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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, December 1, 2017

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

First Aid Kit

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FIRST AID KITFIREWORKS: Swedish pop sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg – aka First Aid Kit – drop Fireworks from their forthcoming Ruins album and remain as beautiful and essential as ever. Dripping with their lovely vocals, this waltzes along in dreamy fashion, setting those delicious vocals against a backdrop of warm guitar licks and subtle piano and string arrangements. The melodies are heart-meltingly charming, the vocals expansive and soaring the longer they last. The background harmonies that enter around the midway point are another nice touch, imbuing the track with an extra layer of warmth. And for all of its beauty, there’s a heart-breaking sense of melancholy surrounding the lyrics, which lament the break-up of another relationship (“why do I do this to myself every time”). It’s a song that resonates by virtue of the emotional depth underpinning it. And while certainly sounding modern, it boasts a classic sense of timelessness that should make this a song for the ages.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Abisha

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: ABISHAALL THAT: From Devon by way of south London, Abisha is an alt-R&B singer-songwriter who channels introspection. Following the rapid success of debut track All That, she has now dropped the darkly atmospheric All That, complete with a similarly dark video directed by Jack Bridgland (House of Pharaohs, Nike, Adidas). The song itself is sure to draw vocal comparisons with premier singers such as Sade for the way in which it employs silky smooth R’n‘B vocals. But instrumentally, it owes more to acts like Massive Attack for the way in which it employs slick beat structures and stylish synths. It’s a supremely classy offering that showcases a major new talent. Commenting on the accompanying video, Abisha said: “The video for All That is like a huge visual metaphor for the song – that’s why I love it. From the red-lit room to the bath tub and ending being submerged in water; it all symbolises the entrapment that you feel when the love just isn’t right. I hope that this resonates when people watch it and they feel the real vulnerability and honesty within it.” You can add brutally honest, intelligent songwriting to that list.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jax Jones, Breathe

JAX JONES feat INA WROLDSENBREATHE: Following the success from his recent world-wide smash hit singles Instruction and You Don’t Know Me, Grammy nominated artist, songwriter and producer Jax Jones looks set to continue his winning streak with new single Breathe. Featuring Norwegian hit maker Ina Wroldsen, who has sold over 20 million singles as a writer for Calvin Harris, Clean Bandit and Anne Marie, Breathe is a slow-burning and addictive house record, one likely to propel him even further into the global consciousness. The ‘dum dum da da da da’ harmony that kicks in every so often is particularly catchy, thereby propelling it effortlessly into a lot of listeners’ subconscious. But also of note are the subtle use of beats, slick electronics and a feisty set of vocals that channel some of the premiere female singers of the moment, while lending Breathe an identity of its own. The sexual nature of the lyrics lend it extra late-night energy too. This one’s a hot dance ticket for the twilight crowd.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alina Libkind, Out Of My Head

ALINA LIBKINDOUT OF MY HEAD: Toronto based and Russian born artist Alina Libkind has released new single Out Of My Head as a means of celebrating falling in love. Featuring a sultry set of vocals and some smooth electronics and beats, this is rousing, dreamy and hypnotic, with a touch of the ethereal thrown in (courtesy of Libkind’s vocals). It’s a confident track, stylishly delivered to offer something far more intelligent and lasting than a lot of mainstream disposable pop songs about the same subject. Speaking about the song, Alina said: “I wrote Out of My Head on cloud nine. The track is about stepping into the uncharted waters of falling in love.” Out Of My Head is a suitably impressive follow-up to her introductory track, Connection, which drew lots of online attention from the likes of Indie Shuffle, Press Play and Diamond Deposits.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Calexico

CALEXICOVOICES IN THE FIELD: Calexico have shared a second track, Voices In The Field, from their forthcoming ninth studio album, The Thread That Keeps Us, which is due out on January 26, 2018, via City Slang. The song continues to find the group, led by vocalist/guitarist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino, in fine fettle with an album that captures their stylistic variety and unpredictability, while still finding solace in limitless creativity. Its driven by some robust beats and a stirring central guitar, which weaves its way in and out of the song like a twister. Indeed, it’s the guitars and hand-clap beats that infuse the song with its stirring energy, thereby allowing Burns to drop a moody central vocal and spin another compelling lyrical yarn. As ever, Calexico deliver complexity with listening brilliance. Burns says of the song: “In the age of the extremes, when walls attempt stifling words, this song is inspired by the poems on postcards from those uprooted by war and oppression. It’s a song to remind us to open up our hearts and hear other voices sing their stories. I was listening to Mavis Staples, Bombino, Joe Strummer and Bob Dylan.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, Perfect

ED SHEERAN AND BEYONCEPERFECT: Not content with leaving Perfect to stand up on its own merits (and become another gargantuan hit in the process), Ed Sheeran has now teamed up with Beyonce to record a new version of it – new in the sense that it boasts a duet. The collaboration came about after Ed played the song to Beyoncé on his guitar, prior to the release of his 10.5 million-selling album ÷ (pronounced ‘divide’), and she immediately fell in love it. In late summer 2017, the pair took to the studio to record the duet, creating one of the biggest collaborations of the year. Whether Beyonce adds much to it is debatable, but she certainly lays down some really earnest vocals that are augmented by a gospe-style backing chorus. It remains a subtle, understated song, reliant on acoustic strums and sincerity. And it will still melt hearts. But if we’re being ultra-picky, we think the song works best when left to Sheeran. It’s an endearing song but it somehow works better in original form.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bright OST

LOGIC & RAG’N‘BONE MANBROKEN PEOPLE: One of the artists of the year, Rag’n‘Bone Man unites with rapper Logic for new single Broken People, the latest to be taken from the apparently star-studded soundtrack of the Netflix film Bright (starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton). An emotive blend of hip hop and R’n‘B/soul, this plays to the strengths of both artists. Rag’N‘Bone man takes chorus duty, delivering a sweeping sung rendition of “we’re broken people now”, while declaring “there’s no glory in defeat”. Logic, meanwhile, raps lyrical over the themes inherent in the film – race, politics, acceptance and more. Instrumentally, there’s hip hop beats and cinematic strings to heighten the big screen vibe. The mix of styles works well between the two artists, especially since Rag’N‘Bone Man often uses similarly emphatic beat structures in some of his songs. And it’s notable, too, for allowing the personalities of both artists to shine through, without compromising on the elements that make them distinct in their own genres. Following on from Bastille’s World Gone Mad, the soundtrack to Bright looks very promising.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

GET CAPE WEAR CAPE FLYJUST A PHASE: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly drops another taster from his forthcoming Young Adult LP (out on January 19), in the form of the lively Just A Phase. Built around punchy guitar hooks and a punk-style central vocal, this belts along at a cracking pace, sweeping the listener along with it. With its fizzing alt-rock riffs and woozy undulating synthesisers, Just A Phase is designed to be joyous and carefree in nature. But as ever with Get Cape’s music there is more to be found when you scratch the surface, with the track opening-up an intriguing dialogue about our triangular relationship with politics and social media. Speaking about the track, Sam Duckworth AKA Get Cape, said: “We’re constantly told of all the things that are going wrong, how idiots are running the world into the ground. How division and hopelessness are everywhere. We watch others argue and laugh at our own demise. It’s about getting ready to get tough because the real fight is an offline one. Rebuild and repair, means getting off Twitter and back to the physical realm.” These are fine sentiments married to a fine record.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Tates, Water

THE TATESWATER: The Tates release their new single Water as a digital download through Libertino Records. Hailed as a brightly infectious record, the track has been eagerly anticipated after the success of the band’s debut release Electric Girl. It has also been supported by Huw Stephens, BBC Introducing, Radio 1 and gained Amazing radio play-listing as well as being A-listed on BBC Radio Wales. Lyrically, Water asks a poetic question exploring themes of nature over nurture, as Tom the guitarist explains: “Are the flaws that we share with our parents who we are, or have we learnt from them? Are we free to be the people we want to be or are we trapped by our genetic makeup and our immediate environment and society?” The song itself boasts some slick electronic and guitar hooks, as well as a catchy chorus that declares “there must be something in the water”. It has a playful energy to match its lyrical intelligence, meaning this is easy on the ear while posing questions of the mind – not a bad combination.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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No Hot Ashes, Eight Till Late

NO HOT ASHESEIGHT TILL LATE: Eight Till Late is the first single to emerge from No Hot Ashes’ upcoming EP, Skint Kids Disco, which will be released on the Modern Sky label on March 30, 2018. Marrying the louche strut of Orange Juice and liquid rhythms of Two Door Cinema Club, vocalist Isaac Taylor overlays his agile and distinctly fierce vocal stylings on a record that fizzes with a palpable energy. The central guitar riff has a siren-like feel to it, as well as a post-punk vibe, which works well against Taylor’s gruff, punk-infused vocal style. And yet, there’s a keen sense of melody too, enabling the song to drop a genuinely catchy, radio-friendly chorus. It’s easy to see why the track was picked up for use by critically-acclaimed, hit BBC series The A Word. Designed to move the listener physically and emotionally, the lyrics of Eight Till Late also see frontman Taylor open-up about his own personal struggles with mental health. Speaking about the track, Taylor explains: “The single is about mental health and how it’s affected me and people around me. I wanted to give a fairly honest account of how day to day struggles can weigh on the brain, everything from work to your favourite fizzy drinks being tampered with. As a band we think that modern life is all a bit much and taking time to fix your head is essential.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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