Follow Us on Twitter

Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 19, 2018

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

Beck, Dear Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECKFIX ME: Having dazzled with the upbeat likes of Colors, Up All Night and Wow from his latest album, Beck now serves up a charming reminder of his ability to charm too with the more tender Fix Me. Call it a Coldplay moment, if you like (a la Fix You), this drops a sedate beat, some spine-tingling electronic arrangements and a hushed set of vocals that declare “I want you” several times throughout. It’s got a bittersweet element, too, given that the singer is essentially asking to be fixed. But it’s delivered in a warm, intimate manner that genuinely endears, making this another great example of why Beck’s continued ability to evolve and dazzle remains undimmed. Indeed, his latest LP could rate among the best of his career given the number of sensational hits it has so far delivered. Fix Me is capable of repairing the darkest moods. It’s sublime.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here:

Sean Christopher

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SEAN CHRISTOPHER – A THOUSAND HUES: A Thousand Hues is the new single from Bristol-based singer-songwriter Sean Christopher, and it’s a tender, beguiling, but still beautiful listen. A heartbreaking song inspired by real life tragedy, it is genuinely poignant and thought-provoking, befitting the story that inspired it. “I read a story a few years ago about a Japanese man who lost his wife during the tsunami back in 2011,” explains Sean. “He could not find her on land and so decided to take diving lessons to search the sea. I was really moved by it and A Thousand Hues was written soon after.” Accompanying Christopher’s tender vocals and heartfelt lyrics is a sublime, folksy acoustic guitar (wrapped around a simple harmony), as well as some suitably cinematic, yet atmospheric electronics, that conjure that feeling of being at sea, both physically and – in this song’s case – mentally. A Thousand Hues is the third track to be taken from Christopher’s debut album, Yonder, which is due for release on May 11. It follows previous releases Carry On and Paper Plane Pilot and maintains the high standards Christopher is setting himself. Heck, it’s no faint praise to say that in terms of emotional range, A Thousand Hues is comparable with acts like Elbow.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

Van William

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: VAN WILLIAMCOSMIC SIGN: former Port O’Brien frontman Van William has unveiled a new single, Cosmic Sign, from his newly released LP Countries. And it’s the second of this week’s singles to sound mournful in the face of the current US political scene. Says William: “Cosmic Sign was the last song written for my debut record Countries. I wrote it after the election when I was feeling particularly dark and my initial instinct was to go hide in a cave somewhere. I challenged myself to write a song from the perspective of the country that I love and yearn for. Despite the monsters in the White House, I still have great hope for this country, and I wanted to reflect that in memories I have from traveling around, getting inspired by the people and places that actually make this country what it is.” In spite of the sorrow surrounding its inspiration (“just need to make sense of this mess”), the song still retains an upbeat sensibility, especially when landing its punchy chorus. The acoustic guitars, meanwhile, are nicely delivered and full of bright melodicism, while William’s vocals are tender and thoughtful. It’s a song that’s as quietly empowering as it is poignant – reflecting the sad state of a nation that finds itself in turmoil.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

Eels, The Deconstruction

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: EELSTHE DECONSTRUCTION: “The Deconstruction has begun… time for me to fall apart”…. So sing Eels over the opening lyrics of new release, The Deconstruction. The title track from their forthcoming LP, it’s a suitably emotive offering that builds towards a heady chorus in which the band lament: “I break apart.” But while certainly rousing during those choral moments, the song is a slow-builder that dips its toe into the cinematic, the surreal and the psychedelic. And it’s all the better for doing so. Eels have never been a band to shy away from experimentation and doing things a little differently, while remaining hip and exciting in the process, and The Deconstruction is a mighty fine offering. I mean, there’s the disarmingly deceptive low-key opening, built around acoustic guitar and strings, before the track finds an R’n‘B-style rhythm section and swirling cinematic strings. Not content with building, it also deconstructs things at times, allowing pause for thought, to consider the themes at play. It’s playful, serious, inspirational and the type of song that just keeps getting better with each listen. We can’t wait to hear the rest of the new material.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Twitter

Listen here

Daniel Avery, Slow Fade

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 5: DANIEL AVERYSLOW FADE: Five years after his critically acclaimed debut Drone Logic, London-based producer Daniel Avery announces his highly anticipated second album, Song For Alpha, which is set for release on April 6, 2018 on Phantasy worldwide and Phantasy/Mute in North America. The album is preceded by a four-track limited edition 12” vinyl EP entitled Slow Fade, which is available now. The new long player, on which the track Slow Fade will appear, looks set to cement Avery’s reputation as a producer to watch – especially if the lead single is anything to go by. A late night anthem that’s propelled by haunted, swishing electronics and subtle, ghostly beats, this is immediately striking, hugely evocative and even a little bit ethereal. You could well imagine it gracing the soundtrack of a new Michael Mann thriller, or a Nicolas Winding Refn Drive sequel, such as the way it transports you to neon landscapes interlaced with beauty and danger. It’s a seductive instrumental that, for all of its danger, has a beauty too. It leaves you begging to hear more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

Justin Timberlake, Supplies

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKESUPPLIES: The second new release from Justin Timberlake’s forthcoming Man of the Woods LP is another strong offering from the global superstar. Supplies maintains the harder, edgier sound of predecessor Filthy in the way that it drops gritty hip-hop infused beats, sharp synths and an equally gritty vocal. Indeed, this could be the closest Timberlake has come to a straight hip-hop single, even though it eventually opens up into something more pop, when a flourish of instrumentals swamp the record and brighten its finale. Prior to that, there’s a more straight-forward hip-hop/R’n‘B hybrid that works on its own terms. And when Timblerlake drops the chorus of “I got supplies”, it’s tailor-made for singing along. In our opinion, this is even better than Filthy.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

Spinn

SPINNAFTER DARK: A break-up staged beneath the streetlights, soundtracked by duelling guitars, Spinn’s latest release, After Dark, is a high quality slice of indie-pop that should further endear this band to a lot of people. The guitars, in particular, make for an ear-pleasing backdrop, reminiscent of classic The Cure and The Smiths; while the lovelorn lyrics are nicely conveyed by frontman Jonny. Commenting on how After Dark‘s songwriting provided him with his biggest challenge yet, Jonny said: “It was a song I struggled writing the lyrics to, because in comparison to a lot of our stuff its quite heavy and dark. And I’m not a heavy or dark kind of person really. Essentially it’s about seeing some friends of mine relationship slowly break down. I wrote about it in a ‘he said, she said’ way because as they say, there’s always two sides to a coin or a story.” It’s the intelligence in the lyrics that also helps the track to stand out, lending it a melancholy undertow in spite of the bright, sharp melodies and hooks.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

The Chainsmokers, Sick Boy

THE CHAINSMOKERSSICK BOY: The Chainsmokers adopt a slightly darker tone for their new single Sick Boy and, admittedly, lose some of their charm. A lament about the state of modern America, this is nevertheless a timely recording that taps into the US mood of the moment. It drops lines such as: “I’m from the east side of America, where we choose pride over character… I live on the west side of America, where they spin lies into fairy dust.” Hence, while some of the synth pop and EDM signature traits remain intact (enough to lend it dance cred), the overall piano sound and symphonic elements are far more melancholy and subdued. It’s harder to sing-along, yet easier for the lyrics to linger. Indeed, vocally, there’s a haunted quality to it at times. The track does build to a rousing finale, but this serves to merely underline the points the song is making. Hence, while Sick Boy may not be The Chainsmoker’s most anthemic, euphoric offering, it’s arguably their most potent.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

Editors, Violence

EDITORSMAGAZINE: Editors have unveiled Magazine as the first taster of forthcoming album Violence. Described as a dizzylingly bright, yet barbed opening salvo, it’s also being hailed as a stylistic shift for the band. It’s essentially an anthemic pop song, with indie leanings, that savagely attacks the empty gestures and posturing of those in power. Built around a rousing chorus, some swelling keys and crunching, industrial chords, it’s designed to be a muscular, yet dynamic call to arms. And it succeeds in getting itself noticed, thanks to that surging chorus and some occasionally sharp stabs of guitar. As ever, Tom Smith’s vocals are powerful and edgy, lending extra bite to the politically charged lyrics. Talking about Magazine, Smith said: “Magazine is a pointed finger aimed at those in power… some corrupt politician or businessman…. a character, and a tongue-in-cheek poke at the empty posturing and playing to the masses of the power hungry.” It’s songwriting such as this that keeps Editors so contemporary and relevant.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

George Ezra, Paradise

GEORGE EZRAPARADISE: The man behind the insanely catchy Budapest is back with new material… and he’s recaptured that catchiness straight away. An ode to unbridled fledgling romance, this is a breeze of a record from the outset that is tailor-made for singing along to. There are cute harmonies, slick guitar riffs, toe-tapping beats and an overall sense of infectious energy that’s difficult to resist. Yes, the elements are simple but they are tellingly effective. The cuteness is underlined by the shouted background vocals that emphasise each point the record is making, as well as the anthemic chorus, the t’t‘t’-time or boom boom lyricism that – again – invites sing-alongs, and the electrifying central guitar riff that runs playfully throughout. It’s a welcome musical shot to the arm that reminds you of the power of a good song to sweep away the blues, and bring out that summery, sunshine feeling. If you thought Ezra might struggle to write another record as populist as Budapest, then think again. Roll on the rest of his new material.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here

Lokki, I Catch You

LOKKI – I CATCH YOU: New artist Lokki releases his debut single in the form of the piano-led I Catch You and impresses. The singer says of the track: “I Catch You is a late night song. Its sound world is like waking up in the early hours of the morning, with music from a sound track drifting through the walls. The strings gradually meld with the piano, seeping into your sleepy mind. Splintering and falling apart, reforming and fading.” It’s a slow-building offering that showcases a tender, emotive singing voice from Lokki, as well as a deeply cinematic sensibility in the layered instrumentals. Indeed, the way the strings eventually combine and integrate with the pianos is often brilliant, providing a swirling emotional backdrop to a song that is shot through with heartfelt intimacy. If you imagine classic Elton John mixed with A Beautiful South and Aqualung, then you might be somewhere close. Lokki is an artist to watch.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Watch the video

485c

485C – KAPOW: Kapow! is the fourth single from 485C, following on from She’ll Lie, Strange Medicine and Better The Man – tracks which saw them gain support from the likes of Steve Lamacq at 6Music, who included Strange Medicine in his tracks of 2017, John Kennedy at Radio X who invited them in for an evening session performance and Spotify, who included Strange Medicine in their ‘The Best of the Indie List 2017’ playlist. Hailed by many as an addictive slice of indie-pop bedlam, Kapow! lives up to the sound that its name suggests in that it’s a short, sharp shock of winding guitars, louche vocals and slick harmonies, all wrapped up in two minutes and 49 seconds. It’s rather like listening to Leisure-era Blur with touches of The Smiths thrown in. Hence, for anyone thinking they don’t make those sorts of records anymore, then think again. 485c consist of Adam Hume (vocals), Dom Watson (guitar/vocals), Lucas Hunt (drums), Rory McGowan (guitar/backing vocals) and Sam Watkins (bass/backing vocals).
Rating: 3 out of 5

Website l Twitter

Listen here


Heard a great single, but yet to buy it? Well, we may have reviewed it. Previous reviews: