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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 23, 2016

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

Green Day

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: GREEN DAYSTILL BREATHING: Following the head-rush of excitement that greeted Green Day’s comeback single Bang Bang, the punk rockers now drop Still Breathing as the next single to emerge from their LP, Revolution Radio – and it’s another barnstormer… possibly even better than Bang Bang. Opening with the telling lyrics “I’m like an ambulance that’s turning off the siren” and “I’m like a soldier coming home for the first time”, this proceeds to crank up the energy with each passing second. The guitars are almost acoustic to begin with, before exploding to life over the first chorus. It’s the kind of track that combines their trademark punk-rock heaviness with the melody and pop elements that have helped turn them into one of the world’s biggest bands, capable of widespread crossover appeal. This delivers the crowd-pleasing goods in spades. It’s anthemic, sing-along, infectious and empowering. The new album looks certain to be a gem.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kings of Leon

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: KINGS OF LEONWALLS: Kings of Leon have dropped the title track to their new album, Walls, and blow you away with its disarming intimacy. Built around tender acoustic licks and a sombre piano, as well as those distinct, gruff vocals, it’s a heart-melting effort that showcases an altogether more sensitive side to the band. Devoid of the exhilaration of some of their tracks, this has a slow-build, measured approach that thrives on the simplicity of its instrumental arrangements, thereby giving its heartfelt lyrics all the more poignancy. You’ll shiver with how much lines like “when the walls come down…. you tore out my heart, you threw it away” resonate, especially if you’ve ever had your own heart trampled on. It’s an achingly effective record – and yet one that could also be cinematic (surely a soundtrack moment beckons). Kings of Leon have long been one of our favourite bands when on form, and this striking return is another reason why. It’s a potent record in spite of its simplicity.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Weeknd, Starboy

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE WEEKND feat DAFT PUNKSTARBOY: One of the most imaginative collaborations of recent times has to be that between soul-rapper Weeknd and electronic music pioneers Daft Punk for new single Starboy. The results, rather pleasingly, are pretty darn cool. Dropping a procovative chorus that proclaims “you’re a motherf**king starboy” and combining elements of soul, hip-hop and electronica, this is as slickly produced and smoothly delivered as you might have hoped. The Weeknd is the primary artist, of course, and it’s his style that dominates for long portions. But Daft Punk contribute some smooth groove electronic elements, underpinning the vocals with some very hip bedding. It’s an effortlessly stylish collaboration that gets better the more you hear it; the kind of song that works equally as well on the dancefloor as it does being played loud from a car stereo or at home after a long day at work.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Happyness

HAPPYNESSTUNNEL VISION ON YOUR PART EP: Happyness would appear to be having a blast with their new EP, Tunnel Vision On Your Part. Comprised of five tracks, this includes one penned by the band in homage to Samuel Beckett, who famously used to give the beloved, late, 80’s wrestler André The Giant lifts to school in his truck, owing to him being too large for his dad’s car, as well as a rare direct glimpse into the band’s influences as they offer up not only their own interpretation of the Beach Boys’ classic Surfer Girl, but also a cover of Club Gaga’s Friend Of The Revolution. Of the new material, lead track Anna, Lisa Calls has that slacker/stoner vibe befitting of Jesus & Mary Chain and Teenage Fanclub comparisons, albeit with a slightly darker lyrical heart. Hence, while the guitars appear breezy and the melodies are crisp, there’s a lot more going on in the lyrics. Their cover of Friend of the Revelation is a treat, sharing similarities with J Mascis at times; SB’s Truck is warm and fun, with some really good guitar work to drive it along; Surfer Girl is hopelessly romantic and nicely retro in the way it covers The Beach Boys’ classic, and title track Tunnel Vision On Your Part rounds things off with a mid-tempo, slightly melancholy track that retains the shoe-gaze elements, while still managing to sound beautifully beguiling (especially during its extended guitar solo towards the end). It’s a very welcome taster of what to expect from the band’s forthcoming sophomore LP, as well as some of the songs that have influenced them.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Leopold & His Fiction, Cowboy

LEOPOLD & HIS FICTIONCOWBOY: Newly Austin-based band Leopold and His Fiction will release their new album Darling Destroyer next year via ILA/Native Fiction. In anticipation of that, the band now release the first single, Cowboy, a livewire piece of alt-rock that has a fittingly rebellious kind of vibe. Leopold screams out his vocals in true angsty fashion… pained but vibrantly so, while the guitars have a livewire energy that is the stuff of pure adrenaline rush for rock afficionados. And then there’s the background chants, deliberately evocative of Native Americans, to add some extra volatility to the mix. They sound like a war cry. The single is accompanied by a video which mirrors the self-mythologizing swagger of the track and relives the excitement of classic crime dramas. The vivid, filmic Cowboy jumps seamlessly between nostalgia and modernism. Frontman Daniel Leopold says of the video: “It is an introduction to the album as a whole”. When asked about the video’s theme, Daniel comments, “as composed and set in their ways an individual can be they have to be ready to compromise when called upon to do so. Sometimes it’s pulled off other times it’s not.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Sherlocks, Will You Be There?

THE SHERLOCKSWILL YOU BE THERE?: Sheffield four-piece The Sherlocks hit the indie crowd with the robust Wil You Be There?. With it’s lively drumming, powerful guitar riffs and instantly catchy chorus, singer Kiaran Crook confidently delivers relatable lyrics such as: “When they all start falling… will you be there… will you be there? And when you hear them calling, will you be there to pick them up?” There’s a classic rock element to the guitars at times, especially during the blistering solos, while the anthemic chorus is tailor-made for chanting out loud in live form. It’s the kind of record that sounds like a statement of intent: to target the biggest stadiums to properly allow songs like this to shine. Says drummer Brandon Cook of the track: “It’s basically about the notion of when you’re doing well & everybody wants to know you and cling on to you… As opposed to when you’re going through a rough time and most people jump offboard and forget you. Who will be the ones still with you because they truly believe in what you’re doing as much as you? ‘Will You Be There?’ seemed like the title to sum the whole meaning up really.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Feed The Kid, In The City

FEED THE KID – IN THE CITY: Mancunian blues-revivalists Feed The Kid will shortly be supporting Primal Scream on their forthcoming tour. They limber up for that with the release of new single In The City, which succeeds in capturing their swampy, right in the pocket rock of the early 1970s sound. Lyrically, the track is rooted in the doleful minutia of Greater Manchester, the refrain ‘how this rainy city cries’ reiterates the mundanity of life in our apathetic Northern heartlands. Vocalist Curtis Taylor elaborates: “People are struggling all over. It is about our city, but then every city is the same. it chews you up and spits you out. Capitalism at its peak. Even though we are not a punk band this has a longing for rebellion. Call it what you want, punk, psychedelic, rock and roll, punkadelica. Its soundtrack for the rebellion.” But while the lyrics may tend toward the grittily realistic and are delivered with a passionate set of vocals, the guitars give the track real kick. The swampy, ’70s-leaning rock element has elements of The Doors and The Stranglers, making this one for the purists to check out. It won’t completely blow you away, but these boys can certainly hook up a tune.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Big Top Heartbreak, My Breath Killed The Roses

BIG TOP HEARTBREAK – MY BREATH KILLED THE ROSES: Essex born Scott Lavene wrote My Breath Killed The Roses while in a mental hospital. Billed as a twisted pop song, whose lyrics have the charm of Ian Dury or John Grant, this is a real oddity. It almost feels tortured, arriving with the kind of delivery you’d expect from Tom Waits, albeit with a sprinkle of hope. Nevertheless, it’s a dark song (“my body smells like bins… so, I did some dancing, seems I’ve still got some moves”). The accompanying back-beats and violins are the single’s best element. But the vocals are a little too strained, wreaking of desperation at times, and then coming over a little too preachy once the track hits lines like “it’s all about love, it’s all about forgiveness, it’s all about wonder”. They are fine sentiments, but you sometimes don’t need it rammed down your throat. Incredibly, the track was recorded in Bristol with members of Get The Blessing, Super Furry Animals, Portishead and Bat For Lashes – which would account for the quality of that aforementioned instrumentation.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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