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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 29, 2018

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

James

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: JAMESCOMING HOME PART II: James may not quite manage to sound as anthemic as heyday tracks Sound, Laid and, yes, Come Home were. But Tim Booth and company can still turn on the style and deliver an emotive, intelligent offering when they see fit. Coming Home Part II is a heartbreaking indie pop anthem that finds the band tugging at the heartstrings for all different kinds of reasons. An apology, of sorts, this finds Booth lamenting the cost of being on the road to his relationship with his daughter. Opening with the lyric, “I missed your seventh birthday… face time on Father’s Day, Father’s Day a 1,000 miles away”, it continues to deliver one bombshell revelation after another, while attempting to patch things up (complete with more heart-rending lyrics such as “my life is always leaving”). It’s a striking single, for those reasons, and deliberately not as anthemic as past James offerings such as Come Home. But it is striking… Booth’s vocals are as powerfully resonant as ever, while the sharp synth loops and stabs create a mesmerising backdrop. It’s an impressive offering, made all the more memorable by its honesty (and relatability to any working mother or father to some degree).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MILES KANECRY ON MY GUITAR: Miles Kane has dropped a doozy of a track in the form of the livewire Cry On My Guitar. The latest offering from his Coup De Grace LP, this is a million miles removed from the kind of melancholy ballad the name suggests. Rather, it’s a full steam ahead slice of glam-tinged psychedelic rock that bears favourable comparisons with the likes of T-Rex and Primal Scream. The scuzzy guitars provide a compelling and highly energetic focal point, the drum beats are lively and foot-tapping and Kane drops a psychedelic set of vocals that really enliven the track. As you’d expect from a guitarist of Kane’s quality, there’s also a blistering, reverb-heavy guitar solo that further elevates the song into the feel-good stratosphere. Kane is clearly having fun, in spite of the tears, and the ensuing record has a truly infectious quality. It’s retro tendencies only heighten the overall sense of cool surrounding this one.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kyle Falconer

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: KYLE FALCONERFAMILY TREE: Kyle Falconer’s ability to deliver a catchy, breezy chorus as frontman of The View is continued as he ventures out as a solo artist. Family Tree, the latest offering from his solo LP No Thank You, which is due on July 27. It’s an indie-pop offering that serves as an affectionate tribute to his own family, as well as an anthem of sorts to anyone who is working on their own family tree. The guitars are bright and breezy, Falconer’s vocals [while as distinct as ever] are endearing, and the mix of bittersweet lyrics paints a vivid picture of the triumphs and failures inherent in any family tree. To coincide with the single, Falconer has also released a video, which aptly documents footage following Kyle and his young family around as they holiday in Thailand. The video was shot by close friend Conor Berry. Family Tree is therefore arguably the song that unites the album – offering the nearest blend of The View’s rambunctious anthems with Falconer’s more reflective solo songwriting. “I’m putting bottles of whisky and vodka behind me,” he sings in possibly the album’s most immediately engrossing melody. “I’m working on the family tree.” Although the song commences in a dark place, it’s fitting that the life-affirming sing-along chorus reflects Falconer’s own progress too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Coral, Eyes Like Pearls

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: THE CORALEYES LIKE PEARLS: Eyes Like Pearls is the new single from The Coral and it’s taken from their new albim, Move Through The Dawn, which is released on Ignition Records on August 10. Unashamedly romantic, the track has a breezy indie pop sensibility that’s mixed with a tinge of melancholy. It’s a bittersweet confection that, instrumentally, contains echoes of artists like Jeff Lynne, with enhanced strings arrangements, vibrant acoustic guitars and melody-strewn choruses. And while the chorus declares “now my troubles seem so far away from me”, the song does contain that melancholy undertow, opening with the lyric “what do you dream, when the world is on fire, and you’re drifting through time in the space where you lie”? As ever, The Coral combine thought-provoking lyrical intelligence with instrumental beauty. It’s a really nice record. Eyes Like Pearls is the second single to be taken from the new album and follows the BBC 6Music playlisted lead single Sweet Release. The animated video was directed, animated and produced by Neil Mclean and emerges like a fun cross between Button Moon and Short Circuit. Just as the single deserves to be heard, so the video deserves to be seen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Paramore, Caught In The Middle

PARAMORECAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: Paramore continue to bring a breezy sunshine vibe to their new music that neatly offsets the confusion to be found in the lyrics. The song, in itself, is about perservering in spite of doubt, as Hayley Williams declares: “I try to get going but I’m caught in the middle.” She later declares: “I can sabotage me by myself; I don’t need no help, I can sabotage myself”. And yet, in spite of those troubled sentiments, the instrumentals are delivered in such upbeat fashion that you can’t help but want to reach out and throw a supportive arm around her. Indeed, she endears herself by singing “I’ll try to keep going or they’ll call me a quitter”. It’s a fun offering – alt-pop at its more likeable and catchy. The video – directed by Computer Team – is streaming now. The track is taken from the band’s fifth studio album, After Laughter, which also featured the singles Hard Times, Told You So, Fake Happy and Rose Coloured Boy.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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DJ Snake, Let's Get Ill

DJ SNAKE & MERCERLET’S GET ILL: French DJ and producer DJ Snake and fellow Parisian Mercer have released their new single Let’s Get Ill via Polydor Records – and it’s clearly aiming to become one of the big superclub dance anthems of the summer. Featuring legendary, Grammy winning producer Jermaine Dupri lending his vocals to the track, the track is big in every way. The synths are energetic, the beats relentless and sometimes coming at you like a machine gun rat-a-tat, and the vocals as volatile as a lyric that asks “party people” to “let’s get ill” could suggest. Unfortunately, it’s also a little too firmly rooted in the mainstream dance genre to really stand a chance of crossing over. The electro sound becomes monotonous after a while (as most dance anthems destined for the Ibiza circuit do), while the beats offer very little pause. It just propels itself forward, hoping to sweep everyone along in its path. But unless you’re intoxicated and don’t care, or love this kind of sound anyway, there’s nothing here to recommend it.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Daya, Safe

DAYASAFE: Nineteen-year-old singer/songwriter Daya’s new single, Safe, is out now on Polydor Records. Daya co-wrote this heartfelt and emotional song with Laleh and Joel Little. And it’s a great little effort. A pop meets R’n‘B style hybrid, the ballad makes excellent use of Daya’s sultry vocals over a slick back-beat and some nice electronics. The harmonies inherent in the chorus, when Daya stretches her voice, also ensure that this has an instantly catchy vibe, in spite of the sincerity that’s found in the lyrics. “This song could be interpreted as a call to action or a very raw, unfiltered response to what’s been happening in this country,” Daya told Teen Vogue, revealing that Safe was written in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas last year. “If it impacts change in the slightest, that’s amazing, and if it serves as some sort of a blanket for young people to wrap themselves in, I’ll be just as satisfied. I want it to be more of a feeling and experience than anything. If it continues the conversation on gun control then that’s all the better.” The accessibility of the single is sure to make the message behind it even more lasting. Since making her debut with 2016’s double-platinum Away, Daya won her first ever Grammy Award for her smash collaboration with The Chainsmokers, Don’t Let Me Down, released a gold-certified album, and headlined a national tour. Just months after debuting at #5 on Billboard’s 21 Under 21 list in 2016, the Pittsburgh-born artist emerged as the youngest honoree on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 music list in 2017. Daya is set to deliver a sophomore album that finally shows the full depth of her talent and scope of her artistry.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX

CHARLI XCX – NO ANGEL: Charli XCX has dropped two new singles in the form of No Angel and Focus. The former is produced by Invisible Men (ZAYN, Iggy Azalea) with additional production from Sophie. It’s a power pop anthem that harks back to Eighties style synth-pop, albeit with a sassy edge that finds Charli XCX proclaiming that she’s no angel… rather “maybe I’m bad to the bone”. However, she does suggest the ability to learn! It’s a typically catchy offering from Charli – provocative, sassy, fun and feel-good. It’s the sound of an artist working at the top of her game. Charli’s increased musical output points to an exciting year ahead of the highly-acclaimed pop innovator as she is set to release a constant flow of music over the coming months. Since its unveiling in May, 5 In The Morning [her previous offering] has entered playlists across the world and has exceeded 6 million streams in just a few weeks.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX

CHARLI XCXFOCUS: The second of Charli XCX’s two new singles is Focus and it shows a different pop focus from No Angel. Where that track was ’80s leaning and very synth-pop, Focus mixes power pop with sassy girl rap. Charli employs a more dangerous, even seductive set of vocals as she implores the listener [or object of her affections] to “focus on my love” and even “just soak up when I’m naked… yeah”. It’s playfully provocative, even when the lyrics threaten to become repetitive. The reverb-coated synths are accompanied by robust programmed drums, which lend the track an even greater hip-hop vibe. Hence, this has urban smarts to offset the slightly more cheesy pop of the accompanying single, thereby showing just how diverse a pop singer Charli can be. It’s high on energy and every bit as appealing as her recent work, which includes May’s 5 In The Morning, and guest spots on Rita Ora’s Girls and Tove Lo’s Bitches.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Mama's Gun

MAMA’S GUN – ON THE WIRE: Classic Northern Soul pop meets political edge on Mama’s Gun’s new release On The Wire. Channelling the classic soul of the Dap Kings and Curtis Mayfield, the band have put together a genuinely breezy track that’s positively brimming with feel-good instrumentals (brass, guitar, organs). It positively revels in the hip vibe it brings. And yet, there’s a political edge, too, that’s echoed in the animated video that accompanies it. The Brexit retorting lyrics take aim squarely at the misinformation the band feel was put out ahead of the landmark vote on whether to leave the European Union. The accompanying video was directed and animated by Steph Hope. When speaking about the political angle to On The Wire, band frontman Andy Platts explained: “The lyrics were written in the haze of media misinformation and heated debate in the weeks leading up to the so called ‘Brexit’ vote. It was a rally cry for people to make their decision rationally and not on the throw of some emotionally loaded dice.” Hope, who is based in Oslo, animated the Brexit-retorting clip with its politics in mind. She said: “The band mentioned that the song was partly inspired by the Brexit vote and the confusion surrounding it, so I wanted to make something with clusters of images that overlapped and felt like mixed messages coming from different places.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Brooke Law, Fight Like A Mother

BROOKE LAWFIGHT LIKE A MOTHER: Brooke Law is a London-born British singer and songwriter hugely influenced by her diverse multi-ethnic family: Eurasian on her maternal side, and mixed Jewish on her paternal side. It is from this bedrock of family ‘unity-through-diversity’, strength, and positive action that inspires Brooke to express her own values and beliefs through music. This is evident in new single Fight Like A Mother, which is about nurturing and giving everything you have to love your child. She explains: “I’m not a mother, but I know being a mother is the hardest ‘job’ in the world. No one is taught how to raise someone and everyday mothers are making choices for their kids. Mothers make these choices with all their heart and power. If women were recognised more, maybe there would be equality within the sexes.” It’s designed to be a single of empowerment and arrives with robust beats, Eastern European/Russian instrumental flourishes and a feisty set of vocals. But it does also feel like the type of record you could hear on a Eurovision Song Contest. It’s not without worth, particularly in its message making, but it is a positive statement from an artist with a fierce [and admirable] belief in herself.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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AK Patterson

AK PATTERSON – IT’S NOT OVER TILL THEY CRY: AK Patterson has released the video for her individual new single It’s Not Over Till They Cry, which is lifted from the band’s forthcoming debut EP Shadows, which is produced by Charlie Andrew (Alt J, Marika Hackman) and due out on August 15, 2018 through East City Rockers in partnership with Andrew’s own Square Leg Records. Following a support slot for Alt J earlier this year and appearances at The Great Escape and Dot To Dot, AK Patterson have further summer festival dates lined up including Latitude and the Cambridge Folk Festival (full run of shows below). The band intend to share a new track every month in the run up to the EP’s release, with It’s Not Over Till They Cry following previous releases Shadows and Lady Greyling. And if you’re wondering what to expect, then the best we can come up with is art-folk mixed with Bjork-like etherealness in the vocals. It’s a curiosity, for sure, that clocks in at over six minutes, and which continually changes direction. There are trippy elements, touches of the surreal, fragmented vocals, atmosphere, art, occasional beauty, and an overriding sense of melancholy that’s reflected in the song’s name. But it is very much an acquired taste – and for lovers of things different. It annoyed me as much as it impressed me. But the accompanying video is worth catching.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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