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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 28, 2017

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

The War on Drugs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE WAR ON DRUGSTHINKING OF A PLACE: The War On Drugs return with the new song Thinking of a Place, their first new, original material since 2014’s Lost In The Dream and their debut for Atlantic Records. Thinking of a Place was produced by The War On Drugs’ Adam Granduciel and recorded and mixed by Shawn Everett. It’s a typically epic offering, steeped in classic values that owes plenty in composition to the likes of Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and more. The guitars are terrific, especially the solo that lands around the three minute, 15 second mark, and which – again – owes much to a more bygone era of songwriting – one where classic instruments such as the guitar are placed very much to the fore. The track clocks in at over 11 minutes, but it’s a sumptuous, sprawling offering, with Granduciel’s vocals – when employed – typically mesmerising (and again delivered in a classic style). There’s plenty to think about in the wistful lyrics, too, while the odd ambient interlude, when ethereal electronics take over, provide some nice moments of pause and reflection for the listener, before the track begins to build again. Not a moment feels wasted… and nor will your time.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bonobo

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BONOBO feat INNOV GNAWABAMBRO KOYO GANDA: Amidst the waves of praise Bonobo has received both for the release of his latest record Migration and the live tour he and his band have recently embarked on comes a video for the new single Bambro Koyo Ganda, an expansive track featuring vocals from Moroccan by-way-of New York City band Innov Gnawa. Perhaps more than any other tune on the album, Bambro sonically embodies what Migration is – a journey through cultural and locational displacement and the strange familiarity that inevitably surfaces out of transient life. The single (a highlight of the live show) effortlessly weaves Moroccan styles into his signature dance music and culminates in a near-mystical experience as Innov Gnawa’s chants echo over a dizzying, house-driven groove that manages to mesmerize and relinquish in one fell swoop. It embodies a lot of Bonobo traits – the ability to fuse world music elements with his own laidback, chillout style, a well as something cinematic – but also feels fresh, invigorating and epic. It’s as beautifully put together as we’ve long come to expect from Bonobo. The video, directed by Stylewar, depicts scenes from around the world that unfold in synchronicity with the track, with the pulse of the environment lining up perfectly, and subtly, with the song’s beat. It reflects the universality and singularity of the world seen through the eyes of a traveller; no matter the disparate location there is a common rhythm.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Olsson

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: OLSSON feat DANIEL ADAMS-RAY – CA M’EST EGAL: Ça M’est égal, the hip new single from Olsson, is a must hear for fans of the classic ’90s indie scene. The track expertly revitalises those sounds, pulling together elements of trip hop and Britpop, as if The Stone Roses were partying with Gorillaz at a Haçienda rave. The beats are terrific, the guitars punchy and Stone Roses-esque, and the vocals equally hazy and laidback in an Ian Brown kind of way. The various background elements, though, are pure Gorillaz, with some backing vocal elements harking back to Albarn and company. The new song follows the release of singles One In A Million and Hold On, which have seen OLSSON clock up high profile support from the likes of Zane Lowe, Noisey, Thump, Resident Advisor and more. It’s clearly evident that this is a band who know how to appeal to contemporary listeners while conjuring a tremendous sense of nostalgia. Hence, as retro as some elements are, there’s an undeniable cool to the new record (complete with an almost rap-style outro) – and one that should get them even more noticed in hip circles. Ca M’est Egal is the latest single from OLSSON’s debut album Millions, which is due for release on May 12th through Universal.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Oh Wonder, My Friends

OH WONDER – MY FRIENDS: Oh Wonder have delivered another new single in the form of the tranquil, even sombre My Friends. A lament to missing friends and the toll fame can take, this is a heartfelt boy-girl ballad based around a sombre piece of piano that packs a potent emotional punch. It’s sincere, heart-on-sleeve stuff and further evidence of why Oh Wonder are amassing such a big following (tickets for their forthcoming gig at London’s Omeara sold out in just 56 seconds!). The track does build some momentum, but it remains an intimately constructed, touching piece that resonates by virtue of its simplicity and honesty. Speaking about the track themselves, Oh Wonder stated: “My Friends was written in New York after a teary morning walking around McCarren Park in Williamsburg, where we wondered why on earth we’d decided to spend our only month off from touring in America, rather than at home in London with our family and friends. Touring obviously cripples your social life, and this song is a little admission of how out of touch we feel with the people we love back home, and a plea of sorts to remember us whilst we are travelling around the world.” Ultralife is both Oh Wonder’s extraordinary second album and their debut proper. Its eponymously-titled predecessor, released in late 2015, was a collection of songs they had posted online at the rate of one a month, which millions of listeners fell in love with, turning London-based Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West into reluctant pop stars.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Afrojack, Another Life

AFROJACK & DAVID GUETTA feat ESTER DEANANOTHER LIFE: A super-group of sorts, Afrojack and David Guetta join forces with vocalist Ester Dean to bring a genre-crossing new track, Another Life, to the masses. Featuring elements of dance, trip-hop and soul, this actually manages to combine all three to pretty inspiring effect. The beats are slick and empowering, the dance elements never outdoing or smothering the trip-hop ones, while Dean’s feisty, soulful vocals flit between powerhouse and moody. It’s clearly designed with the mainstream in mind, and tailor-made for all manner of remix formats, but in original form this has a sweeping, invigorating quality that can’t help but get into your sub-conscious and stay there. It’s also got a touch of the cinematic about it, which means it could yet crop up on some soundtrack soon.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Thunder

IMAGINE DRAGONSTHUNDER: Snappy finger-clicks, hip-hop infused beats and a chant-worthy chorus… welcome to Thunder, the new single from Imagine Dragons. As ever with this band, the sentiment is about self-empowerment with the lyrics about non-conformity and rising about scepticism to follow your own dreams no matter what people tell you. As lead singer Dan explains: “Who do you think you are? Dreaming about being a big star?… Now, I’m smiling from the stage…” It’s a typically anthemic offering from Imagine Dragons, albeit delivered in a different musical style to their biggest hits, I Bet My Life and Warriors. But it’s also evidence of a band not afraid to mix up their sound in order to deliver something that’s equally appealing and capable of widespread appeal. If anything, it could bring them more followers.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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HAIM

HAIMRIGHT NOW: HAIM will release their sophomore album Something To Tell You globally on July 7 (Polydor). The announcement comes in tandem with the release of a live studio version of new song Right Now, the first new music from HAIM’s forthcoming album. The song was released as a video of Este, Danielle and Alana recording the song in a studio. Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) stopped by the session and shot HAIM while they were recording. It’s a typically impressive, impassioned offering, built around lush, beautiful vocals, and a keen mix of piano and electronics. It’s stripped back in live form so as to be equally haunting and inspiring… a song that lingers in the memory and possesses plenty of power, especially once the drums start to kick in towards the end. HAIM will release the first official single from Something To Tell You on Wednesday May 3rd. On the evidence so far, it promises to be another high class offering.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jessie Reyez, Gatekeeper

JESSIE REYEZGATEKEEPER: Jessie Reyez has shared the powerful new video for her new single, Gatekeeper. Based on her personal journey and brought to life through her raw and emotional lyrics, Reyez narrates through the dark corner of fame with a moving story about her early days trying to make it in the music industry. Taken from a short film that will follow the video’s release, the Gatekeeper video is an intimate first look through Reyez’s eyes, not only through music, but also through her storytelling and acting. Reyes elaborates: “Years ago I was introduced to a big producer… The devil tempts but he doesn’t win.” The song carries a lyrical potency that’s often startling, with lines like “30 million want a shot, how much would it take for you to spread those legs apart?” As if to add to the song’s power, Reyez sings part of the song in a very innocent tone, as if to capture the sense of exploited youth, before then breaking out into a more sassy rap that lends urban edge, and mature conviction. It’s an eye-opening offering that marks Reyez out as one to watch.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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