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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 19, 2016

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

Mr Oizo feat Skrillex, End of the World

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MR OIZO feat SKRILLEXEND OF THE WORLD: Oh wow, here’s something seriously funky and a little bit special. Quentin Dupieux – aka Mr Oizo – has shared the first taste of his new album, All Wet, in the form of new single End of the World, which features none other than world-conquering superstar producer Skrillex. The two titans come together with a rolling breakbeat and pneumatic percussion heralding in a robotic, disembodied vocal, which declares in robotic, surreal fashion: “Now it’s gonna be exciting to watch the end of the world.” The track itself is a shape-shifting affair, switching from classic hip hop to dance and house. The first half, though, is particularly exciting, featuring a really old-skool hip-hop vibe and some seriously cool beat structures. It’s instantly gratifying and you’ll want to get up and dance. The entrance of the vocals ushers the song into a different direction but it maintains its infectious energy as well as its dance appeal, making this a monster return from Mr Oizo that only excites ahead of the new LP. Speaking about the collaboration, Mr Oizo said: “I could spend a month watching Sonny making beats on his laptop, he simply is the best of this new EDM generation. Since I’m the best of the old electro dudes, we had to do this tune together.” And Skrillex commented: “If you told the kid Sonny 10 years ago ‘you’ll make a track with Mr Oizo in the future’ I wouldn’t believe you. Fast forward to today and it’s still surreal to me. Oizo was one of my main influences when I started productions as Skrillex and being able to sit next to him and absorb his mind was a priceless experience for me.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Agnes Obel, Familiar

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: AGNES OBELFAMILIAR: With Agnes Obel, you’re always expecting something different and so it proves with new single, Familiar, the first track since her UK breakthrough album Aventine (2013), which yielded the BBC 6Music playlisted singles Dorian, Words Are Dead and title track Aventine. Cinematic, beautiful, occasionally ethereal and sometimes even haunting, this opens amid some stunning piano arrangements and then ushers in the beautiful vocals that have become synonymous with the artist (along with an enticing opening line that asks “can you walk on the water with us?”). The record was recorded, produced and mixed by Obel at Aventine-Neukölln and BrandNewMusic-Studios in Berlin. Its further notable for featuring violin by John Corban and cellos by Kristina Koropecki and Charlotte Danhier. Obel herself provides keys, rhythms and the song’s mesmerising vocals. By altering the tone of her voice in the chorus, Obel is in effect duetting with herself. It’s mesmerising and totally original – for which we can really be thankful. Obel once more marks herself out as one of the most captivating artists of the moment.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Odell, Concrete

TOM ODELLCONCRETE: Tom Odell releases his new single Concrete, taken from his UK number 2 album Wrong Crowd. The song, which became an immediate fan favourite since the album’s release, has been streamed over a million times on Spotify and is one of the singer’s best songs to date. Instantly catchy, this is high on easy listening melodies, snappy finger-click beats, falsetto vocals and a quasi-gospel backing sound that adds a classy undertow. Odell’s vocal style seems to have matured from his earlier material and is shot through with emotion [and pain, as he’s sleeping on a bed of concrete after all], while the slow-build nature of the song clearly takes its cues from the likes of Coldplay and Mumford & Sons. The chorus is particularly effective, while the epic finale contains an invigorating sweep that makes it compelling listening every time you hear it. Welcome back, Mr Odell, you’re continuing to grow in stature as a singer-songwriter.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975, Somebody Else

THE 1975 – SOMEBODY ELSE: Somebody Else, from The 1975, has been knocking around since February but now remains a good time to revisit it. The track is a haunting slice of synth-pop that’s all about a lost relationship. And yet it also has some rather strange voyeuristic tendencies, courtesy of lyrics such as ‘I’m looking through you while you’re looking through your phone, and then leaving with somebody else, No, I don’t want your body, but I’m picturing your body with somebody else’. And yet the soft nature of the vocals, and the haunted nature of the electronics, suggests a sorrow induced paranoia that is oddly hypnotic. And in spite of the darkness inherent throughout, there’s a catchy quality too that makes the central refrain of “somebody else” something to hook onto and even sing along with. The 1975 continue to be one of the buzz bands of the year and tracks like this explain why.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jamie N Commons

JAMIE N COMMONSNOT GONNA BREAK ME: Fans of the Rio Olympics might well recognise Jamie N Commons’ new single, Not Gonna Break Me, which is featured in BBC’s coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Written, recorded and produced solely by Jamie, who plays almost every instrument on the song, the track encapsulates the gritty but inspiring sound that Jamie has rapidly made his own. The heartfelt chorus declares “you’re not gonna break me this time around”… and while it was probably written with a lover in mind, it’s just as applicable to the pain endured by the Olympic heroes who vow to prevail no matter what. Certainly, the song’s heavy groove and haunting vocals giving depth to the song’s message of irrepressibility. Jamie says of the track: “I had this creative burst and wanted to get everything out as soon as I could. It ended up being really liberating, which is very much reflected in the mood of the song.” Not Gonna Break Me is certainly invigorating and it boasts a pulsating chorus that’s designed to get you going.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kongos, Take It From Me

KONGOSTAKE IT FROM ME: Having impressed with their last album, Lunatic, Kongos return with another anthemic blaster in the form of Take It From Me. And while it tweaks a winning formula, it remains a foot-stomping statement of intent that is instantly catchy. Taken from their new album, Egomaniac, this drops in gravelly vocals about having a mind of its own, head-rush howling, an emphatic chorus (“nothing can hold me back… there aint no turning back”), snappy synths and punchy guitar riffs… not to mention a pounding back beat. It’s a distinct sound for the band that is designed to get listeners pumped up – and it does so in effortless fashion. Kongos may lack a certain subtlety at times but that only makes their signature tracks – such as I’m Only Joking and Come With Me Now – all the more memorable and effective. This is a band that’s clearly having a blast – and they’re on a deserved roll.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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St Tropez, Which Side Are You On?

ST TROPEZ- WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?: Garage rockers St Tropez have dropped another infectious track from their forthcoming LP self-titled debut LP (out, August 26), in the form of Which Side Are You On?. Driven by some razor sharp guitars and a psychedelic set of vocals, this explodes to life over a punk-inflicted chorus that’s all about getting into your face and refusing to budge. Hence, while there’s a brooding element to the verses, the chorus is a real livewire. It’s clearly designed to become a rock n’ roll anthem geared towards hooking bigger audiences. Having continued to build their fierce live reputation with shows throughout Europe this summer, the Dutch punk quartet will be celebrating their album release with launch shows at The Shacklewell Arms, London on August 24 and OT301, Amsterdam on August 26. You can only imagine what kind of frenzy they create in live form, especially when the electrifying guiatar solo is unleashed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Doctr, Tropique

DOCTRTROPIQUE: It’s been described as Cosmic Disco, Neo-Balearic, Retro-Italo-futurism… but there’s something retro yet fresh about Doctr’s summery dance anthem Tropique. Built around a simple concept… a seemingly innocent loop that rolls along and sneakily picks up more effects with each rotation. The production is near faultless, perfectly structured and fine-tuned to draw the maximum drama out of its infectious bass and tasty keyboard hook. Admittedly, there’s a slightly cheesy element in some of the piano loops, that draw on an ’80s pop or house sound (or even Paul Hardcastle late on), but the central loop, containing a kind of Caribbean drum sound, is infectious as hell and clearly designed to put you into a partying state of mind: be that wanting to jam, carnival-style in the streets of Rio or Notting Hill, or hit the dancefloor big time in the clubs of Ibiza or Miami. It’s a big summer tune in waiting that deserves to find a wide and appreciative listener base.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mollie King, Back To You

MOLLIE KINGBACK TO YOU: She’s already sold 5 million records as part of all girl group The Saturdays. Now, Mollie King unleashes her debut solo single, Back To You – and it’s pretty woeful. Boasting awful lyrics such as “don’t wanna be with nobody, just want to make it with you” and “I wonder why we’re doing this now, I keep asking myself why do I keep coming back to you”, this is one of those generic pop offerings that so desperately wants to be the new Kylie Minogue or Madonna or Britney, without ever really settling on any distinct style. The synth sound is going for seductive but ends up insipid, the layered chorus has a ring of over familiarity (but not in a good way), while the supposedly provocative nature of some of the lyrics is undermined by the play-it-safe, girl band vibe that King struggles to shake. Talking about the track, Mollie says: “It’s a very personal song to me. A lot of my writing inspiration has come from what I’ve been through over the last couple of years.” Oh dear.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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