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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 27, 2018

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

Andy Burrows & Matt Haig

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ANDY BURROWS & MATT HAIGREASONS TO STAY ALIVE: Musician and songwriter Andy Burrows and number one, best-selling author Matt Haig have just released the title track from their forthcoming album collaboration, Reasons To Stay Alive. With Haig providing lyrics around which Burrows composed music, the duo, who struck up a friendship after ‘meeting’ on Twitter, have spent the past year passing ideas back and forth to create a collection of songs loosely inspired by Haig’s much loved books, including Reasons to Stay Alive and How to Stop Time (recently optioned as a movie, due to star Benedict Cumberbatch). Reasons To Stay Alive was recorded in a barn in Wittersham and produced by Tim Baxter (who previously worked with Andy on his albums Company, Funny Looking Angels and The Snowman and the Snowdog soundtrack). It also features a line-up of guest musicians including Muse’s Dom Howard and Editors’ Tom Smith. The new track is typically brilliant – stirring, cinematic, beautifully realised and intricately delivered. Haig’s words are as descriptive and imagery-strewn as you’d expect from a writer of his calibre, while Burrows provides vocal grace as well as lush instrumental backdrops. There’s a classic element to the song that’s evocative of The Beatles at times, with strings, guitars, drums and pianos all working beautifully in tandem with each other, weaving in and out of each other. While the celebratory, empowering nature of the song, which declares “there are so many reasons to stay alive”, is something well worth getting behind for these troubled, difficult times.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Death Cab For Cutie, I Dreamt We Spoke Again

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – I DREAMT WE SPOKE AGAIN: I Dreamt We Spoke Again, the new track from the ever excellent Death Cab For Cutie, is the opening track from their forthcoming ninth album Thank You For Today and it gets the LP off to a flyer. Dreamily beautiful and vaguely ethereal, this is a mellow slice of contemplation that finds the band on irresistibly charming form. Combining a slick back-beat and a really compelling central guitar loop, this finds the band searching the inner reaches of the mind to explore a relationship. Featuring trippy lyrics such as “only in a dream, is anything the way it used to be, I dreamt we spoke again, but when I awoke I could not remember anything you said”, this delivers introspection laced with thought-provoking sentiment, forcing the listener to take notice and apply it to themselves. It’s a daydream of a record, complete with wonderful mid-track guitar solo, subtle synth arrangements and a toe-tapping back-beat that only makes it more likeable. Once heard, it’s utterly addictive… and yet so laidback to boot. This is why we love Death Cab For Cutie.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Arctic Monkeys

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ARCTIC MONKEYSTRANQUILITY BASE HOTEL & CASINO: Arctic Monkeys have thus far taken a very alternative approach to releasing and promoting their first new album in five years, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. The album arrived without too much fanfare, with only one real single dropping before it hit the shelves (or streaming services). And it’s been a few months since we heard anything more. Well, now the title track gets a new video. Directed by Aaron Brown and Ben Chappell, the video finds Alex Turner wandering around a hotel and casino — one site believes it to be the Peppermill Resort in Las Vegas – as the Bowie-esque vocals wash over you. It’s all very futuristic, spaced out and trippy, with the experimental nature of the song itself channelling contemporary Bowie (especially vocally). As such, it’s also an acquired taste that may not even appeal wholesale to fans of the band themselves. There’s something surreal and cinematic about it, with continual tonal shifts in the instrumentals making for some interesting (and occasionally distracting) variations. It’s also further evidence of a band who like to keep evolving, radically changing their sound from one album to the next, no matter what people may think as a result. Still, the video is striking.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fall Out Boy

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FALL OUT BOYBISHOPS KNIFE TRICK: For a really good time, check out the video for Fall Out Boy’s Bishops Knife Trick, which sees the band members replaced by llamas for a recording session (or video recording) that doesn’t go according to plan [at all]. It’s a riot! What’s more, it’s accompanied by a genuinely great song. A more inward, mellow offering than the alt-rock band are more generally known for, this contains a melancholy undertow (“I’m just a full tank away from freedom”) that also offers some bittersweet hope. Lead singer Pete Wentz delivers what is, arguably, one of his greatest vocal performances, stretching his voice from the generally more laidback tones of old to something more anguished and falsetto leaning. The chorus hits some rousing highs. But the guitars stay nicely in check, as do the beats, bringing a cinematic grandeur at times that only adds to the emotional intensity of the track as a whole. It could, quite possibly, be one of Fall Out Boy’s greatest ever offerings. And that video puts the icing on the cake!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jason Mraz

JASON MRAZ feat MEGHAN TRAINORMORE THAN FRIENDS: Multiple Grammy Award-winner Jason Mraz has unveiled the latest track from his hugely anticipated new studio album, Know. More Than Friends, featuring. Megha Trainor, is available today at all DSPs and streaming services; the track is joined by a lyric video, streaming now. The song is an ode to a friendship that wants to be something more and is delivered in Mraz’s traditionally laidback style. It oozes charm, goodwill and a nice sense of humility that finds the boy-girl singers charting untested waters and tackling a sensitive subject. The acoustic backdrop is nicely delivered, while the boy-girl chorus is warm and highly melodic. And the singers themselves have formed a mutual appreciation society after working with each other. Mraz says of Trainor: “There are few artists as talented, joyful, and present as Meghan. She was very inspiring to work with.” Trainor, meanwhile, retorted: “I loved working with Jason. I had to pretend I wasn’t freaking out the whole time as I’m his biggest fan. Not only is he so talented, but he’s extremely humble and kind too.” Sounds like they could be more than friends [just kidding]! But this is another of the week’s songs that should easily put a smile on your face. It’s reassuringly nice.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Kandace Springs

KANDACE SPRINGSDON’T NEED THE REAL THING: Following the release of her critically-acclaimed debut album Soul Eyes, Kandace Springs has released her new single and music video for Don’t Need The Real Thing, out now on Blue Note / Decca Records. Praised for her distinctive vocals, the Nashville-based singer, songwriter and pianist’s new track and video depicts her in a same-sex relationship, having a heated argument with her girlfriend. The single is taken from her upcoming album Indigo (released on September 7) where Springs transcends genres and expectations in a way we have never heard from her before. The single is beautifully delivered, with a deliciously woozy guitar sound, some distinct back-beats and a soulful set of vocals that are laced with regret and passion. Springs has referenced Nina Simone as an inspiration vocally, and there’s plenty here to remind you of that iconic singer. But she also succeeds in re-imagining what Simone might sound like today, with a modern approach to the songs. Hence, Don’t Need The Real Thing showcases Springs’ ability to seamlessly create an intimate world through her infectious, smooth and sultry vocals. Produced by renowned drummer Karriem Riggins, the single swirls between classical compositions, jazz poise with hip-hop swing, to tropical warmth and soulful depths. Filmed on a deserted road, the video is a glimpse of the highs and lows of a relationship on the brink of a break-up.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Andrew Bayer, Your Eyes

ANDREW BAYER feat ANE BRUNYOUR EYES: Since cementing himself as an innovator of electronic music way back in 2011 with his debut album It’s Artificial, Washington DC-based producer Andrew Bayer has now returned with news of his latest full-length release, In My Last Life, as previewed by the new single Your Eyes alongside impassioned Norwegian vocalist Ane Brun. The result delivers an eclectic mix of styles that somehow comes together as a striking whole. Brun’s vocals are as beautifully ethereal and intoxicating as ever, lending the track an ambience that serves as a nice contrast to the propulsive electro-pop driving the synths and beats. The chorus, meanwhile, is a sweeping, pop-leaning slice of brilliance that is sure to bring the track plenty of followers. Boasting a psychedelic synth-pop appeal, this uplifting and captivating new cut sees Bayer adopt a more eclectic direction within his work, generating a far more diverse appeal in the process.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Passenger

PASSENGERHEART TO LOVE: Heart To Love is another classy new single from Passenger, which is available to stream now and as an instant grat with pre-orders of the Ivor Novello Award-winning singer-songwriter’s new album Runaway, which is released on August 31 on Black Crow Records via Cooking Vinyl. Built around an insistent, even country-hued guitar riff and an upbeat back-beat, this is an otherwise heartfelt ode to love that finds Passenger, aka Brighton’s Mike Rosenberg, once more delivering a song of high emotional resonance (“I keep searching for a heart to love”). In spite of the keen sense of yearning, the melodies are shot through with optimism, making this another crowd-pleasing listen capable of widespread appeal. Commenting on the track himself, Rosenberg said: “Heart to Love is a song I’ve tried to record a few times and for whatever reason it just wouldn’t work. Finally, we’ve recorded it in a way that it sounds exciting and how I always imagined it. It’s a simple song really, about trying to find the right person, which is probably something that everyone can relate to.” The song’s evocative video was shot on Las Vegas’ famous Strip by long-time collaborator Jarrad Seng during a three-week road trip the pair undertook earlier this year, filming promos for every track on Runaway.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gabrielle, Shine

GABRIELLESHINE: Gabrielle has shared a new video for single Shine, which is taken from her eagerly anticipated album Under My Skin. And it’s best described as upbeat ‘breeze pop’, an anthem for anyone feeling a little down about themselves. It’s fuelled by a chorus that declares “If I could make you mine, I would make you shine, shine, shine forever”. But the production elements impress the most, with breezy acoustic guitars, soft but sleek beats and lively piano arrangements creating a genuinely inspiring [yet laidback] backdrop. As ever, Gabrielle injects plenty of passion into the vocals [as is her signature]. It’s very much a song that’s designed to put a smile back on your face. Gabrielle wrote Shine in Sweden with Tobias Lundgren and Tim Larsson, who have worked with some of the world’s biggest stars including Celine Dion. The track quickly became a favourite of Gabrielle’s, who commented: “I am so pleased I got to work with Tim and Tobias. The Swedes are known for their huge productions and they were amazing. I am so happy about the way it sounds! I absolutely love this song.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Charli XCX

CHARLI XCXGIRLS NIGHT OUT: Charli XCX’s future pop anthem Girls Night Out is a propulsive slice of dance-pop that is high on energy and sassy edge. An ode to a girls’ night out (clubbing, drinking, living it up big style), this combines surging synths with “ah ha ah ha” harmonies and xylophone-style chimes. There are slick beats, sassy vocals and a keen sense of defiance, when declaring “no boys, no boys”! Indeed, the track could be a riposte to the singer’s own Boys record, which puts feminism back into focus. Hence, it’s sure to become a warm-up track for any girl groups gearing up to hit the town on any future weekend. And, what’s more, they could even find themselves dancing to the very same track once they hit the club scene. It may not be one of our most favourite Charli XCX tracks, but it’s still frivolous fun. And following 5 In The Morning, No Angel and Focus, which set the Internet alight throughout May and June, Girls Night Out is 3 minutes 47 seconds of feel-good pop, laced with a heavy dose of party-girl spirit. Already a fan favourite from the live circuit, the track has been produced by SOPHIE and co-produced by Stargate.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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All Saints, After All

ALL SAINTSAFTER ALL: To mark the release of their already critically acclaimed new album Testament, All Saints have also released a new single, After All. What’s more, it’s produced by William Orbit – the force behind their massive hits Pure Shores and Black Coffee. And the result is a nostalgic throwback to those memorable collaborations, while still bringing something fresh and contemporary to the mix into the bargain. Written by Shaznay with Orbit and Pete Hutchings, After All is unmistakably both All Saints and William Orbit at their best. It successfully captures Orbit’s ethereal, electronic production and All Saints’ enticing rhythmic harmonies, blending to create another easy listening pop classic, complete with shimmering, seductive chorus. And while it may be a little too familiar for those seeking something really innovative from this fruitful partnership, it’s reliance on the past is also a strength that’s probably designed to trigger enough fond memories to ensure that the new material is every bit as popular. It succeeds, therefore, on those terms.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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