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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 26, 2018

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

Thirty Seconds to Mars, Dangerous Night

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THIRTY SECONDS TO MARSDANGEROUS NIGHT: As they gear up for the release of their highly-anticipated fifth studio album, multi-platinum selling band Thirty Seconds To Mars release the record’s second single, Dangerous Night. The track was Zane Lowe’s World Record on Beats 1 – and it’s easy to see why. Less bombastic than former record Walk on Water, this nevertheless has a smouldering intensity that’s born out of lyrics that claim “I am a man on fire, you violent desire”. And yet for all of that inherent danger, the chorus is anthemic in a more pop-rock kind of way – catchy as hell, empowering and inspiring. There’s ‘oh oh’ harmonies running throughout, lending it an extra sheen that should serve it well during the band’s tour dates. Early on, there’s a slick fusion of beats, finger-click beats and stop-start electronics, therefore enabling the song to burst even more emphatically into life. It’s Thirty Seconds To Mars at their best – and it’s a song capable of breaking genres and encapsulating more fans for the band.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mike Shinoda

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MIKE SHINODAWATCHING AS I FALL: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda surprised everyone by releasing three new solo tracks as a digital EP this week. The EP, entitled Post Traumatic, comes as a direct response to the tumultuous months since the passing of former band member Chester Bennington. As Shinoda states: “The past six months have been a roller coaster. Amidst the chaos, I’ve started to feel an intense gratitude — for your tributes and messages of support, for the career you have allowed me to have, and for the simple opportunity to create. Today, I’m sharing three songs I wrote and produced, with visuals that I filmed, painted, and edited myself. At its core, grief is a personal, intimate experience. As such, this is not Linkin Park, nor is it Fort Minor — it’s just me. Art has always been the place I go when I need to sort through the complexity and confusion of the road ahead. I don’t know where this path goes, but I’m grateful I get to share it with you.” Watching As I Fall has enough about it to clearly be the kind of song that’s stemmed from the pen of a Linkin Parker – the emphatic beats, the sense of rage and confusion within the lyrics, the hip-hop infused beats and the nu-metal energy and synths. But it’s very much Shinoda’s own sound, too, with the songwriter singing and rapping in equal measure. It’s a song that combines energy, edge and alternative influences with something that’s equally catchy (in the livewire chorus). It’s a great record.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Justin Timberlake, Say Something

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE feat CHRIS STAPLETONSAY SOMETHING: Another week, another Justin Timberlake newbie from his Man In The Woods LP. But if they continue to display the quality experienced so far on this and last week’s Supplies, then he’s more than welcome to keep dropping new records every week. Eschewing the trademark hip-hop/R’n‘B influences in favour of Timberlake’s newfound respect for ‘modern Americana with 808s’, this has a much more laidback, potentially more serious vibe. Indeed, you could even accuse Timberlake of ‘doing a RagnBone Man’ in the way that he sings earnestly over some folk-infused backing. The presence of country and western maestro Chris Stapleton merely enhances the Americana vibe, as though the song is tapping into the American heartland in search of new fans. Instrumentally, there’s some ear-pleasing acoustic guitar, some smooth soul backing, some finger-click beats and a growing sense of the epic as the song reaches its conclusion. It’s stirring, impassioned stuff (“maybe I’m looking for something I can’t have”) that seems to tap into the current state of uncertainty surrounding most things American at this moment in time.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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No Hot Ashes, Skint Kids Disco

NO HOT ASHESSKINT KIDS DISCO: Skint Kids Disco is the latest tune to emerge from No Hot Ashes’ forthcoming EP of the same name, set for release via the Modern Sky label on March 30, 2018. Picking up where former single Eight Till Late left off, Skint Kids Disco is described as an anthem custom-made to power the listener on into the early hours. Flaunting the band’s mutual love of ’70s and ’80s funk and disco records, the record is a complex concoction of pepped-up percussion, catch-fire chord changes and booty-shaking basslines. The indie-infused vocals, meanwhile, hark back to the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Inspiral Carpets, Jamie T or Just Jack in their prime. And there’s also a spiky, punky element to them that lends the track a little extra edge. It’s energetic, edgy fun. Speaking about the track, frontman Isaac Taylor said: “We wrote this song with every intention of writing an outright disco-pop anthem. Skint Kids Disco incorporates a multitude of sounds and elements that are reminiscent of the music styles we love as individual musicians. Sleazy guitar tones, fat funk bass lines and big disco beats.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mama's Gun

MAMA’S GUNLONDON GIRLS: London Girls, the new single from Mama’s Gun, holds a salient place for frontman and founder of the band, Andy Platts. “I wanted to write a London song,” he explains. “For most of my career, I’ve been making American-influenced music so it’s nice to do stuff that kind of points to where you’re from – having something with ‘London’ in the title without it being too tongue-in-cheek.” While the track works on a patriotic level, it also references the strong females that surround Platts, from his wife, Jodie Seymour (who co-wrote the track), to his own Filipino mother who is depicted on the single’s artwork. Platts, who was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, was introduced to music at a young age through his mother’s Spanish guitar playing. The song itself is a lively romp that feels as celebratory as its subject matter. There are lively piano arrangements, sharp stabs of brass, some slick guitar work midway through and a shuffling back-beat that lends some disco-meets-funk elements. It’s retro leaning, yet contemporary sounding. And, above all else, it’s fun, with a sense of energy that’s entirely infectious.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mike Shinoda

MIKE SHINODAOVER AGAIN: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda surprised everyone by releasing three new solo tracks as a digital EP this week. The EP, entitled Post Traumatic, comes as a direct response to the tumultuous months since the passing of former band member Chester Bennington. As Shinoda states: “The past six months have been a roller coaster. Amidst the chaos, I’ve started to feel an intense gratitude — for your tributes and messages of support, for the career you have allowed me to have, and for the simple opportunity to create. Today, I’m sharing three songs I wrote and produced, with visuals that I filmed, painted, and edited myself. At its core, grief is a personal, intimate experience. As such, this is not Linkin Park, nor is it Fort Minor — it’s just me. Art has always been the place I go when I need to sort through the complexity and confusion of the road ahead. I don’t know where this path goes, but I’m grateful I get to share it with you.” Over Again is the song that bears the biggest pain, revealing in eye-opening detail the feelings of hurt, confusion and disillusionment felt by the band in the immediate aftermath of Bennington’s suicide. It’s raw, honest, heartbreaking and – you’d hope – healing. The chorus is catchy, in spite of the edginess of the rapped verse. But it’s the strikingly honest lyrics that really catch your attention. They hurt.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSEALL THAT FEAR: Lucy Rose has unveiled a new track, All That Fear, which is available to stream online now. As with the recently released End Up Here, All That Fear was recorded during the studio sessions for Lucy’s Something’s Changing LP, which is out now on Communion Records / Caroline International. As ever with a new song from Rose, there’s a raw intimacy to the song that’s utterly endearing. Rose employs her silky soft vocals over tightly written piano melodies and a stirring sense of honesty (“I don’t care”) in her lyrics that is quietly empowering. It’s a song that quietly impresses, dissecting a relationship from a position of hurt, yet clarity. It’s also further evidence of why Rose’s new album is so highly regarded. It boasts a classic sense of songwriting. Committed to playing for as many of her fans as possible, Lucy Rose will embark on her first ever Australian tour next week, playing a selection of headline shows as well as supporting Ben Folds. Following that, Lucy will travel to New Zealand, North America (including a stop over at SXSW in Austin, Texas – showcase details to be announced imminently), and finally mainland Europe in April.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have made It’s A Beautiful World the official second single to be taken from the Number 1 album Who Built the Moon?, following the success of the first single Holy Mountain. Driven by a fantastic back-beat, some propulsive electronics and some stirring guitar riffs, this is fuelled by a tremendously invigorating energy. Gallagher’s distint vocals work brilliantly in tandem with those instrumentals, which benefit greatly from the presence of a certain David Holmes on production details. The chorus then breaks free from the main instrumental to lift the track into soaring, anthemic territory, that’s tailor-made for sending those spines tingling in live form. Coming off the back of previous taster tracks Fort Knox and Holy Mountain, this maintains the quality surrounding all of their new material. Heck, we even like the French speaking interlude late on. Producer David Holmes said: “The track had so much space and was feeling great. After Noel wrote the song he asked me about getting a French vocalist to do some kind of spoken word, so I called my friend Charlotte Courbe and played her an extract from a French short film that I always loved and wanted to borrow from. She then produced an astounding piece of writing that contrasted Noel’s song and music so beautifully.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sam Johnson

SAM JOHNSONPERFECT CIRCLE: Sam Johnson releases his debut single in the form of Perfect Circle and quickly shows plenty of potential. Displaying his penchant for writing emotive and soulful songs, this is built around some moody piano and an earnest, emotive set of vocals that tap into the emotional complexity within the lyrics. The inclusion of some subtle acoustic guitar licks and back-beats only enhances the track’s overall appeal late on, while showcasing Johnson’s ear for a nicely layered, slow builder of a song. Speaking about the track, Sam explained: “This song is all about my childhood and youth growing up as an only child in the countryside. I was always desperate to have brothers or would quite frequently take myself off on solo adventures around the fields and woods to keep myself occupied. During these outings, I would often imagine someone else there to keep me company, and I suppose this is where I drew the inspiration for the song. The lyrics ‘you’re just like me’ aren’t really referring to someone else in a tangible sense at all, but more a figment of my imagination dreamt up to combat the usual restlessness and boredom I’d experience away from my friends in school.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Skelhorn

SKELHORN – A WONDROUS PLACE OF OUR OWN: Skelhorn’s music reflects the past and glimpses the future, fusing his acoustic roots with a passion for electronica via his wonderfully authentic vocals. Think Tarantino meets Morricone, a dusting of Twin Peaks and a shot of rock’n’roll, and you’ll start to get the idea. New single A Wondrous Place Of Our Own has something cinematic about it – but the kind of cinema associated with David Lynch, by way of Chris Isaak fused with Elvis Presley vocally. It’s dream-like, hypnotic (especially when employing a background whistle) and deeply impressive. The strings, the guitars, those vocals… they blend together seamlessly to create something that really takes you on a journey that’s worth listening to. Skelhorn began his musical career at the age of 14, performing in clubs and pubs across the North West of England. He was quickly noticed by Radio Merseyside and Radio City, and could regularly be heard and seen on live broadcasts and roadshows. Through this early radio support, he met and performed with legendary songwriter Bill Dees (Pretty Woman) and Sonny Curtis (The Crickets). Now, though, he looks set to create a very big name for himself.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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