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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 19, 2019

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

Aaron Smith, Unspoken

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: AARON SMITHUNSPOKEN: Scottish singer songwriter Aaron Smith releases his stunning debut single Unspoken through Platoon and immediately announces himself as an artist of significant talent. A song of emotional strength that deals with the desperate desire to communicate, this is stripped back, disarmingly raw and evocative of artists such as Chris Martin, Ben Howard and Aqualung. Accompanied by just a stark piece of piano, this is a heart on sleeve introduction to the singer-songwriter that displays emotion at its most raw. Dipping between falsetto and normal tones, Smith examines a troubled relationship and the emotional toll it has taken on both of the people involved. Early on, he proclaims “darling you should know that I adore you”, before then admitting: “But I was careless and you were broken… you were ready but I’m unspoken.” It’s heart-achingly beautiful, combining a sense of melancholy with something just a little hopeful. If future Smith singles are this dazzling, then we’re in for a big treat. Speaking about the song, Aaron explains: “The song is about a relationship moving faster for one person than the other and that person being scared of commitment… I’ve been working on my music for a while now and spent a lot of time writing these songs. I’m really looking forward to actually releasing my first bit of music now. It’s exciting to just be able to get it out there and have people listening to something I’ve made.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTSGEN WHY? (DGAF): Oklahoma based emo rockers The All-American Rejects make a very welcome comeback with their Send Her To Heaven EP. Commenting on what to expect, guitarist Mike Kennerty said: “The last couple of records were fun to make but they were pretty draining, whereas I think recording this way keeps us on our toes and excited. We recorded each of these songs on their own and didn’t think of them as a package. We just took each song and went to a different producer to see what we would come up with. Because of the way we went about it, I think we created a diverse group of songs that might not have happened if we did it the way we’ve always recorded in the past.” If that diversity is apparent on tracks like Demons, then the reactionary Gen Why? (DGAF) is more trademark – but highly enjoyable for it. That said, where once the Rejects may have been singing from the disenchanted youth’s point of view, this one feels more world-wise and sceptical. The DGAF of the title refers to “don’t give a fuck” and this track is littered with F-bombs decrying the state of society and the state of a nation in turmoil. It’s anthemic, rousing, playful and fun, yet serious too. It’s a record that feels like a rallying cry towards a generation lost in technology and a Trump presidency. Yet it arrives with the immediacy and potency of a Queen anthem such as “we will rock you”. Rock you, this does… but perhaps into giving a fuck after all!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Four Tet, Dreamer

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: FOUR TETDREAMER: Four Tet’s newest standalone offering is the infectious, nocturnal-leaning Dreamer, which – rather aptly – is dream-like in its quality. Boasting a high energy central beat structure and playfully interwoven electronics, this combines cinematic majesty with club-orientated cool… befitting the late night bar scene in top cities from New York to London. Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden sometimes seems to be channelling his inner-Bonobo with some of the instrumental structures, yet remains highly distinct, too, evoking comparisons with both Simon Green and his own, more recent Teenage Birdsong offering. Put together, these two tracks could mark the start of something new and special, as suggested by Hebden when hinting at a new album coming together. Whatever, Dreamer masterfully weaves its way into your subconscious, engaging both the blissed out element of your brain and the slightly more energetic parts of your body in the way that it pulls you towards the dancefloor. It’s beautifully layered (right down to the tweeting birds in the background), yet effortlessly cool in the way that it pulls you in several directions all at once. To hear it once is to become instantly attracted… thereafter, you’ll be smitten.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Montaigne, Ready

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: MONTAIGNEREADY: Emerging Australian singer-songwriter Montaigne (aka Jessica Cerro) is ready to make her mark in the UK and beyond with the release of her provocative new single Ready and its captivating video. Hardly ever shying away from political debate, Montaigne’s latest offering is no different. Rallying the youth of today and our future leaders/innovators, the official music video for Ready showcases Montaigne leading the pack as they prepare for the revolution amidst the global climate crisis. A soundtrack for activism aimed at a generation who are becoming increasingly ready to embrace the challenge, the song brings an undeniable element of pop as well as something a little more urgent and edgy. Think P!nk mixed with Sia. Montaigne’s soaring vocals elevate the chorus, especially when dropping some soaring vocal harmonies, while there’s an irresistibly sing-along hook in, “I think I’m ready to go, I think I’m ready”. If that cycles like a mantra around the chorus, then the shifting drumbeats and finger-click snaps ensure that you’ll be tapping your toes in readiness to march on behalf of the planet. It’s empowering, timely stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTSSEND HER TO HEAVEN: Oklahoma based emo rockers The All-American Rejects make a very welcome comeback with their Send Her To Heaven EP. Commenting on what to expect, guitarist Mike Kennerty said: “The last couple of records were fun to make but they were pretty draining, whereas I think recording this way keeps us on our toes and excited. We recorded each of these songs on their own and didn’t think of them as a package. We just took each song and went to a different producer to see what we would come up with. Because of the way we went about it, I think we created a diverse group of songs that might not have happened if we did it the way we’ve always recorded in the past.” The lead offering is a potently subversive slice of classic alt-rock, which also drops elements of grunge. A tail of addiction (“she tries to quit but she just can’t stop”), this also serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers inherent in forming a dependency to drugs and alcohol. Befitting its themes, it has a classic, dirty rock vibe with some ragged, edgy vocals, a similarly jagged chorus and a gutsy guitar riff or two, which build towards a blistering solo. There’s even a trace of The Pixies and late Bowie in that guitar work and the chorus. And the accompanying video is just as provocative too. Put together, this is a terrific trio of songs.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Frost, The Slow Knife

LIAM FROSTTHE SLOW KNIFE: Liam Frost has released the haunting new single The Slow Knife as the second track to be lifted from the cult Manchester singer-songwriter’s first album for a decade, The Latchkey Kid (due September 13 via AWAL) following acclaimed lead single Pomona. Echoing his inspirations, such as Josh Rouse and Josh Ritter, this Americana tinged offering takes a deep, hard look at relationships and the human frailities that can contribute to making them fail. It’s thoughtful and thought-provoking, with subtle backing guitars and a keen sense of melody. “I think that when I was writing The Slow Knife, I tried to approach the negative aspects of adults in relationships, living together,” says Liam of the new single. “The idea of how two people can grow independently over time, becoming almost unrecognisable to each other while living under the same roof, and longing for the desire of the earlier days or simpler times.” It’s a really good record that bodes extremely well for the rest of the new album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTSDEMONS: Oklahoma based emo rockers The All-American Rejects make a very welcome comeback with their Send Her To Heaven EP. Commenting on what to expect, guitarist Mike Kennerty said: “The last couple of records were fun to make but they were pretty draining, whereas I think recording this way keeps us on our toes and excited. We recorded each of these songs on their own and didn’t think of them as a package. We just took each song and went to a different producer to see what we would come up with. Because of the way we went about it, I think we created a diverse group of songs that might not have happened if we did it the way we’ve always recorded in the past.” That diversity is immediately apparent on Demons, which marks a sonic departure from the alt-rock sound they’re perhaps more synonymous with. A mid-tempo, almost bluesy offering, this focuses on a man striving to escape his own demons and features impassioned vocals, a slow tempo, low-key guitars and atmospheric drums. The focus is on the vocals and the anguish contained within the lyrics – and by doing so, it’s highly effective and even, potentially, able to boast crossover appeal.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Gone

CHARLI XCX & CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENSGONE: Charli XCX is rightly proud of the result of her collaboration with Christine and the Queens’ Héloïse Letissier, given that it successfully fuses the former’s catchy, easy to access pop sound with the funk-pop of Christine & The Queens. It’s a typically lively offering instrumentally, shot through with a vitality that Charli brings to most of her records, as well as something a little more edgy, befitting the lyrics. For this is where the departure really starts… lyrically, this is a song about looking inward and starting a healing process from the most intimate of places. It opens with the lyric “I am just now realizing, they don’t care, I try real hard, but I’m caught up by my insecurities” and proceeds to weave a complex tale of insecurity amid the pressure of modern life. At one point, Charli declares: “I feel so unstable, fucking hate these peoplem how they’re making me feel lately”. If anything, it could be one of Charli’s most serious offerings yet. But even if it is, it retains that highly enjoyable, effortlessly listenable edge.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Two Door Cinema Club, Dirty Air

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUBDIRTY AIR: Following an outstanding performance co-headlining Glastonbury’s Other Stage last month, Two Door Cinema Club have now unveiled the apocalyptic video for Dirty Air, the third single taken from their critically-acclaimed, and third UK top 5 album, False Alarm, out now via Prolifica Inc. A powerful indie-rock anthem, this is the sound of Two Door Cinema Club at their most direct and searching, issing a rallying call to the public to take action on climate change amid the sustained threat of ‘dirty air’. There’s a gutsy chorus, punchy guitar riffs and a general sense of energy that’s impossible not to get swept along by. Created by Jordan Martin, the accompanying video combines retro ’60s footage with cut-out collage animation, juxtaposing the excesses of pop culture with images of mass destruction. The result is a captivating zoom through humanity’s recent journey to destruction, soundtracked by the smog-clogged disco rock of the song itself. “It was an extremely fun video to make,” says Jordan of the band. “I searched through stacks of ’60s-‘70s archive footage and magazines (I’ve started a pretty wild collection) to find the right look and feel for the track. It’s trial and error; reworking footage and printing it out, then physically collaging it. I love happy accidents when two things seem to fit together perfectly. I enjoyed taking lyrics from the song and letting a stream of consciousness try and piece together parts from all the imagery and footage that slowly builds and fills up my head.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Moonchild, Too Much To Ask

MOONCHILDTOO MUCH TO ASK: Too Much to Ask marks the return of LA-based trio Moonchild with what is being hailed as their most thoughtfully crafted and complete album yet. Little Ghost (out September 6) sees multi-instrumentalists Amber Navran, Max Bryk and Andris Mattson channel boundless sonic energy as they explore some of the most personal aspects of what it is to be in love and to believe in who you are. Too Much To Ask combines a playful innocence in the vocals and central electronic melody with something more serious and sad in its lyrics, which ask: “Is it too much to ask you to live me like this?” Hence, there’s a sense of something missing in those lyrics, which is only heightened by the melancholy [yet oddly soothing] vocals. If you’re a fan of trip hop artists such as Morcheeba or, better yet, Nightmares on Wax, then there’s something in this for you. But Moonchild are also distinct in their own right and there are psychedelic elements and melodic structures that could only be the work of this trio. It’s a beguiling listen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Skinny Living, My Blood

SKINNY LIVING – MY BLOOD: My Blood is the follow up to Skinny Living’s well received recent single Let Go, which has already amassed 500K streams, picked up Spotify New Music Friday UK support on release and debuted at #14 in the iTunes Alternative chart and no.11 in the Amazon Movers and Shakers Chart. It’s a song of contradictions, playful in its musicality but dark in its lyricism, that continues to endear the band to the listening public. The melodies are sharp, the chorus catchy, but the themes far more serious than first listens suggest. Frontman Ryan Johnston explains: “My Blood is one of the most exciting songs we have ever made. It’s twisted. The music and vocal melody almost contradict the lyrics. The lyrics themselves explain that anybody, no matter how chilled out they are, can completely flip when the people closest to them are hurt. It really expresses how we feel about our families and the people closest to us. We love what this song represents and we love how it feels.” Hence, while those feet will undoubtedly be tapping along in tandem with its bouncing melodies and infectious hooks, there’s something far more meaningful to contemplate. And that’s the measure of great songwriting.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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