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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 28, 2017

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

Swimming Tapes

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: SWIMMING TAPESWHAT’S ON YOUR MIND: Swimming Tapes continue to evolve their dreamy shoe-gaze with their second EP, Soft Sea Blue, out on September 15 via Hand In Hive / B3SCI. As evidence of that, they now drop the new single What’s On Your Mind and continue to enchant. The song is built around some chiming guitar riffs, a low-key but dreamy back-beat and some lush, shoe-gaze infused vocals. There’s a relaxed, feel-good vibe attached that feels tailor-made for listening to on a warm summer’s day (preferably by the pool, or the sea). And yet, there’s a lyrical frankness too, that’s designed to empower the listener not to be afraid of saying what’s on their mind. You could almost call it quietly feisty. Marking the EP’s release in September, Swimming Tapes will return to London to headline The Lexington on September 20 with more dates to be announced.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Red Kite

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: RED KITETAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN: London’s Red Kite have shared a new single and music video in the form of Take Care Of Your Own. Taken from their forthcoming new album, due later this year, the song finds the six-piece pushing their idiosyncratic art-rock to expansive new sonic territories, with four guitars and two drummers at the core. The resulting track is as instrumentally nuanced as you’d expect, weaving some great indie-rock guitar riffs (as well as plenty of reverb) around some tight melodies, slick drum loops and a really appealing set of vocals. There’s a Broken Social Scene meets Crowded House kind of vibe attached, too, that’s also evocative of acts like The Shins and Turin Brakes. It’s a really good listen – powerful at times, laidback at others, and boasting a genuinely great [and rousing] chorus. Using 1,600 different shots, filmed on an iPhone over one afternoon in north London, songwriter, lyricis and guitarist Dan Fisher – ex-lyricist and guitarist for The Cooper Temple Clause – explains his inspirations behind the new track and its music video’s unlikely protagonist: “There’s a theme running through a lot of the first part of the new album, and that’s the strange nature of my relationships with my friends, people I’ve known since I was 15, and the state of arrested development we live in as adults who have spent their lives trying and failing to make it as musicians. This song is about that dynamic and how we weren’t able to look after one of those friends when they were in a really difficult period of their life. We tried, but we were too close and there was too much history there. We had our own lives, our own problems, and there was just too much time and distance between us all, no matter how close we once were. We all felt that guilt and that uselessness and couldn’t figure out how to make it right. I took that situation as the starting point for this video. Originally, I was going to use our guitarist as the star, but after I did some test shots with the creepy teddy bear, he just looked so perfect that I decided to use him instead. He’s fleeing from a situation and emotions he can’t deal with or understand. He’s a really fast runner!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Cribs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE CRIBSRAINBOW BRIDGE: The Cribs come over a little Nirvana-esque with rousing new single Rainbow Bridge. That is to say, there’s a hint of grunge amid the indie-rock riffs and vocals that should well broaden their appeal to both sides of the Atlantic. The track is taken from their impending new LP 24-7 Rock Star Shit, which is available from August 11. Recorded live to tape in just five days by venerated underground engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Shellac, Pixies) 24-7 Rock Star Shit marks a return to the band’s early roots with its raw, rough-around-the-edges approach and sonic aggression. Originally conceived during recording sessions for the band’s fifth album, In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, these recordings were elevated to quasi-mythical status amongst the band’s famously dedicated fan-base, with excitement building for a ‘punk album’ flipside to 2015’s more pop-leaning For All My Sisters. That rougher feel to the songwriting is certainly evident on Rainbow Bridge, which despite boasting a name that suggests multi-coloured breeziness and summer melodies, actually bursts out with edgy aggression and that aforementioned classic grunge vibe. It makes it a genuinely thrilling listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Inner Tongue, Dig Deeper

INNER TONGUEDIG DEEPER: Dig Deeper is a new song taken from Inner Tongue’s forthcoming debut album, which will be released early next year. The song is about the adrenaline you feel before take off, the seconds in weightlessness and the eventuating Netflix-boredom that can be ultimately freeing. It’s shot through with tight melodies and a soothing set of vocals, that come together for a really appealing chorus. And yet, there’s a belated track breakdown into fractured, edgy beats that’s also as brilliant as it is unexpected, ending the track on an altogether different, even quietly exhilarating note. Hence, while early on there’s comparisons to be made with the dream pop of acts like Chet Faker and Nick Murphy, combined with the balladry of Andy Burrows, the finale owes more to the crisp grooves of NoMBE and Blood Orange. Commenting on the song himself, Inner Tongue said: ““I recently bought an old Roland Space Chorus and had a good time experimenting with it in the studio. The moody drum sound I’ve created with it, was somewhat inspiring, so I recorded a few chords and vocals over it. That’s how Dig Deeper started. With the video I wanted to visualise the effortless character of the song. The filming was more like a party with wild lights and smoke. Random fact, at around 2 AM we put on a few Bowie songs and danced to them instead. Some of that also ended up in the video.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Boys

CHARLI XCXBOYS: Pushing the boundaries of her artistry, Charlotte Aitchison (aka Charli XCX) has worked with Jerker Hansson (Zara Larsson, Terror Jnr) and Cass Lowe (Snakehips, Rudimental) on new single Boys, marking the second official single from her forthcoming third album, which will be released next year. The track has a bittersweet pop vibe, in that it finds the singer being distracted. The beats are deceptively simple, with beeps and blips accompanying some electronic melodies and a melancholy vocal that laments: “I’m sorry that I missed your party. I wish I had a better excuse… but I was busy thinking about boys.” As ever with Charli XCX, though, there’s a hugely catchy quality to the record, as well as something resolutely independent spirited. It’s pop – but more edgy and more distinct than a lot of her female contemporaries. The accompanying video – commissioned and directed by Charli herself alongside Sarah McColgan (Kendrick Lamar) – playfully challenges gender stereotypes in music videos/film and features an all-star male cast including guest appearances from Stormzy, Mark Ronson, Diplo, Joe Jonas, Brendon Urie, will.i.am, Mac DeMarco, Riz Ahmed and many more. Charli commented: “Boys is my favourite music video I’ve ever made. I just wanna say a big thanks to all the boys involved, for totally embracing and understanding my vision and being excited by the concept. PS, no boys were harmed in the making of this video.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Macklemore, Marmalade

MACKLEMORE feat LIL YACHTYMARMALADE: Upbeat rapper Macklemore unites with Lil Yachty to deliver an unashamedly candy-coated summer rap song that’s effortlessly capable of placing a smile on your face. Built around an intricately looped hip-hop beat and a retro-sounding piano loop, it then proceeds to deliver a rap that is all about feeling positive. The chorus, meanwhile, finds both artists contributing for a feel-good sing-along that’s destined to become a fan favourite, given it’s ability to get them to join in. The song is disarmingly simple, too, seldom raising the tone or getting too over-ambitious. It’s content to do the same thing instrumentally, while dipping in and out of the chorus. A simple but highly effective pleasure, this is a great slice of hip-hop that’s got summer favourite written all over it (not to mention crossover potential).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The War on Drugs

BØRNSFADED HEART: Indie-pop singer, songwriter and musician BØRNS has released new single Faded Heart from his forthcoming sophomore album. The track has a foot-stomping, indie-pop kind of vibe that is built around robust back-beats and a pounding electronic backdrop. BØRNS own vocals contribute to a glam rock element, too, as they drift in and out of falsetto highs. It’s a lively, even disco-leaning kind of offering that has a solid energy to it. Growing up in coastal Michigan, BØRNS was living in a secluded home in the Los Angeles canyons where he wrote his debut album Dopamine. The album was released in the autumn of 2015 to rave reviews with the Associated Press calling it “some of the most heartfelt electronic-based music in recent memory”. BØRNS is currently working on his highly anticipated new album which will be released on Polydor Records in early 2018.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sparks, Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)

SPARKSEDITH PIAF (SAID IT BETTER THAN ME): With their new studio album Hippopotamus due in September, Sparks release Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me), the new single from this highly anticipated record. It’s classic Sparks (without sounding like any previous song in their 40+ year career), and is described as uplifting, hook-laden music that belies the lyrics’ melancholic tone. The instrumentals certainly enable the song to sound more breezy than its lyrics otherwise suggest – with the pianos contributing to the soaring nature of the song. Yet, in referencing the tragic French singer Edith Piaf, the song also reveals itself to be something shot through with melancholy and insecurity, tapping into a darkness that isn’t immediately apparent. Sparks’ music has always been innovative and instantly identifiable. The new album, recorded in Los Angeles, is expected to find Sparks continuing their rich run of form.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sleep Party People

SLEEP PARTY PEOPLEFAINTING SPELL: Fainting Spell, the most recent single to emerge from forthcoming Sleep Party People album Lingering (out now), features collaborations with The Antlers’ Peter Silberman and Air vocalist Beth Hirsch. It’s now accompanied by a new video. Speaking about the track, multi-instrumentalist Brian Batz (aka Sleep Party People) said: “My old battered piano in the studio needed to be tuned and fixed. After the tuning session a lot of the strings broke and left the piano in a terrible condition. But I’ve always had a weakness for broken instruments. They can give you something unexpected and eventually something useful. The sample you hear in the beginning and throughout the song was recorded using the higher octave on the piano although it was out of tune and strings were missing. The lyrics are about being the quiet boy in class and how dreadful it was for me to even speak out loud during class. I almost fainted every time I had to walk up to the blackboard and speak in front of everyone, because I was so terrified to fail or not deliver what was expected of me.” It’s a song born from anxiety that feels strangely empowering. Yet it doesn’t lose sense of the emotions involved, with the vocal delivery taking on a haunted effect. The piano sound, though, does give it an unusual sound, which makes for a striking backdrop, while the beats are lively enough (if mixed up) to further enhance that sense of listening to something different. If you’re a fan of acts like Gorillaz or the Ninja Tune label, then this is definitely worth a listen. Founding member Brian Batz created the visuals for Fainting Spell in collaboration with hundreds of Sleep Party People fans, who submitted videos & photos of handmade versions of the band’s de facto rabbit masks, which were then assimilated into the Ryan Valdez-directed clip.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hogni

HOGNIKOMDU MEO: After recently announcing his signing to Erased Tapes Records, Icelandic artist Högni, of indie rock group Hjaltalín and electronic group GusGus, will release his debut album Two Trains on October 20. The first single from that record is Komdu Meo. Opening amid some haunting vocal harmonies that are a million miles removed from the electro-pop of GusGus, the track then drops a reverb-heavy electronic pulse and some slick beats to accompany a set of vocals delivered in his native tongue. The beats lend the track urgency, while the addition of some strings midway through also provide a cinematic vibe. The finale, meanwhile, ends things on an experimental note, lulling you into a false sense of security with some sombre piano, before then coming over all computer-based. Put together, the various instrumental elements contribute to a record that’s distinct but an acquired taste. The music in Two Trains is said to embrace the spirit of the original European avant-garde and invokes these concepts in its chugging rhythms, metallic clangs and brooding choral arrangements (men’s choruses are a distinctly Icelandic phenomena related to the national/romantic politics of the 19th and 20th century) while the lyrics speak of ominous clouds on the war-ridden eastern horizon and freight cars filled with gravel and dreams.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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