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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 28, 2019

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

The LaFontaines

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE LAFONTAINESSWITCH OUT THE LIGHT: Another of this week’s harder hitting singles is Switch Out The Light, the latest offering from The LaFontaines. The accompanying video sees the lead character turn his ‘gun’ (or hand) on each individual he encounters – those same characters represent the traits he must kill to achieve the best version of himself. It’s driven by huge hip-hop style beats (the kind Timbaland would be proud of), as well as a semi-rapped verse that finds the singer doing his best to exorcise his demons. The chorus, though, is more sung and more anthemic, approaching more radio-friendly territory. It’s rousing, empowering and hopeful, suggesting that there is a light at the end of the road for the subject’s inner turmoil. Switch Out The Light is another huge song from the band who, on their new album Junior (which topped the Indie chart upon release last Friday), have really delved in deep to their psyche and have written songs with serious undertones yet are euphoric in their sound. The LaFontaines have become widely known for their exhilarating live shows and are one the most exciting bands to come from Scotland in recent years melding hip-hop with huge pop choruses and guitar lines.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zeke Finn

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: ZEKE FINNWHAT YOU NEED: Hailing from New York, to beat-artist parents, Zeke Finn grew up surrounded by non-stop inspiration. Later, encouraged by his music teacher, he later turned his playful interest into a serious hobby bringing all his wanderlust into full bloom. Now living in Los Angeles, Zeke found himself collaborating with producer Jack Kennedy, leading to new single What You Need being born. And it’s a very worthwhile collaboration. Boasting charismatic vocals and an addictive indie-pop beat, this hook-laden track is set to worm its way into your heart this summer, making you want to dance all night long. It’s got headrush harmonies, feel-good vocals and lyrics (“baby all I want is to hold you, I know what you need”), toe-tapping, dancefloor friendly beats and an overall sense of catchiness that’s entirely infectious. Yet, the indie sensibilities also help to keep this on the right side of pop – it’s mainstream without being cheesy. Indeed, Mark Ronson would be proud. It’s the kind of track that could well find its way onto a soundtrack moment soon.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Beautiful People

VIDEO/SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ED SHEERAN feat KHALIDBEAUTIFUL PEOPLE: Ed Sheeran has unveiled his new track Beautiful People, featuring Khalid, alongside the official video – the third track the singer-songwriter has revealed from his No.6 Collaborations Project LP, set for release on July 12. Another gem of a track, this sure-fire summer anthem – produced by Shellback, Max Martin, FRED and Ed Sheeran – spotlights the importance of staying true to yourself, not falling prone to product placement, money worshipping or false Gods (beauty, wealth, etc). It’s a calling card to be happy being who you are and letting the world take care of itself. And it’s a worthy sentiment to get behind, delivered in crowd-pleasing, radio-friendly fashion amid strong melodies, a sing-along chorus, subtle electronic flourishes and handclap beats. It’s sure to become another massive anthem for Sheeran. The tongue-in-cheek official video, directed by Andy McLeod, follows a happy couple who are dropped into a world of excess and high glamour, yet don’t feel compelled to fit in with their new surroundings.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: LIAM GALLAGHERTHE RIVER: Hot on the heels of Liam Gallagher’s incendiary Shockwave – which shot straight to the top of the Official Vinyl and Trending Charts – the former Oasis bad boy has now dropped the equally volatile second single, The River. Powered by a visceral, driving guitar riff – think Led Zeppelin powered by Madchester energy for 2019 – The River finds Liam’s distinctive sneering vocal delivering a rallying call for the current generation to fight for change. Its anarchic attitude targets the figureheads of the establishment – from money-sucking MPs to vacant celebrities. As a result, it’s angry, it’s contemporary and it’s got a rebellious nature befitting this artist’s profile. Admittedly, it’s got a strong Oasis vibe, which in turn evokes that sense of Zeppelin style nostalgia. And it remains distinctly Liam, powered by those vocals. But it’s empowering, anthemic and another good indicator that his sophomore solo LP, Why Me? Why Not, is shaping up to be another cracker of an LP. The track was co-written by Liam alongside the track’s producer Andrew Wyatt, who was a key collaborator on the all-conquering solo album, As You Were. The video is just as striking, delivered in trademark swagger.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cardi B

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: CARDI B – PRESS: If the single itself leaves a lot to be desired, in respect of its expletive laden put down of the things that rile Cardi B. The video is undeniably eye-catching. It’s designed to be reactionary and it will certainly provoke the kind of outrage she’s expecting from the people she’s lyrically taking aim at. But it’s also cinematic and relentlessly watchable, filled with provocative images of violence, sexualisation and girl power attitude. As for the song itself, there’s a hard-hitting urban vibe, fuelled by relentlessly full-on beats and stabbing synths. It’s the kind of track that would easily wing its way into the Fast & Furious scene. And the rapping itself is unapologetically volatile, with Cardi B dropping verbal bombs such as “press, press, press, Cardi don’t need more press”, “money still long like weave/pussy still wet like Florida” and – over the chorus – “kill ’em all, put them hoes to rest, walk in, bulletproof vest”. It’s not really that good.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Cold War Kids

COLD WAR KIDSCOMPLAINER: Cold War Kids have released two new songs – Complainer and 4th of July – the first new music from the Los Angeles, California-based band in more than two years. The songs will be part of an album called New Age Norms, due for release this autumn. Complainer, the first song written for the album, is a call to transcend and do something constructive rather than dwell on all the things that might drag us down. Its message inspired vocalist Nathan Willett throughout the recording process. It’s timely and relevant. But while certainly boasting plenty to say, it’s delivered in an easy listening, accessible vibe. The chugging guitar riffs are a good focal point, while the drums have a lazy, easygoing vibe that makes it easy for the lyrics to stand out. Singer Willett’s vocals occasionally adopt a falsetto tone, and come backed with a children’s chorus, adding greater emphasis to the message behind the song. But it also serves to create something optimistic, in spite of the acknowledgement that there are a lot of problems to solve. Commenting on both new tracks, Willett said: “For me, the songs are always the most important piece of Cold War Kids. And in them, having a strong message and maintaining a positive energy and output—and not just rage and conflict—is so important, and what can set us apart. But at the same time, we’re doing an old thing: rock ‘n’ roll! I don’t want to completely intellectualize it, because we don’t have this liberal, politically correct agenda. We set out to make a rock and roll record. But, the person that I am, the band that we are, the values that we have are in these songs. They’re not tropes of rock and roll urges; they’re in pursuit of a new value, a better world. And it’s not so clear cut what those are, but these are the new age norms.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hildur, Work

HILDURWORK: Rising Icelandic pop artist Hildur has released her new single Work as the final offering to be released from her highly anticipated Intuition EP, which is also available now. Echoing artists such as Robyn, Work is an increasingly infectious offering, fuelled by effervescent synth arrangements, sweet vocals, a youthful sense of optimism over a relationship and finger-click style beats. As Hildur herself explains: “Work is a fun and quirky song about new love and strong feelings – and then putting in some work to make it last. This is the last single of the EP, Intuition, which has dealt with the themes of following your intuition and believing in your gut feeling. I believe that love relies heavily on that gut feeling and when you meet someone you really click with you are willing to do everything and anything to make the relationship ‘work’. So let’s get to work.” It’s a pop offering that’s sung from the heart, but which carries with it a summery sense of breeziness – it’ll make everyone want to make their relationships work. The Intuition EP features five tracks, including preview singles Picture Perfect, which has already amassed over 2 million streams, her most recent single Woman At War, which is a stirring and emboldened battle cry for equality, 1993, a nostalgia laden, uplifting anthem about learning to trust in oneself, Everyday and new single Work.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Balthazar

BALTHAZARCHANGES: Balthazar have dropped Changes as their new singe, alongside details of further touring in support of their acclaimed album Fever, with dates across France and Germany in November and December this year. Changes boasts an infectious ‘on and on and on’ chorus refrain sung with Maarten’s distinct lead vocal, as well as some soulful indie-pop melodies, especially late on once the whoa who harmonies are introduced. There’s an effortlessly laidback vibe attached, which puts you in a relaxed state of mind while listening, as well as something more indie and free-spirited. It’s anthemic in a quietly thoughtful kind of way. As Maarten explains: “I was hungover and complaining about it.” Adding that his bandmate, Jinte, had said something along the lines of: “Stop talking about changing if deep down you know you don’t want to.” And consequently “we then wrote this song to celebrate the flaws in our machinery. A celebration that was followed by yet another sweet hangover.” It’s classic Fever-era Balthazar.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lontalius

LONTALIUSMAKE MY DREAMS COME TRUE: Wellington, New Zealand based Lontalius releases new single Make My Dreams Come True and looks set to extend his reach among fans in the UK. Co-written with Roy Blair and Mr Hudson, the new track marks the beginning of a new chapter in Lontalius’ (real name Eddie Johnston) career. Currently adding the finishing touches to the follow up to his Partisan Records-released debut album I’ll Forget 17, Johnston has been working with the likes of Om’Mas Keith (known for his work w/ Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu, Kevin Abstract etc), Jim Fairchild (member of Modest Mouse and Grandaddy) and more on his second album. Blending elements of alternative pop, R&B and indie rock, Johnston is longing for change on Make My Dreams Come True: “I’ve been stuck in old ways / I’ve been lost in old ways” – pleading for something to give, before the track builds to a crescendo packed with emotion, “As long as I am with him / This dream I won’t forget As long as I am with him / This love I can’t forget” – he sings, opening up to a cathartic, piano-led (performed by Mr Hudson) finale. En route to that finale, there are laidback, toe-tapping beats, shimmering synth arrangements and an anthemic chorus that’s genuinely catchy and hopeful. On the evidence of this, Lontalius’ dreams of making it big and breaking beyond his New Zealand borders look even closer to coming true.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kiefer Sutherland

KIEFER SUTHERLANDOPEN ROAD: Kiefer Sutherland has dropped Open Road as the latest single to be taken from current album Reckless & Me. The track showcases Sutherland’s raw, whisky-soaked vocal, raspy and full of sincerity while he sings about his passion for the road. He co-wrote the song with Jude Coleback in 1987 when they were on a road trip. Dripping with country values, as well as elements of rock, this has a dusky, classic feel that clearly wears its influences on its sleeve. It’s also lyrically honest, reflecting the singer’s love for the open road and the bittersweet feelings that accompany being on it – homesickness, loneliness, etc. The guitars are good, the vocals as strong and distinct as ever, and the overall vibe something of a ‘type of song’ your parents would love. But that’s no bad thing. Sutherland appears to be reverential to the style of songwriting that inspired him and he wears this influence passionately on his sleeve, to create a sound that feels somehow timeless.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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