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

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

Darlingside

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: DARLINGSIDEESCHATON: Evoking comparisons with Surfjan Stevens and, to a lesser extent, acts like Vampire Weekend, Darlingside’s new song Eschaton is a bleep-laden, indie-infused oddity of delight. Constructed around lots of catchy electronic bleeps and the odd acoustic strum, which eschews their anti-folk values, this is a lyrically intelligent look at the largeness of life and the questions it constantly poses. Vocally, it’s extremely laidback, the vocals working well with the tight melodies and harmonies to create something as distinct as it is beautiful. And it’s a real grower too – quirky at first, it gets warmer and more accessible with each listen. The track is taken from the band’s forthcoming album, Extralife, which on the evidence thus far looks set to be something worth rushing to hear. Here’s what the PR has to say about it. “Where [debut LP] Birds Say was steeped in childhood nostalgia and the loss of innocence, Extralife finds Darlingside looking to the future, mourning the loss of our world with an almost post-apocalyptic view. While the subject matter may seem bleak, Extralife is not without an underlying sense of hope and optimism. Eschaton leads the way to the new album set for release worldwide on February 23, 2018, and the band will launch the record at an intimate show on January 30, 2018 at the Courtyard Theatre.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sam Vance-Law

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: SAM VANCE-LAW – I THINK WE SHOULD TAKE IT FAST: I Think We Should Take It Fast is the cheeky new single from Sam Vance-Law, released this week on Caroline International. The follow-up to September’s debut single Prettyboy, the track is another musically and lyrically fascinating track from Berlin-based newcomer Vance-Law. It’s essentially a song about trying to get laid, with the main protagonist urging the object of his lust to dispense with the slower, more traditional method of getting to know one another, in favour of heading straight to the bedroom. But the speed of action doesn’t end at the bar… but also in the bedroom – in a comically and nicely realised climax to the song. It’s designed to poke fun at the male ego on a drink-fuelled Saturday night – and it works in showcasing the kind of theatrical indie-pop that Vance-Law now specialises in. You can’t help but listen with a smile on your face. The accompanying video is a treat too. Sam explains: “I Think We Should Take It Fast is a song about a guy going out to get laid, and we thought it would be great to make a music video in which that guy, me, miserably fails to do so. And I got to pretend to be drunk the entire day which turned out, perhaps worryingly, to be a lot easier than I had thought!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fenne Lily

FENNE LILYFOR A WHILE: Fenne Lily has shared a typically enchanting new track in the form of For A While. With previous singles hinting at a fuller band sound, For A While strips things back to basics and offers a wonderfully wintery listen with a crescendo of warm analogue synths nestling alongside Fenne’s captivating vocals. Early on, it’s the vocals that take centre stage, along with some subtle acoustic guitars and a really melancholy vibe (“they say that it’s cold, so I hope that it shows”). The heart-on-sleeve nature of the vocal delivery is evocative of artists like Annie Lennox mixed with a touch of Bjork. But as the song grows, so the synths and strings layer in and add something almost cinematic to the mix. It’s a very classy, beautifully wintery offering. Not many young artists can count up millions of Spotify streams off the back of the first song they’ve ever written, but then again, not many young artists are Fenne Lily. She isn’t just one to watch for 2018, she’s one you won’t be able to keep your eyes off for a second.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Out of My Head

CHARLI XCX feat TOVE LO & ALMAOUT OF MY HEAD: Pop polymath Charli XCX has announced details of her new mix-tape Pop2, which will be released on Friday, December 15. To coincide with the announcement, she has has unveiled her futuristic club track Out Of My Head – and impresses as ever. Pop2 marks XCX’s second mix-tape of the year and the next instalment in Charli’s mix-tape series, following on from her critically-acclaimed March 2017 release Number 1 Angel. Teaming-up with previous collaborators AG Cook, who here executively produced the mix-tape, and SOPHIE alongside King Henry (Beyoncé, Justin Bieber), David Gamson and EASYFUN (Charli XCX 3AM) on production, Pop2 features an all-star cast of writers and vocalists, including Caroline Polachek (Chairlift), MØ, Tove Lo, ALMA, Carly Rae Jepsen, Pabllo Vittar, Jay Park and many more. The new single combines sass (“you f**ked me up like this”) with slick beats and stylish synth flourishes, to create a track that combines urgency with a cool energy and a bad-ass vibe. It’s perhaps not as pop as some of XCX’s but it’s dancefloor status cannot be denied. It’ll ensure you want to get up and dance.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Haim, Walking Away (Musa Masa remix)

HAIMWALKING AWAY (MURA MASA REMIX): Los Angeles trio Haim have enlisted Mura Masa for a glittering, bleep-laden remix of standout album track Walking Away – and it works in creating a new kind of futuristic sound for the girl group. With bleeps to the fore, as well as some sluggish but effective beats, this provides an ear-catching backdrop to Haim’s always angelic, dreamy vocals and harmonies. The result infuses the track with a greater urgency and potency. The remix follows the official release of HAIM’s Shania Twain cover That Don’t Impress Me Much, originally recorded for Triple J radio, and their recent singles Nothing’s Wrong and Little Of Your Love – the latter of which saw them team up with acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson once again for an LA line dancing spectacular. Mura Masa, aka 21-year-old Guernsey-born Alex Crossan, continues his winning streak following the release of his star-studded Grammy-nominated eponymous debut album earlier this year, adding to Walking Away the kind of lush, futuristic production that has seen him collaborate with the likes of A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX, Christine and the Queens.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jessie Reyez

JESSIE REYEZCOTTON CANDY: Jessie Reyez has unveiled a new track in the form of Cotton Candy, a track she describes as a song “written and recorded in my living room while I was crying over someone who didn’t deserve it”. With lyrics that plead “baby don’t lose me now”, sung in genuinely heartbroken fashion, this tugs at the heart-strings and is delivered in a raw, stripped back style that enhances the sense of loss and regret. Indeed, the accompanying instrumentals are kept to a minimum, and are confined mostly to acoustic guitar licks. It’s an effective offering. The release of Cotton Candy tops off an incredible year for the hotly-tipped Toronto-based singer and songwriter. The release of Reyez’ debut EP, Kiddo, in April was met with widespread acclaim. It included the similarly pared-back acoustic number Figures, which quickly exploded online and thrust Reyez into the spotlight. Accompanied by an emotional video which to date has been viewed 15 million times on YouTube, the track peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Top 100, with 25 million Spotify streams and counting. Cotton Candy only looks set to build on that success.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, Black Coffee

BETH HART & JOE BONAMASSABLACK COFFEE: Grammy winning Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa are back with their new duet album Black Coffee, which will be released on January 26, 201 via Provogue/Mascot Label Group. Featuring songs made famous by Edgar Winter, Ray Charles, Etta James, Steve Marriot, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Lucinda Williams, LaVern Baker and more, this was recorded in five days at Studio at the Palms, Las Vegas in August 2016. For the title track, which is now available as a single, the duo harness prime Steve Marriot on his take of Ike & Tina Turner’s Black Coffee. The inspiration came from his live version on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973. As they explain: “It’s really predicated on the vocals,” said Bonamassa. “We can’t cut these tunes without Beth singing and once she starts singing, it’s the glue that inspires us to get the extra 10% out of the playing. If we just cut them and sang later, the magic wouldn’t be there.” True to his words, Hart’s central vocal is belted out in supremely powerhouse fashion, evoking the vocal depth of classic Turner as well as her own blues-rock tendencies. Bonamassa’s guitars provide a heady backdrop – a caffeine charged shot of classic rock adrenaline that goes down a storm.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Little Kicks

THE LITTLE KICKSBANG THE DRUM SLOWLY: Aberdeen’s The Little Kicks return with their punchy, designed to be uplifting new single, Bang The Drum Slowly, via Loosen Up Records. Hailed as an off-kilter indie pop foot-stomper, the track races through with scuzzy hooks, glitchy beats and sweeping harmonies, resulting in a quirky, kind of post-punk meets leftfield indie sound akin to the likes of Hot Hot Heat or OK Go. But with the central lyric declaring “I’ve got nothing to be scared about”, it’s designed to be empowering. And it certainly rocks its way into your subconscious in effortlessly punchy fashion. Bang The Drum Slowly is the fourth single to be taken from their latest album, Shake Off Your Troubles. Describing the album, lead singer Steven Milne explains: “The themes of the record would be a feeling of happiness, gratitude and to be thankful with what you have and not take things for granted. Furthermore, not to let others get you down or let anyone put you in your place.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Syrra

SYRRA – I CAN BE MEAN: Syrra have just released their debut track I Can Be Mean, Along with a wonderfully mesmeric video directed by Laura Brown. The name Syrra – a Swedish term for ‘sister’ – came to Aneta in her dream, and perfectly encapsulates the essence of the project. The duo set out to create a place they can come with their flaws, insecurities and struggles and support each other like sisters, remembering nobody is perfect. Their songs strive to find beauty and strength in vulnerability, in a world bombarding us with expectations. Hence, I Can Be Mean drops vulnerable lyrics like “how can you love me when I don’t love myself enough to keep my head with happy thoughts?” Surrounding such sentiments are moody pianos, click-style beats and vocals that evoke comparisons with artists like Sinead O’Connor. It’s a highly absorbing listen, nicely constructed to create a distinct style of dark pop that serves as a near-perfect antidote to some of the more overly sentimental offerings dropping this time of year. Syrra are clearly an act to watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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