for the EP, as he also made the video for Words of July. Just like D.A.N’s lyrics, it follows he shifting dynamic within a relationship. The regrets, the memories and the present all dance together in Theo’s take of the song.” The track itself is great, alive with beats, electronics and soulful, reflective vocals. There’s a falsetto feel to the vocals, which hang over the beats perfectly. The instrumentals, meanwhile, have that air of the cinematic about them [befitting the accompanying video], as well as the sort of layered beauty that artists such as Bonobo bring to their work. It’s seductive listening, beautifully conveyed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Celeste

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CELESTELATELY: Brighton-bred and now West London-based soul singer Celeste has shared the striking video for current single, Lately, which has been directed by rising photographer and filmmaker Sam Hiscox from an original concept by Celeste. She has described the track as the soundtrack to “overthinking relationships with money, boys, family and work, and not making the most of them,” and the video expands on this idea, cutting from a pensive, chain-smoking Celeste to arguing couples, seedy bars and faceless crowds. It’s genuinely worth seeing. The track, meanwhile, offers a delightful showcase of Celeste’s sultry singing style. Her voice is silky smooth, laidback and distinct, yet with hints of classic artists from Motown to Portishead via Amy Winehouse. The beats help with the Portishead comparison, especially when they kick in a little bit late on… but the darkness inherent in the lyrics is also comparable to both Portishead and Winehouse. There’s a wistful quality to this brooding track, which feels genuinely cinematic to boot. Celeste is very definitely an artist to watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Raconteurs

THE RACONTEURSSUNDAY DRIVER: The second new track from The Raconteurs features Jack White on lead vocals and has all the feel of a classic White track (from his White Stripes days) mixed with a classic rock track. There’s an edgy central guitar, which is stop-start, and an energetic central vocal that has all the livewire tendencies that White brings to his singing. There’s also a pretty kick-ass back-beat to ensure this is the livelier, rockier offering of the two. Just to keep listeners on their toes, there’s even a mid-track diversion into trippy, psychedelic territory to further evoke comparisons with the rock acts of yesteryear. But it does the song no harm, ensuring that it’s alive with invention and creativity. Guitar hounds, however, will certainly delight in the riff-making that takes place here, with several solo moments to savour. It’s a very welcome return from this act. Now That You’re Gone and Sunday Driver both stem from recent sessions for the long-awaited new Raconteurs LP, due for release sometime in 2019. On the evidence so far, we can’t wait to hear more!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rudimental, They Don't Care About Us

RUDIMENTAL feat MAVERICK SABRE & YEBBATHEY DON’T CARE ABOUT US: Rudimental have shared the latest taste of their hugely anticipated new studio album, Toast To Our Differences, teaming up with Maverick Sabre and hotly-tipped, star-on-the-rise YEBBA for the new track, They Don’t Care About Us. And for a song that boasts a title as sad as this, it’s a paradoxically laidback track. The ensuing track therefore combines trippy back-beats and woozy electronics with the soulful, sultry vocals of Grammy nominated, US vocalist YEBBA and the heartfelt, soulful rap balladry of Irish singer Sabre. The result is toe-tappingly effective… akin to a cool breeze on a hot day – and just as fleeting. It doesn’t linger for too long afterwards, in spite of the impassioned lyrics. The mix of vocals is effective, though, and adds to the feelgood vibe surrounding the forthcoming LP, which features a stellar, wide-ranging cast of guest vocalists from all over the world. The album is out on January 25 and the omens appear good.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Wet Dreams

WET DREAMSBAD BOY: The NME has described Wet Dreams as being like a cross between Motorhead and The Hives. The band itself hail from Oslo, Norway, and feature members of Death By Unga Bunga, FOAAAM and Warp Riders. The new single, Bad Boy, is a robust, in your face dose of lo-fi garage and addictive power-punk that refuses to let up for the duration of its two minutes and 40 seconds. Hence, it’s easy to see where the NME got the Motorhead reference from, especially in the crunching nature of the riffs. The garage sound comes from the vocals, which have a raw, scuzzy feel. But the relentless nature of the track makes it something of a niche record – for fans of the genre only. It’s giddy, for sure, and boasts some rollicking guitar solos towards the end. But it sometimes feels a little too excessive and punk for its own good.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Galantis, San Francisco

GALANTIS feat SOFIA CARSONSAN FRANCISCO: Galantis seem to be taking their musical cues from Chainsmokers. New single San Francisco has that same kind of EDM meets pop sensibility as the likes of Paris. There’s disco pop beats, female vocals from Sofia Carson and a bouncy, disposably catchy chorus that repeats the central lyric, “I know I won’t forget that night in San Francisco”. That said, it’s nowhere near as good as Chainsmokers at their best, largely because it feels so derivative. Hence, while you’ll probably be finger clicking along with the beats and nodding your head in appreciation to the chorus (and its accompanying upbeat trumpet fanfare), it’s got that overly familiar feel to it that suggests you’ve heard it done better somewhere before. It’ll doubtless go down a storm on the club scene this winter, though. And it does bring back warm memories of some of my own favourite nights in San Francisco.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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

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

Skinny Lister, The Story Is...

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: SKINNY LISTERTHE STORY IS…: With the cold dark nights closing ever tighter as the year draws toward the solstice, the soul-stirring chimes that lead Skinny’s sparkling latest single, The Story Is…, could well be the winter warmer you were looking for. The title-track of the band’s upcoming fourth studio album (out March 20191, , via Xtra Mile Recordings), The Story Is… sees the band poetically sing about love and loss with words that will surely tug at the heart strings during this timely season of reflection. Speaking about the track’s themes, Skinny Lister said: “Everyone has that someone or something, that to live without, would leave them incomplete. The Story Is… is an ode to this state of complete dependence. An over-dramatic declaration of love, addiction, obsession and surrender.” And true to those words, the song has a reflective, thought-provoking quality that resonates emotionally the instant you hear it. The guitar hooks, drums and chimes (not to mention the beautiful violin) have a winter warmer vibe that is tailor-made for this time of year, but which could well be appreciated at any other time too. It’s a beautifully composed offering from a band on top form. As with the rest of the upcoming long-player, The Story Is… was recorded, produced and mixed with the highly capable Barny Barnicott (Arctic Monkeys, The Enemy, The Temper Trap). In the deep, dark hours of one particular alcohol fuelled studio late night session, Barnicott introduced the band to an old piano and a set of pitched bells and tubes. Quickly striking upon the chiming soundscapes now available at their finger tips, the band began to get experimental with their electric guitars, uniquely marrying the two to create the entrancing, ethereal melody that defines the backdrop of this irresistible new single.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters, Goin' Harder

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: CRYSTAL FIGHTERS feat BOMBA ESTEREOGOINHARDER: Crystal Fighters have shared a new video for Goin’ Harder. It opens with frontman Bast Pringle being woken by his alarm clock, but a stir of his morning coffee unveils a hallucinatory vision full of surreal sights and dazzling delights. Utilising stop motion animation, video game imagery and kaleidoscopic flourishes, it takes in surreal visions, including fornicating unicorns and gargantuan snakes, and featuris Li from Bomba Estereo performing her verse. As soon as Bast achieves a state of nirvana, he re-awakens. It’s trippy and euphoric and totally mind-blowing stuff. The single finds Crystal Fighters and Estereo stirring up an exuberant concoction of influences: Latin America grooves, pure Basque energy, psychedelic pop and punchy electronic beats. The result has a crazy, celebratory feel that’s tailor-made to get the dancefloor buzzing. There’s a somewhat off-kilter, manic energy to the song at times, as the various influences collide in often spectacular fashion, but the song is also kept balanced by the keen sense of melody, the infectious ryhthm and the central chorus that’s made to be sung out loud. Commenting on the video, Bast said: “The song was originally inspired by the Hawaiian Indegenous practice of Ho’oponopono. This means that if there is a disagreement between two parties, a council is needed to resolve the issue through communication and dialogue. Ho’oponopono literally translates as “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me” and this is the attitude that both parties are encouraged to adopt. We thought this was a beautiful message, and couldn’t help but subvert it to make it more fitting in our eyes for the crazy modern world. Instead of Ho’oponopono, we’re ‘goin’ harder’. This is also the inspiration behind this very cool new video. Somewhere in the annals of our subconscious there is the possibility for anything, including extreme polarities: love/hate and war/pece. It’s about what we choose to feel on a conscious level and about what we cannot help but feel as we dream on a subconscious level. How much of the subconscious affects our decisions on a conscious level? How do we cultivate a peace-loving subconscious when we’re being bombarded with disharmony?”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Newton Faulkner

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: NEWTON FAULKNERWISH I COULD WAKE UP: It’s a very fond welcome back to Newton Faulkner, who has simultaneously released his new single, Wish I Could Wake Up, along with news of a Best Of LP (out March 2019) and a UK tour (including a date at London’s Palladium on April 24). The single offers a brilliant reminder that there is more to the commerciality of Christmas and that the best gift is often already part of our lives. And while it is officially a Christmas single, it avoids the schmaltz or trimmings of a traditional Christmas record, bar the odd chime. Rather, the folk-pop of classic Faulkner is alive and well, with robust acoustic guitars and handclap beats, as well as a keen sense of melody, enabling the song to transcend the time of year. It can be listened to all year round, with a message that’s equally important at all times of the year. Talking about the new track, Newton commented: “This song’s about wanting to wake up next to someone special at Christmas, and how that person can make any day, Christmas or not, seem so much better just by being there.” Commenting on the forthcoming hits compilation, Faulkner added: “The Best Of feels like a real milestone. I’m so proud of it as a body of work and the second disc was so much fun to make. I love the challenge of covering songs, which probably is reflected in my song choices. For people that have seen me live before, there are some old favourites and there’s also some tracks no one has ever heard me do.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: YOU ME AT SIXSTRAIGHT TO MY HEAD: Following their sold out UK tour, including three nights at London’s Brixton Academy, You Me At Six have revealed their first ever animated lyric video for new single Straight To My Head. Speaking of the inspirations behind the visual, director Peter Reeve explains: “We’ve been long time fans of both You Me at Six and Rick and Morty, so when we had the chance to bring the two together we of course jumped at it! We had a lot of fun creating this and bringing together ideas from the band and using imagery from their back catalogue to create a crazy animation.” The video is a whole lot of fun, while paying perfect homage to Rick and Morty too. The song itself is another power rock-pop anthem that’s shot through with lively riffs, skyscraping melodies and an anthemic chorus that’s tailor-made for being sung loud in concerts. What’s more, it combines a headrush quasi ’80s vibe with something that’s very typically You Me At Six. It’s a blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ian Brown, Black Roses

IAN BROWNBLACK ROSES: Former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown has released a second new track, Black Roses, which is taken from his highly-anticipated upcoming album, Ripples – his first solo material in nine years. The song is a cover of the 1983 track by Jamaican reggae and dancehall legend Barrington Levy. But the reggae elements are barely traceable. Rather, all the elements of a classic Brown cut are in place, thanks largely to the Monkeyman’s distinct vocals, but also because of the driving beats and guitar loops, which maintain an indie swagger (especially during the lively chorus). It’s a track that fans of the Stone Roses can easily get behind, even though it is a cover version rather than new material. Black Roses and previous single First World Problems precede the new album, Ripples, which is released on February 1, 2019. Brown produced the album, wrote the majority of the tracks, as well as playing guitar, drums and a host of other instruments. Three of the songs were co-written with his sons, who also feature on various instruments on the new record.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Fergus, Strangers In The Night

FERGUSSTRANGERS IN THE NIGHT: London-based singer-songwriter Fergus has released a hauntingly beautiful cover of Frank Sinatra classic, Strangers In The Night. The singer’s take on this iconic song is tinged with a deep longing and sadness that has become synonymous to the artist. A pristine pitch perfect vocal glides over delicate strings, as the track builds over brooding drum beats and a hypnotic backing vocal. The track was produced by, Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, The Libertines). The recording started out as part of an intricate marriage proposal Fergus was asked to be a part of. Fergus explained: “A supporter of my previous releases got in touch saying he was planning to propose and asked if I’d cover one of the songs that mean the most to him and his girlfriend. I said straight away “I’m doing Strangers. I just knew I could do something different with it. At the time, I really needed something to throw myself into, so I spent three days recording it on my sofa. I wanted to make something special for Mitch and Jess, of course, but really, I did it for a girl… I poured all my longing and devotion and sadness into it, and I liked it so much I took it to Jake to mix properly for release.” The result fully deserves that release. It’s haunting, yet beautiful, tapping into a sense of longing and affection that might get missed in Sinatra’s original. And it doesn’t even sound like a cover, such is the transformative nature of the song. Hence, it feels fresh and vital.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Papa Roach, Elevate

PAPA ROACHELEVATE: We kind of have a love and hate relationship with this single. On the one hand, we like the beats and electronics, which combine urgency with cinematic foreboding. We also rate the chorus, in which they sing “I need something to life me up, when I’m down”. It has a keen sense of melody, crossover appeal and the kind of vibe that Linkin Park pulled off so effortlessly with their last album. But it’s not content to stick to those things. There’s a rapped element that grates, as well as stop-start electronics and some warped sounds to break things up further. And they don’t work that well, disrupting the momentum of the track in general. It’s a shame, for there are moments when this sounded like it could become one of Papa Roach’s most popular tracks to date. The track is taken from the band’s new album, Who Do You Trust?
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Trapper Schoepp

TRAPPER SCHOEPPFREIGHT TRAIN: Originally written and performed in 1988 by San Francisco alt-rockers Sister Double Happiness, Freight Train powerfully chronicles the grim realities faced by those suffering with AIDS/HIV. Led by Wilco’s Patrick Sansone on piano, Schoepp and band become another link in this song’s chain. “It was passed along like a folk song while I was out on tour with the Jayhawks,” Schoepp says. “Guitarist Kraig Johnson showed me the two chords backstage and I took to it instantly. There’s an urgency in the lyrics that speaks to the pain of the epidemic. It’s a powerful perspective to sing from, someone in the throes of the illness.” That sense of urgency is given extra impetus by the guitars, which bring a classic rock n roll quality, and a genuinely thrilling instrumental backdrop. The lyrics, meanwhile, are delivered with all the pent-up fury and aggression that they suggest, amid lines like “I called mama, she said don’t come home, my friends shun me, I’m all alone, when they come at me, they put on the gloves”. It’s a rabble-rouser of a record with a potent social message about an epidemic that hasn’t gone away [unlike its headlines].
Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

Island, Just That Time of the Night

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ISLANDJUST THAT TIME OF THE NIGHT: Just That Time of the Night is the first piece of material to be taken from a forthcoming EP from four piece Island, which will be released early next year via Beatnik/Frenchkiss. The track ushers in a new direction for the band, maintaining the atmospheric undertones that resonated through their debut, but striving to take things to effortless new heights, harnessing their remarkable ability to transport you to a specific time and place through delicately balanced layers of instrumentation and powerhouse, emotive vocals. This is never more evident than in the soaring guitars, which have an epic, cinematic quality akin to classic Dave Gilmour, Clapton and Dire Straits. Vocally, there’s more of an alt-indie edge, however, with a cracked central vocal shot through with the emotion inherent within the thought-provoking lyrics. Speaking about the track, Island said: “Your night is winding down, everything is starting to feel a bit weird. Disconnected from your surroundings and the people around you. It’s just that time of the night.” The beauty of the track is that you can fill in the blanks for yourself, applying it to whatever mood takes you. Island also recently announced an intimate UK headline tour for February, which includes a night at Islington Assembly Hall, and comes in the wake of the band selling out KOKO earlier this year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Naughty Boy, Bungee Jumping

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: NAUGHTY BOY feat EMELI SANDE & RAHAT FATEH ALI KHANBUNGEE JUMPING: For a song whose origins stemmed from a game that Naughty and Emeli Sande played, where they attempted to write a song about the most random thing that came into their heads, Bungee Jumping is striking stuff. A musical departure from Naughty Boy that actually veers more into Bonobo territory, this is a world record that combines Pakistani influences with soft acoustic flourishes, gentle beats and serene vocals from Sande herself. It’s highly cinematic, effortlessly laidback and beautifully intoxicating, transporting you to a lovely state of bliss. Lyrically, it’s similarly intelligent, with Sande commenting on the risks inherent in falling in love, while co-singer Rahat attempt to strike a balance by offering up his own thoughts on the eternal power and emotional commitment needed to be in love. It’s the type of record that, for all of its lofty lyrical ambition, can strike a chord with listeners across musical genres, making this another surefire success for Naughty Boy, that could well broaden his appeal.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Paul Weller

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: PAUL WELLERBOWIE: Paul Weller touchingly plays tribute to the late, great David Bowie on his latest single, the aptly named Bowie. Taken from his critically-acclaimed LP True Meanings, which offers a lot of musings on life and death, the song is both a reflective piece on the nature of life, as well as a tipping of the hat to an artist he has long admired – despite the fact the two were involved in something of a fedud for years. It was resolved, of course, with Weller admitting that Ziggy Stardust was one of his favourite LPs. The song is principally an acoustic ballad, softly delivered, with intricate string arrangements woven throughout. Weller’s vocals, meanwhile, take on a reflective quality, while sometimes sounding Bowie-esque. While there are also harmonic nods to the kind of notes Bowie would often hit. It’s a classy piece of work, boasting a similarly affecting video, featuring Martin Freeman.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chelou, Out of Sight

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CHELOUOUT OF SIGHT: Chelou has unveiled another impressively mind-altering video today for new single Out of Sight, which is also excellent. This new video is the work of Los Angeles artist Robin Eisenberg, known for her luminescent astro-femmes and intergalactic backdrops. Along with animator Kris Baldwin, Eisenberg sends our heroine on a journey through a trippy outer space cityscape, a Star Wars Cantina-like bar scene, and a heart-pounding high-speed finale. It’s mesmerising, electrifying stuff. And the song taps into Chelou’s penchant for combining loopy guitars, intricate beats and trippy vocals into something effortlessly laidback and enjoyable. There’s a cinematic quality to the way the track unfolds, too, building in momentum in the same way that the video does. Hence, while the start is beautifully trippy, the heightened sense of energy it generates come the end makes for a thrilling sonic ride. Put together with the video, it’s a striking piece of work. Written during a time of uncertainty following the untimely departure of his drummer, Chelou says the song “sums up where I was at the time….” “I’m trying to get going but I already see that I’m done,” he adds. “Despite this, the song has an overall sentiment of hope at the end – despite my running and feeling of disillusion there was always hope.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ten Tonnes, Better Than Me

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: TEN TONNESBETTER THAN ME: Ten Tonnes continues to build anticipation of his self-titled debut album, out next April, by sharing the video for the belting new track Better Than Me. And while it’s just a playful look at the act performing the song, complete with focus on the drums and guitars that make the instrumentals so bouncy, it’s a good enough reason to endorse the song as another video/single of the week offering. The song itself just gets better and better, the more you hear it. Contrasting dark, tongue-in-cheek lyrics with uplifting energy and an immediately insistent hook, Better Than Me adds another dimension to Ten Tonnes’ growing catalogue of modern indie anthems. One of the last songs to be written (with former Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson) for the album, Ten Tonnes recorded the track with producer Dan Grech (Wolf Alice, The Killers, Liam Gallagher). The result is pure music magic… an indie rock gem to rival early Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs or Jake Bugg. The chorus, in particular, is deliciously vibrant, boasting geniuine sing-along appeal (“you’re doing better, better, better than me”), while the guitar hooks are short, sharp, simple and disarmingly effective. It’s a celebratory track – and one that will definitely heighten awareness of and raise expectation towards the forthcoming LP. Commenting on the song himself, Ten Tonnes – aka Ethan Barnett – said: “This was written in one of the last sessions for the record and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It was really fun to write and it came together really quickly. When we got to recording it I played all the instruments (excluding drums) as this is how I always used to make my records. It was lovely getting back to that way of recording and piecing the track together. I’m chuffed with the outcome, I can’t wait to get out and play it live everywhere.”.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liimo

LIIMOPINEAPPLE RADIO: Indie pop trio Liimo release their catchy new single Pineapple Radio and succeed in getting themselves noticed. The group bonded over their mutual love of thoroughly modern pop stars, such as US R’n‘B act Khalid, pop sensations Nay and Drake’s sultry protege Majid Jordan. But while there are elements of those here, there’s also a soft pop focus to the electronic sound that could also hark back to ’80s pop culture. And that’s no bad thing. The chorus, too, is tailor-made for singing along with hook-laden lyrics such as “all these upper class things and their porn star names, yeah they’re putting me to shame” [never mind the astute social observation!]. Commenting on the track and their inspirations, Liimo said: “There needs to be a whole vibe and belief in what you’re doing but that spans more than music, it’s about the aesthetic, how you act, what you say, everything.” On the track itself, they add: “It’s one of the most honest tracks that we’ve written and we can’t wait to get it out there. The song is about withdrawing from the highs for a little dose of what really matters.” It’s a striking release from the Edinburgh outfit.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Palace, No Other

PALACE – NO OTHER: London based three-piece Palace have released their new single No Other, a love letter lead singer Leo Wyndham wrote about finding love during a dark time in his life, and the hope he found from it. He explained: “No Other is about being rescued by someone at a terrible time I once went through. When all felt lost and hope had faded – love prevailed and I found someone incomparable to anyone – during a dark time in my life. It’s hopeful, blissed out and feels like new life.” The blissed out sound is evident in the guitar riffs, which have an echoed, almost psychedelic feel to them, akin to mainstream Pink Floyd with a touch of the art-rock of Interpol thrown in. The vocals, too, have a hazy quality to them, occasionally expanding into falsetto territory, especially late on as the guitars become more pronounced. It’s a beautiful effort. What’s more, it makes it easy to see why Palace are growing in stature as a UK band, with a UK tour next February already almost sold out (including a sold out night at Village Underground in London). Leo Wyndham, Matt Hodges and Rupert Turner have been friends since they were thirteen and released their acclaimed debut EP Lost In The Night in 2014, followed by the Chase The Light EP the following year and their debut album, So Long Forever, in 2016. The strength of those releases saw their fanbase steadily grow, leading to extensive touring, ever-larger festival slots and culminating in a sold-out UK headline tour, including London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The band have since been busy writing and recording new music at their own studio in Tottenham, North London.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Blossoms

BLOSSOMSWONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME: Blossoms have released a cover of Paul McCartney’s classic, 1979 hit Wonderful Christmastime. The cover is available to listen to on streaming platforms now. The band have made an accompanying Christmas comic strip and will reveal a new piece of it each day on their Instagram page. The song itself is as straightforward a cover as you can get, complete with the original organ sound (although the guitar solo is admirably different and perhaps the best bit!). Even vocally, Blossoms have managed to channel the youthful joy and energy of McCartney in his prime. Admittedly, it’s one of the more tolerable Christmas anthems that get played over and over this time of year, while the retro values are a nice touch. It would be a fun game to put each track alongside each other and hear if you can tell the difference. Blossoms are currently on a sold-out December 2018 UK tour, which will see them play their biggest London show to date at Brixton Academy next Thursday, December 13. The band recently announced that they will headline Stockport County’s Edgeley Park Stadium on June 22, 2019. Tickets for the hometown show sold out in half an hour.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 30, 2018

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

Future Animals

SINGLE OF THE WEEK/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: FUTURE ANIMALSCRAZY LOVE: Three-time Grammy nominated Danish duo Future Animals release their new single and video for Crazy Love – and impress visually and sonically. Their soulful second single Crazy Love was co-written alongside their friends and frequent collaborators, JLM and Lukas Graham, and features a soulful central vocal set against Motown-inspired backing singers, guitar licks and pianos. The song boasts a nicely retro quality that immediately helps to endear it to the listener. But there’s a contemporary edge, too, which makes this tailor-made to appeal to those that like their songs to feel modern as well. It’s an addictive, heartfelt listen (an impassioned lament on a lost love) that gets better the more you hear it. The video, too, is a gem, drawing the viewer into a story of romance and heartbreak between Mani Love, of the Harlem Globetrotters, and Freakabritt, a dancer known for performing with Miley Cyrus and going viral with her take on the In My Feelings dance challenge. Crazy Love follows on from their huge first release Ask For It – the duo have amassed a long list of writing and producing credits including 7 Years by Lukas Graham, Heaven by Julia Michaels (from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack), as well as work with Hailee Steinfeld, Aloe Blacc, DJ Mustard, Leona Lewis and David Guetta. It’s good that they now have the spotlight on themselves.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Porno!, Give It Again

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: PORNO! – GIVE IT AGAIN: Indie rock ‘n’ psych group Porno! arrive with their debut release, the eclectic Give It Again. Boasting an intoxicating blend of cool, Hendrix inspired guitar solos, funky fuzz and trippy falsetto vocals, this is the kind of track that looks set to garner cult cool appeal. And by that we mean, it’ll probably be the kind of song that gradually finds a huge listener base, much like the kind of thing that happened to fellow funky act The Heavy. Indeed, there’s a big comparison to be made with The Heavy here, with the distinct, shape-shiting vocals, the funky vibe and that almost effortless invoking of cool. PORNO! the band is a manifestation of all the excess energy that the music industry has cut-short. Band members Jack, Matt, Amy and Zach are all children of previous projects Grace Gillespie (Kaleidoscope), Pixx (4AD) and The Shakers (Infinity Cactus Records). Frustrated where they have been confined to genre and encouraged to adapt and trim their music, they have taken the overflowing, sprawling, wild and unwanted excess and forged it into PORNO!, a forbidden, frustrated and untameable escapee of the industry’s heavy hand. On the evidence so far, we’re hooked.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Speight, Strangers Now

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: TOM SPEIGHTSTRANGERS NOW: London-based artist Tom Speight has released Strangers Now as the third track taken from his forthcoming album, released in Spring 2019. Co-written with Lisa Hannigan, Strangers Now is being hailed as one of Tom’s most confident songs to date. The strong hook brings beauty to the dense foundations of the rhythm section and once again the amazing vocals of Lydia Clowes blend beautifully with Tom’s. It’s got a great rhythm section, a strong boy-girl harmony and vocal contrast, a lively chorus and a cinematic feel that makes it ripe for pick-up on some soundtrack soon. It’s also a rousing ballad in its own right, tapping into a complex mix of emotions that make for a heady brew. On the track, Tom explained: “Strangers Now is the second lead single to be taken from my debut album. I’ve experienced my fair share of failed relationships and broken homes, the song was essentially born out the feeling of a relationship at its bitter end.” It may be born from pain, but it’s a beautifully striking record, complete with a great guitar and hammond organ instrumental that’s steeped in classic songwriting qualities.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Koalas, Sandcastles

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: KOALASSANDCASTLES: Synth-pop band Koalas have unveiled a new visual for current track, Sandcastles, a post-summer anthem that serves as a metaphor for what the Manchester duo of Samuel Jones and Rachel Waters might do come the final countdown. Sam explains: “Sandcastles was written as a reaction to a particularly bleak news day, I think it was around the time of the Salisbury poisonings. The song is about the dissonance we experience between our every day lives and the disturbing world events happening around us, the prevailing feeling that everything is a lot more stable than it really is. When discussing with the director the meaning of the song and it’s influences we looked at 1980’s Cold War imagery and in particular the pamphlet ‘Protect and Survive’; a government guide on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. The guidelines themselves are extremely ineffectual, and portrayed in the particularly depressing graphic novel/film When The Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs, which I remember watching when I was younger. In the video, Rachel and I attempt to survive the oncoming nuclear annihilation whilst dreaming of a better way to spend those last hours. The living room doors leant up against the wall is something people might recognise from the film, an almost laughable measure.” The video is certainly striking, while the song itself [and its themes] are deeply thought-provoking. And yet the synth-pop element keeps it highly radio friendly, with ’80s leaning electronic cascades mixing with the type of electronic loops that Pet Shop Boys or New Order would be proud of. The boy-girl vocals also provide a nice contrast to each other, contributing to a lively chorus. It’s a song with meaning that can also be really enjoyed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charlene Soraia, Temptation

CHARLENE SORAIATEMPTATION: Temptation is the penultimate release from Charlene Soraia’s forthcoming Where’s My Tribe album, which is due for release January 25, 2019. The impassioned yet sombre song was written about the resistance and confusion of unrequited attraction. The resistance of Temptation meets realisation in another album single, Now You Are With Her. “I see them as two sides of the same coin,” Charlene says of the songs. “Temptation being the build-up of tension for this never-to-be relationship and Now You are With Her as a forlorn reverie as two people return to the lives they drifted from.” Soraia’s agile and richly melodic vocals over feverish guitar recall Laura Marling’s early records, while her timbre channels glimpses of Fiona Apple. There’s a sincerity, too, in the lyrics, which make the song all the more poignant. The brisk acoustic guitar licks are disarmingly simple, yet completely striking, while Soraia’s scorched, sultry vocals combine passion and heartbreak in mesmerising fashion. Adds Soraia: “This song, and most of the album, feels like it comes from this bittersweet knife-edge and I dedicate Temptation to anyone who has mistaken someone’s general demeanour and acts of kindness.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Josh Beech

JOSH BEECH – NO TROUBLE: Josh Beech, a singer from Bromley, south London and now based in LA, unveils his new track, No Trouble, and impresses. Backed up by some thrilling instrumentals (comprised of beats and electronics), this also showcases an impressive set of vocals from Beech that build to an anthemic, powerhouse chorus. But there’s an indie spirit to offset the melodic nature of the chorus, too, that bring an urgency and edge that’s welcome. Josh says of the track: “I’m really happy to finally share some new music, it feels like it’s been forever since I released any music under my own name and it’s felt weird not putting out any new songs for so long! No Trouble is my first solo release in over three years and it’s a slight departure from my normal solo material. There isn’t any folky guitar in No Trouble for a start and this song is also my first solo recording that’s not a solo! No Trouble was a writing collaboration between myself, brothers James and Joe Dzuris and Brent Kutzle (One Republic).” The wait and change of style is most definitely worth it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jax Jones and Years & Years

JAX JONES AND YEARS & YEARSPLAY: Fresh off the back of incredible years for both acts – BRIT-nominated artist, producer, DJ and songwriter Jax Jones has partnered with Years & Years to deliver Play, a mainstream hit single-in-waiting. 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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Cousin Kula

COUSIN KULAJELLY LOVE: Psych-pop six-piece Cousin Kula have released a new single entitled Jelly Love, which marks the band’s first new material since the release their debut EP, OODLES. The track finds Cousin Kula building on their reputation for smooth basslines topped with heady, swirling synths, while trying to introduce a more sing-along chorus that’s designed to elevate Jelly Love into into a sophisticated yet still innately chilled-out offering. Whether the sing-along element has been achieved is debatable, but there’s a distinct quality to the track that makes it standout nevertheless. This is underlined by the ghostly synth sound, and the washed out (and yes, ghostly) vocals, which lend the track a hypnotic effect. It remains chilled out, too, making it easy to kick back with. And while the track is still a more acquired taste, that’s no bad thing, as it helps Cousin Kula stand out from the crowd. Speaking about the writing of the song, the band share: “It developed very quickly, largely out of a single jam which is quite rare for us. Jelly Love captures the energy of that particular moment in time, more so than some of our other tunes that have gradually evolved, and can often take several months to fully emerge. The groove and the lyrics came out together – Doug played some silky chords and Elliot just sang what felt right. Overall, the whole way this tune was written and the feel it captures symbolises a really positive moment in time for us.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Odette

ODETTE feat GRETTA RAY – A PLACE THAT I DON’T KNOW: Australian singer-songwriter Odette ends the year with spellbinding new single A Place That I Don’t Know, featuring fellow Aussie songstress, Gretta Ray. The new single follows on from her stunning tracks Lotus Eaters and Take It To The Heart – all of which have been lifted from Odette’s upcoming debut album, To A Stranger, which is out early next year. The song is a delicate piano-backed ballad that places the greater part of its emphasis on Odette’s sublime vocals. There’s a hushed, fragile quality to them that really brings out the emotions in the lyrics, which speak of emotional confusion. Odette provides a compelling vocal presence that is genuinely sincere and endearing. Ray, too, works well in tandem with her, making the combined force genuinely powerful. The instrumentals do slowly built in stature, too, with the piano eventually being augmented by beats and electronic arrangements, as well as a brass-like vibe, that only add to the overall power and cinematic nature of the song. A Place That I Don’t Know is another Odette track to be impressed by.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 23, 2018

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

A$AP Rocky, Sundress

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: A$AP ROCKYSUNDRESS: If there’s one producer we’re always keen to hear more from, it’s Danger Mouse. He has an ear for quality. As if to underline this point, Danger Mouse has co-produced A$ap Rocky’s new offering, Sundress, and duly applies the same level of quality. The track, which cleverly samples the Tame Impala song Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?, has a jaw-droppingly cool back-beat, some soulful falsetto vocals and a knowing sense of cool. And while it does have the hip-hop elements that are synonymous with A$ap Rocky, it also reaches beyond that genre to boast genuine crossover appeal. But therein lies the magic of Danger Mouse… he has that ability to transform hip-hop into something more mainstream and radio friendly. Here, there’s a rapped line or two, but there’s also soulful sung vocals and playful beats and electronics that combine to create something genuinely feel-good. Your toes will be tapping along in no time at all. And at three seconds shy of three minnutes in length, this is a song that leaves you thirsting for more, rather than outstaying its welcome.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Weezer, Can't Knock The Hustle

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: WEEZERZOMBIE BASTARDS: Not too many bands could turn a song entitled Zombie Bastards into something kookily endearing. I mean, with a name like that you’d expect foreboding atmosphere or brain-blasting death metal. Weezer, though, have laid down a hip-hop infused back-beat, some finger plucked guitar licks and an outrageously laidback vocal from hipster vocalist Rivers Cuomo. Hence, while the chorus pleads “die, die, you zombie bastards”, the sound invites you to want to hang out, tap your toes and nod your head along in a slacker-style appreciation. It’s the second cut to emerge from the band’s forthcoming Black Album, which in Cuomo’s own words, is intended to sound as “the Beach Boys gone bad”. And while the instrumentals don’t necessarily come across that way, the bad boy lyrics do. It’s playfully dark, complete with more bad language… but it doesn’t stray too far away from the Weezer sound and should be a blast for anyone who stumbles across it. One could almost describe it as ‘dead catchy’ [get it?].
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Weezer, Can't Knock The Hustle

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: WEEZERCAN’T KNOCK THE HUSTLE: Weezer’s Can’t Knock The Hustle may not be their very best work but it’s a real grower – and comes complete with a kick-ass video. A lively offering, it incorporates Hispanic and Spanish elements, courtesy of funky stabs of brass, as well as some livewire guitar riffs. But it also has a smooth groove vibe that manifests itself in the slick, hip-hpo infused beats and the lively vocals, which pop things up from their more common slacker sound. There’s also a bad boy vibe surrounding the lyrics, which drop the odd F-bomb, some choice Spanish terms and an ‘I don’t give a damn attitude’. It’s actually a romp of a record. And the video is a hoot too, featuring Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz as Rivers Wentz, a put-upon cab driver who has, quite literally, picked up the tab from hell (two lovers who begin their journey by slobbering all over each other before falling out violently). It’s a useful change of direction by Weezer, which mixes up the sound of their last Pacific Daydream LP into something more adventurous on their forthcoming Black Album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975, Sincerity Is Scary

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: THE 1975 – SINCERITY IS SCARY: The 1975 have debuted the video for their recent single Sincerity Is Scary – and it’s worth the wait. Directed by Warren Fu (Daft Punk, The Weeknd, The Strokes), the video follows a young man wearing earphones as he makes his way along a street and reacts to the beats and lyrics contained in the song. Around him, meanwhile, are all manner of passers-by, some of whom break into dance, others who complete a brass band. It reminded me of the classic Joseph Gordon-Levitt moment in (500) Days of Summer, with added surreal elements (especially when a black and white character enters the fray and starts being watered). The fourth track to be taken from The 1975’s new album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, it is perhaps the most experimental too… as well as their most sincere. Featuring lyrics that question “why can’t we be friends, when we are lovers?”, this takes a deep probe into the nature of relationships that almost sounds as if it’s coming from a place of hurt [if not confusion]. Singer Matt Healy is at his most vulnerable here, and it’s endearing – if lacking in the urgency of Give Yourself A Try or potency of Love It If We Made It. Rather, the instrumentals here are more jazzy than indie or alternative. For starters, the guitars are absent, replaced instead by brass, piano and dragging beats. And like all classic jazz, there’s a shuffled sense of doing its own thing… hence the quasi experimental vibe. Heck, there’s even a gospel tinge to some of the latter choruses. It’s a class act.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Joanna Serrat

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: JOANA SERRATUNNAMED: Joana Serrat has shared a striking new video for her current single Unnamed. Filmed in Spain’s Sierra del Segura, it was directed by José Hortelano with the Murcian production company Dr Terociva – and it has a surreal, almost ethereal quality that is nicely in keeping with the sedate, dreamy nature of the acoustic-driven song itself. That ethereal element is never more evident than when the song reaches three quarters of the way in, as Serrat (or someone) stands in a field as tiny rocks spin around her. It’s almost alien. But at other times, Hortelano is content to let the striking natural beauty of the region, as well as the sunlight, take centre stage. The video has a genuinely calming, hypnotic vibe. The song itself is also good too. It’s a laidback, thoughtful slice of folk-pop that finds Serrat dropping some soothing vocals over heartfelt lyrics. The guitar work is exemplary, especially during the instrumental that indulges it for some time and even plugs things in. Joana reckons Unnamed is her best song yet – and she might be right. Commenting on the track and its accompanying video, she said: “I love the environment and the dynamics of production, the sound grows and widens and draws a great horizon and landscape for the listener. The lyrics talk of resurgence in a dark world, of redemption, of how the feeling of loneliness is capable of drowning you and of the need to flee, to escape from those deep nebulae.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lydia Evangline

LYDIA EVANGELINEDOWN: Lydia Evangeline’s fourth solo record, Down, is an appealing slice of dark synth-pop that genuinely comes alive during its chorus. Hailed as her grittiest offering to date (in the wake of Coldest Shadow, Get Over You and T.R.US.T.), this combines swirling electronics with a darker buzz, as well as brooding but subtle back-beats and impassioned vocals. Once that chorus lands, it delivers a heady mix. The accompanying video is well worth a look too. Lydia explained: “I wanted the visuals to reflect the metaphoric nature of the lyrics in the song – it’s a song about trying to escape from a bad relationship but always being sucked back in, a feeling I likened to drowning in the lyrics. I also wanted the surrounding scene to be an abandoned party – you’ll see champagne flutes, bunting, flamingo glasses and floats… all things that would trick you into thinking you were part of something good, something fun. But once they’re ruined and abandoned, the scene is just left looking pretty sad and eerie.” Evangeline is clearly someone to keep an ear and eye on.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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RuthAnne

RUTHANNE – IT IS WHAT IT IS: RuthAnne’s soulful, heart-rending piano ballad It Is What It Is showcases a singer at the peak of her power, vocally. Delivered with one voice and one piano, in heart-on-sleeve, intimate fashion, this combines smoky vocals with tender piano arrangements to convey the emotional complexity at the heart of the song. Explains RuthAnne: “The song is a bittersweet acceptance about a relatable relationship issue… you know, the ‘I’ll be the one that changes him’ thing. The truth is, that when someone wants to be in a relationship with you, they WILL be happily with you regardless of timing or circumstance… It Is What It Is is about me finally taking the power back and saying to a certain person that I deserve more. I stuck by my words and never went there again.” The ensuing song is as sad as it is empowering. But the lyrics do resonate, featuring lines like “like Romeo & Juliet… star-crossed but not dead yet” and “we can’t move on when there’s mountains in our way, I want you so badly but you know that I can’t stay”. RuthAnne is a striking ballad singer and this song could well be gracing a soundtrack soon.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Clean Cut Kid, Deafening

CLEAN CUT KIDDEAFENING: Fresh off the back of their comeback EP Painkiller, featuring leaf single Emily (which picked up radio support from Radio 1, 6Music, Radio X and Virgin Radio), Clean Cut Kid have dropped another new track in the form of the volatile Deafening. Showcasing a more harder-edged rock sound to the EP that took its cue from ’70s West Coast American music, Deafening sees a stomping drum beat and fuzzy guitar riff combine to soaring effect, a further move away from the indie-pop of debut album Felt last year. If you think of a cross between The White Stripes and 70s psychedelic rock, then you might get close. It’s ballsy, attention-grabbing stuff. Speaking of the song, Mike said: “Deafening was written at a point in the band’s lives when the damaging effects of interfering voices were weighing heavy on our creativity. It’s about the ever present battle between artist and industry, and the frustration of being caught up in record label politics.” Consider the point very well made!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Rudimental/Rita Ora

RUDIMENTAL & RITA ORASUMMER LOVE: Rudimental continue to impress with their latest offering, the late summer anthem in waiting Summer Love, a collaboration with Rita Ora. The fifth single to be released from Rudimental’s Toast To Our Differences LP (as well as Ora’s Phoenix), this combines the R’n‘B elements of a classic Ora cut with the drum n bass leaning, dance-pop of Rudimental’s signature sound. It’s a lively, vibrant offering that could well offer some sunshine positivity to these colder autumnal days. The beats are slick and urgent, the electronics warm and friendly, and Ora’s vocals as compelling and assured as ever. It’s a really positive mix of styles that showcases just how Rudimental have been able to mix things up and become more and more commercial, without turning their back on their roots. It’s sure to become a big dance anthem for the coming months.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Oh Brother

OH BROTHERWHAT’S THE POINT: “You’ve been hanging around with all the wrong people, you’ve been f**king around with all the wrong guys”… so sing Oh Brother over the chorus of their livewire new single, What’s the Point. Having made their live debut at All Points East festival earlier in the year, when they succeeded in turning heads, the band now drop this lively, even incendiary offering that delivers a keen mix of edgy rock and radio-friendly pop. It’s fuelled by some brilliant guitar work, which works in tandem with those edgy lyrics that don’t mind dropping an offensive F-bomb or three. Hence, while the lyricism probably excludes it from being heard on the radio, it’s the type of track that could benefit from growing word of mouth, thereby cementing Oh Brother’s burgeoning status as a new act to watch. Singer Jake says of the track: “This song tells the tale of a young man in love with a girl who, sadly, seems to make consistently bad choices. He doesn’t know quite how to tell her – so what does he do? He writes a song about it, of course!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 16, 2018

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

Balthazar, Entertainment

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BALTHAZARENTERTAINMENT: Having previously announced details of their forthcoming albuM, Fever, out January 25, 2019, on Play It Again Sam, Balthazar have also shared the video for new track Entertainment. And in keeping with their Beck-like vibe, the track itself drops a funky back-beat, some dope vocals and typically intelligent lyricism. What’s more, it mixes things up throughout. For while the early moments of the song are all about the beat and the bass guitar strums (as well as a harmonic nod to classic Rolling Stones), the chorus unfolds into a brass-backed fanfare, which only heightens the funkiness and coolness of the song as a whole. And if that weren’t enough, the second verse also unleashes a strings crescendo, which adds a cinematic layering to proceedings. It’s a lively, continually evolving song that underlines Balthazar’s versatility and sense of adventure. Caught in live performance, the video features new band member Tijs Delbeke, who replaces the outgoing Patricia Vanneste, and perfectly represents the infectious vibe and upbeat playfulness of the song. Featuring Jinte Deprez on lead vocals, ably partnered on harmonies by Maarten Devoldere, they explain: “Entertainment was written at the end of the album recordings as one of the last songs, functioning as the loose uplifting tune celebrating a carefree take in an entertainment business. We wrote an ambitious album but tried not to take ourselves too seriously, sure it’s an outspoken singalong chorus, but there’s a rambling playfulness to it which we love.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ten Tonnes, Better Than Me

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: TEN TONNESBETTER THAN ME: Quickly building on the news that his self-titled debut album will be released on April 5, 2019, Ten Tonnes continues to build anticipation by sharing the new track Better Than Me – and true to form, it’s a belter. Contrasting dark, tongue-in-cheek lyrics with uplifting energy and an immediately insistent hook, Better Than Me adds another dimension to Ten Tonnes’ growing catalogue of modern indie anthems. One of the last songs to be written (with former Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson) for the album, Ten Tonnes recorded the track with producer Dan Grech (Wolf Alice, The Killers, Liam Gallagher). The result is pure music magic… an indie rock gem to rival early Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs or Jake Bugg. The chorus, in particular, is deliciously vibrant, boasting geniuine sing-along appeal (“you’re doing better, better, better than me”), while the guitar hooks are short, sharp, simple and disarmingly effective. It’s a celebratory track – and one that will definitely heighten awareness of and raise expectation towards the forthcoming LP. Commenting on the song himself, Ten Tonnes – aka Ethan Barnett – said: “This was written in one of the last sessions for the record and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It was really fun to write and it came together really quickly. When we got to recording it I played all the instruments (excluding drums) as this is how I always used to make my records. It was lovely getting back to that way of recording and piecing the track together. I’m chuffed with the outcome, I can’t wait to get out and play it live everywhere.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Swimming Tapes

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: SWIMMING TAPESEASY STRAND: Swimming Tapes have unveiled the official video for their current single. Easy Strand. The lyrics of the swirling shoegaze track explore the distortion of memories over time and to mirror this in the video the band channeled vintage imagery. Director Laurie Barraclough shares: “A song about nostalgia needed a video about nostalgia, so we rented a vintage Renault 12 and shot the video like a home-movie. This might be the first one-take, time-bending home movie ever shot? Long car journeys (in the rain) are a big part of growing up and we wanted a video that was exactly that.” Just as the video embraces a keen sense of nostalgia, so too does the record itself. It has a classic shoegaze indie vibe, from the retro-leaning guitar licks to the hazy vocal delivery. It evokes a keen sense of nostalgia and feels tailor-made for cruising down some sunlit coastal highway, top down, radio blaring, sunglasses on and the worries of the world fading away. It’s a really feel-good piece of shoegaze. Easy Strand is Swimming Tapes’ first new material since their Soft Sea Blue EP (2017) and is out now on Hand In Hive / B3SCI. The release of the new video precedes the band’s return to the live stage later this week when they embark on a short run of UK headline shows taking in Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Bristol and London.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Frank Turner, Brave Face

FRANK TURNERBRAVE FACE: Frank Turner has dropped Brave Face as the latest single from his No.3 charting album Be More Kind, ahead of a January UK tour – and it’s as rousing as it is empowering. Featuring lines such as “make me a promise, that when the world ends, you’ll kiss me and hold my hand, and then we’ll get through this, whatever happens…”, this is a rallying call, as well as a warm hug, to anyone who needs a little support to get through whatever troubles them. The chorus is anthemic, the guitars are rousing as we’ve come to expect, the gospel-backed conclusion a really nice touch and the overall sentiment worth getting behind in these troubled times. Speaking about the track himself, the recently-engaged Turner said “Brave Face took the most work of any on the record. We cut it three separate times over the course of recording. In the end, the final arrangement was heavily influenced by being on the road with Jason Isbell (A Star Is Born) and hearing him play his latest material from Nashville Sound. I also reworked the lyrics a few times; I was always happy with the central metaphor, but the details needed tweaking. I like the idea of facing down the end of the world with your significant other, it’s a sort of Thelma-and-Louise image, in a way.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Beach House

THE CHAINSMOKERSBEACH HOUSE: Chainsmokers duo Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart have credited the band Beach House as the inspiration behind their latest offering, Beach House, which is also – by their own admission – an attempt “to get back to our roots with that classic OG Chainsmoker feel”. It’s a much better offering than previous single Siren (featuring Aazar), opting for a less pronounced dance sound and keeping a keener mix of synths, beats and acoustic guitars. It’s also a love letter to a woman that comes accompanied with a video featuring a suitably sexy protagonist. True, the lyrics could do better than dropping semi-egotistical lines suhc as “of darling of mine, I feel so alive with you in my bed”, but it’s got a relaxed dream pop vibe that is catchy, easy listening and the very definition of radio friendly. It’s not quite the sound of Chainsmokers at their best but it should keep the die-hards happy, particularly if – like me – you felt disappointed by that hardcore last offering.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Charlene Soraia

CHARLENE SORAIANOW YOU ARE WITH HER: Singer-songwriter Charlene Soraia has just released the video for her new single, Now You Are With Her, the third single from her forthcoming Where’s My Tribe album. The song itself finds Soraia at her most impassioned, both performatively and lyrically, as she details the forlorness that follows unrequited feelings of love, adoration, even reverence. Ironically, it’s delivered in a low-key, acoustic folk fashion. The strumming is gentle, and barely there, while Soraia’s vocals have a hushed, calm quality that belie the sentiments at play. The lyrics strike at the core of her desperation, though, with lines such as “it’s you I’d run to when the world’s too tough, who am I gonna run to now you are with her?” It’s quietly heartbreaking. Commenting on the track, Soraia said: “I had spent a long hiatus with little human contact, zero trust, and not much experience of human kindness, so I suppose, looking back, I had merely mistook someone’s kindness for something more meaningful.” It’s an honest record too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Slide

SLIDELAUGH SOME MORE: Swedish indie-rock duo Slide have dropped their debut single Laugh Some More, which is taken from their debut EP, Into Happiness, which is set for release in Spring 2019. As a taster, it encapsulates their spirit… which combines a rough around the edges approach with plenty of heart. Speaking about the track, Albin Skeppholm and Simon Werner explain: “It’s about having an unhealthy relationship to everything that makes you happy and turning everything into a drug. It’s finding yourself not being able to have a healthy relationship with anything.” With this in mind, the lyrics serve as a nice juxtaposition to the title of the song, which suggests a lot more happiness. But there’s a reassuring reality to the song, which is augmented by the ear-catching cental guitar riff, the toe-tapping beats and the hazy vocal delivery, which really does tap into an early 90s Blur vibe at times. For indie fans, this is well worth checking out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dashboard Confessional

DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL – feat CHRISSY COSTANZAJUST WHAT TO SAY: Dashboard Confessional has shared an official music video for Just What To Say, which is featured on the band’s 2018 LP, Crooked Shadows. The closing track of the album, Just What To Say is quiet and reflective, finding Chris Carrabba looking inward in a way that feels deeply relatable. The song is about admitting and accepting flaws, but it’s also about embracing the better aspects of your own humanity. The Ryan Hamblin directed video is streaming now – and is similarly low-key. It’s a quiet song that’s quietly effective, seldom rising above the acoustic strumming that opens proceedings. It’s a song that wears its heart on its sleeve, speaking of the confusion that sometimes accompanies being honest in a difficult situation (personal or otherwise). Once Chrissy Costanza lends her vocals, though, the song becomes a little more impassioned, with the two singers striking the notes perfectly off each other and really tapping into the deep emotional content of the lyrics. As ballads go, it’s pretty endearing stuff – and it could even form a soundtrack moment in the very near future.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Creeping Jean

CREEPING JEANBANDIT: Swagger is an overused modern term for showing off, but in the case of Brighton duo, Creeping Jean it feels like something of an apt term. From the George Best via George Harrison (on drugs) look of the lifelong friends down to the driving fuzzy bass line which undercurrents the new single Bandit, this is a way of life for this band, who self-consciously reference The Doors, The Zombies and Jack White throughout the new single. And while those are certainly some retro names, the swagger we’ve mentioned is the same type of indie and alt-rock vibe that accompanied bands such as Kasabian, Muse or Franz Ferdinand in their early days. Bandit embodies an outlaw edge, complete with classic guitar hooks, strutting beats and a confident vocal delivery. The chorus is made to be chanted aloud in live form, embodying the term anthemic. Describing the single, frontman Oliver Tooze said “Bandit is about getting about life as a member of the club in the dark side, living like a villain and the joys of doing so while Avoiding the government living a Bandit’s life, it’s life that would be nice but isn’t a reality.” The track was recorded by Dan Crook (Nadine Shah & Gang Of Four) at Ben Hillier’s (Pixies/Depeche Mode/Blur) personal farm based studio near Lewes in East Sussex.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Susanna

SUSANNA & THE BROTHERHOOD OF OUR LADYCITY OF HOPE: Norwegian artist Susanna is back with a new album, Garden of Earthly Delights, which is set for release on February 22, 2019 via her SusannaSonata label. To create this record, Susanna has gathered a new team of musicians, called The Brotherhood of Our Lady. Largely inspired by the works of medieval Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, the first single from the record City of Hope is streaming online. The result is probably an acquired taste, adhering to the arty feel befitting the inspiration behind it. There’s a cinematic piano, a surrealist vocal and a heightened sense of imagery to the lyrics. But it’s far from mainstream… veering more into leftfield territory. Speaking about the track, Susanna said: “City of Hope is a manic chant for guiding in love and life, with hints of ecstasy in the horizon even though something’s lurking in the undertow.” On Garden of Earthly Delights, her 13th album, Susanna takes a selection of Bosch’s paintings as starting points for a fervent, poetic rosary of fantastical songs and stories. Tracks like Gluttony and Lust, Death and the Miser and Ship of Fools reflect Bosch’s depictions of sin and human weakness, while Wayfarer, Ecstasy and Beautiful Life suggest the transcendent search for spiritual rewards. It’s intelligent stuff.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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

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

Meadowlark

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

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Imagine Dragons, Bad Liar

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

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Houssein, Walking Away

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

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Editors

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

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Johnny Marr, Spiral Cities

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

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Crystal Fighters, Goin' Harder

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

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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

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

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Julius Meyvant

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

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Micra

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

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Ben Holland, Midnight Blue

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

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Shoji

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

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CLAY

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

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

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

Imagine Dragons, Machine

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

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Professor Green, Photographs

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

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Clean Bandit, Baby

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

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James Arthur, Empty

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

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David Gray

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

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Kawala

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

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Chvrches, Graffiti

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

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Anne-Marie, Perfect To Me

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

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Dolores Haze

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

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Lokki

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

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Lucia, Cheap Talk

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

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