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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 20, 2018

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

Lykke Li

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LYKKE LI – DEEP END: Any new material from Lykke Li is always welcome… but especially when it’s as good as this. Deep End is the first of two new tracks from her forthcoming new album, So Sad So Sexy, which is out on June 8. Featuring production from Malay, T-Minus and Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Mark Ronson), this retains the ethereal vocal style that is Li’s trademark, while adding some more polish and mainstream sensibility. Indeed, there’s a very hip-hop vibe to the back-beats, which are massively impressive, while the pianos and electronics are, by turns, emotive and atmospheric. The mood the song creates is very cool: by turns laidback, sexy, ethereal and distinct. Li’s vocals occasionally assume a Sia-like vibe (which is no bad thing), adding to the radio friendly nature of the song as a whole. Indeed, it’s fair to say that this constitutes Li’s most mainstream offering yet. But it could afford her the step up to the big time that she so richly deserves.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Coral

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE CORALSWEET RELEASE: The Coral have announced details of their new album, Move Through The Dawn, which will be released on August 17. So, if that seems like a long time to wait, they’ve also dropped the first taste of what lies in wait, in the form of the robust Sweet Release. Built around lyrics that proclaim “I’m in love, I’m in love with the sweet release”, this is a guitar-driven slice of propulsive indie rock that finds the band at, arguably, their most muscular. But there are traces of psychedelia in the vocals, which add some nice balance. The song is instantly catchy… by turns comfortably radio friendly yet alternative enough to please the under-nourished indie fraternity of late. It’s a rollicking good listen. The accompanying video, directed by James Slater, features a synchronized dance routine by a boiler-suited, paper bag hat-wearing dance troupe. Hence, the video continues the band’s tradition for visually exciting and wryly amusing promos. It’s all shaping up nicely for the new album, then…
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anne-Marie, 2002

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: ANNE-MARIE – 2002: Anne-Marie has unveiled her impossibly catchy new single in the form of 2002, which is available now on all DSPs and will feature on her forthcoming debut album Speak Your Mind (out on April 27). Co-written with Ed Sheeran (who also provides vocals on the track) and produced by Steve Mac (Sheeran’s Shape of You, Pink’s What About Us), the track highlights the stars’ celebrated humour and characteristic story-telling. A huge champion of pop music from the early 00’s, Anne-Marie quotes some of the most iconic and her personal favourite songs from that era throughout the chorus: Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time, N-Sync’s Bye Bye Bye, Jay-Z’s 99 Problems and Nelly’s Ride Wit Me. And yet, the song itself has plenty of identity of its own, including a free spirited pop sheen that is undeniable. The finger click beats enhance the overall catchy quality, the acoustic guitar licks add breeze and Anne-Marie’s sweet vocals are dream-like in nature. It’s easy to fall in love with her. 2002 has summer anthem written all over it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Off Bloom, Love Actually

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: OFF BLOOMLOVE ACTUALLY: Anglo-Danish trio Off Bloom are back with cracking new single Love Actually, a tropical-flavoured self-effacing love song made with their good friend, the rising Danish producer Vera. Written in the midst of a hefty post-house party hangover, the band had this to say about the track: “The song is about being so in love it’s almost unhealthy, but you can’t help yourself from falling! The feeling that something is almost too good to be true and you’re slightly dreading what’s to come but feeling ecstatic at the same time. A time where everything is about sex and fighting and constantly trying to figure out what’s happening inside the other person’s head. The title is, of course, a ‘90s movies reference. When we wrote it we started listening to the stuff we grew up with in the ‘90s / early ‘00s – everything from Green Day to Natalie Imbruglia – and got SUPER inspired by the vibe. It felt like going back to a more ‘innocent’ time.” Anyone anticipating the type of drippy ballad that could easily slip into the movie of the same name had best rest assured: it’s not. This drops a super-sultry central vocal, some slick beats and synth arrangements and a soothing pop vibe. It’s upbeat, self-deprecating, sexy and toe-tappingly enjoyable. In short, it’s a very welcome return. The fun, lo-fi video was shot in the band’s London flat by Aria Baradar.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Novo Amor

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 5: NOVO AMORSTATE LINES: Novo Amor has unveiled a surprise new track, State Lines, which is out now on AllPoints. The project of producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ali Lacey, this is the first solo material we have heard from Novo Amor since his collaboration with Ed Tullett, which culminated in the release of the Heiress album at the close of 2017. State Lines is therefore the result of Lacey getting back to his home studio in Wales. The track grows from humble beginnings of acoustic guitar and Novo Amor’s now familiar falsetto vocals, and blossoms into an expansive and cinematic cut. Speaking about the new track, Lacey said: “The name State Lines represents the idea of bordering something, it reflects a feeling or place of uncertainty.” There is, however, no uncertainty when it comes to reviewing the song: it’s beautiful. The early acoustic licks are disarmingly simple but rife with ear-pleasing melody, while the accompanying falsetto vocal is beautifully realised (with a touch of the ethereal). When the track adds instrumental layering, however, it blossoms in stunning fashion. It’s the type of song that’s easy to kick back and lose yourself in.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lykke Li

LYKKE LI – HARD RAIN: Hard Rain, the second of two new tracks from Lykke Li’s forthcoming new album, So Sad So Sexy (out June 8) isn’t quite as good as Deep End but it’s still impressive. This time around, the track features production from ex-Vampire Weekender Rostam, but it’s a slightly less mainstream venture. Opening with an eerie background synth stab and a heartfelt, intimate vocal from Li, this takes a little time to get going. Early on, there’s some vocal harmonic layering, before another hip hop orientated backbeat drops and adds some style and edge. Li retains the ethereal edge to her vocals, yet sounds somehow more sad this time around. But the chorus still manages to sound powerful, even if it lacks the bounce needed to make it as radio friendly. That being said, it’s good to hear that Li hasn’t abandoned her more individual tendencies completely in favour of mainstream approval. Hard Rain is swarming with the imaginative production values that have long been a hallmark of this exeptional artist. It therefore combines the cinematic with the ethereal and elements of pop, making this another cracking track to usher in the arrival of a new album. We’re officially very excited about this one!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alex Lleo

ALEX LLEORISING WATER: Fresh from a run of spring solo headline shows across the South West, Alex Lleo has unveiled the third and final track from his debut Park Studios, JQ EP. True to form so far, this is another acoustic based piece of folk-pop that is shot through with ear-pleasing melody. Lleo brings trademark husk and emotional depth to the vocals, while the inclusion of some strings (cello) add some extra instrumental layering late on. It’s a warm slow-burner of a record, albeit laced with some bittersweet lyrical sentiments that give the listener plenty to ponder. Alex will next head out for two headline shows in London and Birmingham. Firstly, he will make his London debut at St Pancras Old Church on May 2. Judging by the quality of the tracks we’ve heard so far, this should be a night worth making.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Somebody

THE CHAINSMOKERS feat DREW LOVESOMEBODY: The Chainsmokers continue what has been a highly productive 2018 with the release of new single Somebody, featuring Drew Love. Boasting intimate, honest lyrics about realising one’s potential and having the bravery to be yourself, Alex Pall and Drew Taggart employ a more restrained approach to the accompanying instrumentals. Hence, the beats and synths are even more atmospheric than some of their recent material, with the falsetto vocals injecting plenty of doubt. The lyrics, meanwhile, deliver insights such as “I don’t really like anybody, so please don’t tell me I’m like anybody”, showcasing that greater emotional depth that has crept into new material. Admittedly, there is a woozy electronic lift around the midway point, when Love unleashes her sultry vocals, but it works a treat in making the track more memorable, before things get stripped back down once more. It’s a strong new release from them.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Maliibu Miitch

MALIIBU MIITCHGIVE HER SOME MONEY: Bronx native Maliibu Miitch has unveiled her new single, Give Her Some Money and piles on the sass. Featuring provocative lines like “pussy good, give us the money” and “bad bitch, better give us the money”, this is a hard-hitting slice of R’n‘B/hip-hop that, quite possibly, positions Maliibu as the new enfant terrible of the US hip-hop/R’n‘B scene. Certainly, her lyricism isn’t for the faint hearted… and it could even set the female empowerment movement back a few steps. Certainly, it’s the kind of provocative song-making that can create confusion in terms of what it’s saying (and, most pertinently, the language it’s employing). But the production values are undoubtedly slick, with some moody back-beats and electronics helping to accentuate that overall feeling of sass. It is, however, an acquired taste and one that isn’t without problems. Give Her Some Money follows the success of Miitch’s last release, The Count, and serves as another primer to her highly-anticipated upcoming mixtape, due later this summer.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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The Pale White

THE PALE WHITEPEACE OF MIND: Newcastle indie-rock trio The Pale White release their barnstorming new single, Peace of Mind, and immediately attract generous comparisons with the heft and swagger of bands like Queens of the Stone Age. Thunderous from the outset, courtesy of its robust central guitar hook, this hits you with full force from the get go and seldmom takes its foot off the gas. The guitars are continually gutsy and explosive, the drums as thunderous as previously mentioned, and the vocals as moody and gritty as you’d expect from a track garnering comparisons with a Josh Homme outfit. Oh, and then there’s a mid-track breakdown into the deeply psychedelic that adds a surprising late twist. Speaking about the new single, Adam (from the band) said: “Our second offering this year, let it rip through the bone-structured cage, which cradles the unpredictable and often misunderstood muscle that is the human brain. We are vultures circling our own demise, until we choose to regain consciousness.” Hmmm… not sure about that statement – but the song rocks.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

GET CAPE WEAR CAPE FLYANIMATE: Hitting the road with a full live band, Sam Duckworth and company – aka Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – will play an unmissable headline hometown gig at Southend’s Chinnery’s venue on May 12, 2018 before supporting Frank Turner at the Lost Evenings Festival at London Roundhouse on May 14, as well as making other appearances at the likes of Liverpool’s EBGBs, Handmade Festival and beyond throughout the month of May. In celebration of what will be Get Cape’s first UK tour run for over four years, Sam and band mark the announcement with the release of new single, Animate. And it’s a typically appealing, alternative offering. Animate has an indie-pop sensibility (in that it’s slightly leftfield), yet it also displays a keen melodicism that’s married to a lively chorus. Duckworth also raises the tempo of his otherwise laidback vocals late on (sounding impassioned and anguished), before then dropping a kooky synth arrangement that ushers the song to a giddy, happy-go-lucky close. It’s a nice juxtaposition of styles, as only Get Cape know how.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 13, 2018

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

Snow Patrol, Life on Earth

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: SNOW PATROLLIFE ON EARTH: The second offering from Snow Patrol’s new album, Wildness, is the slow-building epic Life on Earth – and it’s typically impressive. Containing ethereal elements of acts like Jose Gonzalez, as well as the space odyssey elements of the late, great David Bowie, this also manages to retain a signature Snow Patrol sound. The guitars build nicely, there are organs, strings, moody vocals, thoughtful lyrics and a truly emotive overall experience. It’s the kind of offering that Snow Patrol built their reputation on delivering and shows that despite being away for seven years, their capacity for brilliant songwriting remains undiminished. The accompanying video was premiered by British Astronaut Tim Peake (read his tweet here) and was shot at the European Space Agency in Holland. It’s as epic and sweeping as the song itself. Roll on the rest of the album!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Florence + The Machine, Sky Full of Song

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: FLORENCE + THE MACHINESKY FULL OF SONG: Florence + The Machine marked Record Store Day with the release of the sweeping new single Sky Full of Song – but you have to wait for the sweep. Early doors, it’s marked by Florence Welch’s emotive vocals, which are marked by something of a melancholy undertow (“And I can tell that I’m in trouble, when that music starts to play”). It’s the sense of uncertainty that makes the track somehow more endearing, especially when something of a reassurance comes in the lyric “I can hide from the thunder in a sky full of song”. As the song progresses, the instrumentals become more layered, with the solitary bass and piano eventually being accompanied by some beautifully realised string arrangements and choral vocal harmonies. It’s at about the three minute mark that the song really blossoms into life – making an already mesmerising piece of work all the more stirring and notable. It’s a cracking piece of work.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Janelle Monae, Pynk

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JANELLE MONAEPYNK:Pynk is a brash celebration of creation. self love. sexuality. and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nooks and crannies of humans everywhere… PYNK is where the future is born….” So says Janelle Monae of her new single, Pynk, the latest offering from her keenly anticipated new album, Dirty Computer. And it’s a belter – as proactive, life-affirming and positive as that sentiment suggests. Early on, it’s disarmingly simmple: finger click beats, an ’80s style synth and Monae’s sassy R’n‘B infused vocals. The simplicity of the production allows the message of the vocals to shine through. But around the minute and 30 second mark, the song takes on a more robust form. There’s a gritty guitar lick, more pronounced beats to accompany the electronics and clicks. It’s vibrant and alive and urgent. Monae then strips things back down and rebuilds, allowing the enjoyment to revisit you as the song once again repeats the trick. Coming off the back of Make Me Feel, this only heightens the excitement surrounding Monae’s imminent LP (out on April 27).
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Esther Vallee

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: ESTHER VALLEEHARDCORE: Swedish indie-pop artist Esther Vallee has released a live studio version of her latest single, Hardcore, and instantly impresses. The live performance was recorded at the legendary Swedish studio Svenska Grammofonstudion and is accompanied by a live video (below). Speaking about the recording, she said: “The acoustic Hardcore version and video was recorded in the Svenska studio. It felt unreal to spend some time in this legendary studio. Especially to record it live with my band. And together we actually improvised this version on the spot. This is the result.” Hence, while Vallee is well known for her pop hooks in her home country, this showcases a rawer, more intimate sound that is stunning. Vallee’s vocals are moody and expressive, bringing a greater sense of darkness to the lyrics. The accompanying pianos and guitars are brilliantly realised, especially during the expansive chorus. But it’s the rawness and intimacy that really stand out. And while there’s a keen sense of melody, befitting the song’s pop roots, this is a brilliant alternative [and improvised] version.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Biffy Clyro, MTV Unplugged

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 5: BIFFY CLYROMANY OF HORROR (ACOUSTIC): Although their live shows are best known for their electrifying and explosive energy, Biffy Clyro have often demonstrated that their songs possess an added poignancy when stripped back to their essence. Now, the band can announce details of their first acoustic album, MTV Unplugged: Live At Roundhouse London on May 25. Recorded at London’s famous Roundhouse venue on November 8th last year, the set represented the UK relaunch of the iconic MTV Unplugged series. Biffy Clyro follow in the footsteps of influential rock bands who had previously performed as part of the series, notably Nirvana, Oasis, Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and George Michael. The set is rich with favourites from the Biffy catalogue. Machines is already long established as a highlight of the band’s live shows as Simon Neil performs accompanied by a single acoustic guitar, while the likes of Many of Horror, Re-arrange and Medicine are all natural fits for an Unplugged performance. Indeed, as a taster of what to expect, the band have released Many of Horror and succeed in blowing you away. Stripped of its rock elements, this takes on added emotional resonance, beauty and poignancy. It’s a mesmerising showcase of just how brilliant this MTV Unplugged collection promises to be.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Inner Tongue

INNER TONGUETEETH: Incredibly, the guy behind Inner Tongue had vocal surgery in 2013 and it’s taken him five years to recover from that and get the album ready (it’s out in May). New single Teeth shows that the wait [and journey back] was worth it. A mix of nonchalant beats, intimate delicacy, and falsetto vocals, there’re flashes of James Blake, Death Cab For Cutie, Sohn and Chet Faker all in there. And while the pace of the song is very deliberate (and maybe a little too laidback for some), this is the type of serene offering that rewards the patient listener. The instrumentals are intricately composed, the vocals thoughtful and reflective (and somehow soothing), while the song as a whole simply washes over you. It impresses without doing anything overly showy and bodes well for the rest of the album.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Johnny Marr

JOHNNY MARRTHE TRACERS: Legendary Smiths guitarist and acclaimed solo artist Johnny Marr releases his new album Call The Comet on June 15. The first taster is The Tracers, a typically super-charged, guitar-led offering that blends something of a classic Smiths sound with elements of other acts like James and early Cure. There are echoed ‘woo hoo’ harmonies, 80s styled synths, slick bassline grooves and fiery guitar riffs to ensure that this sweeps you along in a psychedelia laced indie-rock swagger. Marr’s stoner style vocals actually accentuate the psychedelic elements, while the guitars retain a moodiness and energy that drive the track into your subconscious. Hence, without being explosive, it does impress on its own level. “Call The Comet is my own magic realism,” explains Marr, of the forthcoming LP. “It’s set in the not-too-distant future and is mostly concerned with the idea of an alternative society. The characters in the songs are searching for a new idealism, although there are some personal songs in there too. It’s something that people like me can relate to.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jenny Hval

JENNY HVALSPELLS: Norwegian multi-disciplinary artist Jenny Hval returns with a new EP, The Long Sleep, set for release on May 25 via Sacred Bones. The first single from the EP, Spells, is streaming online now. The track underlines Hval’s idiosyncratic qualities. It begins in something of a haze, almost throwing some sounds together. But it quickly takes shape with a sharp, seductive mix of ethereal vocals, slick pop melodies and alternative elements. Admittedly, the song does drift back off into some slightly more haphazard instrumental cycles as it builds to its climax, but it always manages to bring itself back. It’s these flights of fancy, however, coupled with the beauty inherent in the song’s more conventional elements, that enable it to make such a different impression. It does, however, remain something of an acquired taste at times. The Long Sleep EP is the first Jenny Hval release since 2016’s acclaimed full-length, Blood Bitch. It follows the Lost Girls collaborative EP, released this past February, and precedes Hval’s debut novel, Paradise Rot, published by Penguin Random House’s Verso, and out October 2.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Superparka

SUPERPARKASKIP: Parisian duo SuperParka have dropped their ultra cool debut UK single Skip. Initially self released in their native France to critical acclaim, support from Spotify and radio support means they are now going global. Skip is best described as a neo-pop meditation on friendship that is layered, complex and combines the best parts of indie with a stuttering 90’s Hip-Hop heavy beat. They blend easy-listening strokes with more visceral moments on the turn of a coin. Hence, there’s a laidback swagger to the central bassline groove, some dreamy late-night electronic arrangements, and some equally laidback vocals to take you on the lyrical journey that lies in wait. But it’s head-noddingly cool, as well as lyrically intelligent, meaning that it appeals to the head and heart as much as it reaches those dance feet. SuperParks are Paco and Simon. They describe themselves as ’2 guys who love flying stuff such as Flying Mutant Ninja Turtles or Flying Lotus. We sing about our bros and potential UFO invasions and one could describe us musically as a mix of hip-hop/RnB & stoner. Roughly.’ They have been friends since school bonding over a shared love of Dragonball Z, the pair are hoovers of popular culture. They talk about Flying Lotus, Pharrell (the Neptunes era), Jai Paul and Madlib, they play a sort of lo-fi r&b led by fat hip-hop drums recorded on iPhones.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ash, Annabel

ASHANNABEL: Sometimes it’s great just to drift back into the way things were. Ash’s new single Annabel is shot through with the same kind of energy, vigour and indie-rock melodicism that they thrived upon delivering in their heyday. That is to say, crunching guitars, a slick mix of boy-girl vocals and a fine balance between heaviness and radio-friendly. Hence, while it’s undoubtedly an indie-rock anthem that harks back to a bygone era, it does enough to retain a contemporary edge and to satisfy both pop fans and indie fans in equal measure. It’s a blast. Annabel is the second track to be lifted from the forthcoming album Islands, which is due for release on May 18 through their newly cemented return to original home, Infectious Music. The albium is being described as an open-hearted collection of songs drawn from frontman Tim Wheeler’s reflective lyrical axis dealing with friendship and betrayal, love and loss, an album which reaffirms the band’s status as one of the most idiosyncratic and singularly thrilling guitar bands on these islands.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 6, 2018

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

Eels, Dry Bones

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: EELSBONE DRY: Eels come over all gothic with new single Bone Dry – but impress in a major way. A rock-driven slice of Eels-inspired songwriting, this is unmistakeably the work of the band despite sounding fresh as well. There’s a sense of melancholy (“what becomes of a man like me, drifting off to sea”) attached to the love-lorn lyrics, which tell the tale of a man attempting to be reunited with a lost love – and the torment that brings. There’s some snazzy guitar work at several points (not just the obligatory mid-track solo effort, which also rocks), as well as some “sha la la” harmonies to add to the sing-along value. And the pace is snappy, meaning that the track zips along and is full of life, contrary to those lyrics. The video, meanwhile, is a stunner. Directed by Sofia Astrom, it’s a stop-motion wonder that features a sad skeleton on a mission to reclaim his lost heart. Set in a misty cemetery, the film starts off with a bearded man as he finds his heart being ripped out by a mystery woman. He re-awakens as a skeleton to wander among the tombstones in search of his lost love. The track is the latest to emerge from the Eels’ latest album, The Deconstruction, which is out now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Plan B, Grateful

PLAN B – GRATEFUL: Plan B has unveiled another new track, Grateful, taken from forthcoming album Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose, which is set for release on May 4 through Atlantic Records. A mix of soul-infused lyrics and moody beats, this contains elements of everything that has helped Plan B – aka Ben Drew – reach where he has today. It also shows just why he’s been able to achieve such crossover appeal. Gratitude therefore plays well to fans of soul, hip hop and pop, while combining the social with the personal. It starts by taking aim at a society who too often feels ungrateful for the things they have at their fingertips, before turning into a heartfelt love letter to his child and the joy that has resulted from fatherhood. Hence, the lyrics kick off with “What the hell have I got to be grateful for? Can’t be the money else I wouldn’t be trying to make no more. Can’t be the car or the house or the things I got. Can’t take that shit with me up to heaven…” Before he goes on to state: “Only one thing’s true, oh yeah, my life changed forever on the day that you were born, so it could only ever be, oh It could only ever be you.” It’s delivered with typical passion, urgency and style. And arriving in the wake of the similarly well received Guess Again, Plan B looks to have delivered another great album onto his CV.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSSHE TAUGHT ME HOW TO FLY: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have dropped the new single She Taught Me How to Fly – the third to be taken from the Number 1 album Who Built the Moon?. But it’s the lesser of the tracks to have been released so far. Owing more to Oasis than the David Holmes produced sound of former album tracks Fort Knox or It’s A Beautiful World, this has a distinctly indie-rock vibe. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, there’s not enough variation in the delivery to maintain the same kind of energy, excitement or – ultimately – interest as those former tracks. Gallagher’s vocals drift in and out without sounding particularly emphatic, while the guitars keep a steady momentum without ever really bursting to life (there’s even a lack of an electrifying solo). Hence, while catchy enough, it’s a song that drifts a little too easy from the memory, while threatening to outstay its welcome a little before it reaches its climax. The single is released on 12” vinyl, which is available to order now, and includes a limited edition picture disc via Noel’s official store. The vinyl features the album version of the track, with an instrumental rendition plus a remix of the single by legendary DJ and producer Justin Robertson.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Ben Howard

BEN HOWARDBOAT TO AN ISLAND ON THE WALL: A Boat To An Island On The Wall is the first new music that Ben Howard and his band have shared since the release of his number 1 charting second album, I Forget Where We Were, in October 2014. It welcomes in a new full length record, Noonday Dream, which is due for release on June 1. The track, clocking in at seven minutes, is a typically uncompromising, richly textured epic of an introduction to Ben’s next body of work. It’s also something of a patience test (in a good way). Early on, there’s a disconcerting electronic noise, which then ushers in a minimalist set of vocals. It’s then almost three minutes and 40 seconds before a back-beat kicks in and the song takes on a warmer feel. But even then, Howard’s vocals remain vaguely haunted and sometimes ethereal, evoking memories of classic Pink Floyd in the way they’re delivered. The instrumentals, meanwhile, become more and more layered, with the electronics augmented by stabs of guitar, those back-beats and a greater overall sense of urgency. It is the epitome of an epic slow-builder, albeit delivered in the thoughtful, intelligent and carefully composed style that Howard has now become synonymous with. As a calling card for what may possibly lie in store from the new album, this gets us suitably excited – so long as you’re patient enough to stick with it. But then Howard has never been one to overly rely on songs that deliver instant gratification. He’s a much more thoughtful songwriter than that.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lova, Insecurities

LOVAINSECURITIES: Insecurities, the new single from Sweden’s Lova, is a vibrant pop track born out of a destructive place. It follows the success of her debut single, the deliciously odd You Me and The Silence – a song that mixes organic, warm production with modern, idiosyncratic song-writing – the perfect introduction to the sort of young, outspoken female artist 2018 needs and deserves. On this occasion, the track bursts forth with slick beat arrangements, robust acoustic guitar licks and fizzing synth arrangements. It boasts a tremendous energy (the type of which is guaranteed to get your toes tapping), as well as a breeziness that belies some of the insecurities inherent in the lyrics. Says Lova: “I got so sick a while ago after I got out of a really bad relationship and I can look back at it now and see that I was so insecure. My biggest fear is not being good enough so when someone breaks up with you it’s confirmation that you aren’t good enough. But when you realise it and become aware of your insecurities and accept them it doesn’t make you weak.” LOVA (real name Lova Alvilde) is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter who’s been singing and playing piano her whole life, and has studied at Stockholm’s prestigious Rytmus Music School where alumni include Robyn, Tove Lo and Icona Pop. She wrote her first song at the age of seven and signed with Universal Music Sweden one year ago. Since then she has been in the studio writing and discovering her own sound. LOVA writes personal, vulnerable, social criticism from the perspective of a young woman.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Homesick, Gucci Gucci

THE HOMESICKGUCCI GUCCI: Quickly building a reputation as a cult underground act to watch, Dutch trio The Homesick have joined forces with Yala! Records (The Magic Gang, Yak, FEET) for the release of their new single Gucci Gucci. Often compared to some of the most influential artists from the post-punk era onwards, The Homesick defy easy categorisation. Gucci Gucci demonstrates their leftfield approach, as they contrast strident hooks and sweet melody with angular aggression and a confrontational attitude. It’s simultaneously anarchic and enticing – their fiercely independent spirit connecting with people at home and abroad. As a result, the track is capable of appealing to anyone from fans of early Strokes to classic Pixies, with a little Modest Mouse thrown in, courtesy of the cute guitar hooks and melodic tendencies. It’s the instrumentals that really work for them – and the band isn’t afraid to place them front and centre for long periods. The single comes as the band prepare for a UK tour that includes a headline show at The Shacklewell Arms as well as The Great Escape
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mullally, Sweet Coffee

MULLALLY feat BASSETTESWEET COFFEE: Twenty one-year old soul vocalist Mullally unveils his new single Sweet Coffee, featuring a sublime vocal offering from London songstress Bassette. Produced by P2J (Stormzy, Lily Allen, Yungen) Sweet Coffee displays the rising stars organic and powerful vocal ability, positioning him as a true contender for 2018. Combining soft melodies and poignant harmonies, Mullally perfectly blends his inspirations from R&B, pop and soul, marrying them together to create a blissful all-encompassing sound. It’s got feel-good beats, a nice tempo and a really satisfying blend of boy-girl vocals that work well in tandem with each other. And while the idea of a song about sweet coffee may sound a little lightweight, there’s actually more to it than meets the eye, as Mullally explains: “Sweet Coffee, for me, is exploring all the avenues of the analogy of someone being your ‘Sweet Coffee’. How someone can wake you up and keep you awake and excited all day. It’s referencing the addiction of new love and needing to go back to the same person every morning, every day, so that your ‘sweet coffee’ can wake you up. It’s youthful, it’s happy; it’s about young new love.” It’s a really well produced package.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Magic Numbers, Ride Against The Wind

THE MAGIC NUMBERSRIDE AGAINST THE WIND: Mercury Prize nominated and multi-platinum selling London quartet The Magic Numbers have released their new single, Ride Against The Wind as the second track to be taken from their new album Outsiders, which is due out via Role Play Records on May 11, 2018. The new cut follows in the footsteps of the 6 Music-supported Sweet Divide and looks set to help reaffirm the band’s grittier, more robust sensibility. Hence, while not quite as gritty as Sweet Divide, the track nevertheless works well off a kick-ass back-beat and some edgy guitar licks. The vocals, though, are delivered in a much less edgy fashion, culminating in a chorus that feels warmer and more folksy than some of the accompanying guitar licks would suggest (particularly during the solo). The overall result is a song that, like so much of The Magic Numbers offerings, comes steeped in classic values, but which combines a warmth and accessibility that’s tailored to winning them even more fans. Heck, there’s even a brass element thrown in once or twice to augment the overall sound. It’s a breeze of a listen in so many ways.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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John Legend, Good Night

JOHN LEGEND feat BLOODPOP – A GOOD NIGHT: John Legend’s latest is an ode to the night he met his wife. But anyone anticipating a slushy slice of romance in the form of a ballad had best think again. This is a trademark slice of R’n‘B that’s infused with groovy guitar riffs, rumbling bass lines and sassy soul backing vocals. There’s a distinctly dancefloor groove to proceedings to, evocative of the type of atmosphere in which Legend met his beloved. While there’s also a celebratory vibe, too, in the sense that Legend is clearly celebrating a night that still means so much to him. To add to some already impressive production values, Legend has teamed up with Bloodpop, who has already worked with the likes of Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and HAIM. Hence, their mix of slick beats and soulful vocals serve to ensure that this will provide the soundtrack to a good night for anyone who listens to it. So, just go with the flow and have your own good time. Who knows, it may help to provide some special memories of your own!!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Friendly Fires

FRIENDLY FIRESLOVE LIKE WAVES: Friendly Fires announce their comeback with a swift change in direction. Hitherto known for their indie dirge sounds, new single Love Like Waves feels decidedly more club-orientated with a huge pop sheen to add to the radio friendly appeal. Hence, there are large swathes of synth, falsetto style vocals over the feel-good chorus and club-focused beats that lend the track plenty of bounce. A mid-track electronic breakdown merely underlines the track’s club leanings, which could see it featuring prominently during the forthcoming summer clubbing scene. Vocally, it’s lively and upbeat, as if to underline the song’s celebration of love. It’s a track that finds Friendly Fires inviting people to put their troubles behind them and go with the flow of this particular anthem. Hell, you could even describe it as tropical!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 23, 2018

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

Snow Patrol, Don't Give In

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: SNOW PATROLDON’T GIVE IN: It’s been a while but Snow Patrol are back and as good as ever. Don’t Give In, the lead single from Wildness, their first record in seven years, is an immediately catchy anthem in waiting that is quietly empowering. Indicative of the uncertainty surrounding modern life (and the world, politically), this implores people not to give in and to keep fighting. But while it certainly resonates on that wider level, it’s also an intensely personal song, born out of the personal demons that lead singer Gary Lightbody had to fight in realising the new material. As he explains: “Don’t Give In was originally about a friend going through a tough time but the more I wrote into it, I realised it was about me and the struggle of making the album – which took five years and was not easy – coupled with the struggle with depression I’ve had since I was a kid. So, it has become the talisman of the album. The song that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Lightbody’s vocals are as engaging as ever, filled with both a sense of fragility and optimism, while the instrumentals are melodic and mostly restrained, only belatedly coming to full life with an electric guitar burst. But it’s an effective, affecting slow-builder – the type of which Snow Patrol have made a career out of perfecting. It’s a very big welcome back, then.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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NONONO

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2/VIDEO OF THE WEEK: NONONOFRIENDS: Swedish alt-pop powerhouse NONONO return with their infectious new single Friends. It marks the start of the new year for the trio from Stockholm – Stina Wäppling and producers Tobias Jimson (Astma) and Michel Flygare (Rocwell) – with further singles to come, leading up to their second album this Autumn. The song is an empowering electro-pop anthem with ethereal elements. It has an undeniable energy, born from a central hook that’s really catchy. But the finger-flick beats work well, too, as do the ethereal vocals that come alive during the chorus that proclaims “I need a little bit of help from my friends… I’ll be just fine”. The spoken word interludes, meanwhile, hint at a vulnerability and fragility that gives the listener plenty of pause for thought. It has a poetic quality. The resulting song is shot through with energy, empowerment and radio friendliness. “The song is about gaining strength by accepting your weaknesses. It was shaped by the great contrasts of the music; the melodic melancholic calm feeling that meets the fast, energetic, vibrant, and the way they interact. To me, that completely shaped the outcome of the text and melody. I began to calmly and melodically sing about pain, but when the pulsating part of the music came in, it all got filled up with an energy and I felt a joy over the fact that the sad and painful weaknesses was allowed exist. To me, it has been a weakness to not be able to make it all by myself or to be dependent on another person. Therefor it felt good to sing about it, that I don’t have to do it by myself, I can do anything with a little bit of help from my friends,” explains NONONO’s Stina Wäppling. Directors Joakim Envik and Erwin Semler have created the video for Friends. Aside from being filmmakers they are also professional dancers, which they incorporate in their productions. In their work, they focus on how feelings, situations, and emotions can be illustrated through choreographed staging where the context of the room, the body, and the direction can be just as powerful ways of communication as a facial expression or the performed act itself. It’s rousing stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alex Lleo

ALEX LLEO – NO WAY BACK: Alex Lleo has shared the second track and video to be taken from his forthcoming debut EP, Park Studios, JQ. No Way Back was recorded live alongside Alex’s six-piece band over the course of one afternoon in Park Studios, Birmingham. The accompanying video was shot during the track’s live take. It’s a moody slice of folk-rock that employs Lleo’s gruff vocals to engaging effect. Instrumentally, it has a rawness and immediacy that gets back to a more basic form of songwriting and delivery. But that only makes it more effective, in line with what Lleo had in mind. He explains: “I was aware from the start that with this approach we weren’t going to get the glossy finish you might hear on a standard production, but that was the whole point. I wanted to showcase something different, something that gets back in touch with the human element of why we make music. Both band and engineer had to ride the wave, and It was a really cool experience. The pressure of everyone nailing a take was exciting, and I’m glad I could call on some talented mates who collectively pulled it all together.” No Way Back is another solid, engaging piece of songwriting that’s steeped in classic sensibilities.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Kodaline, Follow Your Fire

KODALINEFOLLOW YOUR FIRE: For their comeback single of sorts, Kodaline have employed the services of two powerhouse talents: hitmakers Steve Mac and long-time collaborator Johnny McDaid, who both worked on the worldwide smashes Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran and Pink’s What About Us. A powerhouse slice of pop, this is shot through with radio friendly melodies, a sing-along chorus and a slow-build towards euphoria that’s evocative of the most memorable pop songs. Follow Your Fire bounces along before reaching an arms-in-the-air style crescendo, and then scaling it back for something of an intimate conclusion. But you’ll be singing along to lines like “we have the songs that we sing along to, we have the moves to make me dance with you” in no time at all, while dancing in tandem with them. It’s a feel-good single that brings a little sunshine energy – something the British weather is sorely lacking in at the moment. So, go with it and it’s a blast. Follow Your Fire is taken from Kodaline’s forthcoming new album and looks set to propel them onto an even bigger stage than past glories. It’s a new sound that germinated during their sessions with Kygo, two years ago, on the global hit Raging.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Panic! At The Disco

PANIC! AT THE DISCOSAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT): After a week of cryptic clues to their fans that set the internet a buzz, Grammy-nominated Panic! At The Disco finally announced that their highly anticipated sixth studio album, Pray For The Wicked, will be released on June 22, 2018, via Fueled By Ramen/DCD2 Records. The album – produced by Jake Sinclair – is available for pre-order now with a new single, Say Amen (Saturday Night) and (Fuck A) Silver Lining. The former record is an edgy slice of alt-pop/rock with chopped up synths, lively drums and stabbing guitars. And yet while it has that alternative sensibility to the verse structures, the song does succeed in delivering a rousing chorus, which proclaims “oh, it’s Saturday night!” Hence, there is also a sing-along, celebratory quality attached too. It’s exactly the type of commanding return that fans of the band will have been hoping for. And the video is a hoot too! Commenting on the new album, Brendon Urie said: “After being away in New York for months doing Kinky Boots, I just wanted to hang out at home when I got back to LA. I was so revved up that I asked some friends to come over to my home studio to help me write about all the incredible things I’ve experienced the last couple of years. Pray for the Wicked is my ‘thank you’ to our fans and the most fun I’ve ever had making album.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Panic! At The Disco

PANIC! AT THE DISCO! – (FUCK A) SILVER LINING: The opening track and second offering from Panic! At The Disco’s forthcoming Pray For The Wicked LP is a manic slice of alt-rock/pop. Shot through with off-kilter energy, this has a manic element that could be off-putting to some, especially since the bad language, shouted vocal style and stop-start shuffle of the instrumentals (complete with a strings-style sweep late on) can create quite a heady brew. Sure, the chorus – that declares “it’s just cherries, just cherries, cherries on top” – has a catchy element, with some neat hooks attached. But it’s the lesser of the two new releases (alongside Say Amen) and is arguably one that’s more for the Panic! At The Disco purists. As the opening track on the LP, however, it raises the possibility that this could be a collection of songs that are chock full of bombast and swagger.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Redfaces, Messed Up Feeling

REDFACESMESSED UP FEELING: Sheffield’s RedFaces kick off 2018 with the release of catchy new single Messed Up Feeling. Recorded at Miloco’s The Pool in London and produced by Carey Willetts (Athlete), the song is a driving, monster of a song, with nods to their RnB influences – the groove landing somewhere between Kasabian and Michael Jackson, bass guitar and drums pushed right to the front of the mix. Hence, the verse structures have an indie rock swagger befitting bands like Kasabian, while the slightly more melodic chorus has a catchiness is tailor made for singing along with and drops in those slight RnB influences. Late on, the guitars really help to drive the song to some soaring highs, before things get stripped back down for another belting chorus. It’s a riotous offering that exemplifies why NME chose the band as one of their essential picks for 2018. RedFaces are Harry Lyon, Isaac White, Charlie Yapp and Ryan Laycock. Four lads from Sheffield treading what was once a well-worn path, these days the road less travelled. The journey started at 2Fly studios in Sheffield, recording demos with Alan Smyth. Taking their influences from the 50s and 60s right through to today, by way of The Beatles, Hendrix, The Smiths and The Strokes.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Daniel Avery

DANIEL AVERYPROJECTOR: Daniel Avery has shared another new track, Projector, alongside a video created by with London design studio Flat-e. The track is taken from the UK producer’s highly anticipated new album, Song For Alpha, which is released on April 6, 2018 on Phantasy worldwide. The song has a late-night ambience to it in the way that it’s driven by swirling synth arrangements, some of which take on an organ-like sound. The accompanying beats fizz too, creating a smooth slice of electronic ambience that’s tailor-made for listening to late at night. It’s an instrumental that has a cinematic feel to it, too, and which underlines Avery’s strengths as a producer capable of appealing to both the mainstream and alternative music scenes. The video marks the second time Avery has teamed up with Flat-e – previously behind videos and live visuals for the likes of Jon Hopkins, Nathan Fake, Jamie Lidell and Clark – following their first collaboration on the glacial animated video for Slow Fade. At the time, Avery commented: “The thing I admire about Flat-e is that they recognise the beauty in mystery. They create worlds into which you can fall with your eyes closed.” Speaking about the most recent visual, Flat-e said: “We created the video for Projector by layering animations of crystalline structures, then manipulating them digitally until they appear almost fluid.” Colourful shards of refracted light reflect the track perfectly, bringing its shimmering synth stabs and icy percussion to life.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bazzi

BAZZIHONEST: Bazzi has quickly become known as an inventive pop craftsman, wedding hypnotic hooks, expansive production and lush instrumentation into his own indefinable sound and vision. Born to a Lebanese immigrant father and American mother in Dearborn, MI and currently based in Los Angeles, the talented tunesmith first made waves with hugely popular independent online releases including Beautiful and Alone. New single Honest continues to build on his momentum, combining R’n‘B inspired elements with soulful vocals and pop – think Justin Timberlake mixed with Craig David and a little Maroon 5. The song itself is born from the hurt of knowing a relationship has failed and someone has moved on (“does he make you feel ashamed?”). But it’s slickly delivered to ensure that while certainly melancholy in sentiment, the overall vibe is more bittersweet. That is to say, it’s catchy… combining some slick, soulful instrumentals (synths, beats, acoustic guitar) with those soulful vocals (and a chorus that even goes choral). Bazzi is clearly someone capable of living up the hype surrounding him at the moment.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Esther Joy

ESTHER JOYDAY 4 (LANDING): You can always expect something different – but oddly catchy – from London-based artist Esther Joy. Previously a part of Charli XCX’s live band, the emerging London-based singer, songwriter and producer is releasing her new EP on April 27. New single Day 4 (Landing) continues the story Esther has created for this EP, following a young alien called Silipur in an alternate universe. From this point, it’s best to let Esther explain: “This song is the second in the Acid Caves story, following a young alien ‘Silipur’ in a world where all intelligent lifeforms are able to see in a new dimension called ‘The Chaos’. The Chaos gives the ability to see, understand and manipulate emotional energy which is fuelling the universe. Humans are the only beings that lack this ability as a fixation on ego stunted their natural evolution. ‘Day 4 (Landing) is based on Silipur’s first day on Earth. She is overwhelmed by the psychological state of the planet and the emotional toxicity of it’s atmosphere. Humans cannot understand ‘The Chaos’ and have therefore left their planet to emotional ruin. I wanted this song to feel violent and intrusive, as if you are experiencing the extremity and destruction of earth for the very first time.” The resulting offering is as chaotic, instrumentally, as that description suggests. It’s led by computer-like blips and bleeps, warped synths and edgy vocals, of the post-punk variety (think Pink! if she were to go completely leftfield). The result is certainly ear-catching, inventive but an acquired taste given the way in which it throws in so many instrumental curve-balls and vocal asides.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Beth Rowley

BETH ROWLEYFOREST FIRE: Ten years ago singer-songwriter Beth Rowley’s debut Little Dreamer went top 10, garnered a Brit nomination and sales in excess of 100,000. A bystander would deem this a huge achievement but for Rowley the success felt flawed – she’d made compromises with the way the album sounded and how she’d been packaged as a mainstream contender. What proved a bittersweet experience played a significant part in why it’s taken a decade for this talented musician to deliver her second long player. “I had some awesome experiences being on a major label,” says Rowley. “The opportunities you get given are incredible. I loved touring and singing live the most but eventually it all stopped being fun. I don’t want to say it was all bad, but it wasn’t the right home for me, so it was best to part ways.” Having taken 10 years to recover and pen her follow-up, the resultant sound is being described as a rawer, heavier, gutsier and more truthful mirror of her sublime talent, unshackled by her debut’s jazz-pop leanings and polished production. The first taste from the new album is Forest Fire, co-written with Ron Sexsmith – one of a trio of co-writers on the album – and splices country-folk roots with the vibe and energy of the Bristol scene that gave birth to her distinctive voice. Reflecting on past experiences she sings – “‘Cos I’ve been hurt before, And now I long to be sure, Before the flames grow any higher, Before we go starting a forest fire”. It’s an intensely personal, raw song that is driven by some stark guitar and a melancholy voice – a far cry from the Rowley of old. If the pace is sometimes a little too lazy for its own good, it serves to heighten the emotional content of the lyrics, which Rowley delivers with passion. It’s an intriguing change of direction that leaves you wanting to hear more.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 16, 2018

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

Fenne Lily, On Hold

VIDEO OF THE WEEK/SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FENNE LILY – ON HOLD: Fenne Lily has released an official video for the title track from her soon to be released debut album, On Hold (out April 6, 2018). Self directed, this DIY video project stars Fenne roller-skating around London on a mission of random acts of kindness, the unfolding of which is all captured by her friend following behind on a skateboard with a camera. It’s as fun, free-wheeling and heart-warming as it sounds. The song, meanwhile, underlines why Lily is such a favourite of ours. Built around a sultry, achingly beautiful vocal from Lily, this also boasts a great guitar strum and some lively back-beats that eventually become complimented by a brash electric guitar pulse late on. It’s got an edge that doesn’t always accompany Lily’s songs – but one that’s entirely welcome, inflicting the song with an indie spirit to enhance some of its more folsky tendencies. Those vocals, though, really do entrance. When put together with the video, it’s utterly mesmerising stuff. Speaking about the concept for this video Fenne Lily shares: “On Hold was written as a thank you for the warmth of the world when I was at my lowest and I wanted the video that accompanied it to be a raw representation of this gratitude. Being nice is underrated. It makes me smile to watch, and dorky as it is, I feel this video communicates a joy that often goes untold.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hudson Taylor

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: HUDSON TAYLOROLD SOUL: Hudson Taylor – made up of Alfie and Harry Hudson Taylor – have dropped new track Old Soul, featuring Gabrielle Aplin – and it’s great. An acoustic slice of laidback folk-pop, this has a classic songwriting vibe that’s shot through with heart-warming melodies and that sense of hitting the highway and going for a sun-drenched, late evening drive, while reminiscing of the happy times of old. The brothers share vocal duties and drop a chorus that’s achingly laidback and really rather beautiful. While Aplin lends her silky smooth vocals and harmonies to the chorus, too, providing a lovely backdrop to a song that’s like a daydream. The song is taken from the duo’s forthcoming Feel It Again EP, which is out on March 23. It’s designed to showcase the duo’s more band-inflicted sound and comes off the back of former singles Run With Me and the title track. It’s a song designed to have you listening over and over again, while singing along to that chorus after only one or two listens.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Eels, Premonition

EELSPREMONITION: Eels have dropped a third track from their forthcoming LP, The Deconstruction, in the form of the melancholy Premonition. The song finds the band finding hope in despair, yet still managing to leave you feeling sad. The central chorus, for instance, finds Mark Oliver Everett singing: “I had a premonition, it’s all gonna be fine; you can kill or be killed, but the sun’s going to shine.” Accompanying the song in terms of instrumentals is a sparse guitar lick, which again maintains the melancholy tone. There’s a choral, almost angelic harmony at times, drifting in and out, which adds an ethereal, even heavenly element to a song that deals with life and death in such striking fashion. But in spite of the largely downbeat lyrics, Eels retain a sense of hope that “we’re going to get by”, even though bad things may continue to happen. And it’s that sentiment that helps the song to endear in the way that it does. Hence, while not the most accessible song to drop from the forthcoming LP to date, it does underline the band’s versatility and their ability to write a thought-provoking, emotionally resonant song.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Pearl Jam, Can't Deny Me

PEARL JAMCAN’T DENY ME: Given the divided state of America right now, it’s hardly surprising to find that a lot of mainstream artists are turning to song to vent their anger and frustration at the way things are panning out right now. Pearl Jam are the latest to deliver a song that would seem to be aimed fairly at Donald Trump and his administration. Can’t Deny Me is therefore a bolshy rock song that goes straight for the jugular with lyrics that declare, defiantly, “you may be rich but you can’t deny me, got nothing, got nothing but the will to survive, you can’t control and you can’t deny me”. The guitars are more rock-driven than normal, with bite, while the drums have a pounding quality, thereby allowing Eddie Vedder’s impassioned lyrics to really soar. There’s anger but there’s hope… in the sense that no matter how bad things get, the will to survive and stand independently remains as strong as ever. It may not rate among Pearl Jam’s best, but it’s timely, potent and it really does rock.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Chainsmokers, Everybody Hates Me

CHAINSMOKERSEVERYBODY HATES ME: Chainsmokers continue to explore darker themes with their new single Everybody Hates Me – a song title that inevitably invites some smart-ass journalists to concur smugly. But don’t be deceived – this is another smart offering from the EDM act. Taking shots at social media and self-promotion (“I’m a product of the Internet”), this also taps into insecurity and self-loathing to deliver a thought-provoking message for anyone who sees above the easy-going synth stabs and EDM dance elements (“I walk into the club like everybody hates me”). Yes, the song retains a sense of disposable catchiness in line with a lot of Chainsmokers stuff, with the electronic pulse leaning towards the Ibiza set. But Chainsmokers skill has long been to deliver tunes that are resolutely mainstream, while also offering something just leftfield enough to also generate crossover potential. Everybody Hates Me, without being their best single, maintains that ability to deliver ear-pleasing tunes.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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OUTLYA, White Light

OUTLYAWHITE LIGHT: After impressing with former singles Heaven and Howl OUTLYA return with catchy new single White Light, which represents arguably their most mainstream offering to date. Written by Will Bloomfield (OUTLYA), Jim Irvin and Max Mcelligott (Max Wolfgang), and produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat (Liam Gallagher, Radiohead, The Vaccines), White Light is an indie-pop romp, complete with “woo-hoo” harmonies over the bright, brash chorus. It’s top-loaded with killer hooks, snappy piano and electronic arrangements and slick beats. And while unashamedly big and pop, drawing on ’80s sing-along sensibilities at times, it’s designed to throw caution to the wind and invite a sense of euphoria when listening or singing along to it. Speaking about the song, Will commented: “White Light is a song about pushing through the darker days we all find in ourselves in some times. Whether it’s faith, love, determination, everyone has a ‘white light’ that offers up some illumination or hope in times of trouble. We wanted to take that sentiment and make a physical version of it that would make you want to dance. Dancing is this really instinctive raw human expression of emotion and we tried to encapsulate that.” The woo-hoo’s help to heighten the anthemic elements of the song!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Magnus Carlson, Wait For Love To Grow

MAGNUS CARLSON & WEEPING WILLOWSWAIT FOR LOVE TO GROW: Magnus Carlson – one of Sweden’s most successful artists – ahas unveiled a breezy new single in the form of Wait For Love To Grow. Billed as an uplifting, neo soul-pop offering, this tips its hat to Paul Weller and his Style Council. Co-written with members of his band Weeping Willows, who also perform on the track, the single is the first to be taken from Magnus’ forthcoming UK solo album, due this summer. It’s driven by slick acoustic guitar licks, some strings-sounding electronics and a sweeping sense of optimism that also recalls the sunshine optimism of performers like Burt Bacharach. Put it this way, it has a grooviness that would make Austin Powers swoon. So, if you’re feeling a little down in the dumps for any reason, then this could just provide a musical remedy. With a long and varied music career behind him in his native country, Magnus has several Gold and Platinum records under his belt already. In the past year, he’s started to make inroads in the UK too, with celebrated EP release, The Northern Soul Sessions. It’s a record that displays his deep passion and artistic mastery when it comes to the sixties soul genre.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Emily Watts, Where Are You Now

EMILY WATTSWHERE ARE YOU NOW: Influenced by female singer/songwriters such as Kate Bush, Bat For Lashes and Joni Mitchell, Emily Watts uses piano and vocals to perform her haunting self-penned songs. Following her debut EP, From The Blue, Watts will release her second EP, entitled All These Years, on her own label, Beautiful Town Records. The EP is a collection of songs written over the past couple of years, exploring themes of life, love, fear and loss. The EP features the single, Where Are You Now, which has received national radio play on BBC Radio 2. A slow-builder that’s delivered in soulful, even melancholy fashion by Watts, this succeeds in laying down an impressive marker for Watts. Her vocals are undeniably powerful, while the intricately layered instrumentals have a cinematic quality by the time the song reaches its emotive climax. Fans of the aforementioned artists will definitely want to check this one out. The EP was produced by Daniel Moyler, who has worked on releases by JP Cooper, Rae Morris and Jake Isaac and was recorded at The Neighbourhood studio in London – the home of multi-platinum selling band Athlete and mastered at Metropolis Studios by Andy ‘Hippy’ Baldwin. Emily has also recently ventured into writing for other artists, co-writing Signs for Alex Maxwell with Alex and Gregor Philp (Deacon Blue), released on Hollywood Records / Polydor.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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George Ezra, Saviour

GEORGE EZRA feat FIRST AID KITSAVIOUR: Having already impressed with past singles Pretty Shining People and Paradise, George Ezra now ups his game a little more with the epic Saviour. Featuring backing vocals from the ever-excellent First Aid Kit, this feels like something more weighty is going on, with lyrics that lean towards vulnerability and self-doubt (“what I’ve got to give is not enough” and “it’s a dark night”). First Aid Kit’s harmony-driven backing vocals heighten the cinematic nature of the song as a whole, while some brooding guitar licks enhance the epic feel. Ezra remains an endearing central vocal presence, of course, but this is more slow-building and moody than previous offerings, even though the accompanying video is delivered in the same fun karaoke style that marked Pretty Shining People. It’s another strong offering from Ezra’s forthcoming LP, Staying At Tamara’s.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ivory Wave, Cool Kids

IVORY WAVECOOL KIDS: Birmingham’s Ivory Wave release new single Cool Kids and immediately succeed into tapping into an endearing classic indie feel. Since mid 2016, the band have enjoyed a fast ascent from a gang of mates to local heroes selling out hometown shows which now erupt into chaotic, sing-along frenzies. New single Cool Kids has that dancefloor kind of vibe, given the way its shot through with baggy big beats, snappy synths, bubbling bass lines, liquid guitars and even a sax. It’s an indie-dance record capable of landing favourable comparisons with former indie heavyweights such as Black Grape, Hard-Fi and Weekender. It’s as catchy as the write up suggests… and cool to go with it. The band’s frontman, George Johnson, explains the inspiration behind the track, saying: “It should be us who shape our own future as we will be the ones who are living it. It’s a celebration of being able to wear what you want, a celebration of being who you want to be and most importantly a celebration of youth.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 9, 2018

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

Fickle Friends

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FICKLE FRIENDSWAKE ME UP: On March 16, Fickle Friends will release You Are Someone Else, their hotly anticipated debut album. Right now, they share the album opener Wake Me Up alongside a lyric video, just as they prepare to head out on their massive UK tour next week. Like the hugely popular singles that have preceded it, Wake Me Up is a classic Fickle Friends shimmery pop anthem that kicks off a terrifically irresistible debut album. Over the last year, it’s also become a pinnacle of their hugely popular live set too. Lyrically, it sees frontwoman Natti Shiner play around with some of the themes that re-occur on the record – relationship paranoia and angsty obsession. On writing the track, Natti said: “Wake Me Up song is about wanting a relationship to work so bad but knowing deep down, it’s not going anywhere. It was the last song we wrote for the album.” In spite of those downbeat sentiments, however, the song zips along in shimmering fashion, hitting some skyscraping synth highs and dropping a catchy-as-hell, super euphoric chorus. If you’re looking for comparisons, then think P!nk’s recent material, albeit with a less edgy, more defiantly synth-pop edge. It’s a song born from uncertainty that remains an absolute blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wood Chips, Come Home

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: WOOD CHIPSCOME HOME: Wood Chips is the brainchild of Danish singer, producer and songwriter Andreas Asingh, who impresses immediately witht he release of his new single, Come Home. The track has its roots more in country music than his debut offering, Heartbeat, starting off with a smooth guitar riff and quiet percussion, followed by his soft-spoken vocals. Indeed, there’s a distinctly ethereal quality to those vocals that allow you to drift along in tandem with the track for its mellow duration. The guitar helps, too… a laidback country vibe helping to further that mellow vibe. It’s a daydream of a record – beguiling, beautiful and completely addictive. The video was filmed around the ranch that Andreas and his family now live on, having moved them from Copenhagen to live in the Danish countryside following a serious illness to his youngest son, Karlo, who also appear in the video and who his debut EP, out on March 30, is named after. The video was directed by Ian Isak, who has worked on fashion films for labels including Le Fix. He says of it: “The video for Come Home is an interpretation of the struggle a father goes through as his newborn son fights his way back to life. The entire video is shot on location in the woods and fields surrounding Andreas’ ranch in the beautiful Danish countryside.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Richard Jahn

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: RICHARD JAHNCATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Following the launch of Richard Jahn’s debut release towards the end of 2017, the London-based songwriter/producer is straight back with his boldest cut yet, entitled Catch Me If You Can. The moody track sees Richard empowered by his own words and the daring eccentricities of the track’s soundscape, which employs some folded beats and atmospheric electronics to create a slightly disorientating but totally compelling instrumental backdrop. The track, which marks the final taste of the forthcoming EP, DISPLAY:ORANGE, was written at a time when Richard felt like he was having to constantly chase up people in various areas of his life. He explains: “Everyone puts limitations on themselves, consciously or subconsciously. This track is about empowering yourself to be limitless.” The title hook was born out of an attitude re-adjustment that immediately spilt over into his production choices. On his first day of year 3, a teacher wrote ‘AIM HIGH’ in capitals on the classroom board, and it’s something that never quite left Richard’s mind. This is reflected in the track’s final moments as he chants ‘reach for the higher ground’ in a seemingly eternal loop. Dripping with effortless soul, production acrobatics and a genre-defying aesthetic, Catch Me If You Can was made to cause a reaction and downright succeeds in doing so.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Years & Years

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: YEARS & YEARSSANCTIFY: Years & Years return from their self-imposed musical hiatus with the provocative but scintillating Sanctify. A track that speaks of defiance (“so don’t break”) and which embraces any kind of sexuality, this is unapologetically political both in terms of the lyrics and its accompanying video. And yet, there’s a hipness to the sound, too. The dance beats are slickly produced and accompanied by some smooth, dancefloor caressing electronics. Heck, there’s even some Africa-inspired chanting late on, while Alexander’s soulful vocals sound like a mix between classic Michael Jackson and contemporary Justin Timberlake. The gay leanings are forthright and bold (as we’ve come to expect from such a civil rights champion) but they don’t feel cloying. Rather, there’s a seamless fusion of the thought-provoking and the radio-friendly, meaning that you can just as easily dance away the hours to it, oblivious to its message, as get behind what it has to say. The BDSM inspired video probably won’t be to everyone’s tastes – but it’s provocative enough to ensure that it gets noticed. And it’s very cinematic.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kylie Minogue, Stop Me From Falling

KYLIE MINOGUESTOP ME FROM FALLING: Kylie Minogue has released her new single Stop Me From Falling, taken from her forthcoming album Golden, due out on April 6 on BMG Records – and it’s a typically catchy slice of country-pop. The song starts off in breezy style, with a country twang, as Kylie sings “I never felt the pressure til now” as a bump in a relationship seems to be looming. Indeed, there’s a bittersweet sentiment to the song that belies the breezy nature of the instrumentals. In spite of this, however, the song positively zips its way into your subconscious as the chorus lands, complete with “you-o-o” harmonies, hand-clap beats and an almost calypso edge to the guitar. It’s a sing-along romp that shows Kylie remains at the top of her game. New album Golden is described as one of Kylie’s most personal albums date – with every song co-written by Minogue. Her trip to Nashville involved working alongside two key writers, both with homes in the city. One was British-born songwriter Steve McEwan (whose credits include huge Country hits for Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood), and the other was Amy Wadge, another Brit (best known for her mega-selling work with Ed Sheeran). It was, then, a truly international project: Golden was mainly created with African-German producer Sky Adams and a list of contributors including Jesse Frasure, Eg White, Jon Green, Biff Stannard, Samuel Dixon, Danny Shah and Lindsay Rimes, and there’s a duet with English singer Jack Savoretti.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Plan B, Guess Again

PLAN B – GUESS AGAIN: Three-time Ivor Novello Award winner Ben Drew, aka Plan B, has unveiled his new single Guess Again, from the BRIT Award winner’s highly-anticipated fourth studio album, Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose (HBAHBL), confirmed for release on May 4. Premiered by Annie-Mac as her ‘Hottest Record’ on Radio 1 last week, Guess Again is yet another showcase of Plan B’s endless musical versatility. The politically charged anthem pairs Drew’s signature vocals with a pounding dance-hall beat. Drew lends his own writing and production talent to the track along with the help of FRED (Charli xcx/Stefflon Don) and Show N Prove. But it’s full of urgency, from the hot button lyrics (which implore leaders to guess again when trying to divide us) to the emphatic beats (which have a dancehall urgency combined with urban edge). It’s a song that’s quite removed from anything Plan B has done before, which may force you to do a double take. But it’s potency is undeniable, making the song a confident, even essential return from one of the UK’s most intriguing and talented urban artists.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Niall Horan, On The Loose

NIALL HORAN – ON THE LOOSE: Fresh from the massive global success of his critically-acclaimed debut solo album Flicker, Niall Horan has now released his new single, On The Loose, and manages to retain that same catchy quality that made former offering Slow Hands such a success. On The Loose is slightly, well, looser than the edgier, more bluesy Slow Hands, and therefore more pop than rock. But it retains a soft-rock edge, as well as the occasional country and western twang. But once the song hits its chorus, the pop elements really do kick in and you can tell that Horan has constructed it with stadium-pleasing in mind. This has an anthemic sweep to it that’s certain to turn it into a live favourite. Since departing One Direction, though, Horan has impressed with a greater maturity in his songwriting. He knows how to deliver the radio friendly elements while still dabbling in other musical inspirations. He looks to have a very big future ahead of him as a solo artist. The single is similarly well produced. Shot in California, the breezy, pop-rock jam follows Horan’s carefree romance with a mysterious woman – and she’s typically a beauty.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Wretch 32, Affi Me

WRETCH 32, SOS feat CULAN, MASICKAAFFI ME: Wretch 32, one of the UK’s most celebrated MCs, surprised fans with a new song, titled Affi Me, on Friday (March 9) to celebrate his birthday and as a treat for the fans. The record is deliberately feel-good and has been recorded alongside S.O.S, his long-term music producer and collaborator. The track also features dancehall/reggae artists, Culan and Masicka. But fear not, the dancehall elements are fairly reigned in. They’re more evident in the vocals, which are part rapped and part sung. The beats, meanwhile, are fairly minimalist (or lightweight) but propel the song on a nice bounce, which the electronics serve to bring out more. It’s a fun listen – as celebratory as a tune that’s released to celebrate a birthday should be. But it’s not cheesy, either. Rather, a good time that shows Wretch 32 is clearly enjoying making his music right now. Wretch 32 will be part of the British takeover at SXSW next week. He will be performing at the Musicalize ‘British Takeover’ showcase on March 15 and 16, alongside other UK acts including AJ Tracey, Not3s, WSTRN and Yungen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Shira, Am I Beautiful

SHIRA – AM I BEAUTIFUL: New York based singer/songwriter Shira is releasing her new video for the track Am I Beautiful, in conjunction with International Women’s Day. The video depicts the relationship between the Israeli-American singer/songwriter and her friend Iranian-American photographer-director Shirin Tinati, for whom Shira penned the track when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Shirin is fortunately in remission now and the two powerful artists came together to create this project that crosses boundaries heritage and hardship. Shirin directing the video feels like the two friends have come full circle. The song itself is a gently positive, upbeat offering that celebrates the beauty of their relationship, while offering a conciliatory arm to anyone else who is going through the same kind of thing. It celebrates triumph over adversity as well as beauty, colour, race, gender… it celebrates inclusion. And its message, charmingly delivered with honey-dued harmonies and warm guitar licks, couldn’t be more timely. It’s genuinely inspiring and heart-warming. Shira says of the song and video: “This is our ode to sisterhood and the power of unconditional acceptance, love and creativity to revitalise. An expression of our ability to be there for each other and next to one another when suddenly the smooth flow of our life’s boat gets disrupted… May there come a day SOON when we won’t need an International Women’s Day and Cancer will be a thing of the past. Till then we will stay strong and fight – TOGETHER!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 2, 2018

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

Diplo

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: DIPLO feat LIL YACHTY AND SANTIGOLDWORRY NO MORE: Diplo is having a really good year so far. Hot off the success of his ultra-catchy Get It Right, the producer now drops the insanely catchy Worry No More, featuring Lil Yachty and Santigold. Diplo has teamed up with Santigold before and their reunion sees them revisiting the tropical beats of their Top Ranking collaboration. This time, though, there’s a rap energy supplied by Lil Yachty, which adds some street smarts. Hence, the mix of urban attitude, sass and tropical beats creates something of a celebratory, carnival feel. The beats are incessantly toe-tapping, with the electronic stabs similarly upbeat and breezy. And the overall sensibility, about not worrying anymore, is something that everyone can tap into – whether taking a break from the everyday worries of life or the world in general. It’s a really fun listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Young Fathers

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: YOUNG FATHERSTOY: Just days before they drop their new album, Cocoa Sugar, Young Fathers (Alloysious Massaquoi, Graham ‘G’ Hastings and Kayus Bankole) have raise anticipation levels even further with the release of new track, Toy, the third offering to be revealed from the LP, following on from lead song Lord (which announced the band’s return in November) and current single In My View. Toy is another enticing glimpse of what to expect from Young Fathers on Cocoa Sugar: something typically unique and exhilarating, but leaner, more muscular and self-assured than ever before. It has a throbbing electronic pulse, similarly urgent vocals and a beat that is positively brimming with pent-up energy. And yet for all of its edge, there’s a hip coolness to it as well, which makes it easy to see why Young Fathers proved to be such an irresistible addition to the soundtrack of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting 2 last year. This is catchy in spite of its avant-pop leanings, boasting crossover potential without conforming to any pre-determined style. Toy is a track to play and play and play with endlessly.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Van William

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: VAN WILLIAMBEFORE I FOUND YOU: Van William has released his new video for Before I Found You, directed by Silvia Grav and featuring actress Caitlin Gerard (American Crime). The song comes from Van’s debut album, Countries, which is out now. Speaking about the energetic and drama fuelled video, Van himself shared: “Before I Found You is about that earth-shattering drug-like love-buzz you experience at the beginning of falling for someone. Its chaotic and intoxicating, but you know it has to end. I always thought the characters of Sailor and Lula in David Lynch’s turbulent masterwork Wild At Heart reflected that dynamic, so I wanted this video to mirror their aesthetic. I also knew I wanted the Spanish artist Silvia Grav to direct, as her style or work can reveal the complexities in seemingly glossy subjects, such as young love.” The ensuing video feels very cinematic, sometimes Lynchian but kind of fun. And it’s very eye-catching. The song, meanwhile, is a lively rock romp, driven by the sort of acoustic guitar that Jake Bugg would be proud of. Vocally, it’s light and breezy, helping the track to zip along and drive you with its unabashed momentum. You’ll be singing “oh my baby, you can save me” before you know it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Blinders

THE BLINDERSGOTTA GET THROUGH: There’s a Tarantino/Pulp Fiction inspired guitar sound to The Blinders’ new single, Gotta Get Through whenever it relies on its guitar sound – and that makes it instantly appealing. But once the vocals kick in, the song becomes a different kettle of fish. It’s out with the cinematic tendencies and in with the urgent, punk rock feelings that inform so much of their material. It’s a heady mix – but one that works, especially since there’s a relatively even balance between the guitars and vocals. In the band’s own words, it’s unexpectedly hooky. Gotta Get Through marks The Blinders’ first release for Modern Sky UK, after the band had spent winter hibernating in Magic Garden Studios with producer Gavin Monaghan recording a debut album, to be released this autumn, a creation into which band and producer alike poured their souls. Commenting on the accompanying video, its makers, Nasty Man Creations, said: “This video is an abstract portrait that explores the warped reality of the downward spiral that is everyday life.” The Blinders themselves describe it as ‘a proverbial palate cleanser from our first full length offering. Tear down the walls of presumption and enter the void of reality and experience the truth of our emblematic columbia through the distorted lens of Johnny Dream. An abstract portrait’.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Esther Joy

ESTHER JOYDAY 1 (SILIPUR LEAVES HOME): Having spent the last year touring with Charli XCX’s band and collaborating with artists like Tourist, emerging London-based producer Esther Joy is back with a new EP, The Acid Caves Vol 1, which is set for release April 27. The first single from the new record, Day 1 (Silipur Leaves Home), is online now and packed with bewitching, dynamic electronic sounds. It’s a heady brew of hard dance grooves, emphatic beats and ethereal vocals that lend the track a very distinct and exciting identity. It’s leftfield, for sure, but the punchy synth-pop has enough energy about it that it could tip-toe into some mainstream thinking – the dance elements have a mix of Chemical Brothers and Avicii about them, at times, as well as the dark, orchestral undertow of Depeche Mode. The ending, meanwhile, catches you completely off-guard, ending seemingly mid-track to leave you thirsting for more. It’s a distinct track that should get Joy even more noticed,
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chvrches, My Enemy

CHVRCHES feat MATT BERNINGER – MY ENEMY: Chvrches make an impressive return with the bittersweet new single My Enemy. Teaming up with The National’s Matt Berninger, this moody slice of electro-pop has a melancholy undertow as well as cinematic elements. The indie rocker adopts a typically baritone approach, which underlines the foreboding inherent in lines like “and you could be my enemy”. But that’s offset by Chvrches vocalist Lauren Mayberry, who brings a little more tenderness to the mix. The two styles compliment each other well. The beats and electronics, meanwhile, slow-build in highly effective fashion, creating that cinematic backdrop (think late ’80s meets Drive-era Nicholas Winding Refn). My Enemy will appear on Chvrches’ third LP, Love Is Dead, which is released on May 25 via Glassnote. On the evidence so far, it could be a very impressive piece of work.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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George Ezra, Pretty Shining People

GEORGE EZRAPRETTY SHINING PEOPLE: You can pretty much guarantee that George Ezra is going to put a smile on your face whenever he releases a new song – and so Pretty Shining People, his third offering from forthcoming LP Staying At Tamara’s (out later this month) does just that. Slightly lower key than the likes of Budapest or Paradise, this takes longer to build to the crowd-pleasing highs synonymous with his songwriting. There’s also a sense of doubt in lyrics such as “am I losing touch?” and “why, why, what a terrible time to be alive”. But once the chorus drops, there’s an undeniable energy that might not hit the giddy highs of similarly named songs such as REM’s Shiny Happy People but which nevertheless has you toe-tapping along. And it has that same sing-along sensibility that has endeared Ezra to so many people with his former singles. As if to underline the sing-along nature of the track, the accompanying video finds Ezra performing the track in karaoke style. But the undeniably bittersweet vibe of this one also adds something too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hillsburn

HILLSBURNSTRANGE CLOUDS: Canadian indie-rock quintet Hillsburn release their debut UK single in the form of Strange Clouds. The track is taken from their forthcoming The Wilder Beyond album. The opening track, Strange Clouds sees the band adopting a more guitar-driven sound than on their award-winning debut album In The Battle Years. But while the guitars bring to mind the likes of Broken Social Scene and The National, the chorus revolves around a defiant, choir-like refrain that recalls Florence + The Machine at her festival headlining best, as well as elements of Evanesence at times. As if to underline their playfulness, however, the band strip things right back midway through, killing the pace and turning almost laxadaysical, before ramping up the guitars for the gutsy finale. It’s a track that’s designed to get them noticed as they look to branch out beyond their Canadian shores. The band have also announced a pair of UK shows, including an appearance at The Great Escape Festival. They should be well worth catching, on the evidence here.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Twin Shadow

TWIN SHADOWLITTLE WOMAN: Twin Shadow, the project of George Lewis Jr., will release his fourth album Caer (pronounced ka-air) on April 27 on Warner Bros. Records. As a taster, he has dropped the atmospheric new single Little Woman. The ensuing track is a brooding, ultra slow building piece of ambient pop that gets better the longer it lasts. Early on, there’s a minimalist approach, that puts the vocals front and centre. But around the midway point, the electronic and piano arrangements begin to take the song into a different direction, enabling it to continually confound expectations. Indeed, there’s a whole mid-section that feels experimental. But once the vocals return, the song really gains momentum, with the electronics building steadily to help deliver an emphatic finale that feels grand and cinematic. Little Woman certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes. But there’s a uniqueness to it, an ingenuity and a playfulness, that makes it continually engrossing. And the closing chimes of the track ensure it ends on a real high. Kudos to Twin Shadow for delivering something so resolutely unique.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 23, 2018

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

Janelle Monae

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: JANELLE MONAEMAKE ME FEEL: Grammy nominated singer-songwriter/performer/producer/actress/activist Janelle Monáe has unveiled new details of her highly-anticipated third solo album project, Dirty Computer; the ‘Emotion Picture’ includes an album and an accompanying narrative film. The album is available for pre-order now and arrives everywhere on Friday, April 27. Funky lead single Make Me Feel is a beast of a track – and one to get you genuinely excited for the new material. A Prince-inspired slice of funk, this drops sexy guitar riffs, with echoed mouth beats and a sultry set of vocals that declare: “That’s just the way you make me feel.” And once that chorus drops, boy does it layer on the sass and the funk. It’s set to make you stride towards the dancefloor in giddy abandon, determined to feel the same way too. The accompanying video, directed by Alan Ferguson, captures the spirited, celebratory voice of Monáe as she affectionately nods to the ripe sounds surrounding the 1980’s music and dance revolution. Delivering electric vocals, pop hooks and confident, female-driven lyrics, Monáe brings the song to life in a vibrantly colored video highlighted by provocative silhouettes moving across the screen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Magic Numbers, Sweet Divide

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE MAGIC NUMBERSSWEET DIVIDE:I never wanted to be a part of anything, the cool kids at school, the pretend outlaws. I was always an outsider, we’ve always been an outsider band. We don’t fit in, never have and never will. Especially now. As you get older you realise your strength in not giving a fuck. You realise what you’ve been trying to do your whole life. Create something that’s yours, your own world, your own views, make something special, start your own gang but always be YOU within it. Don’t conform. Don’t fall in line. Be free. Be inspired. Inspire. Live & Love. To all the Outsiders – Romeo, The Magic Numbers. And so reads the mission statement of The Magic Numbers as the make their musical return after a three year hiatus with new album, Outsiders. And let us tell you, the wait has been worth it. Lead single Sweet Divide is a barnstromer. A classic sounding slice of rock, this drops a lazy, bluesy but totally compelling central guitar riff, some laidback, almost stoner vocals and a keen sense of questioning (“what if this is all we find?”), to deliver a retro-heavy slice of psych-rock that also sounds blisteringly beautiful. It’s another wake up call to the rock guard of old… that guitar music certainly isn’t dead. It’s alive and kicking. You just need to know where to find it. And The Magic Numbers have delivered a terrific starting point. By the way, the new album runs with the theme of the outsider and misfit, capturing the Stodart and Gannon siblings with a grittier sensibility, that’s immediately evident on Sweet Divide.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Eels, Today Is The Day

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: EELSTODAY IS THE DAY: Eels drop the second track from their forthcoming LP, The Deconstruction, in the form of the ultra catchy Today Is The Day. And, in a world that sometimes seems like it’s gone completely mad, it’s an unapologetically upbeat slice of power pop that declares, somewhat defiantly, that “today is the day it starts right here… come on man, don’t you worry now.” It’s a song about change that Mark Oliver Everett just wants to sing, enabling and empowering all who listen to do the same. Whether or not it starts a movement is a moot point; the idea is to bring a little cheer and thanks to its tight melodic hooks, insistent, catchy drum beats and those trademark laidback vocals, the song succeeds in making you feel good and easing away the worries for the duration of its running time. And yet, it does have something important to say. As with any really good song, it offers up a good time, while giving a little pause for thought. It’s a righteous song. The Deconstruction, the first Eels album since 2014’s The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, is released on April 6.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Editors, Hallelujah

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: EDITORSHALLELUJAH (SO LOW): Editors have unveiled the video for new single Hallelujah (So Low), the next song to be unveiled from forthcoming album Violence. The song itself was premiered on Radio 1 as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in The World – and it’s easy to see why. There’s a relatively quiet opening, early on, as the song lays down a moody intro, before then exploding to life over each chorus with some Muse-inspired guitars. Indeed, the rock blasts neatly offset the more electronic focus of the remainder of the song, providing a nice juxtaposition of old and new Editors, as well as a seamless transition into a more mainstream sound for the band. The video was directed by renowned photographer, director and long-term Editors collaborator Rahi Rezvani and is as brutally urgent as the song itself. Crackling with a kinetic energy, the barbed jabs of Benjamin John Powers (Blanck Mass) additional production run parallel to Tom Smith’s pointed lyricism. Tom said: “I wrote the words to Hallelujah (So Low) when I got back from a trip to Oxfam, visiting refugee camps in Northern Greece. It was obviously an incredibly moving trip, seeing people living in dust, surviving only on the help of others was very moving. Musically, the track hung on the relationship between the acoustic guitar and the drum machine, that was part of the track from my demo, it has something special very early on… then when Justin came up with his outrageous guitar riff, we knew we had a winner. It’s the most rock we’ve ever been and it’s exhilarating. I think the video attempts to capture this intensity, both in the track and in us as a live band.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Saint Clair, I'm Still Standing

SAINT CLAIR – I’M STILL STANDING: Following a great reception to previous release Human Touch, Londoner Saint Clair (real name Emma Topolski) has offered up a stripped back, electrified take on Elton John’s ’80s anthem I’m Still Standing. Her first self-produced pursuit arrives just ahead of a highly anticipated EP, D2, due in April 2018 via her own imprint Dearly Beloved. Nowhere near as cheesy or misguided as this cover version suggests, the stripped back version actually enhances the original, while also sounding resolutely like Saint Clair’s own. Her beautifully wistful vocals drop a bittersweet element into a song more synonymous with a celebratory vibe. But the hand-clap beats, bass-line groove and electronics also combine well to provide an alternative backdrop. It’s very much a modern re-imagining, where even the stark piano moments have a melancholy undertow. It’s a highly classy offering. What’s more, the inspiration behind the cover is innocent, as Saint Clair reveals: “I was touring in Australia last summer, and after exhausting almost every film on the long-haul flight home, stumbled across the animated film Sing. The gorilla performs a rip-roaring version of I’m Still Standing, which reminded me how much of a banger it was. So, I got my laptop out and started playing around with how to approach it differently and ended up making it into a proper cover.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Janelle Monae, Django Jane

JANELLE MONAEDJANGO JANE: The second new single from Janelle Monae this week comes in the form of the feisty Django Jane. The track underscores Monáe’s ability to unleash her biting, unapologetic flow in a song that embraces contradictions as part of the beauty of individuality. It has more of an urban, hard-hitting vibe than the far more accessible Make Me Feel, relying more on Monae’s rapping ability than the funk and pop sensibilities exhibited in the actual lead single. But it’s still worth taking notice of… Monae is as unapologetic as ever (“we gave you life, we gave you birth”), while lamenting some of the failings of modern world culture, and she’s accompanied by some sparse beat arrangements and a subtle electronic bed. Essentially, though, this is a song where the vocals take centre stage and Monae has a lot to say. The accompanying unofficial video was directed by Andrew Donoho and Chuck Lightning with additional vagina monologue footage directed by Lacey Duke. The song is a powerful black girl magic womanifesto that celebrates the strength of black women and black culture while addressing the trials and tribulations of identity in the 21st Century.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Pale White, Loveless

THE PALE WHITELOVELESS: Emerging Newcastle indie-rock trio The Pale White return with their new single Loveless. Produced by John Martindale and the band at Blank Studios, this explosive track is the shot to the arm British rock needs right now, especially in the week that Muse suggested that guitar music is no more. Without relying on that instrument, the band nevertheless deliver a propulsive, emphatic statement of intent that manages to be both rock-driven and pop friendly too. There’s elements of blues, some funky riff-making, and even a dance undercurrent that enables the song to boast genuine crossover appeal. The vocals, too, are strong, combining elements of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with Shed Seven. They seem destined for big audiences to accompany the big sounds they’re crafting. Speaking about the new single, frontman Adam explained: “After hiding away and recording our next batch of releases, it felt so good to burst through the doors of 2018 and hear your own songs being screamed back at you at our sold out homecoming show. It’s going to feel even better to show the world what we’ve been working on. We couldn’t be more excited for Loveless.” And with good reason…
Rating: 4 out of 5

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DJ Snake, Magenta Riddim

DJ SNAKEMAGENTA RIDDIM: Grammy-nominated French DJ and producer DJ Snake releases a new single, Magenta Riddim, and continues to build on the momentum generated by former release, A Different Way last year. Hailed as an absolute festival banger, written and produced by DJ Snake himself. It’s a big record that honours several musical cultures, while keeping its ear firmly on the mainstream. Hence, there’s accessible dubstep, Jamaican dancehall beats and African flute sounds meshing together to create a heady whole. The song is driven by those snake-like horns, which wind their way around the emphatic beats, and the chanted vocals. It’s energetic, inspiring and innovative by virtue of the fact that it is combining so many cultures. And it’s sure to be a dance smash that reverberates around the club and festival scene all year round. Following the release of Magenta Riddim, DJ Snake played a sold out arena show at AccorHotels Arena in his hometown of Paris on February 24th, including more new music and over 668 square metres of LED in a huge new stage design and visual show debut.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rika, The Others

RIKATHE OTHERS: Rika is not your average pop singer. Of multi-cultural Indian and Serbian heritage, she is also every inch a modern young Londoner. Confident and determined, she boldly fuses her personal history with the thoughts and concerns of world events happening around us to produce powerful narratives on love, life and meaning in the world. Now, she takes the synth-pop route with her new single The Others, the video of which combines lush dark pop with tropical visuals. “I knew that this song was my next release as soon we pencilled the track,” says Rika, explaining The Others (co-written by English artist Karen Harding) is about finding true love and why that one person is meant just for you. “It’s about having that special person in your life and how they’re ‘nothing like the others.’ It’s very sweet sounding.” Produced by David King — who also worked on No NeedThe Others explores lush, darker waves of synth-pop, adds subtle touches of R&B and aims for a more anthemic sound than Rika’s previous releases. It drops some emphatic R’n‘B beats, some sassy R’n‘B vocals and an infectious sense of energy (epitomised by its catchy chorus). If there’s a criticism, it’s that it fits a little too seamlessly into the current mainstream sound and needs more of its own identity. But that’s not to detract from the catchiness, or the fact that it should become a massive hit for her. “Production-wise, we wanted to go a bit bigger than No Need,” adds Rika. “We definitely took inspiration from Major Lazer.” The vibrant, tropical-themed music video showcases Rika playing a video game where an animated version of herself is searching for love and getting closer to finding it as she crosses each level. The clip also features segments of energetic neon-bathed choreography before ending with the singer finally meeting her perfect guy.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Alex Lleo

ALEX LLEOBEDROOM DOOR: There’s a mellowness and warmth to Alex Lleo’s debut recordings that feels both timeless and fresh, akin to listening to an artist like Jeff Buckley (in its lyrical honesty) or Newton Faulkner (thanks to its acoustic guitar backdrop and husky delivery). Recorded live with his six-piece band at Park Studios in Birmingham, his debut EP is a masterclass in soulful, addictive songwriting. Lead single Bedroom Door is disarmingly effective. Constructed around two distinctive melodies, brass and string arrangements intertwine to build a song that’s infectious and impressive. More so that it was recorded live in one take, with Alex intent on capturing the spontaneity of first time performance. But while some may be quick to write Lleo off as just another of those acoustic-based troubadour acts, it’s the complexity of the instrumental layering (courtesy of those brass and string arrangements), coupled with the heart-on-sleeve nature of the song’s delivery, that makes him standout. He’s certainly an artist to keep an eye on as 2018 progresses. Bedroom Door is a deeply impressive debut.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Frank Turner

FRANK TURNER – BE MORE KIND: Frank Turner has released the title track from new album Be More Kind, which is due out May 4 via Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor Records. Speaking about the song, Turner says: “Be More Kind, the song, is at the heart of the album, both lyrically and musically; when I finished it I could see the rest of the album coming together around it.” It’s a low-key, acoustic effort that sends out a simple but telling message: to be more kind. Indeed, Turner imbues the build up to this sentiment with a sense of sorrow and regret at the state of the world… a world in which more and more walls are going up. But he urges people to think about others, too, and to exhibit that very human trait of being compassionate and kind, “to hold on tight when the wind blows”. As the song gains momentum, a sense of hope also filters in, which is enhanced by the inclusion of some beautiful string arrangements. Turner does eventually strip things back down for the finish, to underline his lyrical points. But on the whole, this is a resonant song, timely in delivery, and something to aspire to. It’s a lovely piece of songwriting.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Arcade Hearts

ARCADE HEARTSDIFFERENT PLACE: After the release of a trio of singles in 2017, which led to regular support from BBC Introducing Solent, online support from the likes of Clash Magazine and Gigslutz, and a huge show at the Indigo 02 supporting Razorlight, Gosport newcomers Arcade Hearts kick off their 2018 with the release of new single Different Place. Combining upbeat, engaging indie-disco energy with soaring vocals, slick hooks and a large, bombastic chorus, this looks set to continue to get them noticed. The mix of indie and pop works to the song’s advantage, in lending it crossover potential, while some of the more retro leanings (‘80s style vocals, for instance) should also appeal to those with a keen sense of music nostalgia. It’s a lively record that shows plenty of potential. The band, as a whole, have already drawn comparisons with Friendly Fires and Two Door Cinema Club, so if you’re a fan of either of those, then Arcade Hearts are also worth checking out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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RAYE, Cigarette

RAYE feat MABEL AND STEFFLON DONCIGARETTE: Fresh from the success of her smash Decline and a BRIT Award nomination for ‘Best Single’ with Jax Jones, RAYE releases new tune Cigarette featuring Mabel and Stefflon Don. The track is taken from an upcoming wider project set to drop in the coming months. RAYE has curated a culturally relevant collection of music featuring a number of collaborations with her artist friends. This body of work is set to solidify RAYE’s status among her fellow pioneers of UK music. Sadly, the new single isn’t particularly memorable. There are some chopped up beat arrangements, some typically sassy, R’n‘B infused vocals, some urban elements and plenty of edge. But it somehow feels a little generic. It’s a mainstream safe sound. Admittedly, the rap midway through offers a different perspective on the song – but that also struggles to work. It’s a mish-mash of a song that never really adds up to a satisfying whole.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 16, 2018

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

Lord Huron

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LORD HURONWAIT BY THE RIVER: Wait By The River, the new track from Lord Huron’s highly anticipated album Vide Noir, illustrates why the new material is so keenly anticipated. A trippy mix of the ethereal, the strange, the enchanting and the classic rock n roll, this creeps into your subconscious and just keeps getting better. Lyrically, there are themes of waiting, forgiveness and mortality, which pose some probing questions. But it’s the classic style of the vocal delivery and the lush instrumentation, which incorporates so many different elements, that makes this track so endlessly fascinating and – ultimately – so wonderful. It’s a track that just keeps on giving. And we reckon the forthcoming album may well do the same. Singer, songwriter and producer Ben Schneider found inspiration for the LP wandering restlessly through his adopted home of LA at night: “My night-time drives ranged all over the city—across the twinkling grid of the valley, into the creeping shadows of the foothills, through downtown’s neon canyons and way out to the darksome ocean. I started imagining Vide Noir as an epic odyssey through the city, across dimensions, and out into the cosmos. A journey along the spectrum of human experience. A search for meaning amidst the cold indifference of The Universe.” Vide Noir is out on April 20 on Whispering Pines/Polydor Records.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Diplo, Look Back

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: DIPLO feat DRAMLOOK BACK: Hot on the heels of Get It Right, Diplo’s collaboration with Mo, the producer now teams up with rising rapper DRAM for new single Look Back – and the results are pretty damn hot. A slow burning ballad, this is reminiscent of something that DJ Shadow could produce. There are trip-hop beats, a hint of indie rock in the deployment of guitars, church organs and DRAM’s emotive, soulful vocals. It’s a far cry from the synth-pop of Get It Right, showcasing a more sensitive and more passionate side to the Diplo armoury. Indeed, there’s something very cinematic about this one. And DRAM really covers himself in glory vocally, stretching himself from angsty and moody to hopeful and falsetto. He really carries the song’s emotional core. But the production values are top notch, too, making this every bit as good as Get It Right – and all the more remarkable for representing such a musical departure.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chainsmokers, You Owe Me

CHAINSMOKERSYOU OWE ME: Chainsmokers continue to show signs of evolving with new single You Owe Me, the second part of a dual-sided single, entitled Sick Boy… You Owe Me. Featuring a more muted sound than normal, and less EDM than alt-pop elements, the song shows how the producers are looking to broaden their fan-base beyond EDM while also ensuring that they don’t alienate their current following. Hence, the catchiness that has marked so much of their work remains intact, while the EDM elements are present in the occasional blasts of synth. But there is something a little more edgy and even outwardly melancholic in the song’s overall structure, which makes it just as endearing. When the synths do explode, late on, the make a very well timed addition. But even then, after the electronic flourish, the song strips things back down before bringing things to an unexpectedly abrupt close. Crucially, however, the song keeps you entertained while thirsting for more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Niall Horan, On The Loose

NIALL HORAN – ON THE LOOSE: Fresh from the massive global success of his critically-acclaimed debut solo album Flicker, Niall Horan has now released his new single, On The Loose, and manages to retain that same catchy quality that made former offering Slow Hands such a success. On The Loose is slightly, well, looser than the edgier, more bluesy Slow Hands, and therefore more pop than rock. But it retains a soft-rock edge, as well as the occasional country and western twang. But once the song hits its chorus, the pop elements really do kick in and you can tell that Horan has constructed it with stadium-pleasing in mind. This has an anthemic sweep to it that’s certain to turn it into a live favourite. Since departing One Direction, though, Horan has impressed with a greater maturity in his songwriting. He knows how to deliver the radio friendly elements while still dabbling in other musical inspirations. He looks to have a very big future ahead of him as a solo artist.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Royal Blood

ROYAL BLOODLOOK LIKE YOU KNOW: Ahead of the Brit Awards, at which Royal Blood are in the running for British Group, the band have decided to drop a new video for one of the album’s key tracks Look Like You Know. Celebrating everything that the band achieved last year, the video compiles fiery live footage from their shows in support of the album, which included three sold-out nights at London’s Alexandra Palace, alongside intimate behind-the-scenes clips. Capturing the duo’s visceral incendiary energy, the video also highlights the duo’s emergence as charismatic performance and thoroughly modern rock stars. The song itself is as uncompromising and heavy as we’ve come to expect, with an emphatic guitar riff underpinning proceedings, as well as some rousing rock vocals. True, there are traces of acts such as Muse and Queens of the Stone Age in the composition of this one, but that’s no bad thing as Royal Blood look to continue their upward trajectory. The song rocks big time, combining a hardness synonymous with the genre, with something equally radio-friendly (as all the best rock acts can do). It’s rousing, impressive stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Muse, Thought Contagion

MUSETHOUGHT CONTAGION: “You’ve been bitten by a true believer…” So sing Muse over the heady chorus of their new single Thought Contagion. And after hearing this new offering, you may well find yourself bitten by the Muse bug too. A big, epic rock offering with supernatural undertones in the instrumentals, this is designed to be a horror story in the way that it channels contemporary anxieties and becomes quite political. For, as frontman Matt Bellamy, told Rolling Stone, the inspiration for the song ‘probably’ came from “watching American news stations”. He continued: “We’re living in an age where these sort of ideologies, people’s belief systems, whether they are true or false, are getting a lot of air time, especially ones on the false side. I think that we’re living in an unusual period where a lot of airtime is being given to crazy ideas. The flip side is that we’re living in a time where pointing out someone’s inaccuracies, using science for example, is becoming increasingly difficult. Sometimes it’s even perceived as an insensitive thing to do. The verses are me streaming off anxieties and feelings, which in the course of the song, I’m wondering whether they’re actually mine or not.” As anxious as elements of the song unquestionably are, it nevertheless retains the unique energy and edge that accompanies Muse… combining the theatrical with the political to offer up something of genuine substance, that’s also catchy as well.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Skinny Lister

SKINNY LISTERTHING LIKE THAT: London-based folk punks Skinny Lister are proud announce their new single in the form of the riotous Thing Like That, a politically charged track taken from their recently released double-album version of their third critically acclaimed full-length, The Devil, The Heart & The Fight. The track is a response to recent political events in both the UK and US, which have proved difficult to ignore, even for a usually non-political band. The discourse created by the likes of Brexit and Trump course through the veins of this blistering rant of a track which flashes by in an exhilarating two minute dash. But while certainly punk-inflicted and punchy lyrically (as well as evocative of bands like The Clash), the song is also catchy as hell – the “why you wanna go and do a thing like that” chorus just screaming out to be chanted along with, while fist-pumping the air in giddy appreciation for what the song is saying. Its message-making in rabble rousing folk-punk style. Thing Like That, along with Christmas Calls (a song inspired by The Pogues’ classic Fairy Tale Of New York) led the second CD of the new package.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Rosborough

ROSBOROUGHANOTHER LESSON: Loaded with alternative grit but lifted by soaring, cinematic soundscapes, Glenn Rosborough has been creating a stir since he released the single Burn Blue in his native Ireland last October. Awarded Single Of The Fortnight by Hot Press magazine, Burn Blue attracted radio support from every major Irish network. Buoyed by the success of that single, Rosborough has now released Another Lesson as his first official single. The track shares Burn Blue‘s multi-instrumental qualities, while showcasing his ability to drop a telling chorus. The song is delivered with plenty of energy, some tight melodies and a soaring, anthemic grace. It’s sure to get him noticed. “It was a house party, we’d been up all night and everybody fell out with each other about something that no one remembers,” he recalls of the song’s inspiration. “It’s about that human capability of having control then losing control. Life’s about choices. You can make excuses or take responsibility for how you interact with the world. Not allowing yourself to get sucked into negativity in life is the best thing you can do.” As such, it’s also a song about empowerment and being true to yourself.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Marshmello & Anne-Marie, Friends

VIDEO DEBUT: MARSHMELLO & ANNE-MARIEFRIENDS: Following the release of their huge joint single Friends last Friday, Marshmello and Anne-Marie have unveiled the accompanying official video! Directed by Hannah Lux Davis (Ariana Grande & The Weeknd, Love Me Harder, David Guetta ft. Sia & Fetty Wap, Bang My Head), the video plays on the song’s spirited narrative, following two characters – played by Marshmello and Anne-Marie – who are on different sides of the page with their relationship. The song itself finds BRIT-nominated star Anne-Marie and electronic mastermind Marshmello uniting for the second time. Friends is a really chart-friendly piece of ear-candy. Marshmello’s stellar, throwback production combines with Anne-Marie’s Sia-like vocals, buckets of sass and, of course, matchless humour to create a sonic slice of fun. There are toe-tapping beats, slick electronic arrangements that belatedly turn into a fanfare, and rap-sung vocals. It means that the combination of attitude (“get that shit inside your head”) and pop revelry blends seamlessly to create something that a wide range of people can enjoy. It’s irresistibly catchy. Recorded at Sarm Studios at the end of 2017, Friends marks a continuation of a budding friendship – in 2016, Marshmello remixed Anne-Marie’s double platinum and UK Top 20 breakthrough hit Alarm.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Georgie

GEORGIETOO MUCH TV: Mansfield troubadour Georgie makes a return with new single Too Much TV. Taken from the EP of the same name, which will be released on March 16, the song is being hailed as one of the most personal that the singer has written. She states: “I was inspired by my personal life and also by society and how it feels that we should all conform and belong to something, when actually doing that can make us feel very lost. So, we just gotta be ourselves.” The ensuing song paints a sometimes bleak picture of becoming stuck in the hum-drum… whether it’s being dependent on too much TV, or drink, or fitting in as a norm. There’s an angst to it that’s thought-provoking, especially for those that can identify with having become too entrenched in the rat race. But there’s a also a hint of optimism in what Georgie is trying to say. The accompanying melodies are crisp and lively, while the vocals are husky and emotional (evoking comparisons with Sia at times). It’s a heady mix, admittedly, but it has something worthwhile and intelligent to say, without being preachy or condescending. And it’s retains a catchy, radio friendly appeal too.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 9, 2018

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

Meadowlark, Pink Heart

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MEADOWLARKPINK HEART: Meadowlark have shared an official video for their beautifully trippy new single, Pink Heart. The track is taken from the duo’s debut album, Postcards (out now on AllPoints) and its release precedes the band embarking on a European headline tour throughout March. The track finds Kate McGill’s effortlessly cool vocals layered over lush, carefully orchestrated production values (trip-hop style beats, spine-tingling piano loops), making for a captivating, even cinematic listen. There’s also something highly nocturnal about it, which makes it great for kicking back with after a long day at work or a heady night out. It’s the sound of Meadowlark at their absolute best. As with all of Meadowlark’s official videos, Pink Heart was directed and produced by the band’s own Dan Broadley who is a professional videographer alongside being Meadowlark’s guitarist. The cut is a nostalgic look back at the band’s history and compiling it was a project which saw Dan trawling through hours and hours of footage captured throughout Meadowlark’s time together – right from the very early days as they were just starting out, to the process of recording their album, and the whirlwind of the last 18 months. Dan himself explains: “The release of Pink Heart coincides with the fifth anniversary of Meadowlark’s existence. It felt right to look back over the last five years to see how far we’ve come not only as a band but as people too, and compile some of our fondest memories into a video to one of our favourite songs from the album.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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We Are Scientists, One In One Out

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: WE ARE SCIENTISTSONE IN ONE OUT: We Are Scientists, the Brooklyn, New York-based power pop troupe are set to return with their sixth album. Titled Megaplex and released via 100% Records on April 27, the album finds the infamous duo – Keith Murray (guitar/vocals) and Chris Cain (bass) – set to dazzle the world with 10 new splashes of colourful and utterly addictive pop that serve as a welcome distraction to these bleak times we live in. As an opening salvo, One In One Out bodes extremely well. The power pop inherent in so much of their past music is present and correct, with livewire guitars and synths colliding with one hell of a catchy chorus and some empowering lyrics. There’s also a woo-hoo backing harmony, evocative of classic Beach Boys, that brings an even greater sense of sunshine vitality whenever it’s around. Commenting further on what to expect from the LP, Chris stated: “In the past we’ve used our music to educate, to enlighten, to awaken people to the depth and complexity of moral concerns. This time, we really wanted to drop a fun-bomb. Something to dance or f*** to.” Recorded at Tim Wheeler from Ash’s Atomic Heart Studios in NYC and once again produced by Max Hart (ex-Katy Perry), the duo set about honing down a sprawling burst of creativity to make the concise pop beast that is Megaplex.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Wombats

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE WOMBATSBLACK FLAMINGO: With their new album Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life released on Friday (February 9) via Kobalt Music Recordings, and a sold-out UK tour beginning on March 9, The Wombats have also dropped a new track in the form of the exuberant Black Flamingo. A bittersweet slice of edgy indie-pop, this drops lines like “I wanna love you but it hurts, hurts, hurts” and a killer central guitar hook and grabs your attention from the very first listen and refuses to let go. It’s a cracking addition to an album that already boasts the tracks Lemon To A Knife Fight, Turn and Cheetah Tongue (which have received over 10 million Spotify streams in a couple of months). Produced by Mark Crew (Bastille, Rag’n’Bone Man) and Catherine Marks (Wolf Alice), the album finds The Wombats pushing the boundaries of alt-pop innovation with a lush, ultra-modern indie soundscape, irrepressible hooks and tragi-comic lyricism belied by a newfound maturity and moving emotional depth. Judged purely on the singles so far, it also continues to showcase their talent for bringing something a little different to the indie-pop scene with something that’s equally capable of breaking out and appealing to the masses. Black Famingo is just a great listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: LUCY ROSESTRANGEST OF WAYS: Marking the release of her new single Strangest of Ways, Lucy Rose has created a stunning official video for the track with an emotional inspiring story behind it. Strangest of Ways is taken from Lucy’s third studio album, Something’s Changing, which is out now on Communion Records. The album was released alongside a mini-documentary of the same title, following Lucy on a tour of South America where she stayed with fans and played free shows they booked for her along the way. Lucy subsequently embarked on a tour of UK cinemas where she screened the documentary alongside playing songs from the new album and it was at one of these cinema shows that Lucy first met a girl called Zoe Schofield. Zoe lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which means she doesn’t have the ability to travel and explore. Watching the documentary brought back home truths for Zoe, meaning that her reaction was one of sadness rather than hope. Moved by their conversation, Lucy reached out to Zoe after the show and asked her if she’d like to be involved with making the music video for her next single. Speaking about that moment, Zoe said: “One of the things that made me want to do this most was that it initially terrified me. But then I thought actually no, I’m not going to listen to that voice telling me all the things I can and can’t do. The very fact that it terrified me so much made me want to do it, made me want to say yes let’s go and do this crazy amazing thing and make the most of this opportunity.” The concept of the shoot was for Lucy and Zoe to go on their own adventure and after much planning, the pair jumped on a plane to Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland where they spent the day exploring this natural phenomenon together with a camera to capture everything. Zoe continued: “With chronic illness, your world shrinks because your home essentially becomes your world. The tether that you have to the rest of the universe starts to wither away and it’s really isolating. With this video, the idea was we go somewhere wild and beautiful, where you can sense and feel a real connection to the world.” The video is as moving as it is inspiring. The song, meanwhile, showcases another set of beautiful vocals from Rose, as well as a fine sense of percussion that lends the song an upbeat vibe, in keeping with the general feeling of warmth and positivity surrounding it. For more information about CFS and ME, visit the Action for ME website
Rating: 4 out of 5

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El Perro Del Mar

EL PERRO DEL MARMIRRORS: Acclaimed Swedish artist El Perro Del Mar (née Sarah Assbring) follows Fight For Life from her EP, We Are History, with striking new single Mirrors and its acoompaning video. The track itself is ‘about reaching out to yourself for empathy and humanity’. It’s also about ‘daring to see yourself and others with love and compassion’. It’s both apologetic (“I know we messed up”) as well as hopeful (“I wanna try, to see through your eyes”), and is delivered in a style befitting a Bonobo production. The background instrumentals are laidback, simple but achingly beautiful at times, nicely offsetting the similarly fragile, yet occasionally ethereal, vocals. Yes, you could add there are traces of Bjork too. But Del Mar does more than enough to forge her own identity and this is a song that carries a positive message and lays it out in beautiful fashion. The video is once again directed by Connor Hurley, who commented: “For me, Mirrors is about the struggle and perseverance of women from the beginning of time. The characters represent the same woman at three stages of life and the idea of attempting to communicate with your past and present selves.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marshmello & Anne-Marie, Friends

MARSHMELLO & ANNE-MARIEFRIENDS: BRIT-nominated star Anne-Marie and electronic mastermind Marshmello unite for their joint new single Friends and succeed in delivering a really chart-friendly piece of ear-candy. Marshmello’s stellar, throwback production combines with Anne-Marie’s Sia-like vocals, buckets of sass and, of course, matchless humour to create a sonic slice of fun. There are toe-tapping beats, slick electronic arrangements that belatedly turn into a fanfare, and rap-sung vocals. It means that the combination of attitude (“get that shit inside your head”) and pop revelry blends seamlessly to create something that a wide range of people can enjoy. It’s irresistibly catchy. Recorded at Sarm Studios at the end of 2017, Friends marks a continuation of a budding friendship – in 2016, Marshmello remixed Anne-Marie’s double platinum and UK Top 20 breakthrough hit Alarm.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ten Tonnes, Lay It On Me

TEN TONNESLAY IT ON ME: Everything in the world of Ten Tonnes is stepping up a gear at present. He started the year by being named as one of Huw Stephens’ Alternative Tips for 2018 and is currently completing a tour as guest to Rat Boy, which concludes at the O2 Academy Brixton. Now, new single Lay It On Me arrives brimming with the propulsive energy of his live band and an immediately enticing melody. The track feels like an early ’80s new wave classic re-imagined for the current indie scene. That is to say, there are kitsch elements married to a Brat Pack-style/Breakfast Club sensibility, as well as the edge and spirit needed to give it contemporary clout too. The mid-track guitar solo is as robust as we’ve come to expect from Ten Tonnes, while the “lay it on me, lay it on me, lay it on me” chant that immediately follows is tailor-made for singing along and lends the track an anthemic quality. Ethan says of the song: “Lay It On Me is telling someone if they need you, you’ll be there. You’ve been away and distant, but now you’re back.” The track was produced by Ten Tonnes’ regular collaborator Hugo White, of The Maccabees.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Fontaines DC, Chequeless Reckless

FONTAINES DC – CHEQUELESS RECKLESS: Fontaines DC met as a quintet in Dublin, influenced and driven in equal measure by the rich history of their hometown’s counter-culture. Their response has been to make concise and immediately authentic indie-punk that has done anything but fall on deaf ears. The last six months have seen Fontaines D.C. release two hotly received double A-side singles, both of which were named as singles of the week by Rough Trade, and garnered early support from the likes of Steve Lamacq and others on BBC 6 Music, as well as earning feature space from every major Irish publication. They’ve also drawn favourable comparisons with everyone from The Fall and Iggy Pop to The Strokes. New single Chequeless Reckless finds the band delving even deeper into their influences (which they personally cite as spanning from The La’s to The Pogues to Buddy Holly) employing hypnotic, kraut-rock infused cyclical riffs, whilst channelling Dublin into their concise and often-unassumingly poetic lyrics with a distinctive gritty Irish drawl. It’s a song shot through with energy and urgency, posing questions like “what’s really going on?”. In the background, meanwhile, are those foreboding drums and some heavy, punk-infused energy that lend it quite a charge. It’s easy to see why Fontaines DC are getting the post-punk scene so excited.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Amaroun

AMAROUNMADE A FIRE: Newcomer Amaroun releases a slice of soul infused indie-pop called Make A Fire and shows plenty of potential. A follow-up to her debut single Bed Bugs, this one finds Amaroun (singer-songwriter Jay Brown) furthering her reputation for delivering electronic soul-tinged guitar pop that’s catchy and radio-friendly. The vocals are nicely delivered, while the mix of electronics and guitar create a swish, swirling, nicely realised backdrop that lends the song plenty of positivity. Of Made A Fire, Jay said: “The song was written in a heightened state, in the aftermath of my coming out. It’s a narrative progression from my previous single Bed Bugs, where I was deep in confusion, distraction and escapism. In Made A Fire, I’ve found clarity in the thrill of meeting someone new. When you find that person and there’s this instant connection you can’t deny, it’s something that’s hard to describe. This song is simply gratitude in musical form for that person and that feeling.” In that sense, it’s empowering to boot.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Teen Creeps

TEEN CREEPSSIDENOTE: Ghent-based trio Teen Creeps have just announced their debut album Birthmarks, which is set for release on April 6. Combining a mixture of ’90s inspired alt rock with hard-hitting punk, the first single from the LP, Sidenote, is online now – and it exemplifies their sound. The guitars are the best thing about the track, recalling ’90s acts like Ash or Smashing Pumpkins, and enabling the track to zip along in as close to radio friendly fashion as an alt-rock track can. The vocals, on the other hand, are pure punk-rock aggression and they may just be the deciding factor in how much you like the record as a whole. But there’s plenty to keep you interested, including an edgy video that is delivered in some style. Speaking about the new track, singer-bass player Bert said: “It’s about not fully committing to someone and getting nowhere because of it. Feeling something but holding it off because you don’t want to get hurt again. When I wrote the words, I had just come out of a relationship and wasn’t ready yet for a new one. I met someone but things went sideways because of this.” Of the video, he adds: “The dancer in the video is Jules Jordens, an actor who is a friend of the band. He showed up with an entire dance routine that perfectly translates the vibe and energy of the song. Plus, watching him go at it brings smiles on our faces.” It could well do the same to you.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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