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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 26, 2019

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

DJ Shadow, Rocket Fuel

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: DJ SHADOW feat DE LA SOULROCKET FUEL: Now here’s something genuinely worth getting excited about! DJ Shadow has released his first new music since 2017. Rocket Fuel features hip hop legends De La Soul and it’s as slick, fun and funky as you’d expect from such a partnership. Boasting contemporary edge with retro cool, the song explodes with stacks of vocal samples, horns, Shadow’s dazzling DJ scratch work and a muscular vocal performance from the legendary rap crew. Hence, if you love old skool hip-hop, insanely danceable beats, sharp stabs of brass and an effortlessly cool vibe, this ticks all the boxes and more. It’s a riot of energy that makes you feel positive about yourself, while also wanting to dip into the back catalogues of both of these titans of their genres. The even better news is that the song will be featured on a new album coming later this year from DJ Shadow. We can hardly wait to hear more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE 1975 – THE 1975: On the very week that UK temperatures set new records for heat, The 1975 have dropped a new single featuring Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental campaigner who has made so many people listen to her warnings. On a track called The 1975, a version of which traditionally opens each of the British band’s albums, the 16-year-old restates her position on the need to act on the climate emergency, reading a sort of mission statement over a series of electronic bleeps and arrangements. But the backdrop isn’t important, merely in keeping with the natural world backdrop that Thunberg is speaking about. What IS important is the message. And it’s one worth listening to. It begins with a sobering thought: “We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed. But homo sapiens have not yet failed. Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around.” She continues: “We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.” However, Thunberg does state that it isn’t too late, hitting the listener with cold, hard facts and sustained optimism. She states: “If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me. So, I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible. To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible. Today, we use about 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So, we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.” This version of The 1975, for all of its orchestral subtlety, is one almighty rallying call for a generation that NEEDS to listen. The proceeds from the track will go to Extinction Rebellion at Thunberg’s request.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Deacon, Mamma

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JAMES DEACONMAMMA: Rising South African newcomer James Deacon has finally released his debut EP, The Calling, and cements his reputation as an artist to watch. A sonic tapestry weaving soul, rock, hip-hop and pop into a release that offers us a deeply personal glimpse into the life of the 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist, this already boasts IndieLondon favourite tracks Son of Apollo, Not Givin’ Up and Calling Home. Comprised of three more tracks (making six in total), we’ve chosen to highlight another standout: Mamma. The track is, according to Deacon, “about how technology and social media has destroyed my generation”. It’s a blistering blues-rock track that finds Deacon in typically resolute voice. Declaring “mamma didn’t raise no quitter”, he then proceeds to issue a rallying call for people to wake up and halt their decline. There’s a bluesy backdrop in the hushed vocal harmonies, as well as foreboding drums and blistering guitars. But the message, again, is what’s important, featuring such gems as “I’m so tired of hearing about how somebody hurt your feelings from 100,000 miles away” and “but when I look around, faces facing the ground, locations are shared but no one is found…. the world keeps praising your ignorance”. It’s angry, empowering stuff, delivered with grit and guts.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Twenty One Pilots

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: TWENTY ONE PILOTSTHE HYPE: Twenty One Pilots have shared an official music video for The Hype, which is directed by long-time collaborators Andrew Donoho and Reel Bear Media. The track is taken from current album, The Trench, and was released to mark the band’s recent announcement that their 2013 LP, Vessel, has achieved a Gold & Platinum milestone with every individual track from the album receiving Gold, Platinum or Multi-Platinum certification from the RIAA. Twenty One Pilots’ 2015 LP, Blurryface, was the first album of the digital era to achieve this feat back in 2018, making the duo from Columbus the first artist/group with two albums to reach this landmark achievement. The track itself is a mid-tempo offering, built around trademark electronic arrangements, guitar blasts and trendy beats, along with a catchy chorus that finds the band they don’t believe the hype of the song’s title. The accompanying video is as eye-catching as we’ve come to expect, finding the duo initially playing a live set in front of a living room full of apparently disinterested people, before relacting to the roof of the house for something more explosive. Looking ahead in the UK, Twenty One Pilots will headline Reading and Leeds Festival on August 24 and 25, before embarking on a new US leg of their Bandito Tour throughout October and November.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Birds

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: IMAGINE DRAGONSBIRDS: Imagine Dragons have just unveiled a stunning animated video for their current single, Birds, featuring Elisa. If you can imagine Studio Ghibli directing a music video, then you’re somewhere close to what those visuals look like. But the tale that unfolds is similarly deep, reflecting the sense of loss, insecurity and ultimately hope inherent in the song’s lyrics. It’s a captivating piece of filmmaking. The song itself finds the band returning to the source of one of their long-standing images – birds, for a power ballad of sorts that soars. Featuring guest vocals from Elisa, this shows the band at their most stripped back, intimate and thought provoking. The synths are toned down, the beats less emphatic than normal, and the mix of boy-girl vocals beautifully delivered, with a hint of melancholy in both. Elisa, in particular, drops a moody vocal to evoke comparisons with the likes of Sia. But Reynolds also adopts a more moody tone, to bring out the depth of emotion in lyrics that declare “birds fly in different directions, but love will never die”. It’s a song about loss and separation, bringing with it a sense of sorrow and longing. But amidst this, there’s hope: as the feelings of love felt by the ‘birds’ prevails. As a result, it’s not only beautifully bittersweet, but somehow inspiring and empowering
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Takeaway

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: THE CHAINSMOKERS & ILLENIUM feat LENNONTAKEAWAY: It may have been doing the festival circuit for some time, but The Chainsmokers’ collaboration with Illenium and Lennon finally gets a video – and it’s genuinely worth catching. The film finds The Chainsmokers (aka Alex Pall and Drew Taggart), Illenium (Nicholas D. Miller) and Stella Lennon exploring Manhattan’s Vessel structure, and is filled with overhead shots, helicopter footage and close-ups. The intricate structure is designed to reflect the complexity of the emotions at play in the song, which adopts a distinctly melancholy tone. An examination of a doomed relationship, the song boasts lines like “What’s wrong?, I said I can’t stay, do I have to give a reason?”, this is shot through with sorrow and regret from both the male and female singers at the centre of it. The reflective, sorrowful looks on each of their faces in the video further reflects this. It’s a low-key offering by comparison to some work from The Chainsmokers but it’s a sombre slice of EDM that really does resonate with anyone who has ever experienced their own heartbreak and subsequent torment.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jetta, Enemy In Me

JETTAENEMY IN ME: Jetta releases a new video for Enemy in Me, closing the chapter on her EP Tonic. The video sees Jetta’s artistic vision carried on in this dark and imposing creation. Musically, Jetta’s signature vocal is accompanied by an emotive piano riff, layered with a powerful synth bassline and some sleek beats of a finger-click nature. In signature Jetta style, the video highlights her passion for introspection, featuring a lone dancer using her body to look for a way out of her inner angst. It’s haunting, atmospheric and highly stylish. The song, meanwhile, is similarly layered with atmosphere, from Jetta’s dusky, soulful vocals, to the sombre piano notes and – over the impressive chorus – a gospel backing choir. It’s a song layered in emotion that veers from the intimate to the cinematic in truly compelling fashion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher

LIAM GALLAGHERONCE: In the midst of a typically larger-than-life comeback – bounding into the charts with Shockwave, inspiring a biblical reaction at Glastonbury, and the rallying call-for-change that is The River – Liam Gallagher also unveiled a taster of another new track, Once, in the As It Was feature-length documentary. An 81-second extract of the song soon emerged on YouTube, which prompted yet more fan adoration. Now Liam shares the official version of Once, which showcases all that’s good and, well, bad about this artist. Shot through with Lennon-esque emotion, the symphonic ambition of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Liam’s super-charged, vexed-yet-vulnerable vocal, it’s a powerhouse ballad that wears its influences blatantly on its sleeve. Lyrically, it’s open and unguarded, exploring a life-in-a-lifetime moment that can’t ever be replicated, albeit a bittersweet one that can only be achieved the once. Gallagher brings typical intensity, albeit laced with a sensitivity befitting the ballad-style nature of the song. But he also can’t resist some strings to accompany the track, to heighten the emotions. It’s evocative of classic Oasis, as well as more contemporary Liam, and Lennon, of course.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Feeder

FEEDERDAILY HABIT: After already adding further shows to their UK headline tour in November due to demand, Feeder can now announce some intimate in-store shows for August (including both of London’s Rough Trade shops, as well as Banquet Records, in August). To coincide with this announcement, Feeder have also shared a new video for single Daily Habit. A fun offering, the video finds various dancers – including the band members themselves – donning a pink wig (or, on occasion, their hair) and dancing giddily along to the song itself, which is a classic slice of Feeder. Boasting blistering guitar hooks, which channel both Foo Fighters and Weezer at various points, this also drops a chorus that revels in sharp melodic hooks and guitar-backed power. It’s a giddy, crowd-pleasing offering that’s more than capable of appealing to Feeder die-hards and newcomers alike. The song is yet another offering from their tenth studio album Tallulah, which will be released on August 9th via BELIEVE. The LP was created during a particularly busy and productive period in the Feeder camp, with a new generation of fans emerging at shows and festivals in support of the Best Of album. Its songs evolved very organically, with frontman Grant Nicholas writing on acoustic guitar and playing to his songwriting strengths.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Metronomy

METRONOMYWALKING IN THE DARK: Metronomy are gearing up for the September 13 release of their eagerly-anticipated new album Metronomy Forever with another new single, the kooky but catchy Walking in The Dark. The track extends Metronomy’s unorthodox gift for colliding disparate genres and sounds, fusing wonky dancehall, dub-fuelled psychedelia and vintage synths into a quirkily cool groove. It’s a track which uses Metronomy’s past as the impetus for the latest stage in their ever-inspiring journey – in that it uses a pre-set rhythm that Joe Mount found on the keyboard he used in the video for the 2011 single The Look. The result is a disarmingly engaging offering that taps into the alternative nature of the Metronomy sound, while offering elements of pop, electronica, prog-rock and psychedelia. And it effortlessly tap dances its way into your sub-conscious, refusing to budge. You’ll be singing “just holler if you need me” for some time to come afterwards. The accompanying video is the first that Mount ever directed. It’s an engaging halfway house between a surrealist’s subversion of music video conventions and the vibrant colours and imagery of ‘90s pop. The video’s 3D scenes were created by the innovative animator and designer Clara Bacou, who was recently hand-picked as one of Snapchat’s Official Lens Creators. Says Mount: “The Walking In The Dark video is the age old tale of the guru and the fisherman set against a green screen backdrop. Clara is someone I became aware of through a collaboration between ourselves and Central St Martin’s College in London a few years ago. Her style is completely unique and something I was desperate to make part of the video. The song is one of my favourites from the new record and gives a wonderful taste of how eclectic the album is.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Yonaka

YONAKAROCKSTAR: YONAKA have unveiled the official video for Rockstar, another of their blistering guitar-driven anthems. Set simultaneously in the past and the present, lead singer Theresa Jarvis delivers a captivating performance in the video. In the past we see Theresa day-dreaming of things to come in her room at home, while in the present we see her and YONAKA band mates George Edwards, Alex Crosby and Rob Mason giving a trademark blistering performance to a sold-out crowd of screaming fans. Although the two scenes seem worlds apart, the video cleverly draws our attention to the similarities they share. The track itself is rock-soaked… meaning that it’s full of driving guitars, sweeping, anthemic choruses and vocal passion. Jarvis channels her inner Gwen Stefani at times, while also combining a little more grit during the verses. It’s designed to be empowering… in that it celebrates rock success and excess. As such, it’s the sort of rabble-rousing crowd-pleaser that will have the moshpit jumping up and down with giddy excitement whenever it’s delivered in live form (as evidenced by certain shots in that video).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chats

THE CHATSIDENTITY THEFT: Australian punks The Chats have released their catchy, punk-dricen new single, Identity Theft, via their own label, Bargain Bin Records. And if you’re a punk fan, there’s plenty to dig. The track is ““about when you buy drugs on the Internet and a hacker steals your credit card number and your identity”, explains frontman Eamon Sandwith. Boasting a feisty garage punk flavour and plenty in common lyrically with a particular episode of Black Mirror – but you will have to check the lyrics yourself for confirmation on that – this is a rip-roaring slice of punk rock that should play well to fans of everyone from The Clash to The Cult via The Strokes and more. The guitar work is particularly strong, with a blistering solo midway through. And if the lyrics are sometimes raw, rugged and juvenile, the grown-up nature of their delivery and instrumentals more than compensates. It’s a livewire offering. Famed for their classic Smoko video (that has now reached 7.5m views), the Queensland trio have been touring all over America this month (July) to sold out crowds, including a stop in LA where Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, QOTSA’s Josh Homme and Alex turner and Matt Helders from Arctic Monkeys watched them play in front of 1,000 people.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hobo Johnson

HOBO JOHNSON feat ELOHIMUGLYKID: After teasing its impending arrival with Typical Story, the acclaimed Sacramento-based maverick Hobo Johnson officially reveals that his second full-length album, The Fall of Hobo Johnson, will be released on September 13. The album has been launched with the new track Uglykid (featuring Elohim), which was exclusively premiered by Zane Lowe as his World First on Beats 1. A gleefully schizophrenic mosaic of spirited horns, breathy melodies and off-the-cuff confessions, Uglykid is oddly compelling, even if its confessional lyrics feel sometimes a little too revealing and raw. In between caustically catchy choruses, Hobo’s gutter poetry takes the spotlight on admissions such as “I’m an ugly kid, and you’re like a summer sunset in Stockholm. I’m like being stuck in fucking Bakersfield and walking home.” But it’s this honesty and introspection that is winning Johnson so many fans. And his spoken word vocals gel nicely with the more dreamy, laidback tones of Elohim, who provides something of an idyllic counterpoint to the cynical realism of Johnson’s flow. It’s an oddity, for sure, but an engaging one at that, especially when dropping those lazy beats and trippy horns.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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