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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 3, 2020

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

Lany, If This Is The Last Time

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: LANY – IF THIS IS THE LAST TIME: You can’t help but have your heart melted to the latest single from Lany, If This Is The Last Time. A heartfelt paean to family that has resonance in these times, expressing a yearning to return to loved ones at home, If This Is The Last Time is shot through with sentiments that resonate from both the perspective of a father and a mother – as seen through the eyes of a child. It’s as inspiring as it is bittersweet, with the emotions underpinning it sure to hit home hard for everyone struggling to come to terms with the world in which we now inhabit. As frontman Paul Klein explains: “I started writing If This Is The Last Time towards the end of 2019. It was initially inspired by the inevitable truth that one day my parents aren’t gonna be here anymore… that picking up the phone and calling my mom is actually a luxury that I won’t always have. Moving into 2020 and being thrown into a global pandemic and being faced with a new reality, it became clear to me that finishing and perfecting this song was imperative… that maybe this was a song the world could lean on.” The lyrics are genuinely heartfelt, offering gems such as “hey dad, what’s up, miss you, so much…” and “tell me how to fish, tell me how to ride a bike, tell me how to love, how to treat a woman right”. Moms, meanwhile, get such gems as “hey mom, guess what, you’re really tough, and I know you did all you could just to make sure my life was good… sorry for the fights and the tone of my voice”. The chorus has a tender, heartfelt quality, too, while the acoustic strums provide a near-perfect backdrop. Is it cheesy at times? Sure. Is it sentimental and a little boy bandish? Perhaps. But you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be smitten. It’s an anthem for all ages.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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St Lundi, Learn To Let Go

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: ST LUNDILEARN TO LET GO: Since the release of his brilliant initial singles You’ve Got The Wrong Guy and Ruin, which has since gone on to amass radio support from BBC Introducing and Amazing Radio, as well as landing on numerous Spotify and Apple Music playlists, 22-year-old troubadour Archie Langley – aka St Lundi – has now returned to deliver his highly-anticipated new offering Learn To Let Go – and it has anthem written all over it. Lifted from his eagerly-awaited debut EP Heavy Words, which is due out on July 24, Learn To Let Go showcases more of that bold and sweeping piano-led sound we have grown to love him for. Mixing his bright and soaring voice with a progressive and slow-rising production, his newest release captures the essence of classic slow-build Coldplay married to the fragility and beauty of Elbow. The piano arrangements are very subtle throughout, allowing the vocals to take centre-stage and build the song to its emotional highs. The themes underpinning it, meanwhile, provide lyrical reassurance for anyone having trouble letting go of the things troubling them, or holding them back – an empowering sentiment at this time of global strife. But it also acknowledges the challenges that can present themselves in relationships, in order to keep them healthy. Speaking about the song’s inspiration, Archie explains: “I feel like sometimes when falling in love it’s natural to want to spend every minute with one another. But there comes a point in time where you need to take a step back and remember the world still exists around you. It can make you feel like you’re moving in the wrong direction for a moment but you know deep down you need to Learn To Let Go for the relationship to last.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Slide, Keep Shining

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: SLIDEKEEP SHINING: Following the release of their previously shared delights Hello Spirit and Waiting, Swedish genre-bending duo Slide now continue to support their forthcoming EP Things I Tell Myself with the opening track Keep Shining. Carrying with it a Twenty One Pilots kind of vibe, this drops a disarming, laidback kind of charm with something a little more edgy and R-rated. Hence, the track combines a warm and sweeping production layered within a rich and textured atmosphere… trip-hop style beats, electro-pop arrangements and a laidback hip-hop vocal kind of vibe. The catchy chorus declares “I said blow smoke, keep shining, make your money, then die”, while there’s also a slightly naughty drug vibe (“all my friends are medicated”), coupled with some bad boy swearing (“shut the fuck up right now, just let me breathe”). Hence, it won’t be one for the youngest listeners, but as a slacker-style anthem for those feeling more than a little uncertain right now, it has a ‘keep calm, don’t give a f*ck, keep going’ kind of attitude that’s well worth getting behind if you have a rebellious side. We loved it, the more we heard it. Speaking about their new release, the band said: “We felt like young people nowadays, including us, spend a lot of time worrying about the future and growing up and making money and stuff like that. And we don’t really have the answers either so we’re pretty much just singing to ourselves saying “keep going it’ll all make sense at some point’.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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HAIM, Don't Wanna

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: HAIMDON’T WANNA: Southern California bred, BRIT and GRAMMY nominated band Haim have debuted the official video for album highlight Don’t Wanna, from their third studio album Women In Music Pt. III (out now). Reuniting with director Jake Schreier, the video finds Alana, Danielle, and Este in a vacant parking lot outside of The Forum in Los Angeles walking in step with one another. As the video progresses, we see the band fall out of step, then rush to keep up with each other to stay connected in the lovingly competitive way that siblings often do. It’s a fun reminder of the power of pop to inspire and put a smile on your face. And, as ever, it finds those Haim girls walking – they do it so well on camera. There’s something Tarantino-esque early on, before things start to go wrong and they then spend the rest of their time trying to outdo each other [comically]. The song, itself, provides another great sonic backdrop, with one of the most harmony-led choruses on the LP, an infectious central guitar hook, a keen sense of pop melody and those beautiful vocals guiding us along. It’s a joy. We’re never gonna give up on hanging out with Haim.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Katie Melua, A Love Like That

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: KATIE MELUA – A LOVE LIKE THAT: Think you know what to expect from Katie Melua, then think again. New single A Love Like That offers up a gloriously cinematic exploration of love, with lyrics written by Katie Melua, and production by Leo Abrahams. Boasting a more orchestral vibe than some of the more stripped back, tender offerings we’ve come to know, this has an insistent back-beat, a more breezy vocal style and those enriching cinematic qualities. Hence, the full cast of exceptional musicians on this track also includes drummer Emre Ramazanoglu, flautist Jack Pinter and The Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s a sweepingly romantic offering that showcases Melua at her most ambitious, hopeful and beautiful… it’ll fill your heart with joy. The video, meanwhile, is the first in a series of stunning visuals Melua has collaborated on with the award-winning director Charlie Lightening (Paul McCartney, Liam Gallagher, Kasabian) and featuring Billy Howle (Star Wars, Dunkirk, MotherFatherSon). It’s a perfect accompaniment. Explains Melua: “Melua: “I’m really proud of the video. I loved working with Charlie Lightening, we had lots of talks about how to make it a meaningful work and deal with the new limits on filming. We went with just me and Billy Howle on screen, we tried to show with subtle gestures and nuances the truth of love in its early stages. Hopefully, everyone can enjoy watching it.” Adds Lightening: “It was so nice to collaborate with Katie on this project. We talked through the idea at length and honed what we wanted to achieve. It’s always so good when the artist has a strong idea of where the visual needs to go. It meant we could create a character and figure out this narrative journey that you go on throughout the film. The music is so cinematic so to create this film has been so rewarding. Everything just came together perfectly in the end.” A Love Like That is the first to be taken from Melua’s forthcoming studio album Album No. 8, a record that represents the culmination of a prolonged period of musical rediscovery for the 35-year-old. The lyrics, her most personal yet, see her attempting to reconcile the knotty complexities of real-life love to its fairytale counterpart. We’re excited to hear and see more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Weeknd, In Your Eyes (animated)

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: THE WEEKND feat DOJA CAT – IN YOUR EYES: The Weeknd drops a slick animated video for his latest single In Your EyesTron Legacy with Blade Runner and even Drive, this is shot through with lush city-scapes, slick cars, the odd burst of violence and other-worldly jaunts into inter-planetary travel. It’s continually evolving so that there’s always something new and arresting to keep you hooked, occasionally dabbling into violent territory (courtesy of a crashed police car). The song itself, meanwhile, continues to underline The Weeknd’s versatility, combining as it does soulful falsetto style vocals with Daft Punk inspired electronics, disco beats and the odd burst of sax to lend a vaguely ’80s retro feel. There’s elements of kitsch, touches of cool disco-infused power pop, the aforementioned soul and huge doses of style. It’s a genuinely satisfying listen married to an even more eye-popping watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kanye West, Wash Us In The Blood

KANYE WEST feat TRAVIS SCOTTWASH US IN THE BLOOD: Kanye West follows in the footsteps of Beyonce by delivering a timely new single that seems to be a direct response to the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the globe. Certainly, the reactionary video suggests this is the case, opening with footage of US police officers behaving aggressively in the face of an angry crowd. But this is also more far-reaching – it examines the epidemic of racism that has unfolded against Black Americans over the years, from slavery and beyond. It’s gospel referencing (“Holy Spirit come down”), time spanning (“Whole life being thugs / No choice, selling drugs / Genocide, what it does / Slavery, what it does”) and deliberately hard-hitting (“wash us in the blood” has an unsettling quality to it). There’s also some self-referencing, as Kanye declares “they want me to calm down, they don’t want Kanye to be Kanye”. But thanks to some driving beats and industrial techno loops, this has an insistent, in your face urgency that suggests Kanye won’t be silenced. If anything, he’s more urgent and more angry than ever – inspired and politicised, as well as spiritually enlightened in the wake of past experiences. The gospel-driven climax ends things on a moment of hope, bringing with it a sense of unity… the unity that BLM is seeking, married to the change that has to happen. Wash Us In The Blood mnay not appeal to all tastes and sensibilities, but it’s quintessential Kanye and impossible to ignore.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ty Dollar Sign, Ego Death

TY DOLLA $IGN (feat. KANYE WEST, FKA TWIGS AND SKRILLEX) – EGO DEATH:Ego Death is a very special record,” says Ty Dolla. “It’s always an honor working with my brother ‘Ye. He’s a genius and we make incredible records every single time we link up. Skrillex and Twigs came in and blessed us with the magic that only they can put on the record. I played it once at a house party and everyone went crazy. A clip leaked online and shit but that’s all good. I just had to find the right time to put it out, so I’m excited that it’s finally THAT TIME! My new album is done and it’s coming very soon. Shout to my fans for being patient while I made sure it was perfect, it’s worth the wait…it’s my best work yet. I can’t wait for y’all to hear it!” So, that’s the intro from Ty Dolla. But, for once, the confidence is justified. This is a monster of a record… a dance driven slice of hip-hop that features cool vocal collaborations (from Ty, Kanye and FKA), slick electronics, genuine crossover appeal and reverberating beats that fuse the hip-hop element with a dance backdrop. If this were any normal summer, this would be one of the biggest club tunes of the moment. As it is, it’s a genuinely invigorating summer anthem that is sure to enjoy a long life anyway courtesy of those sleek production values and the star talent powering it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Max Leone

MAX LEONEMALLEABLE: Songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Max Leone shares his new single, Malleable, and its accompanying video. Released via Darkroom Records, Malleable showcases the 21-year-old’s artist’s signature sound — an alt-leaning yet urban-inspired breed of lo-fi bedroom pop. Set against a backdrop of stark beats and moody guitar work that’s reminiscent of classic Jason Downs, Malleable channels the pain and frustration of drifting apart from someone who once felt close. With his delicate balance of detailed storytelling and plain-spoken confession, Leone reveals his gift for crafting unforgettable melodies and lyrics that cut right to the heart. Hence, this is a tender, heart-on-sleeve moment that taps into the angst and heartbreak underpinning the thoughtful lyrics. But there’s also something of a slow build going on, the disarmingly simple acoustic opening eventually being fleshed out by beats and background harmonies. It’s a stylish move that only makes the track more appealing. True to his DIY sensibilities, Leone created the video for Malleable along with his sister while the two were quarantined in their hometown of Portland, Oregon. As the camera follows Leone through lonely landscapes and empty streets, each shot perfectly intensifies the song’s bittersweet mood. If you like this one, then also check out Cautious.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sola Rosa, For The Mighty Dollar

SOLA ROSA (feat KEVIN MARK TRAIL) – FOR THE MIGHTY DOLLAR: New Zealand artist Andrew Spraggon, crafting under the moniker Sola Rosa, teases more new music with For The Mighty Dollar, featuring regular collaborator and former The Streets singer Kevin Mark Trail. The track challenges the endless struggle between commerce and the common good, with Spraggon channelling a John Legend style vocal vibe. The back beats and stabs of brass have something of a Northern Soul vibe, too, while there’s a similarly soulful female backing vocal over the emphatic chorus. It’s during that chorus that the track really comes alive and impresses, adding a very definite element of funk. Long-time Sola Rosa collaborator Kevin Mark Trail gives a poignant message about the track, saying: “Money has been placed as the most important thing in the world and the divide between the rich and poor is still very wide. Many governments and corporations are still corrupt. Inequality, sexism, racism and injustice continue to reign. The aim of the song is to get people to think about the life we are living. The Covid-19 pandemic has given us time to question our values and direction, personally and globally, but what do we want? Who are we? What do we need? Where is the love? Could we be living better with each other and the planet as a whole?” It’s a song that offers plenty of food for thought. The track is the second single from the forthcoming album, Chasing The Sun, due for release on September 25.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Maisie Peters

MAISIE PETERSSAD SUMMER GIRL: Having spent the past few months releasing never-before-heard studio session material, launching her own book club and making a cameo appearance in Apple TV’s first British scripted original, Trying, prolific singer-songwriter, Maisie Peters now releases new track, Sad Girl Summer – and it’s a kooky alt-pop treat with Hispanic hints. Written alongside Steph Jones (Selena Gomez, P!nk) and production duo AftrHrs (Niall Horan, GRACEY), as well as a ringing endorsement from Taylor Swift, this adopts a breezy, somewhat cheery attitude to feelings of sorrow brought about by break-up. The acoustic guitars have a Hispanic kind of vibe, while the breezy beats are tailor-made for putting you into a soothed state of mind. Peters’ playful vocal delivery also belies some of the more heartbroken sentiments underpinning it. It also carries a Lily Allen kind of feeling, too, which should only help to broaden its appeal. Commenting on the track herself, Peters said: ““I wrote Sad Girl Summer at the beginning of summer 2019, which ironically went on to be one of the best summers of my life! The song is all about letting go of things and people that aren’t worth your precious time and energy, and celebrating the people in your life that are.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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James Vickery, Pressure (Part II)

JAMES VICKERY feat SINEAD HARNETTPRESSURE (PART II): South London’s James Vickery releases Pressure (Part II) with Sinead Harnett. This is the follow up to the hugely successful Pressure (with SG Lewis), in which Vickery continues the story with the aid of the R’N‘B songstress. This will be the first of three vocal ‘reworks’ from his new project, Overture – The Reworks, which gives his fans a new take on his picks from the critically-acclaimed Overture EP released in March. And while there’s certainly a welcome sense of familiarity attached to these reworked record, the more soulful grooves attached this time around somehow make it even more appealing and seductive. In terms of production values, the beats here have a classic Nightmares on Wax kind of vibe, enhanced whenever Harnett adds her seductive vocals. Vickery’s own R’n‘B infused vocals remain a highlight but also work even better against Harnett’s. This is a late night smooth groover of high style. Speaking about The Reworks project, James said: “I wanted to do something different instead of just putting out typical remixes for Overture. I’m a singer through and through, so I wanted to showcase some extraordinary singers that I know and love. With each song I’ve tried to do something completely different and original, be it continuing the story from the original song, or singing in another language…”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Vickery · Pressure (Part II) with Sinead Harnett


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