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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 19, 2019

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

Aaron Smith, Unspoken

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: AARON SMITHUNSPOKEN: Scottish singer songwriter Aaron Smith releases his stunning debut single Unspoken through Platoon and immediately announces himself as an artist of significant talent. A song of emotional strength that deals with the desperate desire to communicate, this is stripped back, disarmingly raw and evocative of artists such as Chris Martin, Ben Howard and Aqualung. Accompanied by just a stark piece of piano, this is a heart on sleeve introduction to the singer-songwriter that displays emotion at its most raw. Dipping between falsetto and normal tones, Smith examines a troubled relationship and the emotional toll it has taken on both of the people involved. Early on, he proclaims “darling you should know that I adore you”, before then admitting: “But I was careless and you were broken… you were ready but I’m unspoken.” It’s heart-achingly beautiful, combining a sense of melancholy with something just a little hopeful. If future Smith singles are this dazzling, then we’re in for a big treat. Speaking about the song, Aaron explains: “The song is about a relationship moving faster for one person than the other and that person being scared of commitment… I’ve been working on my music for a while now and spent a lot of time writing these songs. I’m really looking forward to actually releasing my first bit of music now. It’s exciting to just be able to get it out there and have people listening to something I’ve made.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTSGEN WHY? (DGAF): Oklahoma based emo rockers The All-American Rejects make a very welcome comeback with their Send Her To Heaven EP. Commenting on what to expect, guitarist Mike Kennerty said: “The last couple of records were fun to make but they were pretty draining, whereas I think recording this way keeps us on our toes and excited. We recorded each of these songs on their own and didn’t think of them as a package. We just took each song and went to a different producer to see what we would come up with. Because of the way we went about it, I think we created a diverse group of songs that might not have happened if we did it the way we’ve always recorded in the past.” If that diversity is apparent on tracks like Demons, then the reactionary Gen Why? (DGAF) is more trademark – but highly enjoyable for it. That said, where once the Rejects may have been singing from the disenchanted youth’s point of view, this one feels more world-wise and sceptical. The DGAF of the title refers to “don’t give a fuck” and this track is littered with F-bombs decrying the state of society and the state of a nation in turmoil. It’s anthemic, rousing, playful and fun, yet serious too. It’s a record that feels like a rallying cry towards a generation lost in technology and a Trump presidency. Yet it arrives with the immediacy and potency of a Queen anthem such as “we will rock you”. Rock you, this does… but perhaps into giving a fuck after all!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Four Tet, Dreamer

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: FOUR TETDREAMER: Four Tet’s newest standalone offering is the infectious, nocturnal-leaning Dreamer, which – rather aptly – is dream-like in its quality. Boasting a high energy central beat structure and playfully interwoven electronics, this combines cinematic majesty with club-orientated cool… befitting the late night bar scene in top cities from New York to London. Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden sometimes seems to be channelling his inner-Bonobo with some of the instrumental structures, yet remains highly distinct, too, evoking comparisons with both Simon Green and his own, more recent Teenage Birdsong offering. Put together, these two tracks could mark the start of something new and special, as suggested by Hebden when hinting at a new album coming together. Whatever, Dreamer masterfully weaves its way into your subconscious, engaging both the blissed out element of your brain and the slightly more energetic parts of your body in the way that it pulls you towards the dancefloor. It’s beautifully layered (right down to the tweeting birds in the background), yet effortlessly cool in the way that it pulls you in several directions all at once. To hear it once is to become instantly attracted… thereafter, you’ll be smitten.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Montaigne, Ready

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: MONTAIGNEREADY: Emerging Australian singer-songwriter Montaigne (aka Jessica Cerro) is ready to make her mark in the UK and beyond with the release of her provocative new single Ready and its captivating video. Hardly ever shying away from political debate, Montaigne’s latest offering is no different. Rallying the youth of today and our future leaders/innovators, the official music video for Ready showcases Montaigne leading the pack as they prepare for the revolution amidst the global climate crisis. A soundtrack for activism aimed at a generation who are becoming increasingly ready to embrace the challenge, the song brings an undeniable element of pop as well as something a little more urgent and edgy. Think P!nk mixed with Sia. Montaigne’s soaring vocals elevate the chorus, especially when dropping some soaring vocal harmonies, while there’s an irresistibly sing-along hook in, “I think I’m ready to go, I think I’m ready”. If that cycles like a mantra around the chorus, then the shifting drumbeats and finger-click snaps ensure that you’ll be tapping your toes in readiness to march on behalf of the planet. It’s empowering, timely stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTSSEND HER TO HEAVEN: Oklahoma based emo rockers The All-American Rejects make a very welcome comeback with their Send Her To Heaven EP. Commenting on what to expect, guitarist Mike Kennerty said: “The last couple of records were fun to make but they were pretty draining, whereas I think recording this way keeps us on our toes and excited. We recorded each of these songs on their own and didn’t think of them as a package. We just took each song and went to a different producer to see what we would come up with. Because of the way we went about it, I think we created a diverse group of songs that might not have happened if we did it the way we’ve always recorded in the past.” The lead offering is a potently subversive slice of classic alt-rock, which also drops elements of grunge. A tail of addiction (“she tries to quit but she just can’t stop”), this also serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers inherent in forming a dependency to drugs and alcohol. Befitting its themes, it has a classic, dirty rock vibe with some ragged, edgy vocals, a similarly jagged chorus and a gutsy guitar riff or two, which build towards a blistering solo. There’s even a trace of The Pixies and late Bowie in that guitar work and the chorus. And the accompanying video is just as provocative too. Put together, this is a terrific trio of songs.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Frost, The Slow Knife

LIAM FROSTTHE SLOW KNIFE: Liam Frost has released the haunting new single The Slow Knife as the second track to be lifted from the cult Manchester singer-songwriter’s first album for a decade, The Latchkey Kid (due September 13 via AWAL) following acclaimed lead single Pomona. Echoing his inspirations, such as Josh Rouse and Josh Ritter, this Americana tinged offering takes a deep, hard look at relationships and the human frailities that can contribute to making them fail. It’s thoughtful and thought-provoking, with subtle backing guitars and a keen sense of melody. “I think that when I was writing The Slow Knife, I tried to approach the negative aspects of adults in relationships, living together,” says Liam of the new single. “The idea of how two people can grow independently over time, becoming almost unrecognisable to each other while living under the same roof, and longing for the desire of the earlier days or simpler times.” It’s a really good record that bodes extremely well for the rest of the new album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTSDEMONS: Oklahoma based emo rockers The All-American Rejects make a very welcome comeback with their Send Her To Heaven EP. Commenting on what to expect, guitarist Mike Kennerty said: “The last couple of records were fun to make but they were pretty draining, whereas I think recording this way keeps us on our toes and excited. We recorded each of these songs on their own and didn’t think of them as a package. We just took each song and went to a different producer to see what we would come up with. Because of the way we went about it, I think we created a diverse group of songs that might not have happened if we did it the way we’ve always recorded in the past.” That diversity is immediately apparent on Demons, which marks a sonic departure from the alt-rock sound they’re perhaps more synonymous with. A mid-tempo, almost bluesy offering, this focuses on a man striving to escape his own demons and features impassioned vocals, a slow tempo, low-key guitars and atmospheric drums. The focus is on the vocals and the anguish contained within the lyrics – and by doing so, it’s highly effective and even, potentially, able to boast crossover appeal.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Gone

CHARLI XCX & CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENSGONE: Charli XCX is rightly proud of the result of her collaboration with Christine and the Queens’ Héloïse Letissier, given that it successfully fuses the former’s catchy, easy to access pop sound with the funk-pop of Christine & The Queens. It’s a typically lively offering instrumentally, shot through with a vitality that Charli brings to most of her records, as well as something a little more edgy, befitting the lyrics. For this is where the departure really starts… lyrically, this is a song about looking inward and starting a healing process from the most intimate of places. It opens with the lyric “I am just now realizing, they don’t care, I try real hard, but I’m caught up by my insecurities” and proceeds to weave a complex tale of insecurity amid the pressure of modern life. At one point, Charli declares: “I feel so unstable, fucking hate these peoplem how they’re making me feel lately”. If anything, it could be one of Charli’s most serious offerings yet. But even if it is, it retains that highly enjoyable, effortlessly listenable edge.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Two Door Cinema Club, Dirty Air

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUBDIRTY AIR: Following an outstanding performance co-headlining Glastonbury’s Other Stage last month, Two Door Cinema Club have now unveiled the apocalyptic video for Dirty Air, the third single taken from their critically-acclaimed, and third UK top 5 album, False Alarm, out now via Prolifica Inc. A powerful indie-rock anthem, this is the sound of Two Door Cinema Club at their most direct and searching, issing a rallying call to the public to take action on climate change amid the sustained threat of ‘dirty air’. There’s a gutsy chorus, punchy guitar riffs and a general sense of energy that’s impossible not to get swept along by. Created by Jordan Martin, the accompanying video combines retro ’60s footage with cut-out collage animation, juxtaposing the excesses of pop culture with images of mass destruction. The result is a captivating zoom through humanity’s recent journey to destruction, soundtracked by the smog-clogged disco rock of the song itself. “It was an extremely fun video to make,” says Jordan of the band. “I searched through stacks of ’60s-‘70s archive footage and magazines (I’ve started a pretty wild collection) to find the right look and feel for the track. It’s trial and error; reworking footage and printing it out, then physically collaging it. I love happy accidents when two things seem to fit together perfectly. I enjoyed taking lyrics from the song and letting a stream of consciousness try and piece together parts from all the imagery and footage that slowly builds and fills up my head.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Moonchild, Too Much To Ask

MOONCHILDTOO MUCH TO ASK: Too Much to Ask marks the return of LA-based trio Moonchild with what is being hailed as their most thoughtfully crafted and complete album yet. Little Ghost (out September 6) sees multi-instrumentalists Amber Navran, Max Bryk and Andris Mattson channel boundless sonic energy as they explore some of the most personal aspects of what it is to be in love and to believe in who you are. Too Much To Ask combines a playful innocence in the vocals and central electronic melody with something more serious and sad in its lyrics, which ask: “Is it too much to ask you to live me like this?” Hence, there’s a sense of something missing in those lyrics, which is only heightened by the melancholy [yet oddly soothing] vocals. If you’re a fan of trip hop artists such as Morcheeba or, better yet, Nightmares on Wax, then there’s something in this for you. But Moonchild are also distinct in their own right and there are psychedelic elements and melodic structures that could only be the work of this trio. It’s a beguiling listen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Skinny Living, My Blood

SKINNY LIVING – MY BLOOD: My Blood is the follow up to Skinny Living’s well received recent single Let Go, which has already amassed 500K streams, picked up Spotify New Music Friday UK support on release and debuted at #14 in the iTunes Alternative chart and no.11 in the Amazon Movers and Shakers Chart. It’s a song of contradictions, playful in its musicality but dark in its lyricism, that continues to endear the band to the listening public. The melodies are sharp, the chorus catchy, but the themes far more serious than first listens suggest. Frontman Ryan Johnston explains: “My Blood is one of the most exciting songs we have ever made. It’s twisted. The music and vocal melody almost contradict the lyrics. The lyrics themselves explain that anybody, no matter how chilled out they are, can completely flip when the people closest to them are hurt. It really expresses how we feel about our families and the people closest to us. We love what this song represents and we love how it feels.” Hence, while those feet will undoubtedly be tapping along in tandem with its bouncing melodies and infectious hooks, there’s something far more meaningful to contemplate. And that’s the measure of great songwriting.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 12, 2019

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

Lykke Li, Two Nights Part II

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LYKKE LI X SKRILLEX X TY DOLLA $IGN – TWO NIGHTS PART II: Lykke Li revisits her classic former album track Two Nights by teaming up with Skrillex and Ty Dollar $ign to mesmerising effect. The second track to be taken from her forthcoming EP still sad still sexy, this maintains that sexy, melancholy vibe and a keen sense of longing with a greater sense of urgency and – perhaps – even some danger. The added beats lend extra impetus to the track, as do the combined vocals, which find Li’s ethereal tones merging seamlessly and highly effectively with the more urban leanings of Ty Dollar. Skrillex’s beats heighten the late night vibe, bringing a greater sexual energy that could also enable the track to appeal to the club scene. Hence, while the original was cinematic, moody and highly atmospheric, this maintains all of those components, while also broadening its appeal to the masses. It’s a masterful creation that just gets more and more addictive, the more you hear it… rather like the relationship underpinning it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Antisocial

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ED SHEERAN & TRAVIS SCOTTANTISOCIAL: Another week, another new offering from Ed Sheeran, taken from his No.6 Collaborations Project (out now). This one, Antisocial, features Travis Scott and is another change of style. If anything, it’s as close to a rap song as Sheeran is ever going to get. There are rapped elements, mostly delivered by Scott, as well as slick, hip-hop beats, electronics and – of course – a catchy chorus. The track itself is about not fitting in, or doing your own thing, and ignoring social norms. It has a central loop of “don’t touch me”, as well as some choice, provocative lyrics (including an F-bomb), as well as plenty of attitude. Younger Sheeran fans may find their ears being covered at times, especially when it comes to the accompanying video. Directed by Dave Meyers, the official video nods to several seminal movies and sees both Sheeran and Scott playing larger-than-life characters who are dropped into worlds they were never meant to occupy. It’s a whole lot of fun, visually and in terms of being able to pick out those movie references.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Swimming Tapes

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: SWIMMING TAPESKEEP HER CLOSER: Swimming Tapes have unveiled the official video for Keep Her Closer – one of the standout moments from their just-released debut album, Morningside. The video builds on the blissed-out summer vibes of the track and introduces us to an alternative world where Swimming Tapes are girls and a feel-good plot unfolds. Speaking about the video’s concept, director Zoé Kraft shared: “The making of this video was just as genuine and light-hearted as the song itself. There wasn’t meant to be a distinct narrative. It simply evokes dreamy, summer-time feelings. The quirky little moments were included to remind viewers to not take things too seriously. Although the girls are meant to subtly represent each member of the band, it’s also supposed to feel as though this song could be about any one of the girls.” Whilst speaking about the track itself, Louis Price of Swimming Tapes shared: “Keep Her Closer is a song I wrote after finding out a very young love got married. Her house had an amazing garden and I remembered all the times we went out at dusk and ran through it to the fields behind her house, escaping our parents. I just wrote it as an ode to her and in the hope that she’s happy and enjoying life.” The ensuing track certainly has that sense of nostalgia, and a kind of melancholy romanticism attached. But it’s also bittersweet, poignant and oddly beautiful. The guitars reminded me of classic Cure, especially during the solos, while the hazy vocals have an air of psychedelia about them that somehow heightens that sense of regret and nostalgia. It’s a lovely offering from Swimming Tapes which is, unsurprisingly, an album highlight.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis, What If

RHYS LEWISWHAT IF: Singer-songwriter Rhys Lewis has shared his thoughtful new single What If, as well as two firsts: an Asia tour and a UK headline tour, including his biggest London show to date at Earth in Hackney on November 25. Featuring Rhys’s unique standout vocal, What If showcases the singer’s ability to tell poignant stories through his contemplative lyrics, which have helped earn him a legion of dedicated fans all over the world. Just like with his recent In Between Minds EP, Rhys once more takes hold of the production reins alongside collaborator Aidan Glover, recording straight to tape in their studio in South London. The ensuing power ballad ruminates on a classic ‘what if’ scenario, as the singer seeks to rebuild a relationship if being given a second chance (“what if we’d held on for longer/ what if breaking made us stronger? Either way I’m contemplating if there’s a way to get you back”). It’s a poignant, sorrowful single lyrically, which affords the listener some hope in its soaring melodies, sweeping chorus and impassioned vocal delivery. There’s a cinematic grandeur in the balladry that’s favourably comparable to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Coldplay.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Indi Rose

INDI ROSELEMON TREE: Indi Rose is a singer-songwriter who released her debut single Jealousy last year. It was playlisted in 40 countries and has already got 35K streams. Indi is currently recording her first EP at Tileyard Studios with Tom Fuller (he has worked with Tom Walker, Rolling Stones and Jess Glynn). Indi lives in London and studies music tech. But as she now releases her second single, Lemon Tree, her profile looks set to become even bigger. The track is nicely deceptive, too. Early on, it’s a stripped back ballad, showcasing Indi’s sultry vocals and the depth of emotion in the lyrics (which talk of escape). But gradually, the beats and electronics become layered in, lending the track and increasing sense of urgency and a more cinematic grandeur. The sense of escape that informs the early part of the song becomes more pronounced, too, as Indi really allows her vocals to expand and showcase her striking range. If you’re a fan of the likes of Bonobo (instrumentally) and Sia (vocally), then this could well blow you away.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jax Jones, Harder

JAX JONES feat BEBE REXHAHARDER: Fresh from his latest single One Touch with Jess Glynne, two-time BRIT Award nominated DJ/producer Jax Jones is back with yet another collaboration in the form of Harder with pop powerhouse Bebe Rexha. Given that it features a pop powerhouse, the emphasis is on pop. Hence, this is catchy, breezy, highly disposable fun, tailor-made for getting more than a little jiggy with over the summer. Rexha drops some playfully suggestive vocals and lyrics, Jones contributes some background laughs and there’s an overall sense of fun that’s infectious. In typical Bebe style the lyrics on Harder showcase her sass and sharp wit underpinned by the infectious dance and pop beats Jax is synonymous for. Harder is aimed at offering an empowering and self-assured message on how to handle love that is frank but yet fun. Speaking of the recent singles and collaborations, Jax said: “Me and Camille have a great relationship and we’ve enjoyed a lot of success together – All Day and Night and Ring Ring – so to join forces with her and Steve Mac, who I’ve looked up to for a long time, was a great opportunity for me to try something different and flex my pop muscles. Bebe Rexha linking up with us on this record was the icing on the cake, she’s pretty iconic and is just a don. All Day and Night was for the clubs, this one’s the daytime snack”.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Ted Jasper

TED JASPERDON’T WANT IT: Ted Jasper’s Don’t Want It arrives like a slick mix of Bonobo and Jose Gonzalez, which is no small compliment in our mind. The Cornwall-raised and London-based musician and producer describes the track as downtempo jazzy electronica, which was written in collaboration with fellow London-residing producer, Beni Giles. It boasts sleek beat arrangements, jazzy backdrops (with some horns) and late night electronics that convey both images of smoke-filled London jazz clubs and something even more cinematic. It’s quietly ambitious stuff that plays well to the late night chilled out crowd, tailor-made for some of London’s trendier bars. Talking about the story behind Don’t Want It, Jasper reveals: “Me and Beni were writing it together and coming up with the hook using computer-based software, and throughout the session we were talking about how there’s always this ‘new’ thing you need as a producer. When it comes to software and technology, it moves so fast and certain technology that you’ve just acquired becomes obsolete so quickly. There’s this constant change, and that’s where the chorus came from – ‘Need it but don’t want it.’ It’s about the necessity of having to have this thing to continue, even if you don’t particularly want it.” The new single arrives alongside disjointed, grainy visuals of Jasper wandering through London’s brutalist landscapes.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Scouting For Girls

SCOUTING FOR GIRLSGROWN UP: Two years after officially marking a decade since the release of Scouting For Girls’ unstoppable million-selling eponymous self-titled debut album, the band have announced the release of a new album The Trouble With Boys, the first taste of which comes in the form of the typically catchy Grown Up. A satisfyingly catchy summer anthem, Grown Up is full of melodic hooks, catchy choruses and disarmingly honest lyrics. A breezy lament about the trials and tribulations of being a grown up, this playfully laments: “I don’t want to be a grown up”, while dropping pearls such as “we grew up in the countryside, feels like another life” and “just a boy in the body of a man”. It’s a central sentiment that anyone can identify with, in a way… but it’s delivered in a way that makes you want to reflect on and reminisce about the joys of youth and hanging out with your own friends. It looks set to become another popular anthem for them.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Of Monsters & Men

OF MONSTERS & MENWILD ROSES: Multi-platinum Icelandic quintet Of Monsters & Men display their quieter, more intimate side on new single Wild Roses, taken from their forthcoming third full-length album Fever Dream, due July 26 via Island Records. Combining a sense of reflection with a sense of melancholy, this displays a more tragic side to the band’s songwriting that is even more thought-provoking than normal. It’s not exactly a ballad, but it has a greater sense of radio-friendly melody, a soaring chorus and some quieter, more dusky vocals. It’s the type of song that could easily broaden their appeal beyond their core fanbase. Co-vocalist Nanna Hilmarsdóttir commented: “The song shows an introverted side to the album and is influenced by a bit of dance music and Joseph Campbell’s “The power of myth and what it is like to lean into your sadness.’”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dude York

DUDE YORKSHOULD’VE: Feeder meets L7 with a dash of Garbage on Dude York’s new single Should’ve, complete with an early ’90s throwback sound that Captain Marvel would be proud to include on her original motion picture soundtrack. Should’ve is the infectious third single from Falling, which is a tribute to adolescent romance and early-aughts mall punk. It follows the equally-spirited title track and Box from the Seattle trio. The guitars on Should’ve are particularly striking, evoking those L7/Garbage comparisons. But the vocals are also retro-tinged and perfectly in keeping with the throwback sound the band are clearly attempting to conjure. It’s a great introduction to the band for fans in the UK, and one that also brings fond memories of the classic Seattle grunge sound, albeit given a little contemporary heft. “There are two ways things can fall,” says Dude York’s Claire England. “They can fall and be ruined, or they can fall gently like a feather and be fine.” On Falling, their second full-length for Hardly Art, the trio explores that sentiment — evoked by the broken cake on the album cover and the soft confetti on the inside sleeve—through impossibly catchy and emotive songs that investigate the ways you can fall in and out of relationships, and sometimes fall back together. Recorded at Different Fur Studios in San Francisco with producer Patrick Brown, Falling finds Dude York sounding bigger and more fully-realised than ever before.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 5, 2019

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

Bonobo, Linked

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BONOBOLINKED: Ever the musical supremo, Bonobo returns with new single Linked. A dance floor-ready new release, Linked is an atmospheric slow-builder, perfectly tuned for festivals this summer. It boasts cinematic electronic arrangements that also bring that dancefloor ready appeal, and is awash with slick beats that drive the track and give it an energy that’s tailor-made to appeal to the summer sun-seekers. A mid track breakdown into broken up vocals and chants, which turns things mellow and hypnotic, allows time for some pause, before the beats re-enter the frame and propel the track to its infectious, livewire climax. Anyone expecting big beats akin to Chemical Brothers or funk on a Mark Ronson scale would be wrong… this is a Bonobo production and it retains that sense of beauty and cinema. But it’s also, perhaps, one of his most mainstream tracks to date, building to something that really is as ultra accessible than anything he has put out so far. It’s great to have him back.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: ED SHEERAN feat CHRIS STAPLETON & BRUNO MARSBLOW: Ed Sheeran looks set to dominate this week’s charts with the release of three new singles. This one, which marks another to be taken from his upcoming LP, No.6 Collaborations Project (set for next Friday, July 12), is a rabble-rousing collaboration with Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars. And it’s a real departure. The track is designed to showcase the borderless musical palette and the depth of the upcoming LP and takes the form of a thundering guitar anthem in the style of classic Zeppelin and Lenny Kravitz. You could even be forgiven for not realising this is an Ed Sheeran track! Opening with a monster guitar riff, of classic rock proportions, this then drops vocals from Mars and Stapleton and Sheeran that are as edgy and lived in as a classic rock sound dictates. And throughout, that monster guitar is never far away. The track was produced by Mars, with Stapleton dropping the livewire guitar interludes. It’s designed to be played loud and it’s designed to make you reconsider everything you thought you know about the type of music Sheeran delivers.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Post Malone, Goodbyes

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: POST MALONE feat YOUNG THUGGOODBYES: As videos go, this one’s striking as hell. Opening with a violent knife fight that sees Post Malone stabbed to death, the rest of the video unfolds as the rapper-singer rises from the dead and attempts to find a way to say goodybe. It features guest singer Young Thug, as well as Kathryn Newton, and is shot through with potent imagery befitting films like The Crow. And while it may be a little too violent and provocative for some tastes, this fits Post Malone to a tee. The song itself looks set to build on Malone’s burgeoning reputation post Sunflower, his Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse collaboration with Swae Lee. A ballad-style rap song, this is shot through with melancholy as Malone struggles to say goodbye. But in his own inimitable style, this is shot through with anguish (“I want you out of my head, I want you out of my bed tonight… there’s no way I can save you, because I need to be saved too”), as well as F-bombs galore. The lower tempo will almost certainly help to broaden his appeal, even if the language may offend at times. But it’s testament to Malone’s growing ability to retain elements of rap and hip-hop with something more radio friendly, meaning that Goodbyes – for all its pain – looks certain to become another crossover smash hit for him.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Of Monsters and Men

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: OF MONSTERS & MENALLIGATOR: Multi-platinum Icelandic quintet Of Monsters And Men have shared the official music video for their single Alligator, taken from their upcoming third full-length album Fever Dream (out on July 26 via Island Records). The single itself has already exceeded nearly 11 million streams online and is a spiky, vibrant offering that’s designed to empower. The chugging riffs build to some hook-laden highs, while the vocals soar over lyrical themes that confront issues of self-control and self-esteem. Put together with some towering drum arrangements, especially late on, this builds to a rousing, even euphoric climax that really does achieve what it sets out to. On the breathtaking video and its imagery, the band said: “We had a lot of fun shooting the music video for our song Alligator. It was two days of pure madness, battling the elements while shooting in Iceland and inside one of Iceland’s most haunted hotels. Hope you like our ‘Fever Dream’ as much as we do.” It’s an eye-catching mini film that should appeal to anyone with a passing interest in films or TV shows such as The Shining, American Horror Story or Stranger Things.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran

ED SHEERAN feat YEBBABEST PART OF ME: Ed Sheeran’s second single offering is the stripped back acoustic balad Best Part Of Me, featuring guest vocals from Yebba. Released together with the far more rock-driven Blow, the songs are designed to showcase the borderless musical palette and the depth of the upcoming LP. But while one exists to blow you away and dispel any preconceptions about Sheeran, this one is more like what we’ve come to expect. There’s acoustic guitar, heartfelt lyricism, the odd moment of piano and an emotional sincerity that makes this classic Sheeran. It’s a love song that tugs at the heartstrings, offering hope to a person who has lost sight of themselves in certain ways, and it allows both singers to shine at various moments, before they team up for a belated chorus. Hence, as stripped back and intimate as the sound is, this still emerges as quietly empowering, shining a light into self doubt and showcasing the strength of a relationship that brings out the best in each person. It’s almost certain to feature as a ‘first dance’ wedding song for many hundreds of couples somewhere down the road.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Snow Patrol, Time Won't Go Slowly

SNOW PATROLTIME WON’T GO SLOWLY: Snow Patrol have debuted their new song, Time Won’t Go Slowly, off the back of the revelation that they have been in the studio over the last few months and are releasing a new track ahead of more music later this year, celebrating the 25th anniversary since Snow Patrol formed. A slow-tempo offering that somehow feels more breezy than some of their more atmospheric offerings, this has a fleet-footed central melody and a sense of longing in the lyrics that’s oddly romantic. There’s still a darkness in lyrics that suggest “this could be the end of everything…” But it then declares “I know I only want to fall in love with you…” And then comes the realisation that “time won’t go slowly though, always so fast” – a nod to the speed at which we all seem to be leading our lives [years really do fly by]. It’s a song that’s easy to identify with and, by turns, easy to fall in love with. The accompanying acoustic guitar strums, the switches between vocal styles (including a falsetto motion) and those well orchestrated electronic stabs give this a really nice, relaxed vibe that’s realistic as well as being romantic. Twenty five years in and Snow Patrol continue to deliver the high quality goods.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Beautiful People (acoustic)(

ED SHEERANBEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (ACOUSTIC ABBEY ROAD VERSION): Prior to dropping two new tracks, Ed Sheeran has also unveiled a stripped back, acoustic version of his latest track Beautiful People, which was recorded live at Abbey Road Studios. And it’s every bit as good as the original. The third track the singer-songwriter has revealed from his No.6 Collaborations Project LP, set for release on July 12, this is a low key version that really brings out the meaning behind the lyrics. The song itself spotlights the importance of staying true to yourself, not falling prone to product placement, money worshipping or false Gods (beauty, wealth, etc). It’s a calling card to be happy being who you are and letting the world take care of itself. And it’s a worthy sentiment to get behind. And while the original, featuring Khalid, was delivered in crowd-pleasing, radio-friendly fashion amid strong melodies, a sing-along chorus, subtle electronic flourishes and handclap beats, this stripped back version allows Sheeran to inject an intimacy and level of emotion that’s perhaps not as distinct in the official single version (accompanied by subtle piano notes too). But whatever form it’s heard in, the track is sure to become another massive anthem for Sheeran.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Curse of Lono

CURSE OF LONO – I’D START A WAR FOR YOU: Curse of Lono have dropped their new, country-rock single I’d Start A War For You, taken from upcoming album 4am And Counting, recorded live at Toe Rag Studios, and due out on July 12. I’d Start A War For You was recorded with Grammy-winning producer Liam Watson (The White Stripes) and features a guest appearance from legendary pedal steel player BJ Cole. It’s steeped in classic songwriting values, boasting lived-in vocals, chugging guitar riffs, the odd solo and plenty to say in the vocals about the nature of a relationship. If you’re a fan of country-era Mark Knopfler, with a little Pink Floyd psychedelia mixed in, and some Alabama 3, then this could well tick all the right boxes. The guitar solo is particularly good. The forthcoming album features guest appearances from legendary pedal steel player BJ Cole (Elton John, Dolly Parton, Pink Floyd, Massive Attack), and harmonica player Nick Reynolds (Alabama 3 and son of the mastermind of the great train robbery, Bruce Reynolds). Frontman Felix Bechtolsheimer: “We wanted to capture the vibe we get when we’re jamming late at night. So, we booked a couple of days in the studio, invited a few friends down and pressed record. Toe Rag Studios is an incredible place. There are no computers. There’s no technology to tempt you. We just played everything completely live like we do when we’re messing around in our rehearsal room, so what you hear is exactly what was played.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lucifour M

LUCIFOUR M – DOG: Lucifour M have dropped their debut single Dog, a catchy soulful pop offering that evokes favourable comparisons with artists such as Gym Class Heroes. The Italian quartet actually point to parallels between the stylistic devices of French director/screenwriter Bruno Dumont and their own musical and creative approach, elaborating further: “It’s like standing on the verge of abyss, as if peering deeply into the eyes of the impossible.” On Dog, the band seek to demonstrate their vision for distinctive pop music. Defying classic genre associations, this mixes playful vocal hooks with delicate synth stabs, all to a backdrop of driving, groove-laden instrumentation. Hence, there’s elements of soul, hip-pop and electronic pop. The synths add an ear-pleasing backdrop, while the finger-click beats ensure that your toes will be tapping along. The vocals, meanwhile, flit between soulful sung pop and Gym Class Heroes-style rap. Hence, where most European acts sound, well, Eurovision Song Contest ready, this one actually transcends that sound to emerge as something that could appeal across Europe, the UK and even the US, albeit with some of that European flavour retained.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sam Johnson, Medicine For My Brain

SAM JOHNSONMEDICINE FOR MY BRAIN: Sam Johnson has released new single Medicine For My Brain through Made Records and succeeds in getting noticed. A witty kiss-off to the music industry, this catchy offering boasts a slick guitar accompaniment reminiscent of his heroes, John Martyn and Ben Howard, along with lyrics that proclaim: “You say you don’t want my name / Well hell, I don’t need your fame / I’m happy to use my pain / It’s medicine for my brain.” The guitars, in particular, are so bright and breezy that they lend the track an instant hook, while the vocals combine an element of edge with something a little more carefree in attitude. It’s a useful mix that lends extra potency to the cheeky lyrics. “I was very jaded at one point,” says Sam, who cut his teeth on the open mic scenes near his childhood home in Shropshire. “I wanted to write a chorus which is basically saying I don’t give a damn about the industry – which is ironic because that’s the very song that got me signed.” Johnson’s songs acknowledge a darker kind of emotional turmoil – the “black dog calling my name”, as he puts it in Medicine – but he writes with a propulsive energy that suggests a sense of life-lessons constantly learned, and a feeling that music can ease your greatest challenges. Medicine For My Brain is the first single from Sam’s forthcoming debut EP.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Callum Beattie, Without You

CALLUM BEATTIEWITHOUT YOU: Scottish artist Callum Beattie has dropped the addictive, self-written single Without You, and brought it to life with the cleverly-shot official video, out now via 3beat / Universal Music. The light-hearted visual highlights Beattie’s infectious, charismatic personality, which radiates throughout. On the video, Callum said: “Filming the Without You video was something I’ll never forget. I wanted to get the right balance between emotion and humour and I think the director nailed that aspect. It’s a song about ending a relationship and feeling good about things one day and then feeling terrible the next day. I think the idea of a relationship therapy session has captured that by keeping it fun and light-hearted without losing the soul of the song.” The track itself showcases Callum’s boyishly charming vocals and emotive storytelling. It combines an effervescent melody with an acoustic rise, while lyrically tapping into the deep emotion of loss in love and the personal turbulence he experienced following a break-up. In contrast to his previous single Connection – an embodiment of budding relationships – Callum explains, “Without You is reminiscent of a previous relationship and how your life can change overnight if you lose someone”. It’s got catchy lines such as “I’m a drum machine without a beat” as well as “a fugitive without a crime”, before delivering a chorus that states: “Without you, everything is beautiful, without you… my head’s a mess…” It’s catchy, it’s bittersweet, it’s radio friendly and it looks set to further Beattie’s appeal no end.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 28, 2019

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

The LaFontaines

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE LAFONTAINESSWITCH OUT THE LIGHT: Another of this week’s harder hitting singles is Switch Out The Light, the latest offering from The LaFontaines. The accompanying video sees the lead character turn his ‘gun’ (or hand) on each individual he encounters – those same characters represent the traits he must kill to achieve the best version of himself. It’s driven by huge hip-hop style beats (the kind Timbaland would be proud of), as well as a semi-rapped verse that finds the singer doing his best to exorcise his demons. The chorus, though, is more sung and more anthemic, approaching more radio-friendly territory. It’s rousing, empowering and hopeful, suggesting that there is a light at the end of the road for the subject’s inner turmoil. Switch Out The Light is another huge song from the band who, on their new album Junior (which topped the Indie chart upon release last Friday), have really delved in deep to their psyche and have written songs with serious undertones yet are euphoric in their sound. The LaFontaines have become widely known for their exhilarating live shows and are one the most exciting bands to come from Scotland in recent years melding hip-hop with huge pop choruses and guitar lines.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zeke Finn

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: ZEKE FINNWHAT YOU NEED: Hailing from New York, to beat-artist parents, Zeke Finn grew up surrounded by non-stop inspiration. Later, encouraged by his music teacher, he later turned his playful interest into a serious hobby bringing all his wanderlust into full bloom. Now living in Los Angeles, Zeke found himself collaborating with producer Jack Kennedy, leading to new single What You Need being born. And it’s a very worthwhile collaboration. Boasting charismatic vocals and an addictive indie-pop beat, this hook-laden track is set to worm its way into your heart this summer, making you want to dance all night long. It’s got headrush harmonies, feel-good vocals and lyrics (“baby all I want is to hold you, I know what you need”), toe-tapping, dancefloor friendly beats and an overall sense of catchiness that’s entirely infectious. Yet, the indie sensibilities also help to keep this on the right side of pop – it’s mainstream without being cheesy. Indeed, Mark Ronson would be proud. It’s the kind of track that could well find its way onto a soundtrack moment soon.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Beautiful People

VIDEO/SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ED SHEERAN feat KHALIDBEAUTIFUL PEOPLE: Ed Sheeran has unveiled his new track Beautiful People, featuring Khalid, alongside the official video – the third track the singer-songwriter has revealed from his No.6 Collaborations Project LP, set for release on July 12. Another gem of a track, this sure-fire summer anthem – produced by Shellback, Max Martin, FRED and Ed Sheeran – spotlights the importance of staying true to yourself, not falling prone to product placement, money worshipping or false Gods (beauty, wealth, etc). It’s a calling card to be happy being who you are and letting the world take care of itself. And it’s a worthy sentiment to get behind, delivered in crowd-pleasing, radio-friendly fashion amid strong melodies, a sing-along chorus, subtle electronic flourishes and handclap beats. It’s sure to become another massive anthem for Sheeran. The tongue-in-cheek official video, directed by Andy McLeod, follows a happy couple who are dropped into a world of excess and high glamour, yet don’t feel compelled to fit in with their new surroundings.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: LIAM GALLAGHERTHE RIVER: Hot on the heels of Liam Gallagher’s incendiary Shockwave – which shot straight to the top of the Official Vinyl and Trending Charts – the former Oasis bad boy has now dropped the equally volatile second single, The River. Powered by a visceral, driving guitar riff – think Led Zeppelin powered by Madchester energy for 2019 – The River finds Liam’s distinctive sneering vocal delivering a rallying call for the current generation to fight for change. Its anarchic attitude targets the figureheads of the establishment – from money-sucking MPs to vacant celebrities. As a result, it’s angry, it’s contemporary and it’s got a rebellious nature befitting this artist’s profile. Admittedly, it’s got a strong Oasis vibe, which in turn evokes that sense of Zeppelin style nostalgia. And it remains distinctly Liam, powered by those vocals. But it’s empowering, anthemic and another good indicator that his sophomore solo LP, Why Me? Why Not, is shaping up to be another cracker of an LP. The track was co-written by Liam alongside the track’s producer Andrew Wyatt, who was a key collaborator on the all-conquering solo album, As You Were. The video is just as striking, delivered in trademark swagger.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cardi B

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: CARDI B – PRESS: If the single itself leaves a lot to be desired, in respect of its expletive laden put down of the things that rile Cardi B. The video is undeniably eye-catching. It’s designed to be reactionary and it will certainly provoke the kind of outrage she’s expecting from the people she’s lyrically taking aim at. But it’s also cinematic and relentlessly watchable, filled with provocative images of violence, sexualisation and girl power attitude. As for the song itself, there’s a hard-hitting urban vibe, fuelled by relentlessly full-on beats and stabbing synths. It’s the kind of track that would easily wing its way into the Fast & Furious scene. And the rapping itself is unapologetically volatile, with Cardi B dropping verbal bombs such as “press, press, press, Cardi don’t need more press”, “money still long like weave/pussy still wet like Florida” and – over the chorus – “kill ’em all, put them hoes to rest, walk in, bulletproof vest”. It’s not really that good.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Cold War Kids

COLD WAR KIDSCOMPLAINER: Cold War Kids have released two new songs – Complainer and 4th of July – the first new music from the Los Angeles, California-based band in more than two years. The songs will be part of an album called New Age Norms, due for release this autumn. Complainer, the first song written for the album, is a call to transcend and do something constructive rather than dwell on all the things that might drag us down. Its message inspired vocalist Nathan Willett throughout the recording process. It’s timely and relevant. But while certainly boasting plenty to say, it’s delivered in an easy listening, accessible vibe. The chugging guitar riffs are a good focal point, while the drums have a lazy, easygoing vibe that makes it easy for the lyrics to stand out. Singer Willett’s vocals occasionally adopt a falsetto tone, and come backed with a children’s chorus, adding greater emphasis to the message behind the song. But it also serves to create something optimistic, in spite of the acknowledgement that there are a lot of problems to solve. Commenting on both new tracks, Willett said: “For me, the songs are always the most important piece of Cold War Kids. And in them, having a strong message and maintaining a positive energy and output—and not just rage and conflict—is so important, and what can set us apart. But at the same time, we’re doing an old thing: rock ‘n’ roll! I don’t want to completely intellectualize it, because we don’t have this liberal, politically correct agenda. We set out to make a rock and roll record. But, the person that I am, the band that we are, the values that we have are in these songs. They’re not tropes of rock and roll urges; they’re in pursuit of a new value, a better world. And it’s not so clear cut what those are, but these are the new age norms.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hildur, Work

HILDURWORK: Rising Icelandic pop artist Hildur has released her new single Work as the final offering to be released from her highly anticipated Intuition EP, which is also available now. Echoing artists such as Robyn, Work is an increasingly infectious offering, fuelled by effervescent synth arrangements, sweet vocals, a youthful sense of optimism over a relationship and finger-click style beats. As Hildur herself explains: “Work is a fun and quirky song about new love and strong feelings – and then putting in some work to make it last. This is the last single of the EP, Intuition, which has dealt with the themes of following your intuition and believing in your gut feeling. I believe that love relies heavily on that gut feeling and when you meet someone you really click with you are willing to do everything and anything to make the relationship ‘work’. So let’s get to work.” It’s a pop offering that’s sung from the heart, but which carries with it a summery sense of breeziness – it’ll make everyone want to make their relationships work. The Intuition EP features five tracks, including preview singles Picture Perfect, which has already amassed over 2 million streams, her most recent single Woman At War, which is a stirring and emboldened battle cry for equality, 1993, a nostalgia laden, uplifting anthem about learning to trust in oneself, Everyday and new single Work.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Balthazar

BALTHAZARCHANGES: Balthazar have dropped Changes as their new singe, alongside details of further touring in support of their acclaimed album Fever, with dates across France and Germany in November and December this year. Changes boasts an infectious ‘on and on and on’ chorus refrain sung with Maarten’s distinct lead vocal, as well as some soulful indie-pop melodies, especially late on once the whoa who harmonies are introduced. There’s an effortlessly laidback vibe attached, which puts you in a relaxed state of mind while listening, as well as something more indie and free-spirited. It’s anthemic in a quietly thoughtful kind of way. As Maarten explains: “I was hungover and complaining about it.” Adding that his bandmate, Jinte, had said something along the lines of: “Stop talking about changing if deep down you know you don’t want to.” And consequently “we then wrote this song to celebrate the flaws in our machinery. A celebration that was followed by yet another sweet hangover.” It’s classic Fever-era Balthazar.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lontalius

LONTALIUSMAKE MY DREAMS COME TRUE: Wellington, New Zealand based Lontalius releases new single Make My Dreams Come True and looks set to extend his reach among fans in the UK. Co-written with Roy Blair and Mr Hudson, the new track marks the beginning of a new chapter in Lontalius’ (real name Eddie Johnston) career. Currently adding the finishing touches to the follow up to his Partisan Records-released debut album I’ll Forget 17, Johnston has been working with the likes of Om’Mas Keith (known for his work w/ Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu, Kevin Abstract etc), Jim Fairchild (member of Modest Mouse and Grandaddy) and more on his second album. Blending elements of alternative pop, R&B and indie rock, Johnston is longing for change on Make My Dreams Come True: “I’ve been stuck in old ways / I’ve been lost in old ways” – pleading for something to give, before the track builds to a crescendo packed with emotion, “As long as I am with him / This dream I won’t forget As long as I am with him / This love I can’t forget” – he sings, opening up to a cathartic, piano-led (performed by Mr Hudson) finale. En route to that finale, there are laidback, toe-tapping beats, shimmering synth arrangements and an anthemic chorus that’s genuinely catchy and hopeful. On the evidence of this, Lontalius’ dreams of making it big and breaking beyond his New Zealand borders look even closer to coming true.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kiefer Sutherland

KIEFER SUTHERLANDOPEN ROAD: Kiefer Sutherland has dropped Open Road as the latest single to be taken from current album Reckless & Me. The track showcases Sutherland’s raw, whisky-soaked vocal, raspy and full of sincerity while he sings about his passion for the road. He co-wrote the song with Jude Coleback in 1987 when they were on a road trip. Dripping with country values, as well as elements of rock, this has a dusky, classic feel that clearly wears its influences on its sleeve. It’s also lyrically honest, reflecting the singer’s love for the open road and the bittersweet feelings that accompany being on it – homesickness, loneliness, etc. The guitars are good, the vocals as strong and distinct as ever, and the overall vibe something of a ‘type of song’ your parents would love. But that’s no bad thing. Sutherland appears to be reverential to the style of songwriting that inspired him and he wears this influence passionately on his sleeve, to create a sound that feels somehow timeless.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 21, 2019

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

Imagine Dragons, Birds

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: IMAGINE DRAGONS feat ELISABIRDS: Imagine Dragons return to the source of one of their long-standing images – birds, for a power ballad of sorts that soars. Featuring guest vocals from Elisa, this shows the band at their most stripped back, intimate and thought provoking. The synths are toned down, the beats less emphatic than normal, and the mix of boy-girl vocals beautifully delivered, with a hint of melancholy in both. Elisa, in particular, drops a moody vocal to evoke comparisons with the likes of Sia. But Reynolds also adopts a more moody tone, to bring out the depth of emotion in lyrics that declare “birds fly in different directions, but love will never die”. It’s a song about loss and separation, bringing with it a sense of sorrow and longing. But amidst this, there’s hope: as the feelings of love felt by the ‘birds’ prevails. As a result, it’s not only beautifully bittersweet, but somehow inspiring and empowering.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Michael Kiwanuka and Tom Misch, Money

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MICHAEL KIWANUKA & TOM MISCHMONEY: It’s been a while since Michael Kiwanuka dazzled us with 2017’s Cold Little Heart but he now returns with another gem of an offering. Teaming up with Tom Misch, the disco infused Money also features YEBBA on backing vocals, and is mixed by Russell Elevado (D’Angelo, Kamasi Washington). As with Cold Little Heart‘s material, Kiwanuka isn’t afraid to delve into the past for sonic inspiration, wearing his influences on his sleeve. But what he creates as a result is brilliant. This has a funky, toe-tapping, classic ’80s disco vibe that both Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson and Mark Ronson and company would be proud of, as well as a seamless mix of vocals. Kiwanuka’s soulful delivery stands out, of course. But Misch and Yebba contribute brilliantly to create a sound that’s awash in retro chic, and alive with contemporary cool. Speaking about the single, Kiwanuka said: “The premise of Money is that, at first listen, it’s a song about money and how much I want it and love it. I want to use money to meet people and be around people that have a lot of it. But as you listen closer, it’s actually about how too much love for money can be dangerous.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Skinny Living

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: SKINNY LIVINGLET GO: Having recently released their new single Let Go through Polydor Records, played to a 20,000+ crowd at Elland Road alongside The Vaccines and Kaiser Chiefs and added a second Leeds show to their September UK tour due to phenomenal demand, Skinny Living have now revealed the visual to accompany the track, shot in their home town of Wakefield. A melancholy indie-pop ballad, this is a real gem of a track that’s shot through with the pain of an unfolding relationship. Boasting lines like “why are you holding onto strangers in the dark? Don’t you know you’ve got to let go of me? I’m trying hard to let go of you!” It’s a heartbreakingly honest track, as one person attempts to be stronger than the other and deliver the truth about an impending break-up. And in spite of that, there’s a buoyancy to the guitars that never lets the song drown in sorrow. Rather, it’s a toe-tapper that tugs at the heart-strings, while delivering a really satisfying listen. Speaking about the video, frontman Ryan Johnston – whose vocals on the track are perfect – said: “It was shot in good old Wakefield, the city we met in, the place we live, full of the people that put us on their backs and helped us make something out of nothing.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Cross Me

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ED SHEERAN feat CHANCE THE RAPPERCROSS ME: Ed Sheeran has unveiled the official video for his track Cross Me, featuring Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock. Directed by Ryan Staake and shot in a motion capture studio with a contemporary dancer, the official video features 3D animations of Ed Sheeran, Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock twisting in and out of multiple virtual realities. It’s genuinely eye-catching stuff, married to a great song. The single itself is something of a departure from Sheeran’s more conventional style, employing slick pop-meets-hip hop beats and several rap interludes. Indeed, there are times – when Chance takes over – you could be forgiven for not realising this is a Sheeran track. But once the singer himself takes over, it adopts a more familiar sound. Lyrically, there’s an edge, too – with all singers declaring: “If you cross her, then you cross me.” It sounds like a protective offering, which taps into the complex emotions at play in a lot of Sheeran’s songwriting. But the delivery is what makes this one stand out, with a soulful central sound mixed with elements of electro pop, as well as hip hop. Cross Me is taken from Sheeran’s forthcoming No.6 Collaborations (due July 12).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Deacon, Son of Apollo

JAMES DEACONSON OF APOLLO: South African newcomer James Deacon releases his new single Son Of Apollo through Bad Future – a lyrically expressive, pop-rooted track that focuses on his history of substance abuse. The song finds James shining a spotlight on his past misdemeanours while reflecting on how far he’s journeyed. In Greek mythology Hepius is the son of Apollo, and is widely regarded as the god of medicine. When attributed to Deacon’s latest single though, Hepius becomes a direct reference to the singer’s history with addiction. Co-written with Paul Gala (Bad Future Records) in only a few hours, the back-and-forth groove of the track easily lends itself to Deacon’s high-energy vocal delivery. Deacon explains: “This track means a lot to me lyrically because I struggled with drug addiction and alcohol abuse for a long time and managed to get sober and writing this song allowed me to go back to that dark part of my history and appreciate how far I’ve come since then. The imagery I tried to create with the lyrics is one of a drug-induced party filled with fake friends and peer pressure and most importantly drugs.” The production values are terrific. There’s urgency, followed by soulful balladry, married to a pained falsetto. There are electrifying shots of guitar, warm and cold synths, chopped up beats and a mix of fast and slow periods, as if to underline the tumultuous nature of being addicted. It’s an ear-catching listen, complete with lyrics that both portray the pain of being an addict and the pride that comes with eating those demons. Deacon appears to be going from strength to strength as a singer-songwriter.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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AMA, Real

AMAREAL: AMA has dropped her new single and video Real. Explaining what inspired the track, AMA said: “I wrote Real a few months into a new relationship. To me, it’s about wanting to be there for the other person and offer whatever you can to help with what they’re going through and struggling with, but they still haven’t quite put their guard down or fully opened to you.” The ensuing track finds AMA dropping a soulful central vocal that is interwoven with warped samples of her vocals, spliced electronics and washed over beats. It serves to create something kind of addictive, but also somehow experimental and not always satisfying as a whole. The soulful sincerity works well, though, and AMA clearly has a powerhouse set of vocals. And the bravery to experiment and create a sound that’s unique and distinct is also notable. The accompanying video is directed by Will Reid (A Cold Wall, Supreme, Comme De Garcon). Real is the first track to be taken from AMA’s debut EP Screenluv, released this summer, which sees production from Pasque (Aminé), Jarreau Vandal (Soulection), Karma Kid (Octavian) and more.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mosa Wild

MOSA WILDTIDES: Mosa Wild have unveiled a new single entitled Tides, which will join previously released tracks Night and Smoke on the band’s debut EP, Talking In Circles, which will be released on August 2, via Glassnote Records. Produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Bombay Bicycle Club), Tides epitomises Mosa Wild’s windscreen sound. Lead singer Jim Rubaduka’s rich vocals reveal warmth and a heart amidst stadium sized guitar melodies and powerful, walloping drum lines. The imagery of waves washing over you like tidal waves of emotion (“was it me you saw”, “broken and shipwrecked, see my heart adrift”), this combines a sense of melancholy and uncertainty [even danger] with one of hope and recovery. It’s emotionally resonant and honest, yet beautifully awash with sea-faring imagery, underlining the dense scope of Mosa Wild’s songwriting. Instrumentally, the song also soars – the guitar notes and drums hitting you like waves. It’s a highly impressive new offering to underline this band’s growing brilliance.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Metronomy

METRONOMYSALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM: Metronomy are back in a big way. Not only have they shared the new single and video for Salted Caramel Ice Cream, announced the September 13 release of their eagerly anticipated sixth album Metronomy Forever, but they’ve also confirmed details of a major UK and European tour (including a date at London’s Roundhouse). The single is pure kooky pop, featuring ice-cream based lyrics (tied to an addictive relationship) and cute hooks and electronics. The vocals have an almost falsetto feel and work nicely with the bouncy style of the track as a whole, creating a summery vibe that’s deliciously addictive. And yet, there’s something resolutely independent about it, too. This may be catchy – but it’s catchy in a non-mainstream, totally offbeat kind of way. Think Prince with added indie, electro-pop elements. After making his directorial debut with Lately, band leader Joseph Mount also helmed the larger scale video for Salted Caramel Ice Cream. He commented: “Years ago a friend of mine gave me a VHS tape of the MTV show 120 Minutes. It’s something I’d get him to do every so often as I was a bit obsessed with music TV at the time. On one particular tape was the video for Sonne by Rammstein, I’d never seen them before and it blew my mind. This video is a sort of homage to that, but with an added story about the gentrification of ice cream parlours.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mind Enterprises, Ballare

MIND ENTERPRISESBALLARE: A name that’s fast becoming synonymous with high-spirited and eclectic dance releases, Ballare, the latest single from the Italian DJ and producer-extraordinaire finds Mind Enterprises referencing the euphoric Italo House sounds of the 1980s. Matching the track’s vintage day-glo vibes with fittingly shoulder-padded visuals, Mind Enterprises have also unveiled a video that lovingly pays homage to the 1986 Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun. And while the song itself is cheesy as hell, in keeping with its 1980s roots, the video is a retro, tongue in cheek blast that manages to conjure memories of Top Gun in a truly kitsch style. Hence, while the song is for 80s purists and European electro-pop lovers ONLY, you can’t fail to be impressed by the cheeky visuals that accompany them. Hell, you may even feel the need, the need to put on Top Gun once again. Directed by long-time visual collaborator Jack Barraclough, Andrea explains how the new video took flight: “I thought the idea of re-making a Top Gun scene would get along great with Ballare, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it in practice. Here is when Jack jumped on board and the result is another chapter of Italo Disco soap opera, I’m very proud of it.” Directly translating as ‘Dance’ in Italian, Ballare was inspired by the seminal track of the same name by punk-funk icons ESG.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Magnettes

THE MAGNETTESSHAKES: Northern Swedish pop outfit The Magnettes, consisting of front duo Rebecka Digervall and Sanna Kalla and producer Tomas Bäcklund Tuneström, return with their new disco/punk-single, Shakes (Falling in Love). The retro heavy track is a pure product of the ’80s Euro-pop scene, albeit with elements [vocally] of Robyn thrown in. Hence, ’80s drums meet angsty guitars and build towards headrush, power-pop choruses, that aim for some operatic highs. It’s a fun, giddy concoction to be seized upon by fans of Scandi pop and anyone who likes their music to come with some retro ’80s elements. Lyrically, the track follows the ‘out with your best friends on a Saturday night’ dancefloor smash Kimnkanye and is an unapologetic roaring anthem about passionate love. As the band explains: “It’s about gushing love and heaving lungs, kisses in the rain and all that fun stuff we don’t really have time for anymore. Or probably just about how we really wanna be (/make out with) Stevie Nicks. It’s our farewell letter to a much volatile, nervous, and romantic way of life. Musically, we wanted it to sound as if Bratmobile and Baby Spice got together and played on top of Dancing In The Dark.” That’s an interesting take.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Idolising Nova, Run Away

IDOLISING NOVARUN AWAY: Idolising Nova – Jack Fulton Smith (bass and lead singer), Kris Lee (guitar and keyboard/ synth) and Kyle O’Sullivan (drums and backing vocals) – are a three-piece indie pop band from Peterborough. Their achievements over the past 12 months have been many: their catchy music has been played on national TV and radio, including BBC Radio 2 and ITV, and they’ve toured the UK and Europe extensively, including supporting The Vamps on their European tour and slots at Hit The North Festival and La French Escapade in Paris. They have recently been spending time in the studio recording new single Run Away with Sugar House (worked with Pale Waves and Viola Beach) (the track then being mixed by James K Lewis (mixed for Rudimental, Clean Bandit, Charli XCX, Jess Glynne). The result is a catchy indie pop offering that leans more towards cheese-pop – a slick mix of very early Depeche Mode mixed with elements of Pet Shop Boys and Metronomy. There are swirling synth arrangements, driving guitars and brazen vocals, delivered to make the song as big and danceable as possible. If you like your music with an element of ’80s kitsch, then this could punch your ticket. As Jack from the band says: “We played it in Paris a few days after it was released and people were already singing it back to us, so it’s definitely an earworm! The lyrics are about someone escaping to a ‘better world’ and this feel good, easy to listen to track in itself gives you a sense of escapism for a few minutes.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 14, 2019

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

Bat For Lashes, Kids in the Dark

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BAT FOR LASHESKIDS IN THE DARK: It’s been a while but Bat For Lashes return with a genuinely laidback, beautiful new single in the form of Kids in the Dark. Taken from the forthcoming Lost Girls LP (out in September), this finds lead singer Khan employing similarly mellow vocals, while backed by lush electronic soundscapes that sometimes conjure the memory of ’80s teen movies. But there’s a darker element underpinning the lyrics, which talk of ‘a body bag’ and ‘endless sleeping pills’. It’s a bittersweet journey, with danger bubbling beneath the smooth veneer of the surface sound. But that’s just the way we like it. This has a cinematic majesty to rival its intimate beauty, making this a fiercely compelling, intelligent listen in truly classic Bat For Lashes fashion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kaiser Chiefs, people Know How To Love One Another

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: KAISER CHIEFSPEOPLE KNOW HOW TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER: Kaiser Chiefs have announced the release of anthemic new single People Know How To Love One Another alongside details of a UK arena tour in January 2020 (including the O2 Arena on February 1). A riposte to the current state of divided Britain, this was partly inspired by the political and social chaos kickstarted by the Brexit fiasco. But in true Kaiser Chiefs form, the track is also an uplifting mix of radiant melodies and Northern Soul-style grooves. Its message of positivity came from guitarist Whitey. “It’s the antithesis of Every Day I Love You Less And Less,” says Wilson. “The title is a statement – there’s no judgement or ‘this is how you should live your life’, no bravado, it’s just, ‘this is how it is.’ It reminded me of our first record.” Bassist Simon Rix thinks the world in 2019 needs a song with such a declaration of human warmth. “It’s a really important song and a great message for Brexit Britain.” Hence, you can expect a repetitive central message, delivered with giddy abandon, to create something truly sing-along, ultra anthemic and utterly crowd-pleasing.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chemical Brothers, Eve of Destruction

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: THE CHEMICAL BROTHERSEVE OF DESTRUCTION: To coincide with the announcement of several shows this November, The Chemical Brothers have also dropped a stunning video for their new single Eve of Destruction, the opening track from their acclaimed new album, No Geography. A staple of the band’s DJ sets for the last two years, Eve of Destruction is based around a relentless groove that gives way to a jacking house chorus. It’s high energy, dance friendly and mixes genres as only the brothers have worked out how. It also features vocals from Norwegian singer Aurora and Japanese rapper Nene, as if to underline the track’s shape-shifting sensibilities. And while, for some, the relentless nature of the beats and woozy electronics might be too monotonous, this is a crowd-pleaser that will set the dancefloor ablaze whenever it comes on. Little wonder, then, it’s become such a live favourite. The single is released ahead of their headline slot at Glastonbury Festival this month, while a stunning visual for the track has been created by the band’s longterm collaborators Adam Smith and Marcus Lyall, featuring all manner of weird and wonderful fighters – part video game based, yet populated by live-action people with an emphasis on Japanese culture.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher, Shockwave

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: LIAM GALLAGHERSHOCKWAVE (VIDEO): Liam Gallagher has dropped the incendiary and typically attitude-laden video for his new single, Shockwave. Directed by the award-winning François Rousselet, the video sets Liam’s swaggering charisma to some striking, cinematic-scale photography. It takes him on a voyage through America’s Deep South, from desolate wastelands to train tracks and large scale protests. Could the song itself be more signature, though? Erupting into life with a beast of a riff, which deliberately channels The Who and T. Rex, the song then drops a blast of harmonica before Liam bursts in on the incessant hook with typical venom and punch. Vocally, there’s just no getting away from the sound of Liam. The hard rock ‘n’ roll swagger is also pure Gallagher, boasting the same kind of no-nonsense hallmark and hard living that has become his hallmark. The glam influences also hint at classic T-Rex. But this is a lived-in sound, harking back to a classic style of delivery as only Liam knows how. Whether that’s really a stretch for him, though, is another point entirely. Liam is operating well within his comfort zone here (unlike brother Noel’s High Flying Birds). So, while familiar in a good, head-nodding kind of way, the song gets marked down a little for refusing to take many risks. The lyrics go like this: “You sold me right down the river, you had to hold me back… you could’ve looked for the sunshine, but you had to paint the whole thing black. It’s coming round like a shockwave!” Liam wrote Shockwave with two of the key collaborators behind the critically-acclaimed As You Were album: Andrew Wyatt, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Song as co-writer of Shallow from the film A Star Is Born, and the multiple Grammy-winner Greg Kurstin who also produced the track. It was recorded in Los Angeles. The track also marks the first taste of his forthcoming second album Why Me? Why Not.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jorja Smith, Goodbyes

JORJA SMITHGOODBYES: In the wake of headlining Field Day 2019, being announced as Dior Beauty’s latest ambassador, receiving an Ivor Novello nomination for Blue Lights and an incredible 17-date collaborative tour with Kali Uchis, Jorja Smith today unveils her new visual for the hauntingly beautiful Goodbyes. Taken from her Mercury Music Prize-nominated album Lost & Found, the evocative track sees Jorja discussing the process of mourning and regret after death. Its intimate, stripped back [with only an acoustic guitar for support] and devastatingly honest. She explains: “Goodbyes is a song for anyone who has not been able to say their last words; to say goodbye to someone. Rashid and I filmed the video at home. I just sang as I wanted to create a homely feel. Then me and my friends set off fire lanterns for the people we miss.” The sensitively filmed visual, which through its direct and honest focus, inspires an intense feeling of emotion, was directed by Jorja’s long-term collaborator Rashid Babiker (On Your Own) and shot at Jorja’s home. Rashid continues: “Jorja called me and said get your camera let’s shoot a music video in my flat for Goodbyes and see what we come up with. She expressed to me she wanted to take things back to basics and strip the theatrics. We shot a performance piece with Jorja mostly looking down the barrel of the lens, something understated and simple that allowed the emotion in the lyrics to take center stage which didn’t need much visual interpretation…. then we had friends over for drinks in the eve, someone brought me flowers, we let off some biodegradable short burning lanterns off for lost ones at night and got our shoes muddy. Best shoot ever and another chapter in my visual odyssey with Jorja.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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DJ Snake

DJ SNAKE, J BALVIN & TYGALOCO CONTIGO: DJ Snake, J Balvin and Tyga have shared a bouncy, Latino infused new summer anthem called Loco Contigo and it’s nearly impossible not to get a little jiggy with it. With its seductive rhythms, otherworldly beats and ear-friendly melodies, Loco Contigo finds DJ Snake and his collaborators attempting to redefine Latin music for today’s pop landscape. Latin Grammy Award-winner J Balvin graces the track with the smooth vocals, lending something of a hip hop vibe, without ever coming over too urban or gritty. Rather, he seems to be settling back into the track’s smooth rhythms and delivering a vocal that’s equally soothing. It’s got summer hit written all over it. The eye-catching video has been directed by Colin Tilley (an award-winning filmmaker known for his work with artists like Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj) and is also well worth checking out. Loco Contigo arrives as the latest in a series of successful singles from DJ Snake, including the all-star hip-hop anthem Enzo (a collaboration with Sheck Wes, featuring Offset, 21 Savage & Gucci Mane) and the double-platinum international smash Taki Taki (feat. Selena Gomez, Ozuna& Cardi B).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ren, Spencer Street

RENSPENCER STREET: Ren announces his new single Spencer Street as a follow-up to last month’s well received Blue Hounds. Unlike that track, a protest song in the classic mould, Spencer Street is, as Ren explains “a nostalgic song reflecting on a relationship and life I had in Newcastle a few years ago”. “I wrote it whilst I was on the road a year or so after the break up. But Spencer Street with her still felt like home to me,” he continued. Recorded during downtime at a famous London studio, it was engineered and produced by Jim Abbiss’ former assistant engineer up and coming producer George Chung. Mixed by Paul Gregory (Lanterns on the Lake) and mastered by Noel Summerville (The Clash, The Police, Elvis Costello). The result is an intimate offering, chock full of reflective, heartfelt sentiments. There’s some nicely measured acoustic guitar and piano to accompany it for most of the way, until a mid-track guitar interlude plugs things in to excellent effect. Vocally, Ren does keep things low-key and subtle (think Paul Simon crossed with Joshua Radin), but this only adds to the intimate and personal nature of the song as a whole. It has a genuinely endearing quality. Ren – born Conor Owen in East Ham, East London to a Mum from Dublin and a Dad from Liverpool – is now based in Newcastle after studying music in London
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jackie Cohen, Yesterday's Baby

JACKIE COHENYESTERDAY’S BABY: Jackie Cohen has released an official video for her song, Yesterday’s Baby, and brings a sense of playfulness to an already bright and breezy track with something to say. The track is taken from her debut album Zagg, which is out now via Spacebomb. Adrian Vega-Albela Osorio – who also directed the video for FMK and Jackie’s Zagg Chats interview series – captured Jackie with bandmate Kevin Basko scootering around familiar spots in Jackie’s Los Angeles-area neighborhood. Speaking of the shoot, Jackie herself shares: “The San Fernando valley gets a bad rap for being this dull, suburban area outside of LA, but I love the val and think people have it so backwards. What we lack in Rick and Morty themed barcade brunch spots, we make up for in Ventura Blvd realness, Pegasus Fashion Lounges & pure Cheesecake Factory culture. I wanted the Zagg videos to feel true to my home, the heart of the record, and for ‘Yesterday’s Baby’, Adrian captured and hyper-saturated all the long afternoon colors. It’s vibrant and breezy and hot and sweaty. Also Kev is a sick Limer. Legitimately talented if he ever wanted to make a second career out of it.” Combining elements of space pop and glam, the single has a highly melodic, bouncy quality that also offers up some telling observations about the state of modern society, all relayed from a retro slant. It’s clever, it’s catchy and it’s fun.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 7, 2019

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

Bon Iver, Hey, Ma

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BON IVERHEY, MA: Bon Iver – aka singer-songwriter Justin Vernon – releases new single Hey, Ma and hypnotises in beautiful fashion. Embodying many of the classic Bon Iver elements, Hey, Ma reflects on childhood memories and his own mother, inviting listeners to do the same. The result is an intimate, heart-warming offering that carries a sense of melancholy… the bittersweet feeling that comes with getting old and realising your childhood is behind you. Vernon is typically expressive, and earnest, along with Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner. Yet his vocals have a warmth, too, as well as a sweep that’s reminiscent of both classic Peter Gabriel and Andy Burrows (when he hits those falsetto notes). Instrumentally, there are warm synth, the odd sax, subtle beat arrangements and a sense of the cinematic. If the mid-track breakdown almost threatens to upset the otherwise highly satisfying rhythmn of the song (entering experimental territory), it’s only a brief interlude that doesn’t ultimately harm the emotional impact or overall beauty of the song.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Beoga, Let You Go

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BEOGA feat ANDERSON EASYLET YOU GO: Irish ‘new wave trad’ quintet Beoga have shared their new song Let You Go, featuring Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Anderson East. In speaking about their latest offering, Beoga says: “Let You Go is about trying to cut ties with someone and being able to move on. We’re thrilled to have been able to collaborate with the great Anderson East on this. His southern drawl married really well with our sound, we are so glad he agreed to be part of this chapter of the new record.” Anderson added: “It’s such an honour to be on a record with such incredible, talented musicians who blend tradition and modernity. Beoga on a record is spectacular and to see them in person is to witness something truly special.” embracing their Irish roots, Beoga imbue this particular song with a defined sense of revelry that’s evident in the brash, lively chorus and the rousing fiddles that drift in and out. You can imagine this being played in a local pub, post-closing, where the party never ends. And yet, there’s an intimacy to the lyrics, too, which lends the song an emotional heft that’s also highly welcome, complete with yearning lyrics such as “I can’t find the way to the one I thought I knew”. It’s a powerhouse offering from this endearing band. Let You Go comes on the heels of Beoga’s cover of Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus’ Nothing Breaks Like a Heart and their original song Matthew’s Daughter featuring Devin Dawson. They shot to prominence after collaborating on two songs on Ed Sheeran’s global hit album ÷: Galway Girl and Nancy Mulligan.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Keane, The Way I Feel

VIDEO/SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: KEANETHE WAY I FEEL: It’s been a while but Keane, one of Britain’s most beloved bands, have announced their return with a new album (out September 20 on Island Records) and featuring the powerful first single The Way I Feel. Written by Keane and produced by David Kosten and the band themselves, the album boasts 11 songs and – on the evidence of this first single – makes them sound like they’ve never been away. The Way I Feel is classic Keane, with lively electronic arrangements working so well in tandem with Tom Chaplin’s powerhouse, yet distinct vocals. Admittedly, there’s a touch of bands like The Killers and James – but that’s no bad thing, enabling their sound to continue to appeal to the mainstream. The chorus is particularly affecting – empowering in all the right ways, while so damn catchy and life-affirming. The electronics, meanwhile, have a zip that’s required to help get the song noticed. It’s utterly infectious and a great way to announce a comeback. The video for The Way I Feel was directed by Kevin Godley, who previously directed the video for the band’s hit single Is It Any Wonder and Tom’s solo release Still Waiting.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Madonna, Dark Ballet

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: MADONNADARK BALLET: Ever the provocateur, Madonna releases yet another single from her Madame X LP and delivers a suitably sensational video. Opening with a quote from Joan of Arc, the video quickly fills the ears with the sound of burning and an image of a torse quite possibly tied to a stake. Thereafter, it juxtaposes images of clergy with a tortured soul, all mixed with suggestive lyrics that confront the hypocrisy of the modern world as much as anything. These include a chorus that declares: “Cause your world is such a shame, Cause your world’s obsessed with fame, Cause your world’s in so much pain, Cause your world is… Cause your world is up in flames”. The video then closes with a spoken-word segment from artist and video star Mykki Blanco, in which she states: “I have walked this earth, Black, Queer and HIV positive, but no transgression against me has been as powerful as the hope I hold within.” Throughout, Blanco assumes the mantle of Joan of Arc, dancing in the face of the religious figures who oppose her, and thereby dancing in the face of persecution. It’s powerful, haunting stuff. The song, meanwhile, adopts another lower key beat, allowing the vocals and lyrics to really register. There’s also a striking piano arrangement, that adds a cinematic quality [again befitting the visuals]. But there are also detours, including a moment where some of the Lord’s prayer is recited, and several musical flights of fantasy. It’s bold, it’s odd, it’s powerful, it’s unquestionably Madonna. The visuals were directed by Emmanuel Adeji.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lxandra

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: LXANDRASWIMMING POOLS: Following last week’s release of her new single Swimming Pools, Finnish rising star Lxandra – who recently performed a stand-out set at this year’s The Great Escape – shares the beautiful accompanying video. The track is taken from her upcoming EP, Another Lesson Learned, due later this year. The emotive new track is set to be released in two versions, with the poignant piano version out now. A produced version replete with swelling strings and skittering beats will follow along with the official music video. In the meantime, this piano version offers up a striking version that’s well worth paying attention to. The pianos are swirling and cinematic, while Lxandra’s powerful vocals deliver some telling lines about the hierarchical nature of society and the ‘have’s and have not’s’. There’s also a sense of reflection, which lends the song added poignancy. Explains Lxandra: “Swimming Pools is about being happy with what you have and showing a middle finger to the expectations of society, and a world that runs on money. It’s about remembering who you are and where you come from and always holding onto that. Be grateful for what you have, you have everything you need.” It’s a timely song with a potent message that deserves to find a wide fanbase.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher, Shockwave

LIAM GALLAGHERSHOCKWAVE: Could a song sound more signature than Liam Gallagher’s Shockwave? We don’t think so. Erupting into life with a beast of a riff, which deliberately channels The Who and T. Rex, the song then drops a blast of harmonica before Liam bursts in on the incessant hook with typical venom and punch. Vocally, there’s just no getting away from the sound of Liam. The hard rock ‘n’ roll swagger is also pure Gallagher, boasting the same kind of no-nonsense hallmark and hard living that has become his hallmark. The glam influences also hint at classic T-Rex. But this is a lived-in sound, harking back to a classic style of delivery as only Liam knows how. Whether that’s really a stretch for him, though, is another point entirely. Liam is operating well within his comfort zone here (unlike brother Noel’s High Flying Birds). So, while familiar in a good, head-nodding kind of way, the song gets marked down a little for refusing to take many risks. The lyrics go like this: “You sold me right down the river, you had to hold me back… you could’ve looked for the sunshine, but you had to paint the whole thing black. It’s coming round like a shockwave!” Liam wrote Shockwave with two of the key collaborators behind the critically-acclaimed As You Were album: Andrew Wyatt, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Song as co-writer of Shallow from the film A Star Is Born, and the multiple Grammy-winner Greg Kurstin who also produced the track. It was recorded in Los Angeles. The track also marks the first taste of his forthcoming second album Why Me? Why Not.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bon Iver, U (Man Like)

BON IVER – U (MAN LIKE): Bon Iver – aka singer-songwriter Justin Vernon – has dropped a second new single to accompany Hey, Ma, in the form of the disarmingly simple U (Man Like). We say disarming because there’s actually a lot going into this piano-led ballad. The track features Moses Sumney adding to the barrage of vocal call and response, as well as a certain Bruce Hornsby playing that piano. Bryce Dessner, meanwhile, provides a choral arrangement, while Hornsby is also listed as one of the song’s three ‘writers’. The piano, once you know who is playing it, is classic Hornsby and beautifully delivered, while the vocals are absorbing and well realised. The short stabs of harmonica that drift in and out are a nice touch, while the reflective lyrics are as thought-provoking and intelligent as usual. Some critics have described the sound as approaching the operatic – and there’s definitely a sense of grandeur too. Again, the simplicity belies the complexity at play. This is a song that grows and grows on you.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Christof van der Ven

CHRISTOF VAN DER VEN – A DARKER LIGHT: Holland born Christof van der Ven has released new track A Darker Light as the second cut to be lifted from his much-anticipated second full length album You Were The Place, due for release September 6, 2019, via his own imprint, Planet Zog Records. Where first single Bravais Arc rose amidst expansive synths and driving instrumentals, A Darker Light keeps the pace with the electronic instrumentation, but brings things back to a more melancholy place. Reverb-laden acoustic guitars are paired with a drum machines in a glitchy slow-burning rhythm section that accompany Christof reminiscing about a conversation with his mum when he was at a cross-roads, moments after his brief romance had come to an end. Hence, it wears its heart on its sleeve to disarming fashion, appearing as a sometimes painful insight into the torment he felt. The shuffling nature of the accompanying guitars and beats works really well, emerging as both gentle and soothing, yet also hinting at a sense of melancholy. Van der Ven’s vocals occasionally reminded me of Jose Gonzalez in the way that they quietly reassure, yet occasionally reach out to become more expressive. They’re a beautiful focal point to a song that really does resonate and impress. Commenting on the song himself, the singer said: “This is a song about a conversation that I had late at night with my mum after some wine. I was looking for an answer, a way out the emotional mess I was in. She offered her wisdom and helped me get over that mental hurdle.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sheryl Crow, Prove You Wrong

SHERYL CROW feat STEVIE NICKS & MAREN MORRISPROVE YOU WRONG: The spirit of Nashville reverberates around Prove You Wrong, another potent collaboration between Sheryl Crow and two of the artists she’s long admired: Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks and Maren Morris. A dancefloor filler (we’re talking barns here people), this combines feisty all-girl vocals, blues-rock guitars and a rollicking country-rock sound. The lyrics offer up lines like “it wouldn’t take much to prove you wrong” as a riposte to the man in their lives… a warning, of sorts, that they could walk out at any time. And it’s done in celebratory, girl power fashion, sweeping the listener along in effortlessly feel-good fashion. It’s a song that has a welcome sense of Nashville familiarity about it, and comes complete with guitar solos. But it’s a romp. The new single will be featured on Sheryl’s upcoming duets album, Threads, which is set to be released this summer. The 17-song offering includes collaborations with Johnny Cash, Keith Richards, Joe Walsh, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and more.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Alba

ALBAHEARTBEAT: Alba’s music has been best described as a blend between old-school rock-blues and her passion for today’s soul/R&B and pop music. With inspiration ranging from Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder to Alicia Keys, Joss Stone and John Mayer, her new single Heartbeat tips its hat to all of those. Her vocals are soulful, while the accompanying guitars are rooted in rock-blues territory. But while there’s plenty of both, they don’t always collide. The guitars are reserved for the moments when Alba doesn’t sing, with pianos and drum beats occupying the background when she does, thereby heightening that soul-pop vibe. It’s catchy, summery stuff. Commenting on the track, Alba said: “Heartbeat was inspired by the feeling of synchronicity of a crowd with the beat of the music during live concerts, when everyone’s heart seems to beat to the rhythm of the kick drum, and also takes inspiration from the sense of synchronicity between the pounding hearts of two lovers. I wanted to be the one setting an energetic and positive beat to which an audience may synch to. The kick drum at the start of Heartbeat is actually mixed together with a human heartbeat sample.” The London-based singer-songwriter is also a passionate environmental campaigner and talks passionately about how music can be green and environmentally friendly. She’s well worth listening to.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 31, 2019

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

Noel Galagher's High Flying Birds, Black Star Dancing

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSRATTLING ROSE: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds continue to tinker with their sound on new single Rattling Rose, a swirling, retro-tinged, David Holmes-inspired, cinematic offering of very high quality. A follow-up to Black Star Dancing, taken from the EP of the former single’s name, it’s further evidence of how, post-Oasis, Noel is striving to keep the sound of his new act fresh and exciting, while also nodding to his various influences. Rattling Rose boasts the sort of instrumentals that would make former collaborator Holmes proud, while also keeping things mellow and dropping in a catchy chorus. There are hints of classic Oasis, in the easy accessibility of the chorus, but this feels more cinematic and adventurous. The instrumentals are particularly great. Noel says of Rattling Rose: “It manages to combine the influences of Chris Rea, Chris De Burgh, Mike And The Mechanics and Slipknot FFS!!! I may have eaten too many gummy bears recently… anyway it’s ‘jolly good’… not my words but the words of David Cameron, who literally did the hokey cokey at Soho Farmhouse when he heard it.” You can make what you will of that last statement!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mark Ronson, Find U Again

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MARK RONSON feat CAMILA CABELLOFIND U AGAIN: Mark Ronson continues to impress ahead of the release of forthcoming LP, Late Night Feelings, with new single Find U Again, featuring Camila Cabello. Co-written with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, this employs the slickness of classic Ronson with something more resolutely mainstream. Hence, the pop element is sure to guarantee a massive success. Cabello’s feisty vocals lend it a terrific centre-point, albeit one that’s wrapped in sorrow. This is a song, after all, about the loss of a loved one, which finds the singer despairing that “I know I’ll never find you again”. She attempts to bury her sorrows in other lovers, but the one that matters has clearly lone gone. The accompanying instrumentals are as lively as we’ve come to expect from Ronson, though, giving the song an effortlessly upbeat pop gloss that will enable it to become a summer anthem and a fan favourite. Coming off the back of successful partnerships with both Miley Cyrus and Lykke Li, Find U Again is yet another track that looks set to make Late Night Feelings one of the year’s biggest selling albums.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Deacon, Calling Home

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JAMES DEACONCALLING HOME: South African newcomer James Deacon releases his rousing new single Calling Home through Bad Future Records and continues to impress with his soulful intensity. If songwriting is a way of processing the loss of a loved one, then singing about it is a way of surrendering to it. Calling Home is a raw anthem that grips, breaks and rages only to release you at the end to the possibility of light in death. Written from more than one perspective, and soulfully sung, the track is a tribute that pleads with pain, and at its most vulnerable, speaks to the hope of living on in others. Lines such as “praying to Gods I don’t believe in” and “how do I see, sense in all this pain” resonate to anyone who has experienced similar loss, while the central refrain of “I’ll never let you see my tears” screams both defiance and inner heartbreak married to unseen strength. Deacon’s passionate delivery heightens the sense of emotion, combining moments of falsetto with something deeper, more moody and more soulful. It’s a song that deserves to become recognised as a classic ballad. And it could even form the basis of a soundtrack moment. Speaking about Calling Home, Deacon said: “I wrote Calling Home over the course of three months. I began writing the song to help myself process some overwhelming emotions that I was going through as a result of watching my family member Anton be diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was a long battle and it took a very heavy toll on the entire family. I began writing the song from the perspective of Anton’s son Neston and I tried to imagine to the best of my ability what it must have felt like to have this happen to his father… The second verse I wrote after Anton had passed away and I wrote it from his perspective based off what he said in his final days and the message he had – that everyone should be strong and move on because he knew that this was his time. This song is a tribute to the memory of Johannes Antonie Kotze and it is my attempt at immortalising his memory. I’d like to think that this song could help anyone going through a similar battle or situation.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Katy Perry, Never Really Over

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: KATY PERRYNEVER REALLY OVER: Katy Perry knows how to deliver a pop anthem, even though new single Never Really Over carries with it something of a trademark sound. For fans of the singer, however, this can only be a good thing. And where 2017’s Witness material carried a political undercurrent, Perry now seems to have opted to make things more personal for her comeback. Hence, Never Really Over finds her in something of a confused Alice in Wonderland mode, striving to avoid “falling down the rabbit hole” again, while delivering telling lovelorn lines like: “Two years and just like that, my head still takes me back, thought it was done but I guess it’s never really over”. Hence, for all the pop confection attached, there’s a deep sense of heartbreak married to resolve. The result is something bittersweet. It’s honest, emotional, yet enjoyable (unashamedly so), and one for the masses. Perry’s popularity only looks set to grow. And the accompanying video is a sugar rush confection, featuring Perry in various states of colourful dress, and dancing masterfully amid some borderline psychedelic scenes. There’s even an early nod to Alice in Wonderland, courtesy of a blue dress. It’s eye-catching and toe-tapping as hell.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Call U Mine

THE CHAINSMOKERS feat BEBE REXHACALL YOU MINE: Prolific as ever, The Chainsmokers continue the rollout of their third album World War Joy with the release of their latest single, Call You Mine, featuring guest vocals from Bebe Rexha. And it’s typically Chainsmokers, mixing easy pop sounds with something a little more edgy lyrically. The theme of the song is coping with a relationship that is starting to turn old. Bebe sings: “I look at you and you look at me, like nothing but strangers now. Two kids with their hearts on fire, don’t let it burn us out.” It’s a song shot through with emotional sincerity, with Bebe being given centre-stage early on, to allow those lyrics to hit home. Once the track hits the minute mark, however, some more recognisable Chainsmokers elements land, in the form of club-friendly beats and those charged electronics. But, again, there’s darkness and more restraint than on some of their earlier, more instantly catchy material. Here, the pain and uncertainty inherent in the lyrics also informs the overall approach of the instrumentals. It’s telling stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tove Lo, Glad He's Gone

TOVE LO – GLAD HE’S GONE: Multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated artist Tove Lo is back with a new single taken from her forthcoming album. The single, Glad He’s Gone, is an intelligent [if foul mouthed] and infectious pop track served with her usual sauciness and tongue-in-cheek lyricism and wit. Lo reveals: “We’ve all been on both sides of the break up pep talk with our friends and we all know how good it feels to get your partner in crime back when they finally leave that idiot behind.” The provocative nature of the song poses questions such as “did you go down on his birthday?”, while adding: “Baby, no tears for that sucka… I’m glad he’s gone.” It’s unapologetically brash, yet delivered in a style that is the very definition of radio friendly. The melodies are cute, the beats slick and the production values so mainstream focused that this can’t help but further Lo’s overall appeal. If you like P!nk, then you’re sure to dig this. The saucy video, which finds the singer donning a denim jacket and not a lot else, shows just how tongue in cheek the whole endeavour is. But for anyone who is striving to get over a difficult relationship, this might just offer a go-to track for moving on. The Stockholm-born artist has also confirmed that her fourth full-length album is on its way. Recorded between Los Angeles and Sweden, Sunshine Kitty represents a new chapter for Tove, marked by a reclamation of confidence, hard-earned wisdom, more time, and a budding romance. The title is “a play on pussy power, but it’s a happy, positive way of seeing it,” Tove Lo states. “It ties in with the lynx. This cartoon cat (featured on the artwork) is an extension of me and part of the new music. She’s super cute, but she does stupid shit like getting in fights and getting fucked up. It’s how I feel the album sounds.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Metronomy, Lately

METRONOMYLATELY: Following an incendiary performance at All Points East last weekend, Metronomy return to share their new track Lately. Both inventive and ear-grabbing, the song captures the most immediate and enticing side of Metronomy’s sonic spectrum. From the glistening synths to the animated beats and a chugging guitar riff, it carries the elative summer atmosphere that Mount and co. have become renowned for, now through a fresh radio-friendly sheen. And yet, while certainly striving to stay on the right side of radio friendly, the track also boasts enough of its own identity to suggest that Metronomy are determined to do things on their own terms. Hence, there are mid-track breakdowns into psychedelic territory, synth workouts that border on the pop-sublime, and those chugging riffs that imply an indie sensibility. It’s a song that isn’t afraid to mix things up, or to keep the listener on their toes, exciting and surprising them at every opportunity. And while the business of the track may be too much for some, it wouldn’t be Metronomy if it was anything close to generic.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cheryl, Let You

CHERYLLET YOU: Cheryl’s new single, Let You, is – in the singer’s own words – the result of conversations with her friends about men and relationship patterns. She explains: “I loved this song from the moment we wrote it in the studio. I knew I had to release it! I’ve made mistakes in relationships. I’ve been with men who were controlling, who made me unhappy, but I allowed it to happen. That’s what this song is about. You have to recognise it, and you have to try and not let it happen again.” As such, it’s a song about empowerment that makes a powerful stand lyrically. The surging synths and disco friendly beats give it a pop sheen, of course, while helping the song to surge. But while certainly sassy in the sense that it’s defiant and honest, the song is a little too mainstream to really stand out from the masses. It’s something that Cheryl would undoubtedly be looking for, though, as she’s also all about appealing to the record buying masses. It’s a decent listen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Liimo, Pink in Heaven

LIIMOPINK IN HEAVEN: Pink In Heaven is the new single from Edinburgh natives Liimo, available now through B-Unique Records. A tropical, electro pop offering, the track also has a trace of melancholy attached courtesy of the soft vocals and lines such as “we live in a broken paradise, is it really pink in heaven?” Talking about the new single, Liimo’s frontman Kieran explained: “Pink in Heaven was the first song that we wrote as Liimo and the one that started it all off really. It’s about being with someone who’s down for the struggle and with you through thick and thin, finding comfort in the little things and not giving a care for the things you lack in the material sense.” As such, the bittersweet element of the song is offset by the sense of positivity and hope that’s also contained within. And the longer the song lasts, the bolder the sound becomes, with a more brash vocal delivery, a bigger chorus and a greater emphasis on the electro pop. It’s ethereal, in places, and euphoric in others. The mix is intoxicating.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Childcare

CHILDCARECHAMPAGNE BRAIN: London’s softcore-psych quartet Childcare invite you on a wellness adventure with their debut album Wabi-Sabi, available now via Get Well Soon. The 13-track album includes Radio 1 playlisted singles such as Sugarcane and Big Man, plus new material including lead single Champagne Brain. The single encapsulates one of the album’s key themes – a struggle to be better. Singer Ed Cares said about the single: “Champagne Brain is what happens when I have too much fun. This song follows the journey of my misdemeanours from temptation to acceptance and finally, release.” There’s a bittersweet, psychedelic element attached, which endears, as well as traces of experimental Blur in the vocals (especially over the chorus). Cares vocals have a Damon Albarn-like quality, which can only be a good thing in helping to get the band noticed. Late on, the instrumentals threaten to drown the song in a wall of reverb, undermining some of the earlier, more mainstream friendly elements. But even when the song drifts into experimental territory, there’s always something interesting going on. Talking about the album as a whole, Care went on: “Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese world view which considers true beauty to be imperfect and incomplete. Despite the many reviews from highbrow publications we get as a band, e.g. ‘I can’t imagine CHILDCARE to be any more perfect or complete’, [myindieband.com] we are in fact fallible human beings, just like you. This album is therefore a reflection of the journeys we’ve been on to better ourselves and we hope that in combination with all that the Get Well Soon project has to offer, you can feel better too.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 24, 2019

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

Kaiser Chiefs, Record Collection

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: KAISER CHIEFSRECORD COLLECTION: Kaiser Chiefs forthcoming new album Duck will be released on July 26, 2019, through Polydor. Duck is the sound of one of the most successful British guitar bands of the millennium reclaiming the creative swagger that underpins their strongest work. “It’s undeniably fantastic and undeniably Kaiser Chiefs,” says frontman Ricky Wilson. Their seventh record will be preceded by Record Collection, the first piece of new music taken from the album, as well as a huge show at Elland Road Stadium on June 8 – a homecoming gig with stature needing no explanation. And so far, so good. Record Collection does update the Kaiser Chiefs sound with something more electronic leaning. But it also reminds us how they can deliver a genuinely feel-good anthemic chorus. And it has something to say, too. “It came quickly,” says Wilson of its creation. “It’s a vibe. It’s about the Internet and frustration with the Internet, about how it rules our lives but we don’t really understand what it is and how we just click accept.” Hence, there’s talk of hidden doors, hidden paths, emotional turmoil and other unseen dangers. But while a cautionary tale, it’s a rollicking good feel-good record that combines darker themes with something stadium-sized and crowd-pleasing. Welcome back, boys.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charlie Cunningham

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CHARLIE CUNNINGHAMBITE: While his current single Sink In picks up plays from Annie Mac and Phil Taggart at Radio 1, Charlie Cunningham has unveiled another new track, Bite, taken from his forthcoming album Permanent Way. Recorded during sessions in LA with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The XX, King Krule), Bite snaps open only to clasp shut with a spiky, nervous energy masked by Charlie’s melodic vocal. At times, it’s reminiscent of the style (vocally and instrumentally) of Jose Gonzalez (another IndieLondon favourite artist). We particularly like the way the song opens in ethereal, atmospheric fashion, before layering on the foreboding elements – both lyrically and instrumentally. By the time it approaches its climax, the sound has opened out and become cinematic – the simplicity of the opening moments enhanced by a more robust guitar sound, some beats and subtle electronics. It’s beautifully realised, with Cunningham’s soft vocal style providing a nice contrast. It’s the type of song that just gets better with each listen, complete with reflective, emotionally compelling lyrics. It’s little wonder that Cunningham’s unique combination of agile guitar – the result of two-year sojourn in Seville – and distinctive, spectral melodies has, via three EPs and a debut album Lines released to widespread acclaim by Dumont Dumont in 2017, seen Cunningham rack up to over 165m Spotify hits to date.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Lumineers, Gloria

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: THE LUMINEERSGLORIA: The Lumineers release the visual for Life in the City – the last in a trilogy of gripping music videos to accompany their new EP, Chapter I: Gloria Sparks. The EP makes up the first chapter of the band’s forthcoming full-length visual album III, out on September 13 on Decca/Dualtone. The album is a cinematic narrative told in three chapters, with the songs from each chapter focusing on one primary character from the three generations of the fictional Sparks Family. Each chapter will be released as an audio EP within the full-length album. The 3-song Chapter I audio EP was released in full on Friday and revolves around the family matriarch, Gloria Sparks. The stories told, as the chapters unfold, deal with subjects very close to the heart of lead vocalist, Wesley Schultz. Schultz explains: “Gloria is an addict. Her character was inspired by a member of my family, and no amount of love or resources could save her. She’s now been homeless for over a year. Loving an addict is like standing among the crashing waves, trying to bend the will of the sea.” Subsequent chapters focus on Gloria’s grandson Junior (Chapter II), and then her son Jimmy Sparks (Chapter III). The video for Gloria is as gripping as it is heartbreaking, focusing on the damaging repurcussions of addition and its potential for ruining lives completely. It’s brave, bold, statement making stuff, that shocks, provokes thought and debate, and puts the spotlight on a very relevant issue. Don’t miss out on watching it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Cross Me

ED SHEERAN feat CHANCE THE RAPPER & PnB ROCKCROSS ME: Ed Sheeran follows his super-sized Justin Bieber collaboration with another impressive hook up, this time with Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock. The result is something of a departure from Sheeran’s more conventional style, employing slick pop-meets-hip hop beats and several rap interludes. Indeed, there are times – when Chance takes over – you could be forgiven for not realising this is a Sheeran track. But once the singer himself takes over, it adopts a more familiar sound. Lyrically, there’s an edge, too – with all singers declaring: “If you cross her, then you cross me.” It sounds like a protective offering, which taps into the complex emotions at play in a lot of Sheeran’s songwriting. But the delivery is what makes this one stand out, with a soulful central sound mixed with elements of electro pop, as well as hip hop. Taken from Sheeran’s forthcoming No.6 Collaborations (due July 12), this bodes extremely well for the remainder of Sheeran’s collaborations.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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5 Seconds of Summer

5 SECONDS OF SUMMEREASIER: Australian rockers 5 Seconds of Summer combine pop with something a little edgier with new single Easier, the likeable first offering from their forthcoming fourth LP. Built around Luke Hemmings’ falsetto vocals, this references ’80s pop (INXS) with something approaching Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake. But it also maintains an identity of its own. The result is a track which chronicles a troubled, confused relationship (“is it easier to stay or easier to go, I don’t want to know”) in relatively upbeat fashion, ensuring that the catchy hooks that have become a hallmark of the 5 Seconds of Summer sound remain intact, even when they’re clearly troubled by the lyrics. Fans will lap it up, while newcomers could quite possibly have their heads turned. It’s brisk, lively, melodic and bittersweet – there’s a very real sense that this will become a big smash in their homeland and well beyond.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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LOVA, I Can Do Better

LOVA – I CAN DO BETTER: Rising 20-year-old international pop singer and songwriter LOVA unveils her empowered and enlightened new single I Can Do Better. In the track, LOVA expresses her frustration with today’s society and the idea that women are expected to live in the shadow of men. Backed by acoustic guitar and bombastic beats, her voice snaps from elastic verses into an engaging chant, where she confidently declares: “You’re the problem not my gender, anything you can do I can do better. Anywhere you can go I can go further.” It’s timely stuff, grasping hold of the #MeTo movement and making a bold stand for female empowerment and equality. But far from emerging as too preachy, the bombastic beats, cute guitar hooks and sassy-meet-cute vocals help the song to endear and engratiate in a big way. Hence, it’s a song with a message that’s easy to enjoy. It’s anthemic. LOVA commented: “I Can Do Better is mostly talking to the ‘Male Boss’, the ‘Alpha man’, and the society as a whole. With I Can Do Better, I’m saying that I’m tired of living in the shadow of men. I’m tired of men telling me what to do and how to do things. I don’t need no man to fix things for me, talk on my behalf or to pay for my dinner. We can clearly take care of ourselves and we should get far more credit and recognition for our achievements and knowledge than what we do in today’s society.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gia Margaret

GIA MARGARETBABIES: Gia Margaret’s critically-acclaimed debut album, There’s Always Glimmer, is finally available to buy outside North America. To mark the occasion, the singer has also released new track, Babies. The track is a modern folk song that’s disarmingly simple instrumentally but entirely thoughtful [and thought provoking] lyrically. In light of recent events back home, there’s an added poignancy to the track, as Gia explains: “Partly why I wrote [Babies] was because someone was always having something to say about what I should be doing with my life in regards to [my] biological clock… It’s hard enough to get paid less than men do and to ask ourselves these questions as we try to navigate through life.” Intelligently delivered, so as to further a worthwhile debate, the song doesn’t preach; rather, it washes over you, with Gia’s sedate vocals providing a lovely, soothing focal point, and her acoustic strums a nice, gentle backdrop. It’s a song to enjoy as well as contemplate. Growing up in Chicago, Gia Margaret spent the formative years of her life focusing on the art of classical piano composition. However, after hearing such greats as Nick Drake, Stina Nordenstam, The Roches, and Connie Converse, she developed an itch for writing and recording a different type of music. The result was her self-produced debut album, which received a low-key release last Summer in the US, but – thanks to word of mouth – ended 2018 across multiple international critics’ Best Of lists.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bess Atwell, Harvested

BESS ATWELLHARVESTED: Singer-songwriter Bess Atwell has released her enchanting five-track EP Big Blue, along with lead single Harvested via Mother’s Milk Records. Big Blue was produced by Giles Barrett (Johnny Flynn, Marika Hackman, Goat Girl) and follows acclaimed debut album Hold Your Mind, released in 2016. The lead track is built around gentle acoustic guitar licks and soft, serene vocals that reflect on a complex relationship. As Bess explains: “I wrote Harvested about a very complicated friendship; two people whose overwhelming similarities could comfort and cripple the other in equal measure.” The resulting single is deeply affecting and personal, when listened to properly, with Atwell wearing her emotions on her sleeve. But the slow-build approach ensures that, instrumentally, the song reaches beyond its intimacy, even suggesting at something cinematic and therefore potentially soundtrack filling. Talking about the EP as a whole, Bess continued: “Big Blue explores conflicting themes on identity, romanticism and reality. I have an amazing full-time band now who worked on these songs with me outside of the studio and so, when the time came to record, we just went into the studio and essentially played the songs.” It’s a collection of songs just awaiting discovery.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chase & Status, Murder Music

CHASE & STATUS feat KABAKA PYRAMIDMURDER MUSIC: In the wake of the release of their single Program, featuring Irah, Chase and Status – who this year, will celebrate 15 years of releasing music – have dropped the Jamaica-filmed visual for new single Murder Music (featuring Kabaka Pyramid). The Conscious musician is a member of Manifesto Jamaica, which is an N.G.O. aiming to empower Jamaican youth through the arts and culture. The hard-hitting single marks just over a week until the release of their next studio album, the long-awaited RTRN II JUNGLE. The album will land on May 31. Murder Music is a resolutely drum ‘n’ bass offering, with elements of Jamaican music and dancehall. But while that sound is pretty bland and repetitive after a while, the message behind the track is worth hearing. It talks of a broken system, letting down the youths of Jamaica (and the world), where murder is rife among certain demographics and cultures. But, as Pyramid laments, “you can’t run away from yourself”, thereby offering little hope of escape. It’s a sad but relevant message that infuses the song with a dark heart, for all of its dancefloor leaning instrumental tendencies.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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HunBjørn

HUNBJORNALL THE RED: HunBjørn has dropped an impressive new single, in the form of the hypnotic All The Red, which also offers a taste of her forthcoming EP Next Summer. The track is the follow up to her single, Who Are We To Love, which was released earlier this year, and very well received by her audience as well as music blogs in both her home country Denmark, the UK and abroad. All The Red is a song that calls upon reflection. It’s ethereal electronic pop with a message. “Originally, I wrote the song to my boyfriend, who battles controlling his temper in stressful situations. But it ended up having a more universal message for myself as well, about the importance of listening to yourself, of not letting the outside world influence how and why you do what you do – of trusting your own process,” explains Ulla Pihl, who’s behind HunBjørn. If we are able to give time and room for new acknowledgements to flourish, I’m sure that the negativity and all the metaphorical red will be softened and replaced by a surplus of energy and understanding for others. Then it’s much easier to be open and more empathetic, to the ones near to you, but also globally speaking.” Lyrically, therefore, the song has something very important to say. What enables it to stand out is the delivery. The ’80s leaning dream-pop is hypnotic and ethereal, with the synths providing an at times mesmerising backdrop. But Ulla’s vocals also prove spellbinding, ensuring that the song holds you in its grasp for its duration, while making you want to hear it again.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 17, 2019

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

Feeder

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FEEDERYOUTH: Feeder have released a new single and video for track Youth – and it’s an explosion of energy and passion as only Feeder know how. Youth bursts with energy, boasting powerful guitars that drive the track, dynamic drums and a huge chorus with their ever-relatable lyrics. Of those lyrics, “we’re just lovers on the run, California here we come” are most likely to strike a chord with any young rebels who have their eyes on Hollywood-style adventure. And speaking of California, who wouldn’t want to drive down the Pacific Highway with this tune blaring out of a convertible. It has that kind of raw power, sun-drenched melodicism and head-rush excitement attached. There are even ‘woo-hoo’ harmonies. And while the track may not mark too much of a departure or mixing up of the Feeder sound, this is pure adrenaline indie-rock, which captures the true essence of classic Feeder. It’s a joy, especially once the guitars are ferociously unleashed for the climax. Speaking about the track himself, Grant Nicholas said: “It’s a classic Feeder record. I just write the songs which feel natural to me, and I have a vision of each of them in my mind like a short film. I wanted to make a lot of the songs really adaptable. I didn’t want them to have be massively produced, I wanted them to also work in a stripped-back way.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Blame It On Your Love

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CHARLI XCX feat LIZZOBLAME IT ON YOUR LOVE: This latest offering from the consistently excellent Charli XCX probably shouldn’t work as well as it does – but therein lies the beauty of Charli XCX. This has a generic pop feel to it at the best of times, and has something of a troubled history given its leaked past. But by employing some guest support from rapper Lizzo and mixing the trop-house element with more pop vibes, this emerges as a genuine crowd-pleaser. And it has that mix of pop effervesence with something darker and more edgy. The chorus, for instance, finds Charli singing: “I blame it on your love, every time I fuck it up”, signalling something of more bittersweet than those breezy beats and electronics otherwise suggest. Lizzo drops a sassy rap towards the end, to add something grittier too, and to mix up the otherwise generic sound. Hence, while this may not be the biggest creative stretch for Charli XCX, it does demonstrate why she’s one of the biggest mainstream artists on the planet at this moment in time. It’s catchy, it’s bittersweet, it’s edgy and it’s fun.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Biffy Clyro, Balance, Not Symmetry

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: BIFFY CLYROBALANCE, NOT SYMMETRY: After delivering their intimate acoustic LP last year, Biffy Clyro now turn up the volume considerably to share a new track and video in the shape of Balance, Not Symmetry. It’s the title track from the film of the same name, which frontman Simon Neil collaborated on with director Jamie Adams. To accompany the film, Biffy Clyro wrote a full album of original material which is also out now. This lead track is an empowering rock track that declares “I can be brave, I can be everything you need” and “I can be glorious”, while delivering pounding drums, fiery guitars and a heavy, heavy rock sound akin to Foo Fighters at their grandest. In true Biffy Clyro fashion, however, they also deliver how to mix the heavy with a melody necessary to ensure this stays radio friendly. Hence, for all the grit, edge and fire in the central riffs and threatening drums, the chorus unleashes a radio friendly element that offsets the more head-banging elements. And it enables the song to reach out to a wider listener base. Regarding the collaboration, Simon Neil explained: “On meeting Jamie, we realised early on that we’d both had to deal with grief at a relatively young age and so it was interesting to talk about how we’d both dealt with it and the effect it had on us – and this is the main crux of the film, delving into the lonely world of grief and loss and coming out the other side.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Shakespear's Sister

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: SHAKESPEAR’S SISTERALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES: Shakespear’s Sister have shared the video for their new single All The Queen’s Horses. The track is the first new material from the pair in 26 years and the first to be signed to the reformed London Records. The video was shot in Joshua Tree by Sophie Muller, who has made videos for Beyonce, Rihanna, Bjork and The Strokes and also shot Shakespears Sister’s iconic videos for Stay, You’re History and I Don’t Care. The video features a cameo from Morgan McMichaels, from Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 2 and All-Stars Season 3. Marcy met Morgan for the first time when he was performing as Marcy herself at a drag night in LA and they have since become friends. Nick Launay, who produced this new track and has also worked with Nick Cave and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, also appears in the video. Sophie’s video deftly plays with Shakespears Sister’s past and present in a number of ways: not just exploring the ways in which the song can be seen as a cipher for their relationship, but also revisiting, re-invigorating and at times wryly echoing their visual iconography. Shot in black and white, it’s cinematic and genuinely eye-catching. The single, too, finds Shakespear’s Sister in peak form. There’s a cinematic sweep to the delivery, complete with strings, harmonica, Western-style whistling (the type of which would befit an Ennio Morricone soundtrack), as well as some gutsy guitar twangs and swoonsome vocals. It’s a heady mix, delivered with the utmost style, making this a comeback to savour for the Sisters.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, I Don't Care

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: ED SHEERAN & JUSTIN BIEBER – I DON’T CARE: Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber follow=up the release of last week’s single with a video to accompany it. And it’s as cheesy as it is fun. The video shows the two green screened into various scenes (pool-side, sitting on a sofa, in bear and panda costumes). There’s nothing too spectacular about it. But there is a sense of humour that makes it kind of loopy fun. Since being released last week, I Don’t Care has become Ed’s biggest-ever single launch, storming charts across the globe. To date, the track has garnered over 150 million streams and has hit No.1 in the UK. But then, as super-collaborations go, this has to rate as one of the biggest of recent times. And the track certainly did delight followers of both. Admittedly, the style of the song – which was produced by Max Martin, Shellback and FRED – leans more to Sheeran than Bieber. But unlike more traditional Sheeran, this is guitar-free, relying instead on a lively, bouncy back-beat and the vocals of both singers. It’s also a tale of empowerment that offers up a rallying call for anyone struggling to overcome difficulty. It’s also an ode to love, as only Sheeran knows how to deliver. The chorus proclaims “I don’t care when I’m with my baby yeah, All the bad things disappear, And you making me feel that maybe I am somebody”. It’s a worthy sentiment and one that works for anyone in love or just needing a little reassurance of their own. What’s more, it’s catchy as hell! Last week I wrote, ‘if this doesn’t become one of the year’s biggest singles, then I’ll eat my hat!’ Well, that looks safe for the time being!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Halsey, Nightmare

HALSEYNIGHTMARE: Halsey follows up her recent single Without Me with the heavy-hitting Nightmare. A co-production between Halsey, Benny Blanco, Happy Perez and Cashmere Cat, this finds Halsey in feisty, provocative mood and almost channelling early noughties acts like TATU. If that sounds an odd choice, then consider the way she slow-builds the verses, only to shout things out over the brash chorus. It’s clear from the lyrics that Halsey is feeling angered and wronged, singing lyrics such as “I’ve got no one to smile for, I’ve waited a while for a moment to say ‘I don’t owe you a goddamn thing’, I keep a record of the wreckage of my life, I gotta recognise the weapon in my mind’. It’s deliberately provocative, self-consciously confrontational and somehow inspiring for the way in which it displays such empowering self-resolve. The mix of punk attitude, big brash beats and electronic rock also works well in helping the track to land in such a big way, ensuring that Halsey will continue to be noticed and, quite possibly, win even more fans. Hence, the Nightmare of the title translates as something of a dream for her fans.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mark Ronson, Jax Jones remix

MARK RONSON & LYKKE LI – LATE NIGHT FEELINGS (JAX JONES MIDNIGHT SNACK REMIX): No.1 British dance export artist Jax Jones looks to have delivered one of the summer’s biggest dance anthems with his Midnight Snack Remix of Mark Ronson’s Late Night Feelings featuring Lykke Li. The remix amplifies the strongest elements of the original (Li’s striking, ethereal vocals and Ronson’s slick production values) but super-sizes them for the club. Hence, the beats are harder, there’s a very definite super-club vibe and more time is given over to the instrumentals than the vocals. Fans of the original may be disappointed to hear that the things that helped the track to stand out (the Caribbean-style chimes, the focus on vocals) have been sent to the background. But while there is certainly an element of missing something now that the song has assumed a more generic dance vibe, there’s also denying that this will still get you onto the dancefloor whenever it hits the decks late at night. In that sense, it’s mission accomplished for Jax Jones. Jax appeared on Ronson’s radar after he received a folder with house music from mutual friend Diplo. Ronson explains: “I’ve been a big fan of Jax Jones’ music for a while, even before I knew a lot of these records I was playing were produced by him. He really is one of my favourite house producers out right now. I was so excited to get this remix in and I love what he did, turning our sleazy, lustful jam into modern disco-house euphoria.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Foals, In Degrees

FOALS – IN DEGREES: Foals have delivered their fans a double-shot of activity. The band are sharing new single In Degrees to coincide with the news that they’re confirmed to play Radio 1’s Big Weekend on May 25. And in keeping with the current album’s unrestrained creativity, In Degrees is an experimental exploration that maintains the band’s identity. With frenetic, clattering percussion and propulsive bass underpinning the band’s urgent energy, Foals channel LCD Soundsystem and New Order to create a fresh angle to their unique sound. If anything, it’s that rare kind of offering that’s as comfortable on the alternative circuit as it would be hitting the dance scene. The beats and synths are particularly invigorating, lending the song an energy that’s undeniable. In contrast to the song’s euphoric vibe, frontman Yannis Philippakis’s lyrics imagine a dark, near future ‘where your ability to talk to each other has been reduced to nothing’. It’s a message that could be interpreted as both the personal fear of a failing relationship, or a widescreen Black Mirror-styled vision of a dystopian destiny. The striking accompanying video is directed by Aaron Brown, who’s previous work includes R U Mine by Arctic Monkeys and Easy Easy by King Krule. Commenting on the video, Brown said: “What excited me about the track was the dance feel that Foals were doing in contrast to the lyrics. They’ve always had some of that danceability in their music but this track is a no holds barred, make no mistake about it, post-punk, four on the floor, dance track. In contrast to the music though, is a solemn verse and brooding chorus.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Madonna, Future

MADONNA & QUAVOFUTURE: Another week, another new Madonna offering… but this one could represent the first disappointment. It boasts another collaboration, this time with Atlanta native: Migos’ Quavo. But it adopts a Jamaican dancehall flavour that somehow doesn’t work as well as it should. It’s got a lazy Caribbean vibe and some sassy stabs of brass, while Madonna and Quavo share vocal duties. But it’s more repetitive and less adventuruous than some of the previous tracks, actually outstaying its welcome. There are provocative lyrics, especially when referencing the crucifixion and a second kind of coming. But even then, Madonna’s power to shock appears blunted. It’s a track that just exists… there’s a sense of indifference surrounding it. And while Madonna still deserves some praise for her willingness to embrace different musical styles and cultures, this is one of those occasions where she doesn’t get the mix right.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Ben McKelvey

BEN MCKELVEYWILD CHILD: UK-born and based one-man band Ben McKelvey has shared his latest folk-rock music video, Wild Child, via Lower Your Shoulder. The track eschews much of what you’d expect from a folk-based song. It’s more rock. The guitars are as wild as the name suggests, exploding to life from the very first seconds, before being backed by McKelvey’s boisterous vocals. The result is a song that has echoes of the Americana influences of Springsteen and The Killers, mixed with the brash Englishness of more punk-inflicted bands such as The Clash. But while that may sound like an odd mix, it’s actually a riot of positive energy that delivers an exhilarating headrush, worthy of being sung along to as McKelvey “holds onto teenage dreams”. The track is lifted from his 2018 album of the same name. McKelvey, meanwhile, has been part of many tours, performing across USA, UK and Europe in venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, The O2 Arena and the London Palladium, providing main support for Wet Wet Wet in 17 arenas, 20 dates for The Overtones, 50 shows as support for the Genesis supergroup, Mike & The Mechanics, touring with Marti Pellow and Scouting For Girls. During 2019, he will be the official support act for Bruce Springsteen Band’s Jake Clemons. With songs like this, his reputation and popularity are only set to grow.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Juiceboxxx

JUICEBOXXXCOINSTAR SONG: Milwaukee-bred artist Juiceboxxx has dropped a kind of catchy new track in the form of Coinstar Song, via Dangerbird Records. Produced by Juiceboxxx and Joel Hamilton (who has worked with everyone from Black Keys to Cam’Ron to Iggy Pop), the track is taken from his forthcoming new album and is about using a machine that converts your desperate, random left-over coin collection into cold hard cash, all in the name of ‘trying to get by’. It’s designed to become something of a precarity anthem for a generation of young people living one day at a time. And while carrying a relevant and relatable message, it’s delivered in a catchy, toe-tapping style. There are some short, sharp guitar riffs, a pop-style rap and a rousing chorus that invites you to get behind it, anthem style (“I’m still a kid, don’t know where we go, standing in the middle of a punk rock show’). It’s arguably Juiceboxxx’s most accessible offering to date.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Modern Strangers, Magic Hour

THE MODERN STRANGERSMAGIC HOUR: The Modern Strangers return with the release of a bewitching, disco infused new single Magic Hour, which should effortlessly appeal to fans of acts like Scissor Sisters and, to a lesser degree, The BeeGees. Produced by Gordon Mills Jr, the song has a neon vibe that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Nicolas Winding Refn soundtrack, while also sounding perfect for the disco scene. Initially, it opens in soulful fashion, with the focus on the vocals (which quickly adopt a falsetto tone). But approaching the minute mark, the disco element lands and the song elevates itself into something really well delivered. It’s a slick mix of retro elements and past influences, as well as something immediately identifiable with The Modern Strangers. It could well crop up on a soundtrack soon. The new song comes hot on the heels of touring the UK in support of Flor for the second time and supporting All Twins. Speaking about the new single, The Modern Strangers explain: “We wrote the song whilst on a trip to LA. It was the day England played Columbia in the World Cup and after that tense penalty shoot out we took the adrenaline into a home studio in Silver Lake and recorded Magic Hour. It was also our lead singer (Max’s) birthday. The combination of so much excitement resulted in one of our favourite songs to date! We feel it really captures our trip and the emotions we had during that time. We wrote the entire song that day, and finished it off in the UK.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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