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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 13, 2017

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

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSHOLY MOUNTAIN: After teasing fragments of songs and art from the new album, Who Built The Moon?, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds now drop Holy Mountain as the first proper taster of what to expect – and it’s a riot. Boasting the same thunderous self-assurance that you’d expect from an Oasis songwriter, coupled with the slick, ultra-cool production values that only someone like David Holmes can bring, this is a blast of free-flowing energy that’s propelled along on a tidal wave of drum beats, guitars and brass. There’s woo-hoo harmonising, a brash chorus, anthemic stature, Paul Weller on organs and – most importantly – a keen sense of fun. It’s something that Gallagher himself admits to being particularly proud of, as he states: “It was one of the first things that David and I did on the first week of working together. I knew instantly that it was going to be the first single. There’s so much joy in it. Until the day I die, it will be one of my favourite pieces of music that I’ve ever written. It sounds great live. My kids love it, my friends’ kids all love it and I’m sure ‘the kids’ will love it.” Altogether now, “she fell, she fell, under my spell….”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Calexico

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CALEXICOEND OF THE WORLD WITH YOU: Calexico have announced details of their ninth studio album with a new single and accompanying lyric video. The album, The Thread That Keeps Us, is due out on January 26, 2018, through City Slang and provides a timely snapshot of the Arizona-bred band: a family portrait capturing their stylistic variety and unpredictability while still finding solace in limitless creativity. As heard on the album’s lead single and opening track, the drama of the landscape directly impacted the making of The Thread That Keeps Us. Driven by sing-song melody and galloping rhythms, End of the World With You discovers an unlikely romanticism in volatile times. With its lyrics illuminating ‘love in the age of the extremes’, the track is the perfect intro to an album that endlessly explores the contrast between bright and dark, hope and fear. With rolling guitar hooks, a classic sense of Americana, a catchy chorus and typically intelligent lyricism, this is the kind of song tailor-made for epic road trips. It’s got a glorious guitar solo midway through and conveys that sense of the endless in taking a trip along America’s dusty highways. Yet crucially, too, it has a sing-along quality that makes it effortlessly appealing too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nerina Pallot

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: NERINA PALLOTBRING HIM FIRE: Nerina Pallot unveils a grittier side to her song-writing make-up with new single Bring Him Fire. The song unfolds amid an almost blues-rock vibe, albeit shorn of the guitars for most of the time, courtesy of the raw, edgy central vocal that Pallot drops. It’s a song full of longing that finds Pallot at her most appealing, vocally. The accompanying instrumentals are as laidback as they are moody, adding a sense of atmosphere that’s striking. And this is heightened as the song progresses, eventually incorporating some great blues guitar work from long-time friend Bernard Butler, as well as some cinematic string arrangements. As ever with a Pallot production, it’s a classy piece of work. Commenting on the song itself, though, Pallot admits: “I struggled with the recording of Bring Him Fire because I wanted to keep it raw but have it make sense with the rest of the album, which is quite intricate and orchestrated. I leaned heavily on Bernard [Butler] for an objective opinion. As ever, he gave me fabulous advice (some of which I ignored, but he forgave me) and also added his effortless guitar genius to it. Lyrically, it’s pretty straightforward: lady likes man, wants man to notice her, etc, so she’s written it all down in a handy little list for him in case he wasn’t sure what he might be getting.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Whatever It Takes

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: IMAGINE DRAGONSWHATEVER IT TAKES: Imagine Dragons may have refined their sound somewhat to sound more populist but they remain a class act. Hence, following the recent likes of Thunder (with all of its anthemic, chant-along elements), comes the equally robust Whatever It Takes. Built around sung-spoke vocals that take on a rap-like quality at times, this is also backed by big beats and an even bigger chorus, that proclaims: “Take me to the top of whatever I’m ready for, whatever it takes!” Admittedly, the track is a long way from the sound that they’re more commonly associated with thanks to songs like I Bet My Life and Demons. But we’re liking this new, bombastic sound. It’s clearly designed to broaden their appeal and it looks set to succeed. This gets into your head and refuses to budge. It’s a real grower. And the newly released accompanying video is ambitious and eye-catching too, featuring the band performing the song and slowly becoming submerged by water until they need rescuing my mermaids. It’s well worth a look.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fickle Friends, Hard To Be Myself

FICKLE FRIENDSHARD TO BE MYSELF Hard To Be Myself is Fickle Friends’ boldest, brightest and most dizzyingly memorable single to date, available now on Polydor Records. Musically, it’s a giddily peaking rollercoaster of irresistible hooks, while lyrically it flips line by line from gloriously hedonistic abandon to nakedly self-analytical. It’s an anthem for a pre-loading generation of wasted youth. Building towards an infectious chorus that you’ll be singing for days, Hard To Be Myself is the creative culmination of three years honing their craft on the road and in the studio and as a result is undeniably brilliant. Built around a female set of vocals that are, by turns, harmonic, seductive and feisty, as well as some toe-tapping beats and livewire synths, it’s an effervescent offering from an endlessly creative band on the cusp of major success in 2018. On writing Hard To Be Myself, front-woman Natti said: “Hard To Be Myself is a song about social awkwardness and anxiety. Wanting to be someone else so desperately, dreaming you were the life of the party. It’s the idea that a certain person can kinda loosen your senses and lower your inhibitions just like drinking alcohol. This song was a work in progress for about a year and a half, but it got to maybe the 30th rewrite and we just had to be like ‘ok let’s stop messin’ with this’, ha.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kodaline

KODALINEREADY TO CHANGE: Ahead of their run of four UK tour dates in December, Ireland’s Kodaline have dropped the I Wouldn’t Be EP, featuring four new tracks written by the band at The Vale Studios in Worcestershire. The most prominent of these is the anthemic Ready To Change, which also features a video directed by long-time visual collaborator Stevie Russell. The track itself is a slow-burner, delivered in the style of a Coldplay or am Imagine Dragons. But once it gets going, it’s pretty empowering. There’s a clap-happy, chant-worthy central choruses, several big electronic flourishes that are shot through with melody, and the usual set of earnest vocals. It’s got another big hit for the boys written all over it. As if to underline their diversity, the EP’s title track finds them delivering a song that draws comparisons with the style of Bon Iver, while there’s indie-pop on The Riddle, which has already become a live favourite.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ross Blake

ROSS BLAKEHOUSE OF MIRACLES: Enter the surreal world of UK polymath Ross Blake. The London-based musician has dropped the hypnotic, tripped-out, hand animated video for his new track House Of Miracles. Fearlessly charting a journey into a world of mystery, Blake’s delirious original soundtrack to Pretty en Rose conjures up the glamorous milieu of its parent film, yet goes beyond to inhabit its own peculiar and poetic realm of the imagination. Taking French musical themes and interweaving them with a plethora of influences ranging from Ennio Morricone to Angelo Badalementi, and Joe Meek to Angela Morley’s Watership Down soundtrack, Blake creates a finely-wrought tapestry that exists on a plateau beyond kitsch and exotica, drifting effortlessly through realms of fantasy and hallucination. House of Miracles is a trippy, cinematic journey filled with flutes and pianos that is, by turns, hypnotic, surreal, beautiful and playful. It’s an acquired taste, given its experimental nature, but coupled with the video especially, it’s an endlessly fascinating one.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hannah Jane Lewis

HANNAH JANE LEWISRAINCHECK (FICKLE FRIENDS REMIX): Indie pope masters Fickle Friends and upcoming pop sensation Hannah Jane Lewis have unveiled their remix for the latter’s new single Raincheck – and it’s breezy pop-soaked stuff. Raincheck finds Hannah turn an exciting corner, her passion and vision evident on this fizzing, colourful track. Hannah says of the song: “Raincheck is about giving someone just enough to keep them interested, but never too much where they know what is coming next. It’s the initial stages of a relationship when you keep your cards close to your chest, before you are both brave enough to let your guard down.” The Fickle Friends remix infuses the song with some slick production values, courtesy of fizzing synth arrangements that augment her sharp, feisty vocals. There’s a zip to the track that’s engaging, coupled with a pop swagger designed to place her at the forefront of the pop scene. Hence, while it’s not doing anything amazingly different, in some senses, it does what it does with a carefree abandon that translates well to the mainstream listener.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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OMYO, Mysterious Girl

OMYOMYSTERIOUS GIRL: London-based pop duo OMYO have unveiled the new video for their second single Mysterious Girl, which premiered via Clash Magazine. A seductive, pulsing track, Mysterious Girl is designed to be a self-assured statement of intent, that OMYO are destined to be a hit in clubs and radio alike. In video form, the track combines fresh electronic production values, soulful (borderline falsetto) vocals with ambitious visuals (starring model Pauline Ivashevskaya). It has a late night kind of sheen to it, courtesy of its neo-soul grooves and sexy sounding vocals. But there’s plenty more going on electronically to give the track the kind of added bounce that will make it a surefire dance-floor fixture. Mysterious Girl actually started life as a slow jam, written when Will and Tom were sofa surfing at the group’s inception. However, the duo knew its potential as a more up-tempo dance number and worked in conjunction with North London DJ/producer VAHNI, (known for his work with All Saints and Wyclef Jean), to take the track up a notch. The resulting mix was spotted by Accessorize using the track for their SS17 Festival Fashion TV Campaign, a placement that recently featured in industry bible Music Week.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dog In The Snow

DOG IN THE SNOWCONSUME ME: Dog In The Snow finds inspiration in the juxtapositions: the warm project title goes hand-in-hand with the grim ending of Kafka’s The Trial. Inspired by the dark underbelly of Scott Walker, the mortal anxieties of Sufjan Stevens, the glistening soundscapes of Susumu Yokota, Helen Ganya Brown also finds influence from her own experience of being mixed race and a foreigner to her homelands, whilst exploring self-identity in its culture and ideas. With all that in mind, new single Consume Me remains an intelligent, beautifully composed and nicely understated offering and a really useful introduction to her if you have yet to be charmed. Based around a rolling central guitar loop (that’s almost Snow Patrol-esque), the song then introduces Helen’s sweet vocals, albeit with a hint of something darker and more surreal underpinning them. And this darkness even turns Kate Bush over the chorus, when the beats pick up, the guitars drop and there’s a bittersweet pop edge. Of course, the song returns to the slow build approach of the verses, but it’s those juxtapositions that make Dog In The Snow so fascinating to listen to. Helen says of the song: “Consume Me is a farewell to the world on a deathbed. It’s the kind of moments and feelings I envision you could have at the end: personal and universal feelings of regret, hope, magic; a longing to be taken in by the earth (forever abused and forever loved) from where it all first began.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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