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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 26, 2020

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

Haux

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: HAUXACCIDENTS: Haux — the artist moniker of rural Massachusetts-based songwriter/producer Woodson Black – has released Accidents, a stirring – even haunting – new single from his forthcoming debut album, Violence in a Quiet Mind, out July 17, 2020 (Color Study). The song, driven by hypnotic percussion and capturing a heart-rending memory from Black’s childhood, is quietly mesmerising. Haux’s whispered vocal style and restrained instrumentation create a sense of melancholy that’s emotionally devastating. And yet there’s a beauty, too, inherent in the beat structure, the subtle electronics and the vocal layering. Explaining a little more about the incident that informed the song, Haux explained: “Accidents is one memory that remained [from childhood]; driving with one of my crushes in the back of my mom’s ex-boyfriend’s car while he was pretty buzzed wondering if we crashed, would it actually be worse than how we were feeling at the time (being 13 or 14-years-old). It’s messed up but sometimes, when you’re dealing with someone struggling with addiction, you kind of welcome rock bottom because then at least something might change. It takes a lot of energy to sift through the past. I feel like this album has allowed me to retell my childhood with all the parts I chose to forget back then. It’s scary to know that the way I cope with difficult times is to forget them. I guess part of growing up is shedding those old coping habits and learning that remembering is actually ok, that it’s healthy.” Accidents is one of those songs that has the classic qualities of acts like Snow Patrol or Bear’s Den for the way in which it creeps up on you emotionally.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Paul Weller, More

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: PAUL WELLERMORE: Set to become one of the new album’s highlights, More is the third track to be debuted from Paul Weller’s hotly anticipated new album, On Sunset, set for release on July 3. A soulful string and brass infused track inspired by the likes of Roy Ayres, the track reflects on the ceaseless desire to accumulate wealth without any emotional consideration. It boasts a highly addictive central strum, that feels very European and even slightly David Holmes/Lalo Schiffrin influenced. But the tick-tock beats also play into a cinematic vibe, while Weller offers up a relatively laidback vocal, which is sometimes accompanied by a female companion. There are even instrumental shifts into more psychedelic territory late on, with a finale that’s positively trippy (complete with flute and violin), while the use of sax midway through also heightens the soulful element. It’s a sleek, sexy, busy offering that – again – shows just how much Weller likes to play around with his sound to avoid becoming typecast. This feels positively cinematic, in a classic ’70s kind of way. More was written by Paul Weller and features guitar work from The Strype’s talented young strummer Josh McCLorey.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kodaline, Say Something

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: KODALINESAY SOMETHING: Kodaline follow the release of their new album One Day At A Time by sharing an inspiring new video for their current single Say Something. Directed by the band’s long-term collaborator Stevie Russell, the video is the first project from an exciting new partnership between the band’s label, B-Unique Records, and Mirriad, the computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) company, to develop and harness in-content advertising for music artists using different streaming and social platforms. It has also been boosted with participation from UNICEF. The video tells a small yet perfectly formed story about thinking big. A toddler dreams of going into space, becoming an aerospace engineer, pilot and astronaut to make that ambition a reality. Our miniature intergalactic hero heads for the stars before returning to earth with a bump and a tasty treat. Say Something captures the emotional resonance that Kodaline have an innate gift for expressing, while also providing an uplifting escape from the current situation. It’s a beautifully shot video that’s entirely captivating, inspiring and heart-melting. The song, meanwhile, is classic Kodaline – a slow-builder shot through with plenty of emotion, delivering heartfelt lyrics with a sweeping chorus that’s destined to become another big anthem for them. As a complete package, it’s utterly brilliant. It’ll also put a big fat smile on your face! Stevie Russell commented: “I pitched the idea to management expecting them to laugh about it and say ‘yeah right, no thanks.’ When they jumped at the idea I realised I had made a huge mistake, as I now had to deliver. Thankfully, an incredible baby and the team across Ireland, the UK and India made it all possible.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nerina Pallot, Oh Berlin

NERINA PALLOT – OH BERLIN: Now two decades into her career, with seven studio albums and numerous accolades to her name, Nerina Pallot returns to deliver her latest warm and wistful single Oh Berlin. Following on from her heartfelt rendition of the Joy Division classic Love Will Tear Us Apart, which featured on the soundtrack to the hit BBC/RTE TV series Normal People, and Circus, which appeared on Amazon’s Modern Love, Oh Berlin sees the singer and songwriter in a far more humbled and stripped-back guise. Opening up with a smooth and soaring piano-led introduction, the track slowly rises to a dramatic crescendo that almost sees her mirror a trip-hop-inspired direction. And it’s this trip-hop element that really allows the track to soar. Early on, the piano-based element creates a fairly generic ballad offering, albeit with the vocal beauty we’ve come to expect from Pallot’s sweeping style. But once those beats lands, the track really finds its feet and uncovers new layers of beauty. Speaking about her latest offering, Pallot said: “There is nothing like a bitterly cold, rainy day in Berlin to make you ponder the meaning of your life, especially if this existential moment is taking place on stage in the middle of a gig in the German capital, wishing you had written more bangers and had a show with dancers and roller skates and at least three costume changes. And why did the Gods of Song forget you when bops were being handed out and gave you melancholy instead? Still, what’s that Oscar Wilde saying – ‘be yourself, everybody else is already taken’? It can take us a while to figure that out for ourselves, and some of us don’t need to go to Berlin to do it, but I did and Oh Berlin is the result.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Melanie Martinez, Fire Drill

MELANIE MARTINEZFIRE DRILL: Alternative-pop star Melanie Martinez has releases Fire Drill, available now at all DSPs and streaming services. The ethereal track originally appeared as the closing credits in her K-12 film and fans have been eagerly anticipating its release since. It’s beautifully hypnotic, dropping lazy beats with harp-style electronics and those sweet, sweet vocals for which Martinez is rapidly becoming synonymous with. The beat structure, which is part finger-click, part trip hop, lends the track a little extra edge, offsetting the inherent sweetness nicely. But it’s evidence of Martinez’s ability to find a pop edge, while also tapping into something a little more alternative and ethereal. It marks her out from her peers. Fire Drill follows the recently released track, Copy Cat (featuring Tierra Whack), which marked the first Martinez song to include a featured artist. Along with the two new tracks, Martinez is also gearing up for the release of her upcoming, After School EP, due out in the coming months.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Blackpink, How You Like That

BLACKPINKHOW YOU LIKE THAT: South Korean superstar quartet BLlackpink are back with their new single How You Like That, a pop song featuring the unique and signature sounds of Blackpink further embracing their message to move forward and fly higher in any dark situation. How You Like That is produced by Teddy, and written by Teddy, R.Tee, 24 and Danny Chung. It’s actually got a hip-hop vibe attached to some of its beats, with the sassy vocals inter-layering each other and bouncing off the beats. It’s all about girl power and attitude too. And it could easily find a place on the soundtrack to a film such as Fast & Furious given its sense of urgency. Blackpink are at the forefront of the K-pop movement and now boast a global reach and appeal. How You Like That, with its edgy but hoplessly catchy pop delivery, looks set to make them even more popular.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Charlie Puth, Girlfriend

CHARLIE PUTHGIRLFRIEND: Multi-Grammy nominated and multi-platinum singer, songwriter, producer Charlie Puth seeks to celebrate summer with his first solo release of the new year, Girlfriend. With infectious, soulful grooves, the song complements Puth’s signature falsetto and even boasts a Prince-like appeal. Puth is self-produced and co-written alongside longtime collaborator, J Kash, and has that smooth groove pop kind of vibe that makes it tailor-made for enjoying at post-pandemic pool parties or late night BBQ gatherings. There’s a sexy vibe that is born out by the sense of longing inherent in the lyrics, which talk of an infatuation that the singer is hopeful of being turned into something more meaningful [and physical]. “I am very bad at communicating, so most of the time, I just express my feelings in my music and Girlfriend is an example of that,” he explains. “The song is about being persistent and letting someone know that your feelings for them aren’t going to just go away. But rather, they’re always going to be there, and you can’t sleep another night until you have that person by your side every day. But it’s really intense to say all that out loud, so I just put it in a song to make it a little easier for myself.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jack Grace, A Ribbon

JACK GRACE – A RIBBON: Australian producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jack Grace returns with new single A Ribbon. Showcasing a more direct side to the Sydney-born, Paris-based artist, the new song melds a driving beat, reverb-laden piano chimes and expansive production with deft, heartfelt lyricism. “Oh, I feel nothing,” he sings… bittersweet vocals drenched in emotion belying his words. It’s a track that feels very special to Grace because it deals with emotions he has had to contemplate and navigate. But those same emotions are sure to resonate with anyone who has ever felt a sense of homesickness and dreams. And yet, while deeply contemplative and somewhat bittersweet, the driving nature of the instrumentals, coupled with the deep, gruff vocals, possess something of a stirring vibe about them. It’s therefore a profoundly moving and sometimes even inspiring listen. Speaking about the track, the first from a new body of work slated for release next year, Grace shares: “A Ribbon deals with nostalgia, homesickness and mixed feelings about growing up with small town dreams.” Storytelling is at the forefront of this new material, written and recorded over the past two years.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Daniel Avery

DANIEL AVERYINFINITE FUTURE: Daniel Avery returns with his third full-length album, Love + Light, a surprise release, which is available now via Phantasy worldwide and Phantasy/Mute in the United States and Canada on all digital platforms, with ethereal artwork taken from an image by Avery’s tour photographer Keffer. A vinyl and CD release will follow. In celebration, there’s a new single and video in the form of Infinite Future, created by Australian designer Greg Hodgson via feedback loops. The track is pure Avery – a scintillating back-beat providing the backdrop for surging synth arrangements, vocal experimentation and that mix of dark and light that he so often excels in. Of course, there’s something very cinematic about it, at times, as well as world music. Midway through, for instance, there’s a time out that sounds positively Aboriginal. But the track then explodes back into widescreeen life, filling your eardrums with something highly intoxicating and utterly addictive. It’s a continually shape-shifting track that combines elements of danger with excitement, light with dark and overall brilliance.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lianna La Havss

LIANNE LA HAVASWEIRD FISHES: Lianne La Havas goes for a cover version of Radiohead’s Weird Fishes for the fourth taster from her self-titled third album (out next month). And while perhaps a surprising choice for a single, it does at least offer another strong showcase of those sensual vocals in which she excels. As with all things Radiohead, there’s a thoughtful, somewhat downbeat vibe attached, which sits perfectly in sync with the weirdness suggested in the song’s title. But La Havas, for her part, injects something surreal and dreamy to the mix, those sultry, almost purred vocals providing a somewhat more soothing alternative version to the song as opposed to those presented by Radiohead’s main man. The result is certainly a strong curiosity listen, which boasts equal parts strong vocals and strong, layered instrumentals. But it perhaps should have been left as an album offering only, in preference for something more original. La Havas is talented enough to have plenty to offer from her own arsenal. That being said, La Havas did originally perform the cover with her band in 2019, following an appearance at Glastonbury. She also served as the track’s co-producer, alongside Beni Giles. And a press release notes that the session for this cover ended up inspiring how the entire new album would sound. So, perhaps it’s no bad thing to have opted to showcase one of its inspirations.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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