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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 30, 2018

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

Future Animals

SINGLE OF THE WEEK/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: FUTURE ANIMALSCRAZY LOVE: Three-time Grammy nominated Danish duo Future Animals release their new single and video for Crazy Love – and impress visually and sonically. Their soulful second single Crazy Love was co-written alongside their friends and frequent collaborators, JLM and Lukas Graham, and features a soulful central vocal set against Motown-inspired backing singers, guitar licks and pianos. The song boasts a nicely retro quality that immediately helps to endear it to the listener. But there’s a contemporary edge, too, which makes this tailor-made to appeal to those that like their songs to feel modern as well. It’s an addictive, heartfelt listen (an impassioned lament on a lost love) that gets better the more you hear it. The video, too, is a gem, drawing the viewer into a story of romance and heartbreak between Mani Love, of the Harlem Globetrotters, and Freakabritt, a dancer known for performing with Miley Cyrus and going viral with her take on the In My Feelings dance challenge. Crazy Love follows on from their huge first release Ask For It – the duo have amassed a long list of writing and producing credits including 7 Years by Lukas Graham, Heaven by Julia Michaels (from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack), as well as work with Hailee Steinfeld, Aloe Blacc, DJ Mustard, Leona Lewis and David Guetta. It’s good that they now have the spotlight on themselves.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Porno!, Give It Again

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: PORNO! – GIVE IT AGAIN: Indie rock ‘n’ psych group Porno! arrive with their debut release, the eclectic Give It Again. Boasting an intoxicating blend of cool, Hendrix inspired guitar solos, funky fuzz and trippy falsetto vocals, this is the kind of track that looks set to garner cult cool appeal. And by that we mean, it’ll probably be the kind of song that gradually finds a huge listener base, much like the kind of thing that happened to fellow funky act The Heavy. Indeed, there’s a big comparison to be made with The Heavy here, with the distinct, shape-shiting vocals, the funky vibe and that almost effortless invoking of cool. PORNO! the band is a manifestation of all the excess energy that the music industry has cut-short. Band members Jack, Matt, Amy and Zach are all children of previous projects Grace Gillespie (Kaleidoscope), Pixx (4AD) and The Shakers (Infinity Cactus Records). Frustrated where they have been confined to genre and encouraged to adapt and trim their music, they have taken the overflowing, sprawling, wild and unwanted excess and forged it into PORNO!, a forbidden, frustrated and untameable escapee of the industry’s heavy hand. On the evidence so far, we’re hooked.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Speight, Strangers Now

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: TOM SPEIGHTSTRANGERS NOW: London-based artist Tom Speight has released Strangers Now as the third track taken from his forthcoming album, released in Spring 2019. Co-written with Lisa Hannigan, Strangers Now is being hailed as one of Tom’s most confident songs to date. The strong hook brings beauty to the dense foundations of the rhythm section and once again the amazing vocals of Lydia Clowes blend beautifully with Tom’s. It’s got a great rhythm section, a strong boy-girl harmony and vocal contrast, a lively chorus and a cinematic feel that makes it ripe for pick-up on some soundtrack soon. It’s also a rousing ballad in its own right, tapping into a complex mix of emotions that make for a heady brew. On the track, Tom explained: “Strangers Now is the second lead single to be taken from my debut album. I’ve experienced my fair share of failed relationships and broken homes, the song was essentially born out the feeling of a relationship at its bitter end.” It may be born from pain, but it’s a beautifully striking record, complete with a great guitar and hammond organ instrumental that’s steeped in classic songwriting qualities.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Koalas, Sandcastles

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: KOALASSANDCASTLES: Synth-pop band Koalas have unveiled a new visual for current track, Sandcastles, a post-summer anthem that serves as a metaphor for what the Manchester duo of Samuel Jones and Rachel Waters might do come the final countdown. Sam explains: “Sandcastles was written as a reaction to a particularly bleak news day, I think it was around the time of the Salisbury poisonings. The song is about the dissonance we experience between our every day lives and the disturbing world events happening around us, the prevailing feeling that everything is a lot more stable than it really is. When discussing with the director the meaning of the song and it’s influences we looked at 1980’s Cold War imagery and in particular the pamphlet ‘Protect and Survive’; a government guide on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. The guidelines themselves are extremely ineffectual, and portrayed in the particularly depressing graphic novel/film When The Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs, which I remember watching when I was younger. In the video, Rachel and I attempt to survive the oncoming nuclear annihilation whilst dreaming of a better way to spend those last hours. The living room doors leant up against the wall is something people might recognise from the film, an almost laughable measure.” The video is certainly striking, while the song itself [and its themes] are deeply thought-provoking. And yet the synth-pop element keeps it highly radio friendly, with ’80s leaning electronic cascades mixing with the type of electronic loops that Pet Shop Boys or New Order would be proud of. The boy-girl vocals also provide a nice contrast to each other, contributing to a lively chorus. It’s a song with meaning that can also be really enjoyed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charlene Soraia, Temptation

CHARLENE SORAIATEMPTATION: Temptation is the penultimate release from Charlene Soraia’s forthcoming Where’s My Tribe album, which is due for release January 25, 2019. The impassioned yet sombre song was written about the resistance and confusion of unrequited attraction. The resistance of Temptation meets realisation in another album single, Now You Are With Her. “I see them as two sides of the same coin,” Charlene says of the songs. “Temptation being the build-up of tension for this never-to-be relationship and Now You are With Her as a forlorn reverie as two people return to the lives they drifted from.” Soraia’s agile and richly melodic vocals over feverish guitar recall Laura Marling’s early records, while her timbre channels glimpses of Fiona Apple. There’s a sincerity, too, in the lyrics, which make the song all the more poignant. The brisk acoustic guitar licks are disarmingly simple, yet completely striking, while Soraia’s scorched, sultry vocals combine passion and heartbreak in mesmerising fashion. Adds Soraia: “This song, and most of the album, feels like it comes from this bittersweet knife-edge and I dedicate Temptation to anyone who has mistaken someone’s general demeanour and acts of kindness.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Josh Beech

JOSH BEECH – NO TROUBLE: Josh Beech, a singer from Bromley, south London and now based in LA, unveils his new track, No Trouble, and impresses. Backed up by some thrilling instrumentals (comprised of beats and electronics), this also showcases an impressive set of vocals from Beech that build to an anthemic, powerhouse chorus. But there’s an indie spirit to offset the melodic nature of the chorus, too, that bring an urgency and edge that’s welcome. Josh says of the track: “I’m really happy to finally share some new music, it feels like it’s been forever since I released any music under my own name and it’s felt weird not putting out any new songs for so long! No Trouble is my first solo release in over three years and it’s a slight departure from my normal solo material. There isn’t any folky guitar in No Trouble for a start and this song is also my first solo recording that’s not a solo! No Trouble was a writing collaboration between myself, brothers James and Joe Dzuris and Brent Kutzle (One Republic).” The wait and change of style is most definitely worth it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jax Jones and Years & Years

JAX JONES AND YEARS & YEARSPLAY: Fresh off the back of incredible years for both acts – BRIT-nominated artist, producer, DJ and songwriter Jax Jones has partnered with Years & Years to deliver Play, a mainstream hit single-in-waiting. Built around slick beats and playful electronic loops, this is tailor-made for the NYE party-seeking crowd. It’s a dancefloor filler that plays to the mainstream, from the Ibiza-leaning, garage inspired beats and synth loops, through to the catchy but repetitive chorus. And while that’s not necessarily a good thing, there’s something disposably catchy about the track that gets under your skin. On the creation of Play, Jax commented: “Olly’s got one of those unique voices – he commands your attention as soon as you hear him sing – he’s a compelling artist. We had a lot of fun writing this song together and it was great to collaborate with someone so down to earth and open to new ideas. After we had written the song I started building a track with a strong UK Garage influence, as well as my love of soul and house.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Cousin Kula

COUSIN KULAJELLY LOVE: Psych-pop six-piece Cousin Kula have released a new single entitled Jelly Love, which marks the band’s first new material since the release their debut EP, OODLES. The track finds Cousin Kula building on their reputation for smooth basslines topped with heady, swirling synths, while trying to introduce a more sing-along chorus that’s designed to elevate Jelly Love into into a sophisticated yet still innately chilled-out offering. Whether the sing-along element has been achieved is debatable, but there’s a distinct quality to the track that makes it standout nevertheless. This is underlined by the ghostly synth sound, and the washed out (and yes, ghostly) vocals, which lend the track a hypnotic effect. It remains chilled out, too, making it easy to kick back with. And while the track is still a more acquired taste, that’s no bad thing, as it helps Cousin Kula stand out from the crowd. Speaking about the writing of the song, the band share: “It developed very quickly, largely out of a single jam which is quite rare for us. Jelly Love captures the energy of that particular moment in time, more so than some of our other tunes that have gradually evolved, and can often take several months to fully emerge. The groove and the lyrics came out together – Doug played some silky chords and Elliot just sang what felt right. Overall, the whole way this tune was written and the feel it captures symbolises a really positive moment in time for us.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Odette

ODETTE feat GRETTA RAY – A PLACE THAT I DON’T KNOW: Australian singer-songwriter Odette ends the year with spellbinding new single A Place That I Don’t Know, featuring fellow Aussie songstress, Gretta Ray. The new single follows on from her stunning tracks Lotus Eaters and Take It To The Heart – all of which have been lifted from Odette’s upcoming debut album, To A Stranger, which is out early next year. The song is a delicate piano-backed ballad that places the greater part of its emphasis on Odette’s sublime vocals. There’s a hushed, fragile quality to them that really brings out the emotions in the lyrics, which speak of emotional confusion. Odette provides a compelling vocal presence that is genuinely sincere and endearing. Ray, too, works well in tandem with her, making the combined force genuinely powerful. The instrumentals do slowly built in stature, too, with the piano eventually being augmented by beats and electronic arrangements, as well as a brass-like vibe, that only add to the overall power and cinematic nature of the song. A Place That I Don’t Know is another Odette track to be impressed by.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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