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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 25, 2016

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

Hannah Georgas

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: HANNAH GEORGASEVELYN: Hannah Georgas has dropped Evelyn as the latest single to be lifted from her critically-acclaimed album For Evelyn, which was produced by Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh. It’s a really good record too. Vocally, there’s a touch of the ethereal about it, akin to the likes of Lykke Li. But the accompanying electronics have a greater pop sheen to them, making this more widely accessible on an electro-pop basis. The chorus, in which Georgas confidently declares “I’m not afraid anymore” is also empowering and anthemic, sending you on a feel-good head-rush. It’s easy to see why the album drew so many positive reviews for this Canadian singer-songwriter. The accompanying video was directed by Sammy Rawal (The New Pornographers, Metric). Speaking about the treatment- filmed at Toronto’s TIFF Lightbox, home to the Toronto International Film Festival – Rawal says; “I kept envisioning that specific rooftop location of the TIFF Lightbox in my head. I loved how graphic and unconventional it was…perched up on top of the city. I knew it would be a perfect visual balance for the type of performance video I imagined. It’s minimal design and neutral grey colour would offset the beat-driven edit, dance sequences, and Hannah’s wardrobe perfectly. I really wanted to play with pattern, repetition, looping, and scale with this video. For me, it almost feels like this army of Hannah clones assembling high above the city in the clouds, and marching confidently forward across an urban landscape.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Seafret, Blank You Out

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SEAFRETBLANK YOU OUT: Bridlington duo Seafret (aka Jack Sedman and guitarist Harry Draper) release Blank You Out as their appealing new single. Recorded at the end of the summer in Glasgow with Ross Hamilton, who they worked with on several tracks on their debut album, the single is a stomping, impassioned ode to modern life and – more pertinently – love. Indeed, it’s a lost love as Sedman sings “gotta find a way to blank you out”. And yet, in spite of the melancholy sentiment underpinning the lyrics, there’s an anthemic quality to the record itself, which sounds big and vibrant without bringing you down (and yet poignant at the same time, courtesy of lyrics like “and I wish I was with you now”). Speaking about the track, Sedman explains: “Sometimes in life, you’d give anything to be with the person or people you love the most. Blank You Out is about trying to find a way to distract yourself in the times you are separated from them.” It’s top stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Soeur

SOEUR – NO FIRE: Breaking hard-rock down to its simplest, most fundamental form, Sœur are billed as a brutal, soulful assault on the senses. Bound together and battle-hardened by an experience and appreciation of the fringes of British rock music, Anya Pulver, Tina Maynard and James Collins have already found their incendiary live shows selling out in dive bars and clubs across their native South West. Now, they drop the single No Fire, complete with a video that captures the intensity of their live performances, and succeed in blowing you away. This is gritty rock, enlivened by some crunching guitar riffs, and a gutsy set of female vocals. There are hints of PJ Harvey in some of those vocals, albeit with a more melodic streak at times. The most notable thing, however, is the way in which the vocal lines tangle and intertwine, along with riffs that are so substantial they’ve got their own post code. The beat, meanwhile, is provided by former Maybeshewill drummer James Collins – and it ties everything down with industrial power. Hence, this is a sound of colossal proportions, also comparable to the likes of Ash and Nirvana and the US alt-rock surf scene. It blows you away. This is a band clearly on fire.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jake Bugg

JAKE BUGGPUT OUT THE FIRE: Jake Bugg drops another great track from his current LP, On My One in the form of the country soaked rocker Put Out The Fire. A rollicking, quick-fire listen, this is shot through with some great acoustic guitar licks and a typically intense vocal. It’s all about refusing to smother the ambition that burns like a fire within him, with the video prefaced by an old interview with Jake in which he declares his ambition to become a successful singer. As with all great Bugg tracks, the mix of vocals and guitar is sublime, with those country-influenced, rockabilly guitar riffs getting those toes tapping and recalling memories of everyone from Crosby, Stills & Nash to Tom Petty via The Travelling Wilburys and more. It’s another terrific example of why Bugg is such a prodigious young talent.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Leiff Vollebekk

LEIF VOLLEBEKKELEGY: Leif Vollebekk, the Montreal singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, had hit a wall. In the midst of endless touring, Leif found himself retreating to his lonely hotel rooms after shows and listening to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon alone in the dark. His own songs didn’t sound right and he felt the bright spots in his sets were the covers he’d end with: songs by Ray Charles or Townes Van Zandt. In this deep blue mood he booked a secret show at a Montreal dive bar, only playing covers with a band that rehearsed once. The experience led Leif to change his approach to song-writing: explore the ideas that came spontaneously to him, and let the songs shape themselves. Soon, the songs came pouring out of him. This approach is what created the lush new album, Twin Solitude, due out on February 24 on Secret City Records. Ahead of that is new single Elegy, which has that late night, dive bar kind of vibe – ie, a husky, jazz-soul set of vocals, laidback beats and jazz-soul piano, not to mention that heartfelt lyrical honesty found in those kind of places (where artists can really let their true thoughts and feelings flow). It’s a quietly mesmerising listen, given extra added resonance once the strings unveil themselves towards the end. The re-charged Vollebekk looks set to be an exciting prospect for 2017.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Superglu, Dreams

SUPERGLUDREAMS: Superglu rock their way into your musical subconscious with the fun new single Dreams. Raw punk energy, beautiful harmonies and fizzing, livewire vocals weave and soar incandescently around crunching guitars, while the band will have you bouncing off the walls in a style often envisioned in Ben Brown and Krista Lynch’s energetic stage performance. Dreams depicts a haunting hyper reality, as the dream world becomes larger than life with Brown encountering a succession of surreal visions from roller-skating ecstasy to jungle warfare, unable to discern fantasy from fact. It’s as giddy a listen as that sounds, complete with plenty of head-rush woo-hoo harmonies and some crunching, Weezer-esque guitar riffs. Indeed, the spirit of Weezer looms large over proceedings throughout, as does acts like Pixies, early Blur, The Fall and even The Beach Boys. Think it sounds a strange brew? Maybe… but it works a treat in putting you into a good mood.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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HUNTER & THE BEAR – I AM WHAT I AM: Ahead of their much-anticipated debut album, which is set to drop in Spring 2017, UK rockers Hunter & The Bear release the new single I Am What I Am. In contrast to the high-octane, raw energy of their previous offering Who’s Gonna Hear You?, their new offering presents a deeper, more sensitive aspect to the band that highlights their skills as accomplished songwriters. I Am What I Am is a song full of feeling that provides an honest and emotional portrayal of human relationships, delivered with the charisma that has built Hunter & The Bear a fierce reputation and cult following throughout the UK, Europe and beyond. Vocally, there’s something of the gravel-rooted tones of Eddie Vedder about them, while the guitars wouldn’t sound out of place on a Seth Lakeman, Pearl Jam or Coldplay record. Indeed, the solo midway through is beautiful. But then the song as a whole enchants and beguiles, while the lyrics about accepting yourself for what you are, are empowering. It’s a brilliant showcase of a really great side to this promising new British act.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Angel Haze, Resurrection

ANGEL HAZERESURRECTION: Angel Haze releases another typically provocative record in the form of Resurrection. Setting herself up as something of a female equivalent to Eminem, complete with gritty urban vibe, this opens with the line “2014, the year I died, now I’m resurrected like Jesus Christ”. It’s a stretch to think that Angel Haze sees herself as something of a Messiah like figure, spewing her flow like some kind of all-seeing font of all knowledge. But there you have it… and that’s part of what makes the record so unappealing. Similarly, the vocals are too raw and edgy, especially when set against such a sparse, haunted electronic backdrop, and the similarly sparse beats. It’s a difficult listen, devoid of any emotional connection or charm. If Angel Haze represents the new sound of the mainstream urban/hip hop movement, then that’s a sad thing. We need to resurrect some old-skool hip hop.
Rating: 1 out of 5

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