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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, December 6, 2019

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

Editors, Black Gold

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: EDITORSBLACK GOLD (ZAMILSKA REMIX): Polish experimental producer Zamilska has delivered a raw and metallic remix of Editors’ Black Gold and duly exhilarates. The new version of an already atmospherically brilliant track feels like a cross between Trent Reznor and Depeche Mode, with Editors stamp all over it. The metallic nature of the remix lends it a harder edge, with perhaps an even greater sense of immediacy. But while certainly making the track sound fresh and new throughout the verses, the chorus still manages to retain the power of the original. It’s brilliantly realised. Respected for her difficult to categorise productions that join the dots between techno, noise and electronica, Zamilska’s past releases have picked up support from the likes of Iggy Pop and Tom Ravenscroft on BBC 6MUSIC when not sound-tracking avant-garde short films and documentaries. The Digital Dragons artist and Untuned Records owner now remixes Black Gold from the latest Editors album, following a recent rendition from Joe Turner. It captures the emotive energy from Tom Smith’s vocals on the original and adds distortion, syncopated synth lines and punchy drum programming while elevating the electronica tempo of the track by chopping up guitar licks for a rhythmically satisfying effect.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Haux, Eight

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: HAUX feat ROSIE CARNEYEIGHT: Woodson Black, aka Haux, has returned with a new single entitled Eight, featuring Rosie Carney. The track is Haux’s first release since his 2018 EP and accompanying short film Something To Remember. Carney has previously supported Haux on the road and has played in his live band. The pair’s emotionally fuelled interweaving vocals are reminiscent of Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan’s mid-2000s indie-folk, whilst the waltzing rhythm creates a haunting lullaby tone for this lush, nostalgic number. Hence, Eight is a slow-burning, deeply atmospheric offering that offers up a sensitively delivered rumination on life, love and the nature of relationships, as seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy coming to terms with the death of a loved one. It’s touching, poignant, bittersweet and beguiling. Woodson credits Eight with bringing him back into the fold of his Haux persona. He explains the song as “an eight-year-old me processing the death of my aunt as I sat by her bedside”. The memory returned to him after meeting an eight-year-old girl who spoke openly about losing her father to cancer. “It made me wonder if she would still be talking about it so candidly when she was older or if she would bury those memories as I had.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Haley

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: HALSEYFINALLYBEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Having dropped some dark singles of late, Halsey now comes over all romantic – and with more than a hint of country – on new single Finally/Beautiful Stranger. A stripped back country-tinged pop ballad, this places Halsey’s vocals front and centre, with a laidback beat and some country acoustic guitar. But it only enhances the sweeping romanticism behind the track, while enabling fans to really take in their favourite singer’s intoxicating vocals. Have they ever sounded quite so sultry and disarming? The chorus, in particular, finds her singing: “Beautiful stranger, here you are, in my arms and I know that beautiful strangers only come along to do me wrong. And I hope, beautiful stranger, here you are in my arms. But I think it’s finally, finally, finally, finally, finally safe for me to fall.” It’s a hopeful song, undoubtedly born from some of the hurt that’s informed the previous offerings, but one that finds the singer preparing to make a leap of faith that might just end in happiness. The track is taken from her forthcoming third studio album Manic, which lands on January 17, 2020.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Beach Bunny, California

BEACH BUNNY – MS. CALIFORNIA: Beach Bunny have dropped the highly infectious Ms. California as the second single from their forthcoming debut LP, Honeymoon, out February 14, 2020 on Mom+Pop. The song from the Chicago-based four-piece, fronted by Lili Trifilio, hears them contrasting an upbeat, rapturous melody with lyrics filled with complicated envy. Trifilio says of the track: “Ms. California tells the story of someone who is secretly in love with a person who is in a relationship and wishes that they could be their significant other. I wanted to write a song that captured the frustration and feelings of jealousy and bitterness – something many of us have experienced.” The alt-rock/indie vibe is reminiscent of classic American alt-rock, with a hook-laden chorus that’s reminiscent of Fountains of Wayne’s Stacy’s Mom at times. For the UK fanbase, there’s also a hint of Ash, as well as some of the grunge-pop of bands such as L7 and Garbage (this could easily find its way onto the soundtrack of a film like Captain Marvel). It’s catchy, fun and loaded with great riffs. The song is paired with a video directed by Matt Gehl, from Everybody’s Baby, that follows Beach Bunny on a bad day. The new single follows their 2018 breakout Prom Queen, which garnered over 70 million streams and recent swooning and anthemic track Dream Boy, the lead single off Honeymoon.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alanis Morissette, Reasons I Drink

ALANIS MORISSETTEREASONS I DRINK: It’s been a while but Alanis Morissette is back with another ‘jagged little pill’ of a record in the acerbic Reasons I Drink. Taken from the album Such Pretty Forks In The Road (out May 1, 2020), the track is shot through with classic Morissette elements: bitterness, cynicism, catchy hooks and a strong chorus. There’s self-analysis, as she takes a look at the reasons she has turned to drink, while simultaneously tackling issues of mental wellbeing in a timely, resonant fashion. It’s a hard-hitting song, lyrically, that isn’t afraid to deliver some home truths (“And here are the reasons I eat, reasons I feel everything so deeply when I’m not medicated” and “So that’s it I am buying a lamborghini, to make up for these habits to survive”), while hinting at society’s inherent need to drown itself in medication and consumerism at the expense of self. Her vocals remain as distinct and powerful as ever, too, meaning that Reasons I Drink is a completely addictive offering that finds the singer at her best as she prepared to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill next summer.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Niall Horan, Put A Little Love on Me

NIALL HORANPUT A LITTLE LOVE ON ME: Niall Horan has shared the sentimental piano ballad Put a Little Love On Me, from his forthcoming album, and an accompanying video that finds him sitting at said piano, while also staring into a mirror and offering up some thoughtful introspection. The song itself tackles issues of identity, loneliness and love, with Horan imploring one of the subjects to “put a little love on me” and give him the opportunity to recipricate. It’s a confessional offering, shot through with raw emotion, as Horan lays his heart on his sleeve and prepares for the possibility of more hurt. But it’s not without self-reflection and criticism, thereby demonstrating a nice line in vulnerability that’s easy to relate to. As ballads go, it’s a decent offering that could easily find its way onto a film or TV soundtrack. The piano accompaniment is nicely delivered to, offering a disarming simplicity instrumentally to a song that is shot through with emotional complexity.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Plan B, First Past The Post

PLAN B – FIRST PAST THE POST: Plan B – aka Ben Drew – drops an incendiary new release on the weekend before the General Election, offering a hard-hitting, no holds barred analysis of what he sees as the current political situation. Adopting a hard rap style, complete with F-bombs and C-bombs, the track contemplates the importance of voting, while referencing current thinking on everything from immigration to the environment via Brexit. It’s clear, from the outset, he has very little tolerance for the political heavyweights vying for power, dropping lines like “Cameron said this country’s broke, but the only thing that’s broke in Britain is the system, trust me it’s a f**king joke”. Crucially, he offers no opinion on who you should vote for, putting the case for each party towards the end of the track and admitting the dilemma at play in deciding (“you need a clear head for what’s approaching”). Whether the single has any longevity once the voting deadline has passed it something worth considering, but it’s a timely lament at the current state of Britain that does have something worthwhile to say as we approach Polling Day. But then that’s what we’ve come to expect from Plan B.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Blink-182, Not Another Christmas Song

BLINK-182 – NOT ANOTHER CHRISTMAS SONG: “I hate to be a downer” announce Blink-182 at the start of their anti-Christmas Christmas song. But it’s kind of reassuring that at a time of year more commonly associated with hopeless schmaltz (step forward Little Mix), a band can emerge with something that feels seasonally timely if not overly jolly. This is a typically tongue in cheek post-punk offering, that retains that classic Blink-182 melodicism and edge, while dropping plenty of seasonal subversion. Lyrics include “I’m burned out like lights on a tree” and “why can’t we get divorced for Christmas, because it just isn’t the same, I miss the nights that we got twisted, I miss fucking in the rain”. But while die-hard Christmas fanatics may lament the unfriendly, Christmas-baiting nature of said lyrics, there’s something addictive about the bad boy sentiments at play. It’s catchy, edgy, occasionally bitter and the perfect antidote to some of those endlessly happy, endlessly repetitive Christmas offerings that bombard you this time of year.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Smoke Fairies, Elevator

SMOKE FAIRIESELEVATOR: Back at their most riff-heavy, Smoke Fairies (Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire) have dropped a new single in the form of Elevator, ahead of their sixth studio album Darkness Brings The Wonders Home in January 2020. The song is chock full of foreboding hooks and psychedelic leaning vocals, as well as a touch of the surreal, which is echoed in the theme behind the lyrics. Talking about the origins of the song, Blamire explains: “Someone said to me ‘I never say goodbye in elevators’ and then the doors rolled shut and I whizzed off upwards. The exchange spurred this song – there is no way of knowing what is going on in someone else’s mind and sometimes it just feels like you’re kind of lost, like being in an elevator stuck between floors, trying to figure them out. “The song is set in Hollywood. How many weird exchanges, miscommunications and career breaks and falls must have taken place inside of Hollywood elevators?” It’s perhaps fitting, therefore, that some of the riffs also carry a hint of the cinematic about them, as though auditioning for a spot on the soundtrack to a filmmaker such as Tarantino. It’s a fun listen that’s delivered with plenty of edge.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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