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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 30, 2017

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

Arcade Fire, Signs of Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ARCADE FIRESIGNS OF LIFE: Arcade Fire continue to tease tracks from their forthcoming LP Everything Now with the release of Signs of Life – and continue to impress with another change of styles. If previous single Creature Comfort was all about futuristic disco pop, and its predecessor Everything Now was decidedly Abba-esque, then Signs of Life has a ’70s funk sound. Opening some tremendously slick beats and hand claps, the track then drops a genuinely cool electronic sound that draws on brass and bass, complete with smooth vocals that announce “we’re looking for signs of life every night, but there’s no sign of life, so we do it again”. At times, there’s an element of classic Primal Scream in the vocals, particularly in the use of soulful backing vocals over the chorus, but there’s also that overriding sense of the ’70s and a glam-funk combo that works a treat. A brass breakdown midway through is a classy extra that merely adds to the cool vibe surrounding the track. It’s another hit for Arcade Fire.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Wandering Hearts

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE WANDERING HEARTSWISH I COULD: Folk-Americana group The Wandering Hearts are bursting on to the music scene – signing a major new deal with Decca Records and releasing the new music video for their charming single Wish I Could. Very much mirroring the track’s heartfelt lyrics, the concept for the music video conveys the difficulty of going back to the start and rekindling a relationship once a series of actions have taken place. And while certainly reflective and more than a little melancholic lyrically, the accompanying instrumentals give it a breezy folk-pop kind of vibe, courtesy of some nice acoustic strumming, some slow-building [and eventually rousing] beats and a fine set of boy-girl vocals. The chorus, though, is all about regret, lamenting “I wished I could, but I know I can’t”. It’s anthemic and easily capable of finding a large and appreciative following on both sides of the Atlantic. Band members AJ, Chess, Tim and Tara are all grafters – working hard to hone their skills as musicians, and the standard is there to be seen. The band’s magic is in their live performances. Hearing how naturally their voices blend together, it’s incredible they met almost by chance 18 months ago.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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George Taylor

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: GEORGE TAYLOROPHELIA: London-based singer-songwriter George Taylor has been turning heads with a steady stream of singles released over the last 12 months – his debut release, Give It Up, promptly secured him a publishing deal with Warner Chappell after the track amassed over 2 million streams in just a couple of months. Zane Lowe then went on to premiere the latest Spotify-supported single, I Hear Your Song, Sweetness, on Beats 1. Now, he drops Ophelia, which embraces the same halcyon-spangled pop as his previous releases and continues to impress. Starting out in stripped back form, as if to suggest a thoughtful ballad, this quickly layers in the instrumentals and gains momentum, emerging from a track that’s initially haunting, to something quite expansive and sweeping. Speaking about the track, Taylor said: “Ophelia is a song I wrote after a girl I knew was very sadly sectioned and had to spend some time in hospital, thankfully she has since fully recovered. After visiting the hospital it was something I felt I had to write about as it gave me a much clearer insight on the issues surrounding mental health, and the stigma that comes with it. The name ‘Ophelia’ was inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.” That sense of epic tragedy is to be found in the lyrics, as well as something quite heartfelt too. It’s a striking new offering from a very promising new talent.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Machinedrum, What Is This

MACHINEDRUM feat ROSIE LOWEWHAT IS THIS: Continuing his reign as the underground’s most consistent and chameleonic music-maker, Machinedrum drops new single What Is This, featuring Rosie Lowe, on Ninja Tune. The track picks up where the Los Angeles producer left off on April’s U Betta, with melodies programmed with razor-sharp precision and percussion snaking in and out quick enough to give you whiplash – but the exercise is decidedly sleeker with Lowe’s vocals in the mix, slicked head to toe in a warm, moody sheen. On the track and his collaboration with Rosie Lowe, Machinedrum said: “Rosie and I originally wrote this tune a few years ago in a London studio. It was originally quite somber and slow moving, a song about learning to trust the ones you love and to let go of jealousy. It also deals with obsession and all the confusing emotions you get when you first fall in love. When I was working on Human Energy I pulled up the vocals from that session and decided to give them new life. We are so happy to finally share this very special song with the world!” The ensuing track boasts a really good energy, with those slick beat arrangements working well against some fine electronic loops and a swooning set of vocals that lend the track a dreamy, late-night vibe. It’s another gem from Machinedrum.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Starsailor

STARSAILORLISTEN TO YOUR HEART: British quartet Starsailor have announced their new album, All This Life, is set for both physical and digital release on September 1 via Cooking Vinyl. The lead track, Listen To Your Heart, is available now as a taster. The stellar opening track from the album, it’s described by lead singer and guitarist James Walsh as ‘an energetic, emotional song’, that aims to get listeners super-hyped for the remainder of the new material. Hence, there’s some rousing guitar riffs, some gritty vocals and a soaring chorus that’s designed to whip the live sets into a frenzy. Oh, and there’s also an undercurrent of piano running through it, as well as sincere [as ever] lyrics that implore you to ‘listen to your heart’ and follow your own dreams. As Starsailor songs go, this one’s pretty decent. It’s an anthemic slice of indie-infused power-pop that finds Walsh elevating his vocals to some suitably inspiring highs. We prefer Starsailor on this kind of form, as opposed to some of their more ponderous slower songs.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSEMOIRAI (BURBERRY ACOUSTIC): Lucy Rose, in collaboration with Burberry Acoustic, has unveiled a stunning live session video for a new track entitled Moirai. Named after the Greek God of fate, the previously unheard song is taken from Lucy’s forthcoming album, Something’s Changing, which is released on July 7 via Communion Records. Filmed at the iconic St James’ church in Islington, London, with its beautiful natural acoustics, this live version of Moirai showcases Lucy on piano and vocals, backed by a string quartet. It’s another stunning showcase of her intimate songwriting style and her beautiful vocals, which here take on an even greater fragility and vulnerability. The accompanying strings are nicely underplayed, while the sombre piano is also used sparingly, thereby allowing Rose’s vocals to take centre-stage. Commenting on the song, Lucy said: “When I wrote this I was thinking a lot about fate and destiny. Sometimes I feel like I live by ‘oh well, it wasn’t meant to be’ but what happens if it was and it’s just plain unfair that it didn’t? I often think about this when it comes to lost love, ‘the one’ getting away. It happens, wrong time, wrong place and I wanted to write a song about that.” Roll on the new album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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OneRepublic, Truth To Power

ONEREPUBLICTRUTH TO POWER: Written for the soundtrack to Al Gore’s sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, entitled An Inconvenient Sequel, OneRepublic’s emotive new single Truth To Power is a fittingly sober song that demands to be heard lyrically, as well as instrumentally. Built around a sombre piano, and little more, this boasts lyrics such as: “I could tell you I was fragile, I could tell you I was weak, I could rat you out and leave you, Tell you anything you need,” before arriving at the stark realisation: “I’ve seen truth turn to power.” When that chorus lands, the lyrics adopt a falsetto high and are backed by some subtle gospel singers. It’s moody, thought-provoking and emotionally compelling, befitting the subject matter it has been written for. Whether it can emulate the Oscar-winning success of Melissa Etheridge’s track for the original movie remains to be seen, but in its composition, delivery and effectiveness, this bears all the hallmarks of bands like Coldplay for being able to reach out to the masses and be heard. Says OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder: “I wanted to take a break from writing songs about myself, so I took the point-of-view of mother earth turning the tables on those who’d betray her.” It’s a highly successful approach.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dusky Grey, Call Me Over

DUSKY GREYCALL ME OVER: They may hail from Wales but pop duo Dusky Grey have adopted a distinctly tropical pop vibe for new single Call Me Over. Described as an effervescent new single, which has also been likened to a cross between AlunaGeorge and Clean Bandit, this has an undoubtedly summery vibe that’s kind of infectious. The chorus is a toe-tapping, head-nodder that is stupidly infectious, while the accompanying verses have a slower-build approach that offers a nice contrast (and some welcome sadness with lines like “I’ve been running from myself, feel like I’ve been someone else”). Speaking about the track, Dusky Grey said: “The song is basically about acknowledging that someone is bad for you and taking the necessary steps to rid yourself of who you feel may be toxic. And with that finding the people who become your support system.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Swimming Tapes

SWIMMING TAPESQUEEN’S PARADE: Produced by Adam Jaffrey (Palace, Gengahr, Leif Erikson), Queen’s Parade, the new song from Swimming Tapes, effortlessly oozes nostalgia with its lyrics about the Queen’s Parade in Bangor (Northern Ireland – where some of the band grew up). It’s best described as dreamy shoe-gaze, courtesy of its guitar riffs, but it also boasts an earworm of a chorus to boot. The guitars, in particular, may be rooted in shoe-gaze territory, but they also boast a summery breeze about them that makes them tailor-made for playing loud on summer days. The vocals maintain the shoe-gaze vibe but come together to form a highly engaging chorus. It’s like listening to J Mascis mixed with classic Stone Roses at times, with an always engaging hook to keep the track in your subconscious once you’ve heard it. Swimming Tapes first made a name for themselves as ones to watch with their debut EP, Souvenirs. They are now limbering up to release their second EP, Soft Sea Blue, on September 15, via Hand In Hive / B3SCI. The accompanying official video to Queen’s Parade oozes nostalgia and was shot in the band’s adoptive hometown of London. It’s a really good summer song.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Kinder

KINDERFEELING GETS TOO HEAVY: London-based Kunder has unveiled his new single, Feeling Gets Too Heavy, marking the first release through his own newly formed label, Lapsang House. The moniker of singer-songwriter Leo Wyatt, Kinder hasn’t wasted any time since last year’s debut EP and the new cut is a welcome reminder of the distinctive falsettoed soul that made Light so well regarded. A large slice of soul-infused pop, the track has a very easygoing vibe that’s perfectly tailored to be played on hot summer’s days, or amid a cool bar scene. It may come as a surprise, therefore, to hear that this head-nodder of a tune [instrumentally] stemmed from ‘a cry for help when stress and anxiety start to take hold of your life’. Wanting to learn and evolve from the sound he’d created for the first EP, the pulse of this new release beats with a newfound intensity, inspired by a sold out live date at The Pickle Factory supporting The Naked Eye. It’s a promising new direction.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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