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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 16, 2018

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

Balthazar, Entertainment

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BALTHAZARENTERTAINMENT: Having previously announced details of their forthcoming albuM, Fever, out January 25, 2019, on Play It Again Sam, Balthazar have also shared the video for new track Entertainment. And in keeping with their Beck-like vibe, the track itself drops a funky back-beat, some dope vocals and typically intelligent lyricism. What’s more, it mixes things up throughout. For while the early moments of the song are all about the beat and the bass guitar strums (as well as a harmonic nod to classic Rolling Stones), the chorus unfolds into a brass-backed fanfare, which only heightens the funkiness and coolness of the song as a whole. And if that weren’t enough, the second verse also unleashes a strings crescendo, which adds a cinematic layering to proceedings. It’s a lively, continually evolving song that underlines Balthazar’s versatility and sense of adventure. Caught in live performance, the video features new band member Tijs Delbeke, who replaces the outgoing Patricia Vanneste, and perfectly represents the infectious vibe and upbeat playfulness of the song. Featuring Jinte Deprez on lead vocals, ably partnered on harmonies by Maarten Devoldere, they explain: “Entertainment was written at the end of the album recordings as one of the last songs, functioning as the loose uplifting tune celebrating a carefree take in an entertainment business. We wrote an ambitious album but tried not to take ourselves too seriously, sure it’s an outspoken singalong chorus, but there’s a rambling playfulness to it which we love.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ten Tonnes, Better Than Me

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: TEN TONNESBETTER THAN ME: Quickly building on the news that his self-titled debut album will be released on April 5, 2019, Ten Tonnes continues to build anticipation by sharing the new track Better Than Me – and true to form, it’s a belter. Contrasting dark, tongue-in-cheek lyrics with uplifting energy and an immediately insistent hook, Better Than Me adds another dimension to Ten Tonnes’ growing catalogue of modern indie anthems. One of the last songs to be written (with former Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson) for the album, Ten Tonnes recorded the track with producer Dan Grech (Wolf Alice, The Killers, Liam Gallagher). The result is pure music magic… an indie rock gem to rival early Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs or Jake Bugg. The chorus, in particular, is deliciously vibrant, boasting geniuine sing-along appeal (“you’re doing better, better, better than me”), while the guitar hooks are short, sharp, simple and disarmingly effective. It’s a celebratory track – and one that will definitely heighten awareness of and raise expectation towards the forthcoming LP. Commenting on the song himself, Ten Tonnes – aka Ethan Barnett – said: “This was written in one of the last sessions for the record and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It was really fun to write and it came together really quickly. When we got to recording it I played all the instruments (excluding drums) as this is how I always used to make my records. It was lovely getting back to that way of recording and piecing the track together. I’m chuffed with the outcome, I can’t wait to get out and play it live everywhere.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Swimming Tapes

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: SWIMMING TAPESEASY STRAND: Swimming Tapes have unveiled the official video for their current single. Easy Strand. The lyrics of the swirling shoegaze track explore the distortion of memories over time and to mirror this in the video the band channeled vintage imagery. Director Laurie Barraclough shares: “A song about nostalgia needed a video about nostalgia, so we rented a vintage Renault 12 and shot the video like a home-movie. This might be the first one-take, time-bending home movie ever shot? Long car journeys (in the rain) are a big part of growing up and we wanted a video that was exactly that.” Just as the video embraces a keen sense of nostalgia, so too does the record itself. It has a classic shoegaze indie vibe, from the retro-leaning guitar licks to the hazy vocal delivery. It evokes a keen sense of nostalgia and feels tailor-made for cruising down some sunlit coastal highway, top down, radio blaring, sunglasses on and the worries of the world fading away. It’s a really feel-good piece of shoegaze. Easy Strand is Swimming Tapes’ first new material since their Soft Sea Blue EP (2017) and is out now on Hand In Hive / B3SCI. The release of the new video precedes the band’s return to the live stage later this week when they embark on a short run of UK headline shows taking in Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Bristol and London.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Frank Turner, Brave Face

FRANK TURNERBRAVE FACE: Frank Turner has dropped Brave Face as the latest single from his No.3 charting album Be More Kind, ahead of a January UK tour – and it’s as rousing as it is empowering. Featuring lines such as “make me a promise, that when the world ends, you’ll kiss me and hold my hand, and then we’ll get through this, whatever happens…”, this is a rallying call, as well as a warm hug, to anyone who needs a little support to get through whatever troubles them. The chorus is anthemic, the guitars are rousing as we’ve come to expect, the gospel-backed conclusion a really nice touch and the overall sentiment worth getting behind in these troubled times. Speaking about the track himself, the recently-engaged Turner said “Brave Face took the most work of any on the record. We cut it three separate times over the course of recording. In the end, the final arrangement was heavily influenced by being on the road with Jason Isbell (A Star Is Born) and hearing him play his latest material from Nashville Sound. I also reworked the lyrics a few times; I was always happy with the central metaphor, but the details needed tweaking. I like the idea of facing down the end of the world with your significant other, it’s a sort of Thelma-and-Louise image, in a way.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Beach House

THE CHAINSMOKERSBEACH HOUSE: Chainsmokers duo Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart have credited the band Beach House as the inspiration behind their latest offering, Beach House, which is also – by their own admission – an attempt “to get back to our roots with that classic OG Chainsmoker feel”. It’s a much better offering than previous single Siren (featuring Aazar), opting for a less pronounced dance sound and keeping a keener mix of synths, beats and acoustic guitars. It’s also a love letter to a woman that comes accompanied with a video featuring a suitably sexy protagonist. True, the lyrics could do better than dropping semi-egotistical lines suhc as “of darling of mine, I feel so alive with you in my bed”, but it’s got a relaxed dream pop vibe that is catchy, easy listening and the very definition of radio friendly. It’s not quite the sound of Chainsmokers at their best but it should keep the die-hards happy, particularly if – like me – you felt disappointed by that hardcore last offering.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Charlene Soraia

CHARLENE SORAIANOW YOU ARE WITH HER: Singer-songwriter Charlene Soraia has just released the video for her new single, Now You Are With Her, the third single from her forthcoming Where’s My Tribe album. The song itself finds Soraia at her most impassioned, both performatively and lyrically, as she details the forlorness that follows unrequited feelings of love, adoration, even reverence. Ironically, it’s delivered in a low-key, acoustic folk fashion. The strumming is gentle, and barely there, while Soraia’s vocals have a hushed, calm quality that belie the sentiments at play. The lyrics strike at the core of her desperation, though, with lines such as “it’s you I’d run to when the world’s too tough, who am I gonna run to now you are with her?” It’s quietly heartbreaking. Commenting on the track, Soraia said: “I had spent a long hiatus with little human contact, zero trust, and not much experience of human kindness, so I suppose, looking back, I had merely mistook someone’s kindness for something more meaningful.” It’s an honest record too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Slide

SLIDELAUGH SOME MORE: Swedish indie-rock duo Slide have dropped their debut single Laugh Some More, which is taken from their debut EP, Into Happiness, which is set for release in Spring 2019. As a taster, it encapsulates their spirit… which combines a rough around the edges approach with plenty of heart. Speaking about the track, Albin Skeppholm and Simon Werner explain: “It’s about having an unhealthy relationship to everything that makes you happy and turning everything into a drug. It’s finding yourself not being able to have a healthy relationship with anything.” With this in mind, the lyrics serve as a nice juxtaposition to the title of the song, which suggests a lot more happiness. But there’s a reassuring reality to the song, which is augmented by the ear-catching cental guitar riff, the toe-tapping beats and the hazy vocal delivery, which really does tap into an early 90s Blur vibe at times. For indie fans, this is well worth checking out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dashboard Confessional

DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL – feat CHRISSY COSTANZAJUST WHAT TO SAY: Dashboard Confessional has shared an official music video for Just What To Say, which is featured on the band’s 2018 LP, Crooked Shadows. The closing track of the album, Just What To Say is quiet and reflective, finding Chris Carrabba looking inward in a way that feels deeply relatable. The song is about admitting and accepting flaws, but it’s also about embracing the better aspects of your own humanity. The Ryan Hamblin directed video is streaming now – and is similarly low-key. It’s a quiet song that’s quietly effective, seldom rising above the acoustic strumming that opens proceedings. It’s a song that wears its heart on its sleeve, speaking of the confusion that sometimes accompanies being honest in a difficult situation (personal or otherwise). Once Chrissy Costanza lends her vocals, though, the song becomes a little more impassioned, with the two singers striking the notes perfectly off each other and really tapping into the deep emotional content of the lyrics. As ballads go, it’s pretty endearing stuff – and it could even form a soundtrack moment in the very near future.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Creeping Jean

CREEPING JEANBANDIT: Swagger is an overused modern term for showing off, but in the case of Brighton duo, Creeping Jean it feels like something of an apt term. From the George Best via George Harrison (on drugs) look of the lifelong friends down to the driving fuzzy bass line which undercurrents the new single Bandit, this is a way of life for this band, who self-consciously reference The Doors, The Zombies and Jack White throughout the new single. And while those are certainly some retro names, the swagger we’ve mentioned is the same type of indie and alt-rock vibe that accompanied bands such as Kasabian, Muse or Franz Ferdinand in their early days. Bandit embodies an outlaw edge, complete with classic guitar hooks, strutting beats and a confident vocal delivery. The chorus is made to be chanted aloud in live form, embodying the term anthemic. Describing the single, frontman Oliver Tooze said “Bandit is about getting about life as a member of the club in the dark side, living like a villain and the joys of doing so while Avoiding the government living a Bandit’s life, it’s life that would be nice but isn’t a reality.” The track was recorded by Dan Crook (Nadine Shah & Gang Of Four) at Ben Hillier’s (Pixies/Depeche Mode/Blur) personal farm based studio near Lewes in East Sussex.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Susanna

SUSANNA & THE BROTHERHOOD OF OUR LADYCITY OF HOPE: Norwegian artist Susanna is back with a new album, Garden of Earthly Delights, which is set for release on February 22, 2019 via her SusannaSonata label. To create this record, Susanna has gathered a new team of musicians, called The Brotherhood of Our Lady. Largely inspired by the works of medieval Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, the first single from the record City of Hope is streaming online. The result is probably an acquired taste, adhering to the arty feel befitting the inspiration behind it. There’s a cinematic piano, a surrealist vocal and a heightened sense of imagery to the lyrics. But it’s far from mainstream… veering more into leftfield territory. Speaking about the track, Susanna said: “City of Hope is a manic chant for guiding in love and life, with hints of ecstasy in the horizon even though something’s lurking in the undertow.” On Garden of Earthly Delights, her 13th album, Susanna takes a selection of Bosch’s paintings as starting points for a fervent, poetic rosary of fantastical songs and stories. Tracks like Gluttony and Lust, Death and the Miser and Ship of Fools reflect Bosch’s depictions of sin and human weakness, while Wayfarer, Ecstasy and Beautiful Life suggest the transcendent search for spiritual rewards. It’s intelligent stuff.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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