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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 7, 2017

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

Liam Gallagher

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LIAM GALLAGHERCHINATOWN: Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher continues to build anticipation for the October 6 release of his debut solo album As You Were by sharing the new lyric video for his latest track, Chinatown. In contrast to the punchy Wall Of Glass, Chinatown is an atmospheric psychedelic slow-burner in which Liam utilises the more tender side of his inimitable vocal stylings. It’s a tender, highly appealing offering that drops a slow, steady acoustic strum, an atmospheric back-beat and some equally atmospheric – but understated – electronics. It also makes sure to showcase the strength of Liam’s vocals, which remain as distinct as ever but quite possibly with a more heartfelt edge here. As a pairing, the two tracks hint at what to expect from As You Were, with Liam adding a modern sheen to his passion for a wide-range of influences from the 60s and 70s. Chinatown was produced and written by Andrew Wyatt, the frontman of the band Miike Snow, whose previous credits include collaborations with the likes of Florence + The Machine. In addition to his work on Chinatown, Wyatt also co-wrote four other tracks on As You Were in the shape of Wall Of Glass, Paper Crown, Come Back To Me and Doesn’t Have To Be That Way.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Reverend & The Makers, Too Tough To Die

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: REVEREND & THE MAKERSTOO TOUGH TO DIE: Too Tough To Die is the first single from Reverend and the Makers’ new album, The Death Of A King – and it’s a fiery statement of intent. Featuring a blistering central guitar riff and a gutsy, swaggering set of vocals, this offers both a throwback to classic indie-rock as well as something fresh and appealing. It’s brash, loud and large, with those aforementioned riffs – some of which take on slide guitar form – getting bigger and bigger the longer it lasts. It’s the kind of track you can well imagine will set the live circuit ablaze. Vocally, it’s equally alive, with all of the band contributing at various points, thereby adopting something anthemic and chant-worthy. The video for Too Tough To Die is an extract from a film shot in Thailand and directed by Shaun James Grant. Following the critical success of previous album/film Mirrors, which saw the band decamping to Jamaica, The Death Of A King follows the band as they arrive in a remote fishing village in Thailand to record and film, however things take an unexpected twist when on the day of arrival the controversial king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, dies. It looks like Reverend & The Makers are about to make an emphatic return.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Coldplay, Aliens

COLDPLAYALIENS: Coldplay continue to illustrate their desire to keep evolving as a band with the release of new single Aliens. Notable for having been produced by Brian Eno, and taken from their forthcoming project, Kaleidoscope EP, this is reliant on an electronic loop, rather than their more trademark guitar sound and – admittedly – takes some getting used to. Indeed, you can tell this is an Eno produced record as the producer’s stamp is all over it, meaning that long-term fans of Coldplay (ie, their Yellow brigade) may have trouble appreciating it fully. But then Aliens is in keeping with their more recent turn towards pop and electronically-enhanced material, which has helped to turn them into an even bigger commercial property than before. It’s distinct, thanks to Chris Martin’s vocals, and it has a catchy quality. But while certainly endearing enough, and sure to court the popular affection, it’s a far cry from their very best material. Hence, while appreciating the band’s desire to keep current and to keep altering their sound, this is something of a bittersweet offering – good but not as great as their best material can be.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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GHOSTPOETFREAKSHOW: Following the announcement of his fourth album Dark Days & Canapés, due to launch on August 18, and the unveiling of the debut track Immigrant Boogie, Ghostpoet – Obaro Ejimiwe – drops new single Freakshow and its accompanying video. Brooding post-punk guitar lines provide the menacing landscape for provocative lyrics that create a typically striking offering from this acclaimed artist. If anything, there’s also traces of artists like Massive Attack here, albeit delivered in Ghostpoet’s own inimitable style. If you’re a fan, then you’ll dig this slice of lyrical and musical darkness. Newcomers may also be lured. The accompanying video is the second in a dystopian series directed by Zhang + Knight. It depicts a nightmarish pre-apocalyptic world, in which pleasure seekers and average humans alike search for relief from their synthetic reality. Shot between China and the UK, the film is another uncomfortably familiar vision of the future, following in the footsteps of the debut single, Immigrant Boogie. Both films exist in a world that feels outrageously inhumane and yet somehow familiar. Explaining his thoughts around the origins of the track Ejimiwe said: “Freakshow is a kind of commentary on modern consumerism – it sums up my general sense of unease in the way we buy our emotions these days, and the unstoppable cash-driven churn we seem to be caught up in as a society.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Soup J5, All Around The World

SOUP J5 – ALL AROUND THE WORLD: Soup J5 came up and found fame as part of the iconic, gold-selling Hip Hop group Jurassic 5. With over 25 years in the music industry, Soup has received gold records for his work on Wu-Tang’s debut album, Enter The Wu: 36 Chambers, and Mobb Deep’s sophomore album, The Infamous. Soup was also responsible for Jurassic 5’s first demo deal with Relativity Records. He is now taking that experience and word play and beginning to release music on a solo level too. His first offering is a blend of the hip hop and swagger that made Jurassic 5 a success, while also incorporating a touch of soul and classic R&B as he builds on his already famous delivery. Hence, All Around The World manages to slide between genres, offering a sluck, urban laced take on contemporary hip-hop eaely on, before then dropping a more soulful, and even pop-styled, chorus that’s augmented by supporting female vocals. It lends the track a greater accessibility, before then returning to the hip-hop elements that you’d more naturally expect from an artist of Soup J5’s background. It’s a decent showcase of this artist’s solo potential, without necessarily reaching the heights that Jurassic 5 are capapble of. All Around The world is a track taken from the EP Still In Fullee Love.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Charlie Straw, Running Through The Rain

CHARLIE STRAWRUNNING THROUGH THE RAIN: Running Through The Rain, the new single from Charlie Straw, follows recent singles All I Know and St. Ives; a DIY release that very quickly amassed over 400,000 streams (+ a top 5 placement on Spotify’s UK viral chart). Taken from his debut EP, The Rain (which was released last month), this is an atmospheric slice of folk-tinged pop that showcases a strong set of vocals and a really emotive set of lyrics. If you can imagine the intensity of Red Rain-era Peter Gabriel mixed with traces of Ed Sheeran and Seth Lakeman, then you’re close to what to expect. Straw, though, also maintains a keen sense of identity of his own and builds the song to some rousing emotional highs, stretching his voice to some impressive highs, while layering in the instrumentals to shimmering effect. Put together with his previous singles, Running Through The Rain showcases the emergence of another impressive new talent.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Fenne Lily, What's New

FENNE LILYWHAT’S GOOD: What’s Good, the new single from Fenne Lily, draws on her own personal experiences. The singer’s exposed vocals naturally reflect the heartbreaking, heart-on-sleeve honesty in her lyrics. Fenne herself explains: “Waiting for an ending hurts, sometimes more than the ending itself. I wrote What’s Good at a time when I was trying to allow myself happiness despite knowing that it would be short-lived. It’s about realising that something you trust in and depend on is coming to an end, and the feelings of helplessness and inadequacy that go hand in hand with this sense of loss.” The ensuing song is set against a subtle acoustic-folk backdrop, with Lily’s vocals almost whispered at times. There’s a fragility at play that fully conveys the sense of heartbreak inherent in the lyrics. It’s understated but achingly, almost beautifully sad. Recorded and produced at the home of Fenne’s friend and professional collaborator, Dave Dixon (aka Tamu Massif), What’s Good follows previous singles Bud and Top To Toe, which have now amassed a staggering 14 million Spotify streams – quite a feat for an unsigned solo artist self releasing her music. Lily has now unveiled her first ever official video to accompany the record. Filmed with Theo Watkins & Jamie Harding of Old Rope Films, the video features Fenne herself and speaking about the visual concept, Fenne has shared: “The idea behind the sportswear aesthetic was to visually reflect the feeling of something one sided. ‘What’s Good’ is about the loneliness of realising you want somebody more than they want you; of playing by someone else’s rules. We wanted the video to articulate that feeling of isolation and powerlessness by playing ‘team’ sports alone.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Oasis, Talk Tonight

OASISTALK TONIGHT: A blast from the past – but a worthwhile one, nonetheless. Brighton based animator Ste McGregor has put together a rather beautiful lyric video to accompany Oasis fan favourite Talk Tonight. Thought-provoking and simple, the animation provides a really nice accompaniment to a great slice of acoustic Oasis. A stripped down track, built around handclap beats and acoustic riffs, this finds Noel Gallagher on singing duties and putting forward lines like “all your dreams were made from strawberry lemonade” and “I want to talk tonight, until the morning light, about how you saved my life”. It’s a reflective, grateful, heartfelt song that still sounds great today (despite having been recorded during the brothers’ heyday). It’s well worth revisiting and checking out this video.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Arrows of Love

ARROWS OF LOVECOME WITH ME: East London art-rockers Arrows Of Love will release their eagerly anticipated second album, PRODUCT, later this year. As a taster, they’ve dropped the new single, Come With Me, which is “a collection of scenarios and themes personal to me,” according to singer Nuha Ruby Ra. “Ghosts from the past, wrestles with mental health, destructive patterns and loss of control. It plays out like a scene from a film noir – the story stems from manic depressive episodes characterised by two people who are really the same person; one in highest control while one is the weakest.” The disjointed nature of the structure certainly echoes the song’s themes, with stop-start, jagged guitar riffs working alongside – and sometimes against – the whispered, almost spoken vocals. There’s traces of PJ Harvey at times, albeit with an art rock sound that gets more and more frantic the longer it lasts. It’s certainly a take notice song. But it’s also one that eventually becomes a little too self-destructive and uncontrolled. The end is a mess.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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