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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 1, 2020

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

HAIM

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: HAIM – I KNOW ALONE: You can always rely on HAIM to deliver something to brighten the day – and their music has never been more needed! The BRIT and Grammy-nominated Southern Californian sisters have now released I Know Alone from their highly anticipated forthcoming album, Women In Music Pt. III (Polydor Records). With its wild collage of warped vocal samples and 808 beats combined with wobbly cello notes and stark acoustic guitar, I Know Alone replicates a certain sense of emotional unrest from feelings of loneliness. While the song was originally inspired by the band’s feelings of loneliness after coming home from tour, I Know Alone and its lyrics – such as “been a couple days since I’ve been out” and “’cause nights turn into days that turn to grey” – now take on a whole new meaning in today’s world as so many of us stay home and practice social distancing. Hence, the track has unexpectedly become something of an anthem for anyone experiencing similar sentiments. But thanks to those beats and samples, and the glorious harmonies contained within the vocals, it’s not a depressing listen. Rather, there’s something bittersweet and beautiful about it – it’ll make you think, agree and want to join in the dance (as evidence by the video). Indeed, in tandem with the song, Haim have shared a stark, yet precisely choregraphed video directed remotely by Jake Schreier (Chance The Rapper, Kanye West, Selena Gomez). The band co-choreographed the video with Francis Farewell Starlite. We love you HAIM!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Milky Chance and Jack Johnson, Don't Let Me Down

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MILKY CHANCE feat JACK JOHNSONDON’T LET ME DOWN: Another of this week’s sunshine anthems geared towards bringing some cheer amid the gloom comes from Milky Chance with special guest Jack Johnson. The result is the bright and breezy Don’t Let Me Down – a song that embodies free flowing pop melodies with that acoustic campfire groove that Johnson specialises in. It’s a daydream of a collaboration, playing to the strengths of both artists, while sending out the type of mission statement that the whole world needs to hear right now – from those who may feel tempted to easing their own lockdowns to the world leaders desperate to take their foot off the break. The central motif of “don’t let me down” applies to one and all to do their bit. But it’s also a personal song about being there for those special people in your life, delivered with warm acoustic hooks and toe-tapping back-beats. It’s tailor-made to put a smile on your face. Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch, of Milky Chance, commented: “We’ve been listening to Jack Johnson‘s music since we were teenagers and even played his songs with friends and our first band projects back then. We met him for the first time in 2018 at a festival in Switzerland and then again at Sea.Hear.Now Festival in the US when he came and invited us to jam in the dressing room. It’s been a real honor working together with him on this song and we cannot wait to share it with the world.” Johnson himself added: “You end up crossing paths with a lot of great musicians while out on the road. If you’re lucky those encounters lead to friendships which lead to creating music. That’s how it was with the Milky Chance crew. Putting out a new song with some new friends is always exciting.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kodaline, Saving Grace

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: KODALINESAVING GRACE: Kodaline have confirmed that they will release their new album, One Day At A Time, on June 12, 2020. Ahead of that, they release their latest single Saving Grace and succeed in raising anticipation higher. An anthem for these troubled, coronavirus riddled times, the song is designed as an expression of optimism and vulnerability, with Steve Garrigan’s soulful topline complemented by the band’s uplifting choral vocal harmonies. Indeed, there’s something decidedly Coldplay-ish about the towering chorus, that feels like a big musical hug. But the verses are equally appealing thanks to a decidedly toe-tapping finger-click back-beat. To hear it, is to love it. Kodaline commented: “Saving Grace is a song about that special person in your life that is there for you no matter what. It’s a song that means a lot to all of us, as we all rely on people in our personal lives to be there and support us though the high and lows of our career.” For those reaching out to support the ones they love during these times of isolation – be it via a video call, a home shopping delivery, or just a hug at the end of an anxious day if you’re living together – this is an empowering, beautiful song for our times.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Matt Costa

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: MATT COSTAAVENAL: We’ve long been fans of Matt Costa, right back to his Mobile Chateau days and beyond. His return is cause for more celebration. Avenal is the first taster from his new album, Yellow Coat (due for release on September 12 on Dangerbird Records) and it’s a gem. Built around a really warm acoustic guitar hook, an effortlessly laidback central vocal and a highly addictive finger-click beat, this is a daydream of a record that eases you into a relaxed state of mind despite some of the more sombre feelings behind it (the songs were inspired by the end of a relationship). However, with lyrics that declare “it’s alright, cause tonight, there’s a feather falling on my street, there’s a glow of the lights giving me hope that you’ll be by my side”, it initially feels like a genuinely upbeat ode to love that feels perfect for offering some kind of reassurance and happiness during these worrying times. The guitar hook is absolutely irresistible. And those beats are just brilliantly delivered that they work so well in tandem with the track as a whole. It’s a song that just doesn’t put a foot wrong… and one that leaves you thirsting to hear more of what Costa has cooked up for his next LP. Yellow Coat takes inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh’s Dear Theo and John Steinbeck’s A Life in Letters, Costa writing letters to himself about the end of a relationship that had lasted almost a decade. Produced by Alex Newport (At the Drive-In, Death Cab For Cutie, Bleached), the songs within are stamped with the honesty and intimacy of something not meant to be heard. “I think every other record that I’ve written, I wrote knowing that the songs would have an outlet,” Costa says. “And for this one, I really didn’t. It was just a process I was going through, clearing myself of these feelings and thoughts.” The album is described as offering equal parts lost ‘60s AM radio hits, folk-pop beauty and dark night of the soul music. We can’t wait.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Beoga

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: BEOGA WITH LISSIE – IN A ROCKET: Fresh from releasing their new single In A Rocket (which has been added to the Radio 2 playlist), which features vocals from Lissie and was co-written by James Bay, Beoga now share the track’s uplifting new video. The video depicts the many creative and unusual ways in which the band as well as their family, friends and fans have kept boredom at bay during lockdown. It’s centred around adorable footage of Beoga’s Eamon Murray helping his daughter build a rocket and play at being an astronaut, while Lissie and Ed Sheeran (and his cat Calippo) make cameos. The In A Rocket video celebrates togetherness. Those of us who are separated can find ways to come together, while those of us who are cooped up with loved ones can make the most of the situation. As its concluding quote from Seamus Heaney states, “If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere”. The song itself is an uplifting slice of country-pop that drops some cracking guitar, brash hand-clap beats, breezy violins and upbeat, optimistic vocals that really come alive during the empowering chorus. It’s a song that’s designed to make you feel good about yourself and the ones you love – and it’s an infectious delight. The visual was directed by Billy Cummings, whose previous credits include extensive contributions to the Ed Sheeran documentary Songwriter. In A Rocket previews Beoga’s new mini-album Carousel, which follows on May 22, 2020, and is the third track to preview following Matthew’s Daughter (featuring Devin Dawson) and Make A Mark (featuring Ryan McMullan).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Indie Allstars, Chasing Rainbows

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: INDIE ALLSTARSCHASING RAINBOWS 2020 (NHS TRIBUTE): The NHS is a gift to everyone in Britain, looking after us and always there. The Covid19 pandemic has proved how essential they are and funding cuts need to be addressed. Stoke-on-Trent DJ Terry Bossons wanted to thank them by the power of music. The rainbow has been the symbol of the NHS, so the song Chasing Rainbows by Shed Seven is a fitting tribute. Terry asked Rick Witter of Shed Seven to get involved with the video project and without hesitation he jumped onboard. It’s a bit of fun for a serious cause, a lockdown video with a difference! Next, a crescendo of indie music royalty joined the fold: Nigel Clark and Matthew Priest (Dodgy), Clint Boon (Inspiral Carpets), Gary Powell (The Libertines), John Power (Cast), Keith Mullin (The Farm), Chris Helme (Seahorses), Dave McCabe (The Zutons), Alan McGee (Creation Records), Baz (The Fratellis), Ryan & Jack Dooley (All The Young), Alfie (Holloways), Matt Bowman (Pigeon Detectives), Johnny Dean (Menswear), Leon Meya (Northern Uproar), James McColl (The Supernaturals), Rikki Turner (Paris Angels), Billy Bibby (Catfish and the Bottlemen) teamed up with radio royalty Mark Radcliffe and Eddy Temple-Morris (plus a few surprise guests) to make this happen in just seven days. To donate to the UHNM (University Hospitals of The North Midlands Charity) to fund equipment, facilities and research to enhance the care of patients in hospital please click on the website link below. Every penny you donate will go to the NHS. The song itself is an enduring classic, albeit delivered in a raw DIY form by all of the assembled artists. But the guitar solo is a highlight and it’s terrific to see so many familiar faces getting together for such a great cause and in such a short space of time. It’s a life-affirming recording and video.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tommy Ashby, One Word

TOMMY ASHBYONE WORD: Scottish singer-songwriter Tommy Ashby releases his enchanting new single One Word via Wow and Flutter Records. Produced by double Grammy Award winning producer Sam Okell, the track is the first single to be released from Tommy’s fourth EP scheduled for release Summer 2020. It opens with delicate guitar turns and builds with a subtle percussive beat and gentle piano chords, creating something that’s, by turns, beautiful and intimate. Lyrically, Tommy’s upbeat vocal describes a defining phase of a relationship, with an optimistic outlook carried forward with a buoyant, melodic backing vocal. The track was co-written with Tom Havelock (Sub Focus, Matrix, Futurebound). It also came about when Tommy found a tiny, bashed up guitar in the corner of his studio and wrote the guitar elements on the few remaining strings. It’s a quietly empowering listen (“one word and everything can change”), which becomes more and more optimistic the longer it lasts, and the instrumental layering really kicks in. Indeed, by the time it reaches its layered climax, there’s something genuinely crowd-pleasing and anthemic about it. Tommy commented: “I am a serial overthinker and procrastinator; my every decision is overanalysed, and any wrong one leaves me in a guilt-ridden mess. I think this is a pretty common feeling made more prevalent by social media and the pressure to have a ‘successful’ modern life. This song is an attempt to show the other side of the coin – there is a point at the start of all relationships where you kinda need to be vulnerable, say something honest and hope the person doesn’t laugh at you. The tune ends on an uplifting vibe, it tries to capture the point where you are so comfortable with someone that you can say anything and it’ll be ok – a happy place :)” Mission accomplished. It’s very inspiring.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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tommyashby · One Word

Marshmello and Halsey, Be Kind

MARSHMELLO AND HALSEY – BE KIND: There’s a lot of positivity surrounding this week’s singles releases and Marshmello’s collaboration with Halsey is no exception. Be Kind, like its name suggests, is designed to bring some reassurance to the emotionally vulnerable. And while it acknowledges that such vulnerability can take those who suffer from it to some dark places, the chorus attempts to offer that reassurance that it’s OK to be vulnerable with the ones you love. The chorus, for instance, drops lyrics such as “I don’t know why you hide from the one, and close your eyes to the one, mess up and lie to the one that you love, when you know that you can cry to the one, always confide in the one, you can be kind to the one that you love”. Marshmello supplies the headrush synths and lively back-beats, while Halsey drops those trademark sultry lyrics – tapping into both a sense of vulnerability and a feeling of empowerment once she delivers the song’s main sentiments. It’s a song with a positive message that, again, feels very timely.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Brijs, Glitra

BRIJSGLITRA: Indie-pop artist, producer and composer Brijs shares his new single Glitra and immediately radiates a warm sense of electro-pop positivity. With its giddy melodies, lovely chorus and optimistic sentiments, Glitra is a shimmering slice of song-making that reminds us of just how great Brijs can be. Indeed, the track is Brijs’ first outing as an artist for some time, having worked predominantly as a composer in recent times. You may have heard Brijs’ work on numerous award-winning film and TV projects for the BFI, BBC and Channel 4, as well as commissions for Mario Testino, Rankin, Kurt Geiger and Liu Jo. His talents as a songwriter and producer have also landed him upcoming collaborations with artists including Will Joseph Cook, Girli and Indian Askin. Indeed, that cinematic association is reflected in the new song’s art-house, coming-of-age movie vibe. Brijs describes it, himself, as an “unashamed love song to friendship”. Elaborating further, he said: “It’s about the pursuit of yourself and your values in your mid-20s. All of the things you hear about coming of age are usually about your teens. That’s still true, but we stay younger for longer now. Your mid-20s is when you start thinking, feeling and living independently. That’s when you really start to grow into adulthood and look at friendship, relationships and ambitions differently.” What’s more, Glitra offers the first, tantalising insight into the new material Brijs has been working on for a new album. Glitra is the title track from his debut album, due for release later this year. The record was crafted over a two-year period following the artist’s decision to leave London and return to the countryside near where he grew up. In search of a much-needed opportunity to recalibrate and re-assess his direction, he took up a property guardianship of a dilapidated Victorian mansion called Cecil Court. The house become home to a newly formed group of friends who spent an idyllic chapter together as an inseparable gang – walking, river swimming, partying, and making music. This time creates the narrative backbone of the album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Brijs · Glitra

Oasis, Don't Stop

OASISDON’T STOP: You know the world has turned upside down when Oasis release a ‘new’ track. Or rather, have the time to find an undiscovered one. Noel Gallagher happened upon a demo of a song called Don’t Stop while sorting through boxes of old CDs during the coronavirus lockdown. “Like the rest of the world, I’ve had infinite time to kill lately so I thought I’d finally look and find out what was actually on the HUNDREDS of faceless unmarked CDs I’ve got lying around in boxes at home,” he said on social media. Don’t Stop was never worked up into a full studio recording and the only previous recording was made at a soundcheck in Hong Kong “about 15 years ago”. But undeterred, Gallagher dusted it off and made it available to fans because the lyrics resonated, featuring lines such as “Don’t stop being happy, Don’t stop your clapping, Don’t stop your laughing, Take a piece of life”. They are lyrics that resonate with what’s going on, while delivering a welcome reminder of just how great Oasis really were. The song is a stripped back acoustic ballad that shares plenty of the same DNA as many of their lower key classics, such as Stop Crying Your Heart Out. It’s anthemic without being bombastic and showcases the more sensitive side to the songwriting brothers. Now, what about a post-coronavirus reunion?
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jimmy Eat World, Call To Love

JIMMY EAT WORLD feat BETHANY COSENTINOCALL TO LOVE: Jimmy Eat World have released their cover of Crooked Fingers’ Call To Love. The song features Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino and is a lively reinterpretation of the song, which boasts highly resonant lyrics about celebrating love. Amid the coronavirus health crisis, this type of message has never been more important. The collaboration originally performed the song to conclude their special livestream on April 17 and it proved so popular among fans that they decided to release the track for a wider audience to enjoy. And I have to admit to not having heard the original until listening to this version. But upon hearing both, I have to confess to enjoying this even more – the brisk, lively guitar riffs really jumping out at you and infusing the track with a tremendous energy. The vocal collaboration also works really well, with Cosentino adding a nice energy on her own terms. It’s a celebratory record that feels perfect for revisiting.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Childe, Bad Ideas

CHILDEBAD IDEAS: Childe has dropped his debut single Bad Ideas via PIAS and immediately shows plenty of promise. The track cleverly blends some fuzzy, R’n‘B influenced harmonies with soulful vocals that really take flight over the chorus. Early on, the song has a deliberately disorientating vibe in the use of both the vocals and some of the instrumentals. But as it takes shape and hits the chorus, the track reaches some skyscraping highs that work in nice contrast to the lyrics, which reflect a troubled, tormented state of mind. Explains Childe: “Bad Ideas is about being an attention seeker. Attention through affection. But then not wanting it once you’ve got it.” The woo-hoo rush of the chorus, in particular, helps the track to stand out (and even nods to classic Rolling Stones), while the impassioned style of the vocals positions Childe as the type of artist who is well worth keeping an ear on. Of the accompanying video, Childe adds: “Covid-19 cancelled the video we were going to make, so instead we let a mad wizard called Lukasz, who doesn’t sleep, make a visual for the song. I love it!”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Magic Gang

THE MAGIC GANGTAKE BACK THE TRACK: Although separated by lockdown, The Magic Gang’s video for their new song Take Back The Track uses the current situation as a strength rather than a limitation. The four members unite on video for an online rehearsal, during which the only distraction appears to be the attention of drummer Paeris Giles’ cat. But they’re joined by the mysterious presence of User1234 who threatens, “I’m going to destroy your rehearsal.” And from there, things get stranger still… The inventive video was directed by Georgina Cammalleri, who was nominated for a UK Music Video Award for her work on Swim Deep’s To Feel Good. The challenge of working remotely meant that the band also had to act as the crew. For example, bassist Gus Taylor doubled up as gaffer and production designer by setting up his own lighting to capture the right look. The Take Back The Track video represents The Magic Gang’s second inventive creative project during the current crisis. It follows their recent Love Songs initiative, in which they wrote and recorded homemade songs for fans separated by lockdown. The track itself is a feel-good track that embodies elements of Northern Soul, disco, power pop and rock, with some slick guitar mixing with “woohoo” style harmonies, a rousing chorus and a genuinely invigorating vibe. It’s a celebratory offering that puts you into a really good mood for its duration. You’ll want to keep replaying the track, rather than taking it back!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Woodkid, Goliath

WOODKIDGOLIATH: Critically acclaimed French artist Woodkid returns this year with his long awaited sophomore album. Hence, seven years after his celebrated debut album The Golden Age (800K sold worldwide, Platinum certified in both France and Germany, 200 shows around the world, 2 Grammy nominations and one French music academy award to name just a few), Woodkid is back with a brand new track Goliath. Named after the biblical character, Goliath is an epic poem carrying us away in the depths of the holistic forces that each individual struggles with. “It’s about scale, about toxicity,” says Lemoine. “About these insane industrial machines that represent so well my fear and ambiguous attraction for human madness. Here is the world I have built around Goliath, a world where the dominated can defeat the gigantic, the unbeatable.” The ensuing track mixes a foreboding, cinematic background synth, with coarse beats and a low-key vocal, which builds into a chorus that delivers some kind of hope. It’s an intriguing mix, highly cinematic, and evocative of both the inherent danger and possible hope the track is seeking to channel. It’s highly compelling and completely original.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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