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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 17, 2020

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

Kaleo, Backbone

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: KALEOBACKBONE: Kaleo have shared new song Backbone from their highly-anticipated follow-up album, Surface Sounds. Written solely by front-man, lead singer and songwriter JJ Julius Son, this is an introspective offering that seeks to find inner strength from the depths of despair. Son’s husky, bluesy vocals have a gritty, earthy feel that lend the track an ultra moody feel. But it’s nicely contrasted by the acoustic guitar that provides the bulk of the instrumental backdrop. The song does slow-build to a rousing finale, though, when some subtle strings and background harmonies also filter in, lending the song a genuinely cinematic feel. There’s a lot of meaning in the song, though, as it’s sung with real emotional depth. It’s also all the more effective for the way in which it keeps things so simple. If you like classic Pearl Jam, then you’re sure to love this! In addition to Backbone, the Grammy-nominated band released two singles in January, I Want More and Break My Baby.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Front Bottoms, Everyone Blooms

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE FRONT BOTTOMSEVERYONE BLOOMS: The Front Bottoms have dropped a kick-ass new single in the form of Everyone Blooms, a sharp slice of alt-rock virus-surviving reassurance that channels the energy of bands like Weezer mixed with Biffy Clyro. Featuring lyrics such as “so wherever you are, don’t worry you’re going to be fine, fine, fine, cos everyone blooms in their own time”, this is designed to offer a little positivity mixed with a bad boy rock vibe. It’s positive while being a little rough around the edges, and feels all the better for it… the jagged guitar riffs bouncing nicely off the vocals that have a rowdy, anthemic quality. The chorus is a blast that invites sing-alongs. Brian Sella and Mathew Uychich commented: “This year has been a disaster, but we are pushing forward with positive and creative energy. We poured ourselves into making Everyone Blooms and are really proud of how it turned out. We hope you like it.” We do! The track is joined by a surrealistic animated music video – created by We Are Yhellow – which is available now on The Front Bottoms’ YouTube channel (and below).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Florence + The Machine, Light of Love

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: FLORENCE + THE MACHINELIGHT OF LOVE: Another of this week’s timely releases, Florence + The Machine’s Light of Live is actually a track written a couple of years ago that didn’t quite make it onto the 2018 High as Hope LP. But Florence felt moved to revive it when reconsidering the message behind the lyrics, which urge caution against running and hiding from the harsh truths of any moment (ie, seeking solace into ignorance, drugs or alcohol). Hence, the lyrics decry moments of weakness, with pearls such as “oh, my little sister, when the drugs were wearing off I climbed into your bed and said, I think I did too much, in some ways that was simpler, being too fucked up to see”. And it also states “I want to look away” before determining “I must not look away”. In doing so, Florence gradually builds the tempo, from soft and alone to layered and empowered, the song itself gaining extra layers of instrumental melody and feeling empowering as a result. It’s a song that’s designed as a rallying call to a nation [and world] that may well want to bury its head in the sand right now and ignore the grimness of what’s going on. But staying informed, doing the right thing and helping to stay safe and save lives is important. As a way of driving home that message, Light of Love is powerful, moving, melodic and as beautifully delivered as we’ve come to expect from Florence + The Machine. What’s more, the song has been released to raise money for the UK’s Intensive Care Society – which support doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers as they work in hospitals’ ICU departments. Donate here
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Oh Wonder, Keep on Dancing

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: OH WONDERKEEP ON DANCING: Oh Wonder drop another musical gem into the global mix as they look to lift some of the gloom surrounding the current coronavirus pandemic at the moment. Taken from their new Home Tapes project, this urges fans and listeners to throw their own house party and put on their favourite tunes (as well as this one!). Far from being too uproarious, though, there’s something delicate and reassuring about it, with the sentiments expressed in the lyrics all the more affecting for it. The chorus, for instance, states: “And I’m a put my records on, play my favourite songs, move my hips left to right, I’m a put my records on, play my favourite songs, move my hips from day to night”, while suggesting that you may want to do the same. The chorus also talks about beats but the track only really employs subtle beats of its own, along with some guitar and some lush electronics. The boy-girl vocals, meanwhile, are a daydream delight. It’s a quietly empowering song that’s utterly enchanting and totally empowering. We’re just off to get our dancing shoes!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dolche, Roma

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: DOLCHEROMA: Christine Herin, known professionally as Dolche, is an Italian-French singer, songwriter, composer and record producer, who already boasts a 20-year music career, more than 500 concerts in Europe and key collaborations with Grammy Award winning professionals. She was born in Valle d’Aosta, a French-speaking autonomous region in the north of Italy. The first single off her forthcoming album Exotic Diorama – out in October 2020 – is the cinematic Roma, accompanied by a video shot during the Italian lockdown with webcam images of a deserted Rome projected onto the artists body. The track was composed as a love declaration to the melancholic, decadent and epic beauty of Rome, aka The Eternal City. In the song, it is possible to hear some sounds which were directly recorded in the city, from the Gianicolo hill (like the sound of birds and the background noise of the city itself). Roma is half in French and half in Italian because this is the deepest nature of Dolche herself. It juxtaposes Doche’s lush, reflective vocals against a sombre acoustic guitar and remains fairly intimate, yet oddly cinematic. It’s the kind of offering that Steven Soderbergh may have used for his European-set Ocean’s Twelve film. But coupled with the video, it’s both intoxicating and captivating, providing a timely reminder of one of the greatest cities in the world.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Callum Beattie, Ghosts in the Dark

CALLUM BEATTIEGHOSTS IN THE DARK: Scottish multi-instrumentalist Callum Beattie releases his emotive new track Ghosts In The Dark as the latest, poignant offering from his long-awaited debut album, People Like Us, which us due on May 15, 2020. A heartfelt piano ballad, this is a simple but affecting affair that looks at a troubled life and attempts to navigate a path towards some kind of reassurance and safety (“can anybody take me home, because I don’t want to sleep alone, I don’t want to be alone… cos I am a father, caught in the fire”). The lyrics truly are heartbreaking, while the impassioned vocals work really well against the stark, melancholy piano arrangement. During a sombre period in Callum’s life, he found solace in writing Ghosts In The Dark. On Ghosts In The Dark, Callum explains: “I used to play around the pubs in Scotland most days of the week. In that time, I got to know a lot of people who all had their own problems. That look of loneliness and the feeling of being lost is something I could relate with them at that time. I was drinking a lot and would find myself compressing my emotions through alcohol. That was something me and some of the regular customers had in common every night. I went home on one of those nights and wrote this song about myself and all of the people I met. It’s a song that feed on feelings of loneliness and being lost.” Given the current coronavirus pandemic, it’s emotive lyrics carry extra resonance, especially for anyone fighting on the frontlines and worried about the possibilities of spreading infection.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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5 Seconds of Summer, Wildflower

5 SECONDS OF SUMMERWILDFLOWER: 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) have shared the psychedelic music video for latest single, Wildflower, taken from their recent No.1 album C A L M, out now on Polydor Records. In an incredible burst of imagination, the visual came to life soon after the band’s original video shoot was cancelled due to California’s shelter-in-place order. Directed remotely by Andy DeLuca and assistant director Sarah Eiseman, Wildflower was shot entirely on green screen through a meticulously arranged process that involved transporting the disinfected green screen to each band member’s doorway in order to film their individual parts. Despite 5SOS separately quarantined, the result bears an undeniable mood of togetherness. With its lo-fi psychedelic effects, Wildflower also features playful early noughties animated nostalgia that DeLuca and Eiseman learned to create specifically for the video. The track itself is a typically upbeat slice of indie-pop. There’s a stirring chorus, toe-tapping beats, electronic melodies and an overall sing-along kind of vibe. It has a boy band feel, of course, but in these troubled times, the positivity and harmony displayed here could well bring some cheer. On directing the video, Andy Deluca said: “Our original plan consisted of a big budget, a full crew, and a giant studio, but it was cancelled due to coronavirus and we were forced to make something under the challenging conditions of quarantine. Michael had a green screen sitting in his closet, so I figured that could be enough to make something. Since the song has a pretty distinct 80s/90s tone, I came up with the idea of making an 80’s/90’s MTV-style music video. A ‘music-video-themed music video’. The stuff I grew up on and loved. So, we passed around the disinfected green screen (with the help of our teammate Kat Gallagher), and everyone filmed their parts at home with an iPhone and later sent the footage over to me. In the meantime, Sarah Eiseman and I began working on the art for the video. We quickly learned animation and drew up several blooming flowers, and also created the trippy colored backgrounds using milk and food dye. I then spent the next couple of days/nights editing nonstop until my eyes bled and the video was completed. It definitely has pushed us to create something we normally wouldn’t, using only our brains and our hands.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Rhodes

RHODESLOVE YOU SOBER: British singer-songwriter Rhodes has released a new single and video in the form of the, well, sobering confessional, Love You Sober. An impassioned plea to a loved one to retain faith in him as he overcomes a drinking addiction (“don’t need another way to hurt, just need another way to hold on”), this is a piano ballad of high tempo, that is infused with the desperation and determination inherent in overcoming such an addiction. It’s stirring stuff that’s capable of appealing to fans of bands like Keane. The accompanying video was directed by long-time collaborator Ben Newbury (Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Ellie Goulding) and filmed during quarantine with Rhodes at home in London. To work around the logistical restrictions of making the video remotely, the filming equipment was couriered to Rhodes’ home while Ben directed him and his wife Natalia (aka singer Carmen Rosa) over FaceTime to set things up in the living room to film his performance. The video also features dizzying and dream-like graphics by motion designer/director Paul Gardner (The Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Gorillaz, Fleetwood Mac). Commenting on the new song, Rhodes said: “I wrote Love You Sober last year with my good friend Rich Cooper and it was one of those songs that I always knew the video would be super-important. The idea that I was lost in my own head battling these inner demons, and fighting to find a way to keep hold of love, was conjuring tons of ideas in my mind and those of everyone involved in the song.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Harry Mold

HARRY MOLDTREADMILL IN A DESERT: Londoner Harry Mold has released his riotous, F-bomb laden new single Treadmill In A Desert through Touch Recordings. A lyrically prophetic, blazing indie-rock track, this was designed to examine the kind of pressure you can experience when your mind becomes stagnant for whatever reason. It was actually written before the coronavirus pandemic made it even more relevant. But the fire and anger displayed in the vocals and the angular guitar riffs is evident of what a lot of people must be feeling right now. And when Mold declares “I’m looking for the end line” as a way of closing out the single, he’ll have a nation of people roaring along with him as they seek some kind of exit strategy plan. Speaking about the track, Harry commented: “Treadmill In A Desert is all about the pressure you can feel when you’re in a stagnant/stationary state of mind. Like when you feel things around you moving at a normal pace, but nothing is changing in your own head. This feeling made me feel like I was about to explode, so I transmitted that straight to my song.” If you’re fans of bands like The Libertines, then this will doubtless tick all the right boxes too. It’s no-nonsense stuff, making it OK not to feel OK in these mentally challenging times.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Haux, Heavy

HAUXHEAVY: Haux has previously released two EPs, 2016’s All We’ve Known and 2018’s haunting Something to Remember. Together, they amassed over 200 million streams, receiving praise from everyone from Taylor Swift to The New York Times. Violence in a Quiet Mind is his long-awaited debut LP and was announced earlier this week, together with taster single Heavy. The sombre but beguiling track recalls the moment Woodson Black (Haux) discovered that his aunt Alice had died of an accidental overdose after years of pain from a brain tumour. “I remember I was walking back from a show in Boston and I got a phone call from my mum and I kind of just crumpled there on the sidewalk, tearing up. I wrote Heavy about that time,” he explained. “I kind of stepped into her shoes for a little bit and wrote t from her perspective, or at least what I imagined it to be. I haven’t talked about it too much publicly but while writing this album I struggled at times with depressive thoughts, and some thoughts about the end of my own life. It was scary but it’s there and I think it’s what gave this song significance for me.” The song itself combines a tender piano arrangement with a soulful, sorrowful vocal that feels raw and intimate (with lyrics that include “I took my life in the palm of my hand”). It’s a heartfelt tribute to a powerful influence in Haux’s life, which resonates on a beautifully intimate level.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hayley Williams

HAYLEY WILLIAMSWHY WE EVER: Hayley Williams is continuing to add to her Petals For Armor II portfolio with yet another release: Why We Ever, and its companion lyric video. An intimate offering that takes the form of self-examination during a personal period of feeling low, this is both poignant and affecting, thereby showcasing the softer, more sensitive side of Williams’ solo songwriting. She explains: “I was at the lowest point I’d been in some time. My sadness shows. Now, I look back and credit this night as being the beginning of a new season of my life, where I hold myself accountable for learning to love better. I’ve let myself down a lot in love. This was the start of recognizing bad patterns and acknowledging that I’m ready to grow out of them.” Hence, where there is a lot of sorrow, there’s also a sense of optimism [albeit a quiet one] that makes the song all the more beautiful for it. The new track is the latest addition to Petals For Armor II and follows the recent releases of My Friend, Over Yet and Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris featuring Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. Hayley has been making use of her time at home with a series of covers posted to her social media, including her take on Tegan and Sara’s Call It Off. Williams also treated fans to an at-home workout routine set to her track Over Yet.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Max Leone

MAX LEONETHE BEACH: Up-and-coming songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Max Leone has shared a spellbinding new single called The Beach with an accompanying video for the new track. Released via Darkroom Records and produced with Chicago native Alexander 23, The Beach showcases the introspective lyricism, inventive sound design, and undeniable sense of melody that have recently earned Leone praise from tastemakers like Paper Mag. “The Beach is about that person you keep going back to, even though every time you give them another chance they let you down. It’s like a flame, the warmth draws you in, but if you try to touch it you’ll get burnt.” The track unfolds using woozy textures and wavy beats, dreamlike lyrics and a subdued but soulful vocal performance. It has a sense of melancholy as well as a sense of escape, the beach motif supplying an oddly compelling reminder of everyone’s favourite place. Hell, there are even warnings about too much sun exposure! But taken on its own level, the beach – with both its beauty and dangers – is a clever motif for an addictive relationship that keeps on burning the person at the centre of it. The trip-hop style beats and soulful vocals also work well together in creating something that’s, by turns, relaxing, chilled out and semi dangerous [and addictive].
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lial, Dirty Little Lies

LIALDIRTY LITTLE LIES: Dirty Little Lies is the second single from Lial, following the shimmering Embers (February 2020), to be released from her forthcoming Made To Break EP, which follows on June 12. The track is about betrayal and the thrill of desire for forbidden fruit. As Lial expands: “Connection is an inherent part of being human and so you do anything you can to justify it while you’re in it, but part of the appeal is its forbidden nature. Lies are enough in themselves to create a spark.” The song makes strong use of Lial’s sultry vocal style (which has drawn favourable comparisons with both Lapsley and Lana Del Rey, while offsetting them against sleek beats and atmospheric, moody electronics. There’s a strong sense of desire and danger flowing through the track, the song offering its own kind of forbidden fruit. Dirty Little Lies is accompanied by a stunning video which takes you to a seedy, ghostly underworld, featuring Lial and directed by Wolf James. Expanding on the song’s themes the video explores the idea of betrayal as its own faceless entity seeking some sort external validation. It’s stylish stuff, sonically and visually.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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All Saints and Sting, Message in A Bottle

ALL SAINTS AND STINGMESSAGE IN A BOTTLE: All Saints and Sting have teamed up to release a new version of The Police classic Message In A Bottle. The single is the first release from All Saints since their critically acclaimed 2018 album Testament and the first from Sting since 2019’s My Songs. Commenting on the decision to collaborate, All Saints said: “We were in the studio working on a new arrangement of the song for a radio session and we decided to record what we had come up with. We were delighted when Sting heard our original demo and offered to add his vocals to the track.” The track is designed to resonate with the current coronavirus situation, in that it offers lyrics such as “I send my SOS to the world” and “only hope can keep me together, love can mend your life”. And it’s delivered with a self-consciously upbeat vibe, hitting an almost reggae meets pop vibe. All Saints take the vocal lead, while Sting adds his vocals as backing. But it works. The track was originally written by Sting for the 1979 Police album Regatta de Blanc. It hit No.1 that year and has become one of the band’s most enduring hits, serving as the title for an original West End musical currently running in London’s West End, produced by Sadler’s Wells and choreographed by Kate Prince. All Saints originally performed Message In A Bottle with the BBC Concert Orchestra for Children In Need in 2018. They continued to perform the song during their run of summer festivals the following year and it quickly became a fan favourite.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Orlando Weeks

ORLANDO WEEKSBLOOD SUGAR: Former Macabees frontman Orlando Weeks recently launched his solo career with Safe In Sound, a track that was A-listed at BBC 6 Music and inspired comparisons with the likes of The Blue Nile and Talk Talk. Now he can confirm details of his debut album A Quickening, which will be released on June 12, 2020, via Play It Again Sam. The first taster is new single Blood Sugar. A quietly affecting, fragile yet all-enveloping layer of sound, this is a delicate song – in part tribute to the NHS – that is buoyed by choral vocal harmonies. The track includes the line “gone the bell that rung forever… at least as long as I can remember”, a reference to Big Ben, which was under repair and had stopped chiming at the time of his son’s birth. Weeks commented: “I couldn’t work out if its silence was a good omen or a bad one.” Stranger than that, for much of their time at hospital, Weeks and his partner found themselves in the very same room he was born in. Hence, while the ‘dedicated to all NHS workers’ might seem like a timely acknowledgement of all that the NHS is doing at this time of global crisis, it’s also a personal thank you as a parent for all the other times they have been there as a service to be proud of (in Weeks’ case, the birth of his son). The song is therefore deeply personal as well as deeply emotional and its beauty resonates on many levels – as a grateful nation and for those parents among us who have also called on the NHS resources.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dust in The Sunlight

DUST IN THE SUNLIGHTDUST IN THE SUNLIGHT: Following the recent release of their eponymous debut single, Dust In The Sunlight have now unveiled the official music video for the track. Commenting on how it came together, the band said: “Last summer, we headed out to Berlin to collaborate with Alex Newton on our debut music video. We also managed to get DOP Bobby Goulding and camera assistant Edmund Renew on board, completing a dream team of creative. Rather than following a narrative for the video, we focused on creating different moods while we performed the song. Annie’s parts were based in very natural areas, while Billy’s were more urban. The contrast in locations and meditative dancing (something we never thought we’d do in a video!) created an other-worldly, purgatory-style effect – drawing on the themes of shift and change in the song.” It’s a perfect fit. The track itself is an atmospheric offering, designed to showcase their ability to combine ear-pleasing vocal harmonies with transportive instrumentals. Hence, those instrumentals provide a cinematic backdrop that feels epic in nature and quite often beautiful (never more so than during the instantly enticing intro). But the mix of boy-girl vocals also works well in providing some nice contrasts, especially when they occasionally collide with each other in the build up to, and during, the chorus. It’s an impressive debut that leaves you thirsting to hear more. Speaking about the song, they explain: “Dust In The Sunlight was one of the first songs that we wrote together, during a session at an artist warehouse in North London that Annie was living in at the time. The song speaks about being caught up with someone who’s emotionally unavailable and being prepared to compromise your own values in order to keep them around. We liked the imagery of the title so much that it became the namesake of the band.” .
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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