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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 17, 2017

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

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD: As the release of their new album, Who Built The Moon?, draws ever closer, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds drop the third taster track in the form of It’s A Beautiful World. And as with the material so far, this continues to move away from the sound we’ve come to expect. Driven by a fantastic back-beat, some propulsive electronics and some stirring guitar riffs, this is fuelled by a tremendously invigorating energy. Gallagher’s distint vocals work brilliantly in tandem with those instrumentals, which benefit greatly from the presence of a certain David Holmes on production details. The chorus then breaks free from the main instrumental to lift the track into soaring, anthemic territory, that’s tailor-made for sending those spines tingling in live form. Coming off the back of previous singles Fort Knox and Holy Mountain, this new album promises to serve up something really special. Heck, we even like the French speaking interlude late on.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alexander Wolfe

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: ALEXANDER WOLFEOSLO: Described as a spine-tingling and emotive song about love and loss, Alexander Wolf’s new offering Oslo is as striking as that description sounds. Combining the epic elements of acts like Elbow and Peter Gabriel (both instrumentally and vocally), this takes a very cinematic approach to its songwriting, both in terms of the lyrical picture it paints and the intricately layered nature of the instrumentals, which range from snappy beat arrangements to sombre piano chords and – eventually – some soaring electronic elements. Speaking about the new single, Wolfe explains: “The song is about loss and grief. It’s about the feeling that comes with the realisation that a person you cared about is gone for good. It’s about not wanting to be deleted. Hoping that each of you left your mark on each other and that despite everything, it was worth it. The song came soon after the death of a family member and a relationship breakdown. I was in Oslo for a few days. There’s a certain absence, a cold alone-ness to the place that definitely fed into the song. To me, it sounds like Oslo feels.” Whether or not Norwegians will be happy to read that, this is a stirring, emotive and quite beautiful slow-builder of a ballad.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fall Out Boy

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: FALL OUT BOYHOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T: This week, Fall Out Boy surprised their loyal fans with a new single, Hold Me Tight Or Don’t and the news that they are returning to Europe for an arena tour in 2018. The new track is the fourth song to drop from the band’s eagerly anticipated seventh studio album M A N I A, which is released on January 19, 2018 – and it’s a typically lively offering, straddling the worlds of both alt-rock and pop. There’s a lively, carnival-style beat, some thrashing guitars and a melody-soaked chorus that proclaims, in typically spiky fashion, “hold me tight… or don’t”. Hence, while the song itself retains an upbeat energy, there’s a bittersweet undertow lyrically that’s synonymous with much of the band’s material. That doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself singing along, though. The video, directed by Brendan Walter and Mel Soria, is a love story embedded in a colourful and vibrant celebration of Dia de los Muertos. Fall Out Boy are Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley. The Grammy-nominated four-piece hail from Chicago and are one of the world’s most successful rock bands.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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DJ Snake

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: DJ SNAKE feat LAUV – A DIFFERENT WAY: Grammy-nominated French DJ and producer DJ Snake has finally released the video for his single A Different Way, featuring Lauv – and it was worth the wait. The heart-warming, uplifting video was directed by award-winning director Colin Tilley (DJ Khaled & Rihanna’s Wild Thoughts, Kendrick Lamar’s Alright), who also shot DJ Snake’s video for his single Middle. Tilley’s involvement in the video brings the journey of A Different Way full circle, as the director also captured DJ Snake’s journey in September through the streets of Paris that culminated in a historic performance atop the Arc De Triomphe where he originally premiered the track. Shot in LA, the video for A Different Way prominently features Sheadan Gabriel, a young dancer and actor most known for his work with Justin Bieber, as well as singer, actress, and dancer Internet personality Montana Tucker. As for the song itself, A Different Way offers up a pretty catchy mix of electronics and pop that combine DJ Snake’s trademark electronic loops and mixing skills, with a songwriting sheen that could only have been delivered by someone of Sheeran’s hit-making quality. Indeed, when left to the vocals, the song takes the form of a pop ballad that Sheeran himself could deliver, albeit with a softer set of vocals. But the chorus is pure Sheeran enhanced for the way it delivers on the catchy, sing-along elements. The instrumentals, meanwhile, find DJ Snake throwing off the shackles and delivering what his own fans would expect from him.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis, Reason To Hate You

RHYS LEWISREASON TO HATE YOU: Hot off the success of hit record Wish I Was Sober, Rhys Lewis bares all in this poignant and heartfelt new ballad, Reason To Hate You, out on Decca Records. The new track tells the tale all too familiar to anyone who has ever had their heart broken. A song of quiet desperation, Leiws’s soulful voice stands strong alongside a simple guitar accompaniment – gripping and heart-rending from beginning to end. Commenting on the track, Lewis said: “I wrote this song about a past relationship. She ended things, but it’s not like we’d fallen out of love or had a massive fight – it just wasn’t quite working and mainly down to bad timing. It was hard for me to accept the situation, or find any reason to stop loving her. There was nothing negative to walk away from, and I remember thinking – I wish she’d cheated on me or met someone else, because it would be so much easier to get over her. I found writing and recording this song extremely soul-bearing – it’s the first time I’ve recorded a song straight after writing it so I was still very connected to the emotions of it all. I recorded it as a live take with just a guitar, which really allowed me to feel the song and the performance. It creates a totally different energy but I think recording it that way suits the more intimate songs on the record, and I hope that comes across when people listen to the song.” With lyrics such as “help me get over you” and “tell me you love somebody else, or say you’ve been unfaithful to me, because I need a reason to hate you”, this screams with the torment that Lewis must have felt – but it’s relatable. And, as ever, Lewis’s delivery is extremely powerful, his soulful vocals working so effectively against that simple guitar strum.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Paramore, Fake Happy

PARAMOREFAKE HAPPY: Paramore’s latest offering opens in one way and ends in another. Early on, there’s a melancholy set of lonesome vocals, proclaiming “we’re all so fake happy”, over a simple acoustic strum. But around the 40-second mark, a more lively electronic pulse kicks in and the song enters more alt-rock/pop territory and immediately becomes more endearing. The result is a bittersweet offering that has a lot on its mind. As a social commentary, it raises plenty of questions about social behaviour. But instrumentally, it bounds along, offering plenty of radio-friendly melodies and a typically feisty set of vocals, as well as a “ba ba ba da ba ba” harmony late on that’s tailor-made for live fun. The later choruses really grandstand, even entering euphoric territory. Fake Happy is taken from the band’s fifth studio album After Laughter, which also includes the acclaimed singles, Hard Times and Told You So. The accompanying video was directed by Zac Farro, who comments: “The Fake Happy video was a very special video for me. This is the first time I’ve directed a music video on film. It was shot on 35mm. Also the first time working with my talented friend and DP, Josh Goleman. Everyone involved was amazing. I’m super stoked for people to see this music video. I feel it’s subtle and charming and suits the song perfectly.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alt-J, Pleader

ALT-J – PLEADER: Despite having already been released earlier this year as the climax to their album Relaxer, Alt-J have decoided to re-issue Pleader as their latest [and final] single from that LP, complete with a strikingly cinematic video. An epic creation, this is nevertheless a new and shorter version than that which appears on the LP, stripped of the flamenco-style guitars and pan pipe solo that marked the original. But it’s still heavily reliant on instrumentals, with cinematic strings and electronics providing a swirling, highly atmospheric backdrop and taking centre-stage for long stages. When the lyrics do eventually kick in, it finds the singer asking “how green, how green was my valley?” in a pastoral style (the line is lifted from Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel of the same name). It’s striking, distinct stuff, indicative of the Alt-J style. And the video, which unfolds like a Paul Thomas Anderson mini-movie, is equally as striking and atmospheric.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Off Bloom

OFF BLOOMLOVER LIKE ME: Having just released their 5-track Lover Like Me EP, rising Anglo-Danish trio Off Bloom today share a steamy, sensual video for the confident title track, directed by Abbie Stephens. Speaking about the video, the band had this to say: “The Lover Like Me video is the last chapter of the video trilogy that we have made in connection with the EP. Every video has one of the primary colors as a theme and they are all linked together. Shut Up And Let Me Walk is yellow and aggressive and rockefe11a is red and mellow! Lover Like Me has a blue theme and moves in more emotional, sensual universes dominated by reflections, doubled images and contorted frames. It plays with the idea of craving a lover like yourself and the gross and narcissistic elements in that but also the very human thing of wanting your lover to be as close to you and to know you like you know yourself.” The song itself is propelled by an insistent back-beat, some flute-like flourishes that add extra edge, and a melodic chorus that taps into the sensuality and sexuality of the lyrics and accompanying video. It’s upbeat, lively, provocative in its own way and a surefire hit for them – a song that is more than capable of breaking into the mainstream, while retaining the signature identity of Off Bloom.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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New Arcades, Irreparable

NEW ARCADES feat NINAIRREPARABLE: A meeting of 80s inspired synths, big pop hooks and a soaring vocal delivered by Nina!, London duo New Arcades return with their new singe Irreparable – and succeed in sweeping you away amid a tidal wave of ’80s nostalgia. Combining elements of dream synth pop with bombastic ’80s pop (circa Go West meets Tangerine Dream via Roxette), this washes over you in an almost entrancing fashion. The retro synths have an oddly feel-good vibe, in spite of being cheesy as hell, while the vocals and lyrics (which talk of being broken, yet with a heart wide open) also tap into that soap-pop sound of the past. It works much better than you think it should. Detailing the song, Adam, from New Arcades, explains: “The song itself is about the break down of a relationship and it therefore being Irreparable I guess the song flows like a story painting the picture of a relationship that’s become so bad, yet no party can consider why its gone so bad! Just the acceptance that they are unfulfilled and broken and putting the blame on each other, yet there’s that element of hope “my heart is still wide open.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fergus

FERGUSYOU OR NOTHING: Singer-songwriter Fergus makes his debut with some impressive backing credentials. For starters, his debut single You Or Nothing has been produced by Jake Gosling (of Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes fame), while his ear for a strong ballad is without question. His voice, meanwhile, is utterly distinct. In fact, it’s the type of voice that could make you do a double take the first time you hear it, given its pitch. But that only marries itself to the instrumentals in a more striking fashion. And the instrumentals on You Or Nothing are disarmingly simple but beautiful. There’s predominantly a striking guitar loop, with only mininal electronic support, thereby allowing Fergus’s aforementioned vocals to soar, particularly over the sweet chorus. It’s a genuinely striking debut. Speaking about the track, Fergus said: “You or Nothing is more of a snapshot than a story. It captures an unknown feeling caught between complex emotions. I like the combination of the simple, clear sounds and the maybe-dark/maybe-sweet lyrics. There’s a holiness to it you can hold up and examine in the light, but you might not like what you find.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Danu5ik

DANU5IK – IMAGINE: Originally hailing from London, Danu5ik is now a local Edmontonian looking to share his talent and passion with music fans worldwide. His new release, Imagine, was mastered in the famed Abbey Roads Studio in London. The track itself is a sharp slice of synth-pop that combines the pop sheen of Jean-Michel Jarre with the indie edge of Daft Punk, over a soulful, falsetto set of vocals. It sweeps along, really hitting its stride during those instrumental moments (where it is capable of cutting a swathe across the dancefloors of Europe). Danu5ik has dropped a compelling statement of intent. The release of the song includes the premiere of the Imagine music video and is the final single to be released before Danu5ik’s new album, which is set to be released in early 2018.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 10, 2017

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

Tommy Ashby

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: TOMMY ASHBYGUILTY: With Tommy Ashby having cut his teeth behind the scenes as a session musician for the likes of Jamie Lawson and Nina Nesbitt, as well as recording collaborations with Chris Bond (Ben Howard), his new stand-alone single Guilty is the mark of an artist who’s ready to step to the fore with his own original material. The new record is therefore the captivating result of Ashby’s authentic and considered songwriting, as he embraces the blues and folk music influences of his roots. Recorded in Ashby’s own bedroom (“I like getting up early in the morning and recording before my voice realises that it is awake”), and produced at Abbey Road Studios by Grammy Award winning producer and engineer Sam Okell, Guilty is brooding and dramatic… a slice of desert rock blues that boasts a powerful heartbeat-like rhythm, which builds carefully as the song spirals, hypnotically hooking its listener. The guitar riff is particularly striking, as are Ashby’s raw vocals. As a confessional, it’s compelling stuff and a strong indicator that Ashby is an artist to watch. Speaking of the lyrical concept, Ashby explained: “Guilty is obviously about infidelity and is told from the guilty party’s point of view. I wanted to look at how people approach telling someone they love what they have done and the latent love left behind after the confession. I find it interesting how some people can recover and still be contented; I always wonder whether the confession forever hangs over their relationship.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bastille, World Gone Mad

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BASTILLEWORLD GONE MAD: Bastille’s strings-laden ballad World Gone Mad may be taken from the soundtrack of the Will Smith-Joel Edgerton Netflix movie Bright but it could well serve as a timely reflection on the current state of our world. It’s shot through with emotive lyricism, which reflects the current state of confusion surrounding how to survive in these desperate times, while attempting to offer some kind of conciliatory hope. Perhaps the most striking bit comes as Bastille sings “if half the world’s gone mad, the other half just don’t care, you see” before declaring, in falsetto, “you don’t want to fuck with us!” It’s this lyrical juxtaposition that really stops and makes you think about what it is that Bastille is saying. Instrumentally, it has a keen sense of the cinematic, courtesy of its lavish string arrangements (which are nicely composed), while the folk-pop elements lend it an instantly appealing, highly melodic vibe that is sure to bring it a big fanbase. As mid-tempo ballads go, this is stirring, beautifully realised stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Perfect

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: ED SHEERANPERFECT: “I found a love that was just right for me… I found a girl just beautiful and sweet”. So sings Ed Sheeran over the opening moments of latest single offering Perfect – and he can’t help but melt your heart. As with so many of Sheeran’s songs, this is disarmingly simple, yet achingly effective. The vocals, early on, are centre-stage, allowing Sheeran to weave his lyrical magic (and make the girls swoon). While the instrumentals are largely constructed of acoustic strums and finger-click beats. Late on, there’s an almost strings-like surge that adds a cinematic quality to this ballad (evocative of something out of a Richard Curtis movie), as well as a nice acoustic solo. But far from feeling manipulative or sappy, this is heart-warming, heart-melting and deservedly romantic for all the right reasons. It’s another classic slice of Sheeran songwriting that’s sure to be as popular as it is timeless. The accompanying video, shot in Hintertux, Austria last month, was written by Ed himself alongside past collaborator, Jason Koeing (Shape of You), whom also directed the video. Following the song’s narrative of Ed falling in love with a girl he grew up with, Ed takes the leading role alongside American actress, Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures), and the result is a visual and track that is certain to become a staple in the run-up to Christmas.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jesca Hoop

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: JESCA HOOPPEGASI: 2017 has proven an incredible year for Jesca Hoop. She released the critically-acclaimed Memories Are Now, her Sub Pop debut and best-reviewed album to date. Hoop released videos for the beautifully stark The Lost Sky and the album’s ebullient title track. She’s embarked on wildly successful US and European tours and appeared on the Prairie Home Companion and Charlie Rose. To close out the year, Jesca has shared her new video for Pegasi, which was directed by Rachel Blumberg. Love is written in the stars and sky, in this delicately crafted multi-plane video which is comprised of cut paper and illustrated stop motion footage. The song itself is a beautifully simple acoustic ballad about love that is swoon-some in its disarming simplicity. Hoop’s vocals are achingly gorgeous, while the finely strummed acoustic melodies are simple but oh-so effective. There’s a warmth to the song that’s utterly charming.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSEEND UP HERE: Lucy Rose has unveiled the video for her current single End Up Here. The new track is a bonus release recorded during studio sessions for Lucy’s Something’s Changing LP, which is out now on Communion Records / Caroline International. The track is another beautifully controlled, evocative and simmering acoustic folk song that shows the intelligence and emotion that Rose injects into her songwriting. It’s low-key, dusky, reflective and beautifully composed, shot through with warm melodies and yet a subtle sense of underlying melancholy. The belated vocal harmonies are a nice touch, too, in bringing the song to its endearing close. The accompanying video finds Lucy in the middle of a late night reverie. It’s been a fulfilling and ultimately successful twelve months for Lucy, built around the release of her acclaimed third album, Something’s Changing, through Communion Records. The record launched in the Spring alongside a mini-documentary detailing the making of the album, capturing all of Lucy’s travelling to new places and meeting with new friends. The film has acted as the support act for her recent Worldwide Cinema Tour.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sia, Snowman

SIASNOWMAN: Sia swaps smart pop for Christmas schmaltz with her new album, Everyday is Christmas, with OK results. Her latest single, Snowman, is a ballad that is the second taste of music from her first-ever holiday album (out on November 17). It was once again co-written by herself and Greg Kurstin. But while certainly festive and reminiscent of classic Christmas ballads from the likes of Bing Crosby and company, it’s the very seasonal nature of the song that could impede its overall enjoyment given that it’s time restricted. That said, Sia’s vocals are as striking and distinct as ever, and set against some classic piano arrangements, while there’s a bittersweet nature to the lyrics. It’s typical of Sia’s desire to freshen up genres that she still manages to bring something fresh here and there, while simultaneously retaining those retro elements. But whereas her brand of pop has an innovative, timeless, year-round quality, these songs will only really get heard once a year.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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TQX

TQX feat SIATHE DAY THAT YOU MOVED ON: TQX have teamed up with Sia for epic new collaboration, The Day That You Moved On, the first taster of which is this moody title track. Another ballad, to add to Sia’s own Christmas offering Snowman, this is infinitely darker and more mind-bending, almost cinematically so. It’s dramatic, it’s born of heartbreak, and it comes accompanied with a trippy video that only heightens the mystery surrounding this particular outfit. Sia, as ever, drops a delicious set of vocals (this time sounding crestfallen), while the surrounding instrumentals have a highly dramatic feel that’s more evocative of soundtrack material than anything remotely pop. It’s striking, stirring stuff, albeit delivered in low-key, subtle style. TQX recently told NME: “Sia has brought the challenging nature of art into the pop world and we are honoured and excited to have her involved. This song speaks of the pain of breakup but also… the realization that technology can rob us of relationships, real life and the present moment. The unfolding reality of advancing technology is something that needs to be commented on and so we are using our songs to speak our piece.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sarah Blasko, Phantom

SARAH BLASKOPHANTOM: Sarah Blasko has announced details of her forthcoming album, Depth of Field, and unveiled its first single, Phantom. Much of Depth of Field was written and recorded during a two-week period as artist-in-residence at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in her home town of Sydney. The purpose of those Western Sydney sessions was to ‘manufacture a vibe’ which mimicked live performance; to explore the influence of space in the song-writing process. Hence, new single Phantom explores new sonic territories for Blasko. Ominous synth and piano are paired with the unbeatable groove of rhythm section Donny Benet and Laurence Pike before Blasko’s voice and the intensity of frequent collaborator Nick Wales’ orchestrations send the music soaring. The result is a track that boasts a distinct and exciting electronic pulse, slick beat arrangements and a seductive, sensual set of vocals from Blasko that sound like an artist who isn’t afraid to experiment and push her own songwriting boundaries. It’s a striking statement of intent that only makes the prospect of more new material an interesting one. Hell, the electronics even assume a strings-like quality late on, which work really well in tandem with those beats and vocals.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

GET CAPE. WEAR CAPE. FLYADULTS: Breaking a four-year hiatus with the immediate release of two new singles, Adults and Always, plus the promise of his first new album and live appearance to come, Sam Duckworth’s cape-crusading moniker, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, swings back into the limelight in emphatic fashion. Adults is a thoughtful acoustic ballad, delivered in classic troubadour style, that embraces its folk-rock roots. It’s unshowy instrumentally, yet makes strong use of Duckworth’s songwriting prowess, which should strike a chord with any parent. As Duckworth reveals: “Adults came from a friend of mine who has young children. I think one of the things you discover growing up is that there are far few “adults” than you think. As a child asks where are all the adults, us young adults often feel the same but are expected to find stability in a world where the rug is being swept from under our feet. It’s a song about reading analysis of social change but feeling that there is a disconnect between the analysis and the outcome of the analysis. Are we all backseat drivers? Who will take the wheel? Surely that’s a job for the adults.” Always, on the other hand, has a slightly more pop pulse, courtesy of a more prominent back-beat, which works well in tandem with the electronics and acoustics. As ever, there’s a keen sense of intelligence in the lyrics, which looks in bittersweet fashion at key moments in any one person’s lives. Explains Duckworth: “Always was written at the start of the year, as part of a series of sessions for Shy FX album. It was a magical session, with a revolving door policy. It was very creative and all artists had room to bring their unique styles to a common environment. The song is about the increasing isolation and anxiety felt when a significant moment in your life changes your whole perspective. Be it in childhood or adulthood, we have all had sea change moments where things don’t look or feel the same. This manifests in all of us differently, but sometimes the spiral of neglect is difficult to break. It’s a song in solidarity with those who have had their world shaken by negative incidents that will forever be used as psychological barometers for instinctual feelings.” Put together, this is a highly appealing, typically striking comeback from Duckworth.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 3, 2017

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

Saint Clair, Human Touch

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: SAINT CLAIRHUMAN TOUCH: Human Touch is the latest alice of brilliance to arrive from Londoner Saint Clair’s forthcoming EP, D2, due in early 2018, and follows lead single Amnesiac, produced by Terrible Records signing Rahm. A slice of trip-hop that’s shot through with sensual vocals (reminiscent of Skye-era Morcheeba), this practically purrs along on Saint Clair’s dreamy vocals and the accompanying electronics and beats. But as soothing and satisfying as the combination sounds, it’s actually a song born out of tragedy, as the singer explains: “Human Touch is a straight-up break-up anthem. I was in emotional limbo when an ex suddenly appeared at the back of a venue I was playing at, and it completely caught me off guard. The song is an exploration of that push and pull between revisiting the past and moving on for good.” The resulting track is a really class act. Saint Clair – so called after her mother’s Scottish ancestry – is the recording alias of French-speaking North Londoner, Emily Topolski. Having grown up by painters, actors and journalists, Saint Clair became the first in her family to turn to music, pursuing a career trajectory that’s so far taken her on the road as a backing vocalist for long-time friend Laura Marling and seen her play keyboards and sing BVs for Ghostpoet. She has also supported Bastille on their most recent area tour.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Young Fathers, Lord

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: YOUNG FATHERSLORD: Having contributed a couple of songs to the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack earlier this year, Scotland’s Young Fathers now release more new material from their forthcoming LP, in the form of the rapturous Lord. Built around a swirling central piano arrangement, the track then combines gospel elements with sung vocals that combine to create a heady but completely unique whole. Further mixing elements of R&B and gospel, as well as more of those tender pianos, the song then drops a set of passionate lyrics that explore the nature of love and struggle. “Her love is kind, her love is mine… Lord don’t pay me no mind, This is my cross to bear.” It’s thought-provoking stuff, dark in nature, that nevertheless resonates in emphatic fashion. All in all, it’s a very welcome return from this Scottish outfit. In a statement that coincided with the release of the new track, Young Fathers state: “We’ve just finished a new album, and it’s about fucking time!” Here, here!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Barr Brothers

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: THE BARR BROTHERS – IT CAME TO ME: The The Barr Brothers have released the first official music video from their celebrated new album, Queens of the Breakers, which is out now on Secret City Records. The video pairs the rollicking, burning blues of It Came To Me with visuals to match: a careening, down-and-dirty lawn mower race straight from the far reaches of Canada. The video was captured at a hundred-year-old agricultural fair in Shigawake, Quebec (pop. 300). Though it’s 12 hours outside of Montreal, thousands of people flock to the fair every year. Many come for a newer addition, a music festival that’s been organized for the past nine years by Meghan Clinton, the wife of drummer Andrew Barr, who is from the remote town herself. The Barr Brothers have performed at the music festival and this year decided to bring a videographer along, who captured some of the footage with a Super 8. The lawn mower mud-racing event shown in the video is a perfect complement to the down-and-dirty sound of It Came to Me; mud-splattered, unapologetic, ecstatic. Watching it, you can’t help but feel caked in mud, with the smell of booze and wood smoke hanging in the damp air. Says Andrew Barr: “For us and everyone up there, [the music festival] has become the party of the summer… This year when I heard that the video’s director Vincent was coming to the fair to do some filming, I called him and requested he bring a couple good cameras and a rain poncho… Vincent dug in deep, making friends with the fairgoers, capturing some of the absurd moments and the seamless clashing of worlds that seems like it could only happen in Shigawake.” The song itself begins with a squall of guitar and a rush of drums, quickly formed into a mean, bluesy riff textured with classical acoustic harp. Brad Barr’s voice distorts to a rasp, telling the tale of a Zen-like quest for answers to the questions of the universe. It’s got echoes of classic Tom Petty mixed with the moodiness of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. It’s heavyweight rock of the highest calibre.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Blitzen Trapper

BLITZEN TRAPPERWILD & RECKLESS: To mark the release of their latest album, Wild & Reckless (out now), Blitzen Trapper have dropped the official video for the title track. The distinct video features a lone traveller in a gas mask wandering a barren landscape in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s as striking as it sounds. The track itself adheres to the overall vibe of the album, which adopts a half rock-opera, half musical feel. Hence, the verses have a Meatloaf kind of quality to them, albeit with vocals that sound like pure classic Bob Dylan. But the chorus beefs up the guitars and tip-toes the line between classic rock and operatic, while some belated harmonica blasts only add to the song’s overall appeal. It’s a striking statement of intent that announces the arrival of the latest LP in emphatic fashion. But it might be something more of an acquired taste that some of Blitzen Trapper’s material. The themes of the album deal with heroin abuse, desperation, true love and western power structures. The story evoked a bygone era of Portland with this sci-fi love story, featuring a rock and roll score that paired unreleased songs with favourite’s from the band’s catalogue. It’s striking, ambitious stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Karine Polwart

KARINE POLWARTLARK IN THE CLEAR AIR: Lark In The Clear Air is the latest track to emerge from A Pocket Of Wind Resistance, the new album from Karine Polwart, which is due out on November 17. The album is the musical accompaniment to Karine’s acclaimed, self-written, directed and performed theatre production, Wind Resistance, which debuted at last year’s Edinburgh Festival to 4-star reviews, and multiple award nominations. Opening with the sound of birds tweeting, the track then drops some beautifully sweet vocal harmonies and melodies, which continue the feel-good vibe opened up by those birds. A folk-pop vibe then takes the song through to its conclusion, with Polwart’s vocals providing a soothing backdrop to the poetry infused lyrics. It’s intelligent, sweet and utterly harmonious, if you like the folksy kind of thing. Speaking about the track (whose lyrics are drawn from the work of Irish poet Sir Samuel Ferguson), Karine explained: In the spring and summer, Fala Moor is alive with skylarks, floating up and up on invisible shafts of air – and yet, they’re a red-listed, endangered species in the British Isles. The RSPB has responded by encouraging farmers to incorporate skylark ‘plots’ into their fields in order to protect their vulnerable nest grounds. In Gaelic, the word for skylark is fosg. It means, literally, open space, including the space above us. When I go to Fala Moor, I fell filled up with space.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Kygo, Stranger Things

KYGO feat ONEREPUBLICSTRANGER THINGS: Super-producer Kygo does an Avicii with OneRepublic on new song Stranger Things – and the results are every bit as effective. The fusion of dance and pop (with a touch of soft-rock) combines seamlessly to create the type of song that boasts the crossover potential of tracks like Hey Brother or even Coldplay’s recent collaboration with The Chainsmokers. The vocals are typically evocative of OneRepublic’s school of song-writing, contributing to a genuinely chant-worthy chorus that talks about the stranger things of who we are. But the synths underpinning them are pure dance, meaning that the song belongs firmly on the dancefloor. But they have a high likeability. Thanks to the likes of Avicii, it’s a formula that now feels somewhat generic and over familiar, but when done properly – as here – it’s still mightily catchy and highly effectively for raising the profiles of all artists concerned.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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NERD feat Rihanna, Lemon

N.E.R.D feat RIHANNALEMON: N.E.R.D return with the, erm, bouncing new hip-hop/R’n‘B mash-up that is Lemon, featuring Rihanna. It’s the type of track that drops attitude like H-bombs, amid tight beat structures and little else. Indeed, it’s more about the lyrics, which find both Pharrell Williams and company getting back to old-skool hip-hop style delivery, and Rihanna bringing her own inimitably sassy vocals to the party. At first listen, it’s sometimes a little too direct and fierce, relying more on that attitude than anything really appealing. But that’s deceptive. For there’s something undeniably fresh and hip about it – an urban slice of hip-hop that reinvigorates the genre, while blending in other elements. Rihanna’s presence is sure to bring it even greater prominence and broader appeal, but again underlines her willingness to experiment. The result is a real grower of a track that has an urgency that’s ultimately difficult to resist once you’ve heard it a couple of times.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jake Shears, Creep City

JAKE SHEARSCREEP CITY: Scissor Sisters frontman goes solo with the release of new single Creep City and it’s something of a departure in sound. Featuring a reverb heavy central beat and swampy pianos, as well as a cool bass guitar riff, it’s a foot-stomper of a record instrumentally, that continues to layer in the sounds the longer it lasts. Indeed, by the halfway stage, the instrumentals have assumed a carnival-style atmosphere akin to being in a New Orleans Mardi Gras environment. Vocally, of course, there’s a sense of familiarity, thanks in no small part to the distinct nature of Shears vocals. But it’s the heady instrumentals, complete with a sax and string solo midway through, that really help the song to stand apart from Scissor Sisters ventures. And as a statement of intent for what to expect from Shears’ solo material, it’s an emphatic new direction. Creep City may hint at the sinister in its title and some of its lyrics, but the song itself is a whole lot of fun.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Slow Readers Club, Lunatic

THE SLOW READERS CLUBLUNATIC: With reference points in the harrowing story of Robert Stroud, ‘The Birdman of Alcatraz’, and nods to cult prison thriller Midnight Express, the Lunatic video that accompanies The Slow Reader’s Club’s latest single is a tense and claustrophobic affair that offers fitting visual accompaniment to this compelling new release. The song itself unfolds amid a throbbing synth pulse, some sharp guitar hooks and a haunted set of vocals that properly tap into the tormented psychology at play within the lyrics. It’s a stirring, moody, dark piece of work that deserves notice. Commenting on the video, the band’s long-time visual collaborator Chris Croft said: “For years I’ve been haunted by the feeling I had when visiting the isolation cell of Robert Stroud, the infamous ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’. Stroud was kept in a small stone room at the prison for 6 years, imagine spending that amount of time cut-off from everyone? I’ve never felt anything like it, and as a film-maker I’ve looked for ways to channel that feeling, its claustrophobia and intensity into my work.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tarantina, Fables

TARANTINAFABLES: Self-taught singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and videographer Tarantina releases her striking new single, Fables, and impresses. A dark offering that’s built around dusky, Sia like vocals, atmospheric beats and electronics and a sombre central piano chord, this nevertheless captures your attention and refuses to let it shift. The lyrics are shot through with the pain of a failed relationship and a warning to avoid the same kind of trap, with the sense of anguish, regret and determination to learn growing as the song reaches its near operatic conclusion. Tarantina says of the track: “Fables is about the lies we tell ourselves; the blinkers we wear to protect us from what we’d rather ignore. I wrote Fables mid-flight at high speed after jumping headfirst into a relationship that I knew wasn’t going to end well. From the video, you can probably tell how that one turned out. The video combines stop motion animation and film that was shot in my bedroom.” Fables is the second track to be released from Tarantina’s forthcoming EP Teething, which will be released later this year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 27, 2017

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

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSFORT KNOX: On the evidence so far, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds mean some serious business with the material on new album, Who Built The Moon?. Hot off the heels of recent single Holy Mountain comes opening track Fort Knox – and it’s a monster. An instrumental for long periods, this lands with all of the authority of something like Kanye West’s The Power [an inspiration] coupled with the cinematic and world music elements of David Holmes [who produces the album]. It’s got foreboding chants, powerful string and electronic arrangements, pumped up beats and stirring guitar elements. A belated vocal that declares “you’ve got to get yourself together” adds to the overall sense of empowerment the track brings, while also dropping in some of the more indie-rock elements that Gallagher is more synonymous with. But in the main, this is about the power of the instrumentals – and it, quite literally, blows you away. It’s a fantastic album opener that you can only imagine going down a storm in live form. Roll on the rest of the new material!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Amanda Mair

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: AMANDA MAIREMPTY BLOCKINGS: Amanda Mair is a Stockholm native who gained attention as a teenager with her debut single, House, in 2011. The Washington Post praised her grown up Kate Bush sounds, while Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet described her album as one of the best Swedish debut albums of all time. Amanda has evolved since her debut – both as an artist and as a songwriter, but also as a person. Her comeback now promises to draw as many favourable reviews as her debut. New single Empty Blockings is a stunning new offering, evocative of both Kate Bush [vocally] and Bat For Lashes. It’s described as an apprehensive approach to love. The rolling beat echoes a pumping heart, afraid to open up to a damaged lover’s ‘demons getting louder’. There’s a promise of protection and security, but will it be strong enough to stabilize the relationship? Mair’s vocals are sublime, while the slick beat arrangements and sharp synth provide a propulsive, sometimes ethereal but continually beautiful and hip backdrop. The track is taken from her To The Moon EP< which is out now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JOHN JOSEPH BRILLALL EYES: As John Joseph Brill prepares to embark on his UK and European tour this November (including London’s Lexington on the 20th), he now drops the new single All Eyes. Produced by Andrew Davie, of Bear’s Den, this unfolds amid a heady drum arrangement before settling into something more synth-based and dark. Brill’s deep vocals enhance this sense of darkness, providing it with a sense of foreboding that’s noteworthy. If you mix elements of Lloyd Cole with Crash Test Dummies, and add a dark pop sheen, then you might get somewhere close to what to expect, both in terms of sound and quality. The guitar work on this one is also great. Speaking about the track, Brill explains: “I’ve wanted to release a song like All Eyes for ages. It was intended as a song for a frenzied, Friday night dancing in sweaty indie clubs but one that retains all the darkness of the songs that have come before it. A brooding, moody, sexy, hip-shaker of a song. A song you wouldn’t take home to meet your parents.” Hence, lyrics like “she’s the goodnight kiss at the end of the world.” We like… a lot.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Leiff Vollebekk

LEIF VOLLEBEKKTALLAHASSEE: Tallahassee is a powerful new piano ballad, from Leif Vollebekk, which is taken from the Twin Solitude recording sessions. Slow burning and reflective, this is marked by Vollebekk’s typically emotive vocals and some really thoughtfully composed piano chords. It has an autumnal feel, befitting the time of year it has now been released, and something that’s also evocative of acts like Billy Joel and Nick Drake in their prime. Vollebekk says of the song himself: “This is one of those songs that got away from me. All of the other songs on the album happened so fast. But not this one. I was sure Tallahassee was going to hold the whole album together. But it wanted nothing to do with it. This one went elsewhere. It wanted to be under its own constellation. In fact, this song wandered so far away I didn’t even know where it went, explains Leif on his creative process behind the final tracklisting of the record and this beautiful outtake.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rag N Bone Man

RAG’N‘BONE MANGRACE (WE ALL TRY): Still hot off the back of an incredible 12 months that shows no sign of slowing his momentum, RagnBone Man – aka Rory Graham – has confirmed the release of a new single Grace (We All Try). Never one to do things by half measures, this isn’t just the latest track to be taken from his debut album, Human, but an alternative mix to add something fresh. An album favourite, this takes the form of an emotional piano ballad that’s given an extra shot of energy and soul with rich layers of drums, bass from The Invisible Band and gospel backing from Yebba. The combination of exta elements helps to elevate Graham’s vocals to ever more emotive heights, even if the song itself is a little more subdued in delivery than his biggest hits to date. That being said, it’s a nice change of pace for Graham, underlining the diversity of his particular sound. And, as ever, it assumes a cinematic quality, enabling it to boast genuine crossover appeal. The single itself impacts on December 1. The acclaimed singer will soon be playing three sold out nights at London’s Brixton Academy in November, and has already seen a new show at London’s Alexandra Palace sell out in March 2018. Like we said, there’s just no stopping him right now – and deservedly so.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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ANDY BROWN feat CRISSIE RODESLANDSLIDE: Following huge success as the front man of Lawson, singer-songwriter Andy Brown has now signed a major recording deal with Decca Records for his first solo material. His debut single Landslide is out now and sees him team up with Crissie Rhodes from The Shires. The track showcases Andy’s knack for writing evocative and heartfelt lyrics, and draws the listener in with a huge sing-along chorus. The Nashville inspired strings work nicely with Andy’s smooth vocals, while the lyrics explore meaningful concepts of timeless love and companionship. The country vibe is further enhanced by the presence of Rodes, whose distinct country tones blend well with Brown’s, especially over the latter choruses. It’s a polished offering, tailor-made for the mainstream, with pop melodies mixing with those country-folk elements seamlessly. As such, it feels more generic than it perhaps ought to. But Brown knows how to write a song capable of appealing to the masses, and while the risk element of a solo venture is largely absent, this will satisfy those it is seeking to impress. Andy commented: “Signing with Decca Records for my first solo album really is a dream come true. I feel so lucky for all the success we had as Lawson, but with this new album I can truly be myself and I have the chance to make the music I am passionate about. I hope my fans will continue to follow me on this journey, and that they love the new music as much as I do!”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Adria

ADRIAGOLD WATER: Australian R’n‘B singer Adria continues to impress with her ethereal new single Adria. Drawing comparisons with the likes of Lykke Li and Lana Del Ray, this is high on atmosphere and an almost eerie beauty. Adria’s vocals are particularly striking, her dark tones by turns passionate and sultry. Yet the surrounding electronics and beats combine to provide a strikingly cinematic backdrop. And yet, for all of its atmosphere, there’s a catchy element to the chorus, which finds Adria singing of “falling down and falling down and falling down”. Speaking about the track, Adria said: “After Shell was released, I felt I needed to take a break from music, to draw on new experiences before writing and spending time in the studio again. This track is about romanticising situations and creating an idealistic vision of a person, or circumstance, which ultimately sets you up for failure. This usually happens during the early stages of a friendship, or any sort of relationship, where everything appears glittery and gold on the surface. Gold Water is about the moments before the water gets dark and murky.” Adria was named after the Adriatic Sea and grew up on the West Coast of Australia, so it is no surprise that she feels a deep connection to the water. Inspired by its conflicting, interchangeable qualities, from the glassy and calm, to the dramatic and turbulent. All are expertly referenced, in her approach to writing sophisticated brooding pop.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Paloma Faith, Guilty

PALOMA FAITHGUILTY: After a three year break from recording and giving birth to a daughter, Paloma Faith’s comeback has been gaining momentum ahead of the release of her fourth studio album, The Architect, out on November 17. Second single Guilty is the latest offering and it’s another sparkling pop gem. Packed with strings and emotive vocals, this has a cinematic quality that’s evocative of classic Adele on James Bond theme form. Indeed, you could well imagine Faith being nabbed to record the title track to the next 007 adventure on this form. The lyrics speak of regret and atoning for past sins, while the delivery is full of conviction – an impassioned plea to be forgiven, whilst warning listeners to stay away! It’s stirring stuff. According to Faith herself, Guilty was written from the perspective of a person who chose to ‘leave’ in the infamous Brexit vote. It boasts lyrics like: “I’ve been a criminal, I made a mistake, believed in the fictional ,then let everything slip away.” Hence, while it’s easy to view the track as a personal lament surrounding a relationship, it also boasts a fiercely political edge that’s designed to bring it even more attention.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Franz Ferdinand, Always Ascending

FRANZ FERDINANDALWAYS ASCENDING: Franz Ferdinand have already stated that their new material marks the start of “a whole new era” for them. And on the evidence of new track, Always Ascending, that would appear to be true. Eschewing the angular guitar sound that was formerly their signature, this new track is more synth heavy affair that fits more into an electro-pop genre, albeit with the indie edge that the vocals supply. Always Ascending certainly shows Franz Ferdinand broadening their palate, entering even more euphoric territory than usual, while creating a sound that singer Alex Kapranos refers to as “simultaneously futuristic and naturalistic”. It’s actually quite a refreshing change of direction for them, and one that could well bring along an all-new fanbase. The synth workout towards the end of the track, for instance, is pure electro-pop exuberance that applies a much hipper sheen to the band than we’re used to. It helps bring the track to a spectacularly feel-good close. Always Ascending was recorded at RAK Studios, London and Motorbass in Paris, with the help of French producer extraordinaire Philippe Zdar (Cassius, Phoenix, The Beastie Boys), the mutual affection between band and producer seeping into every dazzling groove.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jordan MacKampa

JORDAN MACKAMPAGIVE IN TO THE DARK (LIVE FROM THE GRAND CRU): Give Into The Dark is the first track to emerge from Jordan MacKampa’s new EP Live From The Grand Cru, which is set for release in Spring 2018. It’s described by the singer himself as “a dark confession of sorts, but with less religious attachment”. Instrumentally, it boasts a folk rock vibe that’s shot through with a breezy melodicism. Vocally, it’s nicely delivered with MacKampa ensuring the confessional elements of the lyrics make the most impact. The singer also has this to say about the track: “I’m saying that the ‘real world’ feels less like a dream come true and more of a nightmare. So, by giving into the dark, I escape to a place where I’m at peace, giving me the chance to run away from the war I’m fighting, even if it’s only for a moment or two.” If we add to this review that the track feels like something that could well appeal to fans of acts like Turin Brakes, then it should come as no surprise to find that the song was actually co-written with Olly and Gayle from that band, in Olly’s kitchen last year. Incredibly, it was written during a heatwave, which puts the lie to the breezy element the song drops. It’s another classy piece of work from MacKampa.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 20, 2017

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

Weezer, Pacific Daydream

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: WEEZERHAPPY HOUR: Weezer deliver another doozy of a track from their new Pacific Daydream LP in the form of the ultra breezy Happy Hour. Lyrically, it’s a song about needing to reach that particular happy hour at the end of a long week, or a tumultuous set of personal circumstances. But it’s delivered with trademark Weeze verve. The chorus declares “I need happy hour from sad days” and assumes a naturally anthemic, sing-along quality that’s easy for anyone to get behind. The slacker tendencies that infuse a lot of their songs are absent this time, with the guitars much more reigned in. Hence, there’s a greater emphasis on synth-pop, which should enable the song to reach out and embrace an even bigger set of fans. It’s another example of why Pacific Daydream, with songs such as Mexican Fender, Weekend Woman and Feels Like Summer, rates as one of the finest of their career, not to mention one of the best and most accessible of the year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Figgins

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: TOM FIGGINSRETROGRADE: Tom Figgins goes from strength to strength with the release of latest single Retrograde. Beautifully composed, thoughtfully written and intricately layered, this is the type of song that keeps on delivering something the longer it continues. Lyrically, the track was born out of Figgins’ need to tackle the past. “It’s about immersing yourself in who you were, embracing that and emerging from the flames knowing a little bit more about yourself,” he explains. Instrumentally, it delivers a more familiar brand of folk-tinged indie, while broadening out to include the best of his eclectic influences. Hence, the song is infused with traditional folk guitar elements but also includes delicate string passages, and ambient guitar lines, as well as some violin from none other than Tom Hobden, of Noah & The Whale fame. It provides a richly layered listen that is truly memorable and evidence of a songwriter at the top of his form. Retrograde is the second track that has been produced solely by the artist himself.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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MGMT, Little Dark Age

MGMTLITTLE DARK AGE MGMT return with their first track in four years in the form of the dark but playful Little Dark Age. Without ever coming close to the euphoric synth pop of signature tune Time To Pretend, this nevertheless drops some shimmering synths and plenty of bass, together with a drone-like central vocal that captures the dark, possibly Gothic undertow of the track as a whole. Hence, the overall vibe is akin to early Depeche Mode mixed with Gary Numan, with classic MGMT elements thrown in. It’s vaguely retro, yet hip enough to be contemporary too. The darker lyrical undertow is highlighted by lyrics that find Andrew VanWyngarden speaking of rotted feelings, failed jokes and finding himself in a very solitary space. Yet, for all of its melancholy, those synths and beats have a toe-tapping quality that infuse the track with an energy that belies its darker elements. All in all, it’s a welcome return from MGMT that looks like furthering their success.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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10 Years, Ghosts

10 YEARS – (HOW TO LIVE) AS GHOSTS: 10 Years return with the new studio album (how to live) AS GHOSTS and welcomes back band members Brian Vodinh (guitar / drums) and Matt Wantland (guitar). The result is a typically powerful offering, as evidenced by the lead single and title track. A potent, politically infused offering, this combines some typically stirring guitar work with emotive lyrics (“you’re running through the motions of the emotionless”). The band says of the song: “After traveling the world and seeing all the political, social and religious turmoil, it had me thinking about how many people are judging and preparing for death, but are actually missing life. And, instead of using spirituality for good, a lot of people use it to point fingers and judge. Instead of worrying where we end up in the end, we need to focus on the now and the humanity.” It’s an empowering message and one that’s delivered in a suitably robust rock style – slower verses, soaring choruses that evoke comparisons with the likes of Foo Fighters and company. Welcome back, boys.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Supersonic Blues Machine

SUPERSONIC BLUES MACHINE feat STEVE LUKATHERHARD TIMES: Supersonic Blues Machine released their new album Californisoul – featuring Billy F. Gibbons, Steve Lukather, Eric Gales, Robben Ford & Walter Trout – on October 20. One of the best tracks is this new single, Hard Times, featuring Lukather. A blues-soaked track, it finds Toto’s Lukather assuming the bulk of the guitar work with some tremendous blues solos, as well as a backing element of soul singers who infuse proceedings with a soul-pop vibe. Hence, far from being a song reserved solely for the blues purists, this extends its appeal to admirers of soul and pop too, albeit those who get their kicks from a more classic style of soul and pop. It’s got something for fans of acts like Clapton, Plant, ZZ Top, Toto and Jeff Beck too (to name but a few). But it’s the guitars that really standout – and in the cracking solos. It’s where the biggest kicks can be found, especially during the extended solo that draws the track to its sublime close. Supersonic Blues Machine is Lance Lopez (guitars/vocals/songwriter), Fabrizio Grossi (bass, producer, songwriter), and Kenny Aronoff (drums). As they’ve proven on their first album and round of shows, it’s not a party unless you invite some friends, and for Californisoul, they’ve brought along some heavy hitters. It’s a record that pays some huge dividends.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Maroon 5 feat ASAP Rocky

MAROON 5 feat A$AP ROCKYWHISKEY: Maroon 5’s latest offering from forthcoming LP Red Pill Blues marks a change of pace from the likes of What Lovers Do and Help Me Out. In fact, it’s more of a ballad. Adam Levine’s vocals have a more sorrowful quality, befitting the theme of addiction that is contained within the song courtesy of lines like “she kissed me, like a whiskey”. The singer is clearly consumed by his feelings for the woman in question. The low-key, slow-burning nature of the song even boasts a blues-pop quality and is further enhanced by a belated rap from guest singer A$AP Rocky, who enters the fray around the two minute, 28-second mark. It’s a nicely judged rap addition that doesn’t derail the song. In fact, it gives it a little belated zip, accompanied as it is by a slight upturn in the beats. Whiskey is another strong addition to an album that would appear to find Maroon 5 back on form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nabihah Iqbal

NABIHAH IQBALSOMETHING MORE: Announcing her debut album on Ninja Tune, Nabihah Iqbal leaves her old moniker behind and embraces the name she was born with. Formerly known as Throwing Shade, Weighing of the Heart is being hailed as a big statement in two ways: first, because she’s taken her real name to stand proudly as a female British Asian artist making music and secondly, because she’s moved her music in a bolder, more expansive direction. New single Something More showcases that more expansive sound, emerging as a cross between Cure-inspired guitar sounds and Saint Etienne vocals. Iqbal’s subdued vocals explore the feeling of being eternally unsatisfied with what you’ve got. “[It’s] a song about a universal feeling that everyone shares, even if they try to hide or ignore it” she explains. “It’s about how true happiness and freedom only exist in the dimension of our fantasies, dreams and private thoughts. The reality of our physical existence constantly leaves us dissatisfied, frustrated and yearning for ‘something more’, even though we’ll never find a way to remedy these feelings.” The ensuing track is laidback, stress relieving and shot through with ear-catching melodicism. It bodes well for the rest of the album.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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HOULTPHARMACY: Hoult has developed a rare knack of sounding both dreamy and sharp at the same time. This, married with vital yet wistful song-writing, concocts his imaginative brand of guitar pop. New single Pharmacy is a case in point. The track builds from an affecting intimacy into a song with a grand scale possessing folk-tinged anthemic choruses: reminiscent of Bombay Bicycle club and Frightened Rabbit rippling with personal lyrics that tap into wider themes, it’s nicely delivered, anthemic in its own way and befitting a grand stage once it hits the highs of its soaring chorus. Better known as Sam Fowke, Hoult shares many songwriting sensibilities with Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Heck, he even sounds like Martin when he adopts a falsetto [as he does throughout Pharmacy]. But there’s a keen sense of his own sound, too, and Pharmacy has an urgency that’s appealing, building from that mellow, even humble, opening to something quite inspiring and panoramic. Fowke says of the track: “Pharmacy summarises the feeling of frustration when you cannot help someone you care about. Darker themes run through the veins of this track, yet the energetic and cheerful instrumentation represent the mask a lot of people wear on a daily basis.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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L.A.D, Dancefloor

L.A.D – DANCEFLOOR: L.A.D are a synth funk trio from Reading with a shared love of 80s nostalgia. Multi instrumentalists Jack and Luke, having spent years accumulating vintage synths, guitars and drum machines, have teamed up with ginger bombshell Natalie to update the music they love. After spending the last six months making all kinds of noises in the studio, the debut album is due out later this year. First up is Dance Floor, an homage to the disco sounds of their favourite era. Hence, there are traces of early Madonna, as well as elements of Kelela and Whitney Houston, mixed in with a synth sound that Daft Punk or even Miami Sound Machine might dabble with. Admittedly, you probably need a healthy appreciation for all things ’80s to get the most out of it, but Dancefloor nevertheless boasts a cheesy, carefree abandon that should have you reminiscing about that colourful decade, while quite possibly heading to a dancefloor of your own.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 13, 2017

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

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSHOLY MOUNTAIN: After teasing fragments of songs and art from the new album, Who Built The Moon?, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds now drop Holy Mountain as the first proper taster of what to expect – and it’s a riot. Boasting the same thunderous self-assurance that you’d expect from an Oasis songwriter, coupled with the slick, ultra-cool production values that only someone like David Holmes can bring, this is a blast of free-flowing energy that’s propelled along on a tidal wave of drum beats, guitars and brass. There’s woo-hoo harmonising, a brash chorus, anthemic stature, Paul Weller on organs and – most importantly – a keen sense of fun. It’s something that Gallagher himself admits to being particularly proud of, as he states: “It was one of the first things that David and I did on the first week of working together. I knew instantly that it was going to be the first single. There’s so much joy in it. Until the day I die, it will be one of my favourite pieces of music that I’ve ever written. It sounds great live. My kids love it, my friends’ kids all love it and I’m sure ‘the kids’ will love it.” Altogether now, “she fell, she fell, under my spell….”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Calexico

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CALEXICOEND OF THE WORLD WITH YOU: Calexico have announced details of their ninth studio album with a new single and accompanying lyric video. The album, The Thread That Keeps Us, is due out on January 26, 2018, through City Slang and provides a timely snapshot of the Arizona-bred band: a family portrait capturing their stylistic variety and unpredictability while still finding solace in limitless creativity. As heard on the album’s lead single and opening track, the drama of the landscape directly impacted the making of The Thread That Keeps Us. Driven by sing-song melody and galloping rhythms, End of the World With You discovers an unlikely romanticism in volatile times. With its lyrics illuminating ‘love in the age of the extremes’, the track is the perfect intro to an album that endlessly explores the contrast between bright and dark, hope and fear. With rolling guitar hooks, a classic sense of Americana, a catchy chorus and typically intelligent lyricism, this is the kind of song tailor-made for epic road trips. It’s got a glorious guitar solo midway through and conveys that sense of the endless in taking a trip along America’s dusty highways. Yet crucially, too, it has a sing-along quality that makes it effortlessly appealing too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nerina Pallot

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: NERINA PALLOTBRING HIM FIRE: Nerina Pallot unveils a grittier side to her song-writing make-up with new single Bring Him Fire. The song unfolds amid an almost blues-rock vibe, albeit shorn of the guitars for most of the time, courtesy of the raw, edgy central vocal that Pallot drops. It’s a song full of longing that finds Pallot at her most appealing, vocally. The accompanying instrumentals are as laidback as they are moody, adding a sense of atmosphere that’s striking. And this is heightened as the song progresses, eventually incorporating some great blues guitar work from long-time friend Bernard Butler, as well as some cinematic string arrangements. As ever with a Pallot production, it’s a classy piece of work. Commenting on the song itself, though, Pallot admits: “I struggled with the recording of Bring Him Fire because I wanted to keep it raw but have it make sense with the rest of the album, which is quite intricate and orchestrated. I leaned heavily on Bernard [Butler] for an objective opinion. As ever, he gave me fabulous advice (some of which I ignored, but he forgave me) and also added his effortless guitar genius to it. Lyrically, it’s pretty straightforward: lady likes man, wants man to notice her, etc, so she’s written it all down in a handy little list for him in case he wasn’t sure what he might be getting.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Whatever It Takes

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: IMAGINE DRAGONSWHATEVER IT TAKES: Imagine Dragons may have refined their sound somewhat to sound more populist but they remain a class act. Hence, following the recent likes of Thunder (with all of its anthemic, chant-along elements), comes the equally robust Whatever It Takes. Built around sung-spoke vocals that take on a rap-like quality at times, this is also backed by big beats and an even bigger chorus, that proclaims: “Take me to the top of whatever I’m ready for, whatever it takes!” Admittedly, the track is a long way from the sound that they’re more commonly associated with thanks to songs like I Bet My Life and Demons. But we’re liking this new, bombastic sound. It’s clearly designed to broaden their appeal and it looks set to succeed. This gets into your head and refuses to budge. It’s a real grower. And the newly released accompanying video is ambitious and eye-catching too, featuring the band performing the song and slowly becoming submerged by water until they need rescuing my mermaids. It’s well worth a look.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fickle Friends, Hard To Be Myself

FICKLE FRIENDSHARD TO BE MYSELF Hard To Be Myself is Fickle Friends’ boldest, brightest and most dizzyingly memorable single to date, available now on Polydor Records. Musically, it’s a giddily peaking rollercoaster of irresistible hooks, while lyrically it flips line by line from gloriously hedonistic abandon to nakedly self-analytical. It’s an anthem for a pre-loading generation of wasted youth. Building towards an infectious chorus that you’ll be singing for days, Hard To Be Myself is the creative culmination of three years honing their craft on the road and in the studio and as a result is undeniably brilliant. Built around a female set of vocals that are, by turns, harmonic, seductive and feisty, as well as some toe-tapping beats and livewire synths, it’s an effervescent offering from an endlessly creative band on the cusp of major success in 2018. On writing Hard To Be Myself, front-woman Natti said: “Hard To Be Myself is a song about social awkwardness and anxiety. Wanting to be someone else so desperately, dreaming you were the life of the party. It’s the idea that a certain person can kinda loosen your senses and lower your inhibitions just like drinking alcohol. This song was a work in progress for about a year and a half, but it got to maybe the 30th rewrite and we just had to be like ‘ok let’s stop messin’ with this’, ha.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kodaline

KODALINEREADY TO CHANGE: Ahead of their run of four UK tour dates in December, Ireland’s Kodaline have dropped the I Wouldn’t Be EP, featuring four new tracks written by the band at The Vale Studios in Worcestershire. The most prominent of these is the anthemic Ready To Change, which also features a video directed by long-time visual collaborator Stevie Russell. The track itself is a slow-burner, delivered in the style of a Coldplay or am Imagine Dragons. But once it gets going, it’s pretty empowering. There’s a clap-happy, chant-worthy central choruses, several big electronic flourishes that are shot through with melody, and the usual set of earnest vocals. It’s got another big hit for the boys written all over it. As if to underline their diversity, the EP’s title track finds them delivering a song that draws comparisons with the style of Bon Iver, while there’s indie-pop on The Riddle, which has already become a live favourite.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ross Blake

ROSS BLAKEHOUSE OF MIRACLES: Enter the surreal world of UK polymath Ross Blake. The London-based musician has dropped the hypnotic, tripped-out, hand animated video for his new track House Of Miracles. Fearlessly charting a journey into a world of mystery, Blake’s delirious original soundtrack to Pretty en Rose conjures up the glamorous milieu of its parent film, yet goes beyond to inhabit its own peculiar and poetic realm of the imagination. Taking French musical themes and interweaving them with a plethora of influences ranging from Ennio Morricone to Angelo Badalementi, and Joe Meek to Angela Morley’s Watership Down soundtrack, Blake creates a finely-wrought tapestry that exists on a plateau beyond kitsch and exotica, drifting effortlessly through realms of fantasy and hallucination. House of Miracles is a trippy, cinematic journey filled with flutes and pianos that is, by turns, hypnotic, surreal, beautiful and playful. It’s an acquired taste, given its experimental nature, but coupled with the video especially, it’s an endlessly fascinating one.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Hannah Jane Lewis

HANNAH JANE LEWISRAINCHECK (FICKLE FRIENDS REMIX): Indie pope masters Fickle Friends and upcoming pop sensation Hannah Jane Lewis have unveiled their remix for the latter’s new single Raincheck – and it’s breezy pop-soaked stuff. Raincheck finds Hannah turn an exciting corner, her passion and vision evident on this fizzing, colourful track. Hannah says of the song: “Raincheck is about giving someone just enough to keep them interested, but never too much where they know what is coming next. It’s the initial stages of a relationship when you keep your cards close to your chest, before you are both brave enough to let your guard down.” The Fickle Friends remix infuses the song with some slick production values, courtesy of fizzing synth arrangements that augment her sharp, feisty vocals. There’s a zip to the track that’s engaging, coupled with a pop swagger designed to place her at the forefront of the pop scene. Hence, while it’s not doing anything amazingly different, in some senses, it does what it does with a carefree abandon that translates well to the mainstream listener.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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OMYO, Mysterious Girl

OMYOMYSTERIOUS GIRL: London-based pop duo OMYO have unveiled the new video for their second single Mysterious Girl, which premiered via Clash Magazine. A seductive, pulsing track, Mysterious Girl is designed to be a self-assured statement of intent, that OMYO are destined to be a hit in clubs and radio alike. In video form, the track combines fresh electronic production values, soulful (borderline falsetto) vocals with ambitious visuals (starring model Pauline Ivashevskaya). It has a late night kind of sheen to it, courtesy of its neo-soul grooves and sexy sounding vocals. But there’s plenty more going on electronically to give the track the kind of added bounce that will make it a surefire dance-floor fixture. Mysterious Girl actually started life as a slow jam, written when Will and Tom were sofa surfing at the group’s inception. However, the duo knew its potential as a more up-tempo dance number and worked in conjunction with North London DJ/producer VAHNI, (known for his work with All Saints and Wyclef Jean), to take the track up a notch. The resulting mix was spotted by Accessorize using the track for their SS17 Festival Fashion TV Campaign, a placement that recently featured in industry bible Music Week.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dog In The Snow

DOG IN THE SNOWCONSUME ME: Dog In The Snow finds inspiration in the juxtapositions: the warm project title goes hand-in-hand with the grim ending of Kafka’s The Trial. Inspired by the dark underbelly of Scott Walker, the mortal anxieties of Sufjan Stevens, the glistening soundscapes of Susumu Yokota, Helen Ganya Brown also finds influence from her own experience of being mixed race and a foreigner to her homelands, whilst exploring self-identity in its culture and ideas. With all that in mind, new single Consume Me remains an intelligent, beautifully composed and nicely understated offering and a really useful introduction to her if you have yet to be charmed. Based around a rolling central guitar loop (that’s almost Snow Patrol-esque), the song then introduces Helen’s sweet vocals, albeit with a hint of something darker and more surreal underpinning them. And this darkness even turns Kate Bush over the chorus, when the beats pick up, the guitars drop and there’s a bittersweet pop edge. Of course, the song returns to the slow build approach of the verses, but it’s those juxtapositions that make Dog In The Snow so fascinating to listen to. Helen says of the song: “Consume Me is a farewell to the world on a deathbed. It’s the kind of moments and feelings I envision you could have at the end: personal and universal feelings of regret, hope, magic; a longing to be taken in by the earth (forever abused and forever loved) from where it all first began.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 6, 2017

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

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: WEEZERWEEKEND WOMAN: Another week, another track from Weezer’s latest album, Pacific Daydream – and another gem. Once again using a change of tempo, this one has a laidback, feel-good vibe attached and a greater pop sheen than the more alt-pop, indie style of Mexican Fender or Beach Boys. It’s a song about yearning and being in love (“all I want is to see her, all I want is to see my weekend woman”) that’s chock full of classic Weezer-meets-even more classic Beach Boys harmonies. There’s breezy guitar hooks, a chorus that’s catchy as hell and tailor-made for singing along to, as well as a romanticism in the lyrics that’s highly endearing. If The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love was an anthem for that band, which utilised the days of the week in its composition, then this looks likely to do the same for Weezer. It’s another classic cut from an album that looks, at this stage, to be full of them.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gabrielle Aplin

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: GABRIELLE APLINUSED TO DO: Gabrielle Aplin has released another daydream of a single from her new EP, Avalon, which is out now. Built around those beautiful vocals we’ve come to know and love, this is a song that nevertheless comes dripping with a sense of loss and longing. Sure, the melodies are nicely delivered and have a warmth to them. But they belie the heartache inherent in the lyrics, which include such lines as “nobody loves me like you used to do” and “can you hear me, tell me that you feel it too, do you still know me, like you used to do?” Crucially, though, the record itself doesn’t dwell on those melancholy sentiments. Rather, it builds steadily to a heady finale, complete with some robust drum arrangements and a vocal performance that builds with intensity. There are still acoustic folk hooks underpinning things, and Aplin’s honey-dued vocals never sound dull, contributing to a record that’s shot through with typical brilliance and emotional resonance. It’s another gem to be taken from an EP that also boasts the standout track Waking Up Slow.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Yonaka, Bubblegum

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: YONAKABUBBLEGUM: Brighton firestarters Yonaka have unveiled their debut, five-track EP Heavy, the lead single of which is the incendiary Bubblegum. Combining the best elements of No Doubt with Thirty Seconds To Mars (in terms of stadium-filling size), Bubblegum is a riff-led juggernaut about desire and determination that’s genuinely exciting and invigorating. The guitars are sharp and spiky, and very loud, while the vocals have a shouty quality that’s strangely appealing. There’s an immediacy and vitality to the track that makes it highly cinematic, as well as vicious in a punk-like style. Having worked closely with Rodaidh Mcdonald (The xx, Sampha) on production, sonically, the new EP brims with life and chaos, showcasing the Brighton-based band’s limitless musical vocabulary, something for which they have already received acclaim for after being hailed as ‘Ones to Watch’ by the likes of Clash, NME, Kerrang!, DIY + many more over recent months. Formed after meeting at university, YONAKA have released just a handful of tracks thus far – most recently Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya. Produced by Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys) and their first output since signing with Asylum/Atlantic [the band released a couple of tracks prior on Phil Taggart’s label, Hometown Records], the track was unveiled in May and received specialist support from the likes of Huw Stephens, Daniel P Carter, Annie Mac and MistaJam, in turn, accumulating over 60 plays on Radio 1 alongside a plethora of editorial support.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Off Bloom

OFF BLOOMHEY BAE: Ascendent Anglo-Danish trio Off Bloom share another track from their upcoming five-track Lover Like Me EP, in the shape of down-tempo two-step number Hey Bae. A simple but sexy offering, this drops a jaunty, playful central beat with some provocative, sexually-charged lyrics (“hey bae, let’s do it your way… I like the things I’m not used to”). The female vocals are suitably sultry and equally moody, in keeping with the low-key tempo. And yet, in spite of the down-tempo overall vibe, there’s still something energising about listening to the track – it has a late-night quality that makes it tailor-made for after hours weekend listens, quite possibly with the man or woman in your life. The new EP comes after previous single Falcon Eye, the follow up to the Anglo-Danish trio’s breakthrough debut EP Love To Hate It, and is set for release on October 20.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tove Lo, Disco Tits

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: TOVE LO – DISCO TITS: Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum, multi-billion-streaming artist Tove Lo has dropped a great new video for her new track Disco Tits via Polydor Records. The track sees Tove Lo reuniting with The Struts, her long-time collaborators and the same production team behind Cool Girl, Habits (Stay High) and Talking Body. The video, meanwhile, offers a tongue-in-cheek, highly sexy take on a day-in-the-life-of the notorious provocateur and international superstar, featuring muppet-style characters. It opens with an interview, conducted by a muppet character, and featuring some fruity language, before then heading out onto the road, into a bar and – belatedly – into the bedroom for some very W-rated stuff. It’s a lot of fun and is directed by long-time collaborator Tim Erem (whose credits include Rihanna and Nick Jonas). “Disco Tits is abut loosing yourself with your new found love. Naive, excited, no consequences. The happiness in the haze I’m feelin’ right now,” explained Tove. The ensuing track has a deliberately sexualised energy to it, as well as a free flowing abandon that’s constructed around super-slick beat and synth arrangements, as well as a provocative, seductive central vocal. It sounds as though Tove Lo is cutting loose in exactly the way she describes. Hence, while mainstream friendly to the max, it has its own energy and an undeniably sexy edge to it that’s not for younger ear-drums.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rie

RIESECRETS: After releasing her debut EP, Business Trips, in June to critical acclaim, Japanese-born, London-based art school graduate Rié – pronounced ‘ree-ay’ – returns with her second release in six months, with the Levels EP, due out on November 3, 2017. She has also shared the video for the track, Secrets. Lyrically, the track looks at the world around us, an environment that Rié argues is full of deception. Rié explains “that those deceiving tendencies have become more prevalent in recent years through media, politics and so on”. She continues: “The old science fiction/future fantasy films are not far-off from what we see today, and I started getting into classic films like Metropolis, 1984 and Brazil and the connoted imagery. As I dug deeper into the video archives, I found propaganda footage set during World War Two and found it ironic that we are still repeating the same thing, the media itself embodying and functioning as a demagogue.” The record itself combines a smooth set of vocals with slick beats and smooth-groove, soul-pop infused electronic arrangements, some of which have a future feel. It’s a satsifying listen, thoughtfully constructed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Maroon 5

MAROON 5 feat JULIA MICHAELSHELP ME OUT Maroon 5 have showcased another catchy offering from their forthcoming LP Red Pill Blues, in the form of the Julia Michaels featuring Help Me Out. Built around some slinky, fun electronic loops and a mostly falsetto set of vocals from Adam Levine, this finds the leading man in some kind of trouble, emotionally, and seeking some support. Julia Michaels drops an equally appealing set of female vocals once the second verse lands, adding even more sexuality to a track that’s not exactly short of it. The beats, meanwhile, have a toe-tapping quality that help to ensure this is a track that will put a smile on your face, and get your head nodding along, practically from the very first moment you hear it. It’s more pop-focused than classic Maroon 5 but it has an undeniable appeal, no matter how disposable overall. Contrary to what the name of the new LP suggests, the new material – thus far – sounds immense fun.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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P!nk

P!NK – WHATEVER YOU WANT: Typically provocative, yet equally heartfelt, P!nk’s new single Whatever You Want is a trademark offering, yet no less appealing for it. Opening with an emphatic beat and the no-nonsense lyrics “running like a dog, fighting like a bitch… you don’t seem to give two shits because you’re just too cold baby”, this nevertheless strips away that early bravado to offer something more intimate and even vulnerable, courtesy of lines like “I feel like a ships going down tonight” and “whatever you want, whatever you need”. The beats remain emphatic throughout and come wrapped in some interesting guitar and electronic arrangements. But this is notable for the way it combines the sass with the heartfelt, as only P!nk knows how. The chorus, meanwhile, is highly appealing. The track is taken from the imminent new album, Beautiful Trauma (out October 13) and follows the singles What About Us and Beautiful Trauma.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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George Glew

GEORGE GLEWHOME LOVE: George Glew’s new single, Home Love, is the third track to be released as part of his plan to release a new single every month for the next year. Explaining the meaning behind the song, he explains: “It’s a song about empathizing with someone who is at their lowest. Knowing that everyone goes through hardships and low points and doing something to help that person. Acknowledging that you’ve been through a time similar to this person creates a vulnerability which I think comes across in the song.” As that description suggests, the song adopts a slow-build approach designed to showcase Glew’s impassioned yet impressive vocals, which are shot through with heartfelt emotion. But while certainly anguished and sympathetic, the song does occasionally really burst into life in a style that sounds more like a Sigur Ros or Jose Gonzalez-style surreal creation. And it’s those sudden bursts that really add a striking vibe to proceedings, making sure the song stands out from the crowd. It’s a headrush moment to offset the more reflective material contained within. And it’s impressive. Glew’s two previous singles Bury Me and Me And My Brother (released in July and August) have been streamed over 295,000 times on Spotify, featured on the Apple Music A-List, and received radio plays from Annie Mac (BBC Radio 1), John Kennedy (Radio X), Elton John (Beats1) & Adam Walton (BBC Radio Wales).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Howie Payne, Hold Steady The Wire

HOWIE PAYNEHOLD STEADY THE WIRE: Hold Steady The Wire is the latest single to arrive ahead of Mountain (due for release on October 27), the follow up to Howie Payne’s solo debut Bright Light Ballads, which was produced by Ethan Johns and hit #1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart. A low-key slow-burner, this boasts a satisfying folk-rock vibe that even contains psychedelic elements in its vocal style, akin to listening to some Beatles or Lennon material. The guitar work is warm and highly melodic, with some nice percussion and piano to back it up. It doesn’t set the world on fire, but it’s a really nice listen and delivered in a genuinely classic singer-songwriter style. Speaking about the writing of the new single, Howie said: “I had the windows open late at night and could hear the crowds of people coming out of the pubs and all that in the distance, you know, shouting, laughing, fighting, singing, all the stuff that happens. I was playing this old Spanish guitar with nylon strings, it really lent itself to those kinds of flamenco style chords, so I was doing some of that and just listening to the sounds in the air. There’d been a storm earlier, thunder and lightning, one of those nights that feels like you’re in a film. The chord progression is very satisfying to play, kind of hypnotic, I was playing it round and round and then the song arrived, and everything that was in the air just all found its way into it.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 29, 2017

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

Liam Gallagher

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LIAM GALLAGHERGREEDY SOUL: Liam Gallagher continues to build anticipation for his debut solo album As You Were by sharing a video for the latest album cut, Greedy Soul. Filmed at London’s AIR Studios, the video finds Liam on imperious form with his famous vocal delivery bristling with relentless energy and fiery attitude. He’s perfectly complemented by his live band, which is boosted by a brass section and two soulful backing singers. Written by Liam and produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat, Greedy Soul is an unabashed blast of guitar-fuelled rock that has plenty of guts instrumentally to match Gallagher’s distinct vocal swagger. It’s loud, ballsy and anthemic and further evidence that Liam’s first solo outing could be about to deliver something on a par with Oasis at their best. The robust guitar riffs on this one are particularly rousing (think Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-style intensity), while the lyrics are as volatile as we’ve come to expect, dropping at least one expletive and talking of 666 and crucifixes. The chorus is a pure blast of rock n roll energy… the type of which only the Gallaghers know how to deliver. And it’s further embellished with those stabs of orchestral brass, which work in tandem with the fiery guitar solo to stirring effect.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Skinny Living, Fade

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SKINNY LIVINGFADE: Fade is the emotionally stirring new single from Skinny Living. Described as an illuminative slice of modern soul music, this works so well because of the power of Ryan Johnston’s stirring central vocal, which conveys the emotions contained within the lyrics (“I didn’t mean to hurt nobody… sat on the corner of the bed with my hands on my head thinking about the things I said”) so well. The instrumental accompaniment is predominantly an acoustic guitar, although there are some subtle electronics and a nice layering of beats over the chorus. There’s a hint of Jason Downs in the lyrical style, as well as his single White Boy With A Feather during the chorus. But that’s a compliment. Produced by Steve Robson (James Bay, John Legend), this is a cracker of a single that deserves to get Skinny Living even more noticed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fenne Lily

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: FENNE LILY: Fenne Lily has unveiled another new single, Three Oh Nine. The track has proved popular with live crowds in recent months and with a proper studio version now ready, Fenne is sharing the track with a wider audience. Three Oh Nine begins with Fenne’s now familiarly fragile vocals front and centre but marks the first time she has experimented with a fuller band sound – bringing in bass, percussion and glistening production, her repeated “please don’t leave” becoming a haunting refrain as the track unfolds. And believe us, that fuller sound arguably creates one of her most accessible records to date. The instrumentals blend seamlessly with her lush, soulful vocals, which build to a stunning crescendo over the later choruses. The build-up, too, is nicely layered and beautifully delivered, creating something of a dream of a record. It’s easy to see why it’s become such a fan favourite. It should also become a fan builder. Ahead of the news of a debut album, in October, Fenne Lily will embark on a unique co-headline tour with Siv Jakobsen, Sivu and Paul Thomas Saunders playing some of the UK’s most beautiful venues, including London’s Cecil Sharp House on October 12.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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HAIM, Valentine

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: HAIMVALENTINE: HAIM have released Valentine, a short film shot directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood). Captured in March, the film is an intimate glimpse of HAIM live in the studio playing songs from their then unreleased, critically acclaimed second album Something To Tell You. Valentine was shot on location at Los Angeles’ Valentine Recording Studios, a charming setting which has laid untouched and pristine since closing over 30 years ago. Earlier this year, HAIM announced their new album’s release date along with a live studio clip of the song Right Now. That live video and song received rave reviews and kicked off the excitement for new music. This clip, along with unseen performances of tracks Something to Tell You and Nothing’s Wrong are featured in the short film, which was screened in London, New York and Los Angeles ahead of the release of Something to Tell You. Valentine closes with HAIM in drum circle delivering a thunderous percussive finale that fans have come to expect from their live shows. It’s a useful showcase both of the beauty of their songwriting (the slow build on the gorgeous Right Now is really impressive), while that drum circle is terrific in the way that it ends the son [and video] on a rush. HAIM have once again teamed up with Paul Thomas Anderson to direct the video for their new single Little of Your Love, the clip will be released in the coming days.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Future Animals

FUTURE ANIMALSASK FOR IT: Acclaimed Danish songwriter producer combination Future Animals – aka Don Stefano and Rissi – have released their debut single Ask For It through their own label, Rocket Science, and show bags of potential. A sincere, passionate set of vocals immediately impress, and show plenty of range, while a velvety smooth piano underpins things nicely until a slick back-beat and some toe-tapping electronic arrangements provide even more energy. It’s a smooth, soulful offering that is really nicely delivered – and those vocals look set to really impress going forward. Future Animals have previously worked on multiple musical projects together, having co-written and produced the debut album for Lukas Graham, as well as collaborations with the likes of Aloe Blacc, Selena Gomez and Julia Michaels. Ask For It is their first release as Future Animals, though. But it makes you hunger for more.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Cabbage

CABBAGEKEVIN: Kevin is the new single from Cabbage, released on Infectious Music. Premiered on Radio 1 earlier this week by Huw Stephens, the track is a re-recording of the lead track from their 2016 debut EP Le Chou. A fan favourite and Cabbage’s live set closer, Kevin was produced by James Skelly & Rich Turvey (Blossoms, She Drew The Gun) at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios. It’s a lively, indie-rock foot-stomper that is alive with off-kilter energy and a kind of ramshackle style. If you took the best elements of early Kaiser Chiefs and Blur and threw them together, you may get some idea of the kind of energy to expect. It’s got catchy hooks, warped electronic elements and shouty vocals. But it somehow comes together to create something messy but fun. You can’t help but be swept along on its crazy indie-rock vibe – even if the finale gets away from them a bit.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Forest Swords

FOREST SWORDSCONGREGATE Forest Swords, aka Merseyside producer Matthew Barnes, returns with a two track single in aid of hurricane and earthquake relief work in Puerto Rico and Mexico. For that reason alone, it’s worthy of widespread attention. Congregate comes four months after the release of his critically-acclaimed album Compassion. The beatless tracks, recorded during the Compassion album sessions in early 2017, take the sonic palette of the full-length and strip it back to a more meditative, textural place. Main track Congregate is based around brooding, mutated choral chants – but while the lack of beats is surprising, it nevertheless remains an effective, and affecting, production. High on atmosphere, and with an air of melancholy befitting the seriously tragic subject matter it is seeking to highlight, this is reflective, sorrowful and oddly beautiful. It’s also highly cinematic and evidence of an artist in peak form. The tracks are available to stream and download now, with proceeds going towards ongoing and future aid work following the devastating hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and this month’s earthquake in Mexico.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Matt Bye, Galloping Waves

MATTI BYEGALLOPING WAVES: Now here’s a contradiction in terms. The name of Matti Bye’s new single Galloping Waves suggests something stormy and tempestuous. Instead, one of Sweden’s most sought-after film composers has delivered something eerie and haunting, yet oddly compelling. Within this track, Bye reveal his affection for circus music and other archaic styles. He speaks fondly of ‘the strange, romantic mood you get when you hear old merry go rounds, or mechanical instruments in small amusements parks, and abandoned places like Coney Island’, thereby creating an unsettling, childlike dreamscape of sound. The piano arrangements are very subtle, yet beautifully entwined, while the lack of beats heightens the circus-themed element and the childlike nature of the composition. It’s beguiling stuff. Until now, Bye has been best known as one of Sweden’s most prominent film composers, working on scores not only for contemporary but also vintage silent movies. In 2014, he received two of the three nominations for Best Original Music Award at Sweden’s prestigious Guldbaggen: his soundtrack for Faro took the honour (as well as a Nordic Film Music Prize) ahead of his work for The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window And Disappeared.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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First Aid Kit

FIRST AID KIT – IT’S A SHAME: We’ve long been fans of First Aid Kit and their latest single, It’s A Shame, doesn’t disappoint. Shot through with lush vocal harmonies, sunny melodies and a folk-meets-country guitar sound, this reverberates with a classic songwriting sense. Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg continue to melt hearts with their vocals, which again hark back to a bygone, possible ’70s era. But the way they deliver their songs genuinely intoxicates. Commenting on the track, the sisters said: “We went to Los Angeles last spring and spent five weeks there writing. It was a tough time for the both of us. We were in this beautiful sunny place, but mostly felt sad and lonely. It’s A Shame is a song about the emptiness and desperation you feel after a relationship has come to an end. How you will go to great lengths just to numb the pain and feel less lonely?” Incredibly for a song born out of such sorrow, it’s upligting instrumentally. But it has plenty to say and should resonate with anyone feeling the same. It’s A Shame is the first single to be taken from First Aid Kid’s forthcoming new album, which is the follow up to 2014’s Stay Gold
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jon Boden

JON BODENBEE STING: Jon Boden, former frontman of the progressive folk 11-piece Bellowhead, has announced details of Bee Sting, the new single to be taken from his forthcoming solo album Afterglow, set for release via Hudson Records on October 6, 2017. Afterglow is Boden’s first studio release since calling an end to Bellowhead, a 12-year project that culminated in a quarter of a million album sales and worldwide sell-out shows, including the Royal Albert Hall. Bee Sting is the third in a string of singles, trailing All The Stars Are Out Tonight and Moths In The Gaslight. It’s a striking acoustic offering, that finds Boden in reflective mood and delivering loads of imagery. It’s nicely composed yet occasionally prone to throwing in the odd, rousing moment of percussion. But in the main, it’s a quiet slice of folk songwriting that serves to emphasise the emotive power of Boden’s vocals. Speaking about Bee Sting, a track that points to his past experiences at Lewes’ (East Sussex) infamous bonfire night, Boden said: “There is a wildness about it that is often hinted at in large bonfire night celebrations, but Lewes really takes it a lot further, with half-barrels of burning tar being dragged along the narrow, medieval (and one would imagine rather flammable) streets, plus there are several bonfire societies who compete to burn the most impressive effigy – often of present day political figures. And then there is the sheer weight of numbers – the streets are rammed and it is not possible to move against the tide of the crowd. This is where the idea of the two lovers nearly meeting up very early in the evening but then being parted by the weight of the crowd came from.” Afterglow follows on from Boden’s 2009 solo concept-album Songs From The Floodplain, which lead him to be named as Folk Singer Of The Year at the BBC Folk Awards.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 22, 2017

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

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUBLITTLE THING GONE WILD: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are currently putting the finishing touches to their forthcoming eighth studio album, the follow-up to 2013’s Specter At The Feast, entitled Wrong Creatures, which will be released on January 12, 2018. And the good news, on the evidence of first taster Little Thing Gone Wild, is that they’ve lost none of their ability to mood rock your socks off. The track is a dirty, sexy, rollicking ride of big licks and heavy bass, augmented by sharp stabs of harmonica and those gruff, moody, oh-so husky vocals. The chorus is as big as you’d expect… a riot of raucous energy that matches anything that Kasabian or Oasis can offer in the way of brashness. The track is also the inspiration for the LP’s title, drawing on a lyrical passage: “Lord you hear me loud into my soul speaker, why won’t you let me out, you’ve got the wrong creature.” It’s a fiery, epic comeback from a band we’ve long missed and always loved.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Shed Seven, Room In My House

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SHED SEVENROOM IN MY HOUSE: It’s been a while since we’ve had anything new to write home about from Shed Seven (apart from their annual, always welcome tours). But now they’ve delivered the anthemic, chant-worthy indie-rocker Room In My House. As ever, Rick Witter drops some towering vocals, showing that time has not diminished on his prowess for delivery. But there’s also the usual powerhouse guitar-work, with an indie leaning, as well as a rousing, crowd-pleasing chorus that’s clearly designed with those annual live shows in mind. That is to say, there’s heaps of “yeah yeah yeah” and “oh oh oh” chanting, mid-chorus, that’s sure to whip the live crowd into a frenzy. The obligatory guitar solo is also something of a killer, even at times channelling the cool of The Stone Roses’ Driving South. It’s an emphatic return from a band that deserve to have another big moment in the spotlight, rather than coasting on nostalgia. The track is taken from the upcoming album Instant Pleasures (out November 10) and we’re suitably excited.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Barr Brothers

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE BARR BROTHERSQUEENS OF THE BREAKERS: The Barr Brothers have shared the anthemic title track from their forthcoming album, Queens of the Breakers. This album, the band’s first in three years, will be released on October 13 on Secret City Records and, on the evidence so far, it promises to be a cracker. If not quite as rocky as It Came To Me, their blistering last offering, this nevertheless displays the excellent songwriting skills that have come to mark their music. This one is alive with slick folk-rock guitar licks, warm and reassuring vocals and a keen sense of melody, all delivered in a classic rock style. Hence, if you’re fans of bands like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in their prime, or Beck and Springsteen, then this exhibits many of the same timeless qualities. The guitar solo is great, the sense of pacing is spot-on and the overall enjoyment value sky-high. Queens of the Breakers takes its name from The Breakers, a Vanderbilt mansion perched atop Newport, Rhode Island’s rocky coastline. As teenagers, brothers Brad and Andrew Barr were part of a mischievous group of friends that would descend upon Newport dressed in their mothers’ clothing; the better to shock the tourists. It’s a vehicle for reflection: a tight group of friends that grew apart, now seen through a Terrence Malick Tree Of Life-like haze.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis, Wish I Was Sober

RHYS LEWISWISH I WAS SOBER: Rhys Lewis continues to display some impressive credentials with new single Wish I Was Sober, a heartfelt – but surprisingly upbeat – lament about a failed relationship and the heavy drinking that followed. Lewis finds himself “feeling low” throughout, fuelled by regret and drink. But his backing instrumentals include some slick piano arrangements and equally toe-tapping back-beats, as well as a gospel-tinged backing that create something of an upbeat vibe. Sure, once you pay attention to the lyrics, they’re pretty downbeat (and even despairing). While a mid-track breakdown, in which he pleads “will you take me back”, really brings out the depths of Lewis’ despair. But on the whole, this is a lively record that combines Lewis’ ability to write heartfelt, intelligent and sometimes painful songs with the type of songcraft that should effortessly appeal to the mainstream listener. Crucially, it won’t bring you down.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Paloma Faith

PALOMA FAITHCRYBABY: Paloma Faith has described her keenly-anticipated fourth album The Architect as “a social observation record”. Hence, lead single Crybaby ponders whether war would cease to exist if men successfully dealt with their emotions. It begins with an emotive, even haunting spoken word speech, which culminates with the line: “You are the leaders of tomorrow bred to be the future’s history… you should hold yourselves as such. Do not let the world see you tremble.” It’s food for thought, followed by a surprisingly upbeat disco-pop record. The melodies are pure pop, the chorus fairly euphoric, with slick beats and soaring vocals. And yet, there remains a seriousness to the vocals, which contemplate that idea of being faithful and true to your emotions. Faith’s vocals also carry a reassuring vibe throughout, instilling the listener with a confidence to be true to how they’re feeling (“go on and cry baby, cos you don’t have to keep it inside”). Given the current show of machismo being carried out by two world leaders at present, it’s a song that couldn’t be more relevant.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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DJ Snake, A Different Way

DJ SNAKE feat LAUV – A DIFFERENT WAY Well this one looks set to be massive. Grammy-nominated French DJ and producer DJ Snake releases his new single, A Different Way, which marks a notable collaboration between himself, Lauv (on vocals), Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac, Lindy Robbins, Ilsey Juber & Johnny McDaid (who all co-wrote the song). The result? A pretty catchy mix of electronics and pop that combine DJ Snake’s trademark electronic loops and mixing skills, with a songwriting sheen that could only have been delivered by someone of Sheeran’s hit-making quality. Indeed, when left to the vocals, the song takes the form of a pop ballad that Sheeran himself could deliver, albeit with a softer set of vocals. But the chorus is pure Sheeran enhanced for the way it delivers on the catchy, sing-along elements. The instrumentals, meanwhile, find DJ Snake throwing off the shackles and delivering what his own fans would expect from him. It’s an effortlessly appealing mix of styles, seamlessly blended together. Like we said, it’s going to be one of the winter’s big tunes.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Demi Lovato, Sexy Dirty Love

DEMI LOVATOSEXY DIRTY LOVE: Sexy vocals, provocative lyrics and super-charged synth bursts… the new single from Demi Lovato is as sexually charged as its name suggests. Flitting between sultry verses, in which Lovato’s vocals take centre-stage, and then euphoric synth blasts, Sexy Dirty Love is a lively slice of electro-pop that ticks all the right boxes. Its edgy at times (especially in its use of lyrics), propulsive at others, but catchy throughout. Lovato knows how to deliver a mainstream record that maintains its own sense of identity, while also being capable of stepping up to the dancefloor and appealing to the masses. The track is taken from her upcoming Tell Me You Love Me album.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Baywaves, Down 4 U

BAYWAVESDOWN 4 U: Baywaves are the latest band to emerge from the burgeoning Madrid independent music scene, following in the footsteps of recent breakthrough acts including their friends Hinds and The Parrots. The four-piece have been gaining Europe-wide momentum with their hypnotic, summery pop songs and powerful live performances. New single Down 4 U was recorded with Hans Krüger at Montreal Studios and mixed by Jarvis Taveniere (Woods, King Gizzard, Real Estate). It’s a typically laidback, hypnotic offering with hushed vocals set against breezy electronic arrangements, that conjure something of a late summer-time vibe. It’s easy on the ears in a chilled out kind of way, perhaps lacking that little spark of energy to geninely make it essential. Baywaves say of the new track: “This song was recorded during the same sessions as our previous single Gliss. It was a great studio experience as each song asked for a completely different approach; while Gliss was more like a punchy, live show-oriented song, Down 4 U is a mellow, yachty pop love song. We spent more time geeking with vintage synths and keys, perfecting the vocal effects and working on the arrangements with Hans Krüger at his studio, with Jarvis Taveniere then giving it the perfect mix between ethereality and groove.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bootsy Collins

BOOTSY COLLINSLADIES NITE: Funk legend Bootsy Collins has released the official music video for his new track Ladies Nite – and it’s all as funky and disco infused as we’ve come to expect. The track features vocals from MC Eiht and BlvckSeeds and combines elements of hip-hop, disco, soul and R’n‘B sass, all seamlessly put together to create a song that belongs firmly on the dancefloor. What’s more, it has a strong female empowerment streak running through it, which keeps in line with Collins’ activist leanings. Above all, it’s fun. And it’ll have you dancing. The track is taken from his upcoming new album Worldwide Funk, which will be out on October 27. Commenting on what to expect from it, Collins said: “The whole concept was not only about playing music or being current on this album, but about teaching people how to funk for themselves so they can bring some funk to get some. We bring them hope like dope, so not one Funkateer chokes. Unity in the community is a part of this plan and when the Mothership lands there’s nothing but helping hands. WWF-Drive is about propelling ourselves and generations to come into the future with the speed of light as in Flashlight.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Wild Ones

WILD ONESSTANDING IN THE BACK AT YOUR SHOW: Standing In The Back At Your Show is the second single from the debut album by Wild Ones, the project of Portland-based, part DIY-oddity, part electro-pop collective. The song combines a dream-pop element with shades of rock, courtesy of some striking guitar solos. Indeed, the meaty guitar hooks arrive in stark contrast to the innocent, almost sweet vocals of lead singer Danielle Sullivan, whose delivery is particularly appealing. But it’s a nice mix of styles and one that serves to enhance that DIY, almost kooky element the band possess and wear with pride. Commenting on the track itself, Sullivan said: “Standing In The Back At Your Show is about young love when it’s completely inappropriate and unwieldy. It began as a story about my husband and I, who is also a musician, and morphed into a semi-fictional tale of its own.” It’s a really nice sophomore offering from a genuinely interesting [and appealing] new band.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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

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

Weezer, Beach Boys

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

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Rae Morris

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

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Meadowlark, Sunlight

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

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Sean Christopher, Paper Plane Pilot

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

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Carly Rae Jepsen

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

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David Gray, Hole In The Weather

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

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Fall Out Boy

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

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Liima, 1982

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

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Howie Payne, Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer

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

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Malka, No No No

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

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