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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 2, 2018

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

Lord Huron

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LORD HURONANCIENT NAMES PART I: LA’s Lord Huron invite you to stare into the abyss this spring with the release of their third full-length album, Vide Noir, out April 20. The first work for their new partnership with Whispering Pines / Polydor Records, Vide Noir follows 2015’s critically lauded Strange Trails. In a preview of the new album, the songs Ancient Names (Part I) and Ancient Names (Part II) have been released as tasters – and they’re brilliant. Part I is particularly striking. After a deceptively slow start, the track bursts into life with a driving guitar riff and some foot-stomping drums, before injecting the same sense of urgency into the lyrics (“I’ve got to get away from her”). As ever with a Lord Huron production, there’s a touch of the cinematic, too, making the track ripe for some soundtrack pick-up. But there’s also a retro leaning in some of the guitar riffs, as well as elements of the ethereal in the vocal delivery. It’s a heady, exciting, lively record that leaves you breathless for more. And yet, the final couple of minutes also toy with you too. As, around the four minute mark, Part I drops the guitars, drums and vocals and has a little ambient chillout of its own, drifting into Part II in almost hypnotic, surreal fashion….
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lord Huron

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LORD HURONANCIENT NAMES PART II: And no sooner has Part I ended in that dreamlike state, then Part II explodes into life in an almost unrivalled punk-rock intensity. The band really unleash their full power on this one, with edgy vocals, livewire guitars and more scattershot drums. There’s even an electronic breakdown that almost turns frenzied, before seguing into some cool guitar licks that ease the track into a more coherent climax. Ancient Names Parts I and II really do showcase Lord Huron at their most ambitious, embracing all of the classic elements that have helped them get to where they stand now, while hinting at an even greater sense of adventure moving forward. If the remainder of the new album is as good as this, then we’re once more in for something special. Vide Noir was written and recorded over the past two years at Lord Huron’s Los Angeles studio and informal clubhouse, Whispering Pines. The album was mixed by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips/MGMT) and engineered by Sonny DiPerri (Portugal. The Man, Animal Collective).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Barr Brothers

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: THE BARR BROTHERSYOU WOULD HAVE TO LOSE YOUR MIND: As The Barr Brothers prepare to play some sold out UK shows, they now release the video to one of their great singles of last year, You Would Have To Lose Your Mind. The video is set in a small house on the remote coast of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Quebec, as a dancer goes wild – exploring every inch of the space, up, down, around, through rooms and on top of furniture, using uninhibited, improvised movement to reach a devastating emotional climax. Contemporary dancer Brittney Canda is the perfect complement to the Barr Brothers’ soaring sound and yearning lyrics. Filmed partially on a Super 8 by frequent Barrs collaborator Vincent René Lortie, the video captures a woman trying to convey what words and even music cannot say. This is You Would Have to Lose Your Mind, the evocative second video from the Barr Brothers’ latest release album Queens of the Breakers. As a record itself, the track displays a similar capacity to hypnotise. Built around a striking guitar riff, this hooks you from the opening strum and then proceeds to offer up an ethereal journey into the sublime (with traces of Lord Huron and Rogue Wave thrown in). The vocals are softly delivered, the lyrics thought-provoking and suitably intimate, while the subsequent accompanying beats nicely delivered to add an extra element of atmosphere. It’s a beautifully beguiling concoction. The remainder of the album explores the raw, elemental power of reflection, forgiveness, loss, and growing up while also exploring the outer limits of folk, blues, rock and Americana.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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They Might Be Giants

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: THEY MIGHT BE GIANTSTHE GREATEST: US alt-rockers They Might Be Giants released their 20th studio album, I Like Fun, in January to huge acclaim from the likes of BBC 6 Music, MOJO, NME, Rolling Stone, SPIN and many more. Over on the other side of the pond, I Like Fun debuted at No.3 in the Independent Albums, No.8 in Alternative Albums, No.14 in Tastemakers and No.22 Top Album Sales. The band have also now dropped the official video for The Greatest from the album, which features Parks & Recreation luminary Nick Offerman. The song eschews many of the more trademark They Might Be Giant values, with a horn-like central instrumental that does very little, while remaining surprisingly effective. A somewhat melancholy vocal then decries “they call me the greatest, cos I’m not very good and they’re being sarcastic”. It’s a bittersweet record in many ways – darker than a lot of the band’s material, but all the more notable for it. And the video is really striking, with Offerman providing a compelling focal point.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Men

THE MENROSE ON TOP OF THE WORLD: The Men have dropped Rose On Top Of The World as the second single from their upcoming album, which is due March 2 via Sacred Bones Records. The Brooklyn-based band also celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. Vocalist and guitarist Nick Chiericozzi said the following about the new single: “Rose On Top Of The World came out of a Spanish guitar lick, a radar weather map, a poem and maybe a few other things. It has a good title; one that creates a definite mental image but could really be about anything.” The record itself thrives off that Spanish guitar lick, which infuses the track with a breeziness that’s not necessarily present in the slightly more gruff vocals. If anything, the guitar work reminded me of early Cure, while the mid-track solo has a meatier, almost REM-like quality about it. Vocally, there’s more of a moody approach, with Chiericozzi occasionally channelling the style of Dylan. Nevertheless, Rose On Top Of The World is a really good record. Drift marks the seventh full-length LP by NYC rock polymaths The Men. The band’s last album, the self-released Devil Music, was the sound of a band who had been through hell hitting reset and looking to their roots to rediscover themselves. On Drift, The Men return to their longtime label Sacred Bones Records and explore the openness that Devil Music helped them find.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Fickle Friends, Swim

FICKLE FRIENDSSWIM: As the release of their hotly anticipated debut album approaches, Fickle Friends have announced that their new single will be a new version of Swim – the first track that they ever released as a band. To celebrate the release of the new version of Swim, a three track EP will also be released featuring a very special acoustic version and remix from Great Good Fine OK. Since they first dropped Swim in demo format – unmanaged and without a team, back in 2014 – much has changed for the Brighton five-piece, fronted by Natti Shiner. In March they will release their debut album You Are Someone Else on Polydor Records – the label that signed them off the back of the three years of solid touring, hard graft and unexpected success that came with Swim originally (it’s since had over14 million streams on Spotify). The new version retains the vibrancy and electro-pop energy of the original, while quite possibly emerging as something even more effervescent. It’s a romp of a record. The Great Food Fine remix adds a little edge, infusing the song with stop-start beats and on-off electronic flourishes. It’s a really good remix. In contrast, the acoustic version of Swim showcases a much more tender side to the record, with some disarming vocals adding a sense of vulnerability that’s heightened by the piano backing. It’s a beautiful transformation of an already great song.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tarantina

TARANTINA – I AM A LONER: Having previously released the single Fables and 1/9 late last year, self-taught singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and videographer Tarantina returns with the release of the video for her latest single, I Am A Loner. Speaking about the video, which was a collaboration between herself and director Samuel Thomas, Tarantina explains: “I Am A Loner is about a girl who watches her ex-boyfriend through his window, scales the walls of his building and inhales from his chimney like a cigarette. I wanted the video to demonstrate how love can push someone to the edge of madness.” The video is, indeed, a striking piece of work, cinematic in its depiction of that descent into madness. The song itself has a similarly cinematic quality, as well as something that’s exotic and dangerous. Tarantina’s sultry vocals purr over proceedings, only really hinting at the madness inherent in the lyrics. The beats, meanwhile, are nicely layered, while the inclusion of a brass-style electronic harmony adds a sense of urgency. But it’s all about the slow-build and the backing vocal harmonies have that ethereal, dream-like element that adds to the hypnotic effect of the record. I Am A Loner is taken from Tarantina’s forthcoming Teething EP, which will be released in Spring 2018. It should be very good.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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LOVA, You, Me & The Silence

LOVAYOU ME AND THE SILENCE: LOVA wants her music to make a difference, and start a conversation. Hence, new single You, Me and The Silenc embodies this vision, and wraps it in an impossibly catchy tune. A good role model isn’t someone who always says the right things, never makes mistakes or lives the ‘perfect life’ on Instagram. A role model for LOVA is someone who dares to acknowledge her personality, someone who is willing to be herself and doesn’t adapt to the norm and society’s liking. She explains further: “You Me and The Silence is about how we, in today’s society, constantly need to perform and entertain each other in social gatherings. No matter if it’s a close friend or someone you just met, we are immediately supposed to deliver humour, intellect and interesting conversations. All to avoid the uncomfortable and scary silence that appears when we don’t know what to say. I don’t want to have conversations that are filtered and untrue, it doesn’t give me anything. I want to be in a room with you and everything we have is the silence and that will be enough. That’s more than enough.” Noble [and correct] message aside, You, Me And The Silence is also striking for the way in which it takes a worthwhile message and still manages to wrap it up in something that sounds fresh, exciting and fun. The beats are lively, the vocals beautiful and the melodies and harmonies ear-pleasing and tailor-made for playing loud across the radio. The central beats and electronics could even be something that David Holmes would be proud of. It’s a striking statement from LOVA that marks her out as an artist to watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nina Nesbitt

NINA NESBITTSOMEBODY SPECIAL: Nina Nesbitt’s recent tracks The Best You Had and The Moments I’m Missing demonstrated a huge leap forward from her Top 15 debut album Peroxide. It displayed a command of modernist pop and R&B-tinged sounds which she blends with her own confessional songwriting. As a result, they’ve both been embraced by fans including Hollywood royalty in the shape of Chloë Grace Moretz and Taylor Swift, who included The Best You Had on her ‘favourite tracks’ Spotify and Apple playlists. Now, Nesbitt looks set to further her burgeoning reputation with the release of Somebody Special, which again shows a deft command of R&B-soaked modernist pop. The beats are sharp and moody, the synths are slick and sleek, and the confessional lyrics are delivered in a vocal style that’s equal parts innocent and sultry. The song itself is a love song with a twist – it’s about a relationship which inspires someone to rediscover their own self-worth and potential. “I think everyone wants to feel good about themselves”, Nina explains “but when you’re with somebody that is emotionally abusive it can really wear you down, so I wanted to show that moment where she realises that she deserves more and finally takes control of the situation.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Will Varley, Let It Slide

WILL VARLEYLET IT SLIDE: Will Varley has released a new track, Let It Slide, which arrives just ahead of his forthcoming fifth studio album Spirit Of Minnie, released February 9, 2018 through Xtra Mile Recordings. A folk-rock record dripping in Varley’s trademark husky vocals, this is also a song dripping in atmospheric moodiness. Varley implores the listener to “let it roll, let it roll, let it slide out of our control”, somehow marrying a despondency with something more determined. The guitar, meanwhile, is mostly folksy and slightly bluesy. But a mandolin occasionally weaves its way in and out of the track to add something a little bit extra whenever it’s around. Following 2016’s much praised Kingsdown Sundown and a sold out show at London’s Union Chapel, Spirit Of Minnie marks a distinct change of direction for the singer-songwriter, recording for the first time with a full band set up. Produced by Cameron McVey (Massive Attack, Portishead, Neneh Cherry), the new album expands on the pared back musical palette of Varley’s previous sound, all the while retaining his gift for painterly, affirming and immediate lyric writing.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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