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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 15, 2017

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

Weezer, Beach Boys

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: WEEZERBEACH BOYS: As anticipation of Weezer’s new LP Pacific Daydream grows, the release of new single Beach Boys merely heightens that excitement. A more laidback offering than previous offerings Feels Like Summer and Mexican Fender, this nevertheless retains an infectious energy and a really feel-good vibe befitting its beach boys theme. The central riff is simple but endearing, while the chorus is catchy as hell, asking listeners to “turn it up, it’s the Beach Boys”. The harmonies are tight and, late on, owe more than a passing resemblance to Brian Jones and company. But this remains a distinct slice of Weezer song-writing – and it’s a pleasurable listen that makes you want to hear it over and over again. On the evidence thus far, Pacific Daydream could be one of the albums of the year and one of the finest in Weezer’s collection.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rae Morris

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: RAE MORRIS – DO IT: Blackpool-born artist Rae Morris has unveiled Do It as the second track from her upcoming sophomore album (due for release in Spring 2018). Produced by her long-term collaborator, and now boyfriend Fryars, as well as My Riot (London Grammar, Bloc Party, RHODES), and featuring Rae’s trademark ethereal vocals over euphoric electronic pop elements, Do It is a highly personal tale of letting go and jumping in to the unknown. It disarms from the start, with its a capella opening. But as the beats become layered in, and the melodies create an ever more infectious backdrop, the overall beauty of the single is allowed to shine through. This one eventually shimmers with the lush combination of Morris’s lovely vocals and those carefully constructed instrumentals. The video sees Rae once again collaborating with Noel Paul (Bat For Lashes, Röyksopp) who directed the video for Reborn. Commenting on the track herself, Rae said: “‘This song is a dare to myself; it’s about daring to take a risk and choosing to take the more exciting route! It kind of exists as a part two of Cold, from my first album Unguarded. It’s what happens when you go back into the studio to make more music. Do you write another duet and do a similar thing, or take a risk and do something you’ve never done before? It’s also pretty damn sexy!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Meadowlark, Sunlight

VIDEO/SINGLE OF THE WEEK: MEADOWLARKSUNLIGHT: Meadowlark have shared a striking video for their new single Sunlight, which in itself impresses with its mix of seductive vocals and melodic beauty. Built around those beautifully evocative vocals, and some laidback beats, this seduces effortlessly during its build-ups and then drops a mesmerising chorus that’s dripping with quality. It’s a tranquil, thoughtful offering that nevertheless registers strongly in the mind. The track is the latest to be lifted from the Bristol based boy-girl duo’s debut album Postcards, which is out now on AllPoints, and which further underlines why they’re so critically hot right now. The Sunlight video was directed by Meadowlark’s own Dan Broadley who alongside playing in the band has produced videos for the likes of Don Broco, Lower Than Atlantis, Mallory Knox, as well as the majority of Meadowlark’s catalogue. Featuring two men in Y-fronts and Donald Trump masks making out, the video is provocative but rather than aimlessly smearing America or its president, the video is a satirical look at prejudice. Dan himself explains further: “Sunlight is probably one of Meadowlark’s biggest sounding songs and with that I wanted to create a big visual statement for it. A lot of our conversations recently have been swaying towards political discussion and it’s hard not to bring up the USA during them. I have no idea why I thought up the idea I did, it just came to me, possibly because of my pent up frustration with all that’s going on over there. Once it was in my head I couldn’t think of anything else to go with the song (believe me, I tried).”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sean Christopher, Paper Plane Pilot

SEAN CHRISTOPHERPAPER PLANE PILOT: Paper Plane Pilot is the debut UK single from Dutch-born, Bristol-based artist Sean Christopher – and it marks him out as a talent to watch. Taken from his forthcoming LP, Yonder, which is due for release in early 2018, the track combines a warm set of vocals (which have already been compared to Jeff Buckley) with some slick acoustic guitar licks. It’s very much a troubadour style offering that, again, draws comparisons to the likes of Buckley, Newton Faulkner and even Chris Martin (at times). But it’s an accomplished listen – one that’s alive with tight melodies, intelligent lyricism, emotional content and a really appealing set of vocals. Commenting on the track, Christopher said: “I wrote Paper Plane Pilot last year after visiting a good friend in a remote area of Southern France. Although the lyrics might imply this song is about myself wandering French fields, it’s really to do with youth. It’s about feeling free without really being aware of the fast-paced environment we currently live in, and a certain nostalgia for a kid’s view of the world.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Carly Rae Jepsen

CARLY RAE JEPSENCUT TO THE FEELING: The official video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest single, Cut To The Feeling, was shot on a studio lot in Los Angeles. Carly’s band in the video is made up of friends and musicians David Kalani Larkins, Greta Morgan (from Springtime Carnivore) and James Flannigan. The song itself is as brash, pop and euphoric as its name suggests. For starters, there’s a thumping back-beat, some soaring vocals over the sweeping chorus and lyrics that find Jepsen seeking some ultimate highs (such as dancing on the roof or playing with the angels). It’s all about cutting to the feeling. And while certainly effective in bringing your own energy levels up in the style of other pop artists such as Katy Perry and Charli XCX, there’s also that nagging sense that this is following a tried and tested formula. Hence, while fun while it lasts, there’s a sense that this isn’t a stretch too.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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David Gray, Hole In The Weather

DAVID GRAYHOLE IN THE WEATHER Multi-platinum recording artist David Gray has released new track, Hole In The Weather, his first new material of 2017, and it’s a self-consciously upbeat offering that continues to showcase the singer’s exceptional vocals. It’s augmented by a warm set of melodies that charm from the outset, and which really come alive during the big chorus. It’s the kind of song that almost instantly makes you toe-tap (or head nod) along in appreciation, while building to a big, harmony-strewn chorus that should go down a storm in live form. It looks destined to become a firm fan favourite, as well as carrying the potential to win over even more followers. Gray’s vocals, as ever, are as emotive as ever and oh-so distinct, lending the song its own kind of identity. It also looks certain to make you reminisce about your own favourite place. Commenting on the track, Gray said: “I’m just coming to the end now of what has been a hugely rewarding and super creative year in the studio with my new producer Ben de Vries, and we are in the final stages of finishing off a swathe of new music, most of which will be released next year. Taken as a whole I think it’s possibly the most uplifting batch of songs that I’ve ever written. Hole in the Weather is one of several tracks that are now completed and I’ve decided to put it out there as a little taste of things to come for what is set to be a new and very upbeat phase in my music. Hope you all enjoy. Much much more to follow in 2018….”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fall Out Boy

FALL OUT BOYTHE LAST OF THE REAL ONES: Fall Out Boy have released something of a celebratory new single in the form of the upbeat The Last Of The Real Ones which, like Linkin Park, seems to have adopted a more pop sheen than their more commonly known for. Built around a lively piano arrangement early on, it then piles on the electronics and guitars for a brash, sometimes frenzied sonic assault. It’s fast, its lively and it’s almost certain to have you dancing along. Of the song, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz said: “That kind of love you feel for someone because of their glitches, not in spite of them… where you feel the vacuum of them everywhere… and your heart just feels like TNT, quicksand and oblivion all at once.” It’s an apt description for a song that continues to explode throughout, rather like the TNT Wentz references. Admittedly, it could have benefitted from a little more restraint, allowing the piano loop to take a greater hold. But it’s got an undeniable energy and should easily appease the fans. The accompanying video is directed by Mccoy | Meyer.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Liima, 1982

LIIMA – 1982: Danish and Finnish band Liima (featuring all three members of Efterklang) have announced details of their second album, 1982, to be released on November 3, 2017 via City Slang. To celebrate, they’ve dropped the title track and come over all cinematic. In the year 1982, Time Magazine chose the first ever non-human ‘person of the year’, the Personal Computer. It’s also the year that Liima’s Casper Clausen was born, with the other three band members born in the surrounding years. Though 1982 is not an album that tries to mimic the sounds of that year, it is an album borne of influences and circumstances that stem back to that point in time. Hence, this title track has an electronic element underpinning it that’s very retro and ’80s influenced, as well as cinematic (in a futuristic Blade Runner kind of way). It’s a record that sweeps you along on those electronic waves, before dropping a somewhat more laidback vocal that serves as a beguiling contrast. 1982 is arguably at its best when focusing on the instrumentals but it’s a consistently engaging listen, nonetheless. The video for the album’s title track, shared online today, was created by director and visual artist Baby Duka. He commented: “Liima reached out to me while I was in the middle of developing a computer game – the melancholy world of synths and wet drums fit perfectly with an idea I’ve been toying with for a while: to mix the pixel graphics of the Atari and C64 with a 3D camera. I saw it as a cool opportunity to visualize an Orwellian dystopia where the dream of being in another place is always present in the human individual.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Howie Payne, Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer

HOWIE PAYNESOME BELIEVER, SWEET DREAMER: Howie Payne has released Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer as the latest offering to emerge from his long-awaited new album Mountain, to be released on October 27 on Full Stack Records. The new album, The Stands’ frontman’s first since his 2009 Ethan Johns-produced debut Bright Light Ballads, is being described by the confident singer as his best so far. Of the new track itself, Payne said: “I wrote Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer walking around London. I wanted to write something that had a kind of epic-ness to it, like those great 60s/70’s songs by Neil Young, Nick Drake, Pink Floyd and all that. I had this chord someone had showed me, it’s in a tune by Love, a magnificent sounding chord. So, I was playing around with that and came up with this little pattern that I thought was pretty cool. Over the next couple of days when I was out and about, I had this pattern in mind and started to make up some words for it. I wasn’t really thinking about what or who it might be about, I just liked how the words sounded together. I mean, it’s probably me singing to me, you know, but it could be about anyone who’s moved around some, who’s chasing something, and I think we all feel like that sometimes.” The resulting single does have a vaguely psychedelic vibe, vocally, that recalls classic Pink Floyd, as well as psychedelic Beatles. It’s shot through with classic elements – good vocals, good use of guitar and a really classic kind of rock vibe.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Malka, No No No

MALKA – NO NO NO: Scottish experimental alt-pop singer Malka has dropped the lively new single No No No, the latest to be taken from her new album Ratatatat, due for release on October 20. And while it’s clear from the album’s name that the songs should have that rapid, rat-a-tat kind of vibe, No No No picks that up and runs with it. It combines electronic and world sounds, creating a colourful carnivalesque pop sound that is high on energy and bristling with energy. Malka’s own vocals add a nice pop sheen, flitting between innocent during the background harmonies, to sultry whenever she slows them down a little (and that’s just a little). The lyrics are shot through with some wonderfully trippy lines such as “no one to stop them, those bright burning eyes; no one to tell us to fight or to hide”. The trumpet fanfare towards the end is a lovely touch too. In short, it’s a record that’s alive with possibility and vibrancy, and which underlines Malka’s experimental, alt-pop credentials to the maximum best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

Beck, Dear Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECK – UP ALL NIGHT: A couple of weeks after dropping Dear Life, Beck unveils Up All Night as the fourth taster from his forthcoming new LP Colours and dazzles once more. A breezy slice of experimental pop, this opens amid slick beat arrangements, zippy electronics and breezy acoustic guitar licks. The chorus, meanwhile, is deliberately feel-good and finds Beck pining “just want to stay up all night with you”, his distinct vocals providing a reassuring backdrop. This being a Beck production, the track involves one or two flights of fancy mid-track, where beats deconstruct themselves and verses flip conventional structural form. But that’s part of the fun of listening to Beck and all of what makes him such an exciting artist to listen to, particularly when working in upbeat mode. Up All Night follows Dreams, Wow and Dear Life in making Colours one of autumn’s essential album purchases. The equally must-see video, directed by Canada, is about a superhero teenager (played by Solene Rigot) who faces increasingly bizarre obstacles as she rescues her passed-out friend (Pedro Attenborough) at a party.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lamb, Illumina

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LAMBILLUMINA: Widely regarded as pioneers of the ‘90’s electronic scene, Lamb mark the 21st anniversary of their seminal eponymous debut album with an autumn tour – and the release of new material. Hence, a heavy slice of dub electronica, combined with the beguiling vocals of Lou Rhodes, finds the heart of Lamb beating as deep and as strong as ever on new single Illumina. Andy Barlow’s rich production, rock solid beats and broad palette of industrial, organic and digital sound, combine with Rhodes’ seductive vocals, providing a timely reminder of their distinct place in the musical firmament. It’s a long way removed from their slow build and epic release of their seminal track Gorecki, but it’s undeniably exciting to hear Rhodes sublime vocals once again set against intelligent, slick beat arrangements. The sound has moved forward, though, to ensure that Lamb remain as relevant and exciting as ever to listen to – achieving that rare feat of combining elements of chillout with something harder hitting. This is as beautiful as it is invigorating.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alexander James, Hands

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: ALEXANDER JAMESHANDS: Following the release of his debut single Faith, electronic artist Alexander James now follows up with Hands and continues to impress. A slow-builder, the track starts off in minimalist, stripped back fashion with James’s vocals accompanied by only some electronic notes. But it carefully layers in more electronics, picking up the pace and heightening the melodies amid some mixed up vocal styles, before rising to a rousing crescendo for the finale. It’s the kind of songwriting that is tailor-made for the word ‘epic’ and which looks set to get this artist even more noticed. Speaking about Hands himself, James said: “It was written about a time where I felt I could not do right by anyone or myself. I felt that all of my actions were catching up with me and that I was consumed by an overwhelming feeling of grief and self sabotage. Hands is one of my favourite songs on my EP because the song goes where it went naturally, no defined verse and no defined chorus meant that it was more progressive and fluid, which replicates the emotions and feelings I felt at the time.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anna Leone

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: ANNA LEONE – MY SOUL I: Hotly-tipped Swedish singer-songwriter Anna Leone has demonstrated her considerable talent in some style with beautifully serene debut single My Soul I. Think Sia mixed with Lou Rhodes, with a little Norah Jones thrown in, and you’re somewhere close to what to expect from the vocals (which really kind of stop you in your tracks). The song itself is a raw tale of love, loss and the unabashed yearning that comes with it. It’s dusky, atmospheric, cinematic, beguiling and hypnotic – and a terrific showcase of those heart-melting vocals (“I’ll do anything to love you”). Anna worked with Bryan Wilson on the track (Grammy nomimated producer, engineer and mixer, who has worked with the likes of Florence + The Machine and Arctic Monkeys). She commented on the track: “I wrote My Soul I while I was going through a tough time and it helped me deal with some of it. It’s melancholic but I also think the song is kind of hopeful as well – that’s always been important for me to reflect.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Linkin Park x Steve Aoki

REMIX OF THE WEEK: LINKIN PARK X STEVE AOKIDARKER THAN THE LIGHT THAT NEVER BLEEDS: Internationally renowned DJ Steve Aoki has dropped a new remix in memory of late Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington. The artist worked with the band on both their tracks Darker Than Blood and A Light That Never Comes and so has decided to mash the two songs together, while retaining his own signature dance sound. The result is a as poignant as it is empowering. Dance fans will lap it up on the club scene, while Linkin Park fans will probably shed a tear in memory of their favourite singer. Indeed, Aoki was moved to release the track after being so moved by the loss of Bennington, who he described as a close friend. And if elements of the track are a little too heavily dance orientated, it’s still good to hear Bennington’s distinct vocals again over something fresh, while some of the nu-metal elements that made Linkin Park so distinct have been retained, albeit with a dance edge. It’s a good listen and, what’s more, the net proceeds from the track will go to Music For Relief’s One More Light Fund in Chester’s name.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Pom Poko

POM POKOYOU’LL BE FINE: Ahead of their forthcoming three-night London residency (taking place later in September), Pom Poko have unveiled a new single in the form of You’ll Be Fine. A more mellow cut for the Norwegian band who have built a reputation for their raucous live performances and eclectic sound, this is dripping in breezy melodies and gorgeous, even sun-kissed vocals. Midway through, the song threatens to enter more raucous territory, with some sharper electronic and guitar hooks. But Pom Poko manage to reign themselves in, ensuring that the central chorus of “you’ll be fine”, sounds as reassuring as it’s meant to. It’s a fun track. When it comes to the general Pom Poko sound, think of what you might get if you mix sing-song vocals with intense grooves, bouncy guitars and absurd riffs – a punky sweetness, if you will. Their unique concoction of crowd pleasing vocal hooks, ’70s disco riffs and raucous rhythmic changes combine to make this band a feat to behold live and – more often than not – a pleasure to listen to on the radio. They’re doing just fine.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Robert Plant

ROBERT PLANTBONES OF SAINTS: Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant shows no sign of toning things down with thunderous new single Bones of Saints emerging as the latest offering from his forthcoming Carry Fire LP. Featuring some fantastically bluesy guitar riffs and robust tom-toms, courtesy of backing band the Sensational Space Shifters, this also finds Plant in brooding mood vocally. Lyrically, it’s also full of the kind of foreboding the instrumentals suggest, with talk of “fire up in the sky” and “madness in the air” – a possible nod to world events. It’s a heady mix, nonetheless, that ensures you’ll be foot-stomping along in giddy appreciation, whether playing the air guitar or just kicking back to reflect on what this legendary singer has to say. What’s more, it could even boast a crossover appeal into the mainstream, capable of appealing to a whole new generation of rock fans.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foo Fighters, The Line

FOO FIGHTERSTHE LINE: Hot off the back of releasing the blistering The Sky Is A Neighbourhood as the first single from their forthcoming Concrete and Gold LP, Foo Fighters now drop The Line. But while the former track was a real energy rush for the way in which it combined classic elements with something new, The Line is a more straightforward Foo Fighters rocker. That is to say, it’s high on big riffs, impactful drums and sweeeping choruses, as well as a solid combination of melody and power. But it’s not really bringing anything new to the mix. Dave Grohl belts out the lyrics with customary vigour. And it’s catchy. But while diehard fans of the band will doubtless nod along in giddy appreciation, this one lacks the ability to broaden the band’s appeal. It’s a good Foo Fighters track rather than a standout one. Dare we say, it’s the sound of a band coasting. In Foo Fighters terms, that’s no bad thing. But after the high of The Sky Is A Neighbourhood, perhaps we were greedily expecting more.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Tove Lo, Disco Tits

TOVE LO – DISCO TITS: Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum, multi-billion-streaming artist Tove Lo has released her new track Disco Tits via Polydor Records. The track sees Tove Lo reuniting with The Struts, her long-time collaborators and the same production team behind Cool Girl, Habits (Stay High) and Talking Body. “Disco Tits is abut loosing yourself with your new found love. Naive, excited, no consequences. The happiness in the haze I’m feelin’ right now,” explained Tove. The ensuing track has a deliberately sexualised energy to it, as well as a free flowing abandon that’s constructed around super-slick beat and synth arrangements, as well as a provocative, seductive central vocal. It sounds as though Tove Lo is cutting loose in exactly the way she describes. Hence, while mainstream friendly to the max, it has its own energy and an undeniably sexy edge to it. Disco Tits is the first taste of new music from BLUE LIPS [lady wood phase II], due later this year.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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ZAYN feat SIADUSK TILL DAWN: Two of the pop world’s powerhouse performers unite for new single Dusk TilL Dawn: One Direction’s now solo artist Zayn and singer-producer par excellence Sia. The result, however, isn’t quite as incendiary as we’d hoped. Indeed, it’s a power ballad that sarts out moody and slow-builds towards its big moments. But it’s kind of soppy. Zayn sets things in motion with a lovelorn vocal, before Sia drops her undeniably powerful vocals to give the track some extra pep. The two combine for the chorus, which does, admittedly, deliver something more of what to expect (crowd-pleasing and anthemic). But whenever it returns to the verses, it loses its mojo somewhat. That said, the video – a kind of Bonnie & Clyde meets True Romance inspired gangster piece – is entertaining.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 1, 2017

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

Ten Tonnes, Cracks Between

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: TEN TONNESCRACKS BETWEEN: Ten Tonnes has been busy laying the foundations for a much bigger future following the release of his second EP Born To Lose as well as last weekend’s sets at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. Now Hertford-born musician Ethan Barnett releases Cracks Between and continues to impress. The track offers up three minutes of rambunctious rock ‘n’ roll energy in which Barnett’s eloquent examination of broken romance is delivered with his coolly-phrased vocal. It’s got sharp guitar riffs, a true rock swagger, some thoughtful lyrics and an easy-going, sing-along vibe courtesy of the “woah-hoo” chorus. “I wrote Cracks Between when I was 18,” said Barnett. “It’s a light-hearted look at a break-up.” It demonstrates a maturity beyond Barnett’s years (much like Jake Bugg), while dropping that kind of cool rock swagger reminiscent of Bugg and The Kooks. The track is also notable for seeing Barnett reunited with producer and former Maccabees guitarist Hugo White. It was recorded at London studio The Drugstore.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jessie Ware, Selfish Love

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: JESSIE WARESELFISH LOVE: Jessie Ware has dropped Selfish Love, the follow-up to her comeback single Midnight, and if anything gets better and better. A slinky, cinematic offering, this suggests danger and desire and features the kind of vocal from Ware that bears favourable comparison with artists such as Sade. The backing instrumentals, meanwhile, have a very cinematic quality about them, hinting at more sexual energy as well as a dusky, sunny, late night Mediterranean vibe. The track premiered as Zane Lowe’s World Record on Beats 1 and is accompanied by a video directed by Tom Beard. “Selfish Love is a track that reminds me why I enjoy singing so much. Even though it’s coming at the end of the summer, I hope you play it in the heat,” said Jessie. The Selfish Love video, shot in Mallorca, is billed as the prequel to Midnight. Together, the videos tell the story of a couple broken apart in a classic film noir tragedy. Selfish Love is the second track to be taken from Jessie’s forthcoming third album due for release later this year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rhye, Summer Days

RHYESUMMER DAYS (ROOSEVELT REMIX): Rhye has released the Roosevelt Remix of Summer Days, complete with a gorgeous accompanying visual. The remix builds on the already infectious groove of the original song (that was originally released on July 7 via Loma Vista Recordings/Caroline International, alongside Please). A mosaic of emotive piano keys, physical percussion, buzzing analog synths and expansive vocals, Rhye find humanity in musicality and, quite clearly with Summer Days, intend to put you into a feelgood, chilled out kind of mood. The song’s slick mix of contagious beats and sunshine melodies more than lives up to its name – it’s perfect for kicking back with on a summer’s day. About the visual, Milosh commented: “The Photoautomat is a private space within a public sphere. Located on many populated streets in Berlin, with just a curtain for privacy, the photoautomat allows people to be who they want to be unabashedly, expressing silliness, sadness, intimacy and joy. The environment that the photoautomat fosters is what we hope to encourage more of in the world we are creating: more coming together, more love, more joy and humour. It is this sentiment that we chose to embody in this video that celebrates being whoever you want to be with whomever you want to be with.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kasabian, Ill Ray

KASABIANILL RAY (THE KING): Riding high off the success of their latest album, For Crying Out Loud, Kasabian now drop another take-notice track and video in the form of Ill Ray (The King). The video is particularly notable for featuring Game of Thrones luminary Lena Headey, as well as Michael Socha, and is directed by Headey’s fiance, Dan Cadan. And she really cuts loose, getting on down with the tracks boisterous hooks and laddish swagger. The song itself is one of the more brash tracks to be taken from the LP, featuring lyrics such as “I’m rising up”, rar, ragged, almost White Stripes-style guitar hooks and – just to mix things up – a mid-track breakdown into almost synth-pop territory. It picks things back up after that, to deliver a typically rousing finale fuelled by powerhouse vocals and electrifying guitar work. And while it may be the lesser of the releases to be taken from the album thus far (after You’re In Love With A Psycho and God Bless This Acid House), it’s still riotously good, highly energetic fun.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Maroon 5, What Lovers Do

MAROON 5 feat SZAWHAT LOVERS DO: Say what you will about Maroon 5, they know how to concoct a catchy song. What Lovers Do is another spritely offering from the band that immediately fleet-foots its way into your subconscious and gets you toe-tapping and woo-hooing along. There’s catchy synth hooks, a breezy chorus and a good mix between the vocals of lead singer Adam Levine and guests SZA. It makes for an appealing mix of boy-girl vocals, some of which sound ominously like Rihanna. The ‘oo oo oo’ laden chorus is effortless in the way it has you singing along, while the song also has that neat ability to feel playful and sexy (and even a little edgy, lyrically) all at the same time. It won’t linger long in the memory but it’s a fun listen while it lasts.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Rose Gray, Blue

ROSE GRAY – WE GET BY: Rose Gray has now released her debut EP, Blue, featuring previously released singles Give It All To You, Ring The Alarm and Morning Blues, as well as this nwe track We Get By. The Blue EP is also released as a cinematic experience with stunning videos made for each track, which are all now available via Rose Gray’s YouTube page. We Get By also has a touch of the cinematic about it in terms of the song’s construction. Built around a moody, melancholy slice of understated piano, and a husky, yet fragile central vocal, this has a beguiling, hypnotic effect. Gray’s vocals are particularly disarming once they reach the chorus, yet the tale she weaves throughout is never less than entrancing thanks to the quality of the lyrics. The piano, meanwhile, remains understated throughout, yet beautifully so. There are some backing harmonies to augment the overall sound late on but – again – it’s Gray’s vocals that remains centre-stage and deservedly so. If you’re a fan of artists like Sia or Katie Melua, then there’s a little bit of both here. Gray is clearly an artist to look out for. The video is well worth checking out too. Commenting on the EP as a whole, Gray said: “The EP was written in a time of what I call having the blues. All the tracks are sort of different stages of that. I guess it’s like a little chapter in my life. Each track in the order of release follows a journey, it’s real personal, but I hope people can connect with it on different levels. It’s a big sound – strings, horns, heavy drum beats and something more stripped back.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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OUTYLA, Howl

OUTLYAHOWL: OUTLYA would appear to be lining themselves up as the kind of stadium-filling act that could rival Coldplay if new single Howl is anything to go by. A rapturous, pop-tinged record fuelled by uplifting melodies and a catchy as hell chorus, this leans heavily on the Coldplay songwriting formula with just as much success. A lively piano arrangement underscores things, along with slick beats, and a set of vocals that drift in and out of some falsetto highs (much like Chris Martin in his prime). The song builds and builds, too, eventually layering in some guitars to ensure a feel-good, head-rush finale that should get any live mosh-pit pumped up to the max. And that’s not even forgetting to mention the song’s anthemic nature, which makes it ripe for singing along loudly to whenever it lands on the radio. Like its name suggests, you’ll be howling along giddily. Speaking about the track themselves, OUTLYA explained: “Howl is a song about communication in the mordern age. The feeling of euphoria when you hear a loved one’s voice down a distorted phone line and the transportive effect it can have on you from miles away. We ended up demoing the song four or five times and the final version is an amalgamation of all of them. As a band, we always try and combine the natural sounds of live instruments, line piano, guitar, bass and drums, with synthetic sounds seeping in, which in this song works especially well as a metaphor for human interaction through technology.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fink, Not Everything Was Better In The Past

FINKNOT EVERYTHING WAS BETTER IN THE PAST: Fink has dropped another irresistibly stylish but disarmingly affecting new single in the form of Not Everything Was Better In The Past. A tender, acoustic-backed slice of melancholy, this is a tender, intimate and deeply personal offering that finds Fink dissecting a relationship. It’s thoughtful, brooding and strikes a highly resonant note for anyone willing to tap into its themes (which can be extended to anyone who shares a similar sentiment about aspects of their past). And while undoubtedly melancholy and sombre in composition, there’s something that’s highly enticing about the song, too, with shades of the cinematic and the beguiling. The song is taken from Fink’s upcoming album Resurgam, which was produced alongside Flood, a legendary figure who applies his full weight of experience to the project.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alexander Wolfe, Breaking The Fall

ALEXANDER WOLFEBREAKING THE FALL: Alexander Wolfe releases new single ‘Breaking The Fall and immediately draws comparisons with bands like Elbow and Bear’s Den. The track can be said to be leading the singer’s renaissance, in that it’s a dexterous, subtly inspiring return – one that breathes easy and carries you in its wake. He commented: “Lyrically, it’s about momentum, going forwards, and leaving the past behind you. And that made a lot of sense. It’s kind of a theme that runs throughout the record. Let the past be the past. And go forwards.” The song itself is driven by some slick beat arrangements, and an almost hushed vocal, that offset each other nicely. The accompanying melodies, meanwhile, entwine themselves neatly and intricately around the beats and vocals to create something that’s as urgent as it is endearing. And it’s done so in a manner that evokes Elbow. For Wolfe, the release of the new material bodes well for his comeback, given that he was poised to break big in 2015, following the acclaim surrounding his third album From The Shallows, only for the music industry to deliver the cruellest of blows. The label he was signed to had been embezzling money and was forced into liquidation. Now he’s back and, arguably, stronger than ever. For more of what to expect, also try checking out Fixed For Today, which is another beauty (and even more upbeat).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 25, 2017

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

Beck, Dear Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECKDEAR LIFE: Beck’s resurgence continues apace with the release of jaunty new single Dear Life, another track to emerge from his forthcoming Colors LP (out in October). A typically bittersweet offering, this could be forgiven for deceiving as an upbeat summer anthem. But in spite of the bouncing piano and lively guitar hooks, there’s a despair underpinning the lyrics that question the meaning of life itself (something that a lot of Americans are probably ponderng at the moment). As if to underline that deeper meaning inherent within, the song concludes on a trippy note that sends it into a kind of spiritual meets psychedelic offering. Prior to that, however, there’s that feel-good piano and some rather indie-esque guitars. Hence, it’s the kind of song that fans of Ben Folds can get behind, as well as followers of Oasis and Kasabian. The piano solo is brilliant. Beck’s vocals are as crisp and reassuring as ever. And the mix of fun and thought-provoking lyricism is as sharp as ever. With Dreams and Wow already having impressed, Colors looks set to become one of the albums of the autumn/winter.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foo Fighters, The Sky Is A Neighbourhood

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: FOO FIGHTERSTHE SKY IS A NEIGHBOURHOOD: Foo Fighters fans rejoice! The second track from the band’s upcoming Concrete and Gold LP is a rock heavy-hitter of supreme excellence. A raw, gritty, classic slice of rock, this is a rip-roaring nod to classic songs of old, whilst retaining that signature sense of all things Foo. Dave Grohl’s vocals are really raw, augmenting the stripped back nature of the song – which places gutsy guitar riffs to the fore and lays off too heavy drum rolls. The chorus is a belter, too, growing in stature with each pass the band make. You can well imagine bands like Queen and Muse being proud to call this song one of their own, especially the former given the way it combines ballsy rock with the odd flight of fancy (late on). The Sky Is A Neighbourhood looks certain to become a live favourite and – indeed – an all-time fan favourite; but one that, crucially, offers much wider appeal. It has crossover potential written all over it. It really is a monster of a song, befitting Foo Fighters’ position as one of the biggest bands on the planet right now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ghosted, Get Some

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: GHOSTED feat KAMILLEGET SOME: They have three heads, six legs, 5 No.1 singles, 11 top 10 singles and over a billion streams to their name, but it’s unlikely you’ll know it. The fine-tuned skills of this mysterious yet omnipresent production and songwriting beast has led to them working with some of the biggest names in music, stealthily fusing their myriad influences into productions that manipulate pop music into bold new shapes. Everyone from Years & Years, Maroon 5 and Jess Glynne to Craig David, Emeli Sande and Sigma has called upon their deadly studio magic, while G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha’s Me, Myself & I landed them in the US Billboard Top 10 last year. Now, they’re here in a new incarnation – a reincarnation, if you like – Ghosted. “The name is a nod to ghostwriting and being behind the scenes,” they explain, and it’s an outlet for this pop juggernaut’s more experimental songs. Futuristic R&B sex jam Get Some is the delicious first taste, featuring a sultry vocal from Kamille – aka regular Little Mix songwriter Camille Purcell. The track is a feisty ode to swift satisfaction (sample line: “Let’s do it on the kitchen floor”) over rolling Major Lazer-esque beats and effervescent synths – a surefire late-night summer anthem in the making. The finger-click beats immediately lend it a toe-tapping quality early on, while Kamille’s vocals are deceptively sweet (until you realise what she’s craving). Once the synth drops, however, it assumes a more dancefloor quality (befitting Chainsmokers’ material). And then it strips things back down and does it all over again. It’s highly addictive and totally cool. We’ve already raved about this (it was a former single of the week). But now the band have added a video, which is stunning. Directed by Fidel Ruiz Healy (Yacht Club Films) and shot in New York, the video pays tongue-in-cheek homage to cult, retro classics – think Teen Wolf meets Pretty In Pink with a sprinkling of Stranger Things.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Thirty Seconds To Mars

THIRTY SECONDS TO MARSWALK ON WATER: After lighting up stages around the world this summer on a sold out tour and teasing eager fans about upcoming music releases, Thirty Seconds To Mars have released a new song, Walk on Water, for the first time in four years. Available globally now on all digital retail and streaming sites, the track also marks the first single from the multi-platinum selling band’s highly anticipated forthcoming fifth studio album. Comments Jared Leto: “Walk On Water is a song for all of us. It’s a song about freedom, about persistence, about change and about fighting for what you believe in. It is a call to arms but also full of all the optimism and hope that is such an integral part of the American Dream.” It’s as anthemic as that statement suggests, building to a central refrain that declares: “Times are changin’!” The rock sound isn’t as emphatic, though, opting instead for a combo of guitar and electronics that channels the more recent likes of Linkin Park. There are loud vocal harmonies to make the chorus as chant-worthy as hell, as well as a vocoder-style central vocal from Leto that heightens the commercial appeal of the song as a whole. It’s big, it’s brash and it has plenty to say. Welcome back, boys!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Taylor Swift, Look What You Made Me Do

TAYLOR SWIFTLOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO: All eyes will be on Taylor Swift’s return album, Reputation, and how fans take to her attempts to salvage her own. Still reeling from the fallout of the Kanye West debacle, and only recently in court over an alleged groping incident (she claims to have been assaulted), Swift now clearly intends her music to do the talking. Hence, lead single Look What You Made Me Do sounds like a singer who is lamenting the cost of her fame and the trials of obsessive media scrutiny. There’s talk of revenge (“maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours”), as well as a shedding of an old image (“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now… because she’s dead”). And if that sounds like a shocking lyric to drop, then consider the instrumental change. Where past Swift incarnations have channelled country and pop to fairly innocent, even inocuous effect; this track has a hip-hop infused sense of foreboding, of danger. She almost whispers some of the lyrics, adding edge to the atmospheric beats. But while notable for its change of style for the singer, there’s a bitterness that’s perhaps not so endearing and a sense that this could be the sound of an artist banging her own drum while maybe, just maybe, forgetting what made her so likeable and accessible in the first place.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Run Rivers, Lost Love

RUN RIVERSLOST LOVE: New electro-folk project Run Rivers release their cinematic debut, Lost Love, and display plenty of promise. Fronted by Chris James, solo artist and former lead singer and key songwriter of electro-rock pioneers Stateless, the new single soars with atmospheric folk and subtle electronics. James explains: “It’s about being thankful for the journey without getting too hung up on the destination, that’s why I wrote, ‘do not swim straight to the shore, feel first the sensation of water’.” Chris’ soft vocal blends with intricate but warm harmonies and Matthew Kelly’s stirring string arrangement, which lend it that cinematic quality. Musically, James combines influences from his Stateless days, fusing electronica with his deep love of folk. Inspired by songwriters such as Nick Drake, his compelling vocals take centre stage with epic atmospheres reminiscent of Bon Iver. It’s intelligently constructed, nicely layered and lyrically complex – but perhaps most strikingly, it has that slow-build, epic quality of the bands that James cites as key influences, with fans of acts like Bon Iver sure to approve.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Jesus & Mary Chain

JESUS & MARY CHAIN feat SKY FERRIERATHE TWO OF US: After a 19-year absence from recording, The Jesus And Mary Chain returned with Damage And Joy, which hit the Top 20 and immediately became their highest charting album since Stoned & Dethroned back in 1994. The phenomenal reaction has been as if they’ve never been away: they’ve toured the UK and the US, sold-out London’s Shepherds Bush Empire and hit Stephen Colbert’s Late Show to perform one of the new album’s highlights, The Two Of Us, with Sky Ferriera. Although the album version of the song featured Isobel Campbell, The Jesus And Mary Chain have again teamed up with Sky Ferreira to record a fresh new version of the track. It means that Jim Reid’s coolly understated delivery contrasts with Ferreira’s impassioned vocal, while William Reid’s distorted riffs add rock ‘n’ roll grit to the Sixties-tinged track. It’s a barn-storming, feel-good offering that underlines the best of old Jesus & Mary Chain, whilst going some way to explaining why they’ve been able to make such an emphatic comeback by adding something fresh into the mix as well. Here, the guitars are great, the boy-girl vocals a real treat, and the overall vibe one to leave you feeling celebratory. This newly recorded version, complete with “the two of us are getting high” sing-along chorus, is an absolute blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dub Pistols

DUB PISTOLS feat TOO MANY Ts – CRAZY DIAMONDS: As they gear up to celebrate 20 years of unhinged lunacy, Dub Pistols return with Crazy Diamonds, the first track to be taken from their forthcoming and seventh studio album, released on October 13, via Sunday Best. A typically raucous track built for big fields and summer sound systems, Crazy Diamonds features South London hip-hop duo Too Many T’s, who add their mystifying quick-witted lyrics. Hence, the swagger that is synonymous with Dub Pistols remains intact, complete with a calypso elements to the beats, and tricky word-play courtesy of Too Many Ts. It has urban edge as well as pop elements that enable it to have more of a crossover appeal than some of their past material. And it’s fun in its own kind of way. Heck, it may even win them a few more admirers, especially given its message of empowerment (“go ahead, live your life”), which is surely something worth getting behind in these troubled times.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Pale White, Downer

THE PALE WHITEDOWNER: The Pale White warm up for their forthcoming live shows with the release of lively new single Downer. Produced by John Martindale and the band at Blank Studios, the track is a rousing, thunderous indie-rock track that goes straight for the jugular. It has blistering riffs, a chanted, anthemic chorus and robust beats. The chorus has something of a James-like quality to it, at times (circa Sit Down), while at other times the song has the swagger of Oasis or Kasabian. Speaking about the new single, Adam explains: “Ever been chasing someone who loves to be chased? Downer is about cutting loose ends and throwing yourself into Newcastle nightlife.” As such, it’s a lively foot-stomper of a record that should go down a storm on the Northern indie-rock scene. Downer will also feature on The Pale White EP, out on September 29, which includes the band’s previous singles Reaction and Turn It Around, as well as Let You Down. This will be released digitally and on limited edition white coloured vinyl.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Son of Dave

SON OF DAVEDADDY WAS A WOLFMAN: Daddy Was A Wolfman is catchy, typically idiosyncratic song-writing from blues maverick Son of Dave. The track lays down a beatbox shuffle groove, then wild harmonica hooks and adds his usual wry wit and catchy vocals. Maybe this time there’s insight into who the daddy, Dave, is. Maybe not. The song kicks off with the lyrics “I’m sorry that I bit you, bit you on the leg, I didn’t mean to hurt you, sorry that I bit you, but my daddy was a wolfman”. It then tosses in vampires, more danger and a whole load of fun, not to mention a few harmonica solos and that insistent, toe-tapping back-beat. It’s lively, energetic, bluesy yet hip enough to appeal to a much wider audience. We guarantee, you won’t hear too many more songs like this one. The track is taken from Son of Dave’s forthcoming album, Music For Cop Shows, which promises plenty of surprises, presented in his own inimitable style.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 18, 2017

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

Weezer

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: WEEZERMEXICAN FENDER: Following the release of their breezy anthem Feels Like Summer, Weezer return with a second track from their forthcoming Pacific Daydream LP in the form of the equally lively Mexican Fender. Opening with a blistering guitar riff, this drops a more indie-alt-rock vibe than its hip-hop beat infused predecessor, but is no less effective in conjuring the sound of the summer. Indeed, Weezer are past masters at tapping into that cool sunshine feel on their songs, and the chorus here effectively evokes a laidback, slacker feel in its “she loves me, she loves me, she loves me not” wimsical vibe. The lyrics are as playful as we’ve come to expect, the backing harmonies tailor-made for singing along to, and the overall package a rousing, feel-good, arms in the air kind of anthem. Heck, there’s even a mid-track breakdown that Queen would be proud of! On the evidence thus far, Weezer’s forthcoming LP could be a real blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Haux

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: HAUXCOLOGNE: After a triumphant debut at The Great Escape festival as well as a run of headline shows around the UK earlier this year, Haux will return to London for a very special one-off show at the iconic Hoxton Hall in November where he’ll be accompanied by a string section. In anticipation of that, he has unveiled a new stand alone single, Cologne – and it’s pretty special. From the whispered vocals of the opening phrase, an echoing melody delicately builds, powered along by rhythmic piano and gently rolling percussion. It’s high on atmosphere, swathed in beautiful melodies and those hushed vocals add a touch of the ethereal. It screams out for a soundtrack moment, especially when the whispered vocals are undercut by a falsetto harmony. Speaking of the new release, Woodson Black – aka Haux – himself explains: “I’ve realised there are so many places I haven’t seen in the world, so many faces that seem so familiar and yet somehow so far away. I try to imagine their lives and how they differ from my own. I know I’ll never really know, but there’s something about not knowing that gives me comfort and keeps me eager to see more people and places. There was a certain magic about Cologne. It struck me as a place that I might’ve had another life in if I hadn’t lived the life I have. When I was back home, off tour, I remembered that feeling and tried to imagine a life there and the story of what might have been.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ian Felice

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: IAN FELICE – 21ST CENTURY: “Well the aliens landed on election day and they stole your mama’s lingerie”… so sings Ian Felice on new single 21st Century. It’s a striking opening line that could well serve as a riposte to the general state of Trump’s America, while also conceding, later on, that “the joke is on me”. It’s clearly a track with a lot to say. But it’s deliverd in a classic rock fashion that recalls classic Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, thereby making it an instant classic. Ian has been the lead singer and songwriter for The Felice Brothers for over a decade, so knows a thing or three about writing a compelling song. He recently told The Bluegrass Situation: “21st Century is a three-chord song about the paranoid breakdown of someone’s reality. I wrote it on the banjo right after the November election as geese flew clockwise into the red sky. My brothers, Simone and James, accompanied me, as well as my friend Josh Rawson on bass guitar.” The aformentioned banjo creates an addictive musical hook, too. It’s a stirring, politically astute but totally endearing song, which comes from Ian’s debut solo album In The Kingdom Of Dreams, recorded in his childhood home of Palenville NY, with his brother Simone Felice on production duties.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anderson East, All On My Mind

ANDERSON EASTALL ON MY MIND: Alabama soul singer Anderson East returns with his new single, All On My Mind, which carries the distinction of having been co-written by Ed Sheeran, Johnny McDaid, Anderson East and Aaron Raitiere. The track immediately marks itself out as something worth listening to thanks to the gritty soul vocals that East demonstrates – giving it a really atmospheric, even rock-driven edge. They’re a lived in set of vocals that scream with anguish. And with some stabbing string and synth accompaniments, it’s a stirring listen that even has a cinematic quality attached. The chorus is delivered with real gusto. The release of All On My Mind culminates a breakout series of years for East following his widely praised debut album, Delilah. After the release of his solo album, East once again worked with producer Dave Cobb when he featured on the Grammy Award-winning producers Southern Family compilation, contributed a song to Brandi Carlile’s Cover Stories LP and crafted the original song What Would It Take for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. This music is the first taste of East’s sophomore album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sam Vance-Law

SAM VANCE-LAWPRETTYBOY: Prettyboy is the debut single from Sam Vance-Law. Produced by Konstantin Gropper (aka Get Well Soon), the track is at its core a guitar-driven indie-up-tempo-stomper, though it changes its musical colouring multiple times, effortlessly moving from a string and piano primed introspection into a multi-voiced orchestral crescendo, before finally flowing into a smooth lightness which calls to mind The Smiths. Instrumentally, the guitars are intricately delivered and immediately ear-catching, which sometimes makes the heavy vocals more surprising. Indeed, they catch you off guard when you first hear them, as does the mid-track diversion into piano and strings. It makes Prettyboy a continually surprising listen – but also one that is more experimental than the mainstream allows (especially when drifting into the “I’m a boy, I’m a boy, I’m a boy” mid-section). As such, it’s an acquired taste. But Vance-Law ensures it’s always an intriguing one.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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John Joseph Brill

JOHN JOSEPH BRILL – A PLACE TO DROWN: Having recently released his EP, I’m Not Alright, John Joseph Brill now drops the video for his hauntingly effective new single A Place To Drown. The track itself is marked out by its downbeat vocals and gentle, yet melancholy piano arrangements – a sort of Nick Drake mixed with Nick Cave and The Crash Test Dummies. It’s the kind of track that beguiles… and one that sneaks up on you and refuses to budge. Speaking about the track himself, Brill explained: “It’s a song, as with the others from the EP, about needing help. Knowing your head is not right and seeking clarity in the kindness of others. In this case, it’s the offer of help, a suggestion that no matter what has passed between two people, one can always be there in some way to help the other escape their demons.” With memorable lyrics like “if you need a place to drown, I’ll be the water for you”, this one is sure to linger (in a very good way).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Suffer The Children, Killing Hands

SUFFER THE CHILDRENKILLING HANDS: Based in both London and Vancouver, left-field R&B/electronica trio Suffer The Children have dropped their new single Killing Hands and find themselves self-consciously referencing ’80s acts such as Phil Collins, New Order, Lou Reed as well as the more contemporary likes of Coco Rosie, Kanye West and Little Dragon. Hypnotic vocals unfold against a backdrop of ambient melodies, thereby evoking an atmosphere of introspection, which in turn draws the listener into its’ moody, emotive soundscape. It’s quietly effective, with slick beat arrangements, hushed vocals, evocative lyrics and a keen sense of atmosphere that’s effectively married to some soul-pop elements. Suffer The Children said of the track: “This is the song that pointed us in the right direction creatively, and helped us solidify our sound. I think that we can all relate to the lyrics in our own way. No matter who we are as individuals, we each find games to play; deceive each other and ourselves. Love is a hell of a drug.” At the production helm of Suffer The Children is Grammy Award-winning producer Chin Injeti who, in partnership with DJ Khalil, has worked with a host of influential artists such as Drake, Eminem, Aloe Blacc, Raury, Joey Badass, The Clipse, Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. Alongside them is Rian Peters, who has shared stages with the likes of Black Twang and Lauryn Hill at Montreux Jazz Festival and performed on legendary TV shows such BBC’s Top of the Pops, ITV’s CD:UK and Channel Four’s POPworld. And the wild card of the group is multi-talented artist Shallom Johnson, whose lifelong connection with art, music and the written word provides an unconventional aesthetic both visually and lyrically.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Off Bloom

OFF BLOOMSHUT UP AND LET ME WALK: Off Bloom release feisty new single Shut Up And Let Me Walk via their own imprint Sport Records/Polydor. The attitude-laden kiss-off comes after previous single Falcon Eye, the follow up to the Anglo-Danish trio’s breakthrough debut EP Love To Hate It. Speaking about the track, Off Bloom reveal: “We wrote this song on a feeling of anger! Proper anger and frustration! In today’s society, anger and sadness are seen as weak traits, but for us it’s the contrary. Weakness is not being able to acknowledge that we all fuck up from time to time, that we can all be fucking stupid. The three of us had each been going through this frustration, whether it was because of the current political climate and the fact that Trump became president, or it was a fight with some fake music industry wanker or it was because of some bullshit from a boy/girl… we’d had enough! So shut up and let me walk!” Lyrically, it’s as feisty as that statement suggests, while instrumentally it embraces the provocative, yet proactive ethos of artists like No Doubt and P!nk. It’s a little more alternative than those artists, though, with more edge and off-kilter energy. Indeed, the anger that the band speak of is infused throughout, reducing its mainstream potential somewhat. But that’s not a bad thing. It has something to say and does so in take notice fashion.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Yxng Bane, Rihanna

YXNG BANERIHANNA: Produced by Legendary Beats, Yxng Bane’s new single Rihanna is a smooth groover that finds the former trap music star branching out and extending his range into more soulful territory. Alas, despite its lovelorn elements, the song has a rather mundane feel. It’s constructed around simplistic beat structures, vocoder laced vocals (with lyrics that are sometimes hard to decipher) and a repetitive edge that soon outstays its welcome. Admittedly, there’s a late night vibe attached that could well stand it in good stead if you’ve come in from a hard night’s partying. But this has an overly familiar feel to it (everyone from Kanye to Usher is referenced) that struggles to enable it to stand out from the crowd.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 11, 2017

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

Gabrielle Aplin

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: GABRIELLE APLINWAKING UP SLOW: Waking Up Slow, the first song to emerge from Gabrielle Aplin’s forthcoming Avalon EP, is a jubilant offering that makes blissful use of the singer’s dreamy vocal style. Produced by Lostboy, the track finds Aplin in upbeat mood, with her stunning voice bolstered by dreamy guitars and synths, and soaring on the vibrant, feel-good pop chorus, which really does lend it massive crossover potential. Regarding the single, Aplin says: “Waking Up Slow is a super positive song! It’s about that euphoric “aha!” moment after feeling perhaps misplaced, or stagnant. It’s about that moment where you decide to just let go, letting what will be, be and choosing to be present.” If you’re a fan of Frou Frou or Imogen Heap in particular, then Aplin’s vocals are comparable, albeit with an effervescent pop sheen that’s even more impossibly sweet. The chorus is almost giddy, yet lovely with it. It’s the type of song that effortlessly puts you into a good, positive, even celebratory mood – and one that brightens your day whenever it hits the radio. You can’t help but toe-tap your way along.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LIAM GALLAGHERFOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Rock bad boy Liam Gallagher takes a leaf out of Justin Bieber’s copybok (I’m Sorry) with new release, For What It’s Worth, which finds the singer in regretful, almost ballad-esque mode. A confessional (“I’ve been crucified for just being alive”), the song drops apologies like they’re going out of fashion, building to the chorus with lines like “for what it’s worth I’m sorry for the hurt… I’ll be the first to say I’ve made my own mistakes” and “sometimes we lose our way”. He’s not completely repentent, though, insisting as well that “underneath my skin there’s a fire within”. That fire isn’t evident in the song, which maintains a Lennon-esque, low-key approach complete with acoustic riffs and string arrangements. It also refuses to stray from that Beatles-inspired, Oasis-sounding template. But it’s another decent solo offering from an artist who seems to be growing in his own self confidence with every new solo release. The track is taken from the singer’s forthcoming album, As You Were, which is released on October 6. Liam himself commented: ““I wanted to write an apology. Not to one person, but to everyone, because I’m no good at saying sorry. That song is a tune.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jake Bugg, How Soon The Dawn

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JAKE BUGGHOW SOON THE DAWN: After the sometimes loneliness inherent in Jake Bugg’s On My One LP, the singer-songwriter now returns with something more upbeat in the form of How Soon The Dawn. It does have bittersweet elements, though – a love song with a self-confessed “element of darkness” that reflects the strain being away can place on a relationship. In musical terms, it’s a lot more stripped back than much of Bugg’s more guitar-driven material, unplugging things and coming over all acoustic. It’s shot through with warm vocal harmonies, too, as well as some disarming instrumental flourishes late on (via piano and harmonica) that hark back to the ’70s music scene. Bugg seems more happy throughout, which becomes infectious, especially as the song reaches its instrumental climax. It bodes well, once more, for what lies in store from Bugg’s forthcoming new album, Hearts That Strain, which could well find him exploring the relationship spectrum in typically intelligent, heartfelt fashion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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RALEGH LONGBIG AUGUST: To celebrate winning the top Help Musicians UK / PledgeMusic’s Emerging Artist Award for his new album Upwards Of Summer, Ralegh Long releases the Rough Trade endorsed album highlight Big August as his latest single. In sync with the season, Long has described the track as dealing with ‘the promise and menace of high summer’. Hence, chiming mandolins and Jack Hayter’s (ex-Hefner) swooping pedal steel, combine in a lush soundscape that, according to UNCUT, “conjoins the moods of R.E.M’s Losing My Religion and Beck’s Sea Change“ (high praise indeed). On top of this sits Long’s hushed vocal, which brings to mind “a British Kurt Vile or Ryan Adams”. The REM reference is certainly evident in the use of the mandolins, which provide an instantly gratifying backdrop, and which work surprisingly well against Long’s hushed vocal style, that layer on the atmosphere to sometimes ghostly effect. It’s a beguiling effort – layered, intricate, thoughtful and classy.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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P!NK – WHAT ABOUT US: It’s been five years since P!nk released her last album but the singer is making a comeback with the double announcement of a single, in the form of the empowering What About Us, and seventh album Beautiful Trauma in October. The single has been co-written with Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid and produced by Steve Mac and is a power ballad that makes the most of the singer’s powerhouse vocals. That said, it’s a little more restrained that some of her material, featuring a bittersweet electronic arrangement for long periods, before dropping some slightly more busy beats over the chorus. And yet, vocally, there remains something disarmingly vulnerable about P!nk’s vocals, too, as she implores people to question “what about us?” and “what about love?” and “what about trust?” It’s a call to arms that grows and grows, a power ballad that owes plenty of its stylistic approach to big bands such as McDaid’s Snow Patrol and Coldplay, albeit with P!nk’s more resolutely pop outlook. So far, so good for the new material.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis, Be Your Man

RHYS LEWIS – BE YOUR MAN: Hot off the back of I Know The Feeling, Rhys Lewis shares his fourth release, Be Your Man, which highlights a softer side to the singer-songwriter. It’s a piano-based, stripped down ballad that tackles the heartache that comes with an unrequited love, featuring lovelorn lyrics such as “I’m in his shadow all the time” and “you’ve got me feeling like I don’t deserve you, and I’m trying to do deal with this pain”. Vocally, Lewis sounds desperately heartbroken, yet stretches his downbeat vocals to some falsetto highs, which are sure to draw some Chris Martin comparisons. But while some ballads build and build to layered highs, this one’s content to remain low-key, based solely around an intricate piano arrangement and those impressive vocals. Speaking about the song himself, Lewis said: “Be Your Man is about getting closer to someone and then coming to the realisation that they’re still not over their last relationship. It makes you feel like you’ve not really been given a fair chance when the person you’re with keeps comparing you to what they had with someone else. I started to sense that she wasn’t ready to embrace something new as she was still holding onto the past. It was a shame because I thought we had something great, but I got tired of feeling like I was living in someone else’s shadow. I guess writing this song was my way of dealing with it. I hope that people will be able to relate to the lyrics and that it helps others going through the same situation.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The RPMs

THE RPMs – THINGS I FORGOT TO DO: Emerging from the creative cauldron of the Brighton scene that has also birthed contemporaries including Black Honey and Fickle Friends, The RPMs new material delivers a bolder and edgier sound that seeks to channel the uncertainties wrought by the ongoing fall out of global events. Hence, Things I Forgot To Do has an infectious energy and rhythm on the theme of running out of time, and the emotional and physical costs of stress masked within a distracting lighthearted pop tune. It’s got traces of early Arctic Monkeys and Kooks in the way that it marries raw, indie-rock energy with commercial appeal, whilst retaining a keen sense of its own identity. And for all the uncertainty inherent in its lyrics, there’s a robust, foot-stomping appeal to the song as a whole that steers it into indie-pop anthem territory. The hooks, of which there are many, are particularly addictive.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Sherlocks

THE SHERLOCKSBLUE: Sheffield four-piece The Sherlocks have released an instant great track titled Blue ahead of their debut album, Live For The Moment, due for release August 18. The track embraces the sound of classic indie-rock bands such as Oasis in the way that it delivers big bold guitars and rhythm, melancholic melodies and relatable lyrics with Kiaran’s heartfelt vocals going from strength to strength. It’s anthemic in its own way, with brash guitar solos, a bold chorus and an empowering kind of sound that flys in the face of melancholy vocals that declare “you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders”. When asked what to expect from this anticipated debut from the young band, Thpromise;ocks replied: “The time has finally come…what started as a hobby has incredibly turned into a career. But this is all down to our fans for investing their time into our band. The amount of people calling for this album is truly overwhelming and we know this is the right time to share it. We’ve genuinely worked so hard for this and put everything into this album, down to the very last detail. Everything about this album feels incredibly special…4 lads from the middle of nowhere. This is what makes our story so special, that the people have decided to back a real band and we will be forever grateful to them for that. Our lives have completely changed over the last few years, we started this band around 7 years ago as friends jamming a few songs out together in my dad’s garage. Over 1200 gigs later, we’re now here announcing something we will be eternally proud of. We can’t wait for you to hear it in its entirety. This one’s for you.” So far, so good.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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GOLD CLASSGET YOURS: Australian four-piece Gold Class have shared their video for Get Yours, taken from their upcoming album Drum, which is due August 18. In the words of singer Adam Curley: “Get Yours was the first of the lyrics I wrote for the album. It’s fairly clearly a break-up song, about wanting someone to come back for you, to not leave you in the dust. But I think I was looking for something in myself that knew it was ok to be in the dust, too.” Built upon a fiery, post-punk sound, it’s in your face and direct, with forthright vocals married to fiery, punk-inflicted guitar hooks. It’s relentless, too, seldom changing pace long enough to allow you to catch your breath. In live form, it’ll undoubtesly create a very messy, sweaty mosh-pit as it builds towards its frenzied climax. But it’s a little too aggressive and gung-ho at times, and is best left to the hardcore post-punk crowd given its lack of mainstream leanings. If you’re fans of bands like The Stranglers and even some Doors material, then it’s worth checking out.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Joan Osborne

JOAN OSBORNEQUINN THE ESKIMO (THE MIGHTY QUINN): The multi-platinum and seven-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Joan Osborne has announced the release of her ninth studio album, Songs of Bob Dylan, for September 1. With the album itself, Osborne dictates her own interpretation of Dylan’s catalogue from his ’60s and ’70s standards through to his later releases… fresh understandings that she spent time crafting as part of the Joan Osborne Sings The Songs Of Bob Dylan residencies – two critically acclaimed two-week stints at New York’s Café Carlyle in March 2016 and 2017. New single Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) offers a great insight into the type of thing to expect… a loving, respectful cover that’s entirely recognisable to the original, albeit delivered with Osborne’s distinct tones. The chorus is especially sing-along and catchy as hell, while the guitar solos are beautifully delivered. It bears all the hallmarks of the classic rock sound Dylan has honed, while also sounding a little more fresh courtesy of Osborne’s fresh take. It should delight fans of both artists.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 4, 2017

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

The Barr Brothers

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE BARR BROTHERS – IT CAME TO ME: Two weeks on from the release of cracking single You Would Have To Lose Your Mind, The Barr Brothers rock things up even more with new offering It Came To Me – and it’s brilliant in a classic rock sense. Described as ‘bruising’ in certain quarters, this drops an incendiary central guitar riff, as well as some deliciously atmospheric vocals that recall the essence of classic rock artists such as Tom Petty. It begins with a squall of guitar and a rush of drums, quickly formed into a mean, bluesy riff textured with classical acoustic harp. Brad Barr’s voice distorts to a rasp, telling the tale of a Zen-like quest for answers to the questions of the universe. Barr commented: “Since we were kids, Brad and I would sit down at our instruments and, without speaking, launch into playing loud rock and roll at high volume. It was probably in part to drown out the confusing noise of youth and being told what to do all the time, and in part it was a way of communicating with each other in a language that was probably more expressive and fun than our normal middle school banter – it also prevented a lot of fighting over the remote control. All to say, when we went to St. Zenon (in Quebec, to demo songs for the new album) late one night, we sat down together and started playing this one. It came easily and cheerfully, and when Brad started singing It Came to Me, I laughed at this almost “snake chasing its tale moment”, a song lyric aware of itself – and so this one came like that, when we sat down with no agenda and tapped into one of our oldest sorts of dialogue.” This is heavyweight rock of the highest calibre. You should be suitably thrilled. New album Queens of the Breakers, out October 13, looks set to be something special.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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The War on Drugs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE WAR ON DRUGSPAIN: The War On Drugs release their fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, in three weeks time. To raise excitement still further, and following lead single Holding On (top 5 at Triple A radio for two weeks running) and album songs Thinking of a Place and Strangest Thing, they now present the second official single, Pain. It’s the track that features the album’s title in its lyrics, and also happens to be one of two songs Adam Granduciel cut, nearly-live, on his first night working with engineer Shawn Everett and the band – bassist Dave Hartley, keyboardist Robbie Bennett, drummer Charlie Hall and multi-instrumentalists Anthony LaMarca and Jon Natchez – at Sonora Recorders in Los Angeles, a new experience for the sextet, and a testament to the band dynamic on this new album. And it’s a typically epic affair, built around some dreamy guitar hooks and a husky set of vocals that whisk you on a beautifully emotional journey, shot through with the bittersweet sentiments that its title suggests (a person attempting to find a deeper understanding of who they are). As ever, there’s a great emphasis on those guitars, which deliver some fine solos in amongst the singing. But there’s a real serenity and beauty attached to the whole song, which continues to evolve the longer it lasts (clocking in at just over five minutes) and which really rewards the patient listener as all classic songs do. The solo around the three minute, 50 second mark is stunning. On the evidence so far, A Deeper Understanding looks set to be really special.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wretch 32, Whistle

WRETCH 32 feat DONAE’O & KOJO FUNDSWHISTLE: Wretch 32, one of the most respected and acclaimed lyricist and rappers in the UK, returns with the new tune Whistle – featuring two of the hottest MCs in the game right now: Donae’o and Kojo Funds. Commenting on what inspired it, Wretch said: “Whistle was inspired by raving. This represents me on a night-out – light-hearted, vibes, fun.” The ensuing track is kind of fun, if you like urban rap of the Wiley variety. There’s a woozy electronic loop that’s strangely addictive, multiple lyricists dropping rapped segments, plenty of whistle blowing and toe-tapping beats. It’s urban enough to appeal to its core scene but mainstream enough to reach out to a wider audience too. Whistle is produced by Rymez, the man behind Wiley’s No.1 platinum-selling single Heatwave. It’s also the lead single from Wretch’s forthcoming album, which marks the latest chapter in his ongoing evolution.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Desert

THE DESERTJUST GET HIGH: The Desert is a collaboration between singer-songwriter Gina Leonard and guitarist and producer Tom Fryer. Tom’s atmospheric production style, which plays with big spaces and other worldly sounds, lives in the space between Gina’s honest and poetic lyrics, allowing her songs to shine that little bit brighter. The result can be really rewarding, as evidenced by current single Just Get High. A sultry slice of dream-pop, this drops lush melodies around dreamy vocals to deliver something that’s every bit as laidback and cool as listening to artists like Bonobo, Morcheeba and Massive Attack. The track kicks off with a punchy electro-beat that contrasts with Gina’s reticent vocal delivery. Originally intended to be a demo recorded late one night in Gina’s bedroom, Tom time-stretched it into shape and made a kind of down-tempo house beat for it, with a synthesiser part that grows to dominate and take over the whole track. It’s brilliantly realised and a real tonic to unwind with after a hard day’s work (or even a harder night’s partying!). It delivers its own kind of blissful high.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Siv Jakobsen

SIV JAKOBSENBERRY AND WHYTHE: Earlier this year, Norwegian indie-folk artist Siv Jakobsen announced her highly anticipated full-length debut LP, The Nordic Mellow. Now, she shares album cut Berry and Whythe. Described as an up-tempo number, Jakobsen commented: “This is written as a retrospective look on my time living in Brooklyn, New York. I lived on Metropolitan Avenue, between Berry Street and Whythe Street – and this song sort of transports me back to my months living there, in my tiny room in a shared apartment. Lyrically, it speaks of leaving my time there behind, sort of burying it between Berry & Whythe, where I used to live, and wanting to leave it all there.” The ensuing song drops some breezy acoustic guitar licks, a really toe-tapping drum shuffle and a shimmering set of vocals that invite you, effortlessly, to indulge in the trip down memory lane that Jakobsen is taking you on. It’s rife with warm melodies and feel-good, nostalgic appeal. Indeed, it’s the kind of song that could well find a soundtrack space – one could easily imagine it on a film like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or a TV show like Scrubs. Jakobsen has a captivating voice.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Garbage Photo by Scott Stuckey

GARBAGE – NO HORSES: Garbage’s comeback gathers even more momentum with moody new single No Horses. Actually released last month, the track is in aid of the International Committee of the Red Cross with all of the band’s profits from sales and streams being donated through to the end of 2018. If anything, the track has the kind of darkness running through it that is a mainstay of acts like Depeche Mode (instrumentally) and Eurythmics (vocally). And it’s very foreboding, featuring lyrics like “they’ll come for you”, “they’ll hurt you” and “they’ll get you too”. Once it really hits its stride, meanwhile, there’s even a touch of the industrial that evokes comparisons with Nine Inch Nails. It’s a mark of how well Garbage are faring on their comeback run that this song bares very little resemblance to their earlier material. The single is now accompanied by a politically charged video, which just dropped this week. Discussing the video’s inspiration, director Scott Stuckey (creator of Pancake Mountain) said: “It’s been my observation that when governments disregard their citizens for their own greed, the ensuing soundtrack usually kick’s ass. Like Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddam or the Clash’s Straight To Hell, No Horses made me realise that I’m not going insane, these really are fucked up times. The lyrics are powerful so the challenge was to add something visually that wouldn’t ruin the individual’s interpretation.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tired Lion

TIRED LIONFRESH: After years of well-earned hype, Aussie rockers Tired Lion deliver the dazzling new single Fresh, taken from their highly-anticipated debut album, Dumb Days, which is set for release on September 15 via Dew Process/Islands Records. Utilising their tried-and-tested, quiet vs loud rock dynamic, Fresh is actually a song that the band has been playing live for much of their career, making it a solid fan favourite. Speaking about the track, Tired Lion songwriter Sophie Hopes explains that it’s a song the band penned at the end of one of the group’s first international tours. “It’s sort of a goodbye tune, saluting the old you or the relationship that may have been holding you back, in order to move forward,” says Hopes. “At the time [of writing it] I felt like the whole band was at a point where we all had the realisation we weren’t a bunch of kids anymore. We were experiencing real life issues and coming to terms with adulthood.” She adds that the song’s refrain, ‘Disconnect my youth,’ is the key line that sums it up perfectly. “It’s about trying to let go of your inner child so you can eventually grow up, but it’s an exceedingly sad process.” There is a bittersweet element that’s great, making the highs and lows of the track more pronounced. During the verses, for instance, the track sounds like classic Garbage; while over the chorus it assumes more of a Smashing Pumpkins vibe. It’s a sharp, enticing mix that exhilarates as much as it forces you to stop and think about what it has to say. We’re big fans of this and love the choruses when they land.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Joel Baker, Bag of Dreams

JOEL BAKERBAG OF DREAMS: Following the release of acclaimed first single Story (featuring Abra Cadabra), hotly tipped singer songwriter Joel Baker releases the title track from his upcoming Bag of Dreams mixtape – and continues to impress. Built around simple beats, a melancholy piano arrangement and a husky, lovelorn set of vocals, this drips atmosphere and emotional intensity. It’s cinematic, yet quietly so, and comes complete with a finale breakdown sample that is quietly inspiring. Written and produced by Joel, the song channels an eclectic mix of soulful vocals paired with lazy beats and raw emotion. Speaking about the track, Baker said: “Bag of Dreams was written at a very dark time. The big city sold me a fairy tale and I believed it. Occasionally a song will come around when it writes itself in minutes. You aren’t really writing it, you’re just coughing up your heart trying to capture what comes out. A few people tried to convince me to change lyrics because they said it made me sound ‘bitter’. But I was bitter. That’s how I knew the song worked.” Featuring guest appearances from Kojo Funds & Abra Cadabra and co-produced by Joel alongside Courage (Ray BLK), Kin (Naughty Boy) and Maths Time Joy, the forthcoming mixtape album is said to encapsulate a sound that falls somewhere between Ben Howard and early Jamie T while fused with the world of grime.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Orwells

THE ORWELLSVACATION: The Orwells have shared the video for current single Vacation, from their recently released album Terrible Human Beings (Canvasback Music). Coming off some big shows in the US and Europe, including Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo and a Barclaycard British Summer Time show with Green Day in London’s Hyde Park, the Chicago five-some continue to bring their electrifying performances to audiences on both sides of the pond. Now, there’s a spiky new single too. A throwback to a more raw form of punk rock, this encapsulates the band’s raucous live energy as well as their knack for marrying a heavy sound to something melodic and crowd-pleasing. The guitars are sharp, yet hook-laden, while the vocals have that Strokes-meets-classic Pixies quality the band delight in delivering. It’s a riot of energy that will leave you breathlessly excited.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Esther Joy

ESTHER JOYFRIENDLESS NECESSITY: emerging London-based artist Esther Joy is sharing new single Friendless Necessity from her new EP, Psychic Tears, and shows plenty of promise. Boasting a dark, bewitching, heavy synth sound reminiscent of Zola Jesus and Sinead O’Connor (vocally), this certainly demands to be hard by virtue of its striking vocals and stabbing electronics. It’s a heady brew that capably displays the potential that so many people are talking about. Commenting on the song herself, Esther said: “‘Friendless Necessity is about the emotional remnants left behind from a bad experience in my life. I’ve written it almost like a love song to the trauma – exploring how at times I can feel lost without it, even though it hurts but how at other times it totally suffocates me. The track is ultimately a plea for freedom – but not fully knowing whether it won’t let go of me or I can’t let go of it.” Whilst also a member of Charli XCX’s band, Esther Joy is an artist in her own right. Written, recorded and produced by Esther Joy, new EP Psychic Tears combines dynamic electronics, hard and heavy synth lines and bewitching lyrics, but somehow retains a certain feeling of weightlessness and ethereal emotion, showcasing a fresh sound that has clicked into place for this London-based artist.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 28, 2017

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

Swimming Tapes

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: SWIMMING TAPESWHAT’S ON YOUR MIND: Swimming Tapes continue to evolve their dreamy shoe-gaze with their second EP, Soft Sea Blue, out on September 15 via Hand In Hive / B3SCI. As evidence of that, they now drop the new single What’s On Your Mind and continue to enchant. The song is built around some chiming guitar riffs, a low-key but dreamy back-beat and some lush, shoe-gaze infused vocals. There’s a relaxed, feel-good vibe attached that feels tailor-made for listening to on a warm summer’s day (preferably by the pool, or the sea). And yet, there’s a lyrical frankness too, that’s designed to empower the listener not to be afraid of saying what’s on their mind. You could almost call it quietly feisty. Marking the EP’s release in September, Swimming Tapes will return to London to headline The Lexington on September 20 with more dates to be announced.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Red Kite

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: RED KITETAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN: London’s Red Kite have shared a new single and music video in the form of Take Care Of Your Own. Taken from their forthcoming new album, due later this year, the song finds the six-piece pushing their idiosyncratic art-rock to expansive new sonic territories, with four guitars and two drummers at the core. The resulting track is as instrumentally nuanced as you’d expect, weaving some great indie-rock guitar riffs (as well as plenty of reverb) around some tight melodies, slick drum loops and a really appealing set of vocals. There’s a Broken Social Scene meets Crowded House kind of vibe attached, too, that’s also evocative of acts like The Shins and Turin Brakes. It’s a really good listen – powerful at times, laidback at others, and boasting a genuinely great [and rousing] chorus. Using 1,600 different shots, filmed on an iPhone over one afternoon in north London, songwriter, lyricis and guitarist Dan Fisher – ex-lyricist and guitarist for The Cooper Temple Clause – explains his inspirations behind the new track and its music video’s unlikely protagonist: “There’s a theme running through a lot of the first part of the new album, and that’s the strange nature of my relationships with my friends, people I’ve known since I was 15, and the state of arrested development we live in as adults who have spent their lives trying and failing to make it as musicians. This song is about that dynamic and how we weren’t able to look after one of those friends when they were in a really difficult period of their life. We tried, but we were too close and there was too much history there. We had our own lives, our own problems, and there was just too much time and distance between us all, no matter how close we once were. We all felt that guilt and that uselessness and couldn’t figure out how to make it right. I took that situation as the starting point for this video. Originally, I was going to use our guitarist as the star, but after I did some test shots with the creepy teddy bear, he just looked so perfect that I decided to use him instead. He’s fleeing from a situation and emotions he can’t deal with or understand. He’s a really fast runner!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Cribs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE CRIBSRAINBOW BRIDGE: The Cribs come over a little Nirvana-esque with rousing new single Rainbow Bridge. That is to say, there’s a hint of grunge amid the indie-rock riffs and vocals that should well broaden their appeal to both sides of the Atlantic. The track is taken from their impending new LP 24-7 Rock Star Shit, which is available from August 11. Recorded live to tape in just five days by venerated underground engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Shellac, Pixies) 24-7 Rock Star Shit marks a return to the band’s early roots with its raw, rough-around-the-edges approach and sonic aggression. Originally conceived during recording sessions for the band’s fifth album, In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, these recordings were elevated to quasi-mythical status amongst the band’s famously dedicated fan-base, with excitement building for a ‘punk album’ flipside to 2015’s more pop-leaning For All My Sisters. That rougher feel to the songwriting is certainly evident on Rainbow Bridge, which despite boasting a name that suggests multi-coloured breeziness and summer melodies, actually bursts out with edgy aggression and that aforementioned classic grunge vibe. It makes it a genuinely thrilling listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Inner Tongue, Dig Deeper

INNER TONGUEDIG DEEPER: Dig Deeper is a new song taken from Inner Tongue’s forthcoming debut album, which will be released early next year. The song is about the adrenaline you feel before take off, the seconds in weightlessness and the eventuating Netflix-boredom that can be ultimately freeing. It’s shot through with tight melodies and a soothing set of vocals, that come together for a really appealing chorus. And yet, there’s a belated track breakdown into fractured, edgy beats that’s also as brilliant as it is unexpected, ending the track on an altogether different, even quietly exhilarating note. Hence, while early on there’s comparisons to be made with the dream pop of acts like Chet Faker and Nick Murphy, combined with the balladry of Andy Burrows, the finale owes more to the crisp grooves of NoMBE and Blood Orange. Commenting on the song himself, Inner Tongue said: ““I recently bought an old Roland Space Chorus and had a good time experimenting with it in the studio. The moody drum sound I’ve created with it, was somewhat inspiring, so I recorded a few chords and vocals over it. That’s how Dig Deeper started. With the video I wanted to visualise the effortless character of the song. The filming was more like a party with wild lights and smoke. Random fact, at around 2 AM we put on a few Bowie songs and danced to them instead. Some of that also ended up in the video.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Boys

CHARLI XCXBOYS: Pushing the boundaries of her artistry, Charlotte Aitchison (aka Charli XCX) has worked with Jerker Hansson (Zara Larsson, Terror Jnr) and Cass Lowe (Snakehips, Rudimental) on new single Boys, marking the second official single from her forthcoming third album, which will be released next year. The track has a bittersweet pop vibe, in that it finds the singer being distracted. The beats are deceptively simple, with beeps and blips accompanying some electronic melodies and a melancholy vocal that laments: “I’m sorry that I missed your party. I wish I had a better excuse… but I was busy thinking about boys.” As ever with Charli XCX, though, there’s a hugely catchy quality to the record, as well as something resolutely independent spirited. It’s pop – but more edgy and more distinct than a lot of her female contemporaries. The accompanying video – commissioned and directed by Charli herself alongside Sarah McColgan (Kendrick Lamar) – playfully challenges gender stereotypes in music videos/film and features an all-star male cast including guest appearances from Stormzy, Mark Ronson, Diplo, Joe Jonas, Brendon Urie, will.i.am, Mac DeMarco, Riz Ahmed and many more. Charli commented: “Boys is my favourite music video I’ve ever made. I just wanna say a big thanks to all the boys involved, for totally embracing and understanding my vision and being excited by the concept. PS, no boys were harmed in the making of this video.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Macklemore, Marmalade

MACKLEMORE feat LIL YACHTYMARMALADE: Upbeat rapper Macklemore unites with Lil Yachty to deliver an unashamedly candy-coated summer rap song that’s effortlessly capable of placing a smile on your face. Built around an intricately looped hip-hop beat and a retro-sounding piano loop, it then proceeds to deliver a rap that is all about feeling positive. The chorus, meanwhile, finds both artists contributing for a feel-good sing-along that’s destined to become a fan favourite, given it’s ability to get them to join in. The song is disarmingly simple, too, seldom raising the tone or getting too over-ambitious. It’s content to do the same thing instrumentally, while dipping in and out of the chorus. A simple but highly effective pleasure, this is a great slice of hip-hop that’s got summer favourite written all over it (not to mention crossover potential).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The War on Drugs

BØRNSFADED HEART: Indie-pop singer, songwriter and musician BØRNS has released new single Faded Heart from his forthcoming sophomore album. The track has a foot-stomping, indie-pop kind of vibe that is built around robust back-beats and a pounding electronic backdrop. BØRNS own vocals contribute to a glam rock element, too, as they drift in and out of falsetto highs. It’s a lively, even disco-leaning kind of offering that has a solid energy to it. Growing up in coastal Michigan, BØRNS was living in a secluded home in the Los Angeles canyons where he wrote his debut album Dopamine. The album was released in the autumn of 2015 to rave reviews with the Associated Press calling it “some of the most heartfelt electronic-based music in recent memory”. BØRNS is currently working on his highly anticipated new album which will be released on Polydor Records in early 2018.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sparks, Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)

SPARKSEDITH PIAF (SAID IT BETTER THAN ME): With their new studio album Hippopotamus due in September, Sparks release Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me), the new single from this highly anticipated record. It’s classic Sparks (without sounding like any previous song in their 40+ year career), and is described as uplifting, hook-laden music that belies the lyrics’ melancholic tone. The instrumentals certainly enable the song to sound more breezy than its lyrics otherwise suggest – with the pianos contributing to the soaring nature of the song. Yet, in referencing the tragic French singer Edith Piaf, the song also reveals itself to be something shot through with melancholy and insecurity, tapping into a darkness that isn’t immediately apparent. Sparks’ music has always been innovative and instantly identifiable. The new album, recorded in Los Angeles, is expected to find Sparks continuing their rich run of form.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sleep Party People

SLEEP PARTY PEOPLEFAINTING SPELL: Fainting Spell, the most recent single to emerge from forthcoming Sleep Party People album Lingering (out now), features collaborations with The Antlers’ Peter Silberman and Air vocalist Beth Hirsch. It’s now accompanied by a new video. Speaking about the track, multi-instrumentalist Brian Batz (aka Sleep Party People) said: “My old battered piano in the studio needed to be tuned and fixed. After the tuning session a lot of the strings broke and left the piano in a terrible condition. But I’ve always had a weakness for broken instruments. They can give you something unexpected and eventually something useful. The sample you hear in the beginning and throughout the song was recorded using the higher octave on the piano although it was out of tune and strings were missing. The lyrics are about being the quiet boy in class and how dreadful it was for me to even speak out loud during class. I almost fainted every time I had to walk up to the blackboard and speak in front of everyone, because I was so terrified to fail or not deliver what was expected of me.” It’s a song born from anxiety that feels strangely empowering. Yet it doesn’t lose sense of the emotions involved, with the vocal delivery taking on a haunted effect. The piano sound, though, does give it an unusual sound, which makes for a striking backdrop, while the beats are lively enough (if mixed up) to further enhance that sense of listening to something different. If you’re a fan of acts like Gorillaz or the Ninja Tune label, then this is definitely worth a listen. Founding member Brian Batz created the visuals for Fainting Spell in collaboration with hundreds of Sleep Party People fans, who submitted videos & photos of handmade versions of the band’s de facto rabbit masks, which were then assimilated into the Ryan Valdez-directed clip.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hogni

HOGNIKOMDU MEO: After recently announcing his signing to Erased Tapes Records, Icelandic artist Högni, of indie rock group Hjaltalín and electronic group GusGus, will release his debut album Two Trains on October 20. The first single from that record is Komdu Meo. Opening amid some haunting vocal harmonies that are a million miles removed from the electro-pop of GusGus, the track then drops a reverb-heavy electronic pulse and some slick beats to accompany a set of vocals delivered in his native tongue. The beats lend the track urgency, while the addition of some strings midway through also provide a cinematic vibe. The finale, meanwhile, ends things on an experimental note, lulling you into a false sense of security with some sombre piano, before then coming over all computer-based. Put together, the various instrumental elements contribute to a record that’s distinct but an acquired taste. The music in Two Trains is said to embrace the spirit of the original European avant-garde and invokes these concepts in its chugging rhythms, metallic clangs and brooding choral arrangements (men’s choruses are a distinctly Icelandic phenomena related to the national/romantic politics of the 19th and 20th century) while the lyrics speak of ominous clouds on the war-ridden eastern horizon and freight cars filled with gravel and dreams.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 21, 2017

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

Linkin Park

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LINKIN PARKTALKING TO MYSELF: As massive Linkin Park fans it comes with some sadness that we write this review in the same week that lead singer Chester Bennington took his own life. The video was ironically released on the same day that the news broke. One of the highlights from the band’s current LP, One More Light, this combines the power synonymous with the band with their ability to tap into the mainstream. And while much less nu-metal and totally in keeping with the more pop feel of their new LP, this remains a lively, energetic, crowd-pleasing foot-stomper of a single. And yet, lyrically, the words resonate and even haunt, speaking of “all the walls that you keep building” and “all the ways that I keep losing you”, while building to a chorus that admits “I’m just talking to myself”. Bennington has always used the power of song to channel his complex emotions and this song is no escape – turning something that was born from inner turmoil into something anthemic. It’s another reason why Bennington’s death leaves such a massive whole in the music landscape. RIP Chester – but your memory will endure with songs such as this.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ghosted, Get Some

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: GHOSTED feat KAMILLEGET SOME: They have three heads, six legs, 5 No.1 singles, 11 top 10 singles and over a billion streams to their name, but it’s unlikely you’ll know it. The fine-tuned skills of this mysterious yet omnipresent production and songwriting beast has led to them working with some of the biggest names in music, stealthily fusing their myriad influences into productions that manipulate pop music into bold new shapes. Everyone from Years & Years, Maroon 5 and Jess Glynne to Craig David, Emeli Sande and Sigma has called upon their deadly studio magic, while G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha’s Me, Myself & I landed them in the US Billboard Top 10 last year. Now, they’re here in a new incarnation – a reincarnation, if you like – Ghosted. “The name is a nod to ghostwriting and being behind the scenes,” they explain, and it’s an outlet for this pop juggernaut’s more experimental songs. Futuristic R&B sex jam Get Some is the delicious first taste, featuring a sultry vocal from Kamille – aka regular Little Mix songwriter Camille Purcell. The track is a feisty ode to swift satisfaction (sample line: “Let’s do it on the kitchen floor”) over rolling Major Lazer-esque beats and effervescent synths – a surefire late-night summer anthem in the making. The finger-click beats immediately lend it a toe-tapping quality early on, while Kamille’s vocals are deceptively sweet (until you realise what she’s craving). Once the synth drops, however, it assumes a more dancefloor quality (befitting Chainsmokers’ material). And then it strips things back down and does it all over again. It’s highly addictive and totally cool.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The War on Drugs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE WAR ON DRUGSSTRANGEST THING: With six weeks to go until the release of The War On Drugs’ A Deeper Understanding, their fourth album and first on Atlantic Records (out August 25), the band now presents another song, Strangest Thing – and it’s great (again). Combining the best elements of artists such as Tom Petty and Philadelphia-era Springsteen (not to mention a little Dire Straits, circa Brothers In Arms), this drops gorgeously husky vocals against country-inspired guitars and beautiful synths. As with previous songs from the new album, this is intricately, and often beautifully layered, with thought-provoking lyrics that declare: “I’m just moving in between the space between the beauty and the pain… it’s the strangest thing.” At almost seven minutes in length, it’s another epic offering. But crucially, it never feels indulgent or overlong… captivating with its classic songwriting values and taking you on a glorious journey. And even when you think there may be a lull, late on, a screeching guitar solo lands to elevate the song still higher in your estimation. It almost goes without saying that The War on Drugs look set to release one of the albums of the year, given the quality of the material thus far. This one slow builds and then soars. Strangest Thing follows Holding On and the 11-minute Record Store Day release Thinking of a Place.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Barr Brothers

THE BARR BROTHERSYOU WOULD HAVE TO LOSE YOUR MIND: The opening song on The Barr Brothers’ new album Queens of the Breakers (released on October 13 via Secret City Records) starts with a drum pattern that mimics the sound of two heartbeats out of sync. It was written by Andrew Barr while holding the hand of a loved one in the hospital, where he heard two EKG machines beating slowly in and out of time with each other, occasionally aligning, but destined to dither. The album that follows represents a similar kind of human dynamic. As a taster, new single You Would Have To Lose Your Mind displays a similar capacity to hypnotise. Built around a striking guitar riff, this hooks you from the opening strum and then proceeds to offer up an ethereal journey into the sublime (with traces of Lord Huron and Rogue Wave thrown in). The vocals are softly delivered, the lyrics thought-provoking and suitably intimate, while the subsequent accompanying beats nicely delivered to add an extra element of atmosphere. It’s a beautifully beguiling concoction. The remainder of the album explores the raw, elemental power of reflection, forgiveness, loss, and growing up while also exploring the outer limits of folk, blues, rock and Americana. It promises to be something to brighten the autumn months.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lykke Li

LYKKE LI – UNCHAINED MELODY: Lykke Li is well known for covering The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody in live form, so now she makes it more widely available as a single – with typically beguiling results. Setting her ethereal, but oh-so distinct vocal style against a sombre piano arrangement, this strips away a lot of the romanticisim of the original but sharpens the bittersweet elements. It’s a striking take on a classic single that remains recognisable yet personal. Li has always brought something very cinematic and atmospheric to her own music, so it’s little wonder that this cover has already been picked up for use alongside an iPhone commercial. As a result, it extends the cover’s reach to a much wider audience. Unchained Melody, in Li’s hands, has been updated for a new generation and benefits from the contemporary spin put on it. The song grows on you the more you hear it – and deservedly so. It is achingly effective and affecting.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Wandering Hearts, Devil

THE WANDERING HEARTSDEVIL: They’re being described as 2017’s answer to Fleetwood Mac in some circles and in new single Devil it’s easy to see why. Following the release of their successful debut Wish I Could, Devil further showcases this folk-Americana band’s knack for telling stories and writing undeniably catchy lyrics. With a melody that is sure to have listeners humming along for days, Devil is a driving song that’s one of the band’s favourites to play live. A beautiful balance of harmonies, Devil seamlessly blends the band’s powerful male and female vocals, channelling the likes of Fleetwood Mac, First Aid Kit and Chris Stapleton. There’s a foot-stomping back-beat to accompany it, as well as some robust folk-rock guitar licks, as well as a rousing chorus that invites fans to sing along. It’s then that the vocals come together to lend the track extra power, before taking it in turns for the next build-up. It’s a really appealing record that should further elevate this band’s burgeoning reputation. The Wandering Hearts say of the song themselves: “This is a story about throwing your hands up in the air, admitting your flaws and past mistakes, and owning them. Living life how you want to live it and knowing that if it all goes wrong, at least it was your choice. Ultimately, life is about doing what you’re passionate about and having hope for whatever may lie ahead.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Figgins, Run

TOM FIGGINSRUN: London born singer songwriter Tom Figgins releases his new single in the form of Run. The title track from his forthcoming EP, due this autumn, the song has a sparseness to it that’s immediately ear-catching. This comes courtesy of some striking piano arrangements and an emotive set of vocals that are shot through with a yearning to escape. There is some percussion but the beats are kept to a minimum in order to augment the overall effectiveness of that piano. But they do build as the track does late on, allowing Figgins himself to extend his vocal range into some falsetto highs. Indeed, the climax does eventually include some electric guitar riffs that heighten the overall sense of atmosphere. It’s a highly effective listen, reminiscent of the way acts like Snow Patrol and Coldplay build their songs. And it bodes extremely well for the remainder of the content on the forthcoming EP. Speaking about the track, Tom said: “Run is a song about finding strength and freedom through moving on to something new. It describes a sudden awareness that you might explode, if you don’t get out of there and change things. The chorus represents the flow of relief that inevitably follows that change and an air of hope as you step into the unknown.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Grizzly Bear

GRIZZLY BEARNEIGHBOURS: Grizzly Bear drop another new offering from their forthcoming Painted Ruins LP in the form of the surreal Neighbours. Based around another distinct set of vocals from Ed Droste, which have a kind of haunted quality (akin to listening to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke at times), there’s also some trademark guitar loops and more of the expected layering. Hence, lyrics weave in and out of each other, sometimes intertwining to moody effect, while the instrumentals gradually take on a deeper complexity. It creates something of a heady brew – a little more mixed up and edgy than some of their more mellow material. But it remains an ear-catching example of this band’s songwriting prowess and has more than enough signature elements to keep the fans happy. In terms of how they craft songs, and their ability to marry beauty with lyrical complexity, you could almost liken them to bands like Elbow.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Joy Crookes

JOY CROOKESMOTHER MAY I SLEEP WITH DANGER: Joy Crookes has now released her anticipated debut EP Influence, which also features the new track, Mother May I Sleep With Danger. Notion says of her music that it boasts “the kind of sound that blew up a post-Fugees Lauryn Hill” and, vocally, the comparison is highly effective. Mother May I Sleep With Danger combines a sweet melodic hook and some dreamy, Hill-style vocals with an edgy set of lyrics that flirt with a dangerous love affair (“now I don’t understand how you can hold me back”… “I’ll get what I want you see”, etc). But it’s overall composition marries both a classic songwriting style that recalls Billie Holiday with something fresh and almost breezy, putting the lie to some of the more provocative lyrical elements. It’s really easy to see why there’s so much buzz surrounding her. Further EP highlights come in the form of the swoonsome, strings-laden New Manhattan and the ultra hip/ultra funky Bad Feeling, which drops a genuinely feel-good beat, while maintaining that smooth vocal style.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Ramirez

DAVID RAMIREZTWINS: Austin-based singer-songwriter David Ramirez is sharing the video for his new single Twins – the second track to be taken from his upcoming fourth album We’re Not Going Anywhere (out September 8). The video is comprised of grainy clips of soldiers being subjected to LSD tests, marching protestors and flexing fists – a particularly psychedelic take on the Zapruder film. The video offers, in Ramirez’s words, “images from a time in our country that had been deemed innocent, but [it frames] them in a way that exposes our crude nature”. Recorded with Sam Kassirer (previously Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Bhi Bhiman) in isolation at his studio in Maine, New England, Ramirez – who is an American of Mexican descent – wrote We’re Not Going Anywhere partly as a response of protest and defiance towards the American political landscape. The single is full of questions (“where were you when we lost the twins?”), challenging what he feels is an almost unrecognisable political landscape to the one he grew up with. It boasts haunting, Springsteen-like vocals with some stirring guitar-work, thereby creating a thought-provoking and yet toe-tapping commentary on how Ramirez views America now. Speaking about the new single, Ramirez says: “9/11 happened a little over a week after my 18th birthday and it was one of the first times I remember feeling unsafe and without control in a country that had previously made me feel otherwise.” says Ramirez. “I never wrote about that moment but in the light of last year’s election, a lot of those feelings came flooding back into focus. It was time to acknowledge where I was when I first recognised that our country isn’t invincible.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 14, 2017

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

Jack Johnson, My Mind Is For Sale

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: JACK JOHNSON – MY MIND IS FOR SALE: Don’t be fooled by the gentle beats, and easygoing acoustics, this is Jack Johnson in angry form. New single My Mind Is For Sale is actually an anti-Donald Trump rant that finds Johnson lamenting the thoughts and opinions of the controversial American President. As he states in the chorus: “I don’t care for your paranoid us against them fearful kind of walls, I don’t care for your ‘me first, gimme gimme’ appetite.” It’s an effective put-down, made all the more appealing for the way in which it still manages to maintain Johnson’s laidback vibe. Indeed, the gentle beats and warm acoustics remain intact and are as endearing as ever, giving this a campfire sing-along kind of vibe that will make its clever lyrics resonate even more loudly. The song, which marks a very welcome return for this artist, is taken from Johnson’s forthcoming seventh LP, All the Light Above It Too, which marks his first since 2013’s From Here to Now to You. Johnson recorded the album at his own Mango Tree Studio, playing most of the instruments himself. He says of the record: “This album shares what has been on my mind during the past year or so. A year in which I sailed through the North Atlantic Gyre for a documentary about plastic pollution in the ocean. A year in which Trump was elected as the President of the United States. A year in which I camped, surfed, got stitches, explored, dreamed, shared time and endless conversations with my family and friends … all of which inspired these songs. I usually make sketches of the songs first then set up a time to actually record the album. This time around the original sketches became the final versions. I didn’t want to lose any of the spirit that a song has in its rawest form.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Benjamin Gibbard

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BENJAMIN GIBBARDTHE CONCEPT: Benjamin Gibbard, the frontman for Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service, has announced the release of Bandwagonesque, a full-length cover version of Teenage Fanclub’s classic 1991 album. The first offering from that is The Concept, which is delivered in a slower, more mellow version than the original – almost ethereal in places. Gibbard has slowed the pace but retained the tight melodicism, lending even more warmth to the chorus (as well as a bittersweet undertow). He then opens things out a little bit for a big instrumental, which is augmented by some lush vocal harmonies. It’s a lovely re-imagining of an already great track – one that’s respectful of the original, while different enough to be worth checking out. Commenting on his inspiration for covering the LP, Gibbard explained: “Turntable Kitchen approached me last summer about being part of their Sounds Delicious Vinyl series and I was excited about the idea of covering an album in its entirety. Bandwagonesque is my favourite record by my favourite band of all time. It came along at a pivotal time in my musical life and I’ve loved it for over 25 years. It’s been such a blast taking these songs apart to see how they work and then putting them back together again.” Adds Norman Blake, founding member of Teenage Fanclub: “I was thrilled and extremely flattered when I heard that Ben Gibbard had decided to cover Bandwagonesque in its entirety. Needless to say that the reimagining of the album by this very talented fella is both inventive and deftly executed. Thanks Ben.” The result, as you’d expect from an artist of Gibbard’s quality, is beautiful.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alt-J, Deadcrush

ALT-J – DEADCRUSH: Alt-J’s latest offering from their Relaxer LP is the moody Deadcrush. Featuring a moody, hip-hop infused back-beat, some slick bass and a throbbing synth, the track also boasts an edgy set of vocals that eventually ascend to some falsetto highs akin to listening to a Scissor Sisters chorus. These elements combined serve to enhance the ethereal vibe of the track as a whole, given its themes of the undead and crushes. But then the inspiration behind the track is as bold as it is startling: “As we were finishing writing our second album, This Is All Yours, we came up with a quick jam which we luckily captured on one of our phones. This turned into Deadcrush, which is a word we made up to describe someone who is no longer alive that you fancy. Thus the first verse is about Lee Miller, Joe’s deadcrush, the second about Anne Boleyn, Gus’s…”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Coldplay

COLDPLAY & BIG SEANMIRACLES (SOMEONE SPECIAL): Coldplay team up with Big Sean for Miracles, the latest offering from their Kaleidoscope EP, which is out now. Again, it’s a departure from the sound of old, employing soulful electronic loops, finger-click style beats and just the odd guitar jangle. Chris Martin’s vocals are as evocative as ever, building to another of those trademark towering choruses, before stripping things back down. Big Sean eventually drops a trademark rap and this is incorporated well into the overall flow of the song, without losing any of its ryhthm or identity. It’s a nice touch to weave a guitar loop around it. Miracles isn’t, perhaps, as big and anthemic as its name suggests – but it does serve up a consistently empowering vibe that’s sure to go down well in live form. And it’s further evidence of just how impressive Coldplay’s evolution continues to be.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Arcade Fire, Electric Blue

ARCADE FIREELECTRIC BLUE: Electric Blue, the latest offering from Arcade Fire’s forthcoming Everything Now album, boasts yet another change of direction. Featuring Régine Chassagne singing in falsetto over funky drums and huge doses of synthesized bass, this is another of the album’s more frivolous offerings – more in line with the Abba-esque Everything Now than the darker dance tones of Signs of Life. Indeed, the highs of the falsettos boast something in common with the likes of MGMT at times, while tipping another obvious hat to the energy and creativity of experimental artists such as David Bowie. The disco elements, meanwhile, owe more than a passing nod to Arcade Fire’s own Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), which in itself referenced Blondie. It’s more pop than some of their material, and therefore more instantly commercially appealing. But while this may deliver one of the band’s biggest hits to date, complete with genuine crossover potential, the lack of much darkness or grit does place a marker against it. It’s fun but more forgettable than Arcade Fire’s very best work.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Nine Inch Nails, Less Than

NINE INCH NAILSLESS THAN: Nine Inch Nails’ new EP, Add Violence, will be released on July 21. The five-song collection is the second in a series of three related EPs. The first, Not The Actual Events, was released in December of 2016. Add Violence finds the band (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) becoming more accessible and impenetrable at the same time. The sonic palette expands significantly from Not The Actual Events, incorporating elements of beauty into the dark dissonance. The narrative arc linking the three records begins to emerge through the disassociated lyrics and the provocative and clue-filled cover artwork and accompanying physical component. Less Than, the first single, is almost quintessential NIN. There’s serrated synth work, a power chorus in which Reznor’s vocals properly get unleashed in potent form, and some driving, New Order-like basslines. The changes of pace also work to the song’s advantage, breaking things back down whenever they threaten to run away into complete walls of noise. The result is a track that boasts an exhilarating energy at times, coupled with the menace and edginess inherent in NIN’s best work. The fans will be rejoicing.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wilsen

WILSENFINAL: Brooklyn trio Wilsen have unveiled the stunning music video for Final – a track taken from their recently-released debut album I Go Missing In My Sleep. Released to coincide with the announcement of their first ever North American headline tour this autumn, the video finds the heartbreaking track (written about a friend’s loss) set to a pas de deux choreographed by dancer Yury Yanowsky, who is featured in the video along with Rachele Buriassi. Both have featured in the Boston Ballet. Yury Yanowsky was a principal dancer in the Boston Ballet for over two decades, is on faculty at Harvard, and comes from a long line of dancers (he is the son of Anatol Yanowsky and Carmen Robles from Lyon Opera Ballet, and brother of Royal Ballet Principal dancer Zenaida Yanowsky and Dutch National Ballet Soloist Nadia Yanowksy). The song itself is a stripped down, intimate track that finds a fragile set of vocals accompanied by a delicate piece of guitar (and later on, a whistle), as if to bring out the most from the sad lyrics (which reflect that tragic loss). It’s simple but highly effective – and a song made all the more rich for the presence of such a beautifully realised video.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Feist

FEISTCENTURY: Feist has shared the new video for her single Century, featuring a spoken word outro from the intimitable Jarvis Cocker (of Pulp fame). The stormy, brooding track is available on Feist’s new album, Pleasure. Perhaps fittingly, the song has a keen sense of edge to it, with an uncertainty born out of the emotions informing the songwriting. Instrumentally, though, the song has a raw, ragged vibe courtesy of gutsy blasts of guitar that carry a classic PJ Harvey vibe. The closing vocals from Cocker, meanwhile, have a haunted, thoughtful vibe that brings the song to a distinct close. It’s a potent cocktail that whips you into an emotional whirlwind. The Scott Cudmore directed video sees Leslie Feist come up against her doppelgänger for a dance battle which soon descends into choreographed chaos. The clip also features a cameo from Cocker. It’s well worth checking out. Feist’s first album in six years reflects on secrets and shame, loneliness and tenderness, care and fatigue and is at its core a study on self-awareness.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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George Glew

GEORGE GLEWBURY ME: Bristol newcomer George Glew releases his debut single, Bury Me, and immediately showcases a strong set of vocals. Born and raised in South Wales, his childhood love of folk, blues and soul was nurtured by his parents before finding his later love for rock and indie music. Hence, the new offering owes much to rock and blues as it does soul… the guitars have a bluesy undertow, while his striking vocals have a soulful quality that augment the song’s themes of losing one’s way. As the track progresses, the guitar becomes more pronounced, while Glew really lets rip with his vocals, hitting some emotive highs as he recalls the desperation of his situation. It’s an eye-catching offering from an artist who would appear to have a bright future ahead of him. The new single will be followed by the release of one new track every month for the next year and will be supported by George undertaking a monthly residency at The Gallimaufry in Bristol.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lana Del Rey, Summer Bummer

LANA DEL REY feat A$AP ROCKYSUMMER BUMMER: Lana Del Rey has dropped two tracks this week, both featuring A$AP Rocky – the first of which is Summer Bummer, and it’s a deceptive offering. Initially, it sounds as though it’s going to offer up something haunted and stripped back, with just Del Rey’s reflective vocals accompanying some atmospheric piano. But then a more lively back-beat drops and A$AP Rocky unleashes his lyrical flow. It immediately lends the track more urgency and makes it more interesting. Thereafter, the beat remains intact, while the lyrical duties are shared between singer and rapper, providing a nice juxtaposition of styles: one haunted, melancholic; the other more urban and immediate. It’s a decent offering from Del Rey, albeit one that probably won’t win too many more new fans. But there’s a sense of the singer stamping a signature style over proceedings, while still being broad-minded enough to allow some room for play by the presence of A$AP.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lana Del Rey, Summer Bummer

LANA DEL REY feat A$AP ROCKYGROUPIE LOVE: The second Lana Del Rey/A$AP Rocky offering of the week comes in the form of Groupie Love, another glimpse from the forthcoming Lust For Life LP. Again, the song assumes a laidback, almost trippy quality that balances romance with something more melancholy. The chorus, in which Del Rey drops her “groupie love” refrain, is both soaring and soothing, and almost hypnotic. But it’s a more conventional song than Summer Bummer, with the duet-form of that track dropped in favour of reducing Rocky’s contribution to a third verse guest rap. It nevertheless remains an effective use of Rocky’s vocal prowess and, once again, lends the track some much needed edge as it threatens to run out of steam. It’s perhaps the lesser of the two songs, given that it follows a more recognisable formula as well as retaining Del Rey’s signature sound. But it’s still worth a listen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Chris Reardon, Spiders

CHRIS REARDONSPIDERS: Chris Reardon released his new single Spiders last month, via his own Strange Comfort Records. Written and produced by Chris, Spiders was recorded in Brixton, and was mastered by Robin Schmidt (Ben Howard, Michael Kiwanuka, The Vaccines). The track is taken form the forthcoming From The Outside In EP – due for release in August. The track represents the sound of Reardon at his most enigmatic, adopting an incredibly vulnerable tone, both lyrically and vocally. In both the writing and recording of the song, Chris pushed himself – channelling an array of influences, and letting the song go where it needed to go without forcing the direction. The guitar has a bluesy quality that’s highly appealing, while the vocals are suitably husky to accompany the tone. It’s stripped back, slow-burning but – if heard while in the right mood – highly effective and affecting. A short film to accompany Spiders is streaming now. The film was made two years ago – Chris explains: “I was waiting till the right song came along before using the film. Spiders is that song. The video echoes some of the songs key themes – a personal journey, a sense of resolution.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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