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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 12, 2020

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

Callum Beattie, We Are Stars

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CALLUM BEATTIE – WE ARE STARS (PIANO PERFORMANCE): The prolific Callum Beattie has shared the beautiful piano version of his astral debut single We Are Stars. To accompany the release, Beattie also reveals the mesmerising live acoustic video. The new version sees Beattie sentimentally bringing it back to the song which began his path towards his debut LP. This stripped back version is a tender, intimate track which has Callum’s spellbinding vocal take centre stage. It’s low-key but disarmingly affecting, with words that are shot through with beautiful imagery (“we are planets in the sky” and “just a moon breaking up in your atmosphere”) and a purposeful sense of delivery that showcases the singer’s great emotional range. To add to its appeal, there are hints of classic Keane and Coldplay too. This is a terrifically delivered ballad that feels particularly welcome right now. Beattie recalls: “We Are Stars’is a song I wrote about two people trying to show love and understanding for each other after the heartache of losing one another.” It’s another former track that has high contemporary relevance, both amid the pandemic lockdown and the current #BlackLivesMatter protests sweeping the globe. Beattie’s successful debut album, People Like Us, is out now to buy and stream – all available via 3Beat / Universal.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jorja Smith, Rose Rouge

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: JORJA SMITHROSE ROUGE: Blue Note Records has announced the forthcoming Blue Note Re:imagined project, due September 25, 2020, which will find an impressive crop of today’s most dynamic musical talents re-invigorating classic songs from the revered label’s prolific canon, including compositions by such luminaries as Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson, McCoy Tyner and Andrew Hill. The reworked versions of these compositions come courtesy of Shabaka Hutchings, Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, Mr Jukes, Steam Down, Skinny Pelembe, Emma-Jean Thackray, Poppy Ajudha, Jordan Rakei, Fieh, Ishmael Ensemble, Blue Lab Beats, Melt Yourself Down, Yazmin Lacey, Alfa Mist, and Jorja Smith. The first offering is Jorja Smith’s sublime cover of St Germain’s Rose Rouge, originally released on the French soundsmith’s acclaimed 2000 album Tourist. And it’s a beautiful piece of work. Smith’s sultry, soulful vocals provide a sumptuous new focal point, delivering all the class we’ve come to expect from this highly talented singer. But the accompanying beats are slick, while the saxophone that permeates throughout offers a late-night, sexed up vibe that’s often quite irresistible, especially when paired with Smith’s sultry vocals late on. It’s endlessly addictive stuff that really succeeds in raising excitement ahead of this new project.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Stephan Moccio

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: STEPHAN MOCCIO – LE TEMPS QUI PASSE: After writing chart-topping hits for the likes of Céline Dion, Avril Lavigne, Seal and Josh Groban, multiple Grammy and Academy Award-nominated composer, songwriter and producer Stephan Moccio shares his new track Le Temps Qui Passe, out now on Decca Records, and quietly dazzles. Since the release of his first single Fracture in mid-April, Stephan’s songs have racked up over 11 million streams. Speaking of Le Temps Qui Passe, Stephan said: “It means ‘time passing’ in French. And we are often reminded that time stands still for no man. We should not take for granted our time alive to make a difference in this world… to not hesitate living life to the fullest. If nothing seems to ever change, we only have ourselves to blame.” The sentiments behind the track are therefore highly timely with everything going on globally right now. But the instrumental delivery offers a nice contrast to the confusion, anger and urgency that surrounds everything right now. Built solely around piano compositions, there’s a predictably cinematic quality to the score. But there’s also something beautifully relaxed about it. The composition washes over you and soothes you, forcing you into a reflective, contemplative mood. It’s romantic, hopeful, thoughtful and inspired. And if you love this, then also check out Nuit Blanche – it’s utterly irresistible.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Honne, no song without you

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: HONNE – NO SONG WITHOUT YOU: Honne make a welcome return with adorable new single, no song without you – the duo’s first new material since the release of acclaimed 2018 album, Love Me / Love Me Not. Written alongside Anderson .Paak collaborator Pomo during a spontaneous trip to Los Angeles in January and later finished at their studio in Hackney and in insolation during lockdown, no song without you sees HONNE strip everything back, pick up their acoustic guitars and channel the psychedelic, infectious, care-free romanticism of the ‘60s and bands like The Beach Boys. “It’s ok for things to sound a bit rough”, the duo explain, “rather than going into the studio and compressing guitars over and over. The more character that you leave in it, the more the listener can dive in.” Indeed, that sense of ‘rough’ adds a ramshackle warmth that only endears the track even more, especially when the delightfully laidback chorus lands amid lyrics that proclaim “I feel nothing without you”. But then the song is deliberately hopeful in its outlook despite being tender and heartfelt in its conception. As a result, the track signposts a fresh new sound for the duo, inspired by their desire to continue evolving and experimenting. “We’ve never wanted to rest on our laurels”, say Honne. “We want to keep evolving and never want to stay in the same lane.” The track comes complete with a heart-warming animated video, created by illustrator Holly Warburton, which taps into the feelings underpinning the song – and the sense of optimism – beautifully. It’s utterly, quietly mesmerising.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Harrison Storm, Breathe Again

HARRISON STORMBREATHE AGAIN: Australian singer-songwriter Harrison Storm unveils Breathe Again from his forthcoming EP, which is released later this year. Written and recorded in the UK with the help of producers Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway (who produced Lewis Capaldi’s top 10 hit Grace), the track is a classic troubadour style offering that should easily appeal to fans of artists such as Josh Pyke, Jose Gonzalez or even Ed Sheeran. The acoustic backdrop and toe-tapping beats provide a great instrumental backdrop, while Storm’s vocals have a reassuring quality to them in the build-up to the emotional chorus, which really allows the song to flourish. And yet, in spite of the inherent upbeat qualities, the song itself was born out of challenging times, as Storm explains: “Last year was a bit of a challenging one for me in my personal life. I’d come out the other side of a break-up with a few metaphorical bruises but found myself in a position where I felt a sense of clarity. This song came about in response to a very revealing poem I’d received around it all that was a bit of a shock to the system, but something I definitely needed and highlighted a lot of truths to me.” In that sense, it’s also an empowering, bittersweet listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Deacon

JAMES DEACONSHINE: South African alt-pop artist James Deacon has dropped his second EP, Renegade, a six-track offering that is brazen and brash and shows two solid middle fingers to conformity as Deacon continues to blaze an authentic career path. To celebrate, he also releases new single Shine, a funkalicious feel-good offering that oozes sex appeal and positivity. The bouncy, clap-commanding pop anthem is a disco-infused big-band affair with nods to Jungle, Daft Punk, Justice and Stevie Wonder. The chorus is particularly lively, offering proactive, assertive advice such as “take care of yourself” and “you don’t need no help”, while wrapping it up in an anthemic vibe that demands to be sung along with. The soul and disco elements also create an effortlessly toe-tapping vibe. It’s the type of song that everyone needs to hear and get behind right now – an ode to allow yourself to shine even in the darkest moments. Commenting on the inspiration behind it, Deacon said: “Shine is all about good wishes and positivity. It’s the yin to Mr Misery‘s yang. It’s all about letting go of the past and moving forward! I feel like a lot of the time we get caught up in the past and dwell on how things were better or worse and end up forgetting to appreciate the stuff right in-front of us. It’s also kind of a reminder to not hold grudges because they’re f**king useless!” The new EP features previous singles Reason, HERO aka Rich and most recent Rain On Me, plus three brand new tracks, including Shine as well as EP title track Renegade and Mr Misery.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dusky Grey, Get Easy

DUSKY GREYGET EASY: Following on from the release of their highly-coveted EP Communication, which has now garnered more than 30 millions streams online, and subsequent standalone single Uncontrollable early last year, Welsh pop duo Dusky Grey now return to deliver their long-awaited new offering Get Easy. Originally written in 2017, when the pair had just started their new lives as full time musicians, Get Easy follows that same upbeat and joyous train of thought that ran throughout their most recent EP. It’s an easy listen, with ear-pleasing melodies and a euphoric chorus that is tailor-made to allow you to feel-good about yourself (complete with lyrics such as “aint nobody gonna shut you down”). If anything, the composition of the track seems to lend itself to the same kind of formula that has become a staple of Ed Sheeran, with the melodies and beat structures reminiscent of some of his work. But that’s sure to add to the overall appeal of the record. Speaking about their latest release, the b,nd’s Catty Hopkins said: “This song is so special to us. We wrote it when we had just entered the music industry. It’s about that feeling when you’re young and you want to be yourself so badly but you also want to fit in with everyone else.” Bandmate Gethin Williams added: “We wrote it immediately after a party we went to. We met up with our co-writer James Earp – who’s really become an industry father to us – and told him about how we wanted to go out and dance but the vibe was completely off. No one was on the dancefloor and no one really seemed to be having a good time at all, so we came together and tried to forget about what everyone else was doing.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hi Frisco

HI FRISCOGOLD: After returning at the end of May to deliver their new single Gold, East London-based duo Hi Frisco now look to turn things up a notch as they deliver the brand new video for their latest release. Filled with bright and psychedelic animations, courtesy of Alex Evans at Flower Up, the new visuals perfectly express the soaring and cacophonous energy of the original release. Cut together in a cinematic melee of colourful shapes and emotional imagery, the video perfectly accompanies the pair’s own unpredictable and vivid disposition. Speaking about the new video, the creator Alex Evans said: “It was a pleasure to create for Hi Frisco and their song Gold. When learning of the song’s meaning I wanted to convey a visceral emotion through craft. Through frame by frame hand drawn animation coupled with collage textures I created a tangible ‘hand’ craft, echoing the song’s core meaning. It therefore demonstrates our personal journey from A to B and the battles we face in between. The animation delves into the notion of becoming our own worst enemy – we push ourselves down, hold ourselves back, but ultimately I wanted to celebrate the trials and tribulations of Gold’s message. The regular internal battles which we endure in which our minds can become clouded with more and more clutter and distraction (suffocation by piled repeating animation) are eventually thwarted and lead to clear thought. The cohesion between our highs and lows, allows us to triumphantly reach the conclusion of our journey.” The track itself offers a sharp mix of indie guitars and psychedelic choruses that combine to create a heady, brash whole. It’s alive with energy but, by turns, trippy and head-rushing, not to mention somewhat cinematic at times. The accompanying visuals only make it more compelling and trippy.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Woodkid, Pale Yellow

WOODKIDPALE YELLOW: Following on from recent single Goliath, the first to be taken from his long-awaited sophomore album due for release later this year, Woodkid returns with his latest offering, Pale Yellow. This time, he raises and questions the notion of intimacy and our response to addiction, with lyrics like “I will rise again slow, I will fix the pain on my own”… highlighting an inner struggle, when you must draw on the strength of body and mind to overcome a difficult situation. Initially, the song feels restrained and quite stripped back, almost soulful. But then it assumes a grittier edge, as the industrial beats kick in and provide something more forceful. Woodkid’s brooding vocals remain a constant, however, offering some hope amid the striking lyrics. “If Goliath, my first single, summons the massive, the titanesque, Pale Yellow is more about the machine inside, the inner monster,” explains Woodkid. “This is a song about the shape of chemical addiction and the power of resilience against self-destruction.” It’s hard-hitting stuff. Released alongside the song is a striking lyric video, featuring an avatar that Woodkid created of himself using 3D rendering technology.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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