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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 29, 2017

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

Liam Gallagher

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LIAM GALLAGHERGREEDY SOUL: Liam Gallagher continues to build anticipation for his debut solo album As You Were by sharing a video for the latest album cut, Greedy Soul. Filmed at London’s AIR Studios, the video finds Liam on imperious form with his famous vocal delivery bristling with relentless energy and fiery attitude. He’s perfectly complemented by his live band, which is boosted by a brass section and two soulful backing singers. Written by Liam and produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat, Greedy Soul is an unabashed blast of guitar-fuelled rock that has plenty of guts instrumentally to match Gallagher’s distinct vocal swagger. It’s loud, ballsy and anthemic and further evidence that Liam’s first solo outing could be about to deliver something on a par with Oasis at their best. The robust guitar riffs on this one are particularly rousing (think Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-style intensity), while the lyrics are as volatile as we’ve come to expect, dropping at least one expletive and talking of 666 and crucifixes. The chorus is a pure blast of rock n roll energy… the type of which only the Gallaghers know how to deliver. And it’s further embellished with those stabs of orchestral brass, which work in tandem with the fiery guitar solo to stirring effect.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Skinny Living, Fade

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SKINNY LIVINGFADE: Fade is the emotionally stirring new single from Skinny Living. Described as an illuminative slice of modern soul music, this works so well because of the power of Ryan Johnston’s stirring central vocal, which conveys the emotions contained within the lyrics (“I didn’t mean to hurt nobody… sat on the corner of the bed with my hands on my head thinking about the things I said”) so well. The instrumental accompaniment is predominantly an acoustic guitar, although there are some subtle electronics and a nice layering of beats over the chorus. There’s a hint of Jason Downs in the lyrical style, as well as his single White Boy With A Feather during the chorus. But that’s a compliment. Produced by Steve Robson (James Bay, John Legend), this is a cracker of a single that deserves to get Skinny Living even more noticed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fenne Lily

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: FENNE LILY: Fenne Lily has unveiled another new single, Three Oh Nine. The track has proved popular with live crowds in recent months and with a proper studio version now ready, Fenne is sharing the track with a wider audience. Three Oh Nine begins with Fenne’s now familiarly fragile vocals front and centre but marks the first time she has experimented with a fuller band sound – bringing in bass, percussion and glistening production, her repeated “please don’t leave” becoming a haunting refrain as the track unfolds. And believe us, that fuller sound arguably creates one of her most accessible records to date. The instrumentals blend seamlessly with her lush, soulful vocals, which build to a stunning crescendo over the later choruses. The build-up, too, is nicely layered and beautifully delivered, creating something of a dream of a record. It’s easy to see why it’s become such a fan favourite. It should also become a fan builder. Ahead of the news of a debut album, in October, Fenne Lily will embark on a unique co-headline tour with Siv Jakobsen, Sivu and Paul Thomas Saunders playing some of the UK’s most beautiful venues, including London’s Cecil Sharp House on October 12.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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HAIM, Valentine

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: HAIMVALENTINE: HAIM have released Valentine, a short film shot directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood). Captured in March, the film is an intimate glimpse of HAIM live in the studio playing songs from their then unreleased, critically acclaimed second album Something To Tell You. Valentine was shot on location at Los Angeles’ Valentine Recording Studios, a charming setting which has laid untouched and pristine since closing over 30 years ago. Earlier this year, HAIM announced their new album’s release date along with a live studio clip of the song Right Now. That live video and song received rave reviews and kicked off the excitement for new music. This clip, along with unseen performances of tracks Something to Tell You and Nothing’s Wrong are featured in the short film, which was screened in London, New York and Los Angeles ahead of the release of Something to Tell You. Valentine closes with HAIM in drum circle delivering a thunderous percussive finale that fans have come to expect from their live shows. It’s a useful showcase both of the beauty of their songwriting (the slow build on the gorgeous Right Now is really impressive), while that drum circle is terrific in the way that it ends the son [and video] on a rush. HAIM have once again teamed up with Paul Thomas Anderson to direct the video for their new single Little of Your Love, the clip will be released in the coming days.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Future Animals

FUTURE ANIMALSASK FOR IT: Acclaimed Danish songwriter producer combination Future Animals – aka Don Stefano and Rissi – have released their debut single Ask For It through their own label, Rocket Science, and show bags of potential. A sincere, passionate set of vocals immediately impress, and show plenty of range, while a velvety smooth piano underpins things nicely until a slick back-beat and some toe-tapping electronic arrangements provide even more energy. It’s a smooth, soulful offering that is really nicely delivered – and those vocals look set to really impress going forward. Future Animals have previously worked on multiple musical projects together, having co-written and produced the debut album for Lukas Graham, as well as collaborations with the likes of Aloe Blacc, Selena Gomez and Julia Michaels. Ask For It is their first release as Future Animals, though. But it makes you hunger for more.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Cabbage

CABBAGEKEVIN: Kevin is the new single from Cabbage, released on Infectious Music. Premiered on Radio 1 earlier this week by Huw Stephens, the track is a re-recording of the lead track from their 2016 debut EP Le Chou. A fan favourite and Cabbage’s live set closer, Kevin was produced by James Skelly & Rich Turvey (Blossoms, She Drew The Gun) at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios. It’s a lively, indie-rock foot-stomper that is alive with off-kilter energy and a kind of ramshackle style. If you took the best elements of early Kaiser Chiefs and Blur and threw them together, you may get some idea of the kind of energy to expect. It’s got catchy hooks, warped electronic elements and shouty vocals. But it somehow comes together to create something messy but fun. You can’t help but be swept along on its crazy indie-rock vibe – even if the finale gets away from them a bit.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Forest Swords

FOREST SWORDSCONGREGATE Forest Swords, aka Merseyside producer Matthew Barnes, returns with a two track single in aid of hurricane and earthquake relief work in Puerto Rico and Mexico. For that reason alone, it’s worthy of widespread attention. Congregate comes four months after the release of his critically-acclaimed album Compassion. The beatless tracks, recorded during the Compassion album sessions in early 2017, take the sonic palette of the full-length and strip it back to a more meditative, textural place. Main track Congregate is based around brooding, mutated choral chants – but while the lack of beats is surprising, it nevertheless remains an effective, and affecting, production. High on atmosphere, and with an air of melancholy befitting the seriously tragic subject matter it is seeking to highlight, this is reflective, sorrowful and oddly beautiful. It’s also highly cinematic and evidence of an artist in peak form. The tracks are available to stream and download now, with proceeds going towards ongoing and future aid work following the devastating hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and this month’s earthquake in Mexico.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Matt Bye, Galloping Waves

MATTI BYEGALLOPING WAVES: Now here’s a contradiction in terms. The name of Matti Bye’s new single Galloping Waves suggests something stormy and tempestuous. Instead, one of Sweden’s most sought-after film composers has delivered something eerie and haunting, yet oddly compelling. Within this track, Bye reveal his affection for circus music and other archaic styles. He speaks fondly of ‘the strange, romantic mood you get when you hear old merry go rounds, or mechanical instruments in small amusements parks, and abandoned places like Coney Island’, thereby creating an unsettling, childlike dreamscape of sound. The piano arrangements are very subtle, yet beautifully entwined, while the lack of beats heightens the circus-themed element and the childlike nature of the composition. It’s beguiling stuff. Until now, Bye has been best known as one of Sweden’s most prominent film composers, working on scores not only for contemporary but also vintage silent movies. In 2014, he received two of the three nominations for Best Original Music Award at Sweden’s prestigious Guldbaggen: his soundtrack for Faro took the honour (as well as a Nordic Film Music Prize) ahead of his work for The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window And Disappeared.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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First Aid Kit

FIRST AID KIT – IT’S A SHAME: We’ve long been fans of First Aid Kit and their latest single, It’s A Shame, doesn’t disappoint. Shot through with lush vocal harmonies, sunny melodies and a folk-meets-country guitar sound, this reverberates with a classic songwriting sense. Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg continue to melt hearts with their vocals, which again hark back to a bygone, possible ’70s era. But the way they deliver their songs genuinely intoxicates. Commenting on the track, the sisters said: “We went to Los Angeles last spring and spent five weeks there writing. It was a tough time for the both of us. We were in this beautiful sunny place, but mostly felt sad and lonely. It’s A Shame is a song about the emptiness and desperation you feel after a relationship has come to an end. How you will go to great lengths just to numb the pain and feel less lonely?” Incredibly for a song born out of such sorrow, it’s upligting instrumentally. But it has plenty to say and should resonate with anyone feeling the same. It’s A Shame is the first single to be taken from First Aid Kid’s forthcoming new album, which is the follow up to 2014’s Stay Gold
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jon Boden

JON BODENBEE STING: Jon Boden, former frontman of the progressive folk 11-piece Bellowhead, has announced details of Bee Sting, the new single to be taken from his forthcoming solo album Afterglow, set for release via Hudson Records on October 6, 2017. Afterglow is Boden’s first studio release since calling an end to Bellowhead, a 12-year project that culminated in a quarter of a million album sales and worldwide sell-out shows, including the Royal Albert Hall. Bee Sting is the third in a string of singles, trailing All The Stars Are Out Tonight and Moths In The Gaslight. It’s a striking acoustic offering, that finds Boden in reflective mood and delivering loads of imagery. It’s nicely composed yet occasionally prone to throwing in the odd, rousing moment of percussion. But in the main, it’s a quiet slice of folk songwriting that serves to emphasise the emotive power of Boden’s vocals. Speaking about Bee Sting, a track that points to his past experiences at Lewes’ (East Sussex) infamous bonfire night, Boden said: “There is a wildness about it that is often hinted at in large bonfire night celebrations, but Lewes really takes it a lot further, with half-barrels of burning tar being dragged along the narrow, medieval (and one would imagine rather flammable) streets, plus there are several bonfire societies who compete to burn the most impressive effigy – often of present day political figures. And then there is the sheer weight of numbers – the streets are rammed and it is not possible to move against the tide of the crowd. This is where the idea of the two lovers nearly meeting up very early in the evening but then being parted by the weight of the crowd came from.” Afterglow follows on from Boden’s 2009 solo concept-album Songs From The Floodplain, which lead him to be named as Folk Singer Of The Year at the BBC Folk Awards.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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