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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 9, 2019

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

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, This Is The Place

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSTHIS IS THE PLACE: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will release This Is The Place, an-all new EP of music on September 27. The title track is now available and it’s a belter. Driven by super-slick beats and a more alt-pop sheen than we’ve usually come to expect from this band, the track also drops a cracking chorus and some empowering female backing vocals that heighten the sense of atmosphere and cinema. There’s a blistering guitar solo midway through, too, which slides in seamlessly with those backing vocals and synths, while Gallagher himself delivers a suitably moody set of vocals to propel the track ever forward. It’s got hints of INXS at times, albeit with the type of polished production sheen that David Holmes can deliver. And it’s further evidence of how Noel is happy to keep reinventing himself and pushing his musical output into new musical directions, as opposed to brother Liam, who seems more content to trade on the familiar. If some of the High Flying Birds output is more patchy as a result, then that’s no bad thing. As the quest for keeping things fresh also continues to throw up gems such as this. The full EP will be available digitally and on vinyl – including picture disc and coloured vinyl versions on September 27.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bear's Den

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: BEAR’S DENHIDING BOTTLES: Bear’s Den have released a powerful new video for their track Hiding Bottles, which candidly takes on the theme of Alcohol addiction in a family member. Having personally experienced alcohol addiction in a family member, lead singer Andrew Davie took to spending time at Al-Anon meetings – a charity who support those with family and friends that struggle with alcohol addiction. Al-Anon bring a sense of community between those who are going through the same difficulties and it’s from these meetings that Davie began to write the song Hiding Bottles. Davie describes the song as a track ‘about life with an alcoholic relative’. “It’s an exploration of the inability to reach someone and the isolation that intrinsically creates,” he adds. The video itself follows a teenage girl’s account of her father’s alcohol addiction and the pressure it puts upon herself and her loved ones. It is both inspired by and features quotes from people that have experienced alcoholism in a family member. Splitting into a ‘Sliding Doors’-style narrative, we view two parallel worlds in which her life diverts, each with its own pitfalls. The scenes feature the introduction of alcohol to a young son, care-fuelled arguments between family members and withdrawal from family life, all of which touch on experiences that many people are experiencing on a daily basis. It’s thought-provoking and heart-breaking, yet earnest and potentially life-changing for anyone at a crossroads in their own life. The song, too, is pure Bear’s Den… a slow builder driven by thoughtful, impassioned lyrics, heartfelt vocals and a mounting sense of instrumental layering. Hence, what starts out as soft and restrained, eventually kind of explodes into guitar-driven wails of anger and frustration. It’s beautifully bittersweet, as only Bear’s Den know how. Davie had this to add about his experiences: “I think the main thing Al-Anon allowed me to understand was that there are just so many people going through issues caused by having an alcoholic friend, loved one or relative – how many lives can be affected by just one life. For us as a band to work with Rollo and be able to make a video that might ring true for other people who could be looking for help or support was something we really wanted to do. The idea that the video could potentially help lead someone to an organisation that has helped me and so many others and could help them just feels really right to us and important.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nasty Cherry

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: NASTY CHERRYLIVE FOREVER: Femme fatales Nasty Cherry have premiered their third single Live Forever on Rolling Stone, who named the band a ‘best new artist of the year’. They have also delivered their self-produced music video, which was made during a recent Los Angeles writing trip; offering a true look into the playful personalities behind Charli XCX’s favorite new act signed to her label Vroom Vroom Recordings. In their own words Live Forever, is a song about being ‘unconfined, unrefined and self-assured’, so naturally, ‘the video shows a less filtered side of the band…’ says Nasty Cherry band-mate Georgia Somary who also directed the video, edited by Matt Copson. “I wanted all of us to be seen as we are. We just went to a theme park for my birthday, ate a ton of fried pickles and filmed most of it there on our phones, as well as in sessions, and at Gabriette’s apartment over two days.” If the video shows off a carefree side to the girls, which suggests a similarly carefree pop song, then think again. There’s a thought-provoking element to their songwriting, which speaks of confusion, hate and the sometimes irrational nature of human behaviour and the relationships they form. In that regard, there’s an alternative, punk-like vibe attached, which makes the sound decidedly leftfield. If you imagine L7 adopting an electro-pop vibe, as opposed to grunge guitar, this might be the sound that resulted. Live Forever is a cracking song from an eye-catching new act. We dig the video too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Lumineers

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: THE LUMINEERSLEADER OF THE LANDSLIDE: The Lumineers have shared the next instalment from their upcoming full-length visual album III, out September 13, 2019, on Decca/Dualtone. Their new track Leader Of The Landslide is the second song taken from the album’s second chapter, Junior Sparks. Speaking of the track, lead singer Wesley said: “Leader Of The Landslide is about trying to outrun the ghosts that haunt you. We jokingly refer to this song as our folk Stairway To Heaven because it’s an epic song with three distinct parts. The new album is a cinematic narrative told in three chapters, with the songs from each chapter focusing on one primary character from the three generations of the fictional Sparks Family. Each chapter will be released as an audio EP within the full-length album. Songs and videos from Chapter I, Gloria Sparks were released this past spring, and Leader of the Landslide marks the second release from the second chapter, Junior Sparks, the grandson of the aforementioned Gloria. Chapter III will revolve around Gloria’s son, Jimmy Sparks. The video is a movie in its own right, part reflective and intimate, but also capable of bursts of celebratory emotion mixed with continued torment and substance abuse. It’s highly visceral, clocking in at over six minutes. The song is similarly epic… but quietly so. It begins in stripped back ballad form, uncertain vocal (to accentuate the state of mind at play). But it gradually layers in a folk rock element that fits in beautifully with the nature of the song. The vocals, meanwhile, retain that sense of fragility and vulnerability that enable the lyrics to so easily be heard.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Keane, Love Too Much

KEANELOVE TOO MUCH: Keane are sent to release their new album Cause And Effect on September 20, their first fresh work for seven years, together with a new single and a reflective video for Love Too Much. And while not immediately as impressive as former release The Way I Feel, this still boasts plenty of signature elements. Singer Tom Chaplin’s vocals remain crisp and shot through with emotion, while the accompanying instrumentals have a positive vibe that helps to convey the song’s earnest message about trying too hard in life and love. It’s a ballad-style offering, albeit delivered at a higher tempo than, say, Somewhere Only We Know or Bedshaped. But that’s no bad thing, either, adding a sense of vitality that should help it become even more radio friendly. The melodies are tight, the chorus catchy and the message worth getting behind – something that’s further emphasised in the eye-catching video. Keane’s comeback continues to strike all the right notes. The new album has been produced by David Kosten – aka Faultline – who has produced Marian and The Diamonds singer Marina Diamandis 2015 album Froot and worked with the likes of Coldplay, The Flaming Lips and R.E.M. Keane also hit the road this autumn and winter across the UK, Mexico and The USA, with many dates sold out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Katy Perry, Small Talk

KATY PERRYSMALL TALK: Describing a new offering from Katy Perry as typically catchy and effortlessly appealing is kind of high praise. The singer seems to have the happy knack for delivering easy listening pop songs with real emotional meaning. On new single Small Talk she repeats the trick, delivering a radio-friendly slice of power pop that instantly gets into your head and gets stuck in a bouncy, happy kind of way. And yet, beneath the pop sheen, there’s emotional depth, as she dissects a relationship gone awry (“I just can’t believe we went from strangers to lovers to strangers”). The song probes what it means to go from head over heels infatuated with someone one minute, to then being virtual strangers the next, and only left with ‘small talk’. It’s a feeling of sadness that everyone can relate to from some point in their lives, yet delivered in a relatably unassuming style that enables the song to resonate on a surprisingly comforting note. Small Talk is a follow-up to her May offering Never Really Over and a precursor to a forthcoming new album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chase & Status, Burning

CHASE & STATUS feat COCOA TEABURNING: Chase & Status have released a deliberately lo-fi, trippy illustrated video for their album offering, Burning, featuring guest vocals from Cocoa Tea. Yet while eye-catching initially, the video soon struggles to maintain your interest… much like the track itself. For while Burning does possess plenty of Chase & Status expected traits, it’s combination of drum n bass and reggae-tinged vocals doesn’t offer enough variety to keep it interesting. The beats adhere to the worst of the drum n bass genre, relentlessly maintaining a set pattern throughout; while the vocals have a Bob Marley vibe at times, yet also struggle to offer anything too worthwhile to keep listening to, despite clearly having plenty to say (amid lines like “the heathen bridge keep burning, burning, burning” and “see how many suffering youths on the streets”). It’s a generic, formulaic offering that has to go down as one of Chase & Status’ more forgettable offerings. It’s taken from the current album, Rtrn II Jungle, which is out now.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Rob Thomas

ROB THOMASCAN’T HELP ME NOW: Multiple-Grammy® Award-winning singer/songwriter Rob Thomas has shared a dynamic new video for Can’t Help Me Now, off his critically-acclaimed fourth solo album Chip Tooth Smile (available now via Emblem/Atlantic Records). The visual was shot along the just-wrapped first leg of Thomas’ North AmericanChip Tooth Tour and captures the singer in all of his live vitality. The song itself is a typically intense power ballad-style offering, chronicling another tormented relationship and finding the strength to leave it behind. Lyrics include “I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to cry, I don’t want to leave, I don’t want to be here, be here now, like a bad taste in my mouth” and “you’re the one that talks me down, even you can’t help me now”. In that sense, there’s a bittersweet element that gives rise to immense heartbreak, fuelled by Thomas’ impassioned vocal delivery. The accompanying instrumentals sweep the song along, fuelled by drums, guitars and electronics, all blending to breezier effect that some of the lyrics suggest. It’s a break-up anthem that packs real power, and which is the very definition of anthemic.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lana Del Rey, Season of the Witch

LANA DEL REYSEASON OF THE WITCH: Lana Del Rey has understandably released her cover of Season Of The Witch to coincide with the release of the motion picture Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, from which it is taken. Originally released by Donovan in the 60s, the track is given a spookier update that makes the most of the singer’s breathy, sensual vocal style. There’s a hummed intro that sets the tone, before a low-key guitar and subtle back-beats kick in, and even some strings midway through (to heighten the cinematic, soundtrack element). Del Rey almost talks during some of the verses, but once she eases into the distinct chorus, there’s a mixed feel of creepiness married to seductiveness that makes the cover dangerously appealing. It’s soothing, eerie, beguiling and oddly beautiful… Del Rey at her masterful, dreamy, ethereal best.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Molly Hammar, Show Me

MOLLY HAMMAR feat KIM CESARIONSHOW ME: Molly Hammar, the Swedish chart-topping R’n‘B singer hailing from Stockholm, has teamed up with fellow artist Kim Cesarion to release their co-written duet, Show Me, via Cosmos Music. The song is designed to carry a strong positive message about ‘bringing back the romance!’ Explains Molly: “Both myself and Kim are hopeless romantics, so when we got together in the studio for the first time it was clear that we were going to write a song about love. I hope that people who listen to the song will join us in spreading loving vibes to the world.” That positivity is apparent in the record, even though the track itself is a fairly generic slice of smooth groove R’n‘B. It’s slickly produced, with the male vocals evocative of Craig David, with elements of Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson. The female vocals are smilarly evocative of singers such as Whitney Houston. If you like that kind of thing, then there’s plenty to enjoy. But this is for R’n‘B purists only. Produced by Pontus Persson, Show Me is the third single from Molly’s forthcoming EP to be released autumn 2019 and follows hit singles No Place Like Me, featuring Big Narstie, and WORDS.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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