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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 28, 2018

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

Saint Clair, I'll Stay

SINGLE OF THE WEEK/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: SAINT CLAIR – I’LL STAY: Rising Radio 1-supported Londoner Saint Clair (aka Emma Topoloski) has shared the video for her new single, I’ll Stay – and both the song and the accompanying visuals are great. Emma created the video for I’ll Stay with Black Dog Films (also behind videos for Father John Misty, Ólafur Arnaulds and Hurts). It intersects with the cautionary counsel of the track’s lyrics, says Emma: “Suppress your inner-demons and they may come back to haunt you to devastating effect. We took the story of addiction and created a feminist noir to explore mental health against the backdrop of corporate London. Violence is used as a metaphor to depict the power of irresistible and irrepressible urges. We follow our protagonist as she battles for control in the face of mounting pressure; as we seldom acknowledge female anger and violence, this felt like a powerful way to probe our central character’s struggle.” The song, meanwhile, is a moody, atmospheric and – yes – cinematic tale of soul-searching that finds Topoloski employing a dreamy set of vocals over moody beats, hushed vocal harmonies and striking string arrangements. It’s quietly mesmerising. I’ll Stay is lifted from Saint Clair’s latest EP, D2 (out now via her own Dearly Beloved imprint), which comes produced variously by Blakey (Pusha T, AlunaGeorge) and Terrible Records’ (Blood Orange) signing Rahm.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Wombats

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE WOMBATSBEE STING: The Wombats have released the official video for their new single Bee-Sting, a genuinely rousing indie-pop romp. The video arrives in the wake of the announcement of their highest profile and biggest UK headline tour to date. Six huge shows across the isles, including a night at London’s SSE Wembley Arena, will see the 2019 tour further cement the band’s meteoric rise to one of the country’s biggest guitar acts. The track serves as an example of the band’s ever-growing abilities to write the finest indie tunes and ignite crowds around the globe. It boasts an effortlessly catchy and achingly addictive central guitar riff, some foot-tapping beats and the type of crowd-pleasing chorus that recalls both classic Brit-pop and something more contemporary. It effortlessly showcases how The Wombats have been able to emerge as one of Britain’s brightest and most popular guitar bands, capable of winning hearts and minds both here in the UK and overseas. Bee-Sting is a blast, fuelled by those brilliant guitar licks.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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John Butler Trio

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JOHN BUTLER TRIOTELL ME WHY: John Butler Trio celebrate their new album, HOME, (available now), with a video for the track Tell Me Why, completing a quadrilogy of videos from the album, including the first single Home, the current single Just Call and fan favourite Wade In the Water. And the result is every bit s good. The song is a great slice of pop-rock that’s shot through with ear-pleasing melodies, bittersweet lyrics and a strong mix of classic songwriting values and John Butler’s own style. That being said, if you’ve liked tracks from Jack Johnson, Kodaline or Jose Gonzalez in recent times, then this is another to add to your playlist. It’s got a great central guitar riff, some nice layering (the belated strings are a great addition) and some bright vocals (that occasionally come over all moody and husky). It’s another reason why HOME could easily become one of our favourite LPs of the year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Muse, Pressure

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: MUSEPRESSURE: Muse pull out all of the stops for the latest offering from their Simulation Theory LP with new single Pressure. The video is a blast, for instance, featuring Terry Crews, Chance Michael and Julia Robinson in a tale of high school musical battle of the bands gone wrong. It’s a retro ’80s blast, referencing everything from Back To The Future to Grosse Point Blank with a touch of Gremlins! It needs to be seen to be believed (and enjoyed). The song itself is a lively, guitar-driven romp, shot through with robust drums and hand-clap beats. The aforementioned guitars are awash with funky riffs, while Matt Bellamy delivers an equally livewire vocal, flitting between some trademark falsetto and something more gritty. It’s basically a classic slice of Muse, sound-checking some of their own back catalogue and expertly delivering everything fans could have wished for and more. It’s fresh, invigorating and lively – and one can only imagine the kind of frenzy it will deliver when played live.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Robyn, Honey

ROBYNHONEY: Robyn drops another sleek, sensual dance-pop offering with new single Honey. And yes, it’s as sweet as the title suggests, with the singer positively purring her echoed, sexy vocals over a classic house beat and some snappy synth arrangements. It’s a late night club banger, tailor-made for the sexed up late night crowd. But then what else would you expect from a track that teases an opening line such as “no, you’re not gonna get what you need, but baby I have what you want”. It’s clear the singer is having fun, here, while maintaining the ultra-cool vibe that has now become something of a trademark for her brand of pop. It’s mature, it’s fearless, it’s innovative and it’s continually exciting to hear what this artist comes up with next.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Olly Murs, Moves

OLLY MURS feat SNOOP DOGGMOVES: Now here’s a collaboration we never thought we’d be writing about! Breezy pop hero Olly Murs teams up with rap legend Snoop Dogg for a surprisingly effective partnership. It helps that the song adheres more to the Murs template of feel-good breeze-pop. But when it comes the time for Dogg to drop his inimitable rap, this slides into the song seemlessly. If anything, Murs seems to be borrowing from the fast-singing style of artists like Justin Timberlake and Maroon 5, albeit with his cheeky swagger emblazoned across the thing. But there’s definitely a greater sense of funk to the record, which is in keeping with lyrics that reflect senoritas dancing in beautiful dresses and learning to dance. If anything, this is closer in style to the feel-good nature of Timberlake’s Trolls anthem, Can’t Stop The Feeling, albeit with added street value thanks to the presence of rap maestro Snoop. It’s a lively, fun record – and it could just become one of Murs’ biggest anthems yet, capable of crossover appeal on both sides of the Atlantic!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Alec Benjamin, Outrunning Karma

ALEC BENJAMINOUTRUNNING KARMA: Rising singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin has dropped a new song in the form of the endearing Outrunning Karma, available now at all DSPs and streaming services. An acoustic pop offering, this finds Benjamin mulling over the issue of karma and whether it’s possible to outrun the inevitable. As ever, the songwriting displays a maturity beyond his years, while the instrumentals are warm, layered and add to the song’s overall appeal. The acoustic strums are intricately delivered, interweaving themselves around each other, while the dreamy vocal harmonies and subtle bac-beats create a notable backdrop. If the vocals sound soft and young, then it’s hardly a surprise given Benjamin’s youthfulness. But they are distinct and enhance this singer-songwriter’s own sense of identity. We’re fans. Benjamin simply refers to himself as a ‘narrator’. Inspired by Eminem, Paul Simon and Citizen Cope, the Phoenix-born, Los Angeles-based songwriter fashioned a cinematic, lo-fi sound that stirred up a buzz online right out of the gate, landing him a major label deal by the age of 18. A day after he turned in his first album, he was dropped by the label he thought would take his artist project to the moon. However, it was going to take a lot more to stop him. Alec immediately hit the road for a self-booked European tour in May 2016. He performed ‘parking lot shows’ for fans outside of Shawn Mendes and Troye Sivan concerts, handing out business cards to leave a tangible keepsake for those listening and building his brand from the ground up. It did the trick and he continues to build a name for himself, quietly working under his own steam to garner more and more success and attention.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Pale White, Wisdom Tooth

THE PALE WHITEWISDOM TOOTH: Newcastle indie-rock trio The Pale White have dropped their raucous new single Wisdom Tooth in incendiary fashion. Produced by John Martindale and the band at Blank Studios and mixed by Stereophonics producer Jim Lowe, the song is the first track to emerge from the band’s forthcoming EP, which is due to drop in November. The result is a blistering, spiky rock anthem that has traces of Queens of the Stone Age and Muse in its style of delivery. The guitars are raw and scuzzy and infuse the track with an undeniable energy, while the vocals are moody and atmospheric in the build up to the chorus, before opening out for the type of sound that’s designed to fill stadiums. Speaking about the track, frontman Adam Hope said: “Think of Wisdom Tooth like having a big clear out. Parting with something that you don’t exactly want to let go of, but you don’t need or isn’t good for you anymore. It’s the first offering from our new EP, which is deeper and darker than we’ve ever delved.” Sounds exciting…
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Richard Ashcroft, Born To Be Strangers

RICHARD ASHCROFTBORN TO BE STRANGERS: Following the positive response to latest single Surprised By The Joy, Richard Ashcroft has unveiled a second track from album, Natural Rebel, titled Born To Be Strangers. It’s billed as a slick rock ‘n’ roll record bristling with charisma, featuring authentic guitars and Ashcroft’s vocals shining with splendour. And the rock ‘n’ roll vibe is definitely there. There’s a classic rock twang to the guitars, while Ashcroft drops a moody set of vocals. As ever, he struggles to reach the heights of his Verve frontman heyday. But as a change of direction from indie to pure rock, this showcases a more mature side and comes complete with a rather blistering guitar solo midway through. It’s worth hearing for that moment alone. Says Ashcroft of Born To Be Strangers: “This record has more guitar playing on it than the last. We’ve reached the point where the guitar has to do something if you’re gonna play it. It’s got to move you in some way. It doesn’t have to be intricate or muso, it just has to have soul.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Houssein, Tokyo

HOUSSEINTOKYO: Following on from his hit debut single 5 Bucks, and the recently released Summer Night, 19-year-old singer Houssein returns with infectious new track Tokyo – and it only looks set to further his appeal. Described as a captivating electro-pop production that evokes a hazy, dream-like state, this finds Houssein reminiscing about a whirlwind romance that ended before it could become something more. And yet in spite of the sorrow inherent in the vocals (which drip with melancholy over the falsetto highs), this is a spritely dance-pop anthem that has real energy to it. If you’re into acts like Kodaline and Chainsmokers, then this is well worth taking the time to listen to. Talking about the song, Houssein commented: “The track isn’t really about the city of Tokyo, but instead the city’s name is being used as a synonym for euphoria. Tokyo can be anywhere or anything. It’s just meant to represent a wonderful and important memory – the kind of memory that makes you sad that it’s no longer happening, but happy that it ever happened at the same time.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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