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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 11, 2017

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

Gabrielle Aplin

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: GABRIELLE APLINWAKING UP SLOW: Waking Up Slow, the first song to emerge from Gabrielle Aplin’s forthcoming Avalon EP, is a jubilant offering that makes blissful use of the singer’s dreamy vocal style. Produced by Lostboy, the track finds Aplin in upbeat mood, with her stunning voice bolstered by dreamy guitars and synths, and soaring on the vibrant, feel-good pop chorus, which really does lend it massive crossover potential. Regarding the single, Aplin says: “Waking Up Slow is a super positive song! It’s about that euphoric “aha!” moment after feeling perhaps misplaced, or stagnant. It’s about that moment where you decide to just let go, letting what will be, be and choosing to be present.” If you’re a fan of Frou Frou or Imogen Heap in particular, then Aplin’s vocals are comparable, albeit with an effervescent pop sheen that’s even more impossibly sweet. The chorus is almost giddy, yet lovely with it. It’s the type of song that effortlessly puts you into a good, positive, even celebratory mood – and one that brightens your day whenever it hits the radio. You can’t help but toe-tap your way along.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LIAM GALLAGHERFOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Rock bad boy Liam Gallagher takes a leaf out of Justin Bieber’s copybok (I’m Sorry) with new release, For What It’s Worth, which finds the singer in regretful, almost ballad-esque mode. A confessional (“I’ve been crucified for just being alive”), the song drops apologies like they’re going out of fashion, building to the chorus with lines like “for what it’s worth I’m sorry for the hurt… I’ll be the first to say I’ve made my own mistakes” and “sometimes we lose our way”. He’s not completely repentent, though, insisting as well that “underneath my skin there’s a fire within”. That fire isn’t evident in the song, which maintains a Lennon-esque, low-key approach complete with acoustic riffs and string arrangements. It also refuses to stray from that Beatles-inspired, Oasis-sounding template. But it’s another decent solo offering from an artist who seems to be growing in his own self confidence with every new solo release. The track is taken from the singer’s forthcoming album, As You Were, which is released on October 6. Liam himself commented: ““I wanted to write an apology. Not to one person, but to everyone, because I’m no good at saying sorry. That song is a tune.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jake Bugg, How Soon The Dawn

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JAKE BUGGHOW SOON THE DAWN: After the sometimes loneliness inherent in Jake Bugg’s On My One LP, the singer-songwriter now returns with something more upbeat in the form of How Soon The Dawn. It does have bittersweet elements, though – a love song with a self-confessed “element of darkness” that reflects the strain being away can place on a relationship. In musical terms, it’s a lot more stripped back than much of Bugg’s more guitar-driven material, unplugging things and coming over all acoustic. It’s shot through with warm vocal harmonies, too, as well as some disarming instrumental flourishes late on (via piano and harmonica) that hark back to the ’70s music scene. Bugg seems more happy throughout, which becomes infectious, especially as the song reaches its instrumental climax. It bodes well, once more, for what lies in store from Bugg’s forthcoming new album, Hearts That Strain, which could well find him exploring the relationship spectrum in typically intelligent, heartfelt fashion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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RALEGH LONGBIG AUGUST: To celebrate winning the top Help Musicians UK / PledgeMusic’s Emerging Artist Award for his new album Upwards Of Summer, Ralegh Long releases the Rough Trade endorsed album highlight Big August as his latest single. In sync with the season, Long has described the track as dealing with ‘the promise and menace of high summer’. Hence, chiming mandolins and Jack Hayter’s (ex-Hefner) swooping pedal steel, combine in a lush soundscape that, according to UNCUT, “conjoins the moods of R.E.M’s Losing My Religion and Beck’s Sea Change“ (high praise indeed). On top of this sits Long’s hushed vocal, which brings to mind “a British Kurt Vile or Ryan Adams”. The REM reference is certainly evident in the use of the mandolins, which provide an instantly gratifying backdrop, and which work surprisingly well against Long’s hushed vocal style, that layer on the atmosphere to sometimes ghostly effect. It’s a beguiling effort – layered, intricate, thoughtful and classy.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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P!NK – WHAT ABOUT US: It’s been five years since P!nk released her last album but the singer is making a comeback with the double announcement of a single, in the form of the empowering What About Us, and seventh album Beautiful Trauma in October. The single has been co-written with Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid and produced by Steve Mac and is a power ballad that makes the most of the singer’s powerhouse vocals. That said, it’s a little more restrained that some of her material, featuring a bittersweet electronic arrangement for long periods, before dropping some slightly more busy beats over the chorus. And yet, vocally, there remains something disarmingly vulnerable about P!nk’s vocals, too, as she implores people to question “what about us?” and “what about love?” and “what about trust?” It’s a call to arms that grows and grows, a power ballad that owes plenty of its stylistic approach to big bands such as McDaid’s Snow Patrol and Coldplay, albeit with P!nk’s more resolutely pop outlook. So far, so good for the new material.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis, Be Your Man

RHYS LEWIS – BE YOUR MAN: Hot off the back of I Know The Feeling, Rhys Lewis shares his fourth release, Be Your Man, which highlights a softer side to the singer-songwriter. It’s a piano-based, stripped down ballad that tackles the heartache that comes with an unrequited love, featuring lovelorn lyrics such as “I’m in his shadow all the time” and “you’ve got me feeling like I don’t deserve you, and I’m trying to do deal with this pain”. Vocally, Lewis sounds desperately heartbroken, yet stretches his downbeat vocals to some falsetto highs, which are sure to draw some Chris Martin comparisons. But while some ballads build and build to layered highs, this one’s content to remain low-key, based solely around an intricate piano arrangement and those impressive vocals. Speaking about the song himself, Lewis said: “Be Your Man is about getting closer to someone and then coming to the realisation that they’re still not over their last relationship. It makes you feel like you’ve not really been given a fair chance when the person you’re with keeps comparing you to what they had with someone else. I started to sense that she wasn’t ready to embrace something new as she was still holding onto the past. It was a shame because I thought we had something great, but I got tired of feeling like I was living in someone else’s shadow. I guess writing this song was my way of dealing with it. I hope that people will be able to relate to the lyrics and that it helps others going through the same situation.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The RPMs

THE RPMs – THINGS I FORGOT TO DO: Emerging from the creative cauldron of the Brighton scene that has also birthed contemporaries including Black Honey and Fickle Friends, The RPMs new material delivers a bolder and edgier sound that seeks to channel the uncertainties wrought by the ongoing fall out of global events. Hence, Things I Forgot To Do has an infectious energy and rhythm on the theme of running out of time, and the emotional and physical costs of stress masked within a distracting lighthearted pop tune. It’s got traces of early Arctic Monkeys and Kooks in the way that it marries raw, indie-rock energy with commercial appeal, whilst retaining a keen sense of its own identity. And for all the uncertainty inherent in its lyrics, there’s a robust, foot-stomping appeal to the song as a whole that steers it into indie-pop anthem territory. The hooks, of which there are many, are particularly addictive.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Sherlocks

THE SHERLOCKSBLUE: Sheffield four-piece The Sherlocks have released an instant great track titled Blue ahead of their debut album, Live For The Moment, due for release August 18. The track embraces the sound of classic indie-rock bands such as Oasis in the way that it delivers big bold guitars and rhythm, melancholic melodies and relatable lyrics with Kiaran’s heartfelt vocals going from strength to strength. It’s anthemic in its own way, with brash guitar solos, a bold chorus and an empowering kind of sound that flys in the face of melancholy vocals that declare “you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders”. When asked what to expect from this anticipated debut from the young band, Thpromise;ocks replied: “The time has finally come…what started as a hobby has incredibly turned into a career. But this is all down to our fans for investing their time into our band. The amount of people calling for this album is truly overwhelming and we know this is the right time to share it. We’ve genuinely worked so hard for this and put everything into this album, down to the very last detail. Everything about this album feels incredibly special…4 lads from the middle of nowhere. This is what makes our story so special, that the people have decided to back a real band and we will be forever grateful to them for that. Our lives have completely changed over the last few years, we started this band around 7 years ago as friends jamming a few songs out together in my dad’s garage. Over 1200 gigs later, we’re now here announcing something we will be eternally proud of. We can’t wait for you to hear it in its entirety. This one’s for you.” So far, so good.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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GOLD CLASSGET YOURS: Australian four-piece Gold Class have shared their video for Get Yours, taken from their upcoming album Drum, which is due August 18. In the words of singer Adam Curley: “Get Yours was the first of the lyrics I wrote for the album. It’s fairly clearly a break-up song, about wanting someone to come back for you, to not leave you in the dust. But I think I was looking for something in myself that knew it was ok to be in the dust, too.” Built upon a fiery, post-punk sound, it’s in your face and direct, with forthright vocals married to fiery, punk-inflicted guitar hooks. It’s relentless, too, seldom changing pace long enough to allow you to catch your breath. In live form, it’ll undoubtesly create a very messy, sweaty mosh-pit as it builds towards its frenzied climax. But it’s a little too aggressive and gung-ho at times, and is best left to the hardcore post-punk crowd given its lack of mainstream leanings. If you’re fans of bands like The Stranglers and even some Doors material, then it’s worth checking out.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Joan Osborne

JOAN OSBORNEQUINN THE ESKIMO (THE MIGHTY QUINN): The multi-platinum and seven-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Joan Osborne has announced the release of her ninth studio album, Songs of Bob Dylan, for September 1. With the album itself, Osborne dictates her own interpretation of Dylan’s catalogue from his ’60s and ’70s standards through to his later releases… fresh understandings that she spent time crafting as part of the Joan Osborne Sings The Songs Of Bob Dylan residencies – two critically acclaimed two-week stints at New York’s Café Carlyle in March 2016 and 2017. New single Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) offers a great insight into the type of thing to expect… a loving, respectful cover that’s entirely recognisable to the original, albeit delivered with Osborne’s distinct tones. The chorus is especially sing-along and catchy as hell, while the guitar solos are beautifully delivered. It bears all the hallmarks of the classic rock sound Dylan has honed, while also sounding a little more fresh courtesy of Osborne’s fresh take. It should delight fans of both artists.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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