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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 9, 2018

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

Fickle Friends

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FICKLE FRIENDSWAKE ME UP: On March 16, Fickle Friends will release You Are Someone Else, their hotly anticipated debut album. Right now, they share the album opener Wake Me Up alongside a lyric video, just as they prepare to head out on their massive UK tour next week. Like the hugely popular singles that have preceded it, Wake Me Up is a classic Fickle Friends shimmery pop anthem that kicks off a terrifically irresistible debut album. Over the last year, it’s also become a pinnacle of their hugely popular live set too. Lyrically, it sees frontwoman Natti Shiner play around with some of the themes that re-occur on the record – relationship paranoia and angsty obsession. On writing the track, Natti said: “Wake Me Up song is about wanting a relationship to work so bad but knowing deep down, it’s not going anywhere. It was the last song we wrote for the album.” In spite of those downbeat sentiments, however, the song zips along in shimmering fashion, hitting some skyscraping synth highs and dropping a catchy-as-hell, super euphoric chorus. If you’re looking for comparisons, then think P!nk’s recent material, albeit with a less edgy, more defiantly synth-pop edge. It’s a song born from uncertainty that remains an absolute blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wood Chips, Come Home

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: WOOD CHIPSCOME HOME: Wood Chips is the brainchild of Danish singer, producer and songwriter Andreas Asingh, who impresses immediately witht he release of his new single, Come Home. The track has its roots more in country music than his debut offering, Heartbeat, starting off with a smooth guitar riff and quiet percussion, followed by his soft-spoken vocals. Indeed, there’s a distinctly ethereal quality to those vocals that allow you to drift along in tandem with the track for its mellow duration. The guitar helps, too… a laidback country vibe helping to further that mellow vibe. It’s a daydream of a record – beguiling, beautiful and completely addictive. The video was filmed around the ranch that Andreas and his family now live on, having moved them from Copenhagen to live in the Danish countryside following a serious illness to his youngest son, Karlo, who also appear in the video and who his debut EP, out on March 30, is named after. The video was directed by Ian Isak, who has worked on fashion films for labels including Le Fix. He says of it: “The video for Come Home is an interpretation of the struggle a father goes through as his newborn son fights his way back to life. The entire video is shot on location in the woods and fields surrounding Andreas’ ranch in the beautiful Danish countryside.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Richard Jahn

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: RICHARD JAHNCATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Following the launch of Richard Jahn’s debut release towards the end of 2017, the London-based songwriter/producer is straight back with his boldest cut yet, entitled Catch Me If You Can. The moody track sees Richard empowered by his own words and the daring eccentricities of the track’s soundscape, which employs some folded beats and atmospheric electronics to create a slightly disorientating but totally compelling instrumental backdrop. The track, which marks the final taste of the forthcoming EP, DISPLAY:ORANGE, was written at a time when Richard felt like he was having to constantly chase up people in various areas of his life. He explains: “Everyone puts limitations on themselves, consciously or subconsciously. This track is about empowering yourself to be limitless.” The title hook was born out of an attitude re-adjustment that immediately spilt over into his production choices. On his first day of year 3, a teacher wrote ‘AIM HIGH’ in capitals on the classroom board, and it’s something that never quite left Richard’s mind. This is reflected in the track’s final moments as he chants ‘reach for the higher ground’ in a seemingly eternal loop. Dripping with effortless soul, production acrobatics and a genre-defying aesthetic, Catch Me If You Can was made to cause a reaction and downright succeeds in doing so.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Years & Years

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: YEARS & YEARSSANCTIFY: Years & Years return from their self-imposed musical hiatus with the provocative but scintillating Sanctify. A track that speaks of defiance (“so don’t break”) and which embraces any kind of sexuality, this is unapologetically political both in terms of the lyrics and its accompanying video. And yet, there’s a hipness to the sound, too. The dance beats are slickly produced and accompanied by some smooth, dancefloor caressing electronics. Heck, there’s even some Africa-inspired chanting late on, while Alexander’s soulful vocals sound like a mix between classic Michael Jackson and contemporary Justin Timberlake. The gay leanings are forthright and bold (as we’ve come to expect from such a civil rights champion) but they don’t feel cloying. Rather, there’s a seamless fusion of the thought-provoking and the radio-friendly, meaning that you can just as easily dance away the hours to it, oblivious to its message, as get behind what it has to say. The BDSM inspired video probably won’t be to everyone’s tastes – but it’s provocative enough to ensure that it gets noticed. And it’s very cinematic.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kylie Minogue, Stop Me From Falling

KYLIE MINOGUESTOP ME FROM FALLING: Kylie Minogue has released her new single Stop Me From Falling, taken from her forthcoming album Golden, due out on April 6 on BMG Records – and it’s a typically catchy slice of country-pop. The song starts off in breezy style, with a country twang, as Kylie sings “I never felt the pressure til now” as a bump in a relationship seems to be looming. Indeed, there’s a bittersweet sentiment to the song that belies the breezy nature of the instrumentals. In spite of this, however, the song positively zips its way into your subconscious as the chorus lands, complete with “you-o-o” harmonies, hand-clap beats and an almost calypso edge to the guitar. It’s a sing-along romp that shows Kylie remains at the top of her game. New album Golden is described as one of Kylie’s most personal albums date – with every song co-written by Minogue. Her trip to Nashville involved working alongside two key writers, both with homes in the city. One was British-born songwriter Steve McEwan (whose credits include huge Country hits for Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood), and the other was Amy Wadge, another Brit (best known for her mega-selling work with Ed Sheeran). It was, then, a truly international project: Golden was mainly created with African-German producer Sky Adams and a list of contributors including Jesse Frasure, Eg White, Jon Green, Biff Stannard, Samuel Dixon, Danny Shah and Lindsay Rimes, and there’s a duet with English singer Jack Savoretti.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Plan B, Guess Again

PLAN B – GUESS AGAIN: Three-time Ivor Novello Award winner Ben Drew, aka Plan B, has unveiled his new single Guess Again, from the BRIT Award winner’s highly-anticipated fourth studio album, Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose (HBAHBL), confirmed for release on May 4. Premiered by Annie-Mac as her ‘Hottest Record’ on Radio 1 last week, Guess Again is yet another showcase of Plan B’s endless musical versatility. The politically charged anthem pairs Drew’s signature vocals with a pounding dance-hall beat. Drew lends his own writing and production talent to the track along with the help of FRED (Charli xcx/Stefflon Don) and Show N Prove. But it’s full of urgency, from the hot button lyrics (which implore leaders to guess again when trying to divide us) to the emphatic beats (which have a dancehall urgency combined with urban edge). It’s a song that’s quite removed from anything Plan B has done before, which may force you to do a double take. But it’s potency is undeniable, making the song a confident, even essential return from one of the UK’s most intriguing and talented urban artists.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Niall Horan, On The Loose

NIALL HORAN – ON THE LOOSE: Fresh from the massive global success of his critically-acclaimed debut solo album Flicker, Niall Horan has now released his new single, On The Loose, and manages to retain that same catchy quality that made former offering Slow Hands such a success. On The Loose is slightly, well, looser than the edgier, more bluesy Slow Hands, and therefore more pop than rock. But it retains a soft-rock edge, as well as the occasional country and western twang. But once the song hits its chorus, the pop elements really do kick in and you can tell that Horan has constructed it with stadium-pleasing in mind. This has an anthemic sweep to it that’s certain to turn it into a live favourite. Since departing One Direction, though, Horan has impressed with a greater maturity in his songwriting. He knows how to deliver the radio friendly elements while still dabbling in other musical inspirations. He looks to have a very big future ahead of him as a solo artist. The single is similarly well produced. Shot in California, the breezy, pop-rock jam follows Horan’s carefree romance with a mysterious woman – and she’s typically a beauty.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Wretch 32, Affi Me

WRETCH 32, SOS feat CULAN, MASICKAAFFI ME: Wretch 32, one of the UK’s most celebrated MCs, surprised fans with a new song, titled Affi Me, on Friday (March 9) to celebrate his birthday and as a treat for the fans. The record is deliberately feel-good and has been recorded alongside S.O.S, his long-term music producer and collaborator. The track also features dancehall/reggae artists, Culan and Masicka. But fear not, the dancehall elements are fairly reigned in. They’re more evident in the vocals, which are part rapped and part sung. The beats, meanwhile, are fairly minimalist (or lightweight) but propel the song on a nice bounce, which the electronics serve to bring out more. It’s a fun listen – as celebratory as a tune that’s released to celebrate a birthday should be. But it’s not cheesy, either. Rather, a good time that shows Wretch 32 is clearly enjoying making his music right now. Wretch 32 will be part of the British takeover at SXSW next week. He will be performing at the Musicalize ‘British Takeover’ showcase on March 15 and 16, alongside other UK acts including AJ Tracey, Not3s, WSTRN and Yungen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Shira, Am I Beautiful

SHIRA – AM I BEAUTIFUL: New York based singer/songwriter Shira is releasing her new video for the track Am I Beautiful, in conjunction with International Women’s Day. The video depicts the relationship between the Israeli-American singer/songwriter and her friend Iranian-American photographer-director Shirin Tinati, for whom Shira penned the track when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Shirin is fortunately in remission now and the two powerful artists came together to create this project that crosses boundaries heritage and hardship. Shirin directing the video feels like the two friends have come full circle. The song itself is a gently positive, upbeat offering that celebrates the beauty of their relationship, while offering a conciliatory arm to anyone else who is going through the same kind of thing. It celebrates triumph over adversity as well as beauty, colour, race, gender… it celebrates inclusion. And its message, charmingly delivered with honey-dued harmonies and warm guitar licks, couldn’t be more timely. It’s genuinely inspiring and heart-warming. Shira says of the song and video: “This is our ode to sisterhood and the power of unconditional acceptance, love and creativity to revitalise. An expression of our ability to be there for each other and next to one another when suddenly the smooth flow of our life’s boat gets disrupted… May there come a day SOON when we won’t need an International Women’s Day and Cancer will be a thing of the past. Till then we will stay strong and fight – TOGETHER!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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