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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, August 3, 2015

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

Beck, Dreams

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECKDREAMS: Having revisited sombre territory with his last album, Morning Phase, Beck here rediscovers his mojo in thrilling fashion with Dreams, the first track to be taken from his forthcoming tenth studio album. Opening with some kick-ass guitar riffs, this wastes no time in telling you that Beck is back in breezier mode, here declaring his love for someone’s dreams and drifting between rock and falsetto vocals. The chorus, with its ‘d-d-dreams’ breakdown, owes a slight nod to Bowie’s ch-ch-changes, but is also accompanied by an indie-pop vibe that has drawn favourable comparisons with Foster The People. This being a Beck production, though, means this remains a signature piece and a mid-track breakdown into psychedelic territory (around the three minute mark) is designed to wrong-foot – and does so in thrilling fashion. Yet once that kick-ass chorus returns, then Dreams returns to the breezy alt-rock track that it is – if anything, it’s a dream come true for Beck fans. He still knows how to blow you away.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bear's Den, Above The Clouds of Pompeii

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BEAR’S DENABOVE THE CLOUDS OF POMPEII: Revisited to mark Bear’s Den’s Ivor Novello nomination, the beautiful Above The Clouds of Pompeii gets a very welcome re-release and deserves to find even greater apprecation this time around. The song is the kind of offering that disarms from the start thanks to its gentle simplicity… in this case, an acoustic guitar that gives rise to a lovely vocal and some intelligent lyricism that combines heartfelt emotion with a historical backdrop. The layering that follows is fantastically realised, with touches of banjo and some drum for good measure. By the time the track reaches its quietly rousing finale, you’ll be totally smitten and hailing another classic anthem from Bear’s Den. Frontman Andrew Davie says of the track: “Above the Clouds of Pompeii is a song we started playing in the back of a VW camper on our first ever tour and we’ve played it live at every show we’ve played since.” It’s a gem and further likely to enhance this band’s burgeoning reputation. It’s taken from the band’s latest album, Islands, and we had no hesitation in making it a single of the week again!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sia, Fire Meet Gasoline

SIAFIRE MEET GASOLINE: Sia shows why she remains a class apart from most pop acts of the moment with Fire Meet Gasoline, the latest single to be taken from her excellent album, 1000 Forms of Fear. Built around those oh-so distinct [and to die for] vocals, this combines a melancholy undertow with some thrilling musical arrangements (emphatic beats, swirling piano) to create another heady pop hit. If anything, this one veers towards the cinematic and soars whenever the chorus hits. But it’s just as effective during the verses, which find Sia at her husky, brooding best. The video is also another one worth checking out, built around a volatile relationship and featuring the supermodel Heidi Klum [and yes, she is featured in her underwear]. If Elastic Heart remains the benchmark single from the current album, then this one isn’t trailing too far behind. Sia, herself, is on fire at the moment.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Little May, Home

LITTLE MAYHOME: Little May’s dark tangle of raw lyrics, honest and haunting melodies and sublime vocal harmonies has quickly established this Sydney based outfit as ones to watch in 2015. Singles Dust and Hide helped put them on the map garnering critical acclaim from publications including The Sunday Times and The Guardian and daytime radio play from the likes of Radio 1 and 6music. Now, new single Home looks set to further enhance their reputation. A pop song that’s positively dripping in likeable melodies and wistful vocals, this washes over you in supremely satisfying fashion to deliver an instantly likeable and highly melodic crowdpleaser of a record. Capturing an intensity now trademark of Little May’s music, Home, say the band, “was one of the first songs we recorded with Aaron. It’s an old song, revisited. It had been written three years prior, from a place where a sense of belonging was being constantly chased. I think we will always associate this song, and this whole album, with Hudson and the time we all spent there.” The accompanying video was recorded in the main hall at Future Past Studios – a converted nineteenth-century church in Hudson, New York, and produced by acclaimed videographer Tim Sessler (Brooklyn Aerials), known for the ground breaking short film Moments. While recording in the historic building the band drew inspiration for the video from the studio’s CCTV network, which allows producers in the basement control room to watch and communicate with those on the studio level upstairs. The studio footage is juxtaposed with vignettes depicting the concept of Home in various neighbourhoods in New York and Brooklyn.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Maccabees, Something Like Happiness

THE MACCABEESSOMETHING LIKE HAPPINESS: Produced by Hugo White, The Maccabees and Laurie Latham, and written by The Maccabees – Orlando Weeks, Hugo White, Felix White, Rupert Jarvis and Sam Doyle – the new single Something Like Happiness is reportedly one of 11 career-defining new songs on the forthcoming new album Marks To Prove It, (also out July 31). Combining indie-pop melodies with a sense of the bittersweet lyrically, this also is epic in scope (especially when hitting you with its expansive chorus). The result is a song that’s big, bold and utterly beautiful and, surely, a soundtrack moment in waiting. Of the new single, Orlando says: “It’s about being really happy for someone if they’ve got something. You can feel like you have to rally against things, but people know their minds and if it brings someone contentment, then good for them.” If the remainder of the album is as good as this, then it could rate among The Maccabees’ finest work to date.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ghostpoet, Sorry My Love, it's You Not Me

GHOSTPOETSORRY MY LOVE, IT’S YOU NOT ME: Ghostpoet releases the latest single to be taken from his current album Shedding Skin in the form of the melancholy Sorry My Love, It’s You Not Me. Notable for featuring guest vocals from Lucy Rose alongside Obaro’s melancholy lyrics, this puts forward a reflective narrative that finds Ghostpoet weave tales of a one-night stand, articulating the awkwardness, hand in hand with wanting something more meaningful. It’s typically thought-provoking and boasts a memorable chorus, while the verse structures – with its slick beat arrangements and lonely guitar twang – have something of a Faithless vibe to them. Hence, while it may not rate among Ghostpoet’s very best work, it’s quietly compelling and the presence of Rose gives it that little extra lift.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Pinstripe Pigeon Band, Never Be APart

THE PINSTRIPE PIGEON BANDNEVER BE APART: The Pinstripe Pigeon Band began as a modest, yet ambitious studio project, incorporating production values inspired by Jon Hopkins, Nile Rogers and Cut Chemist, but this quickly developed into a seven-strong pop force, releasing five well-received EPs throughout 2013/14. Now, they release the Sound Asleep EP, which features the lead single Never Be Apart. Built around a pining, melancholy set of powerful vocals, the track also benefits from the presence of two keyboardists – one melodically inventive Stevie Wonder/Oscar Peterson-esqe pianist and another more classical, akin to Ludvico Einaudi, but both complimenting each other perfectly. The two instruments combine to often compelling effect here, providing a great backdrop to the emotiona vocals. Collectively, the band soak up songcraft and live influences from Fleetwood Mac, The Band, The Beatles, Ryan Adams, Motown, Chic, John Coltrane, The E Street Band and Ben Harper. Some of those are present here to useful effect.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Emmi

EMMI – MY KIND OF SWAG: Emerging as somethig of a cross between Sia and Macy Gray, newcomer Emmi’s debut single My Kinda Swag is an incredibly accomplished affair that looks set to get her noticed in a very big way. Produced by US writer Jarrad Kritzstein (Travie McCoy, Zak Waters, Washington) Swag features a melting pot of sultry R’n‘B vibes, electronic elements and crunchy urban beats, which perfectly showcases Emmi’s spectacular and soaring vocal range. It’s moody, sexy and kind of mixed up, with slick beats and atmospheric synths providing a serious but highly likeable tone. Emmi says of the single: “I often write songs for my 13-year-old self, songs I wished she had had to listen to back then. This is one of them. It says to her, ‘OK Emmi, so you’re totally uncool and you’re still growing into your teeth, but you are also kind and truthful and you try to hold others up. And that’s what matters. To the people that matter. You got my kinda swag’. Emmi is clearly one to keep an eye on. The video is good, too, and has a Sia vibe.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Heard a great single, but yet to buy it? Well, we may have reviewed it. Previous reviews: