Follow Us on Twitter

Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 16, 2019

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

Third Eye Blind, Screamer

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THIRD EYE BLINDSCREAMER: It’s exciting times to be a Third Eye Blind fan! The US outfit (responsible for such hits as Semi Charmed Life and Never Let You Go return with a new album (co-produced with Billy Corgan, no less) and a couple of UK shows in October (inluding London’s Kentish Town Forum). The first taste of the new material is the title track, Screamer, featuring Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. And like its name suggestsm, Screamer blasts out of the stereo amid Stephan Jenkins powerhouse vocals, some shouted background chants (including the empowering “you’re so damn beautiful”) and head-rush synths and guitars. It’s a wall of sound kind of offering, designed to raise excitement, while having plenty to say about the state of the modern world. As the band state: “Screamer explores the duality of our dystopian present as catalyst for passionate humanism.” It’s therefore bittersweet in nature… hopeful but realistic. If taken as a rallying call, however, it offers a very good time that hits some euphoric highs. Commenting on the forthcoming LP, Jenkins continued: “My current mood resonates with rebellion, energy, courage, and risk. I seek to combine it with a percussive level of musical immediacy in this collection of songs to cultivate collective idealism and an unapologetic aspiration towards humanistic values.” The album is due on October 18.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

Liam Gallagher, One of Us

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LIAM GALLAGHERONE OF US: One week after Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds mixed up their sound to dazzling effect with This Is The Place brother Liam now drops his latest new offering, One Of Us. And while it’s not as big a departure from the tried and tested sound we’ve come to expect from him, it’s arguably one of the strongest offerings from his solo output to date. What marks this one out are the sweeping strings and gospel-tinged backing vocals that help to heighten the emotional impact of a song that expresses hope that a fractured relationship can be salvaged in the future. Fans who attended last weekend’s MTV Unplugged set in Hull witnessed the song’s live debut and will have surely noticed a memorable reference to the Oasis classic Live Forever. And while that reference is deliberate, and perhaps a flaw in the way that it once again relies on a trademark sound (the strings also evoke Whatever), the delivery here is great. Gallagher’s distinct vocals soar and retain an element of hope for the future, the guitars mix brilliantly with the drums and strings and the inclusion of those gospel tinged backing vocals late on brings the song to a really, really nice – even epic – close. It’s assured, mature, cinematic even… the sound of Liam at his very best. “One of Us is about family, friendship and a sense of belonging,” says Liam. “I love the groove and the gospel outro. It reminds me of The Sweet Inspirations.” Liam co-wrote One Of Us, while his youngest son, Gene, contributed bongos, accompanied by Nick Zinner, of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, on guitar.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

You Me At Six, What's It Like

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: YOU ME AT SIXWHAT’S IT LIKE: Ahead of their return to the Reading and Leeds Festival Main Stage, and biggest outdoor UK headline show to date at Gunnersbury Park on September 8, You Me At Six have released the volatile new single What’s It Like, the first new material since their acclaimed UK Top Ten album VI, released on Underdog Records / AWAL. The track expands on the genre kaleidoscope of VI, and sees icy electronic rock and hip-hop fuse for an earworm built to disrupt the status quo. Speaking of the new single, frontman Josh Franceschi explains: “What’s It Like is us flexing our creative muscles. Combining our favourite genres and bringing them together in one track. For me, lyrically, it’s looking at our society in parts in 2019. I definitely feel as though we are living in a time where we’ve lost our way a little bit. There are great innovators and pioneers which we can rely on, but there is also a feeling of the blind leading the blind and a lack of humility present. Within the title and the chorus I sort of poke fun at those who are libertines or self serving – ‘what’s it like being perfect all the time?’. Life’s not a competition, but people have a tendency to play it out that way.” The track is as hard-hitting as that idea suggests – the emphatic synths and hip-hop beats combining with those questioning, semi angry lyrics in punchy, powerful fashion. And yet, for all of the inherent darkness and soul-searching, there’s an epic sweep that empowers. It’s anthemic stuff that should go down a storm in live form. The accompanying video comes with a warning, as it may potentially trigger seizures for people with epilepsy. Viewer discretion is therefore advised before clicking on the link below.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

Death Cab For Cutie, Kids in '99

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – TO THE GROUND: Death Cab For Cutie’s latest single To The Ground is another to be released from their forthcoming The Blue EP, which is due out on September 6. Like former track Kids in ’99, it addresses the aftermath of a tragedy… a car crash. The track therefore finds lead man Benjamin Gibbard meditating on the circle-of-life stuff that happens when a natural environment grows around the husk of a crashed car. It’s high-brow lyricism married to appealing instrumentation, just as we’ve long come to expect from this band. The guitars, here, are particularly striking… more emphatic and pronounced than usual. They have an almost Cure-like sense of atmosphere and brooding, which elevates the song. While the accompanying drums also add extra brooding atmosphere. The late instrumental breakdown, when the electronic side of things take over for a wall of sound kind of noise, adds to the cinematic nature of the song, while adding to the sense of peril inherent in the crash. It’s a thought-provoking offering… yet big and expansive enough to be considered one of the band’s most stadium-sized offerings. Roll on the rest of the EP!
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

Kiwanuka

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 5: MICHAEL KIWANUKAYOU AIN’T THE PROBLEM: In the same week that Michael Kiwanuka confirmed the release of his third album, Kiwanuka, on October 25, the singer drops the secong single, You Ain’t The Problem – and it’s another gem. A soulful foot stomper, this wallows in retro qualities (that could find their way onto the soundtrack of a ’70s cop thriller at times), with an urgency that’s utterly contemporary. In retro terms, the psychedelic soul evokes deliberate comparisons with Bobby Womack’s early ’70s street symphonies, while also bringing disco qualities to its insistent beats. The guitars are pure ’70s, as are the backing ‘la la la’ harmonies. But Kiwanuka’s own vocals eschew conventional values, offering an almost spoken alternative to his more soulful delivery. It’s a track that therefore subverts expectation at times. But it’s all the more ear-catching for it, while also lyrically confronting societies problems and the need to make some changes. It’s thought-provoking, hip-shaking and timeless. Kiwanuka would appear to be cooking up somethinhg special with his new album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

Two Door Cinema Club, Once

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUBONCE: Two Door Cinema Club have shared their new video for Once, taken from their critically-acclaimed and third UK top 5 album, False Alarm. The macabre video sees the Bangor trio cast as deadpan ventriloquists, competing for the limelight with ostentatious dummy versions of themselves, all in a satirical and hedonistic ’70s showbiz setting. But while creepy and fun in equal measure, the video takes a violent twist towards the end as it hurtles towards a shocking conclusion (with the emphasis still on fun). Once music video directors Mathy and Fran said: “It was huge fun making this video! Knowing that the song was about narcissism in the Instagram age, we hit upon the idea of Ventriloquist dummies, which felt strangely relevant to the way we all act on social media – creating personas who speak for us, and live the lives we wish we had. It was really enjoyable to imagine a world where Alex, Sam and Kevin are completely sidelined in favour of their celebrity dummies, and we had no idea they’d be such good puppeteers… until of course, they get to enact their revenge!” For all of the messages in the lyrics about narcissism, the song itself has a breezy, upbeat positivity that sweeps the listener along. The boys deliver the lyrics in soulful, falsetto style, thereby heightening that sense of briskness. It’s alt-pop at its shimmering best… with a memorable video to boot.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

Cari Cari, Anaana

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CARI CARIANAANA: Guinness has just unveilled their new ad campaign Liberty Fields, soundtracked by Austrian duo Cari Cari’s single Anaana. To tie in with the launch Cari Cari, who’ve been described as ‘the lovechild of The Kills and The XX’, have now unveiled the striking video for the single. Commenting on the Guinness ad (which celebrates the pioneering Japanese women’s rugby team that changed rugby), Cari Cari’s Stephanie Widmer aka Louise Yamamoto said: “As a blackbelt-judoka and a female drummer in the male-dominated music industry I feel incredibly connected with the women in the video. No matter whether you’re a drummer, a rugby player or a firefighter. Women around the world are fighting against stereotypes and paving their own way everyday. That’s why we are both incredibly proud to be part of this campaign and can help send this important message to women everywhere. We LOVE the ad and the message that it sends. Really, really proud to be part of this.” Having been described as ‘the lovechild of The Kills and The XX’, Cari Cari duly deliver on that promise with Anaana, which is vast, epic, sprawling, cinematic and pioneering in its own way. The central wail is particularly striking, as are the accompanying guitars, which chug along and give the track its shape. The boy-girl vocals also have plenty of atmosphere and brooding, as well as a touch of psychedelia. The song also thrives on its retro leanings, which embody the type of sound that has helped to make so many of Quentin Tarantino’s soundtracks so cool. You’ll be wailing along in no time!
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

Watch the Guinness advert

Jorja Smith, Be Honest

JORJA SMITH feat BURNA BOY – BE HONEST: Multi-award-winning British singer Jorja Smith has unveiled her new single, Be Honest, which marks her first piece of new music since the release of her Mercury Music Prize nominated debut album Lost & Found in Summer 2018. Produced by Izy (Koffee ‘Toast’) and Cadenza (who previously worked with Jorja on her 2016 single Where Did I Go?), Be Honest is designed to represent a sonic contrast to the singer’s calmer, ballad-leaning album tracks. The single is therefore up-beat and flirtatious, with a smooth groove R’n‘B vibe, toe-tapping beats and sultry vocals that trade off nicely with Burna Boy’s. It’s a pleasant enough listen, even if the overall result doesn’t quite manage to feel as empowered as its PR suggests it should. But Smith appears to be having fun and there’s a certain infectious quality to that. The Amber Grace Johnson-directed video (who’s previously worked with Rihanna and A$AP Rocky), was filmed in locations across London, including Rye Lane Market and Peckham Liberal Club. The visual sees Jorja and two of her best friends, Erin and Sandra, battling effortlessly through the hot London summer as Jorja dances and sings along to the infectious single.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

Charli XCX, Cross You Out

CHARLI XCX feat SKY FERREIRACROSS YOU OUT: Charli XCX continues to tap into some darker material with new single Cross You Out – a power ballad driven by striking synths and impassioned, pained vocals. Charli herself has stated: “This song is about me leaving someone toxic behind and finally feeling free.” Hence, lyrics include “when you’re not around, I’ll finally cross you out”. But while celebratory in the sense that it’s designed to celebrate breaking free from something hurtful, there’s an urgency and danger attached to those throbbing synths that accompany the track, while the beats also evoke a sense of restraint that’s a million miles removed from some of the singer’s more breezier pop songs. Produced by Lotus IV and A.G. Cook, the song thrives on its thudding instrumental delivery and the feisty vocal delivery of both Charli and her collaborator Sky Ferreira. It strikes a definite blow for feminism throughout and shows a different, but no less exciting side to this singer-songwriter.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

Sam Johnson, Trip on Gold

SAM JOHNSONTRIP ON GOLD: Shorpshire born singer-songwriter Sam Johnson has dropped a kooky, catchy new single in the form of Trip On Gold. The playful song, co-written with the renowned Irish songwriter Iain Archer, explores the desire for authenticity and permanence always lurking beneath Johnson’s playful exterior. He sings: “I never had much luck in life but I always had a way with words / My heart can’t get satisfied, living with this modern curse.” It’s a track about ‘the transient, casual nature of relationships’, he explains (“Don’t want a magpie love / I’d rather go for gold”). “But I’m naturally romantic, so there’s an uplifting side to it all,” he adds. The track has some really breezy hooks, a melody strewn chorus and a happy go-lucky demeanour that flies in the face of some of the more uncertain feelings contained within those lyrics. The guitar work is particularly endearing, as are Johnson’s vocals. It’s a really nice record. Trip On Gold is the follow-up to Johnson’s most recent single, his impossibly catchy calling card Medicine For My Brain, which was the first single to be released from Sam’s forthcoming debut EP. It offers a witty kiss-off to the music industry, with a dazzling guitar accompaniment reminiscent of his heroes John Martyn and Ben Howard.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

Death Valley Girls, Dream Cleaver

DEATH VALLEY GIRLSDREAM CLEAVER: After releasing their album Darkness Rains last year, Los Angeles doom boogie/dystopian punk/occult glam rockers Death Valley Girls are sharing a new standalone single, Dream Cleaver, via Suicide Squeeze Records. Described as a rousing anthem in praise of psychonaut and ethnobotonist Terrence McKenna, his research on ;the spirit molecule; DMT, and the possibility of trans-dimensional travel, the track is a self-consciously unapologetic, stone-cold rocker… an unabashed orgy of Farfisa organ hooks, Larry Schemels’ hypnotic and propulsive guitar chords, hallucinatory sax lines and Bonnie Bloomgarden’s call-to-arms vocals. The hooks are particularly engaging, keeping the track on-side when some of the more hallucinatory/experimental elements (that sax) threaten to derail it. But Bloomgarden’s vocals also work, lending the song an alt-indie vibe akin to retro acts like L7. It’s a hazy, provocative offering that forces you to have an opinion. And while never exactly managing to fall in love with it, Dream Cleaver still had us wanting to hear more.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video


Heard a great single, but yet to buy it? Well, we may have reviewed it. Previous reviews: