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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 12, 2018

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

Niklas Paschburg

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NIKLAS PASCHBURGANEW: Niklas Paschburg drops the charming new single Anew, complete with hypnotic, retro-leaning video. As ever with this artist, Paschburg’s compositions charm and bewitch with melodies and notes, mesmerising sounds and a cinematic atmosphere. Anew is built around beautifully melancholy piano notes, subtle beats and some uplifting background electronics to create something entirely enchanting and utterly mesmerising. It’s also highly cinematic. The accompanying video uses original footage from a short film shot by legendary surfer and filmmaker Bruce Brown, who became famous for producing and shooting much of the film footage for The Endless Summer. It features skateboarding manoeuvres performed by a group of young boys, using slow motion and a variety of camera-angles, which were not typical in ’60s. Put together with the lush instrumentals, it has a beguiling, nostalgic effect that captures some kind of innocence lost. Paschburg’s story is intriguing: he spent as much time as possible on the coast throughout the past year, catching the mood, breathing in the sea breeze, listening to the constant flow of the waves and transposing it all into his music. This period was a defining experience for the young German composer, grown up as a pianist and then attracted by the so-called ‘neo-classical scene’: “As a teenager I used to listen to Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Hauschka and all that world, and my EP was influenced by those artists,” he explained. “Then I moved in other directions: for my first record, I really wanted to make something different, something between piano, classical and electronic music, but also with some pop flavours incorporated – not in harmonies, but in the songs’ structure.” The result is a soundtrack of a landscape with echoes of Bonobo and Kiasmos, on the electronic side, and with Bon Iver as Paschburg’s main pop reference, co-produced and mixed by Gijs van Klooster (who has previously worked with Joep Beving and Tom Trago).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nonono, Dancing Mumbai Wedding

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: NONONODANCING (MUMBAI WEDDING): Swedish alt-pop powerhouse NONONO have released the video to accompany their new single Dancing (Mumbai Wedding). Joyous and uplifting, it touches on the twists and turns we go through in life and the wonderful experiences that can come in the darkest of times. Speaking about the video, Stina Wäppling explained: “The main purpose of the video was to shine light on human beauty by putting it in contrast to tragedy. We wanted to illustrate human gravitation towards love and belonging in a time of darkness. The video paints a picture of a post apocalyptic and broken world where two lovers are moving about. We follow the two charters through debris and waste and we see how they pick up pieces of the litter, taking care of it with the biggest care and attentiveness. Finally, the found pieces of junk are put together and turned into beautiful costumes. The two lovers gather with other survivors of this world and in their colourful costumes they all take part in a ceremonial dance. Throughout the video the light goes from cold to warm and in the final scene we can feel the gloomy world fade away in favour of the atmosphere and emotions shared by the dancing people.” The video is definitely striking and suitably uplifting and empowering, much like the joyous single itself. Built around bright beats that are delivered in a breezy pop style, and some lively electronics and strings-sound alike arrangements, the song drops a vibrant chorus that’s shot through with ear-pleasing vocals and melodies. It’s a song to put a smile on your face and, quite possibly, to get you up dancing.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, 1999

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CHARLI XCX & TROYE SIVAN – 1999: Charli XCX has unveiled her official vide for 1999, featuring Troye Sivan – and it’s a blast. As if to underline the late ’90s vibe, the song finds Charli and Troye recreating various iconic movie scenes in deliciously feel-good fashion, from Titanic to American Beauty via The Matrix. And if that weren’t enough, there’s faithfully recreated takes on pop culture acts such as Britney Spears. It’s fun just trying to see if you can correctly identify all of the references. The track itself is a bass-laced juggernaut beaming with nostalgia, 1999 binds Charli XCX’s commercial intellect with her innovative instincts, feeling as infectious as it does rebellious. Heralded as one of the most exciting and forward-thinking ambassadors of pop at every turn, Charli penned 1999 with guest vocalist Tryoe Sivan – who is also featured on vocals – and the single’s accompanying writers: Noonie Bao, Brett McLaughlin, and Oscar Holter, who also produced the track. In her own inimitable but highly successful style, this combines sassy female vocals, striking synth chords and a chorus that is both retro and forward-thinking. Hence, it manages to recapture the vibe of the late Prince’s own 1999 single offering, with a sound more synonymous with Chainsmokers or Charli’s own infectious back catalogue.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mahlia

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: MAHALIASURPRISE ME: Currently in the midst of her fourth UK tour, British rising star Mahalia has unveiled the video to accompany her latest offering, Surprise Me. Shot in New York last month and directed by Andre Muir, the single is taken from Mahalia’s highly anticipated EP Seasons, which she released in September. The song itself is a dreamy, yet bittersweet slice of smooth groove R’n‘B that finds Mahlia in reflective form. She sings lines like “I thought that you would surprise me, get on a plane and come find me, but instead you surprised me, I guess it isn’t surprising…” Mahlia drops a sultry set of vocals, albeit one’s that are tinged with regret, while there’s a seamless blend of smooth groove soul electronics, slick beats and some cinematic extra touches. It’s a highly accomplished, even sumptuous listen, that is perfectly complimented by its New York-set video. Seasons included four brand new tracks with production duties stemming from Felix Joseph (Jorja Smith, Kwabs, Suspect) – PRGRSHN and Swindle. The EP also featured a guest appearance from British musician, Kojey Radical on One Night Only. The project is a perfect example of her trademark, open-hearted lyricism fusing old-school soul and atmospheric synths with R&B/pop leanings.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Richard Ashcroft, Born To Be Strangers

RICHARD ASHCROFTTHAT’S WHEN I FEEL IT: Richard Ashcroft has released another further track, That’s When I Feel It, from his forthcoming album, Natural Rebel. It’s billed as a timeless classic that oozes with emotion and showcases Ashcroft’s irrepressible swagger and signature vocal. And while the second half of that sentence is certainly true, it’s another example of how Ashcroft’s solo material continues to struggle to match the epic grandeur and indie moodiness of his work with The Verve. This is a pop-rock concoction, with simplistic beats, radio-friendly melodies, the odd country guitar twang and a chorus that declares, somewhat cheesily, “if you’re singing with me, then I’m singing with you”. If that’s not enough, there are sweeping string arrangements, all done with a pop veneer. It’s a decent enough listen. But unlike some of The Verve’s timeless tracks, this one disappears from memory pretty much as soon as you’re done with it.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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St Jimi Sebastian Cricket Club

ST JIMI SEBASTIAN CRICKET CLUB – I STILL GET THE CALLS: St. Jimi Sebastian Cricket Club is a Swedish project led by Jimi Sebastian. The press has described their music as an exciting mix of The Clash, Leonard Cohen and Pink Floyd or ‘working class indie’. In one critic’s words: “They have highlighted the ability to capture the saddest moments, and then in the catchy choruses turn up the volume so you don’t know whether to look out into the night and cry or get up and dance”. The band’s latest release, Epilogue, where the social-realist narrative is of great importance, garnered fantastic reviews both in Sweden and the UK. New track I Still Get The Calls is a fine example of what they’re all about and why they’re attracting such positive buzz. There’s a brash guitar sound that has elements of The Clash, with bolshy vocals that are as punk inflicted as they are indie-pop (think early Blur too). There’s social commentary to be found in the lyrics, which lend the song a greater lyrical intensity. But the lively nature of the delivery and the melodic nature of the chant-worthy chorus lend the song an anthemic quality that makes it difficult to resist. It’s another terrific calling card from this Swedish outfit.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Clean Cut Kid

CLEAN CUT KIDEMILY: Emily marks something of a departure in sound for Clean Cut Kid, leaning towards a more lo-fi, American East Coast sound as opposed to the indie-pop of their debut album Felt released last year – but it’s no les impressive. The sound of Americana works really well, evoking a sound that’s reminiscent of classic Fleetwood Mac at times, especially in the chorus that manages to combine the melancholy undertow inherent in the lyrics with something capable of soaring in an alt-rock fashion. Hence, the track has a timeless quality that’s shot through with great harmonies, great guitar work and a great emotional intensity. Speaking about the track, frontman and songwriter Mike Halls said: “Emily is about someone very close to us who was suffering from a severe bout of depression. It’s us reaching out and saying, ‘we know you’re ‘unwell’ here and not just ‘sad.’ The ultimate thing is to take the deepest emotions and work it in to a message that isn’t miserable.” Taking that into account, the song couldn’t be more timely (both given that it was World Mental Health Day earlier this week and as we, as a society, wake up to the realities posed by mental health issues in general). It’s a rewarding listen that comes complete with an equally striking video. Emily is taken from Clean Cut Kid’s upcoming Painkiller EP, out on October 22. The EP precedes a headline UK tour that includes a sold out show at London’s Omeara venue on November 28.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Thom Yorke

THOM YORKEVOLK: Thom Yorke has unveiled the haunting instrumental Volk as the third song to be released in advance of his Suspiria (music for the Luca Guadagnino Film). The unveiling of Volk follows the release of second track Has Ended and first single Suspirium, which was described by The New York Times as “sweetly chilling” and Rolling Stone as “peak Yorke, and scary good.” Suspiria… consists of 25 original compositions written by Thom specifically for Guadagnino’s re-imagining of the 1977 Dario Argento horror classic. The album is a mix of instrumental score work, interstitial pieces and interludes, and more traditional song structures featuring Thom’s vocals, including the previously released Suspirium, which features the melodic theme that recurs throughout the film and its score. As scoring a horror film presented Thom with altogether new challenges and opportunities, Suspiria stands apart from any of his other work. Piano/vocal ballads, Krautrock-esque modular synth work inspired by the film’s Berlin 1977 setting, multi-layered vocals, and melodies that convey terror, longing and melancholy combine to create a chaotic yet cohesive musical spell. Volk is no exception. It’s hauntingly addictive… both retro leaning and containing an undeniable sense of foreboding and hidden terror. One can only imagine what it will be like when paired with Guadagnino’s imagery in the film. Hence, as a stand-alone piece, it’s effective in conveying a sense of dread… but it’s also one that defies easy listening and which, therefore, works best as a companion piece to the film, rather than an enjoyable piece of music in its own right. It’s impressive in the cinematic horror sense. But you won’t want to keep coming back to it outside of the film. Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) will be released October 26 on XL Recordings.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Yonaka, Own Worst Enemy

YONAKAOWN WORST ENEMY: Unrelenting Brighton four-piece Yonaka have announced details of their four track EP, Creature, which will be released on November 19 (pre-order now). As a taster, they’ve dropped the lively track, Own Worst Enemy and continue to heighten expectation surrounding the new material. Built around the kind of riffs and sound that Placebo would be proud of, the track also hits a Goth-rock vibe by the time it reaches it later choruses, with Theresa Jarvis (the band’s formidable vocalist and songwriter) belting out the vocals in typically passionate fasion. Lyrically, the track looks inwards, traversing themes of love, anxiety and the pressures of day-to-day life. But while there’s an emotional intensity born from lyrics that suggest inner turmoil, the livewire nature of the guitars ensures that this is invigorating, adrenalin-inducing stuff. It’ll be blisering in live form. New EP Creature sees the band’s bassist, Alex Crosby, take on production responsibilities again [he co-produced their last EP Teach Me To Fight], with help from Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Pixies) – a partnership that has provided explosive results previously, most notably for their preceding single release, Fired Up, which garnered huge Radio 1 support from Annie Mac, Jack Saunders, Huw Stephens, Phil Taggart, Abbie McCarthy, and Dev and Alice. Own Worst Enemy looks set to continue the bands’s upward trajectory. Indeed, as if proof were needed of that last statement, the band are delighted to announce that they’ll be supporting Bring Me The Horizon on their European tour throughout November, which will come to London’s Alexandra Palace for two nights on November 29 and 30.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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ViVii, Sucker Punch

ViVii – SUCKERPUNCH: Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii release their new single Suckerpunch through Dumont Dumont (Ry X, Charlie Cunningham, Josin). Ethereal, delirium-laced pop bolted thick with layers and gossamer strands, this truly lives up to the dream-pop description being levelled at it. It’s effortlessly laidback thanks to Caroline Jonsson’s impossibly dreamy vocals and those trip-hop infused beats. But there’s also some lush electronics that lend the track a pop warmth too. Hence, as dreamy as things get, there’s an accessibility, too, that keeps things radio friendly. Suckerpunch follows on from ViVii’s critically acclaimed debut EP Savant, which was released at the end of May and features lead single Savant and debut single Siv (You & I). It can only win them over more fans. Commenting on the inspiration behind the new track, the band state: “Been trying to stay out of trouble our whole lives, trying to do it all right. But that doesn’t really matter when life comes around and knocks you out cold with a suckerpunch.” The trio is made up of Emil and Caroline Jonsson and their enigmatic work partner Anders Eckeborn. They’re well worth keeping an ear out for, particularly if you like the sound of Lykke Li and artists of that kind.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Little Mix, Woman Like Me

LITTLE MIX feat. NICKI MINAJWOMAN LIKE ME: Little Mix seek to make an emphatic return with their new single, Woman Like Me, featuring extra support from Nicki Minaj. The ensuing track is a harmony led, urban, reggae pop smash in waiting. Whether that’s a good thing is a different matter entirely. But in this case, it’s close to the truth. Minaj lends an urban vibe and attitude that gives a more raw and ready edge to Little Mix’s pop sheen, while the reggae vibe is also a bonus. Little Mix themselves drop the kind of sassy all-girl vocals that would have Beyonce nodding with approval too. Indeed, the song seems to take a lot of its inspiration from that kind of R’n‘B/pop hybrid. But what else can you expect from a track that drops lyrics like: “I always say what I’m feeling, I was born without a zip on my mouth. Sometimes I don’t even mean it, it takes a little while to figure me out. My mama always said girl you’re trouble, and now I wonder could you fall for a woman like me?”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Wallows, Drunk on Halloween

WALLOWSDRUNK ON HALLOWEEN: Wallows are celebrating the start of spooky season by unveiling their new track, Drunk on Halloween. The song, produced by Will van Boldrik, is now available worldwide, alongside a self-directed lyric video. The track has already been described as the “morning-after ballad for last night’s Halloween party” by Flood magazine, and it’s an apt fit. It’s a laidback gem that combines some slick acoustic guitar riffs with lovely horn sections and a hazy, kind of hangover leaning central vocal. You could almost compare it to Weezer on the morning after a riotous gig… it has that slacker vibe, as well as an alt-indie one too. And while the Halloween theme suggests darkness and decay, don’t be deceived. This has a kookily endearing quality that’s difficult to resist. Wallows’ acclaimed debut EP, Spring, is available now for streaming and download. Produced by Grammy® Award-winner John Congleton (St. Vincent, Alvvays, Future Islands), the EP also includes critically acclaimed tracks, These Days and Pictures of Girls. Having spent much of the past year selling out shows from Los Angeles to London, Wallows –Braeden Lemasters, Cole Preston, and Dylan Minnette – are wrapping up 2018 with performances at Austin City Limits Music Festival (October 13th), Voodoo Music & Arts Experience (October 27th), and Camp Flog Gnaw (November 10th and 11th). Additional dates – including a North American headline tour – will be unveiled soon.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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