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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 26, 2018

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

Ian Brown, First World Problems

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: IAN BROWNFIRST WORLD PROBLEMS: Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown has marked the announcement of a new solo album in March next year with the surprise release of lead single First World Problems. And Stone Roses fans may want to rejoice. This is a chirpy throwback to the trademark Brown sound… baggy beats, distinct riffs and those distinctly laidback vocals that decry some of the world’s problems. As a piece of social commentary, it’s pretty much on the money. He sings: “There you go again with your first world problems, when your living is easy, opening your mouth and making sounds, but there’s nothing coming out, driving everybody crazy”. And the sentiment could be appropriate to a lot of society, given how self-important some people have become, often at the ignorance of wider social problems. And yet, in spite of the sharp observations, this never feels too preachy. Rather, courtesy of those baggy beats, it’ll just as likely have you up dancing, while hopping back to the Stone Roses record collection to root out some old favourites. The new album, Ripples, will be released on March 1, 2019. Brown produced the LP as well as writing the majority of the tracks on the album. Three of the songs were co-written with his sons, who also play a multitude of instruments across the release. Covers of Barrington Levy’s Black Roses and Break Down The Walls, by Mikey Dread, complete the album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Broken Hands, Friend's House

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BROKEN HANDSFRIEND’S HOUSE: To celebrate their recent signing to Atlantic Records, Broken Hands have shared two new tracks, Friend’s House and Split In Two, both of which are accompanied by performance videos streaming exclusively with FLOOD Magazine who declared: “Canterbury’s new contribution to the Atlantic Records roster overcomes the odds to serve up a pair of hard-hitting singles.” Produced by Julian Emery [Nothing But Thieves, Lower Than Atlantis] and mixed by Tom Dalgety [Royal Blood, Pixies, Ghost], Friend’s House is a particularly striking track. It opens amid a fuzzy guitar riff and some keyboard strokes that Depeche Mode would be proud to use. Dale Norton’s vocals build nicely, too, channelling a nice sense of atmosphere, before really opening up during the robust chorus. It’s then that the song feels like it could fill stadiums. But the band then strip things back down to those brooding beats, that scuzzy riff and those piano chords, rebuilding to another towering chorus. It’s the type of song that fans of big acts like Depeche Mode and Muse should instantly be able to warm to. Comprised of brothers Dale [lead vocals] and Callum Norton [drums, backing vocals], Jamie Darby [lead guitar], Thomas Ford [bass], and David Hardstone [rhythm guitar, keys], Broken Hands have been finishing work on their Atlantic Records debut LP, expected for release in 2019. On the evidence of this, it could be well worth looking forward to.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zara Larsson, Ruin My Life

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ZARA LARSSONRUIN MY LIFE: Heartbreak has never sounded so catchy! Sweden’s other pop trailblazer, behind Robyn, finds Zara Larsson trying to get over heartbreak by demanding the return of a lover so that they can “fuck up my life”. It’s striking stuff. But it doesn’t sound so desperate. Rather, the pop sensibilities are rife, with the type of catchy chorus that Kylie Minogue would be proud of. It’s got a genuinely satisfying rhythm to it that you almost forget the sentmients behind it. And the beats that go with it are just as toe-tapping, lending the song a dancefloor energy that is totally celebratory. But then, while undoubtedly damaged by the break-up she sings about, Larsson has a playfully confident sensibility to her, too, as she begs: “I want you to ruin my life, yeah to ruin my life.” In this age of #MeToo movements, it’s probably not the most politically correct single of its time, but there is a confidence to it that’s difficult to resist – and Larsson is clearly a master of how to juggle tough emotions with playfully catchy pop sensibilities.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ellie Goulding, Close To Me

ELLIE GOULDING, DIPLO AND SWAE LEECLOSE TO ME: Pop princess Ellie Goulding returns with a lively calling card in the form of the Diplo-produced Close To Me, a sexy, even horny, ode to new love. Built around slick beats (as you’d expect from a Diplo production), occasional acoustic guitar licks and a lustful set of vocals (“I don’t want to be somebody without your body”), this confidently proclaims that she’s “an animal”. And yet, in spite of the sinful narrative, Goulding displays a keen sense of fun, that’s further backed up by Swae Lee’s guest rap. It works smoothly in tandem with those beats, furthing the good work he put out on last week’s hit single, Sunflower, with Post Malone. It’s fun, flirtatious stuff, that’s set to put a smile on your face whenever you hear it. And it also confirms that Goulding is back with a bang, confident in her pop ability and daring enough to shake up the formula a little.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rudimental, Walk Alone

RUDIMENTAL feat TOM WALKERWALK ALONE: Walk Alone, the third single to be taken from Rudimental’s new album, Toast To Our Differences, features vocals from Tom Walker and is billed as a heartfelt ballad that is designed to inspire and bring warmth. In taking the popular refrain of many Liverpool FC fans, this attempts to bring the same kind of inclusive feeling to those listening, seeking to foster a sense of community and family for those in need. It’s a rallying call to anyone who may feel alone, while providing a sense of empowerment through self-confidence too (with lines like “I am a rock”). Walker, who is working with Rudimental for the first time, drops a suitably reassuring set of vocals, to further enhance the overall warmth and broad appeal of the song. Walk Alone follows two huge singles from Rudimental’s new album so far this year – the smash hit UK No.1 These Days (featuring Jess Glyne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen), which is also currently the biggest-selling record of 2018 in the UK, and Let Me Live (produced with Major Lazer and featuring Anne Marie and Mr. Eazi).
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Olly Murs

OLLY MURSTAKE YOUR LOVE: Olly Murs follows up Moves, his surprise collaboration with Snoop Dogg, with the release of something a little more traditional, in the form of Take Your Love. But while this does feel a little more signature, it’s no less enjoyable. Murs retains a sense of cheeriness in the delivery of the track, courtesy of brisk beats, finger-click snaps and some swirling synth arrangements, which belatedly owe a lot in style to acts such as Chainsmokers. Indeed, come the chorus, the song assumes a disco-pop vibe that will certainly have those arms in the air at concerts. It’s anthemic. And that’s in spite of lyrics that suggest something darker, as Murs sings about taking love away and being let down (“you keep calling, calling, calling me every time he’s gone”). It’s sung from the point of view of an onlooker who is becoming increasingly frustrated by his subjects’s failure to see she is being used – but who remains hopeful for his own prospects. It’s nicely bittersweet stuff, with a darker edge than is necessarily obvious. Could Murs also be learning a little something from the Ed Sheeran form of songwriting?
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Natty Rico, Summer Vibe

NATTY RICOSUMMER VIBE: French artist Natty Rico is a multi-faceted talent: not only is he a top DJ, he is also a world-renowned sax player, performer, composer and remixer! Evidence of these talents are available on his fresh, feelgood single Summer Vibe. The inspiration for the track came when Natty was driving in perfect Californian weather with the top down on his car in LA. He heard the melody of a ‘summer vibe’ in his head but decided something was missing. Back home in Corsica, where his mother’s side of the family come from, he played the track again on the beach and decided to add some summery sax – and the single was born. The track aims to help us feel good, energised, in summer party mode with a big smile on our faces. As Natty says himself: “The track Summer Vibe is about a feeling. I wanted people to feel that when they listen to the song, anytime anywhere, they feel like it’s the summer, even if they have snow around them, or rain!” And to a certain extent, those that enjoy the big club scene of the Balaeric isles, or the Calvin Harris-inspired party vibes, will get a kick out of this. The beats and electronics have a cheesy dance element to them, albeit made more distinct by the inclusion of that sax. And while the song is the very definition of cheesy, it does have an undeniably upbeat energy to it that’s difficult to resist, no matter how sceptical you may be towards it initially.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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The Pale White

THE PALE WHITEEND OF TIME: Newcastle indie-rock trio The Pale White follow-up their critically-acclaimed Wisdom Tooth with the blistering End of Time. Taken from their forthcoming EP Take Me To The Strange (out November 2), the new song is alive with robust guitar riffs, an atmospheric set of vocals (that recall Josh Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age), and some equally brooding drums. It’s also got an apocalyptic feel to the lyrics, which seem to herald an impending sense of doom. It’s a livewire rock anthem. Speaking about the new single and EP, frontman Adam Hope commented: “We’ve been living with Take Me To The Strange for a little while now and we’ve been absolutely itching to release it into the world for people to dive into it. End of Time is the closing track and the second single we’ve chosen to share. It was pretty difficult to pick a second single from the Ep, as we love all the tracks on it. People should listen to it in full, start to finish, and go for the ride. We think Take Me To The Strange shows a few different sides and shades to the band that people may not have been expecting, and we’ve been counting the days until we can take the reigns off it and watch it run wild.” That’s confidence for you…
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Siren

THE CHAINSMOKERS feat AAZARSIREN: We’re having a bit of a love and hate relationship with this one. Having previously been big fans of The Chainsmokers, we’ve come to look forward to any new release. But this one is, by turns, good and ugly. In its quieter moments, heralding the sound of the sirens, there’s an easy accessibility that epitomises the easy-going melodies that have long been a Chainsmokers hallmark. But whenever it taps into French DJ Aazar’s territory, it loses focus terribly and becomes the type of modern dance monster we’ve also come to loathe. The hard-hitting electronic element is a huge distraction that derails the song’s momentum and turns something formerly sedate and beautiful into something hard and ugly. The Chainsmokers have delved into this type of territory before in search of being more diverse, but for us this marks a step in the wrong direction.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Childcare

CHILDCAREMAN DOWN (KING KONG SHAKE): Childcare have dropped a satirical video for their laidback new single Man Down (King Kong Shake). The video, like the single itself, tackles the constraints of the male stereotype. It features a squash battle between two of the band members, as captured by guitarist Rich, who explained: “When Ed and I play squash, it’s 30 minutes (usually 25 due to punctuality issues) of mildly colossal warfare. A battle of feeble technique fought by two nice boys with the desire to win. My slow-motion archiving of our games unintentionally created the video (my initial purpose for filming was to dispute Ed’s interpretation of squash obstruction rules). Man Down explores the bits of masculinity that reaches even those of us who are aware of when we do ‘manly’ things. The ego, the competition, it all goes on, whether we benefit from it, or not.” The record itself finds the band’s laidback vocals sitting atop their first use of a metronomic drum machine, which helps to ground the song’s message in an amicable, radio-friendly fashion. It’s an appealing listen and a fun video.
Rating: 3 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, there is no other word. They intentionally drip swagger and attitude. 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 lot, not a fad. The band reference The Doors, The Zombies and Jack White throughout the single, combining the wig out complexities of all those with a modern twist and a festival shaking hook. The accompanying guitars are lively and just occasionally a litle trippy, the beats are geared towards having you dance, and the vocals display that swagger that comes with all indie-pop bands of late. It’s dripping with confidence and displays both a keen sense of nostalgia and a fierce contemporary edge. It’s a fun listen. 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 out of 5

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