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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 15, 2019

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

Beck, Uneventful Days

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECKEVERLASTING NOTHING: Beck delivers another telling ballad with the Pharrell-produced Everlasting Nothing. A smooth fusion of Beck’s laidback vocals, shimmering guitar pop with folk roots and – most tellingly of all – sci-fi production elements, staccato drums and the odd bongo. For a ballad, it’s a very busy offering instrumentally, yet it simultaneously retains an ambient, intimate feel that feels quintessentially Beck. The lyrics tap into a certain uncertainty that appears to be inherent in a lot of the new material to emerge so far from Hyperspace (out November 22). Lines include “friends I’ve known, come and go” as well as “like a soldier, with no song, still I try, to get back home, in the everlasting nothing”. It’s a melancholy offering, yet somehow calming and reassuring with it. The perfect bittersweet ballad for our times? Maybe that’s why Beck has decided to revisit it, dust it off and finally put it on an LP. The song has been a part of the singer’s live show since 2013, so it’s perhaps timely that it should now be included on an album, with added Pharrell production elements.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tatum, Broken

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: TATUMBROKEN: South African dark-pop singer Tatum releases her cinematic debut single Broken through Bad Future and quickly impresses. From the intense opening line of the single (“I drove to the edge, where we used to sit and watch the city lights, like fallen stars, way below us”), the 18-year-old singer immediately throws down the gauntlet and you feel it instantly. Her voice smacks of the languid romanticism of Lana Del Rey and the moody phrasing of Lorde, and it’s steeped in dream pop lashings and an emotional depth that’s far beyond her young years. Despite her age, Tatum already knows exactly who she is, refuting any manufactured bubble-gum pop sheen in favour of telling her own authentic truth with her debut single. The result is an emotionally authentic, ultra-mature single that’s steeped in the same cinematic leanings that Del Rey brings to her music, coupled with a darkness that’s strangely intoxicating. As broken as things get, lyrically, you can’t help but want to listen (“I lie on my back, looking up at the black sky, with a thousand eyes staring into me, it was a coming of age”). It’s powerful, potent, moving stuff. “Sometimes there is poignant beauty in broken things. Broken beings have often survived a lot and have a much greater depth. I consider myself broken in many ways too and when it comes to love I prefer broken people because just like the process of purifying gold through fire, perfection for me only comes after pain and dark times, after being broken many times,” Tatum confesses when asked about the underlying narrative of her debut single.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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DJ Shadow

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: DJ SHADOWFIRESTORM: While not an official single release, this latest cut from DJ Shadow’s new album, Our Pathetic Age, is so good, we just had to include it in our weekly round-up. It’s disarmingly simple but oh-so effective, cutting to the core of what makes DJ Shadow so brilliant when he’s on this kind of form. An odd companion piece to his seminal Organ Grinder, this again features piano heavily and opens in stripped back, melancholy fashion with a simple but addictive loop. This then morphs into something more beautifully dazzling, as the track fades, only to reboot in faster fashion, with shuffling beats, swirling strings and added production elements. It’s a heady brew, beautifully inspiring, with all of the essential DJ Shadow elements present and correct (right down to some effectively crashing cymbals come the track’s near-end). But once it fades out a third time, we’re left with the sombre piano (and the same simple tune) to bring the track to its effective, even poignant finale. It’s absolutely stunning.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jake Bugg, Kiss Like The Sun

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: JAKE BUGGKISS LIKE THE SUN: Jake Bugg makes a blistering comeback with new single Kiss Like The Sun, a folk-rocker that also has more than a hint of the blues about it. The 1970s influenced track was produced by Andrew Watt, well known for working with Post Malone, and includes some more trippy elements, when the guitars are dropped and the vibe becomes more acid. It’s at its best, though, when combining the gutsy guitars (some of which are slide), with the rip-roaring beats (of the robust, handclap variety). Bugg also unveils his trademark gritty vocals, while building to a chorus that is tailor-made for sending live crowds into rapturous delight. Kiss Like The Sun is the first taste of the Nottingham singer-songwriter’s new album, the follow-up to 2017’s Hearts That Strain, and his RCA Records debut. The singer commented: “I love working with Andrew Watt and I’m really pleased with the sound of this track. I wanted to write something that was fun and a bit light-hearted.” The light-heartedness shines through, along with that rip-roaring guitar. It’s effortlessly addictive.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Metronomy, Insecurity

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: METRONOMYINSECURITY: One of the most brilliantly unconventional bands of recent years, Metronomy have underlined that reputation throughout 2019. Their current album, Metronomy Forever, emerged to widespread critical acclaim, its ambitious scale, sonic diversity and eclectic moods making it a landmark moment in their ever-unpredictable journey. A new wave of Metronomy fans has also emerged, notably IDLES and Georgia who have both recently contributed remixes. Joe Mount’s group now extend the Metronomy Forever campaign by sharing the video for their new single Insecurity. Adding detuned synths and funk-fuelled bass to a track with a grungey alt-rock feel, the song captures Metronomy’s inimitable ability to create something enticingly unorthodox from otherwise familiar traits. That approach informs the track’s video, too. On first glance, it appears that Metronomy are performing in the kind of high school dance scene that became a hallmark of favourite family films from the ‘80s. But events take a surreal turn as a group of lab coated-technicians and forensic scientists analyse every element of the band’s performance and the crowd’s reaction. They even seize the disco ball for further investigation. The idea behind the video started when Mount discovered the playfully peculiar Philadelphia pop-rock band Joy Again. A firm fan of the band, Mount was equally inspired by their videos, especially for their recent summer single Couldn’t. He connected with that video’s director Richard Phillip Smith, who together with Jake Lazovick (his partner in the creative duo Powered By Wind), filmed the Insecurity video in Philadelphia. The video is brilliantly eye-catching and totally surreal in a really cool way, while the remixed version of the track embodies classic Metronomy, with added elements of Nirvana (in some of the guitar licks), classic Cars (in some of the ’80s inflicted synth sounds) and even some Cure. It’s a lively, fun concoction.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mike Posner, Live Before I Die

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: MIKE POSNER & NAUGHTY BOYLIVE BEFORE I DIE: “I stopped smoking weed a year ago, maybe I’m less cool now, I don’t know, but I talk to pretty girls instead of sitting there all stoned”… so begins Mike Posner’s inspirational Live Before I Die, a confessional of sorts, but also a song that – together with its inspiring video – offers an insight into the transformative nature of the singer’s life. The video, in particular, chronicles his decision to walk across America and his subsequent encounter with a rattle snake, that almost cost him his life and the use of one leg. It shows his battle to walk again, his courage and determination to beat the odds, and his resolve to continue his task, even returning to the site of the fateful bite, to pick things up and complete his journey to the Pacific. By the time he reaches the ocean, and his journey’s end, the sense of relief and achievement is palpable. The song, meanwhile, offers a similarly inspiring, upbeat pop track that showcases how a person can turn the bad things in their life into something good, by getting rid of the evils and focusing on the positives. It’s a refreshingly honest presentation… and a song, with its breezy, feel-good delivery, that could help to inspire a generation of Posner followers.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Neon Indian

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: NEON INDIANTOYOTA MAN: We always love a good political/social commentary video! And with Toyota Man, Neon Indian returns with a track that marks a new era for Alan Palomo’s project, as it’s his first song in his native language (Spanish) while musically introducing a new psych-cumbia infused direction. “We came here to study, we want to work,” he sings as a protest, playfully followed by dueling riffs of La Cucaracha with the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s a fun romp of a track thanks to the electro-pop elements, and the Spanish vocals, which add something romantic sounding to the politically charged meaning. The infusion of Mexican-American classic song staples also adds extra potency to a track that isn’t afraid to put its views across during a troubling time in American history. Commenting on the stylish accompanying video – featuring a Trump pinata – Palomo said: “Toyota Man was filmed along the road map of what essentially was my path to American citizenship: Monterrey, the Nuevo Laredo border, San Antonio, and finally Austin. The process is a multiple decade commute known by many Latinos and other Americans. Though my music has always been generally apolitical, I realized when recording this song that it was impossible to write biographically (in the rhetorical context of the Trump administration) without being entirely that: political. The story of my family, which before felt commonly American, was suddenly politicized. Recognizing the absurdity of it all, I thought it would be refreshing to address the social narrative around immigration through comedy – nods to Benny Hill, mis-remembered San Antonio car commercials, and School House Rock. My family and I had a ton of fun making this and I hope it’s equally as fun to watch. Enjoy!”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Noel Gallagher

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSWANDERING STAR: If we didn’t know better, we’d suggest Noel Gallagher was eying a Christmas No.1 with new offering, Wandering Star, given the number of seasonal chimes that exist throughout the track (there’s even talk of a star to guide you home). But given that it’s the first track to be taken from the forthcoming Blue Moon Rising EP, which is released on March 6, 2020, it’s not really a Christmas offering. And in other areas, it actually feels more like a classic Oasis track, rather than the more progressive offerings that Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have most recently offered via their Black Star Dancing sessions. It’s epic, for sure. But it has that Oasis-meets-Beatles kind of vibe, especially over the chorus, which is certainly more familiar and, yes, well trodden territory. Nevertheless, Gallagher himself is typically proud of it, extolling its virtues by saying: “It [Wandering Star] was written in Abbey Road last November on the same day I wrote Black Star Dancing. It’s that good, it sounds like it took 5.4 people to come up with it. It’s already a live standard and we haven’t even played it yet.” We know his fans will probably agree.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Skinny Living, No Messiah

SKINNY LIVING – NO MESSIAH: Wakefield trio Skinny Living’s new single No Messiah is released as the first and title track of their new EP, which comes alongside the recent announcement of their headline shows at London Heaven and Leeds Stylus. A gospel-tinged ballad, the track showcases the beautiful simplicity of the band’s adept songcraft, with impassioned vocals taking centre stage and offering encouraging words of support to a friend (his sister) who has landed in difficult/challenging times (only you can save yourself). It’s a song about finding the inner strength to solve your own problems. Explains frontman Ryan Johnston: “At first this song was just raw emotion and feeling, but as we dove further into the lyric it became so poignant and it was clear that it was something I needed to say to my little sister. We were close growing up and I was extremely protective of her but at the time of writing No Messiah she had been going through some serious adult life challenges that I couldn’t get involved in and it made me feel frustrated just watching and doing nothing. Growing up, she was definitely the most timid of the three of us, but I can vividly remember some moments where she would break free from that timid character to stand up for herself, those around her or what she believed in and I wanted to remind her of the powerful inner strength that she has to overcome anything. This song is speaking directly to her and I feel it carries as much weight for someone listening in my position as it does for someone listening in hers.” It’s disarmingly honest, well intentioned and resonant for all.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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James Hersey & Eli, Hands on Me

JAMES HERSEY & ELIHANDS ON ME: Berlin based artists James Hersey and ELI shares new song Hands on Me via Glassnote Records and look to have a pop smash on their hands. Commenting on what to expect, the duo said in a joint statement: “Hands On Me is about loving someone who’s lost the power to love themselves. It’s about offering yourself as a sanctuary for the other when times get bad. We want to give our fans the courage and means to speak up and reach out when it’s all too much. To show them that we’re here for them, and that we should all be here for one another.” Empowering sentiments aside, this has a feel-good pop sheen that’s buoyed by lively electronic arrangements and robust beats, as well as an anthemtic chorus that extols the virtues behind the song’s inspiration. It’s designed to give people a lift, and it does just that courtesy of some cute hooks, addictive melodies and a chorus you can easily get behind.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 8, 2019

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

The Chainsmokers, Push My Luck

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE CHAINSMOKERSPUSH MY LUCK: The Chainsmokers drop the sixth single from their forthcoming LP World War Joy with the irresistibly catchy Push My Luck. An electronic ballad, this taps into the tender side of the producing duo, focusing on Drew Taggart’s vocals and some subtle instrumentals. Indeed, there’s barely a back-beat in place, barring some finger clicking. But the club sound that they’re sometimes more synonymous with is missing. And that makes a nice change. Replacing this, instead, is a fragile guitar loop and those finger clicks. As the track progresses, there’s the odd atmospheric synth surge, a mid-track breakdown with warped vocals and a few more beats. But in the main, this is a minimalist offering that endears itself by virtue of its relative simplicity. It’s a love-lorn offering that finds Taggart wanting to take things to the next level with the object of his affection, asking whether he can stay over. It’s sweet, with an element of sexy. And it’s the sound of The Chainsmokers at their most universally appealing.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mulimba, Damn

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MULIMBADAMN: Mulimba (aka Ash Mulimba) releases his explosive debut single Damn and immediately makes you want to pay attention. The London-based singer and former frontman with HAUS is attempting to bring a new raw energy and ferocious attitude to the indie pop scene, combining elements of classic Gorillaz and The Heavy with something that’s resolutely his. Damn drops funky beats, lively piano arrangements, an urgent chorus and the odd sample here and there (“I’m a survivor”, for example). The ‘damn’ of the chorus is dropped in suitably explosive fashion, forcing you to stop and pay attention, much in the same way as one of The Heavy’s funky choruses. But there’s so much going on within the song that there’s always something inventive and genre-flipping to keep hold of your attention. It’s a blast. Speaking about the new single, Ash reflects: “To me, Damn is a reflection on all past times. Good ones and bad ones, it can be a reflection of a relationship, an old childhood memory or friendship, your first day at school, the first gig you went to etc, anything. The point is no matter how bad or how good the past time, you should always remember it because it’s the one of many that have shape you into who are you are today. The artwork resembles a fresh start for me. My friend has a weird obsession with taking pictures of people whilst they’re brushing their teeth and one morning I woke up at a mutual friends’ house and Rae asked if I have my toothbrush, I replied yes, he then grabbed his camera and took the shot. I like it because it was a fresh start to the day, and this single is a fresh start for me.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Coldplay, Everyday Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: COLDPLAYEVERYDAY LIFE: “Because everyone hurts, everyone cries, everyone sees the colour in each other’s eyes”… with lines like this, you can probably tell that the latest offering from Coldplay has more in common with REM’s Everybody Hurts than it does some of their more euphoric offerings. This is strictly ballad territory, selling the idea that everyday life can be tough. But there’s a note of optimism, as Chris Martin suggests “you got to keep dancing when the lights go out”. The surrounding instrumentals are suitably low-key, beginning with swirling electronics of the atmospheric, ethereal variety, before the piano kicks in. It’s a thoughtful, considered offering, tailor-made for those ‘cigarette lighter in the air’ moments of old when played live. But it will also resonate with anyone going through their own hard time, offering support and the realisation, perhaps, that we’re all in it together (“what in the world are we going to do? Look at what everybody’s going through. What kind of world do you want it to be? Am I the future or the history?”). With sentiments such as this, it’s also hard not to look at the song as one that takes aim at the wider problems facing our planet, environmentally. Like we said, it’s extremely thought-provoking and – in that context – highly poignant.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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SebastiAn, Sober

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: SEBASTIAN feat. BAKARSOBER: Innovative French artist SebastiAn has released a new video for his latest single, Sober, which features vocals from rising London artist Bakar. The track is taken from his sophomore album, Thirst, which is available now via Ed Banger Records/Because Music. The provocative track is driven by surging electronics and slick beats, with lyrics that border on the melancholic as they contemplate ideas like “no need for your advice to make me tempt fate” or “you always give a fuck about what they say”. It’s the chiming synths that really lend the track its appeal, however, grabbing you from the outset and emerging like some futuristic Vangelis (a la Blade Runner). Produced by world-renowned fashion house Saint Laurent and directed by Saint Laurent Creative Nathalie Canguilhem, the striking video stars French actor Félix Maritaud and SebastiAn. Sections of the video were shot in the Turkish town of Mudurnu, which features row after row of abandoned gothic castles. Nathalie says: “Sober is a visual metaphor for the meandering of the human brain. A sinuous introspection into SebastiAn’s past, lost in the middle of an infinite repetition, stuck in a psychedelic labyrinth, he is persistently drawn to his inner demons and finds himself forced to fight them and himself. Félix Maritaud appears as his malicious body double, the one that he must face to set himself free.” It’s well worth taking the time to check out!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Beck, Dark Days

BECKDARK PLACES: Any new offering from Beck is something worth celebrating… and Dark Places is another highly interesting offering, even though it’s more of a grower than the instantly gratifying likes of Saw Lightning. Melancholy, atmospheric and introspective (“some days, I go dark places on my own… some days I go dark places in my soul” he sings over the chorus), this is nevertheless an excellent showcase for the way in which Beck manages to change tones so effortlessly and remain appealing all the same. A late night vibe pervades, which heightens the dreaminess of the song. Yet, with lyrical observations about the uncertain state of the singer’s mind, there’s that darker undertow that’s in keeping with the song’s title and more reminiscent of Sea Change era Beck. It remains another strong offering from Beck’s forthcoming LP,Hyperspace, which will mark the seven-time GRAMMY-winner’s most collaborative effort to date, featuring co-production from Pharrell Williams, guest collaborators Sky Ferreria, Paul Epworth, Chris Martin, Greg Kurstein and more. The track comes with an equally hypnotic lyric video, directed by Eddie Obrand.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Iggy Azalea, Lola

IGGY AZALEA, ALICE CHATERLOLA: Iggy Azalea’s highly anticipated new single and video Lola, featuring rising UK star Alice Chater, has dropped and it’s a lively fusion of pop, R’n‘B, hip-hop and samples. The sample in question comes the iconic record Mambo Italiano and adds a welcome, fun touch of familiarity, softening some of the more sassy elements and some of the more urban rapped elements. But it’s clear throughout that these two girls are having some fun, the mix of vocals blending seamlessly with rapped and sung elements. The beats are edgy and lend the track atmosphere, which elevates it above the pop norm. But the sample and the playfully delivered chorus, which is high on vocal harmonies, veers the song back into mainstream, radio-friendly territory while adding that Italian/Latin American element that gives it more crossover appeal. It’s a fun listen. Lola is Iggy’s first release since her lauded sophomore album, In My Defense, this past summer.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sarah Klng

SARAH KLANG – IT’S BEEN HEAVEN KNOWING YOU: Sarah Klang, the self-confessed ‘saddest girl in Sweden’, is celebrating the recent release of her second album, Creamy Blue, with a new video for It’s Been Heaven Knowing You. The song itself is a stripped back ballad, with grandiose string sections, bleeding heart piano, dreamy Americana-tinged guitars, that pays affectionate, yet somehow sad, tribute to a lifelong friendship. The lyrics are delivered with real meaning and should resonate with anyone wanting to celebrate their own lasting friendships. The sedate nature of the track lends it a more melancholy feeling than it probably deserves. But there’s something deeply affecting about it, too. It’s a sincere offering, with an equally appealing video. Talking about the video, Sarah said: “The video is just me and my friend Moa hanging around. We wanted to capture the friendship between us, while doing what we do best – nothing. The director (Marcus Söderlund) had the idea of doing like a modern version of Rebecca and Enid in Ghost World from 2001. We wanted to portray being best friends and also being bored together. Daniel Takács shot it on his old 16mm Bolex camera.” And of the song’s reverb-soaked melancholia, she continues: “For me, the song is about when you know a relationship is ending, and you try your hardest to be kind and gentle. To remember the good things.” The video arrives ahead of the Gothenburg-based alt-pop artist’s debut UK show at The Lexington on December 3, 2019.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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HRVY, Million Ways

HRVYMILLION WAYS: At just 20-years-old, HRVY is already a global star. He has 4.5 million Instagram followers, over 2.3 million YouTube subscribers and more than 850 million combined streams to his name. Now releasing his latest single, Million Ways, it’s easy to see why. The track is a lively, free spirited offering that channels Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran in the way that it creates effortlessly catchy pop confections. This is an ode to love that pleads with its subject to “let me love you, let me love you… got a million ways”. The carefree instrumentals combine melodic electronics and skippy beats, adding to the effervescent nature of the song as a whole. It’s a proper guilty pleasure. Written with JHart and produced by Red Triangle, Million Ways is the type of song that only looks set to broaden HRVY’s appeal further. You’ll be singing along, while dancing giddily, in no time at all.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Green Buzzard

GREEN BUZZARDCLUTTER AND MESS: Sydney based Green Buzzard (aka Paddy Harrowsmith) has released catchy new single Clutter & Mess, the final single to be lifted from his upcoming debut album, Amidst The Clutter & Mess (also out now). Speaking on the release of the new track, Harrowsmith said: “The reason I chose to name the album after this song was for a couple reasons: I felt it completely summed up the mood of the album lyrically – the line “amidst the clutter and the mess” is basically how all of 2017 felt for me. It was a pretty turbulent year. After I wrote this song, it really shaped how I wanted the rest of the album to sound. It was sort of a benchmark for the feeling and mood, a starting point, so it felt right to name the album after it.” The ensuing sound offers a throwback to classic Jesus & Mary Chain at times, with elements of Beck thrown in for good measure. It’s a lively, vibrant offering that combines psychedelia soaked vocals with a livewire guitar that zips in and out like a honey-drunk bee. The retro elements work well in its favour, too. But the song has an urgency and zip that makes it a welcome addition to the current autumn darkness. It’s a fun listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 1, 2019

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

HAIM, Now I'm InIt

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: HAIMNOW I’M IN IT: Haim continue to go from strength to strength with each new release. Now I’m In It follows Summer Girl by changing styles and maintaining the quality. Produced by Rostam Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid – and already one of BBC Radio 1;s Hottest Records – Now I’m In It brilliantly plays with both mood and tone, giving way to a many-layered emotional experience with syncopated beats, muted guitar tones and delicate piano work that builds to uncover the fragility at the heart of the song. Danielle Haim recently explained the track’s message, saying: “People think Now I’m In It is a break-up song because I sing: ‘We can’t be friends’ but I’m talking about me and my mind.” It’s this juxtaposition of high energy instrumentals and mixed up lyrics that make the song so compelling, crafting a tale of doubt married to empowerment that somehow feels optimistic and yet bittersweet. It’s a song to enjoy and make you think… one that sends out a positive message in spite of the uncertainty surrounding the internal struggle within it. The excellent official video for Now I’m In It finds HAIM continuing to collaborate with renowned film director Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s as cinematic as that collaboration suggests.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lupe Fiasco, Hey Lupe

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LUPE FIASCOHEY LUPE: Lupe Fiasco’s latest single, Hey Lupe, was actually ready a decade ago. So, why the delay, you may ask? It’s hard to say. A previously unreleased track recorded before the release of Lupe Fiasco’s 2006 debut album Food & Liquor, it’s a monster of a song that combines classic hip hop and funk elements, with hard-hitting lyrics about ‘strolling through the underworld’ and ‘grinding’ while trying to earn a living. It’s got a retro vibe that’s welcome (think classic Jurassic 5) as well as a contemporary urgency that makes it a tailor-made sound for today’s generation of hip-hop fans. But it’s never offensive, rather dropping a vibe that’s edgy without being overly provocative, and raw without running the risk of alienating the mainstream. If anything, there’s traces of Bruno Mars too. The four-minute video intersperses clips of old-school hip-hop scenes and breakdancing with a more contemporary look at hip-hop culture today, adding to that sense of nostalgia as well as the state of things today. It’s a class act.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Agnes Obel

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: AGNES OBELISLAND OF DOOM: Always one to impress, Agnes Obel returns with the release of her enchanting single Island Of Doom, ahead of the release of her highly anticipated new album Myopia. Employing both the cinematic sensibilities and ethereal tendencies that have become something of a trademark, this is a song that both enchants and beguiles, combining atmospheric electronics and melancholy piano arrangements with soothing yet haunting vocals that draw out the imagery inherent in the lyrics. Although Obel’s music can often curate a monologue of modern-day dystopian-esque news stories that we are all now subject to, the contents of Island Of Doom are much more personal, as she explains: “The song is made up of pitched-down piano and cello pizzicato and vocals, all choirs are pitched down and up… In my experience, when someone close to you dies, it is simply impossible to comprehend that you can’t ever talk to them or reach them somehow ever again. They are in many ways still alive because in your consciousness nothing has changed, they’re still there with everyone else you know.” With that in mind, the song assumes a bittersweet, poignant beauty that lingers long after it has finished.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charlie Cunningham

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CHARLIE CUNNINGHAMHEADLIGHTS: Charlie Cunningham has unveiled an official video for Headlights, a stand-out track from his recently released album Permanent Way. The video arrives as Charlie and his full live band prepare for an extensive UK headline tour kicking off in Bristol this weekend. Speaking about the track, Charlie shares: “I’m quite a private person outside of performing. There is some autobiographical stuff in the lyrics, but it flits in and out quite a lot; it’s much more about people generally and their interactions.” The song is an acoustic based offering, reminiscent of artists like Jose Gonzalez, which drops a genuinely relaxed, reflective vibe that serves to really bring out the intimacy in the lyrics. Yet while certainly introspective at times, the song can resonate to any listener that has experienced some of the emotions on display (which relate to the difficulty of navigating everyday life). The upbeat nature of the guitar strums and accompanying beats ensure the song never drags you down. It’s a beautiful piece of work. The slick video, by Sam Hamper, features Charlie himself in a constantly moving and evolving world of juxtaposing confusion and resolution. The release of the Headlights video is designed to offer a refreshing look at Permanent Way. Released in June to widespread acclaim, the songs on this second studio album of Charlie’s offer boosted colours and dynamics but still retain his achingly personal appeal.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Beach Bunny, Dream Boy

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: BEACH BUNNYDREAM BOY: Chicago-based Beach Bunny drop the highly infectious new single Dream Boy, taken from their forthcoming debut album Honeymoon (due February 2020). The four-piece fronted by Lili Trifilio wanted to evoke something of a feel-good vibe around the track, which was inspired by summer love and that rush of blood feeling you used to get from watching a John Hughes movie. There are grunge-inflicted indie-rock guitars, sweet girl vocals and a swooning chorus that fizzes you along in supremely confident, melodic fashion. If you can imagine an all-girl cross between The Fountains of Wayne and Blink-182, with a touch of Weezer and The Beach Boys thrown in, then this should tick all the right boxes for you. The guitar work is particularly great, as is the chorus. Trifilio says of the new song: “Dream Boy was inspired by summer love – it is a song about being jaded to the idea of falling for someone again after being heartbroken in the past. It’s about giving into the butterflies in your stomach even when love seems so scary at times. In the context of Honeymoon, Dream Boy is an anthem of change in perspective, instead of viewing love as difficult the listener begins to open up to the possibility that just because the past was painful, doesn’t mean the future has to be. It reminds me of the color baby blue, poolside romance, and the optimism of summer’s beginning.” The video, directed by Matt Gehl from Everybody’s Baby, evokes the spirit of a John Hughes’ film crossed with Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mike Shinoda, Fine

MIKE SHINODAFINE: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda drops an intense, brooding new single in Fine. Taken from the soundtrack to forthcoming Russian sci-fi thriller The Blackout, this manages to sound cinematic while also embracing many of the classic Shinoda elements. Kick-started by a heady drum stomp, the track then proceeds to deliver a slick mix of beats and synth and piano elements, while chopping up the sound at times to create extra edge and intensity. Shinoda’s vocals mix fear with reassurance, bouncing from verses such as “they’re hungry for my skin, teeth wide smiling that they found me” with a chorus that proclaims “everyhting is going to be fine”. And while that chorus does sound hopeful, the song gradually builds in intensity with the synths becoming ever more strained and pronounced. It’s a heady brew that arguably channels the inner darkness being experienced by Shinoda at times in his life. But it also feels tailored perfectly to the soundtrack it has been created for.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ellen Krauss, Let Me Have It

ELLEN KRAUSSLET ME HAVE IT: Rising Swedish pop artist Ellen Krauss drops the new single Let Me Have it and continues to mark herself out as a name to watch. An empowering track about standing up to your oppressors and your inner demons, it feels feisty and resolute, with Krauss’ vocals displaying a steel over the edgy but melodic chorus. The accompanying beats are slick, while the background guitar adds an element of vibrancy that also lends the track its distinct drive and sound. Speaking about the track, Ellen explains: “This track came to life when I was playing around on my new electric guitar. I remember I fell in love with the sharp sound of it and at the time I was in that Let Me Have It-state of mind, where you’re just like, okay give it to me… Whether it’s about jealousy, talking shit or false accusations. Things that are just unfair.” If you’re a fan of artists like Lykke Li and Robyn, then Krauss could easily become another Swedish favourite. Let Me Have It is taken from her debut EP First Take, which will be released on November 22. It follows on from the recent release of Criminal To Love, a song about the destructiveness of certain relationships, personified. With her self-taught talent and captivating way of delivering norm-challenging messages, the outspoken 19-year-old Krauss offers up a fresh example of the young DIY generation.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lennon Stella, Kissing Other People

LENNON STELLAKISSING OTHER PEOPLE: Fresh from announcing European tour dates for 2020, including two shows at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire in March, Lennon Stella drops the new single Kissing Other People, which will be featured on her forthcoming debut album. The track marks her first single since collaborating with The Chainsmokers and ILLENIUM on their summer anthem Takeaway and it’s a similarly vibrant offering, embracing a type of girl power to do and act how you feel without being made to feel guilty about it. As Lennon explains: “This song came to life last summer in Cabo at a writing camp with all of my favourite writers and producers. Caroline Ailin and I were in an Uber driving home from a club and she asked me about boys. I said to her something about finally feeling like I was at a place where I could kiss someone else and not feel sorry about it or feel like I was doing something wrong. The next day in her session she started ‘Kissing Other People’ and then it turned into what it is.” The ensuing track combines giddy pop beats and synths with sultry vocals and that playful sense of adventure that’s inherent in the lyrics. Vocally, Lennon sometimes reaches the harmonic highs of Imogen Heap, while at other times embracing her pop sensibilities. It’s a fun, frothy concoction – a guilty pleasure.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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JJ Wilde, The Rush

JJ WILDETHE RUSH: JJ Wilde releases the official video for The Rush, a gutsy rock-pop offering that offers a rousing three minutes. The emerging alt-rock vocalist channels rockstar aesthetics and makes them her own in the video, where we see the long-haired rising rock badass sprawled on a bed surrounded by models, rocking out in the middle of an adoring crowd, smoking a joint, and riding a motorcycle into the night. It’s a video that fits in neatly with the confident, ball-busting song itself, which finds Wilde belting out her raw, bluesy vocals over the top of some crunching guitar riffs and kick-ass drums. She’s got swagger to burn. The Rush is taken from her debut EP, Wilde Eyes, Steady Hands, a four-song composition that offers a cathartic, rousing and well-varied amalgamation of pure, fiercely unapologetic rock n roll. It strikes the perfect balance between raucousness and sincerity, mixing together sweltering odes to independence (such as The Rush) with warmer self-reflective moments (like State of Mind, which finds JJ confronting her imperfections, knowing she’ll eventually learn from her mistakes).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sigala, We Got Love

SIGALA feat ELLA HENDERSON – WE GOT LOVE: BRIT-nominated British DJ, producer and artist Sigala releases his new single We Got Love with Ella Henderson on guest vocals. The follow-up to his smash hit summer offering Wish You Well, this embraces Sigala’s trademark hypnotic beats and production values with Henderson’s soaring vocals. But while certainly bright and positive, in that it celebrates love and empowers it to triumph over life’s day-to-day struggles, there’s an overly familiar pop sheen to proceedings that inhibits the enjoyment for anyone looking for something a little less mainstream. It’s a club banger that plays to the Ibiza/Miami scene and, for that, it becomes more forgettable than some other producer-singer collaborations of late. Still, Sigala is pleased with the outcome, stating: “It really came together nicely, it was one of my most fun sessions of the year. The track is about letting go of the pressures of life and being present in the moment, appreciating all the forms of love around us.” Henderson, meanwhile, adds: “It’s nice to sing something happy and positive, which for me, that’s what Sigala’s music is about. I’m really excited to be a part of this record.”
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 25, 2019

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

Coldplay

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: COLDPLAYORPHANS: There’s something reasurringly great about hearing Chris Martin’s voice. And it’s back in typically impressive fashion with Orphans, the first of two new Coldplay tracks from the newly announced eighth album, Everyday Life (out on Friday, November 22). The 53-minute double album is divided into two halves, Sunrise and Sunset and Orphans comes from the latter collection. But it’s an epic, inspiring offering that pretty much hooks you from the outset. The child-like chanting that opens things up is bright and global sounding, while the cute guitar hook is instantly catchy. Martin’s vocals provide that reassuring presence, before some “woo hoo” harmonies add to the stadium-sized vibe of the overall record. And that’s before the grand chorus lands, which opens up amid a line like “I wanna know, when I can go back and be drink with my friends… back and be young again?” It’s a sentiment we can all get behind once we reach a certain point in life, but it’s delivered in such positive, breezy manner that you can’t help but feeling it’s all still possible. It’s a song to rejoice in and celebrate… classic Coldplay then without sounding like they’re retreading old territory!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975, Frail State of Mind

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE 1975 – FRAIL STATE OF MIND: Frail State Of Mind is the second track from The 1975’s forthcoming fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form, which will be released on February 21, 2020, and a complete departure from original offering, which was loud and brash. Frail State of Mind finds Matt Healy exploring a fractured psychology, with plenty of apologising. It’s a melancholy listen, lyrically, with lines such as “Oh boy don’t cry, I’m sorry but I always get this way sometimes, Oh I’ll just leave, I’ll save you time”. Yet in spite of this, the surrounding instrumentals have a more relaxed vibe courtesy of restrained back-beats (which could stem from a distant garage nightclub) and fizzing electronics. If anything, the instrumentals juxtapose the lyrics, offering something that’s decidedly bittersweet but utterly addictive. And with Healy already promising a late night feel attached to the new LP, this fits that bill almost perfectly… a sort of comedown record for a big night out (good or bad) that somehow brings you into a nice state of mind. It’s a track that gets better with each listen, as you really come to appreciate the complexity at play.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mumford & Sons, Blind Leading the Blind

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: MUMFORD & SONSBLIND LEADING THE BLIND: Mumford & Sons deliver their first new material since last year’s Delta with the blistering folk-rocker Blind Leading The Blind. Shot through with urgency, this combines finger-plucked banjo and guitar with brisk beats and gritty vocals aimed at getting the song’s point across. Explains Marcus Mumford: “Blind Leading The Blind has been a song we’ve had up our sleeves for some time, which ended up being a catalytic song for much of our work on Delta, its themes and feelings, but that we never got round to finishing in time to put it on the original release. We’re proud that we’ve finally finished it, as it feels like one of the most challenging songs, thematically, that we’ve put out there, both for ourselves and our audience. It feels it’s becoming harder and harder to coerce yourself into a listening, present and unafraid disposition, but that’s the gauntlet we’re throwing down for ourselves.” Thematically, Mumford & Sons could be speaking about the current political landscape, where leaders appear to be taking their people in circles without really accomplishing anything, while equally encouraging the masses to allow their own voices to be heard. But whatever, this is a vastly empowering record that’s one of the band’s most instantly anthemic offerings to date – a song that encompasses the classic sound of Little Lion Man with the quieter elements of Delta (during a mid-song breakdown). It’s classic Mumford & Sons… a track of which they can be rightly proud.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The DMA's, Silver

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: DMA’S – SILVER: Silver finds Australia’s DMA’s hone their gift for crafting unifying, arena-ready anthems. The song adds a surfeit of personality and American radio rock influences to their love of the British indie scene, making for a global-facing track rooted in their love of The Stone Roses and The La’s. Frontman Tommy O’Dell’s vocals possess a new found maturity and emotional resonance, delivering an unabashed love song that will surely connect far beyond their devoted fanbase. Hence, while slow-building in nature, courtesy of the uncertain/vulnerable lyrics, the song really comes to life around the minute mark, when The Stone Roses influence really shines through. There’s a shimmering indie rock guitar sound that really sends a shiver down the spine, along with a sweeping, anthemic chorus and an empowering sense of emerging from the shadows into the light. Silver was produced by Scott Horscroft (Empire Of The Sun, Silverchair) at The Grove Studios, mixed by multiple Grammy winner Stuart Price (The Killers, Everything Everything) at Westlake Studios in West Hollywood, where DMA’S and Price continue to work on the rest of the forthcoming new album (due next year). The video was directed by New Zealand director Charlotte Evans (Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams). It’s a sleek mix of production values that combine to create DMA’s most effective, and affecting, single to date. Expect 2020 to be their biggest year yet.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Beck, Uneventful Days

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: BECKUNEVENTFUL DAYS: The latest advance transmission from seven-time Grammy-winner Beck’s forthcoming album Hyperspace, Uneventful Days has now been visually realised by director/musician Dev Hynes. The pocket universe created for Uneventful Days also features Hyperspace opener Hyperlife, as well as starring turns from Evan Rachel Wood, Tessa Thompson and Alia Shawkat (observant long-time Beck fans will spot the principals’ wardrobe nods to classic entries in the Beck video canon). And needless to say, it’s a genuinely eye-catching treat that finds something beautiful in the mundane (while also planting those Beck Easter eggs)! The song itself finds Beck trading on the astrological elements inherent in the LP’s name, this catchy digi-popper blends tropicalia with laidback vocals and spaced out synth arrangements. It’s also pretty wistful, lyrically, as Beck sings: “Uneventful days, uneventful nights… living in the dark, waiting for the light…” It’s almost as if the singer is searching for something elusive in the vast surrounds of the universe. But it’s beautifully engaging, offering a bittersweet vibe that’s completely endearing. As ever with Beck, the change of pace from Saw Lightning only heightens the excitement surrounding the release of more new material. It’s his ability to mix things up and maintain the quality that makes him so continually exciting. An accompanying track, Hyperlife only clocks in at 1 minute and 37 seconds, and feels like a potential album opener. It’s extremely trippy.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Coldplay

COLDPLAYARABESQUE: The second new Coldplay release of the week comes in the form of Arabesque, which really finds them experimenting with their sound. Adopting a self-consciously world music vibe, with a particular emphasis on African influences, this also boasts support vocals from Stromae and horns by Femi Kuti and his band. But there’s also some French language tossed in for good measure, while the overall vibe has something of a pop meets reggae meets soul feel to it. And while notable for offering something different, it doesn’t have that instant appeal of Coldplay’s bigger anthems (from Yellow to Sky Full of Gold, or even latest offering Orphans. The trumpet solo also feels a tad experimental, interrupting the smooth flow of the single as a whole. It’s great that a band of the size of Coldplay feels comfortable in mixing up their sound and embracing different musical cultures. But while this will undoubtedly also extend their global reach, it’s more of an acquired taste. Interesting more than great.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis

RHYS LEWIS – BE YOUR MAN: Tackling the heartache that comes with unrequited love, Be Your Man showcases Rhys Lewis’ raw and powerful vocals, brimming with emotion and sung with conviction. His incredible ability to tell stories through his lyrics shines through in this heart-wrenching track, exploring the all too familiar feeling of being in a relationship with someone who is still hung up on an ex. He explains: “Be Your Man is of those songs that I’m still very much connected to emotionally, whenever I sing it live I get taken right back to the way I felt in the relationship at that time. It’s horrible to feel like you’re not enough for someone, that you’re being compared to the person they were with before. I think if she’d wanted something new then we might have had something, but deep down she was looking for what she’d had with someone else. It’s been great revisiting this song in the studio, the original acoustic version is quite tender and soft, so it’s been really interesting discovering a darker tone within the song.” The darkness is great in providing an element of grit to a song that would otherwise come across as a ballad, lending a bluesy vibe without really tapping into a classic sense of the blues. Rather, the piano is the instrument of choice here, while Lewis’ own vocals provide a gutsy, heartfelt focal point that also bring an element of soul (augmented by female backing vocals). It’s an anguished, tormented offering that nevertheless still has the capacity to be a rousing power ballad. Currently on tour in the US supporting Julia Michaels, Rhys will embark on his biggest ever UK headline tour this autumn, including a date a London’s EartH on November 25.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Selena Gomez

SELENA GOMEZLOSE YOU TO LOVE ME: Selena Gomez wears her heart on her sleeve on new single Lose You To Love Me, a heartfelt look at heartbreak at its rawest form. The track doesn’t merely look at the failed expectations that came with the relationship (“you promised the world and I fell for it”) but also the lasting impact of having been letdown and then replaced after just two months. Needless to say, speculation is rife online that the track is about former love interest Justin Bieber. But whoever it’s aimed at, there’s no denying the palpable sense of loss and hurt that informs the track, even when – belatedly – the harmonies become sharper and more lively. For the most part, though, this is a stark offering, with Gomez’s aching vocals backed by echoed piano and suble electronic chimes. It’s about the emotion rather than anything pop. As such, it’s a mature ballad that finds Gomez coming of age in many ways. The accompanying black and white video only heightens the overall mood of melancholy without dragging you down with it.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Selena Gomez, Look At Her Now

SELENA GOMEZLOOK AT HER NOW: If Lose You To Love Me found Selena Gomez at her most disarmingly vulnerable, accompanying new release Look At Her Now sees her at her most resolute and feisty. The song continues to be about loss and overcoming heartbreak but where the former track felt pained, this feels more hopeful. Hence, there’s a more defiantly upbeat vibe, a future pop sound and some challenging lyrics that confront the reality of overcoming her lost love (“Of course she was sad, but now she’s glad she dodged a bullet”). It then declares, over the propulsive chorus, “look at her now, watch her go”. As such, it’s a record about female empowerment that should provide encouragement for anyone attempting to overcome heartbreak themselves. The accompanying video is also a complete contrast to the former single, deliberately embracing a 90s dance video easthetic with eye-catching colours, outfits and moves. Put together, both singles compliment each other nicely, while looking certain to broaden Gomez’s overall appeal.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Margot, Taken By Age

MARGOTTAKEN BY AGE: Margot is a five-piece from South London who make a nuanced blend of dream-pop laced with neo-psychedelic touches, jangling guitars, and softly brushed drums. New single Taken By Age is an excellent introduction to them. Opening with Johnny Marr-esque jangle-pop guitar, the song then gives way to a melody laced with 80’s tinged melancholia. The result is like a blissed-out surf rock song, slowed down and viewed though a filtered lens. Lyrically, meanwhile, there’s a lot going on given the way it explores an issue relevant to all of us right now: mental health. Taken By Age was inspired by a documentary on Dementia, with lead vocalist AleHannaway moved by the unconditional love of the effected family members and what he describes as their ‘perseverance and hope’ despite their anger at the disease. Hence, there’s a sense of loss and regret, tinged with determination and hope. It’s heartbreakingly bittersweet and highly emotional. If you’re a fan of bands like The War on Drugs, The Cure or The Smiths, then Margot could quite easily become one of your new favourite bands on this kind of form.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lizzo & Ariana Grande

LIZZO & ARIANA GRANDEGOOD AS HELL: Lizzo has released an all new remix of her platinum selling hit song Good As Hell, featuring Ariana Grande. It’s destined to be an even bigger smash. The remixed version adds even more sass and energy to a song that was never really short of it in the first place. Hence, we have the vocal trade off between Lizzo’s gutsy soulful ones and Grande’s smooth-groove style, as well as robust hip-hop infused beats, sunshine piano arrangements and vibrant stabs of brass. It has a soul-pop, summer-time vibe that comes complete with empowering sentiments (of the female variety), now transferred to the winter to ensure the song remains with us throughout the forthcoming party season. And why shouldn’t it? It’s shamelessly good fun, designed to make you feel good about yourself.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lucia & The Best Boys, Good Girls Do Bad Things

LUCIA & THE BEST BOYSGOOD GIRLS DO BAD THINGS: Lucia & The Best Boys (formerly LUucia) release their new single Good Girls Do Bad Things in unapologetically brash fashion. Recorded in LA with producer Carlos De La Garza (Paramore, Wolf Alice, Best Coast) this finds the kick-ass Glaswegian indie-rock four-piece adopting an 80’s synth-infused banger sound with something edgy and contemporary (embracing female empowerment). Sonically, this is the kind of offering that classic Blondie or Kate Bush may have put out in the ’80s (with traces of Kim Wilde), complete with belting drums and synths. But lyrically, there’s a lot more going on… the track offers a combative missive to anyone that’s f**ked someone over. Relaying empowering messages like this is something that’s become particularly important to Lucia, as she states: “Good Girls Do Bad Things is a song written for any women who feels like they have ever been undermined, or made to feel worthless and weak by a man. I find myself in these situations far too often, now more than ever, and it is important to highlight that they are the weak ones in the situation. ‘Sad boys looking at me always get what they don’t see’ was a lyric written from experiencing and witnessing men thinking that we aren’t capable or smart enough to react and defend ourselves.” Lucia is doing her damndest to prove them wrong.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 18, 2019

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

Beck, Uneventful Days

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECKUNEVENTFUL DAYS: Following the musical shot in the arm that was the exhilarating Saw Lightning, Beck now changes pace completely with Uneventful Days – the latest offering from his forthcoming Hyperspace LP (out November 22). Trading on the astrological elements inherent in the LP’s name, this catchy digi-popper blends tropicalia with laidback vocals and spaced out synth arrangements. It’s also pretty wistful, lyrically, as Beck sings: “Uneventful days, uneventful nights… living in the dark, waiting for the light…” It’s almost as if the singer is searching for something elusive in the vast surrounds of the universe. But it’s beautifully engaging, offering a bittersweet vibe that’s completely endearing. As ever with Beck, the change of pace from Saw Lightning only heightens the excitement surrounding the release of more new material. It’s his ability to mix things up and maintain the quality that makes him so continually exciting. An accompanying track, Hyperlife only clocks in at 1 minute and 37 seconds, and feels like a potential album opener. It’s extremely trippy.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kiwanuka

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MICHAEL KIWANUKAPIANO JOINT: The latest offering from Michael Kiwanuka’s Kiwanuka LP is the piano-based ballad Piano Joint, another splendid offering. A heart on sleeve moment, this finds the singer on the kind of form exhibited with tracks like Love + Hate and Cold Little Heart, especially late on. A dissection of love and all of its complications and implications, this begins really stripped back and soulful, with just Kiwanuka’s distinct vocals and the piano to listen to. But as the song evolves, so too does the instrumentation, with soul-infused female backing vocals, swirling string arrangements, subtle beats and a stronger piano sound. Lyrically, there are lines such as “I know I’ve been bruised, let me in again, I could use a friend, all I know is my oh my, this kind of love, it’s taken me from my enemies, don’t let the pressure get to me.” It’s the depth of feeling and the soul-searching nature of these words that enables the song to resonate so much, complete with those sublime production values. It’s cinematic yet intimate – soulful, beautiful and powerful.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Peter, Bjorn and John, Rusty Nail

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: PETER, BJORN AND JOHNRUSTY NAIL: Peter, Bjorn and John will celebrate their 20-year anniversary in 2020 with the release of their ninth full-length studio album – Endless Dream – due out on March 13 via INGRID. As a taster, the band is dropping the first single Rusty Nail and pretty much hits the, ahem, nail on the head in terms of satisfaction. Shot through with the trio’s trademark melodicism, this nevertheless blends that feel-good vitality with something a little darker. Lyrically, the track deals with regret and struggling to live up to life’s expectations, while still remaining resolute about the way things have turned out. Hence, it drops lines such as “I keep getting that rusty nail again, all the time, I had dreams, I had dreams, of where I want to be, all my life, I never knew how much it meant to me, all the time”. The bittersweet element is evocative of the new material as a whole, given that Peter, Bjorn and John describe the new songs as bright. “It’s about people trying to find colors in this dark world,” they add. With the upbeat vibrancy of Rusty Nail quickly becoming oh-so addictive, we already have high hopes for the rest of the album. In more good news for fans of Peter, Bjorn and John, the trio have confirmed a Spring US headline tour that kicks off on March 23, 2020, at the Teragram Ballroom in LA and ends on the East Coast where they play Webster Hall on April 10, before wrapping the nearly month long run with a show at Brighton Music Hall in Boston on April 11.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Whyte Horses, Hard Times

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: WHYTE HORSES feat JOHN GRANTHARD TIMES: The notoriously elusive Whyte Horses have announced details of their third studio album, appropriately for now entitled Hard Times, and set to be released on January 17, 2020 through burgeoning indie label CRC Records. Described by Whyte Horses’ creator and curator Dom Thomas as a ‘fantasy mixtape’, the project sees this shape-shifting musical dream-pop collective re-imagining songs from an eclectic mix of musical backgrounds. Having already released a foot stomping cover of the seminal 1970’s track Ça Plane Pour Moi (originally performed by the Belgian music polymath Plastic Bertrand), the album’s bombastic title track is released today as their latest single alongside the album news. Hence, Hard Times features guest vocals from John Grant, who, ‘loved working with Whyte Horses on this’. He adds: “Spam and Oreos are right up my alley!” A party anthem in waiting that kind of makes a mockery of the hardships being sung about, the new take on the track takes psychedelic twists and turns that are rooted throughout by a rock steady rhythm section and overlaid with layers of brass, sax and organ. The result feels like a cross between The Heavy in their Northern Soul-infused pomp, with the type of sound that would grace a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s hip, sexy, vital and fresh, even in spite of the fact it’s a re-imagining. Once heard, you can’t help but want more. It could well become one of the forthcoming party season’s hippest anthems.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flight Facilities

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 5: FLIGHT FACILITIES feat ALOE BLACCBETTER THAN EVER: Better Than Ever is the first cut of the year from Flight Facilities, following their 2018 singles Need You (certified Gold by ARIA) and All Your Love – and it’s a real pulse-pounding statement of intent. Three years in the making, Better Than Ever is a supremely satisfying, ultra-slick explosion of funk-pop sounds, fusing uplifting lyrics with a dynamic beat and soul-flavored melodies. What’s more, it comes with the unmistakeable vocals of Aloe Blacc, wnose distinctly soulful vocals bring extra energy and edge to the song, elevating it to new heights. As a feel-good anthem, this is second to none, its central sentiment of feeling better than ever helping to invigorate and inspire. It’s a celebratory record, tailor-made for any party occasion, that’s also slick and cool enough to feature on countless soundtracks or sports promos thoughout the year. It has that same kind of infectious energy as classic cuts from The Heavy.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Katy Perry, Harleys in Hawaii

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: KATY PERRYHARLEYS IN HAWAII: Katy Perry seeks to come over all sultry in new single Harleys in Hawaii, the third offering from her forthcomimg fifth LP (after Never Really Over and Small Talk). The result marks a change in direction from the more sugary, melody-strewn pop concoctions Perry is synonymous with… but in a good way. There’s something edgy, here, akin to classic Gwen Stefani, with a self-consciously sexed up side. Perry practically purrs some of the lyrics, delivering lines such as “Want you to take me for a ride, ride, when I hula hula, hula, so good you’ll take me to the jeweler, jeweler, jeweler, there’s pink and purple in the sky”. It’s designed to get people hot under the collar, while also conjuring images of Hawaiian sunsets and beaches, as well as those obligatory motorbikes. The beats are equally primed to heighten the inherent sexiness, as are the synths. It’s a smooth groover of a record that carries a deliciously late night vibe. And the accompanying video is – as we’ve come to expect from Perry – just as sexy, playful and eye-catching.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zak Pajak

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: ZAC PAJAKAGAIN: Having impressed with his debut single Again, the first track from his debut EP Early Hours, last week, London-based Zac Pajak now releases the accompanying video with similarly impressive results. Directed by Sam Davies (Filmsmiths) and produced by Keenan Foley (Orillo Films), the video fits perfectly with the tone of the record, as Zak explains: “A party aftermath fitted the song concept perfectly. I wanted to take viewers on an almost voyeuristic journey of a night unfolding in a series of flashbacks, from the first time someone catches your eye, to making that rare connection. The encounter flickers in and out of hazy consciousness which illustrates the unshakable feeling that you might be on the brink of something special.” It’s sexy, edgy and genuinely eye-catching. The infectious urban-infused track itself effectively blends laid-back R’n‘B melodies with a self-consciously pop-laden soundscape. It’s a song that’s designed to get Pajak noticed, that succeeds in doing so. The beats are lively enough to set those toes tapping, while the vocals have a positive Ed Sheeran-style quality.Speaking about the track, Zac adds: “Again is about meeting someone for the first time and getting that rare crazy connection. There’s a glimpse of what could be, that wave of excitement and anticipation when you think you might be on the brink of something special.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Modern Strangers, Pass The Lighter

THE MODERN STRANGERSPASS THE LIGHTER: There’s something very MGMT about The Modern Strangers’ new single, Pass The Lighter, courtesy of its headrush synth-pop chorus. Billed as “a sun drenched, future yacht rock classic”, the track boasts a genuinely sweeping chorus that hits some euphoric highs. It’s anthemic. The build-up, too, is nicely delivered, with the synths creating a compelling backdrop (that hints at retro leanings, while being fiercely rousing) and the vocals crisp, vibrant and just a little edgy. Once that chorus lands, though, you’ll be hard pressed not to be nodding along in giddy appreciation, while dreaming of those long-lost summer nights somewhere on the Med. Speaking about the new single, frontman Max Davenport said: “We wanted to change the set up for our tour, so people who may have seen us before get a set they’re not expecting. We’ve had this song Pass The Lighter sitting in the demo pile for a while and decided it would be great to put out just before tour and to play live for the first time at these UK venues!” It’s a good pick, given this will easily become a live favourite. It’s a bona fida crowd-pleaser. The new single follows on from recent heavy Radio 1 support from Annie Mac and comes on the eve of their UK headline tour, which includes a night at Oslo in Hackney on October 26.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ajimal, How Could You Disappear

AJIMALHOW COULD YOU DISAPPEAR?: Ajimal returns with new single How Could You Disappear?, the second release from his upcoming album, As It Grows Dark / Light (produced by Guy Massey). A sparse track, this delivers a driving electronic rhythm with overlaid dreamy piano textures while examining the frailty of memory. Ajimal – aka Fran O’Hanlon – explained further: “How Could You Disappear? is about memory and the idea of looking back on things that you might feel you could never forget, but which also inevitably warp and change with time. Memories are mostly lost, but they can also morph and swell into something completely different from the events that actually occurred. In the same way, some seemingly banal and insignificant things can persist for a lifetime. These can have a powerful impact on our subsequent behaviours, hopes and fears, for the most part in ways that we’re totally unaware of.” Mind-blowing sentiments mix with lush, ethereal synth-scapes for a track that slowly creeps into your subconscious and refuses to budge. It’s a song to set you thinking, but also to enjoy on a sonic level.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Keltoum

KELTOUMSTOP TO PLAY: Taken from her debut eponymous EP Stop To Play is the next single to be released from Keltoum. The fast-emerging artist from France is already being compared to leaders in her field like Sade, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu as her neo-soul and pop influences caress from all sides. An original composer and player, Keltoum also brings to the table a unique French sensibility that sets her apart from the contemporaries just mentioned. Her own blend of jazz and smoky vocals provide the focal point for the seductive Stop To Play, providing a dreamy centre-piece that’s darn near impossible to resist. But the accompanying beats and electronics have an equally seductively soulful vibe that make this tailor-made for the late night chillout crowd. It’s relaxed, head-noddingly satisfying songwriting that showcases a genuinely hot new talent. Not that she’s that new… Keltoum has already picked up fans across the board, including some distinguished influencers like Gilles Peterson among others at Jazz FM and beyond. Her live show is also on another level as the energy of her trio seem to get the best of her tantalizing subtle soul voice bringing emotion to all who see her play, such as those who attended Gilles’ Worldwide festival in Sète last year, where she completely bowled over the crowd.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Alexander 23, See You Later

ALEXANDER 23 – SEE YOU LATER: Indie-pop newcomer Alexander 23 announces the release of his debut EP, I’m Sorry I Love You, (out Friday, October 25 via Polydor Records) with the release of new single See You Later. As with most of the Chicago native’s offerings so far, this one combines his angelic vocals and melancholy lyrics with up-tempo pop beats and subtle electronic-guitar flourishes. See You Later finds him walking away from the person he ‘could call home’, displaying the sorrow that’s inherent in that sentiment. There is an element of hope, though, when Alexander sings “it’s not goodybe but it doesn’t feel like see you later”. As bittersweet and melancholy as those lyrics are, the surrounding instrumentals maintain an upbeat, toe-tapping vibe that enable the track to endear itself to you even more. It’s a great new record. An entirely self-produced effort, I’m Sorry I Love You came to life at Alexander’s home studio in Los Angeles. The EP will feature nine tracks written, performed, and recorded by (guitar, bass, keys, drums) Alexander 23 (Alexander Glantz). As further evidence of Alexander’s brugeoning appeal, previously tracks he has put out, including Another Summer Night Without You (which was featured on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why (Season 3) soundtrack) were included on Spotify’s New Music Friday.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Nasty Cherry

NASTY CHERRYMUSIC WITH YOUR DAD: XCX-ellent four-piece Nasty Cherry have released catchy new single Music With Your Dad on Charli XCX’s Vroom Vroom Recordings. The track, written by the band themselves and produced by Justin Raisen (Angel Olson, Sky Ferreira), who have already proven themselves to be a killer combo on the band’s previous singles Win and Live Forever, perfectly encapsulates what Nasty Cherry are all about. Written in the space of a day shortly after the band first met, the song is equal parts hooky, fun, silly and in-your-face sassy. Hence, there’s some spiky guitar riff moments mixed in with pop-savvy beats, hip-shaking synth hooks and angelic vocal harmonies that fly in the face of the edgy vocals about making music with your dad (“he just wants me, he just gets me, he just wants me, oh”). As pop offerings go, this is notable for mixing ear-pleasing, radio-friendly hooks with something a little more edgy and playful. It’s pop for grown-ups… daring but fun and utterly enjoyable.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 11, 2019

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

Cigarettes After Sex

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CIGARETTES AFTER SEXFALLING IN LOVE: They’re done it again! Just weeks after making us swoon with Heavenly, Cigarettes After Sex drop another beautifully seductive offering in Falling in Love. Once more employing a sound so sedate you can’t help but melt into its charms, this is an aching declaration of love that is shot through with stark imagery (lakes, feelings, romance, etc). It’s a quiet offering, soothingly delivered with an almost whispered vocal. Meanwhile, a guitar lick offers a subtle but equally lovely backdrop, occasionally taking centre stage to truly mesmerising effect. And while certainly low-key, there’s still a sense of the cinematic about the record, making this more than capable of illuminating an accompanying visual. The track is taken from Cigarettes After Sex’s forthcoming LP Cry, which on the evidence so far promises to be stunning.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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SYML

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SYMLSYMMETRY: Following on from the the release of his self-titled debut album that was released in May this year, and coming just a week after dropping the incredibly emotive video for Everything All At Once, SYML now release the enchanting Symmetry. Commenting on the brooding single, the Seattle-based artist said: “I have been obsessed with black holes for a while now, mostly with how insignificant they make me feel. There is something extremely beautiful and daunting about infinity, especially when it comes to our inability to understand it. This song feels like the dust that gathered in an abandoned space station that’s been circling earth for years.” It’s a profound statement that yields a similarly profound song… but one that shimmers with ethereal beauty and a haunting, lingering quality. Part of this is due to the finger-picked guitar licks that provide a compelling backdrop, but it’s also evident in the slow-building ambition of the song. Midway through, the guitars are accompanied by strings and then, finally, emphatic drums and sax. The conclusion is head-spinning in its majesty. It’s another hugely impressive offering, epic in a way that recalls the grandeur of classic Elbow and Radiohead, yet intimate in a kind of Jose Gonazalez way too. SYML heads back to Europe this autumn on a headline tour, including UK dates in Brighton, Manchester, Cardiff and a London show at Scala on October 29.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Green Day, Ready Aim Fire

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: GREEN DAYFIRE READY AIM: “How many trolls does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The answer is ‘Fire Ready Aim’! A new tune for the loons! This song is about our daily outrage. Attack without thought.. hyperbole. Anyway stick a hammer in your mouth. Shut up and dance!” So state Green Day in the cover notes of their volatile latest offering, Fire Ready Aim. Chock full of angry sentiment (“knock your teeth out” etc), this is a kick-ass slice of punk-inflicted rock that is unapologetically brash and confrontational, yet at the same time as contagious as sin. The guitar hooks are blisteringly good, the hand-clap beats made for nodding along to, and the gutsy vocals designed to get the track – and the message – noticed. It’s old school yet fiercely modern, announcing Green Day’s comeback in unfussy, urgent fashion. You simply can’t get enough of it once you’ve heard it. The song first dropped during last Wednesday’s game between New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers and came accompanied by a video featuring the band on the ice. It will also feature on Green Day’s forthcoming LP, Father of All….
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Seafret, Fall

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: SEAFRETFALL: Bridlington’s finest, Seafret, release their new single, Fall, through The Orchard along with a powerful, WWI based accompanying video. The east Yorkshire band, made up of Jack Sedman and Harry Draper, make a rousing return with this powerful track, produced by Ross Hamilton at Rocket Science Recording Studios, Glasgow. It’s a song about overcoming huge challenges, in a situation where everyone is waiting for you to fall. But it advocates finding the strength to keep going and prove the doubters wrong. Instrumentally, there’s robust percussion (some of which is quite jagged, especially mid-track) and some blistering guitar hooks, as well as a chorus that sweeps you along with its power. Its highly anthemic. The video is equally striking, taking place on a WWI battlefield. It was made by director Stuart Alexander, who also directed the videos for their previous singles Monsters and Loving You. Seafret explain: “After working with director Stuart Alexander on the previous to videos it only felt right to team up with him again for our latest video for Fall. Creating videos for the music really seems to give life to a track and Stuart always delivers above and beyond what we have in mind. The video itself is based in WW1 where a soldier is on the battlefield, fighting for his life trying to get home. The track was written about not giving up when things aren’t going to plan and we feel this powerful footage is a true example of that. Everyone involved in the making of this video worked their socks off to make this happen and we hope people really enjoy and connect with it in their own way.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Melanie Martinez, Wheels on the Bus

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: MELANIE MARTINEZWHEELS ON THE BUS: The opening chimes of Melanie Martinez’s latest single Wheels on the Bus may recall the classic children’s song ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round’, but there’s much deeper meaning at its core. The track is taken from the album K-12, which tells the stories and experiences of a student named Cry Baby at a cotton-candy-colored, dystopian sleep-away school. It’s also the opening track of that album, appropriately positioned since many students’ school days begin with a bus ride. Hence, the song is designed to represent the start of Cry Baby’s tulle-filled nightmares. And as the song unfolds and moves away from the rhyme we all know, there’s a hip-hop meets pop and R’n‘B flavour to proceedings, as Martinez begins the nightmare with observations about inappropriate sexual behaviour (and advances), the ignorance of peers who do little to help [and perhaps enjoy it themselves] and drug abuse. It’s also about the mental toll such events take, especially on Cry Baby, who lights up to shield herself and attempts to find solace by looking at trees. Hence, for all of the innocence inherent in the vocals, and the free-spirited melodies, there’s a darker something happening here, which is all the more striking for the subversive and surprising nature of the song’s delivery. It’s hugely impressive, highly relevant songwriting, with a video that perfectly gets its message across.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals, Into The Surf

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: FOALSINTO THE SURF: As the October 18 release of the eagerly anticipated Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 approaches, Foals boost its profile by sharing a new animated video for Into The Surf, the excellent third single. The track explores a story of two people who are irresistibly drawn together. They each travel across a backdrop of beautiful Greek scenery – mountainous coastlines and clear blue water – as they seek to reconnect. Yet fate has other ideas, and their goal falls agonisingly short at the last moment. The song was inspired by frontman Yannis Philippakis’ Greek family background. It reflects themes that are prevalent in Greek folk music: dying in a foreign land, far away from your family. It’s a theme that resonates with the visuals, which really brings the mournful poetry of his evocative lyrics to life: “There’s a serpent on the beach / If I’m out of reach / Place a garland in the sea for me.” The video was directed by Steve Warne, whose animation has featured in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Warne commented: “The world of the song is so distinctive it seemed right to try and reflect it fairly closely with a mix of shimmering, expansive visuals with a human intimacy. The visual motifs were linked closely to the lyrics. By mixing traditional stop-motion with live action and digital animation techniques the idea was to aim for something that felt just about tangible but almost out of reach, echoing the themes of the song in a heightened dreamlike way. A little bit of reality with a dose of mystery.” As for the song itself [a former IndieLondon track of the week], it impresses on many levels. Where past tracks Black Bull and The Runner were all about being explosive, this showcases a more melancholy and reflective side to the band, which is every bit as striking. Indeed, the track offers up a dreamy, ethereal soundscape which allows Yannis Philippakis’ haunting but elegant lyrics to soar.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mountain Boy

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 4: MOUNTAIN BOYMORNING HEAT: London based Kiwi, Mountain Boy (real name: Aaron Clarke) has dropped new single Morning Heat and impresses in beautifully ethereal, highly atmospheric fashion. A warming ballad written during the depths of winter in New Zealand – the song reminisces on moments of unadulterated togetherness, sharing body-heat when you need it most. Speaking on the moment which inspired the beginnings of Morning Heat, Mountain Boy said: “When I started writing Morning Heat, it was the middle of winter. In that landscape of frost and hibernation, there were many mornings where my wife and I would wake to find ourselves clinging to each other for warmth, with an inclination to stay. As fleeting as those moments were, something about them felt sacred and that was very much the starting place for the song.” The accompanying video, directed by Rachel Ross, follows a young couple as they navigate the complex emotions involved with starting a family. It’s highly cinematic and extremely powerful (marrying realism with something beautifully poignant). Vocally, the song is another of the week’s releases that recalls the style of Jose Gonzalez (which is, in itself, a huge recommendation), albeit with greater emphasis on layered instrumentals. The slow-building nature of the song gives rise to some wonderfully woven in string arrangements, some subtle but effective beat arrangements and that ethereal element that adds to the cinematic nature of the song as a whole. It’s beautifully complex.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cher Lloyd

CHER LLOYD – M.I.A: With a legion of die-hard fans, 20 million+ combined social media followers and almost a billion views on YouTube, Cher Lloyd returns with expectations set extra high. Fortunately, M.I.A ticks all the required boxes for fans. It’s got plenty of attitude, a little social commentary and a slick mix of pop-savvy, hip-hop influenced beats and toe-tapping electronics. The track was written by Gia Koka, Jeremia Jones, Morien van der Tang and Cher herself, and produced by JOZNEZ (one of Germany’s leading Hip Hop producers with 24 No 1 Records and 91 Top 10 Records under his belt) & NicoTheOwl, with additional production by HITIMPULSE (multi-platinum producer team that has worked with the likes of Kygo, Ellie Goulding, AJ Mitchell). It’s a savvy collection of producers who know what it takes to make a hit. And Lloyd is sure to have one of those here, while drawing favourable comparisons to everyone from [the appropriately named] MIA to Charli XCX. The video features Cher and her dancers wearing clothing and accessories designed by the singer herself. These pieces are now available to buy exclusively on Post Kulture. The full GLO capsule collection will be launching later this month here
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Simple Plan, Where I Belong

SIMPLE PLAN feat STATE CHAMPS & WE THE KINGSWHERE I BELONG: Sometimes you just need a song or a film or a TV programme to offer up exactly what you expect. Step forward the new song from Simple Plan, featuring State Champs and We The Kings, courtesy of anthemic new offering Where I Belong. A guiltily infectious pop-punk powerhouse anthem, this features crunching emo guitar hooks, shouty vocals and empowering choruses that sound like they belong in the 90s (think classic Simple Plan or Lit). The message behind the track is obvious… it’s about self-empowerment and feels timely as mental health continues to take the deserved spotlight. Hence, lyrics include: “I’m sorry that I can’t be perfect, but I’m not changing who I am… maybe there’s no destination, and maybe I’m gonna make mistakes, I’ll let you in on one of my secrets, I’m still just as lost as yesterday.” But by the time the song reaches its chorus, it defiantly proclaims: “Cos this is where I belong!” It’s a sentiment worth getting behind in these uncertain times, so strap on that air guitar and jam along.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Zak Pajak

ZAC PAJAKAGAIN: London-based Zac Pajak releases debut single Again, the first track from his debut EP Early Hours, which is set for release early 2020 via Goldun Egg Records. The infectious urban-infused track effectively blends laid-back R’n‘B melodies with a self-consciously pop-laden soundscape. It’s a song that’s designed to get Pajak noticed, that succeeds in doing so. The beats are lively enough to set those toes tapping, while the vocals have a positive Ed Sheeran-style quality. The overall package is extremely likeable and highly catchy, while the accompanying acoustic version is every bit as good, setting a lone guitar against his striking vocals. Speaking about the single, Zac said: Again is about meeting someone for the first time and getting that rare crazy connection. There’s a glimpse of what could be, that wave of excitement and anticipation when you think you might be on the brink of something special.” Pajak started out busking in the London suburbs and producing his own material from a home-made studio in his parents’ garden shed. His songs soon caught the ear of platinum-selling producer Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, James Bay, Shawn Mendes), which in turn led to breakthrough songwriting collaborations with the likes of Major Lazer, Mr Eazi , Raye, Danny Jones, NUUX and Dusky Grey. Now that he’s going solo, the omens appear to be good for finding a strong following.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 4, 2019

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

Mike Posner, Legacy

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MIKE POSNER feat. TALIB KWELILEGACY: This is the second week in a row that Mike Posner has landed a single of the week selection but this is another gem to place alongside last week’s Nothing Is Wrong. A statement of self-empowerment that finds the ever-upbeat Posner feeling comfortable with his own fame, the track finds Posner declaring: “I know who I am, I know my legacy”. A rap from Kweli then adds: “Legacy, is when you silent but your presence felt, your product like drugs cuz it sell itself.” It’s about taking responsibility for your own fame and image, and projecting something good rather than promoting anything divisive or bling-related. The fact Posner successfully mixes rap with soul and pop also means the song transcends genres, enabling it to appeal to wide listener base. Hence, there’s slick, hip hop infused beats, soulful backing vocals, a delicious central guitar lick and a seamless blend of Posner’s own sung vocals and Kweli’s rapped ones. It’s a really great listen with an important message behind it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, South of the Border

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ED SHEERAN feat CAMILA CABELLO & CARDI B – SOUTH OF THE BORDER: Ed Sheeran has revealed the official video for his latest single, South of the Border (featuring Camila Cabello and Cardi B). An irreverent take on the spy genre, the video stars Sheeran, Cabello and Cardi B alongside Paul Karmiryan and model, Alexis Ren. Throughout the action-packed, light-hearted visual, we see two separate spies (played by Paul Karmiryan and Alexis Ren) set out on a mission to acquire Sheeran’s prized possessions. Adopting classic spy movie twist and turns along the way, the cast head south of the border as they continue the chase. It’s sexy, visually ravishing stuff, with some clever spy movie nods that pay lip service to classic 007 and other films such as True Lies, while subverting some genre stereotypes. South of the Border is taken from Sheeran’s UK Platinum Certified No.6 Collaborations Project. Released in July, it’s the first LP of Ed’s to score three UK No.1 singles. The track itself is a seamless blend of Sheeran’s distinct vocals and sassy contributions from Cabello and Cardi B, complete with a sexy Hispanic sound and some equally seductive beats. It’s Sheeran at his collaborative best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals, The Runner

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FOALSTHE RUNNER: Foals continue to build anticipation for the release of their new album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 by sharing a mesmerising new video for former track The Runner. The video focuses on frontman Yannis Philippakis as he’s relentlessly pursued by a doppelganger, played by Vincent Heneine. Yannis’s meandering attempt to escape takes him through a variety of locations – some naturalistic, others more fantastical – as the journey encompasses some surrealist twists. Its denouement sees Yannis standing alone, surveying the embers of a world in flames. The shot completes a visual that plays with themes of masculinity, identify and environmental collapse. “My character wakes up at the end of the video,” says Yannis, “but the sense of satisfaction I felt at having given myself a good kicking quickly turns to despair as I realise the world is on fire.” It’s striking, timely, typically provocative and challenging stuff, a visual extravaganza to compliment an already potent, guitar-driven song. Foals continue to be on fire at the moment. Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 will be released on October 18.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hobo Johnson

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: HOBO JOHNSONYOU & THE COCKROACH: Hot on the heels of releasing his acclaimed second album The Fall of Hobo Johnson last month, Sacramento artist Hobo Johnson shares a powerful and politically-charged animated video for the standout track You & The Cockroach. The song and video tell an allegorical tale of amoeba evolving into humans, leading to the rise of a president who stirs up nuclear war with another world leader. Cockroaches then progress to become earth’s dominant species and madness ensues. It’s an F-bomb laden, angry record in many ways, with unsubtle vocal torpedoes aimed at his own president, Trump, as well as a certain North Korean dictator. But while provocative, it’s also clever, chronicling in its first half the rise of civilization, the dangers of religion and politicians and the current crazy and, yes, f**ked up state of the world. The second half may drift into the surreal, but the intelligence remains, along with a pertinent reminder about the ongoing danger of indulging in conflict and the disastrous effect such policies can have on the world. Somewhat depressingly, it also suggests that the capacity for self-destruction is cyclical. The video is great – funny, dark and totally out there. And while the spoken word delivery and simplistic backing organ of the song itself may seem low-budget, almost DIY in creation, there’s no denying that what Johnson has to say has plenty of relevance. And it’s hard, then, not to be impressed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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SYML

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 4: SYMLEVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE: Following on from the the release of his self-titled debut album that was released in May this year, SYML releases an incredibly emotive video for Everything All At Once, directed by Gavin Michael Booth. Commenting on the video SYML, aka Brian Fennell said: “As soon as I saw the treatment that Gavin, the director, sent, I felt tears in my eyes. This song is so important to me. I knew I wanted the video to be equally moving. I love thinking about music in visual terms, and what Gavin has created is both vivid and beautiful.” A song about loss and overcoming the sorrow and sense of loneliness that it brings, this feels like an ode to a loved one that comes from the heart for Fennell. And yet, while deeply personal for the singer himself, the song resonates for anyone who has experienced anything similar. The slow-build style is beautifully delivered, too, with a creeping guitar lick building to some majestic, Coldplay-style heights, and Fennell’s impassioned yet vulnerable vocals really bringing out the emotion contained within the lyrics. The accompanying video is beautifully realised and almost achingly bittersweet – a film that stays with you and really tugs at your heart-strings in an honest way.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Niall Horan, Nice To Meet Ya

NIALL HORANNICE TO MEET YA: Niall Horan returns with upbeat new track Nice To Meet Ya, the feisty first single from his forthcoming second album. A lively piece of piano-driven pop with a soulful groove reminiscent of The Heavy and bright hand percussion, Nice To Meet Ya provides the perfect backdrop to Horan’s gritty, playful vocals and equally flirtatious yet heartfelt lyrics. There’s an anthemic, chant-along quality to the vibrant chorus, some soulful humming, razor-sharp guitar riffs, slick piano arrangements, hand-clap beats and a general sense of positivity. It’s a headrush offering designed to help it get noticed – and it does just that. Horan co-wrote the song with his longtime collaborator Julian Bunetta (Maroon 5, Jessie Ware), who also produced with Tobias Jesso, Jr. (Florence + the Machine, Adele) and Ruth-Anne Cunningham (John Legend, Pentatonix). Horan commented: “It’s been nearly two years since I released Flicker and I can’t wait to get going again. Writing Nice To Meet Ya, in particular, was a special one for me and I’m so excited to finally share it with everyone.” So far, so good for the sophomore material.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jessie Reyez, Far Away

JESSIE REYEZFAR AWAY: Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez has shared her latest single and video Far Away, taken from her highly anticipated forthcoming debut studio album, slated for 2020 release via FMLY / Polydor Records. The track finds Jessie staying true to form with her brutal honesty, raw emotion, intimate lyrics and a voice so pure that you have to take notice of what she has to say. To explain a little more, Reyez states: “Attachment. Attachment to someone is both something beautiful and something painful. Imagine finally finding your home in another human being but they’re stuck on the other side of this rock we’re all on. You’re left wanting nothing more than a hug – their hug – that simultaneously feels like a pillow and a drug. Somehow when they hurt, you hurt, when they smile, you smile. This is love suspended in animation, before it’s tainted by reality (because eventually all hearts break again) but in this moment, neither of you are running from one another – it’s only water and borders and God keeping you apart. Water and borders and God keeping you from home. This is pre-heart break; when both sets of lungs are still working and when you miss them and they miss you back- and you feel each other even when you’re far away.” The accompanying lyrics highlight the distance between some relationships and the heartache and agony that accompanies that. But it’s delivered in a silky smooth manner, with minimalist beats and soulful production values. The poignant and powerful accompanying visual depicts the harsh and unfortunate reality many families have been suffering from in the United States via a lover’s lens and features Reyez and her partner being brutally separated by ICE. The politically and emotionally charged video, directed by frequent collaborator Peter Huang and produced by Jessie’s go-to film studio Mad Ruk, comes at an unfortunate time when horrifying news of what’s occurring at the border is the norm and hits close to home for many marginalized people and families in this country. Reyez was born to Colombian parents in Toronto and asks that listeners visit www.jessiereyez.com/faraway for a list of charitable humanitarian organisations that are aiding the immigration crisis referenced in the video including the ACLU, Al Otro Lado and The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Gabriella Cilmi, Keep on Keeping

GABRIELLA CILMIKEEP ON KEEPING: Gabriella Cilmi taps into a true slice of Americana with Keep On Keeping, a gutsy, bluesy offering that is dripping with the incendiary sound of the Deep South (right down to some gospel tinged backing support).Taken from her forthcoming EP, The Water, which is set for release on November 1, 2019, the track is designed to showcase a more mature and authentic sound from the Australian artist. She explains: “This is my daily routine in the form of a song. [It] came off sounding a bit more like a lament for the undead.” There’s certainly something other-worldly about the sound, especially late on, once the gospel backing turns to something more akin to an undead chant. But there’s a keen sense of foreboding throughout, as well as one of determination – to succeed, to maintain the routine, and to branch out into new songwriting arenas and embrace new sounds. The result is striking, cinematic and a nice change of direction for Cilmi. 01
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Harry Mold, Python

HARRY MOLDPYTHON: Londoner Harry Mold returns with his new single, the blistering indie rock anthem Python. Going straight for the jugular, Python unfolds amid some gutsy guitar riffs and robust drum beats, before Mold himself drops in a raw, edgy vocal reminiscent of a classic indie-rock sound (with hints of Jake Bugg and early Liam Gallagher, late on). It builds to a similarly earthy chorus, which seems to get bigger each time it comes around. The questioning lyrics also reflect on a damaged relationship and some wrong-doing on the part of the other person (be it friend, or lover… “are you proud of yourself?” he asks at one point). Speaking about the track’s inspiration, Mold said: “Python is a song I wrote for the ‘snakes’ that surround us. It was written as an immediate response to a close friend being sleazy behind my back. My raw and honest ‘f*** you’ to those types!” It’s a striking follow-up to explosive debut single Drain, which was released in June this year. Mold, who was born in Basildon to an ‘old-school West Ham father and an Essex-born mother’ but grew up in Benidorm and London, is a self-produced multi-instrumentalist who funnels the experiences of an early-twenties youngster in 2019 into infectious rock anthems. As a songwriter, he dives into generational unrest, where every emotion is hash-tagged with profound colloquialisms, which then explode in massive choruses. As a live performer, he ratchets up that anxiety, and when the choruses hit, the payload is euphoric. His nickname is H-Bomb for a reason.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Craig Finn, It's Never Been A Fair Fight

CRAIG FINN – IT’S NEVER BEEN A FAIR FIGHT: Craig Finn celebrates his upcoming European and US tour with the release of It’s Never Been A Fair Fight, along with an acoustic version of the song as its B-side. Commenting on the inspiration behind the gutsy, horn-backed offering, Finn explained: “It’s Never Been A Fair Fight is about the extreme difficulty of staying true to the rigid rules of a sub-culture as you get older. The character in the song revisits an old peer and finds struggle and disappointment in the place he left behind. I’ve always really loved this song, and people seemed to connect with it on my acoustic tour with Brian Fallon. I’m excited to be sharing the full band version with the world.” The full band version finds Finn in melancholy, reflective yet fiesty vocal form, imbuing the lyrics with a keen sense of regret and anger. But he’s backed by lively instrumentals – rock hooks, pounding drums and those sassy horns, as well as some female backing. It’s the type of song that classic artists such as Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen share plenty in common with in terms of delivery, style and songwriting/storytelling values.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sean McGowan, Heartbreaker

SEAN MCGOWANHEARTBREAKER: The latest sample of Sean McGowan’s keenly awaited Curate Calm, Create Chaos EP, Heartbreaker finds the singer wearing his heart on his sleeve and lost deep in tender thought. Written about the complex and often paradoxical array of emotions we experience at the beginning of any new relationship, Heartbreaker explores those conflicting feelings of wild excitement and guarded anxiety that often precede letting-go to fall in love. Solely backed by a score of graceful acoustic arpeggios and hushed backing vocals, the track chooses to set the spotlight centre-stage on Sean’s winsome and candid lyrical offerings. The result is quietly endearing and very intimate. The subtletly of the accompanying instrumentals allowing the complex feelings at the heart of the lyrics to really shine through. McGowan explains further: “In more recent years I’ve found myself being more honest and open which has proven to be much better usually, but, has bitten me on the arse a bunch too. I wanted to write a song people could relate to about lust and romance that was focussed more on the psychological affects as opposed to the physical. Not just the ‘Heartbreak’ but the drop in self confidence, the worry of wasted time and how you recover… Heartbreaker is about how two people can keep their cards close to their chest and feel like they don’t want to give too much away or make themselves vulnerable. This period can be fun and exciting but it can also be confusing.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 27, 2019

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

Mike Posner, Nothing is Wrong

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MIKE POSNERNOTHING IS WRONG: Nothing is Wrong marks the third single from Mike Posner since his triumphant return to the Walk Across America. Despite being severely injured from a rattle-snake bite, there’s no sense that this has removed any of his songwriting positivity. Nothing Is Wrong is a reassuring record, dripping with thought-provoking sentiment about self-empowerment (“I am something much more beautiful… it took me 30 years to wake up and write this song, took me 30 years to realise nothing is wrong”). It’s a statement of intent and of self-belief that also carries plenty of things to say about the somewhat sceptical state of the world, and the debilitating effect that can have. As if to underline the reassuring nature of the track, the accompanying instrumentals are effortlessly laidback, placing Posner’s now distinct vocals centre-stage, but also dropping a lazy back-beat and some subtle guitar licks (of the mostly acoustic persuasion). It’s just a really feel-good, really friendly, really positive listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals, The Runner

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: FOALSINTO THE SURF: Foals continue to impress with new single Into The Surf, a mellower offering from their Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2. Where past tracks Black Bull and The Runne were all about being explosive, this showcases a more melancholy and reflective side to the band, which is every bit as striking. Indeed, the track offers up a dreamy, ethereal soundscape which allows Yannis Philippakis’ haunting but elegant lyrics to soar. “In Into The Surf, there’s this shadow of death, of someone not returning from a voyage,” he explained in an interview with DIY. “There’s a type of Greek folk song that’s always to do with the immigration of Greek people and how dying on foreign shores is always viewed as the worst fate – to die far away from your home and your family.” Given the mythological subtext and the tragedy underpinning it, the new track can also be viewed against the context of contemporary immigration issues and the danger of undertaking such dangerous journeys. It’s a song to provoke thought and debate, delivered in a dreamy, reflective state to offer up maximum impact. It’s the sound of Foals at their very best. Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 will be released on October 18.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Editors, Black Gold

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: EDITORSBLACK GOLD: Following the announcement of their best of album, Black Gold, and UK and European tour earlier this month, Editors have now unveiled the dramatic new video for title track Black Gold. Directed by long time collaborator Rahi Rezvani, the video sees frontman Tom Smith display instinctive acting ability alongside US actress Nicole Stark. Driving a red Ford Mustang through the desert, the couple stop at a desolate motel and gas station, as their volatile relationship falls apart at the seams. The destruction of their relationship is mirrored by the sparse desert imagery, in which Tom remonstrates alone with nature, and the desolate, dusty motel, where his lover waits alone. There’s even a visual nod to the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction for added dramatic effect. The track itself is classic Editors. It’s an epic, sweeping offering that showcases the stadium-sized ambition of the band’s current songwriting. There’s throbbing synths, stark beat arrangements (which become more and more pronounced throughout the song) and epic vocals as only frontman Smith knows how to deliver. The release of the new video comes in the wake of their last video for Frankenstein being nominated for Music Video of The Year at this year’s Shots Awards.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sam Johnson, Stuck Under The Surface

SAM JOHNSONSTUCK UNDER THE SURFACE: Stuck Under The Surface is the third single taken from Sam Johnson’s forthcoming debut Eastcote EP (out November 1, 2019), produced with multi-instrumentalist Elliot James. It follows on from singles Medicine For My Brain, which was Track of the Month (August 2019) on BBC Introducing Shropshire, and most recent single Trip On Gold, which was co-written with the renowned Irish songwriter Iain Archer. The anthemic track recalls the end of his six-year relationship with an Australian girlfriend, a love affair that had been sustained at long distance until the time that his heart began to let go. He records his inability to face up to the changes, “the scripted lines” and “vacant smiles” he gave, and now regrets. But while born from regret and sorrow, there’s an upbeat quality to the instrumentals which help the chorus to soar. Comparisons with the slow-build ballad style of classic Coldplay are not too far off the mark… it’s that good and easily accessible to the mainstream once the song hits its stride. Speaking about the new single, Johnson commented: “Stuck Under the Surface is a song born from the ashes of a long term relationship that didn’t quite work out. It came to fruition in the wake of a break up and felt like a very necessary form of catharsis. I knew it had to be honest if it were to be convincing, but naturally with that came a level of difficulty and unease that I’d rarely had to deal with when writing songs before. However, rather inevitably, it’s gone on to become one of my favourite songs on the EP. I’ve realised that its overarching message is one of openness. I found closure in being able to write this song, when previously feeling unable to articulate my feelings or ‘stuck under the surface’, and I hope others will be touched similarly when listening.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Diplo and Jonas Brothers, Lonely

DIPLO & JONAS BROTHERSLONELY: American DJ Diplo, aka Thomas Wesley Pentz Jr, is about to drop his new country album using his birth name. And what better way to do it than drop this duet, featuring American sweethearts The Jonas Brothers. The result doesn’t actually sound too country… more pop. But that will ensure the type of exposure that Diplo craves. The Jonas Brothers drop some ballad-style vocals over cute guitar licks, synth interludes and a country-pop meets electro-pop vibe. It means that while Diplo may be tipping his toe into a new musical direction with his forthcoming LP, he hasn’t strayed too far from his producing sound for this lead offering. The result is undeniably catchy, with plenty of sing-along elements and an anthemic kind of vibe. It also comes with an amusing video, which offers a spoof of the songwriter’s ‘rift’ with the Jonas Brothers after he erroneously live-streamed Joe Jonas’ secret Las Vegas wedding. The video features a ‘lonely’ Diplo in full country attire trying desperately to apologise for his actions and contact his friends again.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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NOTD & Daya, Wanted

NOTD & DAYAWANTED: Swedish duo NOTD have enlisted rising Los Angeles-based songstress Daya for their catchy new single, Wanted. “We have been fans of Daya for such a long time,” NOTD revealed, “so, it’s kind of crazy to be doing a song with her now. Wanted is such a cool vibe and a little darker than the typical NOTD record so we are really excited to see the reaction.” Daya added: “I wrote this song around two years ago with Delacey and Sam Martin to just piano, and NOTD took it from there and entirely transformed it. They took all the outdated parts of it and gave them new life. I’m really excited for it to be out in the world and to see how it resonates with people.” The pianos are most certainly gone, replaced by synths and disco-friendly beats. The result sounds a lot more upbeat and breezy, complete with honeyed vocal harmonies and those sultry Daya vocals. And yet, lyrically, there’s something of a bittersweet edge, with lines that state: “You messed me up just like you wanted.” It’s a sharp mix that offers up plenty to like – dark themes with a radio friendly edge.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Orchid

ORCHIDGOLD DUST: London based artist Orchid has shared her debut single, Gold Dust. A feisty electro-pop cut, examining the darker effects cocaine has had on relationships in the past, Orchid takes inspiration from the likes of M.I.A, Britney Spears and Kelis to create R’n‘B-tinged pop music with edge. With that in mind, Gold Dust delivers emphatic electro-pop with robust beats, breathy/sultry vocals and a throbbing synth backdrop, complete with a mid-track breakdown into sample territory. It’s a lively introduction to Orchid that suggests she has what it takes to compete with the artists she’s clearly been inspired by. With an Iranian heritage, it’s not only Persian music that runs through Orchid’s songs, but Turkish and Arabic pop – loved all over the Middle East where legal restrictions in making music have silenced many Iranian artists. The freedom to create music in London, by contrast, is also its own force in her music. Speaking a little more about the release, Orchid said: “I wrote the song from a place of dark comedy I guess, about my own experiences of being around the highs, lows and split personalities of addiction, and how easy it is to look past it in the name of love.” It’s potent stuff.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Prospa, Control The Party

PROSPACONTROL THE PARTY: London via Leeds electronic duo Prospa return with propulsive new single Control The Party, the first release to drop on their new imprint, Rave Science. The propulsive track opens with heavyweight percussion before heralding in warm, shimmering synths and a euphoric, chopped up vocal. It’s evocative of both classic Prodigy and The Shamen, opening amid a hard-hitting blend of dope beats and rave-leaning synths. The soulful vocals add an extra dimension and heighten those retro 90s values… while the occasional quiet moment takes the track into ambient territory. But in the main, this exists to evoke a bygone era of rave music… and it does so in expert fashion, taking you back to a different kind of dance era. At six minutes, it’s also epic in length, meaning that all of those classic rave credentials – stamina, being one – are needed to enjoy it. The single comes at the end of a packed summer for Prospa – Leeds natives Harvey Blumler and Gosha Smith – which saw them make their debut at iconic festivals including Glastonbury, Lovebox and Parklife, sharing the stage with the likes Jon Hopkins, Paranoid London, Jayda G and more. A run of releases including underground hit Intended, rave-ready smasher Get That, high-energy Back To The Motherland and French Touch-inspired floor filler Guitar Anthem have also ensured some good reviews and an ever growing fanbase. They’re very much a dance act on the rise.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jimmy Eat World

JIMMY EAT WORLDALL THE WAY (STAY): Jimmy Eat World have recently announced details of their 10th studio album Surviving (released on October 18 via The Orchard / RCA Records), as well as new single and video All The Way (Stay). A powerhouse offering of epic, anthemic proportions, the track extolls the virtues of letting people discover the real you while exposing your vulnerabilities. It combines a heady rush of guitars and an irresistible middle-eight, as well as Rachel Haden’s backing vocals. There’s even a saxophone solo lifted from the soundtrack of the-greatest-80’s-movie-John Hughes-never-made! It’s these classic American rock tropes, combined with that self-conscious ’80s referencing, that makes the track so endearing… and so cheesy. It is a real guilty pleasure! The accompanying LP, Surviving, is being hailed as the band’s most personal, ambitious LP to date. Frontman Jim Adkins explains: “Surviving explores some of the different kinds of weights my ego tells me I have to carry, what I see people around me choosing to carry and what I have found to be the truth when I choose to let go.” In addition to the new material, the acclaimed Arizona four-piece have also revealed the first dates of ‘Surviving, The Tour’, as well as a run of intimate UK shows for the week of album release (including two dates in Kingston-upon-Thames, at Banquet Records and Metropolis Studios on, respectively, October 19 and 20).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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FirewoodIsland, Hollow Coves

FIREWOODISLANDHOLLOW COVES: Bristol-based Norwegian/ Welsh duo, Firewoodisland, have shared their new single Hollow Coves, which is taken from their forthcoming new album. The track sees Stian and Abi experiment with soaring falsetto vocals on a fresh, uplifting track. The elegant gossamer vocals set against pacey instrumentals create an interesting contrast, while a driving kick drum, intertwining cello and trumpet lines, wide synths and guitar serve to deliver a vivid, intricately layered backdrop that heightens the song’s overall enjoyment. Hollow Coves is an anthem that fuses delicacy and energy harmoniously, creating something vaguely ethereal but completely intoxicating. It comes as no surprise to hear that FireWoodIsland count the likes of Bon Iver, Of Monsters and Men and Oh Wonder among their inspirations. But while evidence of those bands can be found in the composition of Hollow Caves, they’ve also carved out their own distinct, and similarly beautiful, sound.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 20, 2019

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

Maroon 5, Memories

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MAROON 5 – MEMORIES: Maroon 5 come over all nostalgic for endearing new single Memories. A tribute to a friend who is no longer with them, this raises its glass to the good times, while acknowledging some of the hardships that emerged along the way. It’s a low-key offering, with Adam Levine’s vocals taking centre stage against a barely there guitar riff. But it’s this simplicity and sharp melodicism that makes the song all the more memorable, and thereby heartbreaking. The heartfelt lyrics include such reflections as “here’s to the ones that we got, Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not, ‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories of everything we’ve been through, Toast to ones here today, Toast to the ones here today, Toast to the ones that we lost on the way” as well as “everybody hurts sometimes, everybody hurts some days”. The most impressive thing about the track as a whole is the way it resonates emotionally, while emerging as quietly anthemic in its own right. It’ll be a classic cigarette lighter/mobile phone in the air moment during the band’s live shows.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kleerup & AlunaGeorge

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: KLEERUP feat ALUNAGEORGELOVERS TABLE: Swedish producer Andreas Kleerup has enlisted London-based duo AlunaGeorge for new single Lovers Table, and the results are great. A moody, atmospheric slice of synth-pop, this also boasts a late-night vibe that drops more than a hint of danger (illicit romance, maybe?). There’s also a sense of longing in the lustful vocals, which find AlunaGeorge dropping lyrics such as “it had to be you” and “now I am found”. And yet, somewhat paradoxically, the central theme of the record is not so much about finding the right partner, but rather the search within oneself to get there. The moody yet sleek instrumentals provide a cinematic backdrop to those thoughtful, searching lyrics, which are expertly delivered by Aluna Francis in effortlessly sleek and intoxicating fashion. If you’re a fan of the likes of Robyn and Lykke Li, then this will tick all of your boxes. In an interview with Billboard, Francis had this to say about the track: “At the time I was really interested in the idea of a career woman giving up on love because she just felt she wasn’t invited to the table. The cliché of the lonely female boss that is familiar, yet comfortable, because you don’t have to risk your heart – in many ways it was a personal experience. Until someone comes along to challenge that paradigm and you realize you have to jump in even though you feel like you can’t.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Common Holly

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: COMMON HOLLYMEASURED: Having just finished up a hugely successful tour of North America with Pinegrove and ahead of her brilliant new album, When I say to you Black Lightning, Common Holly shares new track Measured and continues to beguile and impress. “Oh, I think we’ve been measured out for pain since birth,” she sings of her new-found cynicism of romantic relationships, declaring from the outset that this is a song that’s informed by hurt. Still not convinced, then consider this for an opening salvo: “You unbuttoned your shirt, And I looked at your heart, Then you showed me your lungs, Yeah you pulled them apart, And I echoed it back, And for what it’s worth…” To make things more effective (and affecting), the track is delivered in instrumentally sparse fashion, with subtle guitar licks and flute-like sounds to accompany those confrontational, but softly delivered, vocals. It’s a quietly mesmerising track that devastates while it lasts, before drifting into its own kind of silent oblivion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Overcoats

OVERCOATSLEAVE IF YOU WANNA: After kicking off a fresh and fiery chapter with shaved heads and a salty single entitled The Fool, critically-acclaimed Brooklyn duo Overcoats have now shared two new songs, entitled Leave If You Wanna and Keep The Faith. These three anthems feed an urgent theme of fighting for self, spirit and soul at all costs, whether it be in a relationship, in the world, or in life. Over glassy synths and a Denniz Pop beat, the harmonies of Leave If You Wanna slide into a listless and lovelorn chant before a soaring, glitchy instrumental break. The synths sometimes have an MGMT vibe, especially late on, while there’s a real sense of melancholy in the chorus, which finds Overcoats declaring: “Why don’t you leave if you wanna?” The pain is there for all to hear, along with a steely resolve that this could well be the best outcome. But there’s even more grit to the song that even that sentence suggests, as Hana adds: “Leave If You Wanna is the dark side of this declaration — a ‘Fuck You’ — the words you say mid-fight. You can get trigger happy, and you can get more interested in fighting than what you’re fighting for.” It’s honest, raw and provocative stuff, delivered with a bittersweet pop sheen that makes it effortlessly appealing to more mainstream sensibilities.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Overcoats

OVERCOATSKEEP THE FAITH: The second of Overcoats two new offerings, Keep The Faith, is – in their own words – more of a reality lesson… an accepting of the way things are. JJ notes: “Keep The Faith acts as the realization: laying down your weapons is how you truly fight for what’s right.” The ensuing track finds the singers churning out guitar squeals between an urge to make-up, amid lyrics that state: “Keep the faith, keep my heart, I am yours… you are all I have.” It’s a more hopeful sounding record that builds beautifully to a rock-out finale, where the guitars, drums and harmonic vocals combine to scintillating fashion, before the final declaration: “I’m your girl, I would go to the end of the Earth.” It’s an empowering listen, shot through with indie sensibilities but razor-sharp melodies. And it serves as a really great contrast and follow-on to Leave If You Wanna. The trio of songs comprises the duo’s debut project for Loma Vista Recordings. As a whole, they represent a spectrum of sonic outbursts surrounding love and figuring out what’s worth fighting for. Of the new project, Hana and JJ said: “We often use songwriting as a way to wrestle with our doubts about love, but this is the opposite. It’s a way to be proud and take a stand in the face of doubt. It’s about not giving up.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Annika Rose

ANNIKA ROSE – I’M BETTER: LA-based singer and songwriter Annika Rose has shared her new single I’m Better, a quietly captivating piano ballad that details Annika’s journey over the past few years as both an artist and a young woman. Annika shares: “It’s important for me to share these ups and downs that have occurred in my life, as I think that they are applicable to moments everyone has gone through in whatever form that may be. Even after these moments, we’re all still here, still moving, still growing and always still learning. We wouldn’t appreciate the highs if we didn’t experience the lows. We should be proud to have made it to the other side, even if it’s just for a moment.” The resulting song is emotionally raw, and completely honest, as Rose dissects the decisions and journey that have gotten her to this point. It’s hard not to be impressed, or to find a way of applying some of the sentiments to your own journey (“I think I finally know the difference, between hiding between living, between pain and reminiscing, I learned to have forgiveness, when I lost all of my best friends, to some sick impure intentions, I still wished them all the best, I guess that everyone’s a lesson”). In tandem with today’s song release, Annika has also shared the official video for the single. Embodying the song’s emotional rawness, the video, directed by Zhamak Fullad, finds Annika on a rooftop in Los Angeles with just a piano. Interspersed with personal photos and footage from her life over the past few years, the video is an intimate and vulnerable visual that embodies the song’s emotional rawness.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Soccer Mommy

SOCCER MOMMYLUCY: Nashville native Sophie Allison released her breakout debut album, Clean as Soccer Mommy, last year, earning mass critical acclaim and year-end nods from 100+ publications, including The New York Times No.1 Album of 2018. Her first new song since 2018 is the equaly addictive Lucy, a kind of slacker rock offering that soundchecks everyone from classic Smashing Pumpkins to Hole. The vocals are really laidback, neatly offsetting the darker themes behind the record, while the guitars have that classic American slacker vibe (managing to combine something retro with something equally contemporary). In Allison’s own words: “Lucy is a really fun song for me because it has a dark, evil vibe. It’s a song about struggling with inner demons and your own morality, but I masked it with this scenario of being seduced by the devil. I’m really excited to share this with everyone because I think it shows a different side of my writing.” We told you it was dark! But it also somehow resonates for anyone attempting to wrestle with their own demons!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Friday Night Plans

FRIDAY NIGHT PLANSALL THE DOTS: Rising Tokyo-based unit Friday Night Plans have unveiled their striking new single, All The Dots, which is also accompanied with the announcement of their new EP project Complex – set for global release on November 15, 2019. Centred on 23-year-old female vocalist Masumi, Friday Night Plans work with a variety of talent to craft the music, but chiefly, the multi-talented producer/drummer Tepppei. Masumi states that she wrote All The Dots after realising how much she had been hurt and tied up with fear. She explained: “The whole picture showed up [in my mind] and I saw what was happening to me when I connected all the memories like a constellation. There is a lyric that says, “thought that I was mine” on the song. I think everyone might have experiences where bad memories control your mind and you feel like you can’t move the way you want your body to. I hope you remember that you are the only one who can save you.” The ensuing track thrives on the beauty of Masumi’s fragile vocals, as well as the intricacy of the minimalist electronics and beats that provide the subtle backdrop. The result is a track that’s born from mental uncertainty, that offers quiet solace and slow empowerment. It also drops in a beautifully surreal mid-track whistle, which even helps to add a wry smile to the listener’s face.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Callum Beattie, Easter Road

CALLUM BEATTIEEASTER ROAD: Scottish singer-songwriter Callum Beattie has released the heart-warming official video for Easter Road, his latest single, and it’s a highly cinematic offering. The video in question reflects his [and the song]‘s love for his hometown and those who live within it. The singer’s distinctive, raw vocal shines on the nostalgic track, while soaring strings combine with melodic piano arrangements and the odd guitar to create something that, sonically, is just as cinematic (and soundtrack beckoning). The string sections are particularly enticing and inspiring. Beattie’s love for his hometown and pride for his Scottish roots emanates throughout, with the singer stating: “Easter Road is a song inspired by my upbringing in Scotland. The culture, the people, the characters and stories I’ve grown to know over the years. I used to play in a pub in Easter Road as a pub singer and there was a lot of violence and occasional knife crime. I wanted to paint that into the story of the song and despite those dark moments, it’s places like Easter Road that make up the people we are today.”
Rating:3.5 out of 5

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Liam Payne, Stack It Up

LIAM PAYNE feat A BOOGIE WIT DA HOODIESTACK IT UP: Liam Payne channels the chart-topping style of Ed Sheeran on hip, funky new single Stack It Up. But hey, wait a minute… the song was actually co-written by Sheeran with Steve Mac, Fred Gibson and Boogie. So, no surprise, then, that it has those Sheeran credentials. And while that may appear ‘lazy’ to some, there’s no denying that it’s a formula that’s highly successful and even more contagious. Recorded in the UK, Stack It Up manages to maintain Liam’s signature urban pop sound, while featuring steel drum elements and playful lyrics, along with some smart rap-style vocals from Boogie. It’s a highly catchy offering, which takes a bittersweet look at the reality of life and the essential need for money (he has money on his mind). Commenting on the track himself, Liam said: “I’m so happy to be releasing my new single and for you all to finally hear it. Me and Boogie had so much fun doing it. This is a song I’m really proud of and I can’t wait to show you what’s coming next!” The accompanying video, which was shot in New York, stars both Liam and Boogie in an amusement arcade. The colourful visual, which was revealed at an intimate fan event at YouTube’s New York studio, also includes a fun animated version of Liam and Boogie as part of the graphics on one of the arcade machine games. It ticks all the boxes to become a monster smash for Payne.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 13, 2019

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

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, This Is The Place

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOELL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – A DREAM IS ALL YOU NEED TO GET BY: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have released another sublime new track, A Dream Is All I Need To Get By, which is available digitally now. In Noel’s own words: “To my ears, it sounds like one of those iconic B-sides by The Smiths, only obviously not as good. A song that was born very quickly, which is always a good sign… like it’s always existed… somewhere… Manchester probably.” As if to underline the diversity of The High Flying Birds’ new music, this once more sounds like a departure from anything close to an established sound (if they now have one). Lyrically, the sentiment behind it is quite wistful, with the central motif of “a dream is all I need to get by” worth getting behind (and something anyone can relate to). But there’s mention of talking in sleep, as well as laidback ‘ba da ba da’ harmonies, slinky guitars and electronics and a breezy disposition that is perfectly in keeping with the dream-laden nature of the words. It’s a beautiful song, tailor-made for laying back and enjoying. The track follows the release of similarly excellent new single, This Is The Place – available now – which is taken from the forthcoming EP of the same name.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Heavy, Put It On The Line

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE HEAVYPUT IT ON THE LINE (THEME FROM BORDERLANDS 3): It’s always good to have new material from The Heavy. The song is a track they were asked to write for Borderlands 3 and carries many of the classic Heavy traits: think How Do You Like Me Now? or That Kind of Man (which were heavily used for movie advertising campaigns once released). This adopts a classic blues rock/alternative vibe, dropping in slick beats, crunching blues-rock guitars and those distinct vocals. But there’s also some dreamy whistling to usher the track in, those deloiciously soul-filled falsetto vocals, as well as a gritty rock vibe throughout the chorus. It’s unmistakeably the work of The Heavy but it’s also different enough to suggest they’re continuing to expand their sound. Put It On The Line has all the potential to become another anthem for them, concluding with a gloriously heavy climax (complete with reverb and drums), before then ending on one throbbing guitar note. It’s an emphatic return from a band that has always known how to make an entrance.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Weezer, Van Weezer

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: WEEZERTHE END OF THE GAME: Multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning Weezer’s new single The End of the Game, produced by Suzy Shinn, will be included on their forthcoming 14th studio album, entitled Van Weezer, due out in May 2020. The track was dropped on the same day the band announced an extensive European tour with Green Day and Fall Out Boy. And in keeping with the style of those two bands, this showcases a heavier sound for Weezer, which paves the way for what to expect from the new LP, which derives its inspiration from the deepest roots of Weezer – metal! In his earliest years, Rivers was a huge KISS fan; Brian was a big Black Sabbath fan; Pat worshipped at the altar of Van Halen and Rush, and Scott loved Slayer and Metallica. And in those early riffs on the intro to this track, there’s a definite sense of KISS. But fear not, Weezer haven’t turned their backs on their own signature sound. The alt-rock, slacker vibe is inherent in the tight hooks, the epic chorus and those equally reassuring vocals. It’s still very much a Weezer track, complete with ‘woo hoo’ harmonies, terrific guitar work, tongue in cheek lyricism and a vibe that’s tailor made for enjoying. The Cherry Glazerr featuring video is equally worth checking out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Green Day, Father of All

GREEN DAYFATHER OF ALL…: Five-time Grammy Award-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Green Day have unleashed their fiery new single Father Of All…, the lead track on their forthcoming 13th studio album of the same name, which will be released on February 7, 2020, via Reprise / Warner Records. A manic fusion of soul, Motown, glam and punk, the track rattles off the blocks with blistering guitar hooks, livewire drum beats and an incendiary set of vocals that flit between gritty punk and crazy, Motown-inspired falsetto. It’s an adrenaline shot that, in Billy’s own words, are “dirty messy”. “The lyrics are like a party and lifestyle of not giving a fuck,” he continues. “The life AND death of the party. Not political. Surviving in chaos. The real shit. Me, Mike and Tre of the Green Day cut through the bullshit. That’s how it’s always been for us. Everything else is fake. Frauds I tell ya!! Rock has lost its balls. We’re gonna teabag all these mother fuckers. The baddest rock band on the planet that gives a shit.” And so there it is, Green Day are back and unapologetically brash. They have something to say and are not afraid to say it. With blistering songs such as this, it’ll be impossible to ignore them either. But then again, you won’t want to!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fall Out Boy, Dear Future Self

FALL OUT BOY feat WYCLEF JEANDEAR FUTURE SELF (HANDS UP): Fall Out Boy’s new single Dear Future Self (Hands Up) (featuring Wyclef Jean) will be featured on their forthcoming record, Greatest Hits: Believers Never Die – Volume Two, out November 15, 2019, via Island Records. And rather like the new material from Green Day and Weezer (who Fall Out Boy will be touring with next year), this is fast, frenetic, lively stuff. There’s a buzzy guitar riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction soundtrack, scattershot drum beats that heighten the manic energy and boisterous vocals that declare: “Hands up ready for the boom! Never mind the rocket launcher talking ‘bout a tune.” Wyclef Jean brings his trademark rap style to proceedings throughout the song, occasionally dropping his flow in tandem with Fall Out Boy themselves. But the fusion of styles works surprisingly well, adding to the energy of the track as a whole. It’s a fizzing, euphoric affair that hits you like a sugar-rush. No wonder, then, that the video features lots of sweets and ice-cream! The song marks the band’s first new music since the August 2018 release of the three-song Lake Effect Kid EP.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Leif Vollebekk

LEIF VOLLEBEKKTRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT: Leif Vollebekk has unveiled the second single from his forthcoming album New Ways (out November 1, 2019, via Secret City Records) with a music video for one of the stand out tracks, Transatlantic Flight. The track itself deliberately takes its time to wrap itself around you, slow building with thoughtful lyrics (the astral plain is mentioned), slow-burning pianos and broody beats, and a husky set of vocals that really underline the atmospheric, beguiling nature of the song as a whole. Leif found inspiration in a host of places – the dark sizzle of Leonard Cohen, the visual mastery of Richard Linklater (he drops a couple references in the opening verse of the song), thereby setting to the song up to build towards a soaring euphoria, a wall of rich sounds and trembling strings as Leif pleads: “So, why don’t you come on over, start talking to me, one thing I can tell you, you look good when you’re tired, on a Transatlantic flight”. As such, it’s very much a song that rewards the patient listener, clocking in at just over seven minutes. But it’s also a song that grows with each listen, and there’s something cinematic about it, come that finale. Speaking about Transatlantic Flight, Leif himself shares: “I worked a bit on the record in Marin County and while I was there the cliffs by the ocean overlooked the bluest of blues. The same blue – no an even richer blue – than I see when I hear Transatlantic Flight. I told Kaveh (the video’s director) that I wanted to sing the song there and get it on film. The video is just one long take with the exception of one cut. I asked to have it like because I always liked how in [Richard Linklater’s] Before Sunrise the takes are so long that your eyes have a chance to wander around and start seeing subtle things. You get lost in the moment. He lets time itself become a character in his films. In the last sequence, while we were by the water, when I opened my eyes, I suddenly saw a pack of dogs with these neon collars, like the kind you’d see at a rave or dance party. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen – to see these neon-collared dogs with this epic sea as a backdrop, in the distance running towards me. Their owner, she was calling to them to come back but they were headed straight for me. I laughed so hard. She was so kind and yelled to me, ‘I’m so sorry I hope they didn’t ruin your video!’ We just left the whole thing in.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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65daysofstatic

65DAYS OF STATICFIVE WAVES: On September 27, Sheffield-based experimental stalwarts 65daysofstatic release their anticipated, expansive new album replicr, 2019 via Superball Music. This immersive album highlights a continuation from previous releases and a constant evolution which has been evident since their formation. As a taster, the band have dropped the beguiling, cinematic Five Waves, prompting them to state: “When you really get down to it, everything is made from sine waves, right? We leaned into that idea for this song. Called Five Waves, it is a tidal push and pull of clean, fundamental frequencies and sculpted white noise beats. One of the earliest tracks from replicr, 2019, it started life as a ramshackle piece of generative software that stacked sine waves on top of each other in interesting combinations and then battered them against rhythms in 5/8 built from glitches and white noise, like waves at high tide hitting the rocks of a stormy shore. Or maybe it was the rhythms battering the sine waves. One of these things is the ocean, the other is the rocks. It’s hard to know which is supposed to be which. Maybe both are both.” As cryptic and uncertain as that sounds, the track itself comes together in impressive fashion. Early on, there’s nothing much going on, save for a mellow electronic sound. But something more ominous begins to manifest itself around the 45-second mark, before the beats drop in around the minute and 20-second mark. From then on, the track builds beautifully, entering Bonobo-esque territory around the two-minute mark and then soaring away into its own, highly layered, ultra cinematic territory. Hence, it’s a track that rewards the patient listener. But once it explodes into life, it’s truly something to savour.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Halsey, Graveyard

HALSEYGRAVEYARD: Given Halsey’s propensity for tapping into dark themes, a track like Graveyards should be full of atmospheric beats, breathy vocals and a heavy sense of brooding. But as subversive as ever, Halsey has delivered something far more lively. Graveyard instead employs slick hand-clap style beats, minimalist but snappy back-beats and husky, lively vocals to highly appealing effect. The track sets its stall out early with a lush acoustic guitar opening, before Halsey’s delicious vocals ease you into the song. The beats don’t actually kick in until the 30-second mark, and even then are understated… again, allowing Halsey’s sublime vocals to take centre-stage. It merely serves to highlight the bittersweet nature of the lyrics, which reflect on an escape from a difficult relationship (“I would have followed all the way to the graveyard… I keep digging myself down deeper, I won’t stop until I get where you are”). As ever with Halsey, there are pop smarts to compliment the darker side of things. It’s a great new single.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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She Drew The Gun

SHE DREW THE GUNTROUBLE EVERY DAY: Fresh from a series of triumphant festival appearances this summer, including performances at Glastonbury, Latitude, Bluedot and Deer Shed, She Drew The Gun have now released the politically charged video for new single Trouble Every Day. The track is a reinterpretation of Frank Zappa’s original, with She Drew The Gun frontwoman Louisa Roach re-writing the lyrics to reflect our troubled times. As she explains: “There’s a classic picture of Zappa in an apartment holding a cat and the TV is hooked up to the toilet upstairs, we thought we’d pay homage to the big man and take inspiration for the video from that. The video is all about the TV News filter, about how it defends the interests of capital rather than people. The song is over 50-years-old, so it’s amazing how much of the social commentary on it still works but I updated some the lyrics to look at the things I’ve seen happening from the TV, from English riots to Extinction Rebellion. It looks at the fruits of neo-liberalism, like the rise of the far right and environmental catastrophe, and at the role the media plays as propaganda machine in service of corporate power.” The video is full of news snaps of the events the band is singing about, while the updated lyrics reflect just how screwed up the current state of the world is, offering up the trouble every day of the song’s title. It’s only right, then, that the song also has a high energy tempo, reflective of the never-ending news cycle, and the urgency that’s needed for change. Zappa would probably be proud of this re-interpretation.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Honeyvale

HONEYVALEMERCURIAL: Hailing from sunny East Kilbride (where there are more roundabouts than human beings), Honeyvale release their new single Mercurial, taken from their forthcoming debut EP, Polo Mint City (a local nickname for East Kilbride), which is due in early 2020. A tale of love, dancefloors and stolen lighters, told in the dappled light of an early Sunday morning, when optimism prevails and the hangover hasn’t yet kicked in, this has a cheeky lyricism about it that’s neatly offset by the more spiky intensity of their guitar work. The overall result sounds like a sharp mix of Stereophonics and The View, with a post-punk element thrown in for good measure. The guitars are particularly pronounced and deservedly get a rollicking good solo of their own, which only endears the track more. But Connor McGlave’s gutsy vocals are also a selling point and suggest that there’s even better to come. As things stand, Mercurial is a strong introduction to this lively new band. There’s nothing contrived or try-hard about Honeyvale. There’s is the sound of four lifelong friends growing up together and making a racket, honing their song writing into something that swaggers between the slick, accomplished pop of bands like the Walkmen, the youthful social commentary of Sam Fender or the unabashed melodicism of the aforementioned Stereophonics and latter-era Kings of Leon.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kitt Philippa

KITT PHILIPPAFAHRENHEIT: With all three of the first singles from Kitt Philippa’s upcoming debut album Human being nominated for Best Song by the Northern Irish Music Prize, the expectation is high for the next and final single to be released ahead of the album’s release. Fahrenheit is able to realise that expectation in grand fashion. An atmospheric offering, this finds Philippa’s soaring, expressive vocals offset against minimalist electronics and delicate drum beats. It’s an intoxicating listen that combines serenity with intensity, thereby creating something highly cinematic. Speaking about the track herself, Philippa said: “There’s a heaviness in the lyrics, and an intensity to their delivery. The cross-section of the track probably reveals difficulty interacting with self and others, at times. Looking at thermometers to understand how something feels is relatively simple; I interchanged the language to maybe try to view things in an easier way. It is a busy track with a lot of layers and intersections. I very much see all the individual parts like components of a greater structure – they have their own characters – but how they work together interested me.” A video is due to follow in late September.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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