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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 8, 2017

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

Beck, Dear Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECK – UP ALL NIGHT: A couple of weeks after dropping Dear Life, Beck unveils Up All Night as the fourth taster from his forthcoming new LP Colours and dazzles once more. A breezy slice of experimental pop, this opens amid slick beat arrangements, zippy electronics and breezy acoustic guitar licks. The chorus, meanwhile, is deliberately feel-good and finds Beck pining “just want to stay up all night with you”, his distinct vocals providing a reassuring backdrop. This being a Beck production, the track involves one or two flights of fancy mid-track, where beats deconstruct themselves and verses flip conventional structural form. But that’s part of the fun of listening to Beck and all of what makes him such an exciting artist to listen to, particularly when working in upbeat mode. Up All Night follows Dreams, Wow and Dear Life in making Colours one of autumn’s essential album purchases. The equally must-see video, directed by Canada, is about a superhero teenager (played by Solene Rigot) who faces increasingly bizarre obstacles as she rescues her passed-out friend (Pedro Attenborough) at a party.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lamb, Illumina

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LAMBILLUMINA: Widely regarded as pioneers of the ‘90’s electronic scene, Lamb mark the 21st anniversary of their seminal eponymous debut album with an autumn tour – and the release of new material. Hence, a heavy slice of dub electronica, combined with the beguiling vocals of Lou Rhodes, finds the heart of Lamb beating as deep and as strong as ever on new single Illumina. Andy Barlow’s rich production, rock solid beats and broad palette of industrial, organic and digital sound, combine with Rhodes’ seductive vocals, providing a timely reminder of their distinct place in the musical firmament. It’s a long way removed from their slow build and epic release of their seminal track Gorecki, but it’s undeniably exciting to hear Rhodes sublime vocals once again set against intelligent, slick beat arrangements. The sound has moved forward, though, to ensure that Lamb remain as relevant and exciting as ever to listen to – achieving that rare feat of combining elements of chillout with something harder hitting. This is as beautiful as it is invigorating.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alexander James, Hands

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: ALEXANDER JAMESHANDS: Following the release of his debut single Faith, electronic artist Alexander James now follows up with Hands and continues to impress. A slow-builder, the track starts off in minimalist, stripped back fashion with James’s vocals accompanied by only some electronic notes. But it carefully layers in more electronics, picking up the pace and heightening the melodies amid some mixed up vocal styles, before rising to a rousing crescendo for the finale. It’s the kind of songwriting that is tailor-made for the word ‘epic’ and which looks set to get this artist even more noticed. Speaking about Hands himself, James said: “It was written about a time where I felt I could not do right by anyone or myself. I felt that all of my actions were catching up with me and that I was consumed by an overwhelming feeling of grief and self sabotage. Hands is one of my favourite songs on my EP because the song goes where it went naturally, no defined verse and no defined chorus meant that it was more progressive and fluid, which replicates the emotions and feelings I felt at the time.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anna Leone

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: ANNA LEONE – MY SOUL I: Hotly-tipped Swedish singer-songwriter Anna Leone has demonstrated her considerable talent in some style with beautifully serene debut single My Soul I. Think Sia mixed with Lou Rhodes, with a little Norah Jones thrown in, and you’re somewhere close to what to expect from the vocals (which really kind of stop you in your tracks). The song itself is a raw tale of love, loss and the unabashed yearning that comes with it. It’s dusky, atmospheric, cinematic, beguiling and hypnotic – and a terrific showcase of those heart-melting vocals (“I’ll do anything to love you”). Anna worked with Bryan Wilson on the track (Grammy nomimated producer, engineer and mixer, who has worked with the likes of Florence + The Machine and Arctic Monkeys). She commented on the track: “I wrote My Soul I while I was going through a tough time and it helped me deal with some of it. It’s melancholic but I also think the song is kind of hopeful as well – that’s always been important for me to reflect.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Linkin Park x Steve Aoki

REMIX OF THE WEEK: LINKIN PARK X STEVE AOKIDARKER THAN THE LIGHT THAT NEVER BLEEDS: Internationally renowned DJ Steve Aoki has dropped a new remix in memory of late Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington. The artist worked with the band on both their tracks Darker Than Blood and A Light That Never Comes and so has decided to mash the two songs together, while retaining his own signature dance sound. The result is a as poignant as it is empowering. Dance fans will lap it up on the club scene, while Linkin Park fans will probably shed a tear in memory of their favourite singer. Indeed, Aoki was moved to release the track after being so moved by the loss of Bennington, who he described as a close friend. And if elements of the track are a little too heavily dance orientated, it’s still good to hear Bennington’s distinct vocals again over something fresh, while some of the nu-metal elements that made Linkin Park so distinct have been retained, albeit with a dance edge. It’s a good listen and, what’s more, the net proceeds from the track will go to Music For Relief’s One More Light Fund in Chester’s name.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Pom Poko

POM POKOYOU’LL BE FINE: Ahead of their forthcoming three-night London residency (taking place later in September), Pom Poko have unveiled a new single in the form of You’ll Be Fine. A more mellow cut for the Norwegian band who have built a reputation for their raucous live performances and eclectic sound, this is dripping in breezy melodies and gorgeous, even sun-kissed vocals. Midway through, the song threatens to enter more raucous territory, with some sharper electronic and guitar hooks. But Pom Poko manage to reign themselves in, ensuring that the central chorus of “you’ll be fine”, sounds as reassuring as it’s meant to. It’s a fun track. When it comes to the general Pom Poko sound, think of what you might get if you mix sing-song vocals with intense grooves, bouncy guitars and absurd riffs – a punky sweetness, if you will. Their unique concoction of crowd pleasing vocal hooks, ’70s disco riffs and raucous rhythmic changes combine to make this band a feat to behold live and – more often than not – a pleasure to listen to on the radio. They’re doing just fine.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Robert Plant

ROBERT PLANTBONES OF SAINTS: Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant shows no sign of toning things down with thunderous new single Bones of Saints emerging as the latest offering from his forthcoming Carry Fire LP. Featuring some fantastically bluesy guitar riffs and robust tom-toms, courtesy of backing band the Sensational Space Shifters, this also finds Plant in brooding mood vocally. Lyrically, it’s also full of the kind of foreboding the instrumentals suggest, with talk of “fire up in the sky” and “madness in the air” – a possible nod to world events. It’s a heady mix, nonetheless, that ensures you’ll be foot-stomping along in giddy appreciation, whether playing the air guitar or just kicking back to reflect on what this legendary singer has to say. What’s more, it could even boast a crossover appeal into the mainstream, capable of appealing to a whole new generation of rock fans.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foo Fighters, The Line

FOO FIGHTERSTHE LINE: Hot off the back of releasing the blistering The Sky Is A Neighbourhood as the first single from their forthcoming Concrete and Gold LP, Foo Fighters now drop The Line. But while the former track was a real energy rush for the way in which it combined classic elements with something new, The Line is a more straightforward Foo Fighters rocker. That is to say, it’s high on big riffs, impactful drums and sweeeping choruses, as well as a solid combination of melody and power. But it’s not really bringing anything new to the mix. Dave Grohl belts out the lyrics with customary vigour. And it’s catchy. But while diehard fans of the band will doubtless nod along in giddy appreciation, this one lacks the ability to broaden the band’s appeal. It’s a good Foo Fighters track rather than a standout one. Dare we say, it’s the sound of a band coasting. In Foo Fighters terms, that’s no bad thing. But after the high of The Sky Is A Neighbourhood, perhaps we were greedily expecting more.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Tove Lo, Disco Tits

TOVE LO – DISCO TITS: Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum, multi-billion-streaming artist Tove Lo has released her new track Disco Tits via Polydor Records. The track sees Tove Lo reuniting with The Struts, her long-time collaborators and the same production team behind Cool Girl, Habits (Stay High) and Talking Body. “Disco Tits is abut loosing yourself with your new found love. Naive, excited, no consequences. The happiness in the haze I’m feelin’ right now,” explained Tove. The ensuing track has a deliberately sexualised energy to it, as well as a free flowing abandon that’s constructed around super-slick beat and synth arrangements, as well as a provocative, seductive central vocal. It sounds as though Tove Lo is cutting loose in exactly the way she describes. Hence, while mainstream friendly to the max, it has its own energy and an undeniably sexy edge to it. Disco Tits is the first taste of new music from BLUE LIPS [lady wood phase II], due later this year.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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ZAYN feat SIADUSK TILL DAWN: Two of the pop world’s powerhouse performers unite for new single Dusk TilL Dawn: One Direction’s now solo artist Zayn and singer-producer par excellence Sia. The result, however, isn’t quite as incendiary as we’d hoped. Indeed, it’s a power ballad that sarts out moody and slow-builds towards its big moments. But it’s kind of soppy. Zayn sets things in motion with a lovelorn vocal, before Sia drops her undeniably powerful vocals to give the track some extra pep. The two combine for the chorus, which does, admittedly, deliver something more of what to expect (crowd-pleasing and anthemic). But whenever it returns to the verses, it loses its mojo somewhat. That said, the video – a kind of Bonnie & Clyde meets True Romance inspired gangster piece – is entertaining.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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