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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 5, 2018

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

Tom Speight, Collide

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: TOM SPEIGHTCOLLIDE: Tom Speight delivers another classic slice of folk-tinged rock with new single Collide. Built around soft acoustic folk guitar licks, gentle rolling drums and ear-pleasing harmonies, this has a timeless style of delivery that’s worthy of comparison with everyone from Paul Simon to Joshua Radin. It’s effortlessly infectious and beautifully delivered. Heck, there’s even some electric guitar late on that’s reminiscent of classic Coldplay. Commenting on the track himself, Speight said: “Collide feels like a good introduction to my forthcoming album… it started life in Belfast and was finally finished in Devon with Chris Bond (Ben Howard). I was heavily influenced at the time of writing and recording it by early Fionn Regan and Joni Mitchell. I like experimenting with different guitar voicing’s, using the open D tuning and the result was the foundation of Collide. I always knew I wanted it to be a dual vocal because the lyrics are about two people coming together. Lydia Clowes always brings a charm to my songs. I know she would be perfect for the track.” And so it proves.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kyson

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: KYSONFOREST GREEN: Kyson – the moniker of Australian-born and now Berlin-based producer, singer and songwriter Jian Liew – has now released Forest Green as the final instalment of his four-track singles series with B3SCI / Majestic Casual Records. If the first two singles in the series showcased an electronic soundscape, the final two tracks have introduced a more indie-fuelled sound to Kyson’s repertoire, channelling the likes of King Krule and Mac DeMarco. Forest Green, in particular, is built around Jian’s vocals, which have gradually become a more prominent feature of his work as he’s delved into fresh indie influences. Hence, there’s even greater traces of artists like Jose Gonzalez in the vocals, while the layered beats and lush electronics owe plenty to the cinematically influenced compositions of more alternative electronic artists such as Bonobo and DJ Shadow. It’s a slow builder, but one that pays huge dividends the longer it continues. Speaking about the latest release, Kyson said: “Forest Green came about from a poem I wrote a while ago. The line ‘there’s a river in a corridor’ was the starting point and I guess it’s my way of asking the question or exploring the idea that we are all so often subconsciously pushed or harassed by our own egos, problems, and pain in directions we may not want to be. It’s about just taking a minute to ponder life, death and love and perhaps defending our right to be able to think about these things in a little more depth.” Forest Green is streaming everywhere now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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You Me At Six

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: YOU ME AT SIXBACK AGAIN: You Me At Six celebrate the release of their new studio album, VI, by unveiling the highly entertaining music video for their latest single, Back Again. Inspired by the Coen brothers’ classic The Big Lebowski, which turned 20 years old this week, the video follows frontman Josh Franceschi’s 3AM antics, this time, set in a bowling alley. On the themes of the new video, director Daniel Broadley explained: “Following on from 3AM, I wanted to carry on doing something that fans of You Me At Six wouldn’t expect. With dancing ticked off the list, I felt like comedy and playing homage to a cult classic film would be a fun way to go, and the guys really ran with it. I’m not sure I’ve laughed more whilst on set!” Franceschi added: “Back Again is a really fun and lighthearted song for us and we wanted to have a video which also reflected that. As soon as we read Dan’s treatment we knew it was perfect especially as we’re all fans of bowling and it was an excuse to do that and also chill with my dog for the day!” The Lebowski visual references are spot on and make for a great video experience. But the song itself is just as fun. It’s a light-hearted, breezy slice of indie-pop that is the epitome of being radio-friendly for this kind of thing. There’s slick riffs, foot-tapping beats and a falsetto vocal that heightens the breezy nature of the song. It seems You Me At Six will abide with this one.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Twenty One Pilots

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: TWENTY ONE PILOTS – MY BLOOD: To mark the release of their critically-acclaimed new album, Trench, Twenty One Pilots have dropped the video to standout single My Blood. And it’s well worth the wait, demonstrating the cinematic verve that has now become a hallmark of their videos. It was well worth the wait and features characters dressed up in Halloween outfits, doing all manner of bad things. It’s a very timely offering, both in terms of the time of year and the arrival of THAT new album. When originally released as a single, My Blood marked the first track release from the new album to stand apart from the three-part narrative first established in the official music videos for Jumpsuit, the chart-topping first single, the LP’s second release, Nico And The Niners, and ultimately concluded with Levitate. And yet, the song is another blistering offering… albeit one that shows a somewhat more mellow side. There’s a hip-hop element to some of it, with vocals that are virtually rapped in places. The beats, too, are nicely delivered and have a hip-hop leaning. But there’s electro-pop elements, too, as well as a chorus that is very mainstream. Hence, while some of Twenty One Pilots material has a tendency to be heavy, this has the capacity to breakout and bring them an even wider following beyond their rock core fans. It’s the sound of a band not afraid to diversify and broaden their popularity, while maintaining their overall quality. It’s arguably the album’s standout track.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, 1999

CHARLI XCX & TROYE SIVAN – 1999: 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. It’s hugely commercial, of course, and geared steadfastly towards the mainstream. But it’s done so well that the sound and vibe is entirely infectious, effortlessly making you want to hit the dancefloor or turn the radio up loud whenever it comes on. It’s going to be another monster smash for her.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Plan B

PLAN B – WAIT SO LONG (CADENZA REMIX): Following the release of his critically-acclaimed fourth studio album Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose back in May, Plan B has unveiled a special Cadenza remix of album standout Wait So Long, featuring Ms Banks and Cadenza. In original form, the track is rousing as hell, adopting elements of soul, reggae (think Marley) and pop. It’s got an upbeat energy that belies some of the darker, more questioning lyrics that soulfully ask: “Why do I have to wait so long for your love?” And while those elements are retained in the remix, there’s a greater emphasis on urban rap and sassy girl attitude, courtesy of Ms Banks. Indeed, a large portion of the remix is given over to Ms Banks’ lyrical flow and, when it does, the vibe is somewhat different – less soulful, more urban and gritty. It’s an eye-catching remix that, while not quite as good as the smoother original, reminds listeners of Plan B’s original hip-hop roots.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Matt Corby

MATT CORBYALL THAT I SEE: Following the dreamy psychedelia of No Ordinary Life and the heartfelt, stripped-back ballad All Fired Up, All That I See, the new single from Matt Corby, finds him opening up about the state of the world he envisages around him, honing in on current affairs, politics and psychology. “All That I See is a blanket observation of the current state of affairs socially, politically and psychologically”, he explains. “It is based on the hypocritical nature in all of us.” It’s a likeably soulful listen, fuelled by slick beats, lush soul-infused vocals and a seamless blend of electronics and brass. Indeed, there’s a classic vibe surrounding the instrumentals, which hark back to It’s A Beautiful Day in some ways… albeit laced with the harder hitting lyrics that reflect the state of the world that Corby is seeking to highlight. As such, there’s instrumental beauty married to lyrical intelligence, making this another highly addictive offering from the singer. It also raises anticipation ahead of his multi-textured new album Rainbow Valley even more, given that it’s reportedly sparked by hints of both soul and futuristic psychedelia. What’s more, the LP is produced by Dann Hume (Amy Shark, Client Liason) and engineered by Matthew Neighbour (Avalanches, Missy Higgins) and releases on November 2.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dan Caplen, Hosanna

DAN CAPLEN feat DAVE B – HOSANNA: Rising singer-songwriter Dan Caplen has released new single Hosanna, featuring Seattle rapper Dave B, which comes fresh off the back of quick-fire singles Trouble (ft. Ms Banks), 4am (with Caitlyn Scarlett) and a run of dates supporting George Ezra on his recent UK tour. Compounded by the extraordinary global success of Rudimental’s These Days – a song Caplen wrote for the band and also features on alongside Jess Glynne and Macklemore – Hosanna is the latest track to further spotlight his bold and impactful song-writing. The single itself offers up a slick fusion of hip-hop and soul. Caplen channels the 80s pop sound of The Police in his use of guitar licks, as well as the soulful vocal style of Plan B at times, in the way he draws on that soul influence. But the beats are pure hip-hop, albeit pop-focused, while the presence of Dave B adds a greater urban influence when it comes to delivering his flow. It’s arguably Caplen’s best offering yet. Following the release of Hosanna, Caplen has also announced a special headline show at London’s Jazz Café on November 7.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Halsey, Without Me

HALSEYWITHOUT ME: Halsey has dropped an intensely personal but equally immensely satisfying new single with Without Me. Dripping with angst-ridden, yet somehow sultry vocals, this also drops some slick, atmospheric beats and electronics to deliver a potent slice of break-up pop. The sense of melancholy is tangible throughout, but it’s tempered by the accessibility of the song, which in no way feels downbeat in spite of the heartbreak inherent throughout. It’s easy to see why Halsey has become such a mainstream force on both sides of the Atlantic. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song, Halsey said: “Questioning your purpose and your effort in a relationship can be confusing and draining. But it’s important to self-reflect and know your worth and value. This record is about understanding your worth. It’s a very honest record. And it helped me prove to myself that I can still manifest my feelings into art after all this time. My music will always be the vehicle that carries my heart.” It’s the intensity of the honesty that makes it stand out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Youth Sector, Automatic

YOUTH SECTORAUTOMATIC: Brighton’s Youth Sector return with their new single Automatic and continue to champion their alt-rock meets art-rock sound. As with previous releases, the song features drawled vocals, sharp crooked guitars, a healthy injection of synth-like textures and driving basslines… much of which takes its cues from Talking Heads and Devo. It’s sharply delivered to offer maximum appeal to the alt-rock crowd, with the infectious guitar hooks and livewire chorus delivering the biggest highs. The band have this to say about the single: “Automatic is written from the perspective of an individual who struggles to interact with human beings and instead much prefers the convenience and predictability of technology. The protagonist picks on the humanistic flaws in those around him ‘it’s automatically in time / you’re so dramatically inclined’ and struggles to maintain relationships without the aid of technology ‘electrically enhanced romance couldn’t fight this, even though I meant every word you know. The track includes plenty of glitchy computerised guitar sounds, and the theme of human/technological interaction comes through in the artwork by Cameron JL West.” It’s smart, urgent stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sarah Close, Crazy Kind

SARAH CLOSECRAZY KIND: Continuing on from the momentum of her praised single You Say, Sarah Close releases the infectious pop track, Crazy Kind, out now via her own label The Kodiak Club/AWAL. Boasting an upbeat, punchy production fuelled by tribal sounding drum patterns, this nevertheless also retains a sharp pop sensibility thanks to the radio-friendly melodies and the woo-hoo harmonies in the chorus. Close also drops a charming set of vocals that are, by turns, playful, sexy and fun. The track is about the thrill of being in a new relationship and the intense, exciting feeling of doing outlandish things and being with someone you’re besotted with. Sarah explains: “I woke up one day last year and felt like doing something crazy, so at 4pm I was on a flight to Barcelona and I had 23 hours to do whatever I wanted. I left feeling so inspired (and knackered). It’s quite hard to bundle all the sights of a city into 23 hours it turns out! But I came to the studio on Monday morning and wrote this song.” The accompanying video follows Sarah around the city and was filmed in the summer. It’s a big bundle of fun, shot through with upbeat energy and the unbridled enthusiasm of the crazy kind of trip that inspired it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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