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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 29, 2020

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

The Pretenders, I Didn't Want To Be This Lonely

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: THE PRETENDERSDIDN’T WANT TO BE THIS LONELY: The Pretenders have revealed their rabble-rousing new single Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely and its accompanying video and succeed in giving you a musical shot of adrenaline that addresses the current frustation complex embracing a locked down nation. Driven by rapid guitar work and a classic rock vibe, this hits the ground running and finds lead singer Chrissie Hynde in feisty, even angered form. There’s a sense of resignation about the lonely state she finds herself in, but there’s also a sense of building rebellion. The guitars fuel that and are let off the leash completely on a couple of occasions, delivering some truly rousing solos to propel the song into classic Pretenders status. The latest in an increasingly impressive series of videos featuring Hynde and made entirely during lockdown, the accompanying visual was produced and directed by longtime collaborator John Minton. John has worked with the likes of Noel Gallagher, Portishead and Savages previously and has made all the videos for this Pretenders album campaign.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rebecka Reinhard

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: REBECKA REINHARDWHALE: After releasing her stunning new single Whale on May 12 via Crowds and Power, Swedish dream pop artist Rebecka Reinhard has now returned to share the official video for her impactful new offering. Much like the track itself, the new video uses minimal and intimate images to conjure up a bold and blissful tone that channels the frontwoman’s own DIY aesthetic. Filmed in her hometown of Bredäng, she treats us to a fresh and personal snapshot of her current surroundings, giving context to her warm and inviting direction. The track itself is a subversive indie-rock song that demonstrates Rebecka’s ability as a songwriter to make the world stop with her music. Comprised of distorted guitars and loose drums, Whale feels both recognisable and entirely new. Paired with the delicate and dreamy production is Rebecka’s distinct and punchy vocal, as well as her killer melodies, that unfurl towards the chorus. Lyrically, the song – which is both personal and prescient – speaks to our fractured socio-political climate and our current isolated situation. And yet while lyrically intelligent, there’s a breezy nature to the track itself, thanks to those punchy guitars and Reinhard’s soft, often idyllic vocal delivery. There are times when her vocals are impossibly sweet, even when delivering lines like “I never loved you, I think only your mother knew, The way that mothers always do”. It’s a complex, paradoxical type of song that demonstrates the layered depths of Reinhard’s songwriting. For while instrumentally, the song becomes more empowering and inspirational, the longer it builds, the lyrics often feel like a sucker punch and therefore stand out even more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alice Chater

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: ALICE CHATERTWO OF US: Alice Chater has unveiled a stunning new video for equally impressive new single Two Of Us. A heartbreaking pop ballad in the Sia mould, this finds Chater breaking down a failing relationship and arriving at some painful conclusions. Lyrics include “nobody told me you could get lonely sleeping with the one you love” an “I know you love me… sometimes it aint enough”. But, as Chater also states, “it’s not a fairytale, it’s the two of us”. As a result, the accompanying instrumentals are suitably restrained and melancholic, with slight beats and fragile electronics underpinning the striking vocals. Alice says: “Two Of Us is a reality check about a relationship that’s at breaking point. You love the person and they love you too, but you find yourselves falling deeper into a toxic environment that you can no longer pretend is ok. This is that ‘last chance to save the relationship’ song. It’s super personal and was difficult to sing due to the emotions I felt at the time, but I’m really excited to share it with the world.” It is heartbreakingly poignant and beautiful, as is the video, which was directed by Thom Kerr, who previously directed the video for Alice’s collaboration with Iggy Azalea, Lola.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher, MTV Unplugged

LIAM GALLAGHERSAD SONG (MTV UNPLUGGED): Liam Gallagher has shared his new version of the Oasis rarity Sad Song. The track further builds anticipation for the June 12 release of his MTV Unplugged album following the live recording of Gone. A timely offering, this Oasis track casts a relatively dim view of humanity, offering lyrics such as “we’re throwing it all away” and “we cheat and we lie, nobody says its fun so we don’t ask why”. But there’s a beauty to the track, too, particularly in acoustic form, where the intricate guitar hooks compliment Liam’s distinct vocals almost perfectly. There’s even added strings support that lend a cinematic edge. It’s a classic Oasis offering, updated and made kind of relevant by Liam in solo form. Recorded at Hull City Hall last summer, this recording represents Liam’s first ever live performance of the song. His raw and heartfelt vocal adds a haunting, sombre atmosphere to the original. Sad Song was originally sung by Noel Gallagher and featured as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of Definitely Maybe. The prospect of a Liam-fronted version of the song captured the imagination of fans after a segment of an early demo featured in Mat Whitecross’ documentary Supersonic. To coincide with the launch of Sad Song, Liam has also launched an opportunity to join him and guitarist Bonehead on an exclusive Zoom chat, which will take place on Wednesday, June 17 at 6PM BST. Twenty winners will join the pair as they chat about the ‘MTV Unplugged’ album amongst other topics, and they will also answer some of your questions. Fans who buy any version of MTV Unplugged, or who register here will be entered into the competition. All pre-orders will receive instant downloads of Sad Song and Gone.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Deacon, Rain on Me

JAMES DEACONRAIN ON ME: James Deacon releases his new single Rain On Me, an uplifting anthem that stands strong in the face of adversity, reflecting on some of his earlier career setbacks and subsequent achievements. Deacon’s career trajectory hasn’t always been the easiest, with the multi-instrumentalist experiencing his fair share of setbacks: from an accident that nearly ended his guitar playing, to his recent vocal cord surgery. On the latter, Rain On Me explores how the surgery could have changed his voice permanently. “The lyrics are about being in a fight because it felt like the universe was beating me up and raining punches down on me,” he explained. “I reference not being able to speak or make any sounds at all for three weeks post-surgery, which nearly drove me insane!” Melodically, the track fuses the characteristic, moody ebb and flow of James’ discography with light, flitting electronic elements, akin to an uplifting Rag’n’Bone Man composition, conjuring a wave of positivity. And, as ever with a Deacon production, it’s both extremely personal yet highly relevant to anyone who has overcome similar difficulty. As such, it’s also timely. But the impassioned delivery and the rousing chorus make this an empowering anthem for the moment… and one that shows how it is possible to triumph against the most difficult of adversity. It’s another great power anthem from Deacon.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kehli, Hypnotized

KEHLIHYPNOTIZED: Following on from the release of Kehli’s Believe It and One Last Kiss, new single Hypnotized sees the Irish pop starlet adopt a more electro-pop aesthetic. With her own crystalline vocals taking centre stage, this new offering is driven by a lively, pop-focused beat and super-charged electronic texture, reminiscent of the 80s. As such, there’s a certain kind of cheesiness attached to that decade’s pop sound. But there’s also something undeniably upbeat and toe-tapping about it. There’s a dance vibe attached, which kind of leaves you hypnotised in a disposable pop sense. Speaking about her new release, Kehli said: “I recorded Hypnotized last summer in London and I’m excited to finally release it! People experience love at one point or another and this is one interpretation of that feeling. The song has such an upbeat, uplifting energy to it and I hope people enjoy it as much as I loved making it. Mostly though, I hope it brings a little fun and happiness to everyone’s quarantine situation as the world goes through such a dark time at the moment with the pandemic. As we go into the summer months and need to remain in quarantine, people are going to need something to uplift them and I hope this helps even in a small way to give an element of fun and positivity to anyone that hears it while listening at home!”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Zak Pajak, Parachute

ZAK PAJAKPARACHUTE: Parachute, the new single from Zak Pajak, is an impressive fusion of acoustic melodies, bold R’&‘B and expressive soul. Early on, there’s a sense that this could be a slushy kind of ballad, particularly instrumentally. But as the song takes shape and the lyrics take hold, Pajak declares “I’m not your parachute, I’m way too good for you”. And it’s that sentiment that turns this into an anti-ballad that empowers. It’s born from a sense of frustration and rejection, but it doesn’t dwell on the negative feelings that could be associated with that sense. Rather, it’s about moving on and projecting strength – both internal and to the person who may be using you. Speaking on the track, Zac said: “Parachute is the summer heartbreak anthem for anyone getting over a relationship, having been messed around for too long. It’s about that empowering moment where the heartache disappears, and we finally realise that we’re actually better off without someone. I’m a lot happier in my relationships now – but it’s a snapshot of where I was at a certain point that I think a lot of people can relate to. I was fed up of getting hurt and it was time to get over it and walk away.” Parachute is taken from Zac’s debut EP Early Hours, which is set for release in summer 2020.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zac Pajak · Parachute

Celeste, I Can See The Change

CELESTE – I CAN SEE THE CHANGE: Ascendant soul singer and BBC Sound of 2020 winner Celeste releases her sweeping, optimistic new single I Can See The Change. Produced by FINNEAS, the track is a song about finding hope in the wake of adversity and realising that a brighter future lies ahead, a sentiment that no doubt resonates in uncertain times like these. A stripped back offering, this places Celeste’s stunning vocals front and centre, allowing them to build to some knee-trembling crescendos, before dropping back to a hushed but hopeful chorus that declares “I can see the change”. Instrumentally, it’s very basic, with a bittersweet piano providing a cinematic backdrop, as well as, occasionally, some background vocal harmonies. But it’s a quietly reassuring listen in the classic songstress mould – the type of track that would befit Shirley Bassey or Adele. Speaking about the story behind the new single, Celeste explains: “It was a strange time for me as externally lots of exciting things were happening in my life, but internally I was feeling flat. I felt disconnected from myself and the world around me so I knew something needed to change… It’s difficult for me to fully articulate, but when I started writing the song I pictured a blurry, unidentified image far off in the distance that I knew I had to move closer to in order to understand what it was and perhaps what it meant, but also realising that the journey wasn’t going to be easy. Ultimately, the song is about hope and change but knowing that to obtain this requires effort, patience and conviction.” With that in mind, it’s highly anthemic.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Callum Beattie, Mouth of a Tiger

CALLUM BEATTIEMOUTH OF A TIGER: Callum Beattie has revealed the charming, light-hearted official video for Mouth Of A Tiger, a track taken from the Scottish singer-songwriter’s debut album People Like Us (out now). The upbeat song is the lead track from the LP and finds Beattie’s infectious charisma and adoration for David Bowie emanate throughout the visual, which was filmed while living in Berlin. On the track, Callum states: “Mouth Of A Tiger is all about my misspent youth and being a reckless risk taker! It’s about embracing life’s rich opportunities and taking them as they come, running with them and not thinking too far ahead. Life is all about living in the now, and this song reflects that.” That being said, it does implore “don’t put your head in the mouth of a tiger”! But in all other senses, this is as upbeat and anthemic as Beattie clearly intends, nodding to both classic Bowie visually and sonically, as well as a certain Katy Perry and Roar, in the way that it embraces a euphoric, sing-along, empowering quality. It’s big, bold, brash and just the type of song that’s needed to keep spirits high right now. Self-written People Like Us is a lucid insight into Callum Beattie’s tumultuous and joyous personal journey so far – from Edinburgh to London to Berlin and back again, these are the songs of Callum Beattie’s life, both his childhood ups and downs, and his more recent upheavals.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Scott Storch

SCOTT STORCH feat OZUNA AND TYGAFUEGO DEL CALOR: 3x Grammy® Award-nominated superproducer Scott Storch has announced the release of his fiery solo debut single, Fuego Del Calor (featuring Ozuna and Tyga). A major club banger with heavy Hispanic and Eastern influences, this boasts some highly distinctive production elements and a vibe befitting a place on any Fast & Furious soundtrack. There’s also an element of hip-hop in the supplied vocals from Ozuna and Tyga, which add a grit and even more fire to an already incendiary track. The sad thing is that this would undoubtedly become a huge club tune for the summer if released in any other year. But it’s ability to fill dancefloors will be curtailed by the current restrictions imposed by coronavirus. A soundtrack birth will have to do, in order to keep it in the public conscious. Fuego Del Calor marks the first release from Storch’s eagerly anticipated debut solo album, due to arrive via Atlantic Records in the coming months.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Leif Vollebekk

LEIF VOLLEBEKKREST: Leif Vollebekk has shared Rest, two new songs that reflect our new normal times. For, in a moment of social distancing, life has brought about a forced pause from normality. But it has subsequently encouraged some of us, including Leif himself, to reflect more, connect more and rest more. This release compliments that quiet introspection. Hence, Intro is a never before released song that was originally intended as the first piece on the current album, Twin Solitude. The melody and lyrics, which echoes the song Vancouver Time, came to Leif when he was in a jetlag state, about a month before writing what would be known as the official opening track. It’s a slow, almost lifeless track, with a sparse instrumental supporting a sleepy set of vocals that reflect on the world around him. And yet, in spite of its quietness and stillness, there’s something beguiling about it. The second song is an acoustic version of the ending opus, Rest. This version was recorded in Castlemaine, Australia, in a spur of the moment with sound engineer Jono Steer. It was recorded exactly a week before the world closed down its borders. And somehow it works better than the original, feeling less haunted and slightly more warm, in spite of some thought-provoking and somewhat haunted lyrics. It’s the real find in this two-track offering.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jung, Nobody Kows

JUNGNOBODY KNOWS: Swedish-based pop duo JUNG (aka brothers Tom and Henrik Ljungqvist) release their breezy, upbeat new track Nobody Knows. The self-penned, feel-good release is led by a charming, upbeat guitar plucked production that complements the inspirational lyrics about striving over hardships and not worrying about the end goal; to live for now. There are sunshine melodies, a sing-along chorus, slick beats and those irresistible guitar hooks, which allow the track to immediately set your toes tapping. It’s an empowering offering for a global listener base that needs the psychological boost right now. On Nobody Knows, JUNG said: “Nobody Knows is the start of a new era for us, and we really wanted to kick it off with something energetic and up tempo. The song is about not knowing what’s gonna come and that’s why it’s so important to try to be happy now with what you got!” Nobody Knows follows on from Jung’s well-received debut album Dreamers, which was released in 2019. They’ve racked up over 50 million streams globally and their track, Let Him Go, is certified platinum in Sweden.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 22, 2020

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

HAIM

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: HAIMDON’T WANNA: Another week, another gem from HAIM. The Southern California-bred sister band have shared Don’t Wanna as the latest cut from their highly anticipated forthcoming album Women In Music Pt. III (Polydor Records). Featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on BBC Radio 1, Don’t Wanna is an upbeat yet vulnerable track that once again brilliantly demonstrates the band’s ability to exude hope and optimism, even in the toughest of relationship circumstances. Alana, Danielle and Este wrote Don’t Wanna with Rostam Batmanglij (Charli XCX, Solange, Frank Ocean) and the song was produced by Danielle, Rostam and Ariel Rechtshaid (Adele, Blood Orange, Vampire Weekend). The band said of the track themselves: “This song rolled off the tongue… it’s sexy, flirty and hopeful.” With a chorus that declares “I don’t wanna give up on you” and “I don’t wanna hate you”, this has a keen sense of optimism married to that feeling of struggle that comes from being in a difficult relationship. But thanks to the tight vocal harmonies, the irresistibly catchy chorus and the cute electronic hooks, this is a beautifully balanced record that feels ear-pleasing, toe-tapping and suitably bittersweet. It’s yet another indication that HAIM’s new album could really be something special.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sia

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SIATOGETHER: It’s been a while but Sia finally returns with a new song of her own, in the form of the lively Together. The track is the first single from her upcoming album and also the official soundtrack to her upcoming film, Music. And befitting a soundtrack offering, it’s suitably cinematic and empowering. It features lyrics about rising above hardship, such as “I want love, please deliver it” and “come now, set the past on fire, stand up raise your face to the skies… we can take it higher”. But it’s accompanied by similarly rousing instrumentals – finger click beats, a children’s chorus, sunshine electronic arrangements and a general sense of positivity that’s entirely infectious. At a time when we’re surrounded by so much anxiety and negativity, this is the type of single that brings a welcome dose of warmth and positivity. Together was co-written by Sia and Jack Antonoff and is one of 10 new original Sia songs featured in Music. The film itself stars Kate Hudson, Maddie Ziegler and Leslie Odom Jr. and was co-written by Sia and children’s book author Dallas Clayton. It’s based on a one-page story Sia had written in 2007.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Third Eye Blind, Disorder

THIRD EYE BLINDDISORDER: We’ve long been fans of Third Eye Blind (ever since their seminal Semi-Charmed Life in fact!) and Disorder is another gem. The track is, in fact, a cover of a Joy Division track and it’s been released in support of mental health charity, The Jed Foundation, which is helping young adults and teens grow into thriving adults. Their help is needed now more than ever, as the coronavirus pandemic takes a huge emotional toll on everyone struggling to get through the limitations posed by it. Hence, the track has that keen mix of explosive power and melodicism, as well as emotional lyricism, that both Joy Division and Third Eye Blind thrive on. Stephan Jenkins’ vocals are as rousing as ever, while the guitar work is blistering. It’s a high-powered adrenaline shot that really hits the spot, right down to its expertly judged climax. To find out more about the Jed Foundation, click here
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Inhaler, Falling In

INHALERFALLING IN: Dublin quartet Inhaler’s new single Falling In is being billed as another triumphant step forward for one of the breakthrough bands of 2020. “Falling In is a song about the battles that we all have with our own ego,” says frontman Elijah Hewson. Hence, it has a sense of power as well as one of reservation and uncertainty, lyrically. But it’s delivered in the impassioned style of early U2, with Hewson channelling Bono to a highly effective degree. The themes of the song have a universal appeal and resonance, particularly now, while the delivery of the track as a whole has a sweeping, epic vibe that is clearly geared towards filling stadiums again, somewhere down the road. Following the expansive indie-rock of We Have To Move On and the jubilant pop of Ice Cream Sundae, the ’80s grooves and soaring melodies of Falling In are also designed to showcase new shades of Inhaler’s sound. Produced by long-term collaborator Antony Genn, Falling In is taken from their forthcoming debut album which they are currently working on.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sarah Walk

SARAH WALKWHAT DO I WANT?: Sarah Walk dropped her sophomore LP, Another Me, this Friday along with lead single What Do I Want? – and continued to impress. The record sees her embrace every part of her identity as a queer woman, including laying out the challenges it brings. And the lead single is no different, examining the nature of what she wants as a woman and as a singer and campaigner. But it’s delivered in beautifully melodic fashion, with the probing lyrics neatly offset by some lovely harmonies, a sweeping set of electronics and lush back-beats. It’s an intoxicating listen from start to finish, which underlines Walk’s enduring brilliance. Hence, What Do I Want showcases her pop sensibilities; moving away from the organic signature piano ballads that characterised her 2017 debut, and leaning into shimmering synth sounds, soaring pop melodies juxtaposed against beautifully restrained moments and detailed percussive arrangements. It finds Walk working through anxiety procrastination and paralysing indecision. “Sometimes it’s easier to be so overwhelmed by what to do that you don’t do anything until someone else makes a decision for you,” she explained of the single. “I think part of that comes from being a woman; we’ve been condition to doubt our capability; afraid of confidence coming off as arrogance. Writing this song was a way of holding myself accountable so I can transcend societal stricutres and avoid falling into the same patterns of paralysed anxiety.” Of the rest of the album, Walk said: “I wanted to make a point early on with this record that there is a lot that women feel and experience outside of what exists in their romantic relationships.” Produced by Leo Abrahams (Regina Spektor, Belle and Sebastian, Paul Simon, Pulp, David Byrne, Brian Eno), the LP tackles the challenges of being a queer woman head on. “A lot of things had been untapped in my writing until now, many of which deal with burdens that I’ve carried or felt responsible for, which I believe has a lot to do with being a woman and being queer” continues Walk. “We take ownership when we don’t need to or feel guilty when we say no to things. We apologise when we haven’t done anything wrong. These are all things I have learned and tried to unlearn. This is an album about being marginalised, being a woman, learning how to set boundaries without apology and being confident without feeling guilty for it. Learning how to love wholly without expectation.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gracie Abrams, Long Sleeves

GRACIE ABRAMSLONG SLEEVES: Long Sleeves is the spellbinding new single from emerging songwriter Gracie Abrams. Accompanied by a lyric video, the track will appear on the 20-year-old artist’s highly anticipated debut project minor, due out on June 16, 2020. “Long Sleeves is the song I’ve been trying to write since I was 14,” says Abrams. “Finishing this one felt like I could actually breathe differently. I’d never really felt closure like that before.” Written by Abrams and Blake Slatkin, Long Sleeves presents a finely detailed portrait of saying goodbye, each line illuminated by the quiet power of Abrams’s voice. With its stark yet dreamlike sonic backdrop, the track builds a beautiful tension between the pain of letting go and the clarity of following your own truth. It’s achingly beautiful… the relatively sparse instrumentation [comprised of atmospheric electronics and gentle acoustic licks] providing the perfect backdrop to allow Abrams’ fragile vocals to shine. It’s a song that contains a lot of pain, yet which endears and somehow reassures by virtue of its relatability. Long Sleeves is the last single release before Gracie’s debut project, minor, arrives in June. Executive-produced by Slatkin, minor includes the previously released singles 21 and I Miss You, I’m Sorry.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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IDLES

IDLES – MR MOTIVATOR: Great video, not so great track. Idles have returned with new track, Mr Motivator, a battering ram of a record that’s also the first preview of their highly anticipated third LP due out later this year. The song doubles down on the (self-admitted) sloganeering and social commentary that’s become the band’s signature, yet here more than ever they’re able to take clichés and turn them into music that’s deeply complex and brutally relevant. It’s fuelled by a punk-inflicted rage that takes aim at elements of society they find distasteful, even more so in the current climate of lockdown and fear and/or irresponsibility and rule breaking. Admittedly, some of the lyrics are fun, such as when the band deliver lines such as “like Vasyl Lomachenko after four pints of Gatorade, like Kathleen Hannah with bear claws grabbing Trump by the pussy”. But by the time the song reaches its crescendo of “you’re Joe CalfuckingZaghe”, over and over again, the battering becomes incessant – shouted lyrics, volatile guitars. It’s just too angry. That said, some of this can be offset by watching the accompanying self-directed music video, which features fan-sourced exercise footage and the band members themselves. That, at least, exhibits a keen sense of fun mixed with an anarchic spirit.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Lady Gaga, Rain On Me

LADY GAGA & ARIANA GRANDERAIN ON ME: There is something empowering about the team-up between Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, two of the biggest solo female artists on the planet right now. Death and tragedy have informed much of their rise to fame (as well as their current fan-dom). Lady Gaga, for instance, has confessed to being raped, as well as being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. While Grande’s world came crashing down following the Manchester bombing that claimed the lives of 22 people during one of her concerts, as well as – a year later – the death of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller. Hence, when the two sing about “rain on me”, you can appreciate that they feel as though they may have been drowning at times. But the style of the song is much more positive, emerging as an early ’90s house meets dance anthem that’s full of swirling synths, slick beats and powerhouse vocals from both performers. It’s almost a statement of defiance. Yet while commendable in the way that it seeks to empower and inspire [and undoubtedly will among both fan-bases], there’s also something slightly disappointing about it. There’s nothing groundbreaking in the way that it soundchecks a retro genre, or indeed feels somewhat generic by doing so [to the dance scene]. Hence, while lively and sure to become a massive hit, this is a million miles removed from either of their best work.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Red Moon, Medusa

RED MOONMEDUSA: Pop artist Red Moon has shared her new single Medusa. Produced by Magnus Skylstad (Aurora), the track presents a whimsical yet serene journey to the depths of a metaphorical ocean. The Italian word for ‘jellyfish’, ‘Medusa’ features the singer’s powerful vocals against a calming harp melody, mirroring the feeling of drifting away like a ‘medusa’ in the vast sea. As Red Moon explains: “I knew I wanted to write about those beautiful sea creatures for a while, as they represent something special to me personally. But when Magnus and I wrote the song, I feel it became more of a symbolic statement as well as a personal song. A reminder to myself that we all can be these glowing creatures in the dark sea. In a lot of ways, the ocean is very close to our mindset, which can represent our subconsciousness, emotions or memories we stack away, or maybe even repressed feelings. Sometimes things get really heavy in my head, so I wanted to create something uplifting. Something that sounds like you’re floating in the water. A song that reflects both on talking about the repressed feelings and finding a voice and inspiration from within.” The ensuing track provides a soothing, satisfying showcase for Moon’s wistful vocals, while the subtle instrumentals really do create that feeling of floating, and quite possibly interacting with the creature she’s singing about. It’s a wonderfully mellow offering that’s tailor made for relaxing with, offering a brief respite from the everyday troubles posed by living amid a pandemic.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Orlando Weeks

ORLANDO WEEKSMILK BREATH: Orlando Weeks’ first two solo singles, Safe In Sound and Blood Sugar have provided a fascinating insight into the life-changing journey of fatherhood that he documents in his upcoming debut album A Quickening. He’s already earned an A-list at BBC 6 Music and piqued the interest of a variety of publications, who have heralded the poignancy of its intimate narrative. Weeks now builds towards the album’s June 12 release by sharing new single Milk Breath – and continues to enchant. The song is the opening chapter of an album that documents his time as a father-to-be. He’s a figure both vital to the story and yet also somewhat removed. Milk Breath captures a tender moment in the early days of a father/son relationship, with Weeks gently singing “You’re a beginner, I’m a beginner too”. The song returns to the disarming and direct refrain, “My son, my son”, which hums like an incantation that is both assertive and unbelieving; “you’re so new I, still forget sometimes, that I’ve got you”. “This is about watching my son sleep,” explains Weeks. “When you’ve rocked him for 45 minutes and finally the wriggling has stopped and the muscles have relaxed and you put him down in slow motion and then stand, without breathing for another 20 minutes praying that he’s asleep.” In these moments, the singer says, “A cracked twig in the street below is like a slammed cutlery drawer. A car alarm half a mile away might as well be in the room with you. But your baby is asleep and at peace and slowly you are too.” There’s a serene beauty to the track, thanks to its minimalist pianos and shuffling beats, while Weeks’ vocal delivery is suitably hushed, so as not to wake the baby! But it transports you to some magical memories of your own time in the early days of fatherhood [or motherhood], holding that little bundle of joy in your arms and feeling that sense of elation married with trepidation about being ready. It’s a beautiful listen.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 15, 2020

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

Howie Payne

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: HOWIE PAYNEFASTER THAN LIGHT: Ex-Stands frontman Howie Payne has dropped his new EP, In Dreams, which is led off by stomping new single Faster Than Light. A guitar-driven epic, this has elements of blues (and a self conscious Albert King vibe) with something glam-meets-Oasis thrown in. There’s a psychedelic chorus, a big sound and an anthemic feel to it that also screams back to a classic rock-driven era. Hence, it’s a celebratory, retro-laced throwback that is happy to wear its influences on its sleeve, while appealing to – potentially – a whole new army of listeners. It’s the type of offering that draws you in from the blistering guitar solo intro to its epic conclusion. Speaking about Faster Than Light, Howie notes: “Really heavy, really catchy, and loads of groove is what it is. It’s the best rock and roll song I’ve done, I mean its a pop song really, like all the best rock and roll songs – we just delivered it in a heavy package. It has my favourite lead guitar break to play at the moment, especially the intro which has a bit of an Albert King thing about it. My guitar playing has always been heavily influenced by blues, but I don’t think I’ve really put it out front so much before, so I really do dig that this one has a bit more of that about it. It’s going to be massive live, and I can’t wait to play it.” The rest of the EP draws together previous singles Into Daylight and the title track alongside another new cut, the mellow Fade Out, Fade In, which originates from a long night out on the tiles with the Gallagher brothers when Howie’s former band The Stands were out on tour with Oasis.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Two Door Cinema Club, Isolation

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUBISOLATION (JOHN LENNON COVER): Two Door Cinema Club have unveiled their cover of John Lennon’s Isolation in an effort to raise funds for Ireland’s leading social justice charity, Extern. As the UK went into enforced lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus, frontman Alex Trimble recorded a cover of the John Lennon classic at his makeshift home studio. Originally released in 1970 on Lennon’s debut solo album, John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band, Alex’s rendition of Isolation sees crooned lounge vocals floating above psych-tinged keys and woozy beats, imposed exile and isolation drawing a completely fresh approach from him as a producer and artist, bringing a poignant new meaning to the track amidst the current climate. It’s a highly stylish offering, remaining suitably reverential to the original, while drawing on elements of its own thing. Trimble’s vocal style does, however, adopt an uncanny resemblance to Lennon’s at times, which adds to the classic feel of the track. The lyrics, meanwhile, should resonate with everyone experiencing similar feelings of isolation in these virus-riddled days. All proceeds from the release will go to support Extern, Ireland’s leading social justice charity which each year enables over 20,000 people to change their lives. Money raised will help Extern to continue to be able to care for people and families who are isolated or vulnerable during these challenging times and in the months ahead. Speaking of the band’s connection to the charity, bassist Kevin Baird said: “In October 2019, I had the pleasure of visiting the Extern offices in Belfast, just a few hours before our show at The Telegraph Building. I’ve been in awe of their tremendous work ever since, in particular the life saving administering of naloxone to those in the grips of an opioid overdose. Extern work so hard to protect and provide for anyone who need it in Ireland, north and south. They literally save lives and so much more.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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LYR, Lockdown

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: LYR feat FLORENCE PUGHLOCKDOWN: Award-winning actor Florence Pugh (Little Women, Midsommar, King Lear, Black Widow) joins L Y R – Simon Armitage, Richard Walters and Patrick J Pearson – for a special setting of Armitage’s newest poem, Lockdown, recorded remotely at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the first time Florence Pugh has contributed both spoken word and vocals for a song. Proceeds from the release, out now on digital platforms via Mercury KX, will go to Refuge, a UK-based charity providing specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Written by Poet Laureate Armitage in response to the coronavirus restrictions, Lockdown moves from the outbreak of bubonic plague in Eyam, Derbyshire in the 17th Century – when a bale of cloth sent from London inadvertently brought fleas carrying the plague – to the poem Meghadūta by the Sanskrit poet Kālidāsa, which follows the legend in which an exile sends words of reassurance to his wife in the Himalayas via a passing cloud. It is predominantly spoken word but the backdrop is an evolving soundscape of global influences, from foreboding electronics to Eastern string arrangements, and moody vocalised harmonies. It’s a heady brew, which offsets a cinematic instrumental backdrop against the foreground of challenging, intelligent poetry, evocative of our times. The choice of national domestic abuse charity Refuge as beneficiary for this charity track was prompted by news of a sharp increase in demand for Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline since the UK entered lockdown on March 26, and by the themes explored in Lockdown. Armitage explained: “One subtext of the poem is the difficulty of communication during stressful situations. We have been especially conscious of the rise in domestic abuse cases and violence against women and children during the coronavirus restrictions, and all proceeds from the track will go to the charity Refuge, who we are proud to be working with.” Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of Refuge added: “Refuge is enormously thankful to Simon, Florence, Pete, Richard and Patrick for supporting our life-saving work through this exciting project. Almost one in three women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime; it is the biggest social issue facing women and girls in this country. Public support for services like ours is more important now than ever. It is critical that Refuge’s Helpline and our refuges continue to provide urgent support and safety for women and children trapped with their abusers during lockdown. Women’s lives depend on it.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mark Ronson, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: MARK RONSON feat RAISSA – I WANT TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT: Mark Ronson and Raissa have teamed up on a new song, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, an offering that was recorded in lockdown due to the coronavirus, but which is a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s 1974 song, which appeared on the Island Records album of the same name. Sharing his take on Twitter, Ronson wrote: “I bet everyone here has a song (or two, or fifteen) that they’ve been rinsing during this period. n the first few weeks, one song I couldn’t stop listening to was ‘I want to see the bright lights tonight’ by Richard and Linda Thompson. for me, it’s the ultimate song about a messy weekend night out. All the weird but wonderful human interactions that go down. Not knowing what might happen once you head out that front door. Maybe a little hookup, a good time, even a hint of danger. But whatever it is, you know you’re going to forget about the boredom and stresses of everyday life for a few hours. I imagine the reason I’ve been so drawn to this song is because I miss that all very much, I bet a lot of us do.” It’s a lower key offering than is usually associated with a Ronson production – funk free, largely beat free, and strangely, addictively bittersweet. But there’s a disarming beauty to it, as well, with Raissa’s powerful vocals striking a poignant chord, while the layered synths and beats working well to create an alternative take on the original. It comes with a video compiled of fan footage that was sent to Ronson, featuring their respective towns and cities at night. It followed a request by the producer to send in images that resonated with people and he was overwhelmed by the subsequent response. It is a beautiful compilation of images.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Biffy Clyro

BIFFY CLYROTINY INDOOR FIREWORKS: Embracing both fresh sonics and the visceral power of their roots, Biffy Clyro’s recent tracks Instant History and End Of have aimed to deliver a tantalising taster of what to expect from their ambitiously eclectic new album A Celebration of Endings. The band now build further anticipation for the album’s August 14, 2020, release by unveiling the new single Tiny Indoor Fireworks. The result is the most direct rock anthem they’ve ever written… somehow snappy, melodic and light on its feet, while feeling so natural you could imagine it was conceived in minutes. Lyrically, it’s a joyous declaration of vowing to change yourself for the better, but its key line – ‘Pray for the better days’ – has taken on a new sense of poignancy in the current coronavirus situation. The ensuing song is brash, celebratory, big and self-consciously anthemic. It’s got the same immediacy as a classic Third Eye Blind offering, while retaining that likeable sense of grandeur that has become a Biffy Clyro specialty. And who isn’t praying for better days right now? The arrival of this song certainly heralds a brighter musical soundscape.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975, Guys

THE 1975 – GUYS: Now that their album is finally out, The 1975 have dropped another track in the form of the sentimental Guys, a love letter to the band’s nearly two decades of friendship. A considered, slow burner [by their standards], Guys finds Matty Healy singing about how special the bond is between the quartet, who started performing together when they were teenagers. Calling them ‘the love of my life’ and ‘the best thing that ever happened to me’, the song takes a look back at their rise to fame and some of the hardships that ensued along the way. It recalls a rented apartment they shared early in their career and looks back on that time fondly. The 1975 actually formed in 2002 when they met at Wilmslow High School and have maintained the same line-up — just under different band names — ever since. Yet from humble beginnings, they have grown to become one of the biggest and most hip bands on the planet right now, with their fourth LP, Notes on a Conditional Form, eagerly anticipated by many. Guys may find them in reflective and self appreciative form, but it’s beautifully delivered, with a keen sense of melody, a warmth that’s undeniable (the friendship it extols could easily apply to countless friendships currently split apart by coronavirus) and a set of instrumentals that are also laidback and indie-pop (combining guitars and electronics seamlessly).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Katy Perry, Daisies

KATY PERRYDAISIES: You can always count on Katy Perry for a feisty, empowering single. And Daisies, the first taster of her forthcoming fifth album (due this summer), is up there with the best of them. Taking its cues from the likes of Roar, this is all about self-empowerment and rising above challenges. Lyrics proclaim “they tell me that I’m crazy, but don’t let them change me”, while also reflecting on her rise to the top despite being put down along the way. Further lines include “They said I’m going nowhere, tried to count me out, took those sticks and stones, showed ’em I could build a house”. It’s a fiercely determined track and one that’s sure to inspire more devotion among her legion of fans. But it’s also as anthemic as Roar, boasting plenty of soundtrack potential, as well as crossover appeal. It’s a brash, lively, feel-good pop anthem, the type of which Perry excels at. And given the doldrums we’re all in right now, this is exactly the type of musical therapy that Perry excels in delivering. It couldn’t have arrived at a better moment in time.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Haux

HAUXCALICO: Haux’s new single Calico finds the Berkshire-based songwriter grieving the loss of his aunt’s parting message. He explains: “When I was writing the album last year, I lost my phone and had forgotten to back up my voicemails. One of those recordings was my aunt calling to say happy birthday – it was one of the last times I heard from her before she died from an overdose. The loss triggered a very strange and confused grieving process as if I somehow lost my last connection to her. From this, I wrote Calico and I couldn’t help but feel like this song was maybe my last time with her — like the song itself was my aunt’s final resting place in my mind.” As you’d expect from a track born out of such sorrow, there’s a melancholy undertow to proceedings. Haux’s vocals feel haunted, despite being softly delivered. There’s a fragility to them. But underscoring them is an equally sombre acoustic guitar, reminiscent of classic Jose Gonzalez, which while certainly melancholy, also has a beguiling beauty to it. Hence, the track is a thought-provoking, poignant and strangely reassuring listen that, once it reaches its dramatic conclusion, even has a sense of closure and optimism about it. It’s a highly affecting listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lil Skies, Riot

LIL SKIESRIOT: Some questionable lyrics aside (the over-use of the ‘N’ word, for example), Lil Skies has released his latest official single Riot and succeeds in delivering the type of hip hop offering that boasts crossover potential. Built around throbbing, intermittent beats and a teasing synth loop, the track finds Lil Skies analysing the perils of celebrity and the attitudes to life it can entail. Hence, while certainly celebratory in places, there are also confessional moments that find the rapper seemingly decrying the darker elements of fame. But there’s also an uneven mix of moods – the nods towards sex, whores, bling and stupidity sometimes emerging more like put downs from a power perspective, or brags, than anything really meaningful. Yet, in spite of some of its more unsavoury elements, there’s an overall vibe that feels potentially cinematic – making this a soundtrack pleasing offering that could yet provide Lil Skies with one of his biggest hits yet.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kehli, Believe It

KEHLIBELIEVE IT: With the original release of her breakthrough single Believe It proving to be a huge radio hit in her home country of Ireland, with nearly 10 million radio impacts across stations such as iRadio, RTE 2FM, Spin 103.8, FM104 and many more in the last few months, Kehli has now returned to unveil the new official video for the track. Speaking about the video, Kehli saidL “The concept of the music video is around the song which is about a little love story – the music is really upbeat with a bit of disco so the video has a lot of energy to it. We had some amazing dancers in it and you get to see me dance a bit and let go. You see me just having fun times with my friends in the club, which I loved.” The ensuing video has an infectious energy and keen sense of fun to it, as well as something provocative and sexy at times. But it’s all in keeping with the steadfastly dance-pop vibe, which has a Capital FM-style feel to it. The beats are pop-lite, the dance elements generic and dance-floor focused. Kehli drops a powerhouse vocal. But while this certainly raises the temperature on the dancefloor, it’s also fairly familiar for this kind of thing.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Grey Daze, Soul Song

GREY DAZESOUL SONG: Grey Daze, the Phoenix-based rock band that birthed one of the most recognizable voices in modern rock music, Chester Bennington, have released a fourth single, Soul Song, and an accompanying video, which was directed by Bennington’s son, Jaime. The track, as its name suggests, has a soulful element born from the tragedy that doubtless inspired it. It’s packed with religious imagery, though, with emotive lyrics such as “Freedom rain, God has come, the rivers of blood, pushed back in my veins, she sleeps with her eyes closed”, and impassioned vocals delivering them. It’s anguished yet hopeful, soul-searching yet optimistic of finding peace. And it’s delivered in a style that bands like Linkin Park would be proud of – with some crunching guitar riffs breaking up some of the more sombre, thought-provoking moments and lending the song surges of power. Commenting on the involvement of Chester’s son, Jaime, in the video, Grey Daze co-founder and drummer Sean Dowdell said: “Having Jaime involved in the recording of Soul Song meant so much to all of us. It was one of those full circle moments where we remembered meeting Chester at an even younger age than Jaime, and to now be recording with his son… it was a highlight of recording Amends. Jamie is a burgeoning filmmaker so when he offered to do this video, well, we couldn’t think of a better way to present this song.” Jaime Bennington explained his vision for the video: “This music video is about my spiritual connection to the other side and my literal experiences with the elusive and, at times, incomprehensible presence of my father after death. Soul Song is about the many ways in which we come to enlightenment, into knowledge, and the many ways we fall away from it. This is my personal experience with that.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jeremy Tuplin

JEREMY TUPLINSPACE MAGIC: Space-folk pioneer Jeremy Tuplin is back with Violet Waves, an album comprised of 12 new transmissions exploring love, the ensuing apocalypse of our habitat and all that exists beyond. The first broadcast is Space Magic, which offers listeners a gravity-less, lsd-infused soundscape, in which the fleeting stroke of the chimes imitates the fall of stardust from above. It’s designed to offer an outer-worldly, ethereal experience, courtesy of its future-pop elements and its hazy brand of folk. Tuplin’s vocals are suitably restrained and more than a little out there, channelling Space Odyssey Bowie in some ways. While the fuzzy guitars and blip-led electronics create something of a space-themed vibe. It’s a distinct, oddly relaxing listen that also boasts some pretty big themes. “The song is about finding the fascinating in the everyday,” Tuplin explains. “I guess I use the term ‘magic’ loosely in a scientific way, and mostly focus on the very grandiose Space Magic, but through nature and anything from planet formation to the human mind, your neighbour’s overhanging wild rose or that piece of toast you’re eating for breakfast, it’s all pretty magical.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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LANY, Good Guys

LANYGOOD GUYS: Lany return with Good Guys and its accompanying video, the first single to be released from the trio’s forthcoming third album Mama’s Boy, due out on Polydor Records later this year – and their first new music since 2018’s Malibu Nights. A pop offering, this has propulsive beats and slick synths with a keen sense of melody – and yet it’s a somewhat bittersweet track that laments the fact that the good guys of the title never win. “As soon as you say ‘I love spending time with you’ to someone, they figure something out and they’re not interested anymore,” says frontman Paul Klein of the song’s meaning. “It’s like a challenge. You accomplish the task of getting someone to like you and they move on.” The sense of rejection, or even being stuck in that ‘friends zone’, will probably resonate with anyone that’s ever been there… as it can be self-defeating. And yet in spite of the feelings of dejection it brings, Lany have found a way to bring something positive, the pop leanings of the track offering some kind of toe-tapping reassurance for the duration the track is on.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 8, 2020

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

Weezer, Hero

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: WEEZERHERO: It’s taken a while but Weezer finally unveil another taster from their Van Weezer LP, albeit with some bad news attached. The new single, Hero, is another barnstormer and a real shot in the arm for fans amid the coronavirus lockdown. But that same virus has also brought about a delay… the release of Van Weezer has had to be pushed back due to the pandemic. A statement from the band reads: “As you know, Corona has put a crimp in many well-laid plans. Van Weezer has been no exception. And because we don’t want to give another release date until we’re absolutely sure of it, we’ll just say “stay tuned for more info.” Staying with the positive, Hero is a lively rock opera that examines the notion of heroism, as seen through the eyes of a child and then an adult. It’s got ridiculously over-sized, ’80s leaning glam-rock guitar moments, a skyscraping chorus and the type of vibe that Bill & Ted would be proud of. But it’s also lyrically honest, subverting expectations of what it means to be a hero in the classic sense. The chorus, for instance, declares: “Everybody needs a hero but I’m not everybody else, I walk alone”. The honesty comes from lines like this: “They build you up and then they’re gonna tear you down, they love you then they hate you if you wear a crown, it’s not that I don’t love to solve a mystery, but life is hard enough with one identity.” It’s another cracker of a record – intelligent and fun; Weezer at their rousing best. And there was an addition to the Weezer statement, which adds a further element of joy. So, here it is: “In the meantime, we’re working hard on getting you all the new Weezer you can handle, including music and more surprises getting announced later this week!” The track itself has also been dedicated to “the stay at home dreamers, the zoom graduators, the sourdough bakers, and the essential workers”.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cold War Kids, 1 x 1

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: COLD WAR KIDS feat WESLEY SCHULTZ – 1 X 1: Cold War Kids, together with Wesley Schultz (of The Lumineers), have delivered a powerful and moving new song in the form of 1 × 1 – a track with real social relevance and meaning. “This song was inspired by the stories of child migrants separated from their families at the border,” explains singer Nathan Willett. “Now that we are all quarantined, it has taken on an extra meaning… One by one each of us are staying apart to help the whole of us.” The track is delivered in a stripped back, acoustic form, which allows Willett’s heartfelt and impassioned vocals to genuinely resonate and get his message across. And while the song was written with a very particular meaning in mind, it’s relevance has grown immeasurably given the current global situation. The vocal layering supplied by the presence of Schultz also contributes to a genuinely rousing back-end to the track, which is further enhanced by some subtle string arrangements. It’s a brilliant, timely track from an always excellent band. Cold War Kids have also shared some of the lyrics on Twitter to convey more of their message (click on the Twitter link below).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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St Lundi, Ruin

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: ST LUNDIRUIN: There’s something very Coldplay-like about St Lundi’s new single, Ruin, his follow up to debut single You’ve Got The Wrong Guy, which has gone on to amass more than 250k streams since the end of March. Just as he did with that single, St Lundi – aka 22-year-old troubadour Archie Langley – invests his new single with an emotional depth that’s both inspiring and heart-breaking. Inspired by things like miscommunication and working to save a relationship, this is honest, thoughtful and – ultimately – hopeful, while simultaneously reflecting on the failings that almost cost the relationship in the first place. The vocals are powerful and moving, with more than a passing resemblance to Chris Martin during the chorus, while the hushed back-beats, folk guitars and atmospheric electronics provide a rousing backdrop, which builds as the song reaches its soaring conclusion. Archie explains: “Miscommunication can often lead to confusion. This song is a take on how two people in love are on the brink of breaking down as a result of not doing something that seems so simple to most, talking. This story represents the moment of realisation when one pleads with the other to speak about the troubles they both face or risk letting what they have built go to ruin.” It’s beautifully hopeful and genuinely moving. And the Coldplay comparisons are a good thing.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Declan J Donovan

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: DECLAN J DONOVANTANGERINE SKIES: Declan J Donovan has shared the fun official video for his upbeat new single Tangerine Skies, out now Polydor Records. With plans for the rising Essex singer-songwriter’s original video shoot scuppered due to the worldwide lockdown, Donovan took matters into his own hands, armed with little more than a green screen and a camera. The resulting clip is an escapist, tongue-in-cheek trip around the world from the comfort of his living room. And while highly amusing, it’s also a fantastic reminder of some of the world’s beauty, from surf spots to the Pyramids, via the African plains to Pisa. It’s the perfect remedy to being locked down. The song, too, has a sunshine positivity about it, shot through with catchy hooks, sing-along choruses and a feel-good vibe that’s utterly infectious. The acoustic guitar hooks power the song really well, as do the toe-tapping beats, while Donovan’s vocals are warmly delivered to bring out the positivity inherent in those tangerine sky-filled lyrics. “Tangerine Skies is a song about reconnecting with people you were once really close to, and realising that you’re growing up and wanting one last summer of being carefree with your friends,” explained Donovan. The new track comes after rousing recent single Fighting With Myself and the Homesick EP, a confessional collection of seven tracks including tender singles Vienna and Pieces, new numbers Anymore (which hit No.1 on the Shazam Discovery chart) and I’ll Be There Love along with the stirring title track, an ode to Declan’s hometown.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dust In The Sunlught, Strangest Places

DUST IN THE SUNLIGHTSTRANGEST PLACES: Following on from the release of their impressive eponymous debut single earlier this Spring, Dust In The Sunlight return with their follow-up Strangest Places – and continue to make a good impression. Continuing their bold yet intimate aesthetic, this new offering sees the pair couple with a wistfully played piano alongside euphoric drums and brooding basslines, resulting in a warm and uplifting new release. And yet there’s something wistful and cinematic about it, too, courtesy of lines such as “we find ourselves in the strangest places”. There’s something late night and surreal about the vibe, which adds a certain mystery and intensity… you want to find out more about the strangeness the duo are singing about. Commenting on the track, the pair said: “The idea behind Strangest Places came from quotes that we both used as mantras… Billy’s was ‘No matter where you go, here you are’, which was scrawled on a wall in his flat in Southend after a party. Annie’s was ‘You are your own home’, from a diary entry written years before. We realised these ideas worked in tandem with each other and they became the song’s chorus. It’s about following your sense of adventure, even if you feel lost. Learning to let go and find peace within yourself, without being tied to any particular place or time.” It’s food for thought, intelligent and strangely reassuring once you get to grips with its overall meaning. Dust In The Sunlight look set to become a genuinely fascinating new act.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Liimo, Raincheck

LIIMORAINCHECK: Edinburgh natives Liimo (meaning a little bit more) release their new single Raincheck and succeed in bringing some alt-pop cheer to the week’s new offerings. Opening with bright plucky guitar and lead singer Kieran O’Brien’s evocative and subtle vocals, the track cascades into a chorus filled with a huge synth riff and an undeniable hook. It’s a little indie, it’s a little electro and it’s definitely alternative, capable of appealing to fans of acts like The Chainsmokers and Kodaline, as well as something a little edgier. The chorus, in particular, has a big, sing-along and even cheeky quality to it, courtesy of that livewire synth hook and lyrics that suggest “call off the plans, say we can’t make it, let’s stay inside, yeah, let’s get naked”. And hey, who knows, there are people now who may find this the best thing to do while under lockdown! Speaking about the track, Liimo said: “Raincheck is about making more time for the person you really should be making time for. The daily traffic of life throws up so many obstacles that you end up losing out on moments for just the two of you. Raincheck says, ‘F**k it, let’s stay in and get a takeaway. We actually wrote this before the Covid-19 outbreak and although it wasn’t exactly planned, it might just turn into an anthem for staying indoors – something we’re all very used to by now!” Amen to that!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ellen Krauss, No Talk

ELLEN KRAUSS – NO TALK: Rising Swedish pop artist Ellen Krauss shares her new single No Talk, which finds her opening up sonically since the more stripped back and acoustic aesthetic of her recent offering Silver Spoon. This new track finds her returning to her bold and vibrant alt-pop ways. With a smooth and sweeping production, coupled with her own soaring vocals, No Talk brings out the more uplifting side to her personality with its bright and euphoric atmosphere, coming complete with a searching set of vocals that ask: “Tell me all the ways to love you.” There’s also a sense of yearning in the vocals, especially when they hit the sweeping chorus. But this is nicely offset by something a little more brooding in the build-ups. The inclusion of a subtle violin arrangement also works well, while the beats are similarly low-key and atmospheric. It’s a stylish offering. Speaking about the song, Ellen said: “No Talk is about ignoring the fear of getting it wrong for a minute, and just letting yourself be swept away. It’s okay to seize the moment even though you have no clue what you’re doing. You can make up your own rules. I think it’s like that for a lot of people and especially in the LGBTQ-community. There’s no handbook on how to do things, you have to navigate on your own.” At just 19-years-old, Krauss has already received praise from some of the world’s biggest musical icons, such as super producer Max Martin and pop star Carly Rae Jepsen, and been awarded the Rookie Artist of the Year at the Denniz Pop Awards in Sweden, as voted for by a panel including pop sensations Tove Lo and Laleh. Her debut EP, First Take, which was released in November, has already amassed over 12 million streams.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tatum, Bloodsport

TATUMBLOODSPORT: Bloodsport, the emotive new single from Tatum, paints a vivid picture of the pitfalls of love and how, when a relationship comes to an explosive and painful end, it can ultimately destroy both people. That love in turn becomes a ‘Bloodsport’, because it cannot exist without a huge amount of pain, and so it becomes a sort of disastrous art. The provocative take on such a relationship is delivered in a suitably edgy, brooding style, with Tatum on husky vocal form (as if to accentuate the pained emotions at play). But there’s also a moody set of instrumentals underpinning it, providing a cinematic backdrop. There are times, elsewhere, though, when the instrumentals are momentarily stripped right back to allow for some vocal harmonising and layering, which only makes the ideas at play more striking. Overall, the track cleverly feeds into a Lana Del Rey-like melancholia of seeing the beauty in heartbreak. “Bloodsport compares love to an epic battle where both parties walk away injured and bloody. All love comes at a cost and there is always a devastating end to love whether it’s through a break-up or death, love always ends painfully,” Tatum explains when questioned about the song’s core narrative.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Charli XCX, I Finally Understand

CHARLI XCX – I FINALLY UNDERSTAND: Charli XCX drops another offering from isolation in the form of the garage-influenced I Finally Understand. And it’s a hopeful record, chronicling her relationship with her boyfriend and how being isolated together has brought them closer to together… despite being on the brink. Hence, while there’s a lot of self-reflection contained within the lyrics, there’s also a feeling of relief and redemption. The time spent together has proved healing. It’s a meaning that Charli confirmed to Zane Lowe, when talking about the new track on his Apple Beats 1 programme. She explained: “The song is basically about [how] me and my boyfriend are quarantined together during this time. I’m conscious that I’ve spoken about this a lot and I don’t want people to be like, ‘Shut up about your boyfriend.’ [But] I’m writing about what I know, and we’re quarantined together, and our relationship wasn’t in a brilliant place prior to quarantine. I’m not going to say ‘at the end of the road’, but close to it — we were living on separate sides of the country, and even though we were physically far apart, we were emotionally quite distant as well. I’m extremely lucky that [quarantine] has brought us physically close together — because now we’re living in the same house — but also emotionally, and I finally understand that this person is somebody who I can trust with my life and I will have my security and protection at the front point of their heart no matter what. So, that’s what it’s about, very emo.” The garage influence is a surprise, lending it a harder pop vibe than normal. But it somehow works in making the track instrumentally addictive, as well as lyrically revealing. Charli’s quarantine LP, How I’m Feeling Now, is released this Friday (May 15, 2020).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Paul Weller, Village

PAUL WELLERVILLAGE: Village is the second new track to be debuted from Paul Weller’s hotly anticipated new album On Sunset, which will be released on June 19, 2020. The track is a dreamy meditation sung from the decidedly un-rock’n’roll perspective of a man who is entirely happy with his state in life. “It’s a response to being told that we’ve all got to explore the Amazon and climb Everest to make our lives complete,” says Weller. “And there’s a guy who says, f*ck all that, I’ve got heaven around me.” In that sense, it’s a song about contentment and being happy with where you are in life, as opposed to chasing everyone else’s idea of happiness. In the main, it’s delivered with upbeat melodies, a laidback vocal (“I don’t need all the things you got”) and some trademark guitar solos. But there’s also something vaguely psychedelic undercutting certain points, adding some interesting layering to keep the listener on their toes. But as a song about feeling content with home, it’s also highly timely, speaking to a locked down nation that the world around them can be just as comforting and inspiring as the world they’re no longer able to reach.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bright Lights Bright Lights, Sensation

BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT AND JAKE SHEARSSENSATION: Bright Light Bright Light has joined forces with Scissor Sisters-founder and global LGBTQ+ music trailblazer Jake Shears on high-octane new song Sensation. Written initially about the euphoria of meeting someone (friend, lover, etc) you instantly connect with while in a fractured and divided world, the song’s meaning feels amplified when viewed through the lens of the current health crisis. But while designed to deliver an empowering message, it’s also clear that it’s intention is to make you dance. There’s a disco-pop vibe, with added glam elements, that combines classic Bright Light Bright Light traits with elements of both Scissor Sisters and Pet Shop Boys. And while that also makes it a little kitsch in place, and 80s leaning in others (especially over the chorus), those that get their musical kicks from any of those acts will be duly pleased. Sensation is a cut off his forthcoming album Fun City (out September 18, 2020, on his own label YSKWN!, in partnership with Megaforce Records and The Orchard), which will serve as not only a stellar collection of expertly crafted ’80s-inspired dance-pop, but also as a musical love letter to the LGBTQ+ community.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jason Mraz

JASON MRAZWISE WOMAN: Jason Mraz accentuates the reggae vibe for new single Wise Woman, an ode to Mother Earth and the love and nourishment that comes from women. Mraz explained further in a statement. “Wise Woman focuses on a herb garden, a small example of Mother Earth’s ability to provide sustenance and healing. A ‘Wise Woman’ is also a title given to an elder who has spent years working with plants and teaches others her wise ways, opening our eyes to the gifts of the natural world for a brighter and healthier future.” As a result, the track exudes a feeling of positivity, courtesy of that head-nodding Caribbean vibe and Mraz’s trademark laidback vocal style. The lyrics, meanwhile, aim to highlight the importance of both Mother Earth and women in general, with pearls such as “She’s a real wise woman, with so much love to give, she gives so much ‘cause she stays in touch with what her truest nature is, she’s a green garden goddess / She is the universe”. It’s the type of track that Bob Marley would be proud of. The track is the first taster of Look For The Good, the new LP from Mraz, which is heading for release later this year, and which features guest spots from actor Tiffany Haddish and Jamaican reggae icon Sister Carol.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Alex the Astronaut

ALEX THE ASTRONAUTLOST: A song about feeling lost is exactly the type of track that resonates at the moment, as the world remains in lockdown. But Alex the Astronaut, aka Alex Lynn, has decided to do this by adding a bright pop sheen to proceedings, with snappy beats, headrush choruses and a firecracker guitar riff. Hence, while the lyrics explore uncertainty and insecurity, there is also a sense of hope in embracing the knowledge that you can’t always be in control – and that message is particularly relevant to a world currently grappling with those feelings, while having to realise that a pandemic has taken so much away from their control. Hence, Lost is infectious, breezy and more than a little thought-provoking. Commenting on the track herself, Alex said: “Lost is about trying to find your way and fix everything, and the moment where you’ve exhausted all options and have to accept the fact that there is so much that is completely out of your control: sometimes you will just feel lost. The song is pivoted around a moment of change when someone is walking new ground and they really don’t know what’s to come. For me it’s one of those “one goes out, one comes in” times when you lose what you hoped things would be like but you get to move through a different world that maybe will show you something you didn’t know you would see.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hayley Williams

HAYLEY WILLIAMSDEAD HORSE: Grammy Award-winning artist Hayley Williams has finally released her critically-acclaimed 15-track debut solo album, Petals For Armor, through Atlantic Records, and to celebrate, she’s also dropped the official video for one of its singles, Dead Horse. And while you may have been anticipating something set at home and fairly basic, this is much wider in spectrum, featuring Hayley donning various outfits and hairstyles, as well as moods. She’s also staring into mirrors a lot. It’s eye-catching and colourful and a bit of a pick-me-up, in keeping with the general vibe of the track itself. Dead Horse has arguably the most in common with her day job with Paramore, given its harder pop sensibility and vibe that’s not dissimilar to classic No Doubt. A mid-track breakdown into “ya ya ya” melodies is a classic case in point, combining sunshine positivity with a sunshine reggae vibe and a celebratory feel. Hayley is clearly having fun singing this one and the track has an infectious, sing-along quality. Commenting on the album herself, Hayley said: “Petals For Armor is very special to me and it encapsulates a moment in time that I am always going to hold dear. I learned a lot of lessons writing this album… some of them I am still learning. I wrestled with my rage, defeated apathy, and felt the full spectrum of my femininity. My stubborn heart softened up to let out rotted feelings and other feelings grew. I even fell (not dove) deeply in love, in spite of the fear that love could be hopeless. Don’t be fooled though, I am still a fantastical mess!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 1, 2020

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

HAIM

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: HAIM – I KNOW ALONE: You can always rely on HAIM to deliver something to brighten the day – and their music has never been more needed! The BRIT and Grammy-nominated Southern Californian sisters have now released I Know Alone from their highly anticipated forthcoming album, Women In Music Pt. III (Polydor Records). With its wild collage of warped vocal samples and 808 beats combined with wobbly cello notes and stark acoustic guitar, I Know Alone replicates a certain sense of emotional unrest from feelings of loneliness. While the song was originally inspired by the band’s feelings of loneliness after coming home from tour, I Know Alone and its lyrics – such as “been a couple days since I’ve been out” and “’cause nights turn into days that turn to grey” – now take on a whole new meaning in today’s world as so many of us stay home and practice social distancing. Hence, the track has unexpectedly become something of an anthem for anyone experiencing similar sentiments. But thanks to those beats and samples, and the glorious harmonies contained within the vocals, it’s not a depressing listen. Rather, there’s something bittersweet and beautiful about it – it’ll make you think, agree and want to join in the dance (as evidence by the video). Indeed, in tandem with the song, Haim have shared a stark, yet precisely choregraphed video directed remotely by Jake Schreier (Chance The Rapper, Kanye West, Selena Gomez). The band co-choreographed the video with Francis Farewell Starlite. We love you HAIM!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Milky Chance and Jack Johnson, Don't Let Me Down

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MILKY CHANCE feat JACK JOHNSONDON’T LET ME DOWN: Another of this week’s sunshine anthems geared towards bringing some cheer amid the gloom comes from Milky Chance with special guest Jack Johnson. The result is the bright and breezy Don’t Let Me Down – a song that embodies free flowing pop melodies with that acoustic campfire groove that Johnson specialises in. It’s a daydream of a collaboration, playing to the strengths of both artists, while sending out the type of mission statement that the whole world needs to hear right now – from those who may feel tempted to easing their own lockdowns to the world leaders desperate to take their foot off the break. The central motif of “don’t let me down” applies to one and all to do their bit. But it’s also a personal song about being there for those special people in your life, delivered with warm acoustic hooks and toe-tapping back-beats. It’s tailor-made to put a smile on your face. Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch, of Milky Chance, commented: “We’ve been listening to Jack Johnson‘s music since we were teenagers and even played his songs with friends and our first band projects back then. We met him for the first time in 2018 at a festival in Switzerland and then again at Sea.Hear.Now Festival in the US when he came and invited us to jam in the dressing room. It’s been a real honor working together with him on this song and we cannot wait to share it with the world.” Johnson himself added: “You end up crossing paths with a lot of great musicians while out on the road. If you’re lucky those encounters lead to friendships which lead to creating music. That’s how it was with the Milky Chance crew. Putting out a new song with some new friends is always exciting.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kodaline, Saving Grace

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: KODALINESAVING GRACE: Kodaline have confirmed that they will release their new album, One Day At A Time, on June 12, 2020. Ahead of that, they release their latest single Saving Grace and succeed in raising anticipation higher. An anthem for these troubled, coronavirus riddled times, the song is designed as an expression of optimism and vulnerability, with Steve Garrigan’s soulful topline complemented by the band’s uplifting choral vocal harmonies. Indeed, there’s something decidedly Coldplay-ish about the towering chorus, that feels like a big musical hug. But the verses are equally appealing thanks to a decidedly toe-tapping finger-click back-beat. To hear it, is to love it. Kodaline commented: “Saving Grace is a song about that special person in your life that is there for you no matter what. It’s a song that means a lot to all of us, as we all rely on people in our personal lives to be there and support us though the high and lows of our career.” For those reaching out to support the ones they love during these times of isolation – be it via a video call, a home shopping delivery, or just a hug at the end of an anxious day if you’re living together – this is an empowering, beautiful song for our times.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Matt Costa

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: MATT COSTAAVENAL: We’ve long been fans of Matt Costa, right back to his Mobile Chateau days and beyond. His return is cause for more celebration. Avenal is the first taster from his new album, Yellow Coat (due for release on September 12 on Dangerbird Records) and it’s a gem. Built around a really warm acoustic guitar hook, an effortlessly laidback central vocal and a highly addictive finger-click beat, this is a daydream of a record that eases you into a relaxed state of mind despite some of the more sombre feelings behind it (the songs were inspired by the end of a relationship). However, with lyrics that declare “it’s alright, cause tonight, there’s a feather falling on my street, there’s a glow of the lights giving me hope that you’ll be by my side”, it initially feels like a genuinely upbeat ode to love that feels perfect for offering some kind of reassurance and happiness during these worrying times. The guitar hook is absolutely irresistible. And those beats are just brilliantly delivered that they work so well in tandem with the track as a whole. It’s a song that just doesn’t put a foot wrong… and one that leaves you thirsting to hear more of what Costa has cooked up for his next LP. Yellow Coat takes inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh’s Dear Theo and John Steinbeck’s A Life in Letters, Costa writing letters to himself about the end of a relationship that had lasted almost a decade. Produced by Alex Newport (At the Drive-In, Death Cab For Cutie, Bleached), the songs within are stamped with the honesty and intimacy of something not meant to be heard. “I think every other record that I’ve written, I wrote knowing that the songs would have an outlet,” Costa says. “And for this one, I really didn’t. It was just a process I was going through, clearing myself of these feelings and thoughts.” The album is described as offering equal parts lost ‘60s AM radio hits, folk-pop beauty and dark night of the soul music. We can’t wait.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Beoga

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: BEOGA WITH LISSIE – IN A ROCKET: Fresh from releasing their new single In A Rocket (which has been added to the Radio 2 playlist), which features vocals from Lissie and was co-written by James Bay, Beoga now share the track’s uplifting new video. The video depicts the many creative and unusual ways in which the band as well as their family, friends and fans have kept boredom at bay during lockdown. It’s centred around adorable footage of Beoga’s Eamon Murray helping his daughter build a rocket and play at being an astronaut, while Lissie and Ed Sheeran (and his cat Calippo) make cameos. The In A Rocket video celebrates togetherness. Those of us who are separated can find ways to come together, while those of us who are cooped up with loved ones can make the most of the situation. As its concluding quote from Seamus Heaney states, “If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere”. The song itself is an uplifting slice of country-pop that drops some cracking guitar, brash hand-clap beats, breezy violins and upbeat, optimistic vocals that really come alive during the empowering chorus. It’s a song that’s designed to make you feel good about yourself and the ones you love – and it’s an infectious delight. The visual was directed by Billy Cummings, whose previous credits include extensive contributions to the Ed Sheeran documentary Songwriter. In A Rocket previews Beoga’s new mini-album Carousel, which follows on May 22, 2020, and is the third track to preview following Matthew’s Daughter (featuring Devin Dawson) and Make A Mark (featuring Ryan McMullan).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Indie Allstars, Chasing Rainbows

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: INDIE ALLSTARSCHASING RAINBOWS 2020 (NHS TRIBUTE): The NHS is a gift to everyone in Britain, looking after us and always there. The Covid19 pandemic has proved how essential they are and funding cuts need to be addressed. Stoke-on-Trent DJ Terry Bossons wanted to thank them by the power of music. The rainbow has been the symbol of the NHS, so the song Chasing Rainbows by Shed Seven is a fitting tribute. Terry asked Rick Witter of Shed Seven to get involved with the video project and without hesitation he jumped onboard. It’s a bit of fun for a serious cause, a lockdown video with a difference! Next, a crescendo of indie music royalty joined the fold: Nigel Clark and Matthew Priest (Dodgy), Clint Boon (Inspiral Carpets), Gary Powell (The Libertines), John Power (Cast), Keith Mullin (The Farm), Chris Helme (Seahorses), Dave McCabe (The Zutons), Alan McGee (Creation Records), Baz (The Fratellis), Ryan & Jack Dooley (All The Young), Alfie (Holloways), Matt Bowman (Pigeon Detectives), Johnny Dean (Menswear), Leon Meya (Northern Uproar), James McColl (The Supernaturals), Rikki Turner (Paris Angels), Billy Bibby (Catfish and the Bottlemen) teamed up with radio royalty Mark Radcliffe and Eddy Temple-Morris (plus a few surprise guests) to make this happen in just seven days. To donate to the UHNM (University Hospitals of The North Midlands Charity) to fund equipment, facilities and research to enhance the care of patients in hospital please click on the website link below. Every penny you donate will go to the NHS. The song itself is an enduring classic, albeit delivered in a raw DIY form by all of the assembled artists. But the guitar solo is a highlight and it’s terrific to see so many familiar faces getting together for such a great cause and in such a short space of time. It’s a life-affirming recording and video.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tommy Ashby, One Word

TOMMY ASHBYONE WORD: Scottish singer-songwriter Tommy Ashby releases his enchanting new single One Word via Wow and Flutter Records. Produced by double Grammy Award winning producer Sam Okell, the track is the first single to be released from Tommy’s fourth EP scheduled for release Summer 2020. It opens with delicate guitar turns and builds with a subtle percussive beat and gentle piano chords, creating something that’s, by turns, beautiful and intimate. Lyrically, Tommy’s upbeat vocal describes a defining phase of a relationship, with an optimistic outlook carried forward with a buoyant, melodic backing vocal. The track was co-written with Tom Havelock (Sub Focus, Matrix, Futurebound). It also came about when Tommy found a tiny, bashed up guitar in the corner of his studio and wrote the guitar elements on the few remaining strings. It’s a quietly empowering listen (“one word and everything can change”), which becomes more and more optimistic the longer it lasts, and the instrumental layering really kicks in. Indeed, by the time it reaches its layered climax, there’s something genuinely crowd-pleasing and anthemic about it. Tommy commented: “I am a serial overthinker and procrastinator; my every decision is overanalysed, and any wrong one leaves me in a guilt-ridden mess. I think this is a pretty common feeling made more prevalent by social media and the pressure to have a ‘successful’ modern life. This song is an attempt to show the other side of the coin – there is a point at the start of all relationships where you kinda need to be vulnerable, say something honest and hope the person doesn’t laugh at you. The tune ends on an uplifting vibe, it tries to capture the point where you are so comfortable with someone that you can say anything and it’ll be ok – a happy place :)” Mission accomplished. It’s very inspiring.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marshmello and Halsey, Be Kind

MARSHMELLO AND HALSEY – BE KIND: There’s a lot of positivity surrounding this week’s singles releases and Marshmello’s collaboration with Halsey is no exception. Be Kind, like its name suggests, is designed to bring some reassurance to the emotionally vulnerable. And while it acknowledges that such vulnerability can take those who suffer from it to some dark places, the chorus attempts to offer that reassurance that it’s OK to be vulnerable with the ones you love. The chorus, for instance, drops lyrics such as “I don’t know why you hide from the one, and close your eyes to the one, mess up and lie to the one that you love, when you know that you can cry to the one, always confide in the one, you can be kind to the one that you love”. Marshmello supplies the headrush synths and lively back-beats, while Halsey drops those trademark sultry lyrics – tapping into both a sense of vulnerability and a feeling of empowerment once she delivers the song’s main sentiments. It’s a song with a positive message that, again, feels very timely.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Brijs, Glitra

BRIJSGLITRA: Indie-pop artist, producer and composer Brijs shares his new single Glitra and immediately radiates a warm sense of electro-pop positivity. With its giddy melodies, lovely chorus and optimistic sentiments, Glitra is a shimmering slice of song-making that reminds us of just how great Brijs can be. Indeed, the track is Brijs’ first outing as an artist for some time, having worked predominantly as a composer in recent times. You may have heard Brijs’ work on numerous award-winning film and TV projects for the BFI, BBC and Channel 4, as well as commissions for Mario Testino, Rankin, Kurt Geiger and Liu Jo. His talents as a songwriter and producer have also landed him upcoming collaborations with artists including Will Joseph Cook, Girli and Indian Askin. Indeed, that cinematic association is reflected in the new song’s art-house, coming-of-age movie vibe. Brijs describes it, himself, as an “unashamed love song to friendship”. Elaborating further, he said: “It’s about the pursuit of yourself and your values in your mid-20s. All of the things you hear about coming of age are usually about your teens. That’s still true, but we stay younger for longer now. Your mid-20s is when you start thinking, feeling and living independently. That’s when you really start to grow into adulthood and look at friendship, relationships and ambitions differently.” What’s more, Glitra offers the first, tantalising insight into the new material Brijs has been working on for a new album. Glitra is the title track from his debut album, due for release later this year. The record was crafted over a two-year period following the artist’s decision to leave London and return to the countryside near where he grew up. In search of a much-needed opportunity to recalibrate and re-assess his direction, he took up a property guardianship of a dilapidated Victorian mansion called Cecil Court. The house become home to a newly formed group of friends who spent an idyllic chapter together as an inseparable gang – walking, river swimming, partying, and making music. This time creates the narrative backbone of the album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Brijs · Glitra

Oasis, Don't Stop

OASISDON’T STOP: You know the world has turned upside down when Oasis release a ‘new’ track. Or rather, have the time to find an undiscovered one. Noel Gallagher happened upon a demo of a song called Don’t Stop while sorting through boxes of old CDs during the coronavirus lockdown. “Like the rest of the world, I’ve had infinite time to kill lately so I thought I’d finally look and find out what was actually on the HUNDREDS of faceless unmarked CDs I’ve got lying around in boxes at home,” he said on social media. Don’t Stop was never worked up into a full studio recording and the only previous recording was made at a soundcheck in Hong Kong “about 15 years ago”. But undeterred, Gallagher dusted it off and made it available to fans because the lyrics resonated, featuring lines such as “Don’t stop being happy, Don’t stop your clapping, Don’t stop your laughing, Take a piece of life”. They are lyrics that resonate with what’s going on, while delivering a welcome reminder of just how great Oasis really were. The song is a stripped back acoustic ballad that shares plenty of the same DNA as many of their lower key classics, such as Stop Crying Your Heart Out. It’s anthemic without being bombastic and showcases the more sensitive side to the songwriting brothers. Now, what about a post-coronavirus reunion?
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jimmy Eat World, Call To Love

JIMMY EAT WORLD feat BETHANY COSENTINOCALL TO LOVE: Jimmy Eat World have released their cover of Crooked Fingers’ Call To Love. The song features Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino and is a lively reinterpretation of the song, which boasts highly resonant lyrics about celebrating love. Amid the coronavirus health crisis, this type of message has never been more important. The collaboration originally performed the song to conclude their special livestream on April 17 and it proved so popular among fans that they decided to release the track for a wider audience to enjoy. And I have to admit to not having heard the original until listening to this version. But upon hearing both, I have to confess to enjoying this even more – the brisk, lively guitar riffs really jumping out at you and infusing the track with a tremendous energy. The vocal collaboration also works really well, with Cosentino adding a nice energy on her own terms. It’s a celebratory record that feels perfect for revisiting.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Childe, Bad Ideas

CHILDEBAD IDEAS: Childe has dropped his debut single Bad Ideas via PIAS and immediately shows plenty of promise. The track cleverly blends some fuzzy, R’n‘B influenced harmonies with soulful vocals that really take flight over the chorus. Early on, the song has a deliberately disorientating vibe in the use of both the vocals and some of the instrumentals. But as it takes shape and hits the chorus, the track reaches some skyscraping highs that work in nice contrast to the lyrics, which reflect a troubled, tormented state of mind. Explains Childe: “Bad Ideas is about being an attention seeker. Attention through affection. But then not wanting it once you’ve got it.” The woo-hoo rush of the chorus, in particular, helps the track to stand out (and even nods to classic Rolling Stones), while the impassioned style of the vocals positions Childe as the type of artist who is well worth keeping an ear on. Of the accompanying video, Childe adds: “Covid-19 cancelled the video we were going to make, so instead we let a mad wizard called Lukasz, who doesn’t sleep, make a visual for the song. I love it!”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Magic Gang

THE MAGIC GANGTAKE BACK THE TRACK: Although separated by lockdown, The Magic Gang’s video for their new song Take Back The Track uses the current situation as a strength rather than a limitation. The four members unite on video for an online rehearsal, during which the only distraction appears to be the attention of drummer Paeris Giles’ cat. But they’re joined by the mysterious presence of User1234 who threatens, “I’m going to destroy your rehearsal.” And from there, things get stranger still… The inventive video was directed by Georgina Cammalleri, who was nominated for a UK Music Video Award for her work on Swim Deep’s To Feel Good. The challenge of working remotely meant that the band also had to act as the crew. For example, bassist Gus Taylor doubled up as gaffer and production designer by setting up his own lighting to capture the right look. The Take Back The Track video represents The Magic Gang’s second inventive creative project during the current crisis. It follows their recent Love Songs initiative, in which they wrote and recorded homemade songs for fans separated by lockdown. The track itself is a feel-good track that embodies elements of Northern Soul, disco, power pop and rock, with some slick guitar mixing with “woohoo” style harmonies, a rousing chorus and a genuinely invigorating vibe. It’s a celebratory offering that puts you into a really good mood for its duration. You’ll want to keep replaying the track, rather than taking it back!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Woodkid, Goliath

WOODKIDGOLIATH: Critically acclaimed French artist Woodkid returns this year with his long awaited sophomore album. Hence, seven years after his celebrated debut album The Golden Age (800K sold worldwide, Platinum certified in both France and Germany, 200 shows around the world, 2 Grammy nominations and one French music academy award to name just a few), Woodkid is back with a brand new track Goliath. Named after the biblical character, Goliath is an epic poem carrying us away in the depths of the holistic forces that each individual struggles with. “It’s about scale, about toxicity,” says Lemoine. “About these insane industrial machines that represent so well my fear and ambiguous attraction for human madness. Here is the world I have built around Goliath, a world where the dominated can defeat the gigantic, the unbeatable.” The ensuing track mixes a foreboding, cinematic background synth, with coarse beats and a low-key vocal, which builds into a chorus that delivers some kind of hope. It’s an intriguing mix, highly cinematic, and evocative of both the inherent danger and possible hope the track is seeking to channel. It’s highly compelling and completely original.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 24, 2020

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

The 1975, If You're Too Shy

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE 1975 – IF YOU’RE TOO SHY (LET ME KNOW): Already a long-term fan favourite from its live appearances, The 1975’s new song If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know) is another gem to emerge from the incoming Notes On A Conditional Form LP. A nod to the type of coming-of-age films that John Hughes used to specialise in, and bands like Tears For Fears and The Cure used to contribute to, this combines emo with indie-pop, as well as shameless ’80s pop nods. There are stabs of brass, cute guitar hooks, sleek electronic arrangements and a big, brash, boisterous chorus that encapsulates that sweeping, grab the moment style headrush moment from the type of films it seeks to emulate. Sure, that saxophone solo is blatantly cheesy (and for fans of St Elmos Fire a real throwback!), but it somehow works within the wider context of the song, which brings a warm glow and a sloppy grin from the very first time you hear it. The nods to emotional vulnerability and seeking some kind of inner confidence that Matt Healy’s words bring also endear the song even more, making this a potential anthem for the disaffected as well as the cool kids on the block.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Henry Jamison

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: HENRY JAMISON feat ED DROSTEGREEN ROOM: Henry Jamison duets with long-time hero Ed Droste, of Grizzly Bear, on beautifully relaxing new single Green Room, the third and final offering to be taken from Jamison’s collaborative EP Tourism, out May 15th on Color Study. Like previous singles I Forget Myself (featuring Darlingside) and Still Life (featuring Joseph), Green Room comes from a period when Jamison and his then ex-partner split whilst he was on the road. They have since got back together, moving back in with one another a week ahead of quarantine. “The song is specifically about being in LA and seeing the movie Spirited Away come on the TV while I half-slept on the green room couch. It was my then-ex-girlfriend’s favourite movie and brought on a flood of memories. It also features a very compelling character called ‘No-Face’, a being who is so spiritually empty that it needs to devour everything in its sight, a mythical ‘hungry ghost’. Being in LA, home to many would-be stars, I was forced to ask if I was a hungry ghost myself, as my career had taken me away from so many things I missed so badly.” It’s an extremely sad sentiment, especially when set against the context of lyrics that proclaim “there’s a ghost in me”. But the sorrow is offset by the beautifully lush melodies, the superb vocal exchange between Jamison and Droste (who brings trademark Grizzly Bear class) and some soft acoustic guitar riffs, which allow the song to wash over you like some reassuring piece of mood music that’s tailor-made for these dark days. It’s a bittersweet gem.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jake Bugg, Saviours of the City

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JAKE BUGGSAVIOURS OF THE CITY: Jake Bugg slows down the tempo for a lovely new song called Saviours of the City, an acoustic offering that genuinely resonates with the moment we’re all faced with due to coronavirus. Bugg says of the track himself: “I wrote this last year with my mate Robert (ONR). It’s a song I didn’t envisage releasing this early, but it seems to resonate with what’s going on right now and makes sense of it for me in some ways.” Clocking in at just over two minutes, this is a heartfelt offering that contemplates a fractured state of mind and a fractured world (the singer is “searching for the ones I couldn’t save”). He also sings “we were born to be saviours of the city” over the chorus, which assumes an almost confessional offering of the state of things. Where we should have been our planet’s protectors, we’ve perhaps now abused that position and brought ourselves to the brink. Too deep? Perhaps… but the gentle strumming and reflective, contemplative lyrics are thought-provoking and achingly beautiful in the same breath. It’s a quiet but deeply affecting offering from Bugg that ends all too quickly.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Skott, Talk About Me

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: SKOTTTALK ABOUT ME: Critically acclaimed Swedish singer, songwriter and producer Skott shares her new single Talk About Me, via Dollar Menu in partnership with Cosmos Music. The unparalleled artistry of both sound and visuals are reflected in the accompanying music video released the same day. Directed by the artist herself and videographer Paras IV, the enchanting animation pulls us into a dreamlike world of surreal moments, as the central character’s neurosis unravels. Talk About Me delivers a hypnotic and powerful slice of sophisticated pop that’s full of surprises. Folk driven melodies unfold into a drama of eerie electronic atmosphere, peppering cinematic intrigue throughout. There’s also pulsating acoustic guitar and percussion driving the track forward, as Skott’s alluring vocals and songwriting captivate from beginning to the bittersweet twist ending. Vocally, the track is endlessly endearing, combining some of those ethereal Swedish elements of country-mates such as Robyn with a warmer pop vibe. It’s a track that’s infectiously catchy and utterly contagious, even when chartering territory that chronicles the slow unravelling of a mind. Explains Skott: “It’s a quirky song, about a little girl who loses her mind to narcissism while chasing her big dreams. For the video we snuck pop culture references into this outer space Hollywood-type alternate universe – it’s so far from what I’d normally do. The lyrics tell a story about a little girl who dreams about fame, and it distorts into madness, like she’s losing her mind. But we learn that in reality, she just feels invisible. I directed it together with my friend Paras IV who animated the whole thing, we had fun with it. I’ve always wanted to ride through Florida on the back of a giant beetle.” Talk About Me is the final track to be released prior to Skott’s debut album release on June 12, 2020.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Offworld

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: OFFWORLDBURNT OUT STAR: Having released their new single Burnt Out Star and debut EP Brave To Be Alive earlier this month, music collective OffWorld have now released the official music video for their latest cut – and it’s a potent shot at US President Donald Trump as well as the wider world in general (and the effect of humanity on the planet). Explaining a little more, Richard said: “Very happy to release a video to accompany our single Burnt Out Star made using found and recycled footage. We started putting this together last year, Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement whilst wildfires swept California then Australia and grown men demonised a teenage girl trying to make a difference… now the same actors bungle a belated response to Covid-19. ‘This place is no longer my home – people got no heart’.” The track itself blends rock, soul, blues and gospel amid lyrics that reflect the turbulent nature of the world, even pre-Covid-19. Elaborating on the track a little more, he continued: “Burnt Out Star was originally written as a response to Trump, Brexit and the rise of populist nationalism that made us feel we no longer recognised the place we called home. It’s been quite disturbing to note how prescient it feels, lyrically, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, along with its sister track on our EP, Brave To Be Alive. They seem to describe the times we are living through even though they couldn’t have been foreseen. Alienation, it’s cold outside. Stay smart, stay cool – we’re all Brave To Be Alive.” It’s a timely and sobering track that’s delivered in a way that’s still instrumentally enjoyable.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Rolling Stones, Living In A Ghost Town

THE ROLLING STONESLIVING IN A GHOST TOWN: The Rolling Stones follow-up their appearance on One World: Together At Home with the release of their first new material since 2012. The track, Living In A Ghost Town, is designed to resonate with current sentiments globally, as the world struggles to come to terms with its new reality amid the coronavirus pandemic. It adheres more to modern Stones music, rather than the classic rock vibes of old, with a slower pace. But some of the guitar riffs do still err on the welcome and familiar, Jagger’s hushed vocals add a ghostly presence to the lyrics (which reflect the state of cities currently) and there’s some fantastic harmonica late on. The track was actually developed pre-lockdown, as the band were working on new material. But, according to Jagger, “we thought it would resonate through the times that we’re living in right now. We’ve worked on it in isolation. And here it is”. Keith Richards added: “We cut this track well over a year ago in LA for a new album, an ongoing thing, and then shit hit the fan. Mick and I decided this one really needed to go to work right now and so here you have it.” Stones fans will lap it up, given some of its familiar elements, but those who have been holding out for a return to their classic sound (the one that made them so iconic) will have to wait a little longer. It’s good without being great.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Claws

CHARLI XCXCLAWS: The latest offering from Charli XCX’s upcoming quarantine album How I’m Feeling Now (out May 15, 2020), new single Claws is a fast-moving electro pop offering that shows there’s no keeping a good XCX down! Produced by 100 Gecs’ Dylan Brady, this exudes a positivity that stems from lyrics that proclaim “I like everything about you…” But it’s actually born from a place of self-doubt and anxiety, as it cries out for the return of a lover (“don’t you want me back”), while also being alive with sexual longing and tension, courtesy of suggestive lines such as “I’m not shy, make you sigh, slip and slide up my thighs, juicy just like clementines, sorry if I make you cry”. It’s a whirlwind of emotion that, courtesy of its electronic pulse, creates an energetic, urgent electro-pop cracker that’s tailor-made to deliver the goods for all fans of this prolific and hugely talented singer. Claws follows the lead single Forever, released earlier this month. How I’m Feeling Now is a collaborative album Charli made with her fans. It was written and recorded during self-isolation during COVID-19 and is designed to offer a tonic to anyone struggling to cope with the effects of the current pandemic.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Monster Florence, 26 Ghosts

MONSTER FLORENCE – 26 GHOSTS: British Hip-hop/grime collective Monster Florence have released their new single, 26 Ghosts, as the latest offering from their forthcoming EP Cowboys and Idiots, which is set for release on May 29. Commenting on the inspiration behind it, Wallace Rice said: “The track is an exploration of different relationships whether that be a partner, a substance or the relationships we have with ourselves as individuals. The 26 Ghosts tag line relates to past failures that haunt us and continue to linger around… We were immersed in character whilst writing this song, tongue firmly in cheek.” The ensuing track operates from a really lazy, yet somehow funky, horn loop that feels gloriously retro, while the lyrical style combines hip-hop and grime, making it the type of track that can appeal to the likes of Dizzee Rascal as well as Jurassic 5. The rap itself is quickly delivered but full of the band’s trademark wit. It’s strangely addictive.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Monster Florence · 26 Ghosts

Pet Shop Boys, I Don't Wnna

PET SHOP BOYS – I DON’T WANNA: Pet Shop Boys release their new single I Don’t Wanna, on CD, digitally and on vinyl via x2/Kobalt. Taken from the recent album Hotspot, which was released to widespread critical acclaim in February, this has all the hallmarks of classic PSB, with a tenacious lead vocal set against stirring synth arrangements and snappy beats. The chorus, in particular, has a euphoric quality to it and is one of the most anthemic offerings they’ve delivered in a while – as well as, ironically, one of the most timely. The chorus proclaims “I don’t wanna go out, I don’t wanna go dancing” and is designed to reflect a tormented mind. But it’s also evocative of the current world situation, where people can’t go out and – indeed – many don’t want to, for fear of catching a life-threatening virus. It’s potent stuff, when viewed in that fashion. The I Don’t Wanna single packages include remixes by Mano Le Tough and David Jackson and also a bonus song, New Boy, which was originally written by Pet Shop Boys in 1984 and recently finished and recorded. In other news concerning PSB, the Dreamworld tour has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and the European dates are being rescheduled with an announcement expected early next week. UK dates have already been rescheduled for May 2021 – tickets for the original dates will remain valid for the new dates.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dan Croll, Grand Plan

DAN CROLLGRAND PLAN: Last Wednesday, Dan Croll announced the release of his third album Grand Plan, out August 21, 2020, through Communion Records and produced by Matthew E. White at Spacebomb. The album, which is available to pre-order now, features his latest double-A side singles – album title track Grand Plan and Work – which are out now. To celebrate, Croll has now dropped the video for Grand Plan, shot by visual collaborators The Wild Honey Pie. He commented: “It felt only right to have this video filmed sat at my desk, it’s where I spend every day working away and where the majority of these albums songs were written. When I first moved to LA, I was living in a tiny little box room in Koreatown, I’d wake up and sit at the bottom of my bed at my desk and try my best to create something. I found it incredibly tough in those first few months though. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the pace of LA or the talent of others around me. Everyone I met felt was so driven and had this grand idea for what they wanted to do with life, and I was working in what felt like a dark coffin trying to figure out what the hell I was doing.” The video is as endearing and honest as the song itself. It feels refreshingly DIY and timely, having been filmed in lockdown. The track, meanwhile, is an intimate look at life and the uncertainties and insecurities that sometimes surrounds it – even though everyone seems to have a grand plan. It’s reassuring and disarming, making it OK to sometimes feel like you’re being left behind. The soft acoustic strumming that accompanies the song is simple but oh-so effective, adding to the intimate, heartfelt nature of the track as a whole. It’s Croll at his best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lissy Taylor, Wildflowers

LISSY TAYLORWILDFLOWERS: Following a commanding introductory single, May Day, British singer-songwriter Lissy Taylor shares another personally driven song in the form of Wildflowers. Much like the preceding track, Taylor’s music combines Americana storytelling with UK indie-rock charisma while balancing her continuously dark-yet-dreamy atmosphere. Her vocals are genuinely sultry, while the track itself is somewhat hopeful, suggesting an easing of personal burdens via lines like “are you ready for the sunlight on your face?” Shedding her own light on the track, the Stoke-on-Trent musician said: ““It is freedom that you can only give to yourself. It is a celebration of life coming into bloom and forgetting what weighs you down. It is growing to become something far more than what is expected of you. It is allowing yourself to flourish. Are you ready?” The song is designed to be empowering and whenever it drops its stirring, yet atmospheric chorus, it certainly is. The track is complimented by a video filmed in nearby Manchester, featuring the city’s cultural centre Northern Quarter, plentiful graffiti artwork and vibrant skater scene.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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LISSY TAYLOR · Wildflowers

Tom Grennan, Oh Please

TOM GRENNAN – OH PLEASE: Tom Grennan has released new single Oh Please, a soulful coming-of-age lament backed by cinematic strings as Tom’s vintage-tinged croon soars. Speaking of the track’s inspiration, Tom said: “When writing Oh Please, I was listening to a lot of Curtis Mayfield, Nas, Kendrick and, of course, Amy Winehouse, and I wanted to channel this through the song. The opening transports me back to visiting America, crossing the Brooklyn bridge for the first time and seeing Manhattan. It really hit me at that moment that anything was possible, and I saw things clearer than ever before. I felt euphoric and excited for the future, a chapter closed and a beautiful new beginning ahead. It changed my mindset towards relationships, to focus my energy on learning from them rather than going into a darker, angry place. Oh Please is about learning from relationships. It’s about staying strong and making the right decisions with respect and grace.” The ensuing track is delivered with the same sense of impassioned vocalism that Mayfield brings to his songs, especially during the stirring chorus, while the strings certainly add a sense of cinema. The back-beats are suitably stirring, too, enabling the track to hit some skyscraping heights, especially when Grennan sings, somewhat euphorically, “but the way I feel, aint nothing I aint felt before”, before adding: “I’ll forget about you in the morning, I’ll sleep you off and wake with my mind at ease”. It’s a song that’s all about overcoming personal turmoil and moving on from relationships that are bad for you, without necessarily indulging in the feelings that bring you down or make you feel toxic. It’s about finding the positives and it works in providing the listener with a sense of empowerment, especially once it approaches its rousing finale.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Cher Lloyd, Lost

CHER LLOYDLOST: Cher Lloyd has debuted a new song in the form of the upbeat Lost, a track about empowerment that’s designed to reflect feelings that everyone has experienced, as well as something of what we’re all going through in lockdown. First and foremost, though, it’s about overcoming the fallout from a failed relationship and having the confidence to realise you may have dodged a bullet. Explains Lloyd: “I’m so excited to share my new single Lost with everyone. I had the most incredible time co-writing and recording this song and video. ‘You think I’d be lost without you, but I’ve got lots without you’ says it all. Everyone has found themselves in the same shoes – having the strength to move on and be bold enough to say that you’re doing great without that person. Every time I sing this song I feel empowered.” Lyrics include lines such as “great sex in the morning sex in the morning someone to hold me, I got lots, stay out in the nighttime out in the nighttime have me a wild time, I got lots, to be honest I think I dodged a bullet with you, and I don’t know how I didn’t see it coming but woo”. The song also has Lloyd’s trademark sass, vocally, as well as some melodic pop beats that give the whole package a very pop sheen. It’s cute and edgy.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hayley Williams

HAYLEY WILLIAMSDEAD HORSE: Another week, another new offering from Hayley Williams, from Petals For Armor II, a second five-track collection heralding her much anticipated debut solo album. Dead Horse actually has a little more in common with her day job with Paramore, with a harder pop sensibility and a vibe that’s also not dissimilar to classic No Doubt. A mid-track breakdown into “ya ya ya” melodies is a classic case in point, combining sunshine positivity with a sunshine reggae vibe and a celebratory feel. Hayley is clearly having fun singing this one and the track has an infectious, sing-along quality. It’s arguably her most widely accessible offering to emerge from the new material so far. Hayley has been making use of her time at home with a series of covers posted to her social media, including her take on Tegan and Sara’s Call It Off. Williams also treated fans to an at-home workout routine set to her track Over Yet. Dead Horse is another offering that’s sure to delight them all, while quite possibly expanding her reach too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 17, 2020

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

Kaleo, Backbone

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: KALEOBACKBONE: Kaleo have shared new song Backbone from their highly-anticipated follow-up album, Surface Sounds. Written solely by front-man, lead singer and songwriter JJ Julius Son, this is an introspective offering that seeks to find inner strength from the depths of despair. Son’s husky, bluesy vocals have a gritty, earthy feel that lend the track an ultra moody feel. But it’s nicely contrasted by the acoustic guitar that provides the bulk of the instrumental backdrop. The song does slow-build to a rousing finale, though, when some subtle strings and background harmonies also filter in, lending the song a genuinely cinematic feel. There’s a lot of meaning in the song, though, as it’s sung with real emotional depth. It’s also all the more effective for the way in which it keeps things so simple. If you like classic Pearl Jam, then you’re sure to love this! In addition to Backbone, the Grammy-nominated band released two singles in January, I Want More and Break My Baby.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Front Bottoms, Everyone Blooms

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE FRONT BOTTOMSEVERYONE BLOOMS: The Front Bottoms have dropped a kick-ass new single in the form of Everyone Blooms, a sharp slice of alt-rock virus-surviving reassurance that channels the energy of bands like Weezer mixed with Biffy Clyro. Featuring lyrics such as “so wherever you are, don’t worry you’re going to be fine, fine, fine, cos everyone blooms in their own time”, this is designed to offer a little positivity mixed with a bad boy rock vibe. It’s positive while being a little rough around the edges, and feels all the better for it… the jagged guitar riffs bouncing nicely off the vocals that have a rowdy, anthemic quality. The chorus is a blast that invites sing-alongs. Brian Sella and Mathew Uychich commented: “This year has been a disaster, but we are pushing forward with positive and creative energy. We poured ourselves into making Everyone Blooms and are really proud of how it turned out. We hope you like it.” We do! The track is joined by a surrealistic animated music video – created by We Are Yhellow – which is available now on The Front Bottoms’ YouTube channel (and below).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Florence + The Machine, Light of Love

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: FLORENCE + THE MACHINELIGHT OF LOVE: Another of this week’s timely releases, Florence + The Machine’s Light of Live is actually a track written a couple of years ago that didn’t quite make it onto the 2018 High as Hope LP. But Florence felt moved to revive it when reconsidering the message behind the lyrics, which urge caution against running and hiding from the harsh truths of any moment (ie, seeking solace into ignorance, drugs or alcohol). Hence, the lyrics decry moments of weakness, with pearls such as “oh, my little sister, when the drugs were wearing off I climbed into your bed and said, I think I did too much, in some ways that was simpler, being too fucked up to see”. And it also states “I want to look away” before determining “I must not look away”. In doing so, Florence gradually builds the tempo, from soft and alone to layered and empowered, the song itself gaining extra layers of instrumental melody and feeling empowering as a result. It’s a song that’s designed as a rallying call to a nation [and world] that may well want to bury its head in the sand right now and ignore the grimness of what’s going on. But staying informed, doing the right thing and helping to stay safe and save lives is important. As a way of driving home that message, Light of Love is powerful, moving, melodic and as beautifully delivered as we’ve come to expect from Florence + The Machine. What’s more, the song has been released to raise money for the UK’s Intensive Care Society – which support doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers as they work in hospitals’ ICU departments. Donate here
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Oh Wonder, Keep on Dancing

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: OH WONDERKEEP ON DANCING: Oh Wonder drop another musical gem into the global mix as they look to lift some of the gloom surrounding the current coronavirus pandemic at the moment. Taken from their new Home Tapes project, this urges fans and listeners to throw their own house party and put on their favourite tunes (as well as this one!). Far from being too uproarious, though, there’s something delicate and reassuring about it, with the sentiments expressed in the lyrics all the more affecting for it. The chorus, for instance, states: “And I’m a put my records on, play my favourite songs, move my hips left to right, I’m a put my records on, play my favourite songs, move my hips from day to night”, while suggesting that you may want to do the same. The chorus also talks about beats but the track only really employs subtle beats of its own, along with some guitar and some lush electronics. The boy-girl vocals, meanwhile, are a daydream delight. It’s a quietly empowering song that’s utterly enchanting and totally empowering. We’re just off to get our dancing shoes!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dolche, Roma

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: DOLCHEROMA: Christine Herin, known professionally as Dolche, is an Italian-French singer, songwriter, composer and record producer, who already boasts a 20-year music career, more than 500 concerts in Europe and key collaborations with Grammy Award winning professionals. She was born in Valle d’Aosta, a French-speaking autonomous region in the north of Italy. The first single off her forthcoming album Exotic Diorama – out in October 2020 – is the cinematic Roma, accompanied by a video shot during the Italian lockdown with webcam images of a deserted Rome projected onto the artists body. The track was composed as a love declaration to the melancholic, decadent and epic beauty of Rome, aka The Eternal City. In the song, it is possible to hear some sounds which were directly recorded in the city, from the Gianicolo hill (like the sound of birds and the background noise of the city itself). Roma is half in French and half in Italian because this is the deepest nature of Dolche herself. It juxtaposes Doche’s lush, reflective vocals against a sombre acoustic guitar and remains fairly intimate, yet oddly cinematic. It’s the kind of offering that Steven Soderbergh may have used for his European-set Ocean’s Twelve film. But coupled with the video, it’s both intoxicating and captivating, providing a timely reminder of one of the greatest cities in the world.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Callum Beattie, Ghosts in the Dark

CALLUM BEATTIEGHOSTS IN THE DARK: Scottish multi-instrumentalist Callum Beattie releases his emotive new track Ghosts In The Dark as the latest, poignant offering from his long-awaited debut album, People Like Us, which us due on May 15, 2020. A heartfelt piano ballad, this is a simple but affecting affair that looks at a troubled life and attempts to navigate a path towards some kind of reassurance and safety (“can anybody take me home, because I don’t want to sleep alone, I don’t want to be alone… cos I am a father, caught in the fire”). The lyrics truly are heartbreaking, while the impassioned vocals work really well against the stark, melancholy piano arrangement. During a sombre period in Callum’s life, he found solace in writing Ghosts In The Dark. On Ghosts In The Dark, Callum explains: “I used to play around the pubs in Scotland most days of the week. In that time, I got to know a lot of people who all had their own problems. That look of loneliness and the feeling of being lost is something I could relate with them at that time. I was drinking a lot and would find myself compressing my emotions through alcohol. That was something me and some of the regular customers had in common every night. I went home on one of those nights and wrote this song about myself and all of the people I met. It’s a song that feed on feelings of loneliness and being lost.” Given the current coronavirus pandemic, it’s emotive lyrics carry extra resonance, especially for anyone fighting on the frontlines and worried about the possibilities of spreading infection.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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5 Seconds of Summer, Wildflower

5 SECONDS OF SUMMERWILDFLOWER: 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) have shared the psychedelic music video for latest single, Wildflower, taken from their recent No.1 album C A L M, out now on Polydor Records. In an incredible burst of imagination, the visual came to life soon after the band’s original video shoot was cancelled due to California’s shelter-in-place order. Directed remotely by Andy DeLuca and assistant director Sarah Eiseman, Wildflower was shot entirely on green screen through a meticulously arranged process that involved transporting the disinfected green screen to each band member’s doorway in order to film their individual parts. Despite 5SOS separately quarantined, the result bears an undeniable mood of togetherness. With its lo-fi psychedelic effects, Wildflower also features playful early noughties animated nostalgia that DeLuca and Eiseman learned to create specifically for the video. The track itself is a typically upbeat slice of indie-pop. There’s a stirring chorus, toe-tapping beats, electronic melodies and an overall sing-along kind of vibe. It has a boy band feel, of course, but in these troubled times, the positivity and harmony displayed here could well bring some cheer. On directing the video, Andy Deluca said: “Our original plan consisted of a big budget, a full crew, and a giant studio, but it was cancelled due to coronavirus and we were forced to make something under the challenging conditions of quarantine. Michael had a green screen sitting in his closet, so I figured that could be enough to make something. Since the song has a pretty distinct 80s/90s tone, I came up with the idea of making an 80’s/90’s MTV-style music video. A ‘music-video-themed music video’. The stuff I grew up on and loved. So, we passed around the disinfected green screen (with the help of our teammate Kat Gallagher), and everyone filmed their parts at home with an iPhone and later sent the footage over to me. In the meantime, Sarah Eiseman and I began working on the art for the video. We quickly learned animation and drew up several blooming flowers, and also created the trippy colored backgrounds using milk and food dye. I then spent the next couple of days/nights editing nonstop until my eyes bled and the video was completed. It definitely has pushed us to create something we normally wouldn’t, using only our brains and our hands.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Rhodes

RHODESLOVE YOU SOBER: British singer-songwriter Rhodes has released a new single and video in the form of the, well, sobering confessional, Love You Sober. An impassioned plea to a loved one to retain faith in him as he overcomes a drinking addiction (“don’t need another way to hurt, just need another way to hold on”), this is a piano ballad of high tempo, that is infused with the desperation and determination inherent in overcoming such an addiction. It’s stirring stuff that’s capable of appealing to fans of bands like Keane. The accompanying video was directed by long-time collaborator Ben Newbury (Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Ellie Goulding) and filmed during quarantine with Rhodes at home in London. To work around the logistical restrictions of making the video remotely, the filming equipment was couriered to Rhodes’ home while Ben directed him and his wife Natalia (aka singer Carmen Rosa) over FaceTime to set things up in the living room to film his performance. The video also features dizzying and dream-like graphics by motion designer/director Paul Gardner (The Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Gorillaz, Fleetwood Mac). Commenting on the new song, Rhodes said: “I wrote Love You Sober last year with my good friend Rich Cooper and it was one of those songs that I always knew the video would be super-important. The idea that I was lost in my own head battling these inner demons, and fighting to find a way to keep hold of love, was conjuring tons of ideas in my mind and those of everyone involved in the song.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Harry Mold

HARRY MOLDTREADMILL IN A DESERT: Londoner Harry Mold has released his riotous, F-bomb laden new single Treadmill In A Desert through Touch Recordings. A lyrically prophetic, blazing indie-rock track, this was designed to examine the kind of pressure you can experience when your mind becomes stagnant for whatever reason. It was actually written before the coronavirus pandemic made it even more relevant. But the fire and anger displayed in the vocals and the angular guitar riffs is evident of what a lot of people must be feeling right now. And when Mold declares “I’m looking for the end line” as a way of closing out the single, he’ll have a nation of people roaring along with him as they seek some kind of exit strategy plan. Speaking about the track, Harry commented: “Treadmill In A Desert is all about the pressure you can feel when you’re in a stagnant/stationary state of mind. Like when you feel things around you moving at a normal pace, but nothing is changing in your own head. This feeling made me feel like I was about to explode, so I transmitted that straight to my song.” If you’re fans of bands like The Libertines, then this will doubtless tick all the right boxes too. It’s no-nonsense stuff, making it OK not to feel OK in these mentally challenging times.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Haux, Heavy

HAUXHEAVY: Haux has previously released two EPs, 2016’s All We’ve Known and 2018’s haunting Something to Remember. Together, they amassed over 200 million streams, receiving praise from everyone from Taylor Swift to The New York Times. Violence in a Quiet Mind is his long-awaited debut LP and was announced earlier this week, together with taster single Heavy. The sombre but beguiling track recalls the moment Woodson Black (Haux) discovered that his aunt Alice had died of an accidental overdose after years of pain from a brain tumour. “I remember I was walking back from a show in Boston and I got a phone call from my mum and I kind of just crumpled there on the sidewalk, tearing up. I wrote Heavy about that time,” he explained. “I kind of stepped into her shoes for a little bit and wrote t from her perspective, or at least what I imagined it to be. I haven’t talked about it too much publicly but while writing this album I struggled at times with depressive thoughts, and some thoughts about the end of my own life. It was scary but it’s there and I think it’s what gave this song significance for me.” The song itself combines a tender piano arrangement with a soulful, sorrowful vocal that feels raw and intimate (with lyrics that include “I took my life in the palm of my hand”). It’s a heartfelt tribute to a powerful influence in Haux’s life, which resonates on a beautifully intimate level.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hayley Williams

HAYLEY WILLIAMSWHY WE EVER: Hayley Williams is continuing to add to her Petals For Armor II portfolio with yet another release: Why We Ever, and its companion lyric video. An intimate offering that takes the form of self-examination during a personal period of feeling low, this is both poignant and affecting, thereby showcasing the softer, more sensitive side of Williams’ solo songwriting. She explains: “I was at the lowest point I’d been in some time. My sadness shows. Now, I look back and credit this night as being the beginning of a new season of my life, where I hold myself accountable for learning to love better. I’ve let myself down a lot in love. This was the start of recognizing bad patterns and acknowledging that I’m ready to grow out of them.” Hence, where there is a lot of sorrow, there’s also a sense of optimism [albeit a quiet one] that makes the song all the more beautiful for it. The new track is the latest addition to Petals For Armor II and follows the recent releases of My Friend, Over Yet and Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris featuring Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. Hayley has been making use of her time at home with a series of covers posted to her social media, including her take on Tegan and Sara’s Call It Off. Williams also treated fans to an at-home workout routine set to her track Over Yet.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Max Leone

MAX LEONETHE BEACH: Up-and-coming songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Max Leone has shared a spellbinding new single called The Beach with an accompanying video for the new track. Released via Darkroom Records and produced with Chicago native Alexander 23, The Beach showcases the introspective lyricism, inventive sound design, and undeniable sense of melody that have recently earned Leone praise from tastemakers like Paper Mag. “The Beach is about that person you keep going back to, even though every time you give them another chance they let you down. It’s like a flame, the warmth draws you in, but if you try to touch it you’ll get burnt.” The track unfolds using woozy textures and wavy beats, dreamlike lyrics and a subdued but soulful vocal performance. It has a sense of melancholy as well as a sense of escape, the beach motif supplying an oddly compelling reminder of everyone’s favourite place. Hell, there are even warnings about too much sun exposure! But taken on its own level, the beach – with both its beauty and dangers – is a clever motif for an addictive relationship that keeps on burning the person at the centre of it. The trip-hop style beats and soulful vocals also work well together in creating something that’s, by turns, relaxing, chilled out and semi dangerous [and addictive].
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lial, Dirty Little Lies

LIALDIRTY LITTLE LIES: Dirty Little Lies is the second single from Lial, following the shimmering Embers (February 2020), to be released from her forthcoming Made To Break EP, which follows on June 12. The track is about betrayal and the thrill of desire for forbidden fruit. As Lial expands: “Connection is an inherent part of being human and so you do anything you can to justify it while you’re in it, but part of the appeal is its forbidden nature. Lies are enough in themselves to create a spark.” The song makes strong use of Lial’s sultry vocal style (which has drawn favourable comparisons with both Lapsley and Lana Del Rey, while offsetting them against sleek beats and atmospheric, moody electronics. There’s a strong sense of desire and danger flowing through the track, the song offering its own kind of forbidden fruit. Dirty Little Lies is accompanied by a stunning video which takes you to a seedy, ghostly underworld, featuring Lial and directed by Wolf James. Expanding on the song’s themes the video explores the idea of betrayal as its own faceless entity seeking some sort external validation. It’s stylish stuff, sonically and visually.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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All Saints and Sting, Message in A Bottle

ALL SAINTS AND STINGMESSAGE IN A BOTTLE: All Saints and Sting have teamed up to release a new version of The Police classic Message In A Bottle. The single is the first release from All Saints since their critically acclaimed 2018 album Testament and the first from Sting since 2019’s My Songs. Commenting on the decision to collaborate, All Saints said: “We were in the studio working on a new arrangement of the song for a radio session and we decided to record what we had come up with. We were delighted when Sting heard our original demo and offered to add his vocals to the track.” The track is designed to resonate with the current coronavirus situation, in that it offers lyrics such as “I send my SOS to the world” and “only hope can keep me together, love can mend your life”. And it’s delivered with a self-consciously upbeat vibe, hitting an almost reggae meets pop vibe. All Saints take the vocal lead, while Sting adds his vocals as backing. But it works. The track was originally written by Sting for the 1979 Police album Regatta de Blanc. It hit No.1 that year and has become one of the band’s most enduring hits, serving as the title for an original West End musical currently running in London’s West End, produced by Sadler’s Wells and choreographed by Kate Prince. All Saints originally performed Message In A Bottle with the BBC Concert Orchestra for Children In Need in 2018. They continued to perform the song during their run of summer festivals the following year and it quickly became a fan favourite.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Orlando Weeks

ORLANDO WEEKSBLOOD SUGAR: Former Macabees frontman Orlando Weeks recently launched his solo career with Safe In Sound, a track that was A-listed at BBC 6 Music and inspired comparisons with the likes of The Blue Nile and Talk Talk. Now he can confirm details of his debut album A Quickening, which will be released on June 12, 2020, via Play It Again Sam. The first taster is new single Blood Sugar. A quietly affecting, fragile yet all-enveloping layer of sound, this is a delicate song – in part tribute to the NHS – that is buoyed by choral vocal harmonies. The track includes the line “gone the bell that rung forever… at least as long as I can remember”, a reference to Big Ben, which was under repair and had stopped chiming at the time of his son’s birth. Weeks commented: “I couldn’t work out if its silence was a good omen or a bad one.” Stranger than that, for much of their time at hospital, Weeks and his partner found themselves in the very same room he was born in. Hence, while the ‘dedicated to all NHS workers’ might seem like a timely acknowledgement of all that the NHS is doing at this time of global crisis, it’s also a personal thank you as a parent for all the other times they have been there as a service to be proud of (in Weeks’ case, the birth of his son). The song is therefore deeply personal as well as deeply emotional and its beauty resonates on many levels – as a grateful nation and for those parents among us who have also called on the NHS resources.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dust in The Sunlight

DUST IN THE SUNLIGHTDUST IN THE SUNLIGHT: Following the recent release of their eponymous debut single, Dust In The Sunlight have now unveiled the official music video for the track. Commenting on how it came together, the band said: “Last summer, we headed out to Berlin to collaborate with Alex Newton on our debut music video. We also managed to get DOP Bobby Goulding and camera assistant Edmund Renew on board, completing a dream team of creative. Rather than following a narrative for the video, we focused on creating different moods while we performed the song. Annie’s parts were based in very natural areas, while Billy’s were more urban. The contrast in locations and meditative dancing (something we never thought we’d do in a video!) created an other-worldly, purgatory-style effect – drawing on the themes of shift and change in the song.” It’s a perfect fit. The track itself is an atmospheric offering, designed to showcase their ability to combine ear-pleasing vocal harmonies with transportive instrumentals. Hence, those instrumentals provide a cinematic backdrop that feels epic in nature and quite often beautiful (never more so than during the instantly enticing intro). But the mix of boy-girl vocals also works well in providing some nice contrasts, especially when they occasionally collide with each other in the build up to, and during, the chorus. It’s an impressive debut that leaves you thirsting to hear more. Speaking about the song, they explain: “Dust In The Sunlight was one of the first songs that we wrote together, during a session at an artist warehouse in North London that Annie was living in at the time. The song speaks about being caught up with someone who’s emotionally unavailable and being prepared to compromise your own values in order to keep them around. We liked the imagery of the title so much that it became the namesake of the band.” .
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 10, 2020

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

Twenty One Pilots, Level of Concern

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: TWENTY ONE PILOTSLEVEL OF CONCERN: Twenty One Pilots surprised their fans this week with a new song penned in reponse to the current coronavirus pandemic – and it’s a welcome slice of relief that taps into everyone’s levels of concern right now. Built around a chorus that states, “tell me we’re alright, tell me we’re okay”, the song makes it alright to feel concerned, while seeking reassurance. But in doing so, it also adds a reassurance level of its own, courtesy of a feel-good vibe. If anything, Level of Concern is more pop than anything Twenty One Pilots have put out before, but that only adds to its universal appeal. The synths are sleek and snappy, the beats equally so, and the chorus has a sing-along vibe that manages to accentuate the pop element while also retaining some sense of the band’s signature sound (if, indeed, they actually have one, given their overall versatility). What’s more, while bringing some musical light into the world, a portion of proceeds from the song will go to Crew Nation – a Global Relief Fund For Live Music Crews. Crew Nation is powered by Music Forward Foundation, a charitable 501c3 organization, that will be administering the fund.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Aaron Smith, Brother

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: AARON SMITHBROTHER: Fast rising Scottish singer-songwriter Aaron Smith has dropped the intimate piano-ballad Brother as his latest offering and continues to massively endear himself. The track is highly affecting… though simplistic in structure it has an incredible ability to penetrate to the core and touches on the sensitive and personal subject of addiction (“If I could I would I’d start again, here I am again at 3am, with a drink in my hand”). But while the subject is facing up to his addiction, the heart-melting chorus finds him crying out for help, courtesy of lyrics such as “Fade me out, and save me now, pull me under, cause nobody wants me, give me time, and ease my mind, be my brother,cause nobody wants me”. Smith’s emotive lyrics also work well in generating maximum emotional investment, sounding heartbroken, while the piano melodies are both beautiful and bittersweet. Speaking about the track, Aaron explained: “Brother is a song about addiction. It is based on a story that I had been told and felt I could relate parts of that story back to myself and some of the struggles myself and loved ones may have faced over the years. Addiction is a scary topic that can affect anyone in any walk of life, whether it is drugs, alcohol or anything else – it feels like a bit of a taboo subject but is something I feel strongly about and felt I wanted to address. It can consume peoples minds to the point of no return.” Intelligent, heartfelt, impassioned and reassuring, this offers a musical form of rehabilitation that is, in its own way, soul nourishing. If you’re a fan of the balladry of bands such as Coldplay and Elbow, then this is for you.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fleur East, Not Alone

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: FLEUR EASTNOT ALONE: Fleur East has finally released her anthemic song-of-the-moment Not Alone, in aid of The NHS Covid-19 Appeal. The track was initially written by Fleur as a rap for an exclusive performance on BBC1’s The One Show, encouraging viewers to stay at home amidst the Coronavirus crisis. But it subsequently gained huge traction, prompting Fleur to write an additional verse and chorus, record the song and release it to raise funds for The Covid-19 Appeal, which helps to aid NHS workers and staff impacted by the virus. 100 per cent of all proceeds will go to helping our amazing NHS. The song demonstrates Fleur’s ability to fuse cheeky lyrics with hard-hitting social messages, underlining the importance of staying at home and protecting the NHS (as well as those you love), as well as the absurdity of things like the toilet roll crisis. What’s more, the track is set against an insantly catchy electronic loop and finger-click beats, which add to the overall accessibility. It’s a rap song that transcends its genre and one that could, quite possibly, become one of the anthems for these virus-riddled times. Fleur commented: “All the money that is raised from the streams and downloads will go directly to the NHS Covid-19 Appeal, so that goes directly to support all the NHS workers and volunteers who are working on the frontline. It’s probably the easiest shoot I’ve ever done in my life, just at home in my socks.” If you want to donate, then click here
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gracie Abrams, I Miss You, I'm Sorry

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: GRACIE ABRAMS – I MISS YOU, I’M SORRY: Emerging Los Angeles songwriter Gracie Abrams has premiered an emotionally potent new single called I miss you, I’m sorry complete with a video that was recorded in her own bedroom. The gorgeously textured track was written by Abrams, with Blake Slatkin and Sarah Aarons, and showcases the 20-year-old artist’s understated yet powerful songwriting and quietly commanding voice. As the slow-burning epic builds to a beautiful crescendo — its intensity amplified by a lush string arrangement and gently layered vocals — Abrams’s fine-spun lyrics perfectly capture the cruel confusion of heartbreak. Hence, while heartbroken lyrically, the slow build to such a sweeping crescendo offers a skyscraping high once those lush strings collide with Abrams’ delicious vocals. It’s emotionally honest lyrically, examining the touchpoints that contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. But that only endears the song even more. In debuting the new single, Abrams also wrote a candid note to her fans, which began very poignantly, tapping into the collective social consciousness right now. She wrote: “I know everything is scary and uncertain right now and I thought that maybe this wasn’t the right time to release anything, but the truth is that writing and listening to music have always grounded me whenever I find myself feeling scared or anxious or excited or lost or in love or out of control. This kind of anxiety is different. None of us have lived through something like this before. And yet, gratefully and impossibly, music continues to bring me comfort and I’m thinking that might be true for some of you too.” Listening to I Miss You, I’m Sorry is, indeed, a beautiful form of therapy, albeit one laced with the sorrow of a break-up.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wallows, OK

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: WALLOWS – OK: Wallows have unveiled the official video to current single OK, a dreamy, ’90s nostalgia trip directed by Dillon Dowdell. It’s a fun romp of a video that epitomises the feelgood nature of the song itself. As for the track, OK – as previously states on these pages – is a catchy, positive offering that offers a rallying call to the world in the wake of the current coronavirus uncertainty. Loaded with bright beats, ear-pleasing melodies and an anthemic chorus, this asks “can we get up and try to feel ok again?” And it’s that sense of hope, married to instrumental optimism, that makes the song so positive and likeable. On the meaning of the song and how it applies to the current global health crisis, the band says: “OK is a song about insecurities in a relationship; having a hard time accepting something that feels ‘too good to be true’, but overall learning to embrace it and accept the love you’re receiving and focusing on returning it. Now, given the state of the world and the health crisis we happen to be in at the time of the song’s release, we feel like the main line/hook of the song, ‘Can we get up and try to feel okay again?’, sort of takes on a new meaning/purpose itself for people at this moment in time. The thought that no matter where we are or how alone/lost we feel right now, we can get up again and try to feel OK. We’re in it together.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Laura Marling, Held Down

LAURA MARLINGHELD DOWN: Laura Marling’s seventh studio album, Song For Our Daughter, is out now via Chrysalis/Partisan, along with new single Held Down. The LP came to pass after a period of transition for Marling, during which she stepped away from her record label and her management and found herself without any firm idea about her future. Indeed, she even distanced herself from the idea of being Laura Marling for a while. It was then that she began to realise that the song’s she was beginning to write in the wake of previous album, Semper Femina, were very similar to previous offerings, even rewrites. The time away offered her the chance to recharge and refocus. The resulting comeback has, so far, generated some of the best reviews of an already acclaimed career. And Held Down showcases a deeper sense of melody, with even a hint of pop, drawing on influences such as Lennon, McCartney and even a little Joni Mitchell at times. There’s a lush acoustic guitar underpinning this song, with a country-rock meets pop vibe attached, and a vocal that veers between dreamy and edgy (or at least as edgy as Marling gets). By the time the chorus lands, the song soars in spite of some bittersweet sentiments within the lyrics. But Marling is back in a big way and Held Down is a really great single to showcase the kind of thing that lies in store across the rest of the new album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Forever

CHARLI XCXFOREVER: Ever prolific, Charli XCX announced earlier this week that she’ll be making a full album, How I’m Feeling Now, while in self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. The album is due on May 15, so there’s time to amass the necessary number of songs. But as Charli explains, being locked down doesn’t mean that she has to stifle her creativity. “For me, staying positive goes hand-in-hand with being creative, and so that’s why I’ve decided that I’m going to use this isolation time to make a brand-new album from scratch,” Charli said. “The nature of this album is gonna be very indicative of the times, just because I’m only gonna be able to use the tools that I have at my fingertips to create all music, all artwork, all videos, everything. In that sense, it’ll be very DIY.” And while the synth element does have a certain DIY feel to it, the song as a whole feels very polished. There are traces of Imogen Heap vocally, while the synths wash across you like electronic waves and the beats are toe-tappingly good. But the central motif of “I will always love you… even though we’re not together” feels timely given the number of people being forced to distance themselves for the time being, despite deep feelings of love for each other. It’s a highly appealing track that proves you just can’t keep a good Charli down.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hayley Williams

HAYLEY WILLIAMS – MY FRIEND: Hayley Williams is continuing her rollout of Petals For Armor with the release of another new track, My Friend, and its companion lyric video. The song is a heartfelt ode to a friendship that determines to be there for that person through “famine or fire”. It’s got dub-style back-beats, a pop chorus and a laidback vocal from Williams that really seeks to provide a reassuring presence for the person showcased in the video. What’s more, by extoling the virtues of looking out for someone – whether friend or family – it feels timely and nicely resonant as the world seeks to look out for each other in the wake of the current coronavirus pandemic. The new song is the latest addition to Petals For Armor II and follows the recent releases of Over Yet and Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris featuring Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. The collection of songs, so far, looks set to make this a really strong album for fans of the Paramore frontwoman.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mt Joy

MT JOY – MY VIBE: Mt. Joy have shared the hauntingly dystopic video for My Vibe, the latest single from their highly anticipated sophomore LP, Rearrange Us. Director Steve Girard takes us to a grotesque playhouse diner where rollerskating waitresses serve dead-eyed customers their final greasy meal before the outside world implodes. The music itself shows off the band’s more playful side while blending their rootsy stomp with swirls of synthesizers. Spurred on by producer Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, Modest Mouse), this new, more kaleidoscopic side to the band makes itself known throughout Rearrange Us. If you’re fans of bands like Modest Mouse or Matt & Kim, then this will also float your boat. The synths are arty, the vocals ragged but appealing and the chorus both off-kilter yet melodic enough to leave you “woo-hooing” along with it. There’s something deliciously appealing about it, in spite of the somewhat disturbing visuals. “The song is about letting go and living in the moment, and trying to let new people in your life if you think they can make you happy,” states frontman Matt Quinn. As such, it also feels very timely. The new LP is due out on June 5, via Dualtone Records.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Children of the State

CHILDREN OF THE STATEBIG SUR: Doncaster and Bolsover indie rock outfit Children of the State have released their retro-laced new indie-pop single, Big Sur, produced by The Coral’s Ian Skelly and engineered by Chris Taylor at Liverpool’s iconic Parr Street Studios. Big Sur finds the band exploring lyrical themes of escape and loneliness through a vintage rock groove. Hence, the track is loaded with a soaring, distorted organ intro that leads into a doo-wop inspired vocal melody and piercing fuzz guitar solo, thereby drawing its influence from the likes of Roy Orbison, Bruce Springsteen, The Seeds, The Beach Boys and White Album-era Beatles while remaining very much Children of the State’s now distinctive sound. The retro elements are gloriously maintained, lending the track a fiercely classic vibe that’s further enhanced by the similarly ‘dated’ looking video. In short, it’s a fun romp of a record that has a timeless appeal to it. Speaking on the track, the band explain: “Big Sur was born out of a lot of grey days on an industrial estate in Doncaster wanting to be at the beach. We were listening to a lot of Dick Dale and Beach Boys at the time and wanted to capture that 60s surf sound but bring it into 2020., but struggled to capture the vibe in Sheffield. We figured we’d get closer to the coast, so got in touch with Ian Skelly from The Coral, and spent a few days there creating it.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Dears

THE DEARSHEART OF AN ANIMAL: Montréal quintet The Dears, led by husband and wife duo Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak, release their new single Heart Of An Animal, as the second offering from their upcoming album Lovers Rock. Discussing the track, Lightburn said: “I’ve been trying to get Heart Of An Animal on a Dears album for a very long time, but for whatever reason it just never fit. Now, it kicks off and sets the overall tone of Lovers Rock. It was by far the most difficult song to sing for me, as it hits the very top of my range.” Yanchak added: “It’s a tender, psychedelic runaway train. You should be left wondering where this album is going and let me tell you… it just gets weirder from here.” That being said, Heart of An Animal isn’t that weird. Sure, it takes the odd detour from its expected path, including an extremely psychedelic one approaching the three minute mark. But at other times, the structure is quite normal, tapping into a Pulp-like sound at times (courtesy of both the guitars and the vocals). In more trippy territory, it channels classic Pink Floyd. But for the most part, it’s a psych-rock workout that thrives on its fiery guitar riffs and mostly melodic choruses.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Oliver Tree

OLIVER TREELET ME DOWN: Just days after announcing his retirement, genre-defying singer/songwriter/producer and professional scooter rider, Oliver Tree, has returned with surprise new single, Let Me Down. Produced by Tree and esteemed DJ/Producer and frequent collaborator Whethan, the track also lands with a hilarious official video. An expletive-laden rant against the system, this finds Oliver Tree in feisty form, channelling his inner Beastie Boys as well as Robert Smith of The Cure. The beats are ragged, the guitars angular and explosive, and the vocals very shouty. But they have a raw appeal that’s difficult to resist. And the rallying call, “please don’t let me down” could be used as a unifying cry out to those members of society that really can’t live by the rules governing how quickly we can all get through the coronavirus crisis. It’s fun but strangely relevant. Oliver Tree explained: “I wrote Let Me Down the day after I cancelled my album due to coronavirus. Cancelling the release was devastating after working on this album for five years. Even though it was completely out of my control, I felt like I let a lot of people down so I made them this song as an apology. Even if I can’t drop the album, I still want my fans to know I care about them. This week I decided to film a DIY music video in my buddy’s warehouse with the help of some close friends and family. To anyone who feels let down or hurt, I ask for your forgiveness…” Or it could mean that too!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 3, 2020

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

The 1975

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: THE 1975 – JESUS CHRIST 2005 GOD BLESS AMERICA: As promised earlier in the week, The 1975 have released Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America as the next song to be taken from their forthcoming record Notes On A Conditional Form. The track precedes the band’s next official single, If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know), and has been played live, in acoustic form, before (way back in 2019). It’s a quiet offering, stripped back to simple acoustics and Matt Healy’s soft vocals. Indeed, there’s a beautiful sense of melancholy to it, courtesy of bittersweet lines such as “I’m in love but I’m feeling low, for I am just a footprint in the snow”. But this is later juxtaposed with the more hopeful offering, “so if we turn into a tree, can I be the leaves?” The song is actually about love and self-doubt… embarking on a new relationship (with a boy) and having the confidence to see it through no matter what other people think. It’s evocative of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire at times. And it’s a song that stays with you. The 1975 have also revealed that May 22, 2020, is the final release date for Notes On A Conditional Form. The LP has faced several delays, having originally been scheduled for February 21. But after another set-back it was then postponed until April 24. On the evidence so far, it looks set to be worth the wait.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Oh Wonder, Lonely Star

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: OH WONDERLONELY STAR: Oh Wonder have dropped the bittersweet but beguilingly beautiful Lonely Star, taken from the new Home Tapes project. A gentle lament about the state of the world, as seen through the eyes of a lonely soul [or star], this takes shape around some fragile female vocals and some vulnerable lyrics. The central chorus asks “I’m a lonely star, is there anybody out there?”, while verses include such musings as “I guess I’ll be a somebody that nobody knows, guess I’ll never find the one that I can call home”. Instrumentally, there’s a serene, borderline melancholy electronic loop and gentle piano, offset by some subtle, barely there beats. It’s the vocals that take centre stage, though, and they’re irresistibly insecure, making the listener want to throw a comforting arm around the singer. It’s a genuinely poignant, beautiful and painfully vulnerable offering from Oh Wonder that feels tailor-made to tap into the feelings that everyone must be experiencing at the moment.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Troye Sivan

TROYE SIVANTAKE YOURSELF HOME: A personal favourite of the singer himself, Troye Sivan’s Take Yourself Home is a heartfelt lament for escape and home. Boasting lyrics such as “I’m tired of the city, Scream if you’re with me, If I’m gonna die, let’s die somewhere pretty”, this feels like a song for the desperate times we’re now living in… a recognition of the fact that we’re all too preoccupied with the fast pace of life and the things that don’t necessarily matter. And now that things have changed, it’s time to reflect on the things that do… to head back home and take a moment to pause (and survive). Far from being too preachy, there’s a laidback vibe to the track, with soft acoustics and lush electronics undercutting Sivan’s soulful, almost falsetto vocal. It’s quietly reassuring. And when a more pronounced beat kicks in midway through, the song even has a toe-tapping, breezy vibe that makes you want to appreciate the good things in life, even when pondering them in lockdown! Reflecting on the track himself, as he spends time at home in Australia during a period of isolation, Sivan said: “Take Yourself Home is one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written. The song is kind of a pep talk with yourself and the place you’re from. Grappling with your place in the world. I write these songs as a diary entry, then as life and places change and relationships change, songs can take on a new meaning entirely. Clearly that has happened for this song with what is going on in the world right now.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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HAYLEY WILLIAMSOVER YET: Paramore front-woman Hayley Williams takes a break from the rock thing to deliver a sleek slice of electro pop with new single Over Yet. Driven by a pulsating central synth loop, and some rapid-fire beats, the song also finds Williams declaring “it’s the right time to come alive”, while advising people to “get out of your head”. As such, it could be seen as a rallying call to keep mentally strong during these troubled, coronavirus-strewn times. And the zip with which the song is delivered fuels that overall feeling of positivity, thereby enabling the track to emerge as a genuinely empowering slice of power-pop. Over Yet follows the release of Williams’ debut solo EP, Petals For Armor I, in February, with the project’s second half due to arrive on May 8, 2020. To mark the single’s release, Williams has also released a lyric video that goes behind-the-scenes of a number of photoshoots with the singer.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mulimba, Your Own Blood

MULIMBAYOUR OWN BLOOD: Mulimba (aka Ash Mulimba of Haus) releases his new single Your Own Blood, a dark and brooding track about the closest of all relationships: family and the ability to argue, but then forgive one another. The songwriting is edgy but shot through with naked emotion, utilising crunching indie and searing soul, gospel-influences and rock distortion, clipped guitar lines and surging electronics. It’s an ear-catching mix that’s constantly shape-shifting (not always successfully), but one that undoubtedly keeps you hooked if only to tap into what it has to say about family (something we can all identify with) and what it’s going to offer up vocally and instrumentally. And those lyrics include such potent moments of imagery such as “you fought the devil but it’s your own blood”. Speaking about the track, Mulimba explained: “Your Own Blood is about family. That could mean your family by blood, your best friend/ close group of friends or ultimate just somebody that you care about deeply. I wrote Your Own Blood whilst going through a rough patch with somebody very close to me, but even though we were both hurt by things we’d done and said to each other, we still had an unconditional love for each other. No matter what you’re going through, good or bad, family will always be there.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lonely The Brave

LONELY THE BRAVEBOUND: Cambridge’s Lonely The Brave – one of Britain’s most successful rock bands of recent years, boasting two Rock Chart No.1 albums – have announced their long-awaited return with the release of Bound, the first studio material to feature new front man Jack Bennett. Featuring all of the elements that made Lonely The Brave so popular to begin with, including trademark chiming guitars and post-rock swells paired with a soaring vocal, this is designed to leave fans in no doubt over Bennett’s innate ability to lead the band in future. And he has genuine power in those vocals, switching from husky and edgy to epic and skyscraping at several points throughout. It’s a power-rock anthem that builds from slow to fast and back to slow again, frequently unleashing the big drums and monster riffs. So, it’s business as usual, really. But for anyone lamenting their disappearance, this should tick all the right boxes in comeback terms. The band have the following to say about their return: “‘It feels amazing, almost a relief, for us to finally be in a position to share this news. A new record deal, a first single back and an album round the corner. We’re thankful to be able to release this and hopefully it can be some respite in these dark times.” Talking about Bound, they added: “As soon as we’d demoed Bound, we knew it was a contender as our first song in this new era. We like to think that it has elements of what people liked about Lonely The Brave in the first place but also starts to lean in a new direction. What’s exciting for us, and hopefully for others is that it’s just a taster of what’s to come.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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EOB, Olympik

EOBOLYMPIK: Currently recovering at home and wishing the best for the safety and health of all, Ed O’Brien is grateful to unveil Olympik, the latest advance offering from his debut album under the EOB moniker, Earth, still on track for an April 17, 2020, release via Polydor Records. The third song from Earth to be released in advance of the album, Olympik is bristling with energy and is anchored by a lockstep groove courtesy of Omar Hakim (drums) and Nathan East (bass). Ed’s unmistakable voice and guitars float ethereally atop the mix, with additional programming by Flood, Catherine Marks and Adam ‘Cecil’ Bartlett, percussion and programming by Richie Kennedy, and guitar from Dave Okumu (The Invisible) adding and combining textures to mesmerizing effect. It’s instrumentals have a cinematic urgency to them, as if providing the bedding for a chase sequence. While the vocals have something of a U2 vibe, circa Flood-produced material, that’s further echoed by some of the later guitar riffs. It’s an interesting track that drives you along on its energy and resonant lyricism. And, at eight minutes in length, it’s epic too.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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David Ramirez

DAVID RAMIREZ – I WANNA LIVE IN YOUR BEDROOM: Mexican-American indie-rock artist David Ramirez has shared his brooding new single, I Wanna Live In Your Bedroom, taken from a collection of songs he’s been busy working on with producer Jason Burt (Leon Bridges, Sarah Jaffe, Paul Cauthen). While news of an album is due soon, Ramirez is now sharing another insight into the new material he’s been putting together: what he himself refers to as a collection of “soulful, love-making dream pop”. Hence, this finds the singer in a tormented, lovelorn and semi-obsessed state of mind, reflecting on his desire to be taken home (“I’m all yours, I don’t want to party anymore, dress me in your clothes, drown me in your pool, I wanna live in your bedroom”). And yet, while sounding desperate (and just occasionally romantic), the subtle piano arrangement and dreamy electronic instrumental is actually quite dreamy and pop-leaning. While the vocals occasionally evoke the spirit of Johnny Cash. There’s a strangely surreal, seductive quality to the song as a whole, and never more so than when it drops its chorus. Talking about the new single, Ramirez said: “This is easily the most romantic song I’ve ever written. I was sitting on my lover’s bed looking around at all the perfectly curated pieces in her room. Everything was so intentional and held a story and a place in her heart. I wanted to be one of those pieces. I wrote this and played it live for a year before going in the studio so I was incredibly attached and very particular with how I wanted it to come across. We ended up tracking it five different times until finally realizing it needed to be simple and sweet. It was written just minutes after waking up on a hazy winter day. How sweet and simple is love in that moment?” The sense of yearning is palpable.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sean Christopher, Indigo Blue

SEAN CHRISTOPHERINDIGO BLUE: Dutch-born, Bristol-based singer-songwriter and composer Sean Christopher has released his new single Indigo Blue through Dumont Dumont, offering a chilled track about hope that’s designed to offer some relief from all of the bad news surrounding the world at the moment. Sean explains: “Today, nobody knows what the future holds. Indigo Blue will be released in these uncertain times. A song about love and how love can transcend everything. When I actively started to meditate, I read about Indigo; the colour of wisdom, intuition, perception and creativity. Virtues that will show us the way.” Featuring a rolling acoustic guitar, some subtle beats, layered pianos and lush backing vocal harmonies, this is very much a track that’s designed to reassure and ease the stresses away. It’s genuinely harmonious and always positive. If you’re a fan of artists like Jose Gonzalez, then this may also be a great track for you. Indigo Blue is taken from Christopher’s upcoming second album Wander, which is set for release on May 29, 2020.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ellen Kraus, Silver Spoon

ELLEN KRAUSSILVER SPOON: Rising Swedish pop star Ellen Krauss has shared her latest single, Silver Spoon, and continues to endear herself to a global fanbase. The track is an acoustic guitar led offering that showcases Ellen’s delicate vocals, as well as her ability to deliver a stadium-sized chorus. Filled with beautifully orchestrated strings and stirring, left-field production, it’s another example of Ellen’s innate ability to convey real emotion and relatable stories through her music. Speaking about the song, Ellen said: “Silver Spoon is about two people, very different from each other, who choose to hold on. They’re not the perfect match, but they feel it’s better to be unhappy together than alone. It’s love after all.” The lyrics may be bittersweet but there’s a feeling of positivity that shines through the lush melodies and soaring highs that Ellen’s vocals achieve, allowing you to ponder the significance of the song’s meaning while enjoying its cinematic orchestration. The track comes after Ellen released her debut EP, First Take, last November, which has already amassed over 10 million streams.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Grey Daze

GREY DAZESOMETIMES: Grey Daze have released Sometimes as the third single from the band’s upcoming album Amends (June 26, Loma Vista Recordings), with a corresponding video that showcases the Chester Bennington-written song’s message of hope amidst unexpected times. “Sometimes, things just seem to fall apart, when you least expect them to,” offers Bennington in the lyrically profound three-and-a-half minute song. The track, which was written in 1994 but only recently re-recorded for Amends, goes on to say, “maybe things will look better, maybe things will look brighter”. It’s a song that may have been written in the past, but which carries plenty of current resonance given the uncertainty we all now face. The hope in the central refrain of “maybe things will get better” is worth holding onto. But there’s also something bittersweet in knowing that Bennington wrote the track, given the way things turned out for him. As you might expect from a song penned by a Linkin Park luminary, the track itself is full of angst, power guitar riffs, impassioned vocals and a Linkin Park-meets-Pearl Jam kind of vibe. It’s a powerhouse offering. Sean Dowdell, Grey Daze co-founder and drummer, commented on the track: “Chester was already a masterful lyricist at the age of 18, when he wrote this song (which was initially recorded when he was 21). I’ve said this in prior interviews, but this is one of those songs that when I hear it now, I recognize the pain Chester was living with even more acutely now that I’m an adult. As so many of Chester’s lyrics do, this message in this song, that bad things happen and there things will get better, resonates in an entirely different way with the current crisis we are all living through, and brings a message of hope.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 27, 2020

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

Major Lazer, Lay Your Head On Me

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MAJOR LAZER feat MARCUS MUMFORDLAY YOUR HEAD ON ME: Described as a soothing track for troubled times, Major Lazer’s collaboration with Marcus Mumford does exactly what it says on the label: calms, soothes and offers reassurance. Lyrics include “this too shall pass, it won’t always be the same”, while the instrumentals combine a tropical vibe with folk guitar flicks and a toe-tapping drum beat. There’s elements of calypso as well as Mumford & Sons style folk-rock and even a nod to the type of collaborations the late Avicii put together over the chorus. It’s designed to offer comfort and it succeeds in doing so, the central refrain of “lay your head on me” encouraging you to seek comfort in the arms of the one you love [so long as they’re in your household!]. The track, which actually marks Mumford’s first ever collaboration, was co-written with MØ, who last collaborated with Major Lazer on their massive 2015 hit Lean On. This one looks set to be every bit as huge.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Night Flight

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: NIGHT FLIGHTRYE: London-based indie-folk band Night Flight have released their new EP, White Noise, via CRC Records as the follow-up to their widely praised self-titled debut released in 2018. The songs on White Noise individually explore the nuances in specific pockets of life; exploring disillusionment, isolation and self-reflection in the midst of personal recovery. Evidence of the quality of what to expect comes in the form of beguiling and enchanting new single Rye, an homage to Sam’s hometown that also explores the raw themes of newfound solitude and nostalgia in the midst of grief. A folksy acoustic offering, this contains some beautiful guitar work, as well as a bittersweet sense of sorrow and loss (“baby come back to Rye… I miss our games, I miss being bored with you”). And while certainly melancholy in a lyrical sense, there’s something achingly romantic too… a wonderful juxtaposition of sentiments that sounds like Radiohead crossed with Elbow.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marsicans, Sunday

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: MARSICANSSUNDAY: Fast-rising UK indie band Marsicans have dropped another incredibly infectious indie-rock anthem in waiting in the form of Sunday, through Killing Moon Records. Boasting standout harmonies from frontman James Newbigging and bassist Rob Brander, the song’s sentiment about togetherness is particularly poignant for the times we’re living through and has a reassuringly positive message behind it. A celebration of family, loved ones and home, this drops lines such as “wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, it’s who you’re there with that makes it special”, thereby wrapping a warm musical hug around the listener and making them stop and appreciate the good things in their lives. The guitar hooks are warm and breezy, while the melodies are tight and sing-along inducing. It’s a really charming listen. In what is proving to be a big year for Marsicans, the band have announced their debut album, Ursa Major, is set for release on May 22, 2020, as well as a run of UK headline dates for October 2020. Sunday picks up from the release of singles Juliet and Can I Stay Here Forever pt. II, which will both feature on their debut record. Commenting on the track, Newbigging explained: “Sunday is written about a time we spent in Toronto and upstate New York. Some of it was written whilst we were out there. We stayed in Koreatown in Toronto, and that was quite fun, and added to the song as the trip went on. The verses are about us having the best time ever, in a new place, and feeling pretty lucky that we get to experience that as a band. So, it’s a love song to Toronto and NY State – but it’s also me just missing my girlfriend, despite having the best time in the world. It’s two-love-songs-in-one basically. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, it’s who you’re there with that makes it special.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kodaline, Sometimes

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: KODALINESOMETIMES: Kodaline have finally released the official video for current, anthemic single Sometimes – and it’s highly intimate and resonant. Directed by Mike Baldwin, the video get up close and personal with Kodaline’s frontman Steve Garrigan. Speaking about the video, he explains: “We’re happy to release the video for our new song Sometimes. We filmed it in London a few weeks back. The song’s about my personal experience with anxiety and we tried to capture that in the video in a fun way. It’s a little different to our other. During these strange times I hope everybody’s staying safe and keeping their distance and I hope you guys enjoy the video.” Delving deeper into the inspiration behind the track, Steve added: “Sometimes is a song I wrote while on tour in Asia last year. I had a really bad day dealing with my own anxiety issues and I let it get the better of me. I started writing the song in my hotel room to help me calm down, music has always helped me in that way. For me, it’s a song about accepting the bad days and trying to stay positive.” The track itself starts as a sun-kissed acoustic folk groove before launching into the kind of anthemic, larger-than-life pop hook that the band have now become renowned for. It also captures Kodaline’s rare gift for exploring a challenging topic within a song that feels both joyous and life-affirming. As the song admits, “we all get lost sometimes.” But it’s this resonant central motif that helps the song to strike such a chord, meaning that it’s ok not to feel ok sometimes. And yet, while conceding that point and reflecting on your own moments of being lost, there’s that anthemic, feel-good quality to the instrumentals, which come complete with stadium-sized sing-along harmonies and a really sun-kissed acoustic vibe.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Little Mix, Break Up Song

LITTLE MIXBREAK UP SONG: Written by Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne with Kamille, Frank Nobel and Linus Nordstrom, Little Mix’s comeback single Break Up Song is an anthem – somewhat predictably given its name – about getting over a relationship. It’s not a ballad, though, but rather a power pop track featuring an indelible melody and swirling 80s synths, all wrapped up in powerhouse vocals. If anything, it reminded me of a classic Sugababes cut, combining that easy to like pop melody with something a little more sassy to boot. The chorus sweeps you along in spite of the heartbroken sentiments underpinning it. But the girls seem determined to get over the loss and to move on, proclaiming that they’re going to “sing louder”. It’s pure pop confection, of course, but that’s also the very essence of girl band generated pop music.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Dua Lipa, Break My Heart

DUA LIPABREAK MY HEART: Dua Lipa has revealed the super-charged pop art video for Break My Heart, the latest offering from her forthcoming album, Future Nostalgia, which is out now. The video takes the viewer on a rollercoaster of a journey through the trials and tribulations of relationships. A playful offering, the single itself reflects on the imminent danger the singer is placing herself in by embarking on a new relationship (“Am I falling in love with the one that could break my heart?”). But rather than offering anything downbeat, this is a disco-pop groover that has a highly infectious toe-tapping quality, befitting the style of a lot of Lipa’s recent material. It’s a cautionary tale, complete with a timely “I should have stayed at home” lyric, that contains a much needed bounce in these worrying times. The new album also includes the Number 1 global hit single Don’t Start Now and her current smash single Physical.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Dust in The Sunlight

DUST IN THE SUNLIGHTDUST IN THE SUNLIGHT: Dust In The Sunlight release their eponymous debut single through Project Melody. An atmospheric offering, the song is designed to showcase their ability to combine ear-pleasing vocal harmonies with transportive instrumentals. Hence, those instrumentals provide a cinematic backdrop that feels epic in nature and quite often beautiful (never more so than during the instantly enticing intro). But the mix of boy-girl vocals also works well in providing some nice contrasts, especially when they occasionally collide with each other in the build up to, and during, the chorus. It’s an impressive debut that leaves you thirsting to hear more. Speaking about the song, they explain: “Dust In The Sunlight was one of the first songs that we wrote together, during a session at an artist warehouse in North London that Annie was living in at the time. The song speaks about being caught up with someone who’s emotionally unavailable and being prepared to compromise your own values in order to keep them around. We liked the imagery of the title so much that it became the namesake of the band.” Following a chance meeting at Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly’s studio singing backing vocals for his new album, singer-songwriters Billy Wright and Annie Rew Shaw quickly discovered how well their voices melded together. That evening, they wrote their first two songs together and Dust In The Sunlight was formed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Siv Jakobsen

SIV JAKOBSENFIGHT OR FLIGHT: First, the bad news… A Temporary Soothing, the forthcoming album from Norwegian songwriter Siv Jakobsen, is being pushed back due to delays on various aspects of the album release caused by COVID-19 – including an 11th hour escape back to her home country while she was touring in the United States. Hence, the album is being released on August 21, 2020. Fortunately, there’s a silver lining.. Siv has released submersive new single Fight or Flight and succeeded in whetting our appetites for the new LP even more. Built around some beautiful instrumental layering and those lush, dreamy vocals, Fight or Flight is an examination of the nature of long-lasting love, life and relationships that was inspired from something very intimate. It’s strangely reassuring, even though it focuses on something that’s, sadly, nearing the end. But in a coronavirus infected world, it also offers hope that the human spirit and its ability for love and compassion can endure. Siv herself commented: “I had this image of a very old couple lying in bed together – still and stuck to the bed frame, at the end of their life, taking their final breaths together. The song developed into a broader look upon what it is to stay with someone forever, to make that decision and be certain about it. To love someone and to receive love isn’t always easy, and giving yourself to someone so completely can be frightening and all-consuming.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Red Moon, Slow Down

RED MOONSLOW DOWN: Pop artist Red Moon releases her comforting new single Slow Down, which assumes extra resonance given the current global health emergency. The song urges us all to use this opportunity to ‘slow down’ and take a moment for ourselves, to breathe, to make art… all the things we may not usually have time for in the chaos of our day-to-day lives. But it also takes its own time to deliver the message, contenting itself to provide the listener with the simplicity of a soothing piano arrangement and Red Moon’s own, serene vocals. It’s a reassuring listen that suggests we could all benefit from taking our foot off the pedal for a little while, if only to appreciate the simple things in life. She explains: “In a time like this, it feels more important to enjoy these little moments that we have. That things go in a slower pace might be a beautiful opportunity where we might be able to enjoy our own company, by reading a book, listen to music, or just by staring at our own feet. Maybe by slowing down, we can find out what truly matters and go back to our fast pace life, when things have settled. Whenever I feel stressed and need to go back to a place where I felt something really beautiful and calm, this song provides that for me. Somehow, it has become a mantra or meditation, a safe haven to travel back to, and I hope that others can use it in the same way.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Winona Oak

WINONA OAKANOTHER STORY: Winona Oak has shared an eye-catching video for new single Another Story, taken from her recently released debut EP, Closure (Atlantic Records). On Another Story, Winona explores how naivete can make you project your hopes on an unsatisfying relationship and decides to move on and rewrite her love story with someone worthy. The video, directed by frequent collaborator Andreas Öhman, uses modern dance and kaleidoscopic projections to create intimate dream-like images of Winona entwined with a pair of dancers, pushing and pulling against each other to echo the lyrics. The track itself has a kooky pop element that’s playfully endearing. It’s lyrics offer a bittersweet but ultimately empowering insight into the relationship in question, emerging from the sorrow of its break-up to the determination to re-write the rules and triumph over the sadness. The melodic backdrop further offers a sense of optimism that makes the song entirely charming. Born and raised in the Nordic forests of Sweden on a small crop of land called Sollerön – known as the Island of the Sun – Winona Oak is every bit as enchanting as her origin story. With a childhood spent encountering more animals than people, she grew up a trained horse acrobat and pursued creative expression however she could, writing poetry and songs from a young age. Born into a musical family, Winona sang throughout her youth and began playing violin at five-years-old and piano at nine years. She’s a major talent.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Morgan Joanel

MORGAN JOANELDISAPPEAR: Fuelled by self-belief and a passion that itself is fuelled by talent and hard work, Morgan Joanel is steadily building a creative empire that spans beyond her native art-form of music into visual and wearable art. An unbridled spirit, Morgan has been a creative force for the last decade Australia-wide and beyond, recently returning to her hometown of Perth to create her latest music release. New single Disappear builds on her love of intricate loops and rich husky vocal hooks. It’s deeply atmospheric, with those smoky vocals emerging as particularly hypnotic. But the backing electronics and moody beats offer a cinematic element that offers huge crossover potential. Hence, while comfortable calling itself pop, the song is just as capable of appealing to fans of Florence and the Machine as it is Vera Blue and Lana Del Rey.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sparks, One For The Ages

SPARKSONE FOR THE AGES: Alt-pop pioneers Sparks – aka Los Angeleno brothers Ron and Russell Mael – have dropped new song One For The Ages, as a taster of their upcoming 24th studio album A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip. As with most Sparks material, this has that off-kilter vibe, with an edgy vocal delivering foreboding lyrics such as “as I write my tome, every single night, my eyes show the strain, of computer light, but I’m pressing on”. The instrumentals, meanwhile, are built around a central rolling piano arrangement, as well as some jagged synths that lend a darker undercurrent and an insistent energy. It’s a strangely unsettling listen, evocative of the confused emotions at play. But it leaves you on edge, throughout, and never really lets you settle into anything remotely comfortable or comforting. Sparks fans will lap it up… but it’s one for the purists. The animated video is directed by Estonian animation director Chintis Lundgren. The new album is due on Friday, May 15, on digital platforms, with the release date for CD, vinyl and cassette now set for July 3. Pre-orders are available now, with all pre-orders joined by ‘instant grat’ downloads of One For The Ages and previous tracks I’m Toast, Self-Effacing and Please Don’t Fuck Up My World.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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