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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 22, 2019

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

Two Door Cinema Club, Talk

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUBTALK: Talk marks Two Door Cinema Club’s first new music since their 2016 Top 10 album Gameshow – and it’s well worth the wait. A funky, lively, upbeat offering, this combines disco-infused beats with indie-rock leanings, to create something that’s by turns empowering and fun to listen to. The melodies are particularly difficult to resist, making you giddy in a ’70s pop kind of way, while the disco grooves are geared towards getting you up on the dancefloor. The song, as a whole, reminded me of Beck’s recent material (Up All Night) and the way in which he plays with music genres, while remaining hip and relevant at the same time. Two Door Cinema Club, by emulating that kind of fearless songwriting style, have matched Beck’s capacity to keep themselves immediate and trendy. Talk is an irresistible return from a band we need to keep hearing more from. In more Two Door Cinema Culub news, the band have also announced a headline show at Oval Space on March 30 for Annie Mac’s inaugural AMP London series. The show will bring to a close the series of live music, talks and discussions taking place in London between March 27 and 30.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Syml, Wildfire

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SYMLWILDFIRE: Having recently announced his self-titled debut album, set for release on May 3, Seattle-based artist and producer SYML (aka Brian Fennell) has now released the official video to accompany fan favourite Wildfire. A collaboration between SYML and Mark Ralph (Clean Bandit, Rudimental, Rag’n‘Bone Man), Wildfire is described an incredibly emotive and moving comparative. It’s built around a stirring falsetto vocal (which reaches its high when declaring “I’m burning up” over the powerhouse chorus), as well as emphatic beats and similarly stirring electronic arrangements. The song boasts a cinematic grandeur befitting the likes of Coldplay and Maroon 5 at times. It’s a track designed to get the band even more noticed. The accompanying visual is the perfect companion to Wildfire, breathing life further into the song and personifying the struggles Fennell documents within. Speaking about Wildfire and working with Mark Ralph, Fennel explained: “This song started as a gentle production, comparing the devastation wreaked by wildfire to what some experience in their everyday lives. It was invigorating to work on the album version with someone as imaginative as Mark Ralph. He really made this song sound as powerful as its theme.” Going further into its inspiration, Fennell adds: “I wrote this song when all I could see was smoke and falling ash outside of my studio. The whole west coast of the US has been dealing with wildfires since mid-summer and they have wreaked havoc. People have lost everything from their houses to their lives. It struck me that in these seasons of destruction and loss, someone might need to hear that there is hope and that they matter. There can be beauty in destruction, literally and figuratively.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marina, Orange Trees

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: MARINAORANGE TREES: “Flowers in my hair, I belong by the sea… just you and me, sitting by the orange trees”… the lyrics to Marina’s latest song convey blissful summer evenings spent by idyllic coastal stretches, with fresh oranges and love. It’s a delightful record, laden with smooth groove beats, warm acoustic guitar licks, hushed, sensual vocals and an overall sense of bliss. Marina says herself of the track: “I wrote Orange Trees about the island that my family and I are from in Greece. It’s called Lefkada and it’s my favourite place in the world. I always feel at peace there. It’s like my body recognises I’m back home.” The accompanying video is similarly relaxing, featuring Marina and friends on that isle, which is awash with colour – deep blue seas, lush green foliage, swimsuits, sandy beaches and vibrant yellow/orange dresses. It’s a perfect summer anthem that eases away all of your stresses and strains.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Catfish & The Bottlemen, 2All

CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN – 2ALL: Catfish & The Bottlemen return with another robust single from their forthcoming album, The Balance (out April 26, 2019), in the form of 2All. Driven by lively guitar hooks, another big, anthemic chorus and some kick-ass drums, the track finds singer Van McCann considering issues such as lies, loyalty and love, which have come to had a great bearing on his recent life. It’s a song that reflects on the people who have turned their backs on him, while declaring he will share his love 2all those who have stuck around. In spite of the bittersweet emotions surrounding it, however, the song maintains a generally upbeat mood to infuse it with a catchy, epic quality that’s particularly evident in the fiery guitar solos that permeate throughout. There’s a grandeur to the song, too, befitting bands of the size of Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. It enables the track to assume an epic sense of edginess reserved for only the world’s biggest bands. The chorus is particularly memorable, once again.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Mosa Wild

MOSA WILDNIGHT: Mosa Wild have announced their return with the release of a new single, Night. Streaming everywhere, the track is taken from the band’s forthcoming debut EP Talking In Circles, which will be released on Glassnote this summer. Despite being one of the tracks that took longest to form during the process of making this anticipated EP, Night is Mosa Wild at their most sonically immediate. The anthemic refrain of ‘help me be strong’ throughout the chorus is an instant rallying cry, ready-made for audiences en masse. And it’s empowering, especially when backed up by sentiments such as “I’m torn like he is” and “help me be strong”. The song is very much about not existing in anyone else’s shadow, of not being bullied… but rather being strong. To accompany that sense of empowerment is that anthemic chorus, some propulsive guitar work and robust beats, which lend the track its aformentioned immediacy. It’s almost an indie-rock track, albeit with a little more restraint. Produced partly by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Bombay Bicycle Club) and partly by James Kenosha (Pulled Apart By Horses, Dry The River), there’s a cohesive experimentalism to Mosa Wild’s debut EP that is grounded in their huge guitar riffs and walloping drum lines, but it’s the gentle lilt of lead vocalist Jim Rubaduka’s smooth vocals and the spacious backdrop of their songs that elevates Mosa Wild beyond typical British indie tropes. On the evidence of Night, the EP should be well worth looking out for.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Grim Streaker

GRIM STREAKERTODAY NEW YORK: Brooklyn’s underground scene has spawned a noisy, new neighbour in Grim Streaker, who announce the release of their debut album, No Vision, on May 17 via Local Boy Fun Records, led by raucous new single, Today New York. The riotous punk-rock track specifically references themes of waiting tables to pay rent and trying to pursue creativity through music at the same time. It’s about getting carried away with life’s darkest lures, playing a show that leads Bushell to being injured, sexually assaulted and robbed at the end of the night. And after all of that happened, having to go back to the New York hustle of life, day in and day out. It’s a song that deserves to be as edgy, in sound, as its lyrics demand. And for that, it’s quite eye-opening… a provocative, chastening lament about the harshness of life at times. Punk rock fans may have a new favourite girl band (an L7 or Hole for a new generation). The others had best stay away. Explaining the songs that inform the album, singer Amelia Bushell commented: ““I’ve definitely come to know the highs and lows of living in New York after being here for seven years now. The songs we write tell the story of those experiences: They’re about people I’ve seen but never met – people I’ve met that are no longer in my life, alcohol and drug use, the all-around hustle (and trying to come to terms with life), the feeling of being a broke loser who is still doing the same shit and not really progressing when it seems everyone else around me is! It’s about the passage of time and how quickly life is moving. One moment you’re there, the next moment you’re here. New York today is an all-out fast way of living.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Emile Kahn

EMILIE KAHNTHREE: Emilie Kahn has unveiled a video for her current single Three, the latest track to be taken from her new album Outro which is available everywhere now via Secret City Records. A bittersweet offering that errs on the side of melancholy, Three is a thoughtful lament that finds Khan on deeply reflective form. And yet, in a nod to Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight, there’s a sudden change of pace around the minute and a half mark, heralded by some pounding drums, which ushers in an altogether more lively middle section. Kahn’s vocals remain tender and intimate throughout, but this mid section of the track has a greater urgency that, arguably, brings it even wider appeal. Given Kahn’s propensity for mixing things up, she does so again for the third and final section, stripping the sound back down to reflective, with a harp-like sound in the background augmenting some Lamb-like vocals. The song ends on a dreamy, almost ethereal note. Overall, however, Three is thoughtful, intelligent and impressive stuff. The video is equally eye-catching. Speaking about the creative process for it, director Baz shared: “A six minutes song with three distinct parts is a real challenge for a director. I really wanted to do something different and try to embrace each universe of the song fully – in terms of tone, style and rhythm.” Following on from the album’s recent release, Kahn will arrive in London for a one-off headline show at The Waiting Room on Monday, May 13.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alexander Wolfe, Catherine

ALEXANDER WOLFECATHERINE: Alexander Wolfe has released emotional new track Catherine through Dharma Records and continues to impress. A tender, stripped back offering, this is built around subtle acoustic guitar licks and melancholy piano chords, while showcasing Wolfe’s passionate vocals. A love song, of sorts, it’s actually a break-up anthem that reflects on the journey of that entanglement from the time they met, to the time things fell apart. At times, it exhibits an Elbow-like ability to stir the emotions, albeit without the layering. This remains quiet and intimate throughout, with just some soaring vocals and the odd string arrangement to enhance it. That being said, it remains a quietly endearing ballad. Speaking about the track, Wolfe explains: “I wrote Catherine a few days after breaking up with my ex. I wanted to tell the story of our relationship from meeting in a bar in Edinburgh to sleeping together, falling in love, growing apart, our last kiss. and the intrinsic link between pain and love. For a while I was a bit uncomfortable with how raw it was, I thought about softening it and changing names, taking the sex out, but in the end I decided to keep it as it was, back then in the eye of the storm when the feelings were fresh. Listening back to it now it feels pretty brutal and exposed, you can hear the defeat in my voice. There’s not much use of poetic license in there, it’s all pretty much as it happened. I’ve always loved those bruised romantic records… Jaques Brel, Leonard Cohen etc, I suppose this is my version of that.” It is the latest release from the talented singer-songwriter’s remarkable forthcoming album, Little Death, which will be released on March 29, 2019.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Swimming Tapes

SWIMMING TAPESPASSING SHIPS: Swimming Tapes have unveiled a second new single from their forthcoming debut album. Passing Ships is the opening track from their Morningside LP, which is released on May 24, 2019, via Hand In Hive. The new track is an ode to London life, the city in which Swimming Tapes came into existence as a band and the city in which Morningside, was both written and recorded. It’s marked by lush guitar rhythms and hushed, hazy vocals that lend it a somewhat slacker vibe. It’s designed to be both sun-drenched and optimistic, reflecting the diverse landscape of the city they have come to love. Both Passing Ships and recent single Pyreness demonstrate Swimming Tapes’ ability to draw on a range of musical influences from the effortless summer melodies of The Beach Boys to Wild Nothing’s dreamy, shoegazing hue through to the interweaving guitar work of Real Estate. Passing Ships has elements of both, with the guitars, in particular, bringing out the song’s more vibrant quality, even when the vocals drift more into shoegaze territory. The sudden, almost abrupt ending is a neat touch, too, making you realise that you could actually do with hearing a bit more! It’s therefore quietly upbeat songwriting.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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REN

RENBLUE HOUNDS: Ren, aka Conor Owen, has released his spellbinding new single Blue Hounds as a follow-up to debut EP A Calling From The Shore, which received over 650K streams on Spotify. Written and recorded in Newcastle, the track takes careful aim at the dogs let slip by a savage Tory agenda from Theresa May’s 2017 Tory manifesto to current EU negotiations. Says REN: “With this song, I wanted to make people more aware of and engaged in current affairs. It’s a call for people to take a stand against policies that infringe on our rights.” Listening to it, though, you’d be forgiven for missing the sharper political edge. The lyrics are certainly intelligent and philosophical (“keep your blue hounds from my door”), but they’re delivered in a laidback, acoustic way that puts the emphasis on enjoyment. There’s a Jose Gonzalez vibe at times, with those lush acoustics beautifully constructed and hypnotic in their own way. The instrumental interludes are also beautifully delivered, adding extra edge to a song that is layered with meaning, yet high on overall enjoyability. To mark the official release of the single, REN has also dropped a YouTube video featuring an acoustic performance of the track, which is also well worth taking the time to check out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Watch an acoustic performance of Blue Hounds


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