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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 24, 2019

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

Kaiser Chiefs, Record Collection

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: KAISER CHIEFSRECORD COLLECTION: Kaiser Chiefs forthcoming new album Duck will be released on July 26, 2019, through Polydor. Duck is the sound of one of the most successful British guitar bands of the millennium reclaiming the creative swagger that underpins their strongest work. “It’s undeniably fantastic and undeniably Kaiser Chiefs,” says frontman Ricky Wilson. Their seventh record will be preceded by Record Collection, the first piece of new music taken from the album, as well as a huge show at Elland Road Stadium on June 8 – a homecoming gig with stature needing no explanation. And so far, so good. Record Collection does update the Kaiser Chiefs sound with something more electronic leaning. But it also reminds us how they can deliver a genuinely feel-good anthemic chorus. And it has something to say, too. “It came quickly,” says Wilson of its creation. “It’s a vibe. It’s about the Internet and frustration with the Internet, about how it rules our lives but we don’t really understand what it is and how we just click accept.” Hence, there’s talk of hidden doors, hidden paths, emotional turmoil and other unseen dangers. But while a cautionary tale, it’s a rollicking good feel-good record that combines darker themes with something stadium-sized and crowd-pleasing. Welcome back, boys.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charlie Cunningham

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CHARLIE CUNNINGHAMBITE: While his current single Sink In picks up plays from Annie Mac and Phil Taggart at Radio 1, Charlie Cunningham has unveiled another new track, Bite, taken from his forthcoming album Permanent Way. Recorded during sessions in LA with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The XX, King Krule), Bite snaps open only to clasp shut with a spiky, nervous energy masked by Charlie’s melodic vocal. At times, it’s reminiscent of the style (vocally and instrumentally) of Jose Gonzalez (another IndieLondon favourite artist). We particularly like the way the song opens in ethereal, atmospheric fashion, before layering on the foreboding elements – both lyrically and instrumentally. By the time it approaches its climax, the sound has opened out and become cinematic – the simplicity of the opening moments enhanced by a more robust guitar sound, some beats and subtle electronics. It’s beautifully realised, with Cunningham’s soft vocal style providing a nice contrast. It’s the type of song that just gets better with each listen, complete with reflective, emotionally compelling lyrics. It’s little wonder that Cunningham’s unique combination of agile guitar – the result of two-year sojourn in Seville – and distinctive, spectral melodies has, via three EPs and a debut album Lines released to widespread acclaim by Dumont Dumont in 2017, seen Cunningham rack up to over 165m Spotify hits to date.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Lumineers, Gloria

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: THE LUMINEERSGLORIA: The Lumineers release the visual for Life in the City – the last in a trilogy of gripping music videos to accompany their new EP, Chapter I: Gloria Sparks. The EP makes up the first chapter of the band’s forthcoming full-length visual album III, out on September 13 on Decca/Dualtone. The album is a cinematic narrative told in three chapters, with the songs from each chapter focusing on one primary character from the three generations of the fictional Sparks Family. Each chapter will be released as an audio EP within the full-length album. The 3-song Chapter I audio EP was released in full on Friday and revolves around the family matriarch, Gloria Sparks. The stories told, as the chapters unfold, deal with subjects very close to the heart of lead vocalist, Wesley Schultz. Schultz explains: “Gloria is an addict. Her character was inspired by a member of my family, and no amount of love or resources could save her. She’s now been homeless for over a year. Loving an addict is like standing among the crashing waves, trying to bend the will of the sea.” Subsequent chapters focus on Gloria’s grandson Junior (Chapter II), and then her son Jimmy Sparks (Chapter III). The video for Gloria is as gripping as it is heartbreaking, focusing on the damaging repurcussions of addition and its potential for ruining lives completely. It’s brave, bold, statement making stuff, that shocks, provokes thought and debate, and puts the spotlight on a very relevant issue. Don’t miss out on watching it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Cross Me

ED SHEERAN feat CHANCE THE RAPPER & PnB ROCKCROSS ME: Ed Sheeran follows his super-sized Justin Bieber collaboration with another impressive hook up, this time with Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock. The result is something of a departure from Sheeran’s more conventional style, employing slick pop-meets-hip hop beats and several rap interludes. Indeed, there are times – when Chance takes over – you could be forgiven for not realising this is a Sheeran track. But once the singer himself takes over, it adopts a more familiar sound. Lyrically, there’s an edge, too – with all singers declaring: “If you cross her, then you cross me.” It sounds like a protective offering, which taps into the complex emotions at play in a lot of Sheeran’s songwriting. But the delivery is what makes this one stand out, with a soulful central sound mixed with elements of electro pop, as well as hip hop. Taken from Sheeran’s forthcoming No.6 Collaborations (due July 12), this bodes extremely well for the remainder of Sheeran’s collaborations.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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5 Seconds of Summer

5 SECONDS OF SUMMEREASIER: Australian rockers 5 Seconds of Summer combine pop with something a little edgier with new single Easier, the likeable first offering from their forthcoming fourth LP. Built around Luke Hemmings’ falsetto vocals, this references ’80s pop (INXS) with something approaching Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake. But it also maintains an identity of its own. The result is a track which chronicles a troubled, confused relationship (“is it easier to stay or easier to go, I don’t want to know”) in relatively upbeat fashion, ensuring that the catchy hooks that have become a hallmark of the 5 Seconds of Summer sound remain intact, even when they’re clearly troubled by the lyrics. Fans will lap it up, while newcomers could quite possibly have their heads turned. It’s brisk, lively, melodic and bittersweet – there’s a very real sense that this will become a big smash in their homeland and well beyond.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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LOVA, I Can Do Better

LOVA – I CAN DO BETTER: Rising 20-year-old international pop singer and songwriter LOVA unveils her empowered and enlightened new single I Can Do Better. In the track, LOVA expresses her frustration with today’s society and the idea that women are expected to live in the shadow of men. Backed by acoustic guitar and bombastic beats, her voice snaps from elastic verses into an engaging chant, where she confidently declares: “You’re the problem not my gender, anything you can do I can do better. Anywhere you can go I can go further.” It’s timely stuff, grasping hold of the #MeTo movement and making a bold stand for female empowerment and equality. But far from emerging as too preachy, the bombastic beats, cute guitar hooks and sassy-meet-cute vocals help the song to endear and engratiate in a big way. Hence, it’s a song with a message that’s easy to enjoy. It’s anthemic. LOVA commented: “I Can Do Better is mostly talking to the ‘Male Boss’, the ‘Alpha man’, and the society as a whole. With I Can Do Better, I’m saying that I’m tired of living in the shadow of men. I’m tired of men telling me what to do and how to do things. I don’t need no man to fix things for me, talk on my behalf or to pay for my dinner. We can clearly take care of ourselves and we should get far more credit and recognition for our achievements and knowledge than what we do in today’s society.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gia Margaret

GIA MARGARETBABIES: Gia Margaret’s critically-acclaimed debut album, There’s Always Glimmer, is finally available to buy outside North America. To mark the occasion, the singer has also released new track, Babies. The track is a modern folk song that’s disarmingly simple instrumentally but entirely thoughtful [and thought provoking] lyrically. In light of recent events back home, there’s an added poignancy to the track, as Gia explains: “Partly why I wrote [Babies] was because someone was always having something to say about what I should be doing with my life in regards to [my] biological clock… It’s hard enough to get paid less than men do and to ask ourselves these questions as we try to navigate through life.” Intelligently delivered, so as to further a worthwhile debate, the song doesn’t preach; rather, it washes over you, with Gia’s sedate vocals providing a lovely, soothing focal point, and her acoustic strums a nice, gentle backdrop. It’s a song to enjoy as well as contemplate. Growing up in Chicago, Gia Margaret spent the formative years of her life focusing on the art of classical piano composition. However, after hearing such greats as Nick Drake, Stina Nordenstam, The Roches, and Connie Converse, she developed an itch for writing and recording a different type of music. The result was her self-produced debut album, which received a low-key release last Summer in the US, but – thanks to word of mouth – ended 2018 across multiple international critics’ Best Of lists.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bess Atwell, Harvested

BESS ATWELLHARVESTED: Singer-songwriter Bess Atwell has released her enchanting five-track EP Big Blue, along with lead single Harvested via Mother’s Milk Records. Big Blue was produced by Giles Barrett (Johnny Flynn, Marika Hackman, Goat Girl) and follows acclaimed debut album Hold Your Mind, released in 2016. The lead track is built around gentle acoustic guitar licks and soft, serene vocals that reflect on a complex relationship. As Bess explains: “I wrote Harvested about a very complicated friendship; two people whose overwhelming similarities could comfort and cripple the other in equal measure.” The resulting single is deeply affecting and personal, when listened to properly, with Atwell wearing her emotions on her sleeve. But the slow-build approach ensures that, instrumentally, the song reaches beyond its intimacy, even suggesting at something cinematic and therefore potentially soundtrack filling. Talking about the EP as a whole, Bess continued: “Big Blue explores conflicting themes on identity, romanticism and reality. I have an amazing full-time band now who worked on these songs with me outside of the studio and so, when the time came to record, we just went into the studio and essentially played the songs.” It’s a collection of songs just awaiting discovery.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chase & Status, Murder Music

CHASE & STATUS feat KABAKA PYRAMIDMURDER MUSIC: In the wake of the release of their single Program, featuring Irah, Chase and Status – who this year, will celebrate 15 years of releasing music – have dropped the Jamaica-filmed visual for new single Murder Music (featuring Kabaka Pyramid). The Conscious musician is a member of Manifesto Jamaica, which is an N.G.O. aiming to empower Jamaican youth through the arts and culture. The hard-hitting single marks just over a week until the release of their next studio album, the long-awaited RTRN II JUNGLE. The album will land on May 31. Murder Music is a resolutely drum ‘n’ bass offering, with elements of Jamaican music and dancehall. But while that sound is pretty bland and repetitive after a while, the message behind the track is worth hearing. It talks of a broken system, letting down the youths of Jamaica (and the world), where murder is rife among certain demographics and cultures. But, as Pyramid laments, “you can’t run away from yourself”, thereby offering little hope of escape. It’s a sad but relevant message that infuses the song with a dark heart, for all of its dancefloor leaning instrumental tendencies.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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HunBjørn

HUNBJORNALL THE RED: HunBjørn has dropped an impressive new single, in the form of the hypnotic All The Red, which also offers a taste of her forthcoming EP Next Summer. The track is the follow up to her single, Who Are We To Love, which was released earlier this year, and very well received by her audience as well as music blogs in both her home country Denmark, the UK and abroad. All The Red is a song that calls upon reflection. It’s ethereal electronic pop with a message. “Originally, I wrote the song to my boyfriend, who battles controlling his temper in stressful situations. But it ended up having a more universal message for myself as well, about the importance of listening to yourself, of not letting the outside world influence how and why you do what you do – of trusting your own process,” explains Ulla Pihl, who’s behind HunBjørn. If we are able to give time and room for new acknowledgements to flourish, I’m sure that the negativity and all the metaphorical red will be softened and replaced by a surplus of energy and understanding for others. Then it’s much easier to be open and more empathetic, to the ones near to you, but also globally speaking.” Lyrically, therefore, the song has something very important to say. What enables it to stand out is the delivery. The ’80s leaning dream-pop is hypnotic and ethereal, with the synths providing an at times mesmerising backdrop. But Ulla’s vocals also prove spellbinding, ensuring that the song holds you in its grasp for its duration, while making you want to hear it again.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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