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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, December 21, 2018

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

Cigarettes After Sex, Neon Moon

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CIGARETTES AFTER SEXNEON MOON: Ambient American pop trio Cigarettes After Sex have dropped a doozy of a single ahead of Christmas. Neon Moon may not evoke the spirit of Christmas, but it does have a cold winter night feel to it. Dripping with lush, hushed beats, subtle guitar and electronic riffs, and a gentle central vocal from Greg Gonzalez, this dazzles by virtue of its easygoing beauty. The central line of “and I’ll be alright, as long as there’s light from a neon moon” also brings a reassuring quality to the record, which neatly offsets some of the early uncertainty to be found in the lyrics. But overall, there’s a hypnotic beauty to the single, which combines a cinematic majesty with something utterly beguiling and enchanting. If you’re a fan of Cigarettes After Sex already, then this is the perfect Christmas gift from them. If not, then you might just become one after hearing this. It’s a song to take you through winter in a good way. We can’t wait to hear more from them on this type of form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Raconteurs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE RACONTEURSNOW THAT YOU’RE GONE: Rock fans delight! The Raconteurs – aka Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler – are back with the release of their first new music in more than 10 years… or rather, two new songs. The first of those is Now That You’re Gone and it’s a belter. Featuring Brendan Benson on lead vocals, this adopts a classic rock approach with its gutsy, distinct guitars, bouncing piano loops and melodic chorus. There’s a very definite sense of melancholy in the lyrics (which reflect on a desperate life ‘now that you’re gone’), but the instrumentals help breathe a sense of life into the despair. The guitars, as you would expect, exhilarate – albeit quietly. They’re reigned in but they’re distinct and given plenty of room to breathe. There’s a throbbing bass at times, too, which raises the excitement levels, while some of the piano arrangements have a bounce and energy that invokes the spirit of Motown. But part of the track’s appeal lies in its ability to reference classic songwriting values while bringing its own sensibilities, Raconteurs-style, and a contemporary edge.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gaspar Narby

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: GASPAR NARBY feat D.A.N. – SIGHT: Following on from the release of single Words of July, featuring British singer LEES, the London-based, Swiss producer Gaspar Narby has now unveiled his A Stare Makes Two EP. This is accompanied by the single Sight, a great track that also boasts an eye-catching video. The video follows two people through the streets of New York, both going through the pain of heartbreak and surrounded by memories of their time together. One of the most poignant lines in Sight perfectly sums up the unpredictability of a broken heart: “You never let me in, so I let you go, then I cut you out, now the tables have turned, and the glass is all broke.” Speaking about the video, Gaspar explained: “The video was shot on 16mm by Theo Le Sourd, in Manhattan. I was really happy to work with the same director on all the videos for the EP, as he also made the video for Words of July. Just like D.A.N’s lyrics, it follows he shifting dynamic within a relationship. The regrets, the memories and the present all dance together in Theo’s take of the song.” The track itself is great, alive with beats, electronics and soulful, reflective vocals. There’s a falsetto feel to the vocals, which hang over the beats perfectly. The instrumentals, meanwhile, have that air of the cinematic about them [befitting the accompanying video], as well as the sort of layered beauty that artists such as Bonobo bring to their work. It’s seductive listening, beautifully conveyed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Celeste

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CELESTELATELY: Brighton-bred and now West London-based soul singer Celeste has shared the striking video for current single, Lately, which has been directed by rising photographer and filmmaker Sam Hiscox from an original concept by Celeste. She has described the track as the soundtrack to “overthinking relationships with money, boys, family and work, and not making the most of them,” and the video expands on this idea, cutting from a pensive, chain-smoking Celeste to arguing couples, seedy bars and faceless crowds. It’s genuinely worth seeing. The track, meanwhile, offers a delightful showcase of Celeste’s sultry singing style. Her voice is silky smooth, laidback and distinct, yet with hints of classic artists from Motown to Portishead via Amy Winehouse. The beats help with the Portishead comparison, especially when they kick in a little bit late on… but the darkness inherent in the lyrics is also comparable to both Portishead and Winehouse. There’s a wistful quality to this brooding track, which feels genuinely cinematic to boot. Celeste is very definitely an artist to watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Raconteurs

THE RACONTEURSSUNDAY DRIVER: The second new track from The Raconteurs features Jack White on lead vocals and has all the feel of a classic White track (from his White Stripes days) mixed with a classic rock track. There’s an edgy central guitar, which is stop-start, and an energetic central vocal that has all the livewire tendencies that White brings to his singing. There’s also a pretty kick-ass back-beat to ensure this is the livelier, rockier offering of the two. Just to keep listeners on their toes, there’s even a mid-track diversion into trippy, psychedelic territory to further evoke comparisons with the rock acts of yesteryear. But it does the song no harm, ensuring that it’s alive with invention and creativity. Guitar hounds, however, will certainly delight in the riff-making that takes place here, with several solo moments to savour. It’s a very welcome return from this act. Now That You’re Gone and Sunday Driver both stem from recent sessions for the long-awaited new Raconteurs LP, due for release sometime in 2019. On the evidence so far, we can’t wait to hear more!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rudimental, They Don't Care About Us

RUDIMENTAL feat MAVERICK SABRE & YEBBATHEY DON’T CARE ABOUT US: Rudimental have shared the latest taste of their hugely anticipated new studio album, Toast To Our Differences, teaming up with Maverick Sabre and hotly-tipped, star-on-the-rise YEBBA for the new track, They Don’t Care About Us. And for a song that boasts a title as sad as this, it’s a paradoxically laidback track. The ensuing track therefore combines trippy back-beats and woozy electronics with the soulful, sultry vocals of Grammy nominated, US vocalist YEBBA and the heartfelt, soulful rap balladry of Irish singer Sabre. The result is toe-tappingly effective… akin to a cool breeze on a hot day – and just as fleeting. It doesn’t linger for too long afterwards, in spite of the impassioned lyrics. The mix of vocals is effective, though, and adds to the feelgood vibe surrounding the forthcoming LP, which features a stellar, wide-ranging cast of guest vocalists from all over the world. The album is out on January 25 and the omens appear good.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Wet Dreams

WET DREAMSBAD BOY: The NME has described Wet Dreams as being like a cross between Motorhead and The Hives. The band itself hail from Oslo, Norway, and feature members of Death By Unga Bunga, FOAAAM and Warp Riders. The new single, Bad Boy, is a robust, in your face dose of lo-fi garage and addictive power-punk that refuses to let up for the duration of its two minutes and 40 seconds. Hence, it’s easy to see where the NME got the Motorhead reference from, especially in the crunching nature of the riffs. The garage sound comes from the vocals, which have a raw, scuzzy feel. But the relentless nature of the track makes it something of a niche record – for fans of the genre only. It’s giddy, for sure, and boasts some rollicking guitar solos towards the end. But it sometimes feels a little too excessive and punk for its own good.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Galantis, San Francisco

GALANTIS feat SOFIA CARSONSAN FRANCISCO: Galantis seem to be taking their musical cues from Chainsmokers. New single San Francisco has that same kind of EDM meets pop sensibility as the likes of Paris. There’s disco pop beats, female vocals from Sofia Carson and a bouncy, disposably catchy chorus that repeats the central lyric, “I know I won’t forget that night in San Francisco”. That said, it’s nowhere near as good as Chainsmokers at their best, largely because it feels so derivative. Hence, while you’ll probably be finger clicking along with the beats and nodding your head in appreciation to the chorus (and its accompanying upbeat trumpet fanfare), it’s got that overly familiar feel to it that suggests you’ve heard it done better somewhere before. It’ll doubtless go down a storm on the club scene this winter, though. And it does bring back warm memories of some of my own favourite nights in San Francisco.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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