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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 15, 2019

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

Charlie Cunningham

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CHARLIE CUNNINGHAMSINK IN: Having heralded his return with the song Permanent Way and a sold out show at London’s Omeara, Charlie Cunningham has now gone one step further with the release of a second new track, Sink In – and duly impresses. What Charlie describes as “the slightly ominous guitar part” of Sink In inspired a tale of ambiguous persuasion. It’s nevertheless a striking offering, combining an ethereal quality reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez, with something equally cinematic. Indeed, this could easily be described as dusty driving music that mines that rich seam of Flamenco guitar that runs through much of Cunningham’s music. It’s quiet, thoughtful, emotionally driven and hypnotic in all the right ways. It’s the kind of song that you’ll want to hear over and over again. Sink In was produced alongside Sam Scott and Duncan Tootil and features the White Brothers – better known as Hugo, Felix & Will from The Maccabees – on keyboards, electric guitar and bass, respectively. Cunningham is currently on an extensive tour of the US ahead of a one off headlining show at Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre on June 12. Along with his band, Cunningham then takes to the road again in October for dates across Europe ahead of a headlining UK tour in November.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Howard Kaye, Origin

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: HOWARD KAYEORIGIN: Howard Kaye, former frontman of alternative hip-hop band Croox, has started to release his eagerly anticipated solo material. His captivating debut single Origin bodes well for the future. A track that Howard holds a deep connection to, given that it’s an incredibly raw and touching tribute, and the first song he had written since his father passed away, Origin is beautifully delivered and very emotional (in keeping with its personal themes). Beginning with a brooding violin melody that fades behind sweet R’n‘B vocals, Origin combines different elements that are the result of Kaye’s diverse musical background. But lyrically, the track cuts to a deeper level that can only be reached through truly vulnerable songwriting, with the verse touching on his thoughts at the time, while the chorus takes on a more positive, hopeful slant. Kaye’s vocals are shot through with emotion (combining a sense of loss with hope), while the beats have a hip-hop vibe that’s nicely offset with the more soulful electronics and that striking use of violin. It’s a track that builds to a cinematic grandeur.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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ViVii

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: VIVIIPICK ME UP: Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii have just released their self-titled debut album through Swedish label Dumont Dumont (Ry X, Charlie Cunningham, Josin). Featuring critically praised singles Love Love Love, And Tragic, Suckerpunch, Savant, Siv (You and I), it also now boasts their latest offering, Pick Me Up. As with so many of the songs on the LP, stunning soundscapes abound… all delivered with a beautifully laidback, even dreamy haze. As the title suggests, this is about rescuing someone and making them feel better about themselves… and just like the themes it embraces, the song itself serves as a pick me up in its own right. Dreamy vocals abound, as do lush electronic arrangements and slick beats. It’s a dream-pop offering that floats into your subconscious in effortlessly soothing fashion, making you feel good in the moment it lasts and thirsting for more. But whether it’s just for the quick fix of the single, or for the whole album, it’s well worth becoming acquainted with ViVii. Speaking about the album, ViVii said: “This is our journey that started five years ago portrayed in music, words and pictures, it’s been a long time coming. The album represents creativity, musical freedom and a safe zone for three vulnerable souls. We are truly proud of this baby of ours.” We wish them luck.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kyle Falconer, Kelly

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: KYLE FALCONERKELLY: After five hit albums, a Mercury Prize nomination and countless sold-out shows with The View, the band’s frontman Kyle Falconer released his debut solo album No Thank You late last year on Riverman Records. The album received fantastic critical acclaim and earned Falconer ‘Best Album’ at the Scottish Music Awards. Ahead of his UK Spring/Summer tour, Falconer has now released a video for tender, heartfelt track Kelly. The video was directed by Jordan Shearer, from Neon Waltz, and the track is a particularly emotive one for Falconer, as he explains: “The director, Jordan, had a very artistic and creative vision which I feel mirrors the song well. The song is about self-acceptance. I wanted to get across that in this day and age especially, it’s okay to be whoever you want to be, love whoever you want to love, and be free and confident within yourself, no matter what sexuality you are or how you choose to present yourself to the world. I met a lot of people dealing with these issues in rehab and it opened my eyes to the struggles that people face daily for just trying to be themselves. I wanted to let my fans know that it’s okay to be you in a world where people are heavily scrutinised and judged.” The song itself is an emotive, impassioned listen that – while having something to important to say – isn’t stifled by well meaning. Rather, it’s beautifully realised, with acoustic instrumentals working in tandem with lovely string arrangements and a really stirring central vocal, that builds to some really passionate highs. It’s one of Falconer’s best offerings and indicative of why his solo album has been so well received by fans and critics alike.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FOALSMOONLIGHT: Foals have delivered an odd but weirdly fascinating video for their new album offering, Moonlight. A single shot video, the track opens with just a classic piano sitting in front of the camera, before frontman Yannis Philippakis appears (via a jumpy edit) to deliver the song. Over the course of the song, he barely moves, but the footage – like some old news reel – continues to flicker the more the emotion seeps in. And, eventually, Philippakis disappears, leaving the piano to stand alone once again. It doesn’t do much but remains compelling, in part because of the power of the song itself. There’s a sense of emotional desolation attached to this one, of being lost, given its lyrical themes of walking into the desert and black holes. Early on, it’s relatively sparse… an atmospheric electronic and guitar lick accompanied by those striking central vocals. But gradually, the instrumentals get layered in, with haunting electronics and ghostly beats providing an ever increasing sense of atmosphere that feeds into the vocals. It’s striking stuff – not as in your face and punchy as Foals can be; but ear-catching for a different reason. It’s evidence of the band’s growing diversity, while offering yet another highlight from the current LP, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Spraggan, Lucky Stars

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: LUCY SPRAGGANLUCKY STARS: Lucy Spraggan is in a good place and wants to share it with the world. Hence, she’s announced her fifth studio album, Today Was A Good Day, which is out on May 3 on Cooking Vinyl, and shared the bright and breezy new single Lucky Stars. A celebration of all things family and love, with a cosmic element thrown in, this is driven by brisk, vibrant acoustic guitar licks, breezy whistles and lively percussion. Spraggan’s vocals are alive with positivity, sharing things like “I thank my lucky stars that I discovered you” and “I thank my lucky stars that you’re so close to me, like Venus and Mercury”. It’s utterly infectious songwriting. Commenting on the track herself, Spraggan said: “I thank my lucky stars for my family. I’ve been through some incredibly dark times and although I’ve made many steps forward, I still get anxious and paranoid. This is how I came up with the idea for the video for Lucky Stars – when I feel anxious, I feel like people are staring at me as if I’m from outer space… So I donned an astronaut suit for the entire video. Marrying her wife ‘G’ and fostering children has turned life around for Lucy, which she describes as ‘amazing’ and ‘challenging’ and underlines the common theme throughout the album. “We’ve had 14 kids stay with us so far”, explains Lucy. “We are also trying for our own child so we will see what happens. All this has played a huge part in my writing –it’s an album about growing up.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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RuthAnne, Love Again

RUTHANNELOVE AGAIN: Award winning songwriter RuthAnne is back with highly anticipated music for 2019. Her uplifting new single Love Again, co-produced by George Moore (Yebba – Evergreen) and long-term collaborators Futurecut (Rihanna), sparks a new chapter for the Irish artist as she gives us a taste of what’s to come from her long-awaited debut album, out later this year via independent record label, The Other Songs. Love Again instantly captivates the listener as RuthAnne’s powerful vocal takes center stage. Starting off with just her and an electric guitar, the vibrant track builds into a harmonious chorus as RuthAnne’s soulful vocal is supported with a choir, creating an atmospheric upbeat production. It’s got retro leanings, with Northern Soul elements (especially in her blistering vocals and the use of some brass late on), as well as a sense of triumphing against adversity (which is something we all need at the moment as a global society). The new track is about RuthAnne convincing another that ‘love’ still exists and if they allow her in, she can help them to love again. She explains: “I wrote the idea down for this song after I had a few dates with someone who had just gone through a break up. He said to me ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to love again’ and I immediately wrote it down on my phone and underneath I wrote ‘I know that I can make you learn to love again’. When writing the song I was thinking of all the things in life we do when we lose out, when we fail, when we get our hearts broken. I realised that no matter what happens I always believe in trying again and never giving up on love or my dreams and so I wrote the song thinking about that and how important it is to always keep your heart open and that the love is out there. Go where the love is.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Retro Video Club, Addicted

RETRO VIDEO CLUBADDICTED: One of the most exciting bands in Scotland right now, Retro Video Club have released the incendiary follow-up to last year’s 3AM in the form of Addicted (out now on Manchester’s LAB Records). As with previous singles, it’s another driving indie anthem that can’t fail to get the crowd bouncing whenever it’s played live. There are gritty guitar hooks, a punk edge at times, which gives rise to a more anthemic, chant-along chorus (akin to listening to classic Kaiser Chiefs at times). “Lyrically it’s a song about being dead into someone,” says singer Liam Allison, “only to find out you’re the person on the side. The second choice.” In spite of the forlorn sentiments surrounding the lyrics, the brash delivery sets up an otherwise foot-stomping album that empowers in spite of the sorrow surrounding it. As Retro Video Club get bigger and bigger and extend their popularity beyond their Scottish borders, this song could well become a huge anthem for them. Retro Video Club are Liam Allison (vocals/rhythm guitar), Sam McGill (lead guitar), Michael Ward (bass) and Kieran Burt (drums/backing vocals).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marsicans

MARSICANSYOUR EYES: Fast-rising UK indie quartet Marsicans drop another enjoyable indie rocker in the form of Your Eyes – which veers from melodic to bonkers throughout its short runtime. Lyrically, the track finds the band turn introspective, taking on a much grittier approach to their indie-pop sound than previous singles. An insight into growing up, this finds the band contemplating the bigger things in life and letting go of the juvenile tendencies that have informed their life story to date. And yet, there’s a giddy abandon to the delivery of the track, inherent in the sometimes shouty lyrics and mid-song breakdowns that turn the song from bright and breezy indie anthem into something more chaotic and edgy. In that regard, there are traces of early Blur in those artistic tendencies. Marsicans singer/guitarist James Newbigging offered some insight into the accompanying video for Your Eyes, saying: “For this one, we teamed up with our friends at Sodium, an independent film company based in Leeds who are doing some amazing things. The video basically shows our alternative selves watching our real selves performing. So, it’s something of a “what might have been” if we all didn’t choose to pursue a career in music, tying in with the song’s main theme about choosing your path in life.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kiefer Sutherland

KIEFER SUTHERLANDSOMETHING YOU LOVE: Having announced a selection of UK dates for later this spring, actor/singer Kiefer Sutherland has released single Something You Love and offers up a good time rock anthem that wears its inspirations on its sleeve. The propulsive Petty-meets-Springsteen rocker bursts with energy, and is shot through with American rock values. Co-written with Cole, it pays tribute to the “average person who works very hard just to stay in the middle”, who finds themselves betrayed by big business. “Has it happened to a lot of people I care about?” questions Sutherland. “Yes, of course it has.” It boasts lyrics such as “wasting my time just paying my bills, staying in line but getting no chills”, thereby striking at the heart of a popular sentiment at the moment [albeit a frustrating one], while also tipping his hat to the working man structure of many a Springsteen offering. Rather than wallow in the frustrations inherent in the lyrics, however, Sutherland dresses it up with some hard-rocking elements, indulging in some lively guitar solos as well as delivering his own set of blistering, gutsy, raw vocals. It’s a rabble-rouser with plenty of meaning that nevertheless offers a real good time of a listen. It should go down an absolute storm whenever it’s played live!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSETREAT ME LIKE A WOMAN: Lucy Rose has shared a third track from her forthcoming new album. Treat Me Like A Woman is a devastatingly frank track, boldly capturing self-critical fears with an introspective look at gender equality. It’s a timely release, too, arriving just after International Women’s Day and the #MeToo movement. There’s a disarming honesty, as ever, to Rose’s songwriting. For while empowering in the sense that it’s asking – if not seeking – for equality, Rose isn’t afraid to admit to feelings of being “afraid and scared”. In spite of this, however, the song retains an air of optimism that things can change. Instrumentally, the song is very sparse, with little more than acoustic guitars and subtle strings to accompany the vocals. But this only adds extra emphasis to Rose’s voice, which is as tender, compelling and heartfelt as ever. Treat Me Like A Woman is lifted from Lucy’s fourth album No Words Left, which will be released on March 22, 2019. Commenting on the track itself, Rose has plenty to say: “Treat Me Like A Woman was written one afternoon in Munich after a combination of events which pushed me to think about the way people interact with me purely based on my gender. I’ve often thought things like, ‘Would that have happened to me if I was a man?’ and a feeling of lack of respect at times purely because I’m a woman. For a long time I’ve been unable to express these thoughts, almost scared of what they mean and worried that I would start a battle I wouldn’t be able to finish. I don’t want a debate, this isn’t a song aimed at men, it’s a conversation that everyone needs to have with themselves. Have I ever judged a woman differently to a man? The truth is, most probably at some point in my life I have. And why? I’m so far from perfect, I feel I have no right to judge anyone on their behaviour and this song isn’t about that. It’s very much about my own feelings that until now I’ve been incapable of describing or understanding. The smallest things fester into a huge deal if they happen a lot. This song has been created inside me over years and years of small, tiny, and in ways, insignificant events that have built into a tower of anger. That afternoon in Munich was breaking point. After soundcheck, I isolated myself from my entire touring party, including my husband. I couldn’t explain to them how I was feeling, they knew I was upset, but why? The next night, in Vienna, I played Treat Me Like A Woman for the first time. Like playing any new song, it was emotional, but wow, in all my career I’ve never felt so empowered and liberated to be expressing something that for so long I had felt unable to explore.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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