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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 20, 2019

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

Maroon 5, Memories

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MAROON 5 – MEMORIES: Maroon 5 come over all nostalgic for endearing new single Memories. A tribute to a friend who is no longer with them, this raises its glass to the good times, while acknowledging some of the hardships that emerged along the way. It’s a low-key offering, with Adam Levine’s vocals taking centre stage against a barely there guitar riff. But it’s this simplicity and sharp melodicism that makes the song all the more memorable, and thereby heartbreaking. The heartfelt lyrics include such reflections as “here’s to the ones that we got, Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not, ‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories of everything we’ve been through, Toast to ones here today, Toast to the ones here today, Toast to the ones that we lost on the way” as well as “everybody hurts sometimes, everybody hurts some days”. The most impressive thing about the track as a whole is the way it resonates emotionally, while emerging as quietly anthemic in its own right. It’ll be a classic cigarette lighter/mobile phone in the air moment during the band’s live shows.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kleerup & AlunaGeorge

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: KLEERUP feat ALUNAGEORGELOVERS TABLE: Swedish producer Andreas Kleerup has enlisted London-based duo AlunaGeorge for new single Lovers Table, and the results are great. A moody, atmospheric slice of synth-pop, this also boasts a late-night vibe that drops more than a hint of danger (illicit romance, maybe?). There’s also a sense of longing in the lustful vocals, which find AlunaGeorge dropping lyrics such as “it had to be you” and “now I am found”. And yet, somewhat paradoxically, the central theme of the record is not so much about finding the right partner, but rather the search within oneself to get there. The moody yet sleek instrumentals provide a cinematic backdrop to those thoughtful, searching lyrics, which are expertly delivered by Aluna Francis in effortlessly sleek and intoxicating fashion. If you’re a fan of the likes of Robyn and Lykke Li, then this will tick all of your boxes. In an interview with Billboard, Francis had this to say about the track: “At the time I was really interested in the idea of a career woman giving up on love because she just felt she wasn’t invited to the table. The cliché of the lonely female boss that is familiar, yet comfortable, because you don’t have to risk your heart – in many ways it was a personal experience. Until someone comes along to challenge that paradigm and you realize you have to jump in even though you feel like you can’t.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Common Holly

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: COMMON HOLLYMEASURED: Having just finished up a hugely successful tour of North America with Pinegrove and ahead of her brilliant new album, When I say to you Black Lightning, Common Holly shares new track Measured and continues to beguile and impress. “Oh, I think we’ve been measured out for pain since birth,” she sings of her new-found cynicism of romantic relationships, declaring from the outset that this is a song that’s informed by hurt. Still not convinced, then consider this for an opening salvo: “You unbuttoned your shirt, And I looked at your heart, Then you showed me your lungs, Yeah you pulled them apart, And I echoed it back, And for what it’s worth…” To make things more effective (and affecting), the track is delivered in instrumentally sparse fashion, with subtle guitar licks and flute-like sounds to accompany those confrontational, but softly delivered, vocals. It’s a quietly mesmerising track that devastates while it lasts, before drifting into its own kind of silent oblivion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Overcoats

OVERCOATSLEAVE IF YOU WANNA: After kicking off a fresh and fiery chapter with shaved heads and a salty single entitled The Fool, critically-acclaimed Brooklyn duo Overcoats have now shared two new songs, entitled Leave If You Wanna and Keep The Faith. These three anthems feed an urgent theme of fighting for self, spirit and soul at all costs, whether it be in a relationship, in the world, or in life. Over glassy synths and a Denniz Pop beat, the harmonies of Leave If You Wanna slide into a listless and lovelorn chant before a soaring, glitchy instrumental break. The synths sometimes have an MGMT vibe, especially late on, while there’s a real sense of melancholy in the chorus, which finds Overcoats declaring: “Why don’t you leave if you wanna?” The pain is there for all to hear, along with a steely resolve that this could well be the best outcome. But there’s even more grit to the song that even that sentence suggests, as Hana adds: “Leave If You Wanna is the dark side of this declaration — a ‘Fuck You’ — the words you say mid-fight. You can get trigger happy, and you can get more interested in fighting than what you’re fighting for.” It’s honest, raw and provocative stuff, delivered with a bittersweet pop sheen that makes it effortlessly appealing to more mainstream sensibilities.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Overcoats

OVERCOATSKEEP THE FAITH: The second of Overcoats two new offerings, Keep The Faith, is – in their own words – more of a reality lesson… an accepting of the way things are. JJ notes: “Keep The Faith acts as the realization: laying down your weapons is how you truly fight for what’s right.” The ensuing track finds the singers churning out guitar squeals between an urge to make-up, amid lyrics that state: “Keep the faith, keep my heart, I am yours… you are all I have.” It’s a more hopeful sounding record that builds beautifully to a rock-out finale, where the guitars, drums and harmonic vocals combine to scintillating fashion, before the final declaration: “I’m your girl, I would go to the end of the Earth.” It’s an empowering listen, shot through with indie sensibilities but razor-sharp melodies. And it serves as a really great contrast and follow-on to Leave If You Wanna. The trio of songs comprises the duo’s debut project for Loma Vista Recordings. As a whole, they represent a spectrum of sonic outbursts surrounding love and figuring out what’s worth fighting for. Of the new project, Hana and JJ said: “We often use songwriting as a way to wrestle with our doubts about love, but this is the opposite. It’s a way to be proud and take a stand in the face of doubt. It’s about not giving up.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Annika Rose

ANNIKA ROSE – I’M BETTER: LA-based singer and songwriter Annika Rose has shared her new single I’m Better, a quietly captivating piano ballad that details Annika’s journey over the past few years as both an artist and a young woman. Annika shares: “It’s important for me to share these ups and downs that have occurred in my life, as I think that they are applicable to moments everyone has gone through in whatever form that may be. Even after these moments, we’re all still here, still moving, still growing and always still learning. We wouldn’t appreciate the highs if we didn’t experience the lows. We should be proud to have made it to the other side, even if it’s just for a moment.” The resulting song is emotionally raw, and completely honest, as Rose dissects the decisions and journey that have gotten her to this point. It’s hard not to be impressed, or to find a way of applying some of the sentiments to your own journey (“I think I finally know the difference, between hiding between living, between pain and reminiscing, I learned to have forgiveness, when I lost all of my best friends, to some sick impure intentions, I still wished them all the best, I guess that everyone’s a lesson”). In tandem with today’s song release, Annika has also shared the official video for the single. Embodying the song’s emotional rawness, the video, directed by Zhamak Fullad, finds Annika on a rooftop in Los Angeles with just a piano. Interspersed with personal photos and footage from her life over the past few years, the video is an intimate and vulnerable visual that embodies the song’s emotional rawness.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Soccer Mommy

SOCCER MOMMYLUCY: Nashville native Sophie Allison released her breakout debut album, Clean as Soccer Mommy, last year, earning mass critical acclaim and year-end nods from 100+ publications, including The New York Times No.1 Album of 2018. Her first new song since 2018 is the equaly addictive Lucy, a kind of slacker rock offering that soundchecks everyone from classic Smashing Pumpkins to Hole. The vocals are really laidback, neatly offsetting the darker themes behind the record, while the guitars have that classic American slacker vibe (managing to combine something retro with something equally contemporary). In Allison’s own words: “Lucy is a really fun song for me because it has a dark, evil vibe. It’s a song about struggling with inner demons and your own morality, but I masked it with this scenario of being seduced by the devil. I’m really excited to share this with everyone because I think it shows a different side of my writing.” We told you it was dark! But it also somehow resonates for anyone attempting to wrestle with their own demons!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Friday Night Plans

FRIDAY NIGHT PLANSALL THE DOTS: Rising Tokyo-based unit Friday Night Plans have unveiled their striking new single, All The Dots, which is also accompanied with the announcement of their new EP project Complex – set for global release on November 15, 2019. Centred on 23-year-old female vocalist Masumi, Friday Night Plans work with a variety of talent to craft the music, but chiefly, the multi-talented producer/drummer Tepppei. Masumi states that she wrote All The Dots after realising how much she had been hurt and tied up with fear. She explained: “The whole picture showed up [in my mind] and I saw what was happening to me when I connected all the memories like a constellation. There is a lyric that says, “thought that I was mine” on the song. I think everyone might have experiences where bad memories control your mind and you feel like you can’t move the way you want your body to. I hope you remember that you are the only one who can save you.” The ensuing track thrives on the beauty of Masumi’s fragile vocals, as well as the intricacy of the minimalist electronics and beats that provide the subtle backdrop. The result is a track that’s born from mental uncertainty, that offers quiet solace and slow empowerment. It also drops in a beautifully surreal mid-track whistle, which even helps to add a wry smile to the listener’s face.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Callum Beattie, Easter Road

CALLUM BEATTIEEASTER ROAD: Scottish singer-songwriter Callum Beattie has released the heart-warming official video for Easter Road, his latest single, and it’s a highly cinematic offering. The video in question reflects his [and the song]‘s love for his hometown and those who live within it. The singer’s distinctive, raw vocal shines on the nostalgic track, while soaring strings combine with melodic piano arrangements and the odd guitar to create something that, sonically, is just as cinematic (and soundtrack beckoning). The string sections are particularly enticing and inspiring. Beattie’s love for his hometown and pride for his Scottish roots emanates throughout, with the singer stating: “Easter Road is a song inspired by my upbringing in Scotland. The culture, the people, the characters and stories I’ve grown to know over the years. I used to play in a pub in Easter Road as a pub singer and there was a lot of violence and occasional knife crime. I wanted to paint that into the story of the song and despite those dark moments, it’s places like Easter Road that make up the people we are today.”
Rating:3.5 out of 5

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Liam Payne, Stack It Up

LIAM PAYNE feat A BOOGIE WIT DA HOODIESTACK IT UP: Liam Payne channels the chart-topping style of Ed Sheeran on hip, funky new single Stack It Up. But hey, wait a minute… the song was actually co-written by Sheeran with Steve Mac, Fred Gibson and Boogie. So, no surprise, then, that it has those Sheeran credentials. And while that may appear ‘lazy’ to some, there’s no denying that it’s a formula that’s highly successful and even more contagious. Recorded in the UK, Stack It Up manages to maintain Liam’s signature urban pop sound, while featuring steel drum elements and playful lyrics, along with some smart rap-style vocals from Boogie. It’s a highly catchy offering, which takes a bittersweet look at the reality of life and the essential need for money (he has money on his mind). Commenting on the track himself, Liam said: “I’m so happy to be releasing my new single and for you all to finally hear it. Me and Boogie had so much fun doing it. This is a song I’m really proud of and I can’t wait to show you what’s coming next!” The accompanying video, which was shot in New York, stars both Liam and Boogie in an amusement arcade. The colourful visual, which was revealed at an intimate fan event at YouTube’s New York studio, also includes a fun animated version of Liam and Boogie as part of the graphics on one of the arcade machine games. It ticks all the boxes to become a monster smash for Payne.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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