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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 25, 2017

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

Beck, Dear Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECKDEAR LIFE: Beck’s resurgence continues apace with the release of jaunty new single Dear Life, another track to emerge from his forthcoming Colors LP (out in October). A typically bittersweet offering, this could be forgiven for deceiving as an upbeat summer anthem. But in spite of the bouncing piano and lively guitar hooks, there’s a despair underpinning the lyrics that question the meaning of life itself (something that a lot of Americans are probably ponderng at the moment). As if to underline that deeper meaning inherent within, the song concludes on a trippy note that sends it into a kind of spiritual meets psychedelic offering. Prior to that, however, there’s that feel-good piano and some rather indie-esque guitars. Hence, it’s the kind of song that fans of Ben Folds can get behind, as well as followers of Oasis and Kasabian. The piano solo is brilliant. Beck’s vocals are as crisp and reassuring as ever. And the mix of fun and thought-provoking lyricism is as sharp as ever. With Dreams and Wow already having impressed, Colors looks set to become one of the albums of the autumn/winter.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foo Fighters, The Sky Is A Neighbourhood

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: FOO FIGHTERSTHE SKY IS A NEIGHBOURHOOD: Foo Fighters fans rejoice! The second track from the band’s upcoming Concrete and Gold LP is a rock heavy-hitter of supreme excellence. A raw, gritty, classic slice of rock, this is a rip-roaring nod to classic songs of old, whilst retaining that signature sense of all things Foo. Dave Grohl’s vocals are really raw, augmenting the stripped back nature of the song – which places gutsy guitar riffs to the fore and lays off too heavy drum rolls. The chorus is a belter, too, growing in stature with each pass the band make. You can well imagine bands like Queen and Muse being proud to call this song one of their own, especially the former given the way it combines ballsy rock with the odd flight of fancy (late on). The Sky Is A Neighbourhood looks certain to become a live favourite and – indeed – an all-time fan favourite; but one that, crucially, offers much wider appeal. It has crossover potential written all over it. It really is a monster of a song, befitting Foo Fighters’ position as one of the biggest bands on the planet right now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ghosted, Get Some

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: GHOSTED feat KAMILLEGET SOME: They have three heads, six legs, 5 No.1 singles, 11 top 10 singles and over a billion streams to their name, but it’s unlikely you’ll know it. The fine-tuned skills of this mysterious yet omnipresent production and songwriting beast has led to them working with some of the biggest names in music, stealthily fusing their myriad influences into productions that manipulate pop music into bold new shapes. Everyone from Years & Years, Maroon 5 and Jess Glynne to Craig David, Emeli Sande and Sigma has called upon their deadly studio magic, while G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha’s Me, Myself & I landed them in the US Billboard Top 10 last year. Now, they’re here in a new incarnation – a reincarnation, if you like – Ghosted. “The name is a nod to ghostwriting and being behind the scenes,” they explain, and it’s an outlet for this pop juggernaut’s more experimental songs. Futuristic R&B sex jam Get Some is the delicious first taste, featuring a sultry vocal from Kamille – aka regular Little Mix songwriter Camille Purcell. The track is a feisty ode to swift satisfaction (sample line: “Let’s do it on the kitchen floor”) over rolling Major Lazer-esque beats and effervescent synths – a surefire late-night summer anthem in the making. The finger-click beats immediately lend it a toe-tapping quality early on, while Kamille’s vocals are deceptively sweet (until you realise what she’s craving). Once the synth drops, however, it assumes a more dancefloor quality (befitting Chainsmokers’ material). And then it strips things back down and does it all over again. It’s highly addictive and totally cool. We’ve already raved about this (it was a former single of the week). But now the band have added a video, which is stunning. Directed by Fidel Ruiz Healy (Yacht Club Films) and shot in New York, the video pays tongue-in-cheek homage to cult, retro classics – think Teen Wolf meets Pretty In Pink with a sprinkling of Stranger Things.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Thirty Seconds To Mars

THIRTY SECONDS TO MARSWALK ON WATER: After lighting up stages around the world this summer on a sold out tour and teasing eager fans about upcoming music releases, Thirty Seconds To Mars have released a new song, Walk on Water, for the first time in four years. Available globally now on all digital retail and streaming sites, the track also marks the first single from the multi-platinum selling band’s highly anticipated forthcoming fifth studio album. Comments Jared Leto: “Walk On Water is a song for all of us. It’s a song about freedom, about persistence, about change and about fighting for what you believe in. It is a call to arms but also full of all the optimism and hope that is such an integral part of the American Dream.” It’s as anthemic as that statement suggests, building to a central refrain that declares: “Times are changin’!” The rock sound isn’t as emphatic, though, opting instead for a combo of guitar and electronics that channels the more recent likes of Linkin Park. There are loud vocal harmonies to make the chorus as chant-worthy as hell, as well as a vocoder-style central vocal from Leto that heightens the commercial appeal of the song as a whole. It’s big, it’s brash and it has plenty to say. Welcome back, boys!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Taylor Swift, Look What You Made Me Do

TAYLOR SWIFTLOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO: All eyes will be on Taylor Swift’s return album, Reputation, and how fans take to her attempts to salvage her own. Still reeling from the fallout of the Kanye West debacle, and only recently in court over an alleged groping incident (she claims to have been assaulted), Swift now clearly intends her music to do the talking. Hence, lead single Look What You Made Me Do sounds like a singer who is lamenting the cost of her fame and the trials of obsessive media scrutiny. There’s talk of revenge (“maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours”), as well as a shedding of an old image (“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now… because she’s dead”). And if that sounds like a shocking lyric to drop, then consider the instrumental change. Where past Swift incarnations have channelled country and pop to fairly innocent, even inocuous effect; this track has a hip-hop infused sense of foreboding, of danger. She almost whispers some of the lyrics, adding edge to the atmospheric beats. But while notable for its change of style for the singer, there’s a bitterness that’s perhaps not so endearing and a sense that this could be the sound of an artist banging her own drum while maybe, just maybe, forgetting what made her so likeable and accessible in the first place.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Run Rivers, Lost Love

RUN RIVERSLOST LOVE: New electro-folk project Run Rivers release their cinematic debut, Lost Love, and display plenty of promise. Fronted by Chris James, solo artist and former lead singer and key songwriter of electro-rock pioneers Stateless, the new single soars with atmospheric folk and subtle electronics. James explains: “It’s about being thankful for the journey without getting too hung up on the destination, that’s why I wrote, ‘do not swim straight to the shore, feel first the sensation of water’.” Chris’ soft vocal blends with intricate but warm harmonies and Matthew Kelly’s stirring string arrangement, which lend it that cinematic quality. Musically, James combines influences from his Stateless days, fusing electronica with his deep love of folk. Inspired by songwriters such as Nick Drake, his compelling vocals take centre stage with epic atmospheres reminiscent of Bon Iver. It’s intelligently constructed, nicely layered and lyrically complex – but perhaps most strikingly, it has that slow-build, epic quality of the bands that James cites as key influences, with fans of acts like Bon Iver sure to approve.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Jesus & Mary Chain

JESUS & MARY CHAIN feat SKY FERRIERATHE TWO OF US: After a 19-year absence from recording, The Jesus And Mary Chain returned with Damage And Joy, which hit the Top 20 and immediately became their highest charting album since Stoned & Dethroned back in 1994. The phenomenal reaction has been as if they’ve never been away: they’ve toured the UK and the US, sold-out London’s Shepherds Bush Empire and hit Stephen Colbert’s Late Show to perform one of the new album’s highlights, The Two Of Us, with Sky Ferriera. Although the album version of the song featured Isobel Campbell, The Jesus And Mary Chain have again teamed up with Sky Ferreira to record a fresh new version of the track. It means that Jim Reid’s coolly understated delivery contrasts with Ferreira’s impassioned vocal, while William Reid’s distorted riffs add rock ‘n’ roll grit to the Sixties-tinged track. It’s a barn-storming, feel-good offering that underlines the best of old Jesus & Mary Chain, whilst going some way to explaining why they’ve been able to make such an emphatic comeback by adding something fresh into the mix as well. Here, the guitars are great, the boy-girl vocals a real treat, and the overall vibe one to leave you feeling celebratory. This newly recorded version, complete with “the two of us are getting high” sing-along chorus, is an absolute blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dub Pistols

DUB PISTOLS feat TOO MANY Ts – CRAZY DIAMONDS: As they gear up to celebrate 20 years of unhinged lunacy, Dub Pistols return with Crazy Diamonds, the first track to be taken from their forthcoming and seventh studio album, released on October 13, via Sunday Best. A typically raucous track built for big fields and summer sound systems, Crazy Diamonds features South London hip-hop duo Too Many T’s, who add their mystifying quick-witted lyrics. Hence, the swagger that is synonymous with Dub Pistols remains intact, complete with a calypso elements to the beats, and tricky word-play courtesy of Too Many Ts. It has urban edge as well as pop elements that enable it to have more of a crossover appeal than some of their past material. And it’s fun in its own kind of way. Heck, it may even win them a few more admirers, especially given its message of empowerment (“go ahead, live your life”), which is surely something worth getting behind in these troubled times.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Pale White, Downer

THE PALE WHITEDOWNER: The Pale White warm up for their forthcoming live shows with the release of lively new single Downer. Produced by John Martindale and the band at Blank Studios, the track is a rousing, thunderous indie-rock track that goes straight for the jugular. It has blistering riffs, a chanted, anthemic chorus and robust beats. The chorus has something of a James-like quality to it, at times (circa Sit Down), while at other times the song has the swagger of Oasis or Kasabian. Speaking about the new single, Adam explains: “Ever been chasing someone who loves to be chased? Downer is about cutting loose ends and throwing yourself into Newcastle nightlife.” As such, it’s a lively foot-stomper of a record that should go down a storm on the Northern indie-rock scene. Downer will also feature on The Pale White EP, out on September 29, which includes the band’s previous singles Reaction and Turn It Around, as well as Let You Down. This will be released digitally and on limited edition white coloured vinyl.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Son of Dave

SON OF DAVEDADDY WAS A WOLFMAN: Daddy Was A Wolfman is catchy, typically idiosyncratic song-writing from blues maverick Son of Dave. The track lays down a beatbox shuffle groove, then wild harmonica hooks and adds his usual wry wit and catchy vocals. Maybe this time there’s insight into who the daddy, Dave, is. Maybe not. The song kicks off with the lyrics “I’m sorry that I bit you, bit you on the leg, I didn’t mean to hurt you, sorry that I bit you, but my daddy was a wolfman”. It then tosses in vampires, more danger and a whole load of fun, not to mention a few harmonica solos and that insistent, toe-tapping back-beat. It’s lively, energetic, bluesy yet hip enough to appeal to a much wider audience. We guarantee, you won’t hear too many more songs like this one. The track is taken from Son of Dave’s forthcoming album, Music For Cop Shows, which promises plenty of surprises, presented in his own inimitable style.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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