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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 1, 2019

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

Zero 7, Aurora

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ZERO 7 feat JOSE GONZALEZAURORA: It’s taken us a week to catch up with this one but Zero 7’s reunion with Jose Gonzalez, Aurora, is as great as we’d been hoping it would be. Built around some ambient synth arrangements, and subtle, layered beats, this is a laidback, beautifully beguiling offering that works wonders because of the return of Gonzalez. We’ve been waiting to hear something new from Gonzalez for some time now and his distinct, hushed vocals shine here, providing a soothing focal point that’s perfectly in keeping with the laidback ambience of the song in general. Lyrically, it sets up a mystery to solve, and is worth contemplating. But perhaps even more striking is the way in which he tees up the song at around the two minute, 50 second mark to suddenly shape-shift. The synths become more pronounced, even cinematic, and occasionally ’80s leaning. The drums also kick in occasionally, providing the track with an added impetus that’s really well realised. Gonzalez takes a back-seat, here, allowing Zero 7 to play around with the instrumentals. But it’s a glorious finale to the track, ensuring that it keeps you genuinely excited and expectant for more Zero 7 material throughout the rest of the year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marina, Superstar

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MARINASUPERSTAR: Superstar marks the second offering from Marina’s eagerly anticipated fourth studio album Love + Fear – and a song that has been surrounded by excitement since Marina teased the title in 2018. The track effortlessly weaves flurries of pulsing beats and soft keys around lyrics that find Marina paying tribute to a partner who embraces all of her imperfections (“we’ve worked so hard and we’ve come so far”). The fizzing synths provide an effortlessly laidback listen, with the equally well realised beats creating a semi-trip hop style state of bliss, which perfectly compliments the tone of the record (which celebrates that special relationship). Marina’s vocals, meanwhile, have that blissful quality that she brings to so much of her work, complete with a keen sense of harmony and a nice change of pace during the striking chorus. They help the track to soar in all the right ways. Written by Marina alongside ‘Electra Heart’ collaborators Captain Cuts (Halsey, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tove Lo), Superstar is taken from the Love collection of the album set, due for release via Atlantic Records on April 26, 2019.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Speight

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: TOM SPEIGHTHEARTSHAKER: London-based artist Tom Speight has dropped the fourth single from his forthcoming album, Collide, in the form of the stirring Heartshaker. Inspired by both Paul Simon and Vampire Weekend, and reminiscent of both, this also adds strong rhyhtmn and African influences and rates as the most upbeat track to be taken from the LP so far. Commenting on the track himself, Tom said: “Heartshaker was written after travelling back from New York City. I was in a relationship at the time and it felt like everything was moving very fast for me and I was struggling to take it all in. I got back from the trip and finally had a chance to write about how I was feeling and had time to process the feeling of being afraid of being left behind in a relationship.” It may be a song steeped in a certain self-doubt, but there are some suitably lovely lyrics about seeing a girl from the West Side on the A train, or “dancing girl watch the sunrise”, while those lively beats and robust acoustic guitar licks provide an inspiring backdrop. It’s a track steeped in classic songwriting values that could easly become one of Speight’s most crowd-pleasing songs to date.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Susto, Homeboy

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: SUSTOHOMEBOY: Charleston-based band Susto’s new album, Ever Since I Lost My Mind, is available now, and well worth checking out on the strength of current single, Homeboy. An Americana influenced alt-rocker, this is driven by a rolling guitar riff that instantly gets into your head and refuses to budge, as well as some gritty vocals and a sharp sense of storytelling. Every so often, that rolling guitar also broadens out to include something more electrifying, with some gutsy riffs to break up the otherwise smooth running of the song. It only makes the song more memorable. The record was produced by Grammy-award winning producer Ian Fitchuk (Kacey Musgraves, Ruston Kelly) with input from Osborne’s longtime creative partner Wolfgang Zimmerman. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song, fronman and lyricist Justin Osborne said: “I kind of found myself on the other side of the fence, the people in town being like, ‘Ok, I wanna get out of here. I want to see it from the other side’. And at the same time experiencing this profound homesickness, or FOMO, because I love what I do, and I am so glad I get to do it, but some of my friends were spending their last days in town when I was gone. So, I felt like this era was ending, and I was already gone. So it’s kind of a reflection of that, of just wanting change in your life and making that change happen. And also once you get there, looking back and seeing where you came from. And sometimes the grass looks greener ahead, and sometimes the grass looks greener behind, and I think the song just kind of goes on both sides.” It’s a terrific listen. Osborne first began writing songs as a teen in South Carolina, performing with numerous bands before forming SUSTO. During a self-imposed hiatus, he moved to Havana, Cuba and befriended local musicians who encouraged and inspired him to start writing music again. “It was a weird moment. I just had to finally quit keeping one foot out of music and dive in,” he explains. The band’s name, SUSTO, is derived from a Latin American term that can be roughly translated as ‘panic attack’.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Arizona

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ARIZONAFIND SOMEONE: Atlantic recording group A R I Z O N A return with the release of their hugely anticipated new single Find Someone. The incredibly catchy ’80s vibe bop helps to give the song a keen sense of immediacy that’s laced with a knowing retro nod. The result is a fun, if disposble, listen that gets your toes tapping. The melodies are tight, the chorus is catchy, and the overall vibe is one of unbridled, self-aware positivity. The accompanying video is shot through with furry animals and is designed to offer maximum cuteness. “We wanted to find a fun way to portray an alternate take on a song like Find Someone with the music video. The idea is: if someone or something is not good for you in your life, there are many simple ways and places to find happiness,” says Zachary Charles. “In the case of our video, that ‘someone’ who can always be there to love you better and turn your day around very well might be your puppy! Or chicken… or turtle… or goat… or baby bunny… or… well you get the idea. We love animals and literally couldn’t contain ourselves the entire day we were shooting this. It probably shows.” Find Someone marks the first single from A R I Z O N A’s upcoming second album, the follow-up to their hugely successful debut album Gallery, which proved among 2017’s biggest global releases, now boasting over 750 million worldwide streams and counting.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ten Tonnes, Lucy

TEN TONNESLUCY: Ten Tonnes has hit a killer run of form in recent months as the May 3 release of his self-titled debut album approaches. Tipped in YouTube’s Ones To Watch 2019 playlist as well as Radio X’s Great X-Pectations list of the best new music for 2019, he started the year by completing a headline tour that sold-out in advance. Now, the artist, aka 22-year-old Ethan Barnett, has added to that momentum by sharing his new single Lucy, which Annie Mac played as her Hottest Record in the World. Firmly established as a fan favourite as a regular closer to his live show, it’s a track which distils all of the musician’s finest traits into one song: immediately captivating melodies, an anthemic holler-along hook and his characteristic lovelorn lyrics. The lyrics are filled with hopeful yearning, but are delivered in a bright, breezy fashion as epitomised by the swooning, Kooks-a-like chorus. As ever, the guitars are lively and the vocals crisp, edgy and vital. It’s easy to see why Ten Tonnes is such a hot tip for big things in 2019. Commenting on the track himself, Barnett said: “I’m so excited to finally properly release this tune. It’s the song that started everything off for me so I’ve always had a special place for it, and it’s become a fan favourite on tour too.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

FOALSSUNDAY: Hot off the back of lively new release On The Luna, Foals return with yet another new offering from Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 in the form of the reflective Sunday. The track finds Foals pushing boundaries and breaking free of genre expectations, as is their liking. Opening in a restrained style – dreamy, atmospheric, elegiac – that contrasts frontman Yannis Philippakis’ apocalyptic imagery, Sunday then belatedly erupts into life in its second-half with a thrilling psychedelic funk-punk burst of energy. It’s a complete contrast of styles within the same song that thrills and excites, particularly in anticipation of hearing it played live when the back hit the capital (Alexandra Palace) later this year. Indeed, by the time it reaches its epic conclusion, there are skyscraping “woohoo” harmonies, befitting the stadium-sized venues the band will be playing. And while the first half of the song is undoubtedly laidback and bittersweet, that epic second half stirs the senses and brings something of a headrush quality that really does exhilarate. It’s so far, so exciting for Foals’ new material.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Novo Amor and Gia Margaret

NOVO AMOR & GIA MARGARET – NO FUN/LUCKY FOR YOU: Novo Amor and Gia Margaret have surprised their fans with the release of a collaborative double A-side single, entitled No Fun and Lucky For You. The two tracks were written in 2018 after the pair met while Gia was supporting Novo Amor’s headline North American tour, marking the release of his debut album, Birthplace, which is out now on AllPoints. Acoustic in nature, Lucky For You and No Fun epitomise the sweetness and fragility found in both musicians’ solo work. Melodically sparse, the tracks are an intimate moment in time. Speaking about how their collaboration came about, Novo Amor’s Ali Lacey recalls: “Gia and I met in Atlanta last November. It was raining, a lot. We spent the first weeks of winter travelling around the country, playing shows together, recognising our creative likeness and just becoming friends. No Fun and Lucky For You were written and recorded together over a long weekend at my home studio in Wales. We saw a bridge across our usual geographical divide and said ‘hey, let’s make some music!’. It feels almost against our nature to try and explain this. We had no preconceptions. We just love music, the process of making it, how it can make you feel and what it can do for people. I think it’s just something that we wanted to share.” Contrary to its name, lead track No Fun isn’t joyless. Rather, its sombre approach lends it a melancholy undertow, but there’s something beautifully beguiling about their dual vocals, which have that kind of reassuring Jose Gonzalez kind of vibe. The gentle acoustics are really nicely composed, as are some of the atmospheric surrounding ones. Lucky For You, meanwhile, picks up the pace slightly, with an instantly warmer acoustic sound and more pronounced boy-girl vocals. But it remains a quietly soothing listen, marked out by its sensitive lyrics and thoughtfully constructed approach. Novo Amor, in particular, continue to impress, off the back of last week’s stunning video releases.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hildur

HILDUR – 1993: Hildur’s new single 1993 invites inevitable comparisons with artists such as Lykke Li and Robyn, given the ethereal pop sound she also indulges in. But that’s no bad thing, either, giving her the opportunity to find a ready-made audience beyond her Icelandic homeland. Hence, 1993 is a sweet slice of autobiographic pop that showcases a lovely set of vocals (vulnerability married to pop saviness), as well as some slick beats that – again – marry a certain humility with something ear-catching and radio-friendly. The harmonies and melodies are tight and slickly produced, while the sentiments behind the lyrics in the chorus are both effortlessly sing-along (“when I grow up, I wanne be me”) as well as empowering. Commenting on the track, Hildur said: “1993 is an autobiographical anthem of my childhood. It was when I was five that I realised my dream was to create, tell stories and stand on stage. As per the hook – when I grow up, I wanne be me, it came to me as it was only recently I realised I had really become the person the five-year-old me wanted to be and was doing all the things I had dreamt of, without really giving myself the credit. This song is my journey and all the loopholes and fallbacks it took, all the disbelief but passion I experienced, all the insecurity and the creativity – which is me. So, if my five-year-old self could hear one song from the future, I would want it to be this one. And I hope someone else on their journey to become themselves can relate.” It’s beautiful stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Murder Capital, Feeling Fades

THE MURDER CAPITALFEELING FADES: The Murder Capital ended 2018 as that rare thing: a band tipped from all corners without having released a single song. In an age where people and bands overshare by default, The Murder Capital have been doing the opposite. With debut single Feeling Fades, the band attempt to fulfil their early promise – delivering a brooding, propulsive slice of post-punk recorded with Flood (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Foals). In one of their rare interviews so far, the band have stated they are driven by the genuine desire to affect cultural change, and when front-man James McGovern repeats the lyric “the now elapsed ‘round you and me, and it kept us all together” on this, their debut single, you begin to realise that their post-punk sound is designed to offer social commentary in a no-nonsense, hard-hitting and occasionally provocative fashion. Indeed vocally, there are throwbacks to bands like The Strangers. But it’s this unfussy, raw, style that also makes them an acquired taste. Hence, if you like classic punk, then you’ll dig this. If not, then whatever the band’s messages may be, they’re likely to fly over your head as you reach for the ‘off’ switch. Feeling Fades is provocative, for sure. But it’s loud, raw and not as great as the hype surrounding them suggests.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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