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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, August 31, 2015

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

Unloved, Guilty of Love

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: UNLOVEDGUILTY OF LOVE: Spearheaded by David Holmes (composer of the soundtrack for the three Oceans films, as well as numerous acclaimed albums across his 20 year career in music), in collaboration with film and TV composer Keefus Ciancia (True Detective), and songwriter-vocalist Jade Vincent (The Jade Vincent Experiment), Unloved are born of 60’s girl groups, influenced by the great George ‘Shadow’ Morton, Jack Nitzsche, the soundtracks of Morricone, Nino Rota and the electronic sounds of Raymond Scott. They are set to release their debut EP, Guilty of Love, in October and – as a taster – have just started to stream the title track – and it’s disarmingly brilliant. Coated in the ’60s girl group influences they cite, this boasts sexy vocals, slick beat arrangements (of which Arnold can typically be proud), retro guitar sounds and a distinct cinematic influence. It’s effortlessly cool and the kind of track you want to hear on a repeat loop. Simply put, you never tire of it! Now, roll on the whole EP.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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George Ezra, Barcelona

GEORGE EZRABARCELONA: George Ezra is probably destined to be measured by the success [and quality] of his breakthrough single Budapest for the near future. But even if subsequent material hasn’t quite hit those heights, or even carries a hint of over-familiarity, there’s no denying that this singer-songwriter has an easygoing, simplistic charm about him. Hence, current single Barcelona, is built upon the same kind of foundations – those distinct vocals, acoustic backing and a slowly building sense of urgency. The guitar licks, on this occasion, remain gentle but align themselves with the kind of warming campfire sound that has become a Jack Johnson hallmark, while the sentiments contained within the lyrics are easy enough to relate to. Without doing anything particularly special, this washes over you like a cool breeze on a hot day and makes you feel good about yourself.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nadia Nair

NADIA NAIRHARDSHIPS: Nadia Nair is a multi-cultural, half Swedish half Malaysian – Indian songstress, who combines the many sides of herself and richly pours them into her music. Her latest offering, Hardships, is a useful indicator of how she draws on her many influences. Opening with Nadia’s powerful vocal (that instantly demands attention), the track then proceeds to build a steady sonic structure that’s, by turns, influenced by the likes of Ravi Shankar, Björk and M.I.A. Taking the minimalistic, almost Lorde-like approach in the production, the voice and the lyrics take the stand and remain in the fore-front from start to finish, as the track keeps growing and cultivating tension with every bar. But it’s the vocals that lend it most of its power, with harmonies layering the central, soulful refrain. The beats do slowly build but in subtle, background ways, thereby creating something atmospheric, heady and entirely different. Nadia has worked with Denniz Koyu, released her music via Swedish House Mafia- Axwell’s label called Axtone (played on BBC Radio 1), and has been supported by The Line Of Best Fit, Pigeons and Planes, Earmilk, Nordic By Nature as well as played on various UK radio stations including Amazing Radio.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kodaline

KODALINELOVE WILL SET YOU FREE: The closing track on Kodaline’s latest album, Coming Up For Air, is the piano ballad Love Will Set You Fee – and it’s as manipulative as things come. Slow-building, laden with cheesy sentiments about the power of love and the freedom it represents, and instrumentally layered with elements of brass, this is clearly designed to be a crowd-pleasing cigarette lighter (or mobile phone in the air) moment, designed to have people singing along while embracing one another. It’s effective enough, while being slightly evocative of everyone from Take That to Coldplay and even Oasis (vocally late on). The song was actually written by the band with the help of Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid and produced by McDaid, with the accompanying video being directed by fan of the band, Courteney Cox (of Friends fame). Commenting on her involvement, she said: “When Johnny first played me Love Will Set You Free, I was blown away. The song is incredibly beautiful. After hanging out with the guys and getting to know their personalities, I knew I wanted to direct this video and really showcase who they are as individuals and as musicians.” The results are worth checking out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Many Things, 77

MANY THINGS – 77: In advance of their debut album, Burn Together, Many Things release the double-A sided single 77 and Gone. 77 gets its title “from the empty bank in the drum machine where I punched in the initial beat,” says Michael. “I was really into numerology at the time so I felt like it ought to stay. I felt the organ riff was was ‘hype’ like Missy Elliot’s We Run This. Me and my $40 drum machine. The beat was somewhat improved when Macks picked up his drumsticks.” Intriguingly, it’s the organ riff that does leave the lasting impression, hooking you in and giving it that easy accessibility that the best records possess. Vocally, there’s a sound reminiscent of Lloyd Cole mixed with The Strokes, and they really come alive over the bright chorus. It’s a consistently engaging listen that bodes well for the rest of the LP.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATSLOOK IT HERE: Look It Here, the new single from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, is taken from his new album, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, which dropped on August 21. A folk rock foot-stomper, this embraces some old-school songwriting qualities that are comparable to stalwarts such as Van Morrison, with elements of Northern Soul (courtesy of the brass sound that weaves its way in and out). It’s a breezy enough offering that certainly gets the toes tapping along, building to a chorus that rouses in the right way. But it probably needed just a little more zip and edge to really stand out. Not that such criticism has held Rateliff back. The singer-songwriter has built up a passionate folk rock following over the last few years, He’s released a handful of albums with his band the wheel and then a pair of critically acclaimed solo albums, which gained him a succession of famous fans, including Laura Marling, Marcus Mumford, Robert Plant, Bon Iver & Ed Sheeran.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Death In The Afternoon

DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON – 82: Swedish electro-pop act Death In The Afternoon (AKA Dita) drop their new single in the form of the chilled out 82 but only intermittently impress. The track begins with a steady beat and lures the listener into its dreamy sound, especially with its blissful electronic waves. But once the vocals enter the fray, the song adopts a more eery feel and something of a washed out sound that’s only enlivened again once those electronic waves return. If anything, it’s the electronic hook that grabs you but it’s not quite enough to sustain the whole record. Dita have garnered comparisons with acts like MGMT, M83 or Young Galaxy, and while there are traces here, it’s not quite in the same league just yet, which is a shame because whenever those instrumentals take over, the song sets itself up as quite the mid-tempo summer soundtrack offering it could so easily have become. The outro is particularly enjoyable.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Avicii, For A Better Day

AVICIIFOR A BETTER DAY: For his latest dance offering, Avicii has enlisted another soulful vocalist, this time in the form of Alex Ebert. The result follows the same kind of formula as normal – sung vocals followed by epic dance grooves. This time around, Ebert lays down a bittersweet, sparse set of vocals before Avicii then drops a stirring piano arrangement and more of those slick, genre-spanning beats that he’s become renowned for. It’s a measure of Avicii’s confidence at the moment that he can appeal across such a wide range of spectrums – his particular brand of dance embracing other music genres to winning effect. And while For A Better Day doesn’t quite match the euphoric heights of his best material, there’s no denying that when those rolling piano sections are unleashed, you’ll be jumping up and down in delight. It’s another slice of easy listening fun.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Justin Bieber, What Do You Mean?

JUSTIN BIEBERWHAT DO YOU MEAN?: Could it be that we’re going soft in our older days? The new single from Justin Bieber is actually quite a decent pop offering. A maturer sound that embraces synth-pop elements, a hint of R’n‘B (particularly in the way that he employs his vocals) and a catchy chorus, this is an effortlessly engaging record that suggests Bieber has come through recent troubles to emerge with a better sound. It doesn’t break any new ground and won’t stack up against any records of the year, but given some of Bieber’s past material, this is a much better sound that has genuine crossover potential. Just don’t admit it too loudly!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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