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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 4, 2019

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

Mike Posner, Legacy

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MIKE POSNER feat. TALIB KWELILEGACY: This is the second week in a row that Mike Posner has landed a single of the week selection but this is another gem to place alongside last week’s Nothing Is Wrong. A statement of self-empowerment that finds the ever-upbeat Posner feeling comfortable with his own fame, the track finds Posner declaring: “I know who I am, I know my legacy”. A rap from Kweli then adds: “Legacy, is when you silent but your presence felt, your product like drugs cuz it sell itself.” It’s about taking responsibility for your own fame and image, and projecting something good rather than promoting anything divisive or bling-related. The fact Posner successfully mixes rap with soul and pop also means the song transcends genres, enabling it to appeal to wide listener base. Hence, there’s slick, hip hop infused beats, soulful backing vocals, a delicious central guitar lick and a seamless blend of Posner’s own sung vocals and Kweli’s rapped ones. It’s a really great listen with an important message behind it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, South of the Border

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ED SHEERAN feat CAMILA CABELLO & CARDI B – SOUTH OF THE BORDER: Ed Sheeran has revealed the official video for his latest single, South of the Border (featuring Camila Cabello and Cardi B). An irreverent take on the spy genre, the video stars Sheeran, Cabello and Cardi B alongside Paul Karmiryan and model, Alexis Ren. Throughout the action-packed, light-hearted visual, we see two separate spies (played by Paul Karmiryan and Alexis Ren) set out on a mission to acquire Sheeran’s prized possessions. Adopting classic spy movie twist and turns along the way, the cast head south of the border as they continue the chase. It’s sexy, visually ravishing stuff, with some clever spy movie nods that pay lip service to classic 007 and other films such as True Lies, while subverting some genre stereotypes. South of the Border is taken from Sheeran’s UK Platinum Certified No.6 Collaborations Project. Released in July, it’s the first LP of Ed’s to score three UK No.1 singles. The track itself is a seamless blend of Sheeran’s distinct vocals and sassy contributions from Cabello and Cardi B, complete with a sexy Hispanic sound and some equally seductive beats. It’s Sheeran at his collaborative best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals, The Runner

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FOALSTHE RUNNER: Foals continue to build anticipation for the release of their new album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 by sharing a mesmerising new video for former track The Runner. The video focuses on frontman Yannis Philippakis as he’s relentlessly pursued by a doppelganger, played by Vincent Heneine. Yannis’s meandering attempt to escape takes him through a variety of locations – some naturalistic, others more fantastical – as the journey encompasses some surrealist twists. Its denouement sees Yannis standing alone, surveying the embers of a world in flames. The shot completes a visual that plays with themes of masculinity, identify and environmental collapse. “My character wakes up at the end of the video,” says Yannis, “but the sense of satisfaction I felt at having given myself a good kicking quickly turns to despair as I realise the world is on fire.” It’s striking, timely, typically provocative and challenging stuff, a visual extravaganza to compliment an already potent, guitar-driven song. Foals continue to be on fire at the moment. Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 will be released on October 18.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hobo Johnson

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: HOBO JOHNSONYOU & THE COCKROACH: Hot on the heels of releasing his acclaimed second album The Fall of Hobo Johnson last month, Sacramento artist Hobo Johnson shares a powerful and politically-charged animated video for the standout track You & The Cockroach. The song and video tell an allegorical tale of amoeba evolving into humans, leading to the rise of a president who stirs up nuclear war with another world leader. Cockroaches then progress to become earth’s dominant species and madness ensues. It’s an F-bomb laden, angry record in many ways, with unsubtle vocal torpedoes aimed at his own president, Trump, as well as a certain North Korean dictator. But while provocative, it’s also clever, chronicling in its first half the rise of civilization, the dangers of religion and politicians and the current crazy and, yes, f**ked up state of the world. The second half may drift into the surreal, but the intelligence remains, along with a pertinent reminder about the ongoing danger of indulging in conflict and the disastrous effect such policies can have on the world. Somewhat depressingly, it also suggests that the capacity for self-destruction is cyclical. The video is great – funny, dark and totally out there. And while the spoken word delivery and simplistic backing organ of the song itself may seem low-budget, almost DIY in creation, there’s no denying that what Johnson has to say has plenty of relevance. And it’s hard, then, not to be impressed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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SYML

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 4: SYMLEVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE: Following on from the the release of his self-titled debut album that was released in May this year, SYML releases an incredibly emotive video for Everything All At Once, directed by Gavin Michael Booth. Commenting on the video SYML, aka Brian Fennell said: “As soon as I saw the treatment that Gavin, the director, sent, I felt tears in my eyes. This song is so important to me. I knew I wanted the video to be equally moving. I love thinking about music in visual terms, and what Gavin has created is both vivid and beautiful.” A song about loss and overcoming the sorrow and sense of loneliness that it brings, this feels like an ode to a loved one that comes from the heart for Fennell. And yet, while deeply personal for the singer himself, the song resonates for anyone who has experienced anything similar. The slow-build style is beautifully delivered, too, with a creeping guitar lick building to some majestic, Coldplay-style heights, and Fennell’s impassioned yet vulnerable vocals really bringing out the emotion contained within the lyrics. The accompanying video is beautifully realised and almost achingly bittersweet – a film that stays with you and really tugs at your heart-strings in an honest way.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Niall Horan, Nice To Meet Ya

NIALL HORANNICE TO MEET YA: Niall Horan returns with upbeat new track Nice To Meet Ya, the feisty first single from his forthcoming second album. A lively piece of piano-driven pop with a soulful groove reminiscent of The Heavy and bright hand percussion, Nice To Meet Ya provides the perfect backdrop to Horan’s gritty, playful vocals and equally flirtatious yet heartfelt lyrics. There’s an anthemic, chant-along quality to the vibrant chorus, some soulful humming, razor-sharp guitar riffs, slick piano arrangements, hand-clap beats and a general sense of positivity. It’s a headrush offering designed to help it get noticed – and it does just that. Horan co-wrote the song with his longtime collaborator Julian Bunetta (Maroon 5, Jessie Ware), who also produced with Tobias Jesso, Jr. (Florence + the Machine, Adele) and Ruth-Anne Cunningham (John Legend, Pentatonix). Horan commented: “It’s been nearly two years since I released Flicker and I can’t wait to get going again. Writing Nice To Meet Ya, in particular, was a special one for me and I’m so excited to finally share it with everyone.” So far, so good for the sophomore material.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jessie Reyez, Far Away

JESSIE REYEZFAR AWAY: Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez has shared her latest single and video Far Away, taken from her highly anticipated forthcoming debut studio album, slated for 2020 release via FMLY / Polydor Records. The track finds Jessie staying true to form with her brutal honesty, raw emotion, intimate lyrics and a voice so pure that you have to take notice of what she has to say. To explain a little more, Reyez states: “Attachment. Attachment to someone is both something beautiful and something painful. Imagine finally finding your home in another human being but they’re stuck on the other side of this rock we’re all on. You’re left wanting nothing more than a hug – their hug – that simultaneously feels like a pillow and a drug. Somehow when they hurt, you hurt, when they smile, you smile. This is love suspended in animation, before it’s tainted by reality (because eventually all hearts break again) but in this moment, neither of you are running from one another – it’s only water and borders and God keeping you apart. Water and borders and God keeping you from home. This is pre-heart break; when both sets of lungs are still working and when you miss them and they miss you back- and you feel each other even when you’re far away.” The accompanying lyrics highlight the distance between some relationships and the heartache and agony that accompanies that. But it’s delivered in a silky smooth manner, with minimalist beats and soulful production values. The poignant and powerful accompanying visual depicts the harsh and unfortunate reality many families have been suffering from in the United States via a lover’s lens and features Reyez and her partner being brutally separated by ICE. The politically and emotionally charged video, directed by frequent collaborator Peter Huang and produced by Jessie’s go-to film studio Mad Ruk, comes at an unfortunate time when horrifying news of what’s occurring at the border is the norm and hits close to home for many marginalized people and families in this country. Reyez was born to Colombian parents in Toronto and asks that listeners visit www.jessiereyez.com/faraway for a list of charitable humanitarian organisations that are aiding the immigration crisis referenced in the video including the ACLU, Al Otro Lado and The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Gabriella Cilmi, Keep on Keeping

GABRIELLA CILMIKEEP ON KEEPING: Gabriella Cilmi taps into a true slice of Americana with Keep On Keeping, a gutsy, bluesy offering that is dripping with the incendiary sound of the Deep South (right down to some gospel tinged backing support).Taken from her forthcoming EP, The Water, which is set for release on November 1, 2019, the track is designed to showcase a more mature and authentic sound from the Australian artist. She explains: “This is my daily routine in the form of a song. [It] came off sounding a bit more like a lament for the undead.” There’s certainly something other-worldly about the sound, especially late on, once the gospel backing turns to something more akin to an undead chant. But there’s a keen sense of foreboding throughout, as well as one of determination – to succeed, to maintain the routine, and to branch out into new songwriting arenas and embrace new sounds. The result is striking, cinematic and a nice change of direction for Cilmi. 01
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Harry Mold, Python

HARRY MOLDPYTHON: Londoner Harry Mold returns with his new single, the blistering indie rock anthem Python. Going straight for the jugular, Python unfolds amid some gutsy guitar riffs and robust drum beats, before Mold himself drops in a raw, edgy vocal reminiscent of a classic indie-rock sound (with hints of Jake Bugg and early Liam Gallagher, late on). It builds to a similarly earthy chorus, which seems to get bigger each time it comes around. The questioning lyrics also reflect on a damaged relationship and some wrong-doing on the part of the other person (be it friend, or lover… “are you proud of yourself?” he asks at one point). Speaking about the track’s inspiration, Mold said: “Python is a song I wrote for the ‘snakes’ that surround us. It was written as an immediate response to a close friend being sleazy behind my back. My raw and honest ‘f*** you’ to those types!” It’s a striking follow-up to explosive debut single Drain, which was released in June this year. Mold, who was born in Basildon to an ‘old-school West Ham father and an Essex-born mother’ but grew up in Benidorm and London, is a self-produced multi-instrumentalist who funnels the experiences of an early-twenties youngster in 2019 into infectious rock anthems. As a songwriter, he dives into generational unrest, where every emotion is hash-tagged with profound colloquialisms, which then explode in massive choruses. As a live performer, he ratchets up that anxiety, and when the choruses hit, the payload is euphoric. His nickname is H-Bomb for a reason.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Craig Finn, It's Never Been A Fair Fight

CRAIG FINN – IT’S NEVER BEEN A FAIR FIGHT: Craig Finn celebrates his upcoming European and US tour with the release of It’s Never Been A Fair Fight, along with an acoustic version of the song as its B-side. Commenting on the inspiration behind the gutsy, horn-backed offering, Finn explained: “It’s Never Been A Fair Fight is about the extreme difficulty of staying true to the rigid rules of a sub-culture as you get older. The character in the song revisits an old peer and finds struggle and disappointment in the place he left behind. I’ve always really loved this song, and people seemed to connect with it on my acoustic tour with Brian Fallon. I’m excited to be sharing the full band version with the world.” The full band version finds Finn in melancholy, reflective yet fiesty vocal form, imbuing the lyrics with a keen sense of regret and anger. But he’s backed by lively instrumentals – rock hooks, pounding drums and those sassy horns, as well as some female backing. It’s the type of song that classic artists such as Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen share plenty in common with in terms of delivery, style and songwriting/storytelling values.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sean McGowan, Heartbreaker

SEAN MCGOWANHEARTBREAKER: The latest sample of Sean McGowan’s keenly awaited Curate Calm, Create Chaos EP, Heartbreaker finds the singer wearing his heart on his sleeve and lost deep in tender thought. Written about the complex and often paradoxical array of emotions we experience at the beginning of any new relationship, Heartbreaker explores those conflicting feelings of wild excitement and guarded anxiety that often precede letting-go to fall in love. Solely backed by a score of graceful acoustic arpeggios and hushed backing vocals, the track chooses to set the spotlight centre-stage on Sean’s winsome and candid lyrical offerings. The result is quietly endearing and very intimate. The subtletly of the accompanying instrumentals allowing the complex feelings at the heart of the lyrics to really shine through. McGowan explains further: “In more recent years I’ve found myself being more honest and open which has proven to be much better usually, but, has bitten me on the arse a bunch too. I wanted to write a song people could relate to about lust and romance that was focussed more on the psychological affects as opposed to the physical. Not just the ‘Heartbreak’ but the drop in self confidence, the worry of wasted time and how you recover… Heartbreaker is about how two people can keep their cards close to their chest and feel like they don’t want to give too much away or make themselves vulnerable. This period can be fun and exciting but it can also be confusing.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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