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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 6, 2018

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

BLANc

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BLANc – ONLY ONE: Will White – aka BLANc – has announced the release of his much anticipated debut EP, Only One. Comprising three new tracks (Only One, In My TV Set, Part Of Me), the former Maccabees touring member and songwriter will also play a handful of headline shows in London throughout July and August. On the evidence of this first offering, they’re going to be shows worth catching! Already hailed as an ‘instant classic’ with echoes of the late Tom Petty and Willy Mason, this is low-key but disarmingly beautiful; simple but complex. White muses on life in general against the backdrop of a gentle guitar strum, which only occasionally gains any momentum (and that’s during the solo). White’s vocals are as tender as the track suggests, offering up lyrics such as “there’s always one too many things happening at once” and “there’s only one place I can stop that takes the weight of the world right off”. As such, it’s quietly empowering, while still acknowledging the stresses and strains of modern living. The songs on the new EP were born out of an intensive writing period in Print Village, a makeshift complex of studios in South London, divided by a car park where you’re likely to see countless other new artists, tastemakers and producers hanging around.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Daniel Avery and Four Tet

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: DANIEL AVERYQUICK ETERNITY (FOUR TET REMIX): Following the release of his Projector EP earlier in May, Daniel Avery enlisted revered London producer Four Tet – aka Kieran Hebden – for a remix of Quick Eternity, taken from the former’s critically-acclaimed second album Song For Alpha. A limited number of remix 12”s were exclusively available at London’s Field Day festival in Brockwell Park at the beginning of June, where both artists performed, and now the highly anticipated version is finally seeing a full release. Hebden flips the warm, undulating synths and crystalline percussion of Avery’s original in his own inimitable style, building shimmering, skittering flourishes before a pneumatic final half. It’s got a late-night kind of vibe, as well as a cinematic sense of purpose – combining shimmering beauty with a keen sense of moving things forward. Avery’s original composition is still clear, but Four Tet has added a heightened sense of urgency and an even greater coolness, making this one of those must have limited edition releases that looks destined to become a sought after classic. It’s one of those rare tracks that seems to fit any kind of mood – whether you feel like dancing, or kicking back and just appreciating its intricate beauty.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jason Mraz

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: JASON MRAZMIGHT AS WELL DANCE: Jason Mraz continues to impress with new material from his forthcoming Know LP with the endearingly chirpy Might As Well Dance. A country-funk jam that’s clearly designed to put a smile on your face, this drops self-consciously silly lyrics such as “we’re already fools, so we might as well dance” and “we’ve got nothing to lose, might as well take off our pants”! It’s already been hailed as one of Mraz’s favourite tracks from the new LP, so much so that he has included footage and pictures from his own recent marriage in the equally feel-good video. But the mix of funk, country and pop combines really nicely, delivering sunshine melodies, a good ‘ol boy country swagger (think Dukes of Hazzard theme tune) and an overall sense of being happy [and in love]. If the rest of the album matches the quality of the singles thus far, then we’re in for a real treat.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Niall Horan, Finally Free

NIALL HORANFINALLY FREE: Singer songwriter Niall Horan has debuted the original new song Finally Free from the soundtrack to the animated adventure Smallfoot, which is due to open in cinemas on September 28 (2018), with an all-star cast led by Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya and Common. The song is a fleet-footed slice of euphoric pop that’s driven by whooshing synths, rapid-fire acoustic guitar licks and easy-going, breezy melodies. It’s all designed to reflect the idea behind the title, which is that feeling of finally being free (when “nothing’s out of reach”). Hence, it’s feel-good, empowering and sun-drenched. And while it’s pure pop, it’s another example of how Niall Horan is carving out quite a career for himself outside of One Direction. Going back to the film itself, Smallfoot turns a myth upside down when a bright young yeti finds something he thought didn’t exist — a human. News of this ‘smallfoot’ throws the simple yeti community into an uproar over what else might be out there in the big world beyond their snowy village, in an all new story about friendship, courage and the joy of discovery.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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NHS Voices

NHS VOICESWITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: NHS Voices release With A Little Help From My Friends, a charity single that brings together superstar singers and healthcare heroes to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS. A team of NHS staff organised the release featuring the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir which is made up of children’s doctors, physiotherapists, IT experts, midwives and more. They recorded the track at the legendary Abbey Road Studios alongside an incredible line up of musical talent. This includes Seal, Guy Garvey, Myleene Klass, Niles Rodgers, Louisa, Danny Jones, Beverley Knight, Engelbert Humperdinck, Reef, HRVY, Marina and the Diamonds, Una Healy, Alexandra Burke, Rick Astley, Squeeze, Gabrielle, Tom Smith from Editors, Tony Hadley and UB40. It’s a lively cover of The Beatles classic, which seeks to highlight the special place the NHS holds in the hearts of the British public [and the world]. There are gospel elements, impassioned vocal performances, and even production elements from Timbaland. NHS Voices are hoping to land their second No.1. And given the occasion it is celebrating, it’s hard to begrudge them that success if they do. The NHS Voices project was started by Joe Blunden, an NHS communications professional, and children’s Dr Katie Rogerson. Choir leader and children’s community physiotherapist, Caroline Smith, has also been instrumental in getting the project off the ground. The record has been spearheaded by ordinary NHS staff, amazingly in their our own time in addition to their day jobs. Their tireless work saw them organise the recording of the song. From convincing ITV to make a documentary, to recruiting artists and booking studios, alongside orchestrating the publicity, they have hand a hand in it all. The track deliberately represents seventy years of music, to reflect seventy years of the NHS. Featuring artists from Englebert to HRVY, there is something for everyone, just like the NHS has something for everyone.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tom Baxter

TOM BAXTERTHE BALLAD OF DAVEY GRAHAM: Ivor Novello-nominee Tom Baxter has dropped a new single in the form of the blues-folk The Ballad of Davey Graham. Baxter wrote the track following an invitation to perform at the unveiling of a blue plaque for Graham. The story then came full circle when Baxter, a huge fan of Graham’s, learned that his own music was the last that Graham had listened to before passing away in 2008. The ensuing record has a blues-folk vibe that combines the sound of grassroots Americana with something a little more folksy and English. It’s clear to see that Baxter holds Graham in high esteem and the song manages to combine the neat trick of honouring him lyrically and instrumentally, while also continuing to enhance Baxter’s own burgeoning reputation. The acoustic guitar work is particularly great, while Baxter’s emotive vocals add atmosphere, purpose and a real sense of maturity. The Ballad of Davey Graham is the latest track to be taken from Baxter’s long-awaited third album, The Other Side Of Blue. When discussing the new LP, Baxter said: “I feel like I’ve been through a very slow metamorphosis over the years. Even I’m not sure into what, but I can say I’m calmer inside, and I thought it was time for a full-on new release.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Danny Jones, Is This Still Love

DANNY JONES – IS THIS STILL LOVE?: Danny Jones has released an impressive debut solo single in the form of Is This Still Love?. Written and produced by Danny with Seton Daunt and Ash Howes, the track is a heartfelt, guitar-led song about the way love changes as we grow older. It’s a reflective, respectful offering that capably describes the complexities of being in love, as opposed to ‘in passion’. As such, it should resonate with anyone who may have pondered the same question. In instrumental terms, there’s a breezy guitar-pop vibe for the early part of proceedings. But this is eventually replaced with a more fiery set of electric guitar riffs, as the song approaches its finale, while the vocals become more emphatic (complete with echoed backing). It’s the type of song that has plenty to say, but is delivered in such a melodic, anthemic-pop kind of way that it makes you feel good while listening. McFly superstar Danny has spent the last year writing and recording his debut solo album teaming has been working with some impressive talent on his new record, teaming up with Ash Howes, who has produced tracks for One Direction and James Arthur. He’s also been in the studio with Jake Gosling, who was one of the masterminds behind Ed Sheeran’s monster hit Thinking Out Loud, plus Mike Needle & Dan Bryer (Niall Horan) and Emily Philips (John Newman). Danny said: “I’ve been working on new songs for quite some time now and I can’t wait for everyone to hear them. The fans have been so supportive across the world and I’m excited for them all to join me on the next part of my journey. I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the road and performing again as I’ve really missed it.”.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Raye, Friends

RAYEFRIENDS: Friends, the new single from Raye, is an in your face ode to females being pitted against other females, produced by Mark Ralph and Kyle Shearer, the team behind Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa’s Scared To Be Lonely, alongside Fred Gibson who also produced the current No.1 and No.2 singles Shotgun by George Ezra and Solo by Clean Bandit. It’s driven by an insistent electronic pulse and some rapid-fire beats, as well as Raye’s sassy vocals. She confidently declares “we could have been friends”, almost by way of apology, before equally defiantly declaring: “But I would have f**ked with you, and I know you would have too.” Some of its delivery may be too in your face for some tastes, but there’s an urgency to the song that’s notable, meaning that it will get noticed. It’s also got enough energy to stake a claim to the summer dance scene… making you want to toe tap along, while perhaps reflecting on those friends of your own you might have f**ked with too! Commenting on the track herself, Raye said: “As you grow older, the list of people you can trust becomes smaller and smaller. I’ve lost a lot of people from my circle, experiencing the nastiest side of girls and boys. But I don’t care. I know real from fake and I am so blessed to have true friends behind me every step of the way. My friends are my sisters. My ride or dies, there for me through thick and thin. I’m so excited for everyone to hear this song.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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All Saints

ALL SAINTSLOVE LASTS FOREVER: All Saints have announced their new single Love Lasts Forever and a new album, Testament. Written by Shaznay and Karl ‘KGee’ Gordon (writers of many of the band’s biggest hits), and produced by Karl, the track is described as a joyous, uplifting, harmony-led pop song that is both unmistakably All Saints and sonically modern. Hence, the vocals are unmistakeably All Saints, combining sass with emotion and occasional dreamy beauty. But the accompanying beats are far more modern, refusing to delve back into the past but rather feel relevant to now. There’s a paciness to the track that stems from some shuffling beats and a lively harmonic backdrop. There are some traces of electronics, but they’re very much in the background, thereby enabling both the beats and the vocals to drive the track forward. It’s a great song to dance to, with a keen sense of empowerment about the power of love. As a statement of intent, this is an emphatic return that suggests All Saints can easily reclaim their pop crown. The album sees the band collaborating once again with producer William Orbit, the force behind their massive hits Pure Shores and Black Coffee.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Mason

LUCY MASONFLASHBACK ROMANCE: Following her critically acclaimed 2017 EP, dream-pop soloist Lucy Mason has returned with her beautiful new single, Flashback Romance. The track is taken from her debut album, due out in two parts over the course of the year with Side A releasing on July 27. The record is an extension to this exploration of her past. Commenting on the LP, Mason said: “I spent a lot of last year thinking about when I was growing up and I found myself as what I can only describe as falling in love with old memories and stories that I’d forgotten all about. When so much had changed, I couldn’t help remember what everything was like ‘before’ and when I started looking back, I couldn’t stop. I really hope these songs take you back in time, whether it’s back to old memories with best friends or back to your first heartbreak or cigarette. All these kinds of stories are tangled up in us somewhere no matter who we are or where we’ve come from & somehow in making these songs, they satisfied my feelings of nostalgia and made me happy but still somehow, remarkably sad. I called it Flashback Romance, as that’s exactly what writing this album was for me. I dedicate this entire album to my friends – To those I met at high school in England, to the friends I do life with now and most importantly, to the friends I’ve lost.” The single has a bittersweet undertow, born out of those sentiments. But it’s also beautifully composed – the lone piano arrangements providing a compelling background to the opening moments (when Mason’s vocals also shine), before some atmospheric electronics add a cinematic ambience to the latter stages. What’s more, the track succeeds in getting you to think of your own past and present friendships. It’s intelligent, soothing and beautifully bittersweet.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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