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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 11, 2019

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

ViVii

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ViVii – AND TRAGIC: Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii release their dreamy new single And Tragic through Dumont Dumont (Ry X, Charlie Cunningham, Josin). Taken from their eponymous debut album, which is set for release on March 15, the song is as idyllic a listen as only the Swedish trio know how to deliver. The electronics are charming and rife with melody, the female vocals delectably sultry and heart-meltingly beautiful. It’s a song to bring genuine cheer to the January blues, which feels emotionally honest, feel-good and laidback to the point of being horizontal. Speaking about the single, ViVii explain: “We had an idea about what this song was going to be about, but under the process it all changed and the song took its own turn.I guess thats how we like to write music, to let the song happen and to let the music have its own way. But the essence of the song is that life is fun and tragic all at the same time.” As bittersweet and true as that statement is, the lyrical ingredients make for a wholly satisfying listen. Having made their New York live debut at the Sweden Makes Music showcase on December 4, 2018, ViVii are confirmed for this year’s SXSW festival in Texas, as well as Eurosonic and By:larm and will play London’s Hoxton Bar and Kitchen on February 15.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Catfish & The Bottlemen

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMENLONGSHOT: Billed as an ode to success and survival, Catfish & The Bottlemen’s rousing new anthem Longshot is a blistering comeback of sorts. The Welsh rockers have been away for a little while but they have long been the creators of skyscraping rock anthems that tap into a classic songwriting sensibility. Here, some catchy, meaty guitar riffs, some chirpy melodic hooks and a toe-tapping back-beat contribute to a track that is alive with positivity and enthusiasm. It’s a rock track, first and foremost, but it’s also the type of song that boasts genuine crossover appeal, tipping its toe into a pop arena at times. Hence, if you’re fans of bands such as Kasabian and Muse, who know how to tap into the mainstream without sacrificing their core values, then this will tick all of your boxes. It’s a cracking start to 2019 for the band. Expect to hear plenty from them (as well as the song itself) throughout the remainder of the year. The accompanying video offers black and white, simple visuals, courtesy of director Jim Canty. Comprised of a single shot, with no cuts, this finds the camera, McCann’s car and the band themselves in a continual state of motion, as they embark on a journey against a stunning coastal backdrop.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Trapper Schoepp, What You Do To Her

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: TRAPPER SCHOEPPWHAT YOU DO TO HER: Xtra Mile recording artist Trapper Schoepp has premiered What You Do To Her as the latest track from the Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter’s eagerly anticipated new album, Primetime Illusion – and it marries a timely, hard-hitting message with classic rock songwriting values. Featuring vocals from Nicole Atkins, the song presents the grim story of sexual assault’s continued impact in our communities and serves as a call to action in the cultural fight against sexual violence. It boasts lyrics such as “what you do to her, we all see, what you do to her, you should never be free”. You don’t have to strain your brain too hard to guess who the song’s targets are. But it’s also a rallying call to anyone who has suffered sexual abuse and violence, which makes it timely as hell, while furtherhing the momentum of the #MeToo movement. Yet, while socially astute, the guitars and harmonica contribute to a rabble-rousing slice of pure rock, which owes more than a passing resemblance to the likes of Tom Petty in his prime and even The Boss. It’s a song that packs a punch, while offering a good time. The video was created by Milwaukee-based animator, Casey Hoaglund. Commenting on the track themselves, the band said: “This song is about the epidemic of sexual assault and the ripple effects these attacks have within our communities,” says Schoepp. “The verses tell the all-too-frequent story of a man who gets away with his actions, while the the chorus reminds us how we’re all affected – survivors, their families, their friends, and the community as a whole. For too long, men have stood on the sidelines on this issue. I wrote this song to call out behavior like this, and we need to do this in our daily lives, too. It’s one thing to show solidarity behind the scenes, but men need to become vocal allies and do the work to change our culture. The time for accountability is now.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Janelle Monae, Screwed

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: JANELLE MONAESCREWED (feat. ZOE KRAVITZ): “I live my life in a magazine, I live my life on a TV screen, I live my life on birth control, I lost my mind on rock n roll”…. so sings Janelle Monae over the opening moments of catchy new R’n‘B single Screwed. And as some of those sentiments suggest, this is very much a rant against the state of the world, which she aptly describes as “screwed”. Rather than sounding angry, however, Monae has chosen to wrap the single up in lively beats, R’n‘B-tinged, pop soaked melodies and the odd rock guitar twang. But make no mistake, the song takes a very proactive view to society, taking potshots at the emphasis placed on celebrity, sex, power and money in the current climate. She therefore concludes “we’re so screwed”. The accompanying video, featuring Zoe Kravitz, is hard-hitting, too, taking a seemingly carefree opening and turning it into something altogether darker and more troubling, complete with a sobering conclusion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chemical Brothers, MAH

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERSMAH: The Chemical Brothers have dropped a hard-hitting club banger in the form of MAH as the second offering from their forthcoming new LP, No Geography (out in the spring). The ‘MAH’ of the title stands for ‘mad as hell’ and it’s easy to guess that this is a protest record to boot. The central refrain states: “I’m mad as hell” before declaring “I aint gonna take it no more”. And while this could relate to anyone’s personal problems, it’s safer to assume it’s an assault on the state of the world, which sees divided nations expressing their disdain for politicians, bureaucrats and big business. The energy of the accompanying beats and squelchy electronics taps into that feeling of anger, while the rave element hints at something underground bubbling beneath the surface. A sense of rebellion perhaps? Hence, while hard-hitting as hell in a dance kind of way, this is also a Chemical Brothers track with something to say. And while it’s very hard dance, and therefore for the die-hard Chemical Brothers enthusiasts only, it’s still worth checking out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hot Dreams

HOT DREAMSSTRONGER: After having been highlighted as one of her New Names by Radio 1’s Annie Mac, Hot Dreams grabbed further airplay from the likes of BBC London Introducing and Radio X. Now, Hot Dreams move towards the release of their debut EP by sharing new track Stronger. The track’s euphoric mood brims with emotional yearning before it erupts into flight with a soaring, anthemic chorus that deserves to grace larger stages. Self-produced by the band, and mixed by Michael Sealy, it blurs the boundaries between the atmospheric intensity of post-punk and the enticing immediacy of pop. That is to say, there’s edge to offset some of the more radio-friendly melodies instrumentally. Vocally, though, Hot Dreams channel the emotional sweep of singers like Chris Martin when they hit falsetto highs, while also tapping into something a little more rough around the edges in the build-up to those moments. Perhaps more impressive is the message the song holds. Lyrically, Stronger is a personal account of the stigma surrounding mental health and the consequences of (particularly men) not opening up to each other. It’s a call for compassion and conversation when it comes to things we may not fully understand in other people. If the remainder of the EP is as ear-catching, then Hot Dreams look set to make a very big impression in 2019.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Believer

IMAGINE DRAGONS feat LIL WAYNEBELIEVER: Having teamed up with rapper Lil Wayne for a remix of their track Believer during the College Football Playoff National Championship halftime show earlier this month, Imagine Dragons have now released the track as a single. They’ve worked together before, of course, on the Suicide Squad soundtrack. But this is more of a remix that dabbles with the idea of offering something new. In truth, the song isn’t doing that much different. It’s still the same song, albeit with a prolonged rap interlude from Wayne. The chorus, though, is still as big and shouty as before, with brooding electronics and pounding beats forming the lively backdrop. If you’re a fan, you’ll doubtless dig the remix. If not, you won’t be moved. It’s not their best. But it does the job. Perhaps regrettably, there’s no new video – but then the original did, notably, feature a cracking boxing match between Dragons’ lead singer and a certain Dolph Lundgren. That was a bona fida video of the week!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSECONVERSATION: Lucy Rose releases her fourth album No Words Left on March 22, 2019. To introduce the record, the album’s opening track Conversation is streaming now – and it’s typically assured and beautifully composed. A tender acoustic ballad, this finds Rose reverting back to basics and allowing her stark vocals to take centre stage. The acoustics are intricately composed, as are some subtle piano arrangements and strings… but this is really about letting the lyrics do the talking and hearing what the song – about really listening to each other when things get hard – has to say. As a result, the emotions should resonate with anyone who has been through the ups and downs of a relationship (“no one loves me quite like you do, but no one lets me down the way you do”). It’s a beguiling, fascinating listen. The new album, No Words Left, finds Lucy using her voice to devastatingly frank effect throughout. Lyrically and musically fearless, this record is a beautifully intense, but often unsettling listen. It’s a body of work, a fine modern example of the enduring strength of the album format. Following the album’s release, Lucy wil be heading out on a tour of the UK and Europe in April.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Westlife

WESTLIFEHELLO MY LOVE: Westlife’s first new single in eight years, Hello My Love, is as cheesy and predictable as they come. Written and produced by superstar hitmakers Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac, this is clearly designed to be a soaring pop anthem featuring the band’s trademark vocals and harmonies. Shane, Nicky, Mark and Kian exchange vocal duties on a song that celebrates a ‘perfect’ love (“belly and far from perfect teeth” et al), complete with sweeping choruses, fizzing electronics, toe-tapping beats and a general sense of euphoria. Admittedly, the protagonist is full of self-doubt, struggling to believe how lucky in love they are. But any sense of vulnerability is drowned amid the positivity of the song as a whole. Arriving in January, it’s clearly also designed to bring a little cheer to the January blues. But while the fans will doubtless be delighted with the comeback, it’s so perfectly manufactured (and thereby manipulative) that it never rises above a slick pop offering designed to win Westlife back into the hearts of the mainstream. As sceptical as that sounds, the trick is to avoid being suckered in if you’re not a fan already. The presence of Sheeran as a producer, complete with the same kind of melodic structure as some of his songs, only serves to underline this.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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