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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 19, 2018

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

Post Malone, Sunflower

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: POST MALONE feat SWAE LEESUNFLOWER: The more we hear and see of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, the more we’re starting to believe we’re going to love it. The two trailers so far have rocked. As have the accompanying soundtracks to those trailers. Now, hot new rapper Post Malone has unveiled his new track, Sunflower, taken from the film and featuring Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee. Anyone expecting a hard slice of urban-laced hip-hop on a par with Eminem’s Venom had best think again, though. This is a trip-hop laced delight that’s more sung than rapped. Having previously collaborated on Post’s Spoil My Night from Beerbongs & Bentleys, this is dripping in strong melodies, soulful vocal exchanges, a catchy chorus (“you’re a sunflower, I think your love would be too much”) and classy back-beats that maintain a smooth groove, hip-hop crossover vibe. It’s effortlessly cool. And it comes complete with yet more footage from the Marvel film, which slides alongside the music in hypnotic fashion. It’s brilliant.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975, It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE 1975 – IT’S NOT LIVING (IF IT’S NOT WITH YOU): The 1975 drop yet another gem from their new album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships with the ultra catchy new single It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You). Arguably, this could be their catchiest track to date. And yet, in spite of the catchy nature of the chorus (which combines retro 80s elements with something typically contemporary and cool), there’s a darkness inherent in the lyrics, which speak of the despair of heartbreak and being torn apart from someone you love. Frontman Matty Healy once more shows a keen knack for juxtaposing sentiments, so that you may yet find yourself singing along to one of the saddest songs of the year, albeit in giddy fashion. And if that weren’t enough, there’s even a sly nod to Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place on Earth in the later choruses… only once more flipping the melody inherent in that single with the achingly sad sentiment in this one: that is, “it’s not worth living if it’s not with you.” Put together with Give Yourself A Try, It’s Not Living looks set to become another of the new album’s standout moments – and one of The 1975’s biggest anthems.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jon Spencer, I Got The Hits

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: JON SPENCER – I GOT THE HITS: New York underground rock legend Jon Spencer, of Pussy Galore/Blues Explosion/Boss Hog fame, has a new album out in the form of Spencer Sings The Hits (released on November 2 on In The Red Records). As a taster, he’s dropped the incendiary new single I Got The Hits, complete with rip-roaring new video. The track is shot through with spikily infectious guitar riffs, complete with Spencer’s trademark gruff vocals. It’s a song that, lyrically, delves into the darkest corners of America, albeit in a blisteringly old-skool rock and roll fashion. Hence, while decrying the current state of the US, it also blows the cobwebs out of the speakers and makes you want to thrash about the living room (or office) playing some deliriously riotous air guitar. Anyone who found their way to Jon Spencer’s material via the soundtrack to Baby Driver won’t be disappointed with this new slice of underground blues rock. And the video is great too. Explains Spencer: “Over the past year I kept seeing wonderful and strange music videos that had one thing in common: all were directed by an Alex Italics. I determined to track down this young auteur with the aim of getting a similar cinematic sensation for my new album, Spencer Sings The Hits!. Alex turned out to be a mild-mannered young man from Tucson Arizona living in Southern California. I gave him a free hand to pick the song and devise a treatment. The result is the scary slice-of-life that you can now see for yourself.” He continued: “I love the creepy contrast with the song’s punk abandon. We filmed at a rented house in Santa Ana. At the end of each day, after the nearby nightly Disneyland fireworks had faded and the cast and crew had left, I would sleep in a bunk bed in the child’s bedroom. Turns out doing an entire video laying on the floor is harder than it looks!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Editors

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: EDITORSCOLD: Platinum-selling British band Editors have unveiled the stylish video for Cold, the fourth single taken from their sixth studio album Violence, released in March via Play It Again Sam. The moving video, directed by celebrated artist Rahi Rezvani, was shot in Iceland and stars US ballet dancer Drew Jacoby. It’s dramatic, yet stark style perfectly compliments one of Violence‘s stand out moments. The track is best described as a desolate, yet beautiful cry of longing that pleads with a friend/lover not to be “so cold”. And yet in spite of the desperation and heartbreak inherent in that plea, the track has a euphoric element once it reaches its epic conclusion. Yes, it’s slow-building and as masterfully layered as we’ve come to expect from Editors. But there’s a radio friendly element, too, born from catchy hooks, a throbbing background synth, some strings-like additions and a chorus that is shot through with ear-pleasing melody. But the central emotions are reflected in the video, which was fittingly filmed in the barren beauty of Iceland. Vocalist Tom Smith describes the track as “the comfort and connection still found in a dying relationship”. He continues: “A break up song of two people not wanting to give up on the relationship”. Director Rezvani portrays this poignantly, using ballet dancer Jacoby’s gracefulness and Smith’s trademark operatic spasms to portray two different sides of a couple that are both together and yet painfully apart. It’s eye-catchingly beautiful.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zak Abel, You Come First

ZAK ABEL feat SAWEETIEYOU COME FIRST: North-London singer/songwriter Zak Abel has unveiled his new track, You Come First, featuring rising hip-hop star Saweetie – and it’s a breezy, easy listening pop-meets-hip hop confection. It’s dripping with toe-tapping beats, slick whistling and a catchy chorus that insists “you come first”. Bay-area rapper Saweetie, who is known for bringing her swag and ‘boss-ass-bitch’ attitude to tracks, then drops her trademark sassy rap mid-way through to lend the pop sheen some street smart urban edge. It’s disposably mainstream stuff, but it does satisfy whenever you hear it – especially when that whistle starts up. Zak had this to say about the track and the collaboration with the ICY GRL rapper: “This song is about priorities. It’s about putting your lover first – a matter very close to my heart. I’m so happy that Saweetie is on the track. She completely understood where I was coming from and the feel of the track, and subsequently killed her verse.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Benjamin Folke Thomas, Tasteless and Complacent

BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMASTASTELESS AND COMPLACENT: Scandinavian-born Benjamin Folke Thomas has announced new album Modern Man, to be released on November 9, as a follow up to 2017s Copenhagen. It includes the new single Tasteless and Complacent, which showcases Thomas’ ear for a well delivered folk-pop hook. The 10 songs on the album draw from folk, country and the blues, to reveal the inner thoughts of a songwriter torn between supreme self-confidence and fear of the future. The new single contains elements of folk, pop and country and oozes a sense of Americana at times, courtesy of the singer’s dusky delivery. But the woo-hoo harmonies bring a radio friendly sensibility that neatly offset those vocals, which – the more we think about them – boast a Roy Orbison meets Johnny Cash kind of quality. There’s a sense of optimism inherent in the lyrics that, while certainly wrestling with life’s uncertainty, deliver pearls of wisdom such as: “I heard a wise men once say that even a dog can shake hands.” It’s thought-provoking, catchy stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Major Lazer, Blow That Smoke

MAJOR LAZER feat TOVE LO – BLOW THAT SMOKE: Major Lazer comes over all calypso and Caribbean for his lively collaboration with Tove Lo, entitled Blow That Smoke. There’s an infectious quality to the rhythms that Lazer creates, while Lo’s sweet vocals provide a cute focal point that ease you into a feel-good spirit (especially when she’s singing lines like “love that fire” or “good for me”). It’s got a celebratory, late summer vibe that should make it a surefire winner at beach parties, nightclubs or wherever else it is played to invoke a party atmosphere. Commenting on the track herself, Lo said: ““This song has been long in the making. It started with me and Diplo just sending ideas back and forth until I sent this vocal I was unsure what to do with, and they made magic with it! To me the song is about the sweet escape from your troubles or just mundane life by being a bit reckless and romantic.” Who knows? Once you’ve heard it, you may well want to go out and do something romantically reckless on your own terms!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Amy Rigby, Tom Petty Karaoke

AMY RIGBYTOM PETTY KARAOKE: Fans of the late, great Tom Petty will definitely want to check out this beautifully realised, catchy tribute. Inspired by J Mascis singing Don’t Do Me Like That at karaoke, which was premiered by Brooklyn Vegan, Rigby has delivered her own inimitable take on the artist. The song is a mix-tape of seminal Petty moments, cleverly combining some of his standout riffs with his equally memorable lyrics, taken from his career-spanning back catalogue. Hence, there’s blasts of American Girl, Freefallin’, I Won’t Back Down and Don’t Do Me Like That (among others) included, yet immaculately pieced together in a truly affectionate tribute. Fans will delight in picking the lyrics and riffs apart, while tipping their hat to the overall catchiness and brilliance of the song as a whole. Rigby, who will be releasing her first solo album in a dozen years, The Old Guys, 0, explained: “Tom Petty is a guardian angel for me, like he was and is for many musicians. I’ve written about him on my blog a lot because anytime I’m on the road it’s like Tom is there on my shoulder, saying “that’s cool” or “you can do better”. This was true when he was alive and even more now that he’s gone. After another week of discord and divisiveness in the news, I saw a video of J Mascis singing Don’t Do Me Like That in a nearly-empty karaoke bar. I’d sung American Girl with Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express the night before and felt the power of that song reach out and lift people up. Mascis’ karaoke performance was the opposite, it was internal, like prayer. He wasn’t doing it for an audience, he was doing it for himself. I imagined I was J, strummed some American Girl chords and wrote this song.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dead Naked Hippies

DEAD NAKED HIPPIESYOUNG MALE RAGE: Maintaining frontwoman Lucy Jowett’s penchant for insightful lyricism, Young Male Rage, the new track from Dead Naked Hippies, turns attention to themes of gender norms and conditioning in society. Speaking about the track, Jowett explains: “This is about gender norms – the conditioning we subject our children to from a young age in the values we instill and in particular the idea of male dominance and the toxic effect it can have. Earlier this year, this topic was constantly cropping up between us, and Young Male Rage was the result of these conversations – from the perspective of a mixed gender band. We wanted to flip this on its head and project it from the female voice.” It’s a timely release, for sure, and potent to boot. But sadly, the lyrics are sometimes difficult to gauge given the volatility with which they’re delivered (and sometimes screamed). It’s a riot of punk rock, feminist fury that’s shot through with gutsy guitar riffs (of really, really spiky intensity). As if to underline the anger throughout, there’s a reverb heavy mid-track instrumental that – again – feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. It should have maintained its focus on those crunching central riffs, which have a Smashing Pumpkins meets Nirvana fire about them. It’s loud but not always equal to the sum of its parts or good intentions.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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