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

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

Lord Huron

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

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Diplo, Look Back

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

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Chainsmokers, You Owe Me

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

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Niall Horan, On The Loose

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

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Royal Blood

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

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Muse, Thought Contagion

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

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Skinny Lister

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

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Rosborough

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

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Marshmello & Anne-Marie, Friends

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

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Georgie

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

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

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

Meadowlark, Pink Heart

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

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We Are Scientists, One In One Out

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

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The Wombats

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

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Lucy Rose

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

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El Perro Del Mar

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

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Marshmello & Anne-Marie, Friends

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

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Ten Tonnes, Lay It On Me

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

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Fontaines DC, Chequeless Reckless

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

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Amaroun

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

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Teen Creeps

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

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

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

Lord Huron

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LORD HURONANCIENT NAMES PART I: LA’s Lord Huron invite you to stare into the abyss this spring with the release of their third full-length album, Vide Noir, out April 20. The first work for their new partnership with Whispering Pines / Polydor Records, Vide Noir follows 2015’s critically lauded Strange Trails. In a preview of the new album, the songs Ancient Names (Part I) and Ancient Names (Part II) have been released as tasters – and they’re brilliant. Part I is particularly striking. After a deceptively slow start, the track bursts into life with a driving guitar riff and some foot-stomping drums, before injecting the same sense of urgency into the lyrics (“I’ve got to get away from her”). As ever with a Lord Huron production, there’s a touch of the cinematic, too, making the track ripe for some soundtrack pick-up. But there’s also a retro leaning in some of the guitar riffs, as well as elements of the ethereal in the vocal delivery. It’s a heady, exciting, lively record that leaves you breathless for more. And yet, the final couple of minutes also toy with you too. As, around the four minute mark, Part I drops the guitars, drums and vocals and has a little ambient chillout of its own, drifting into Part II in almost hypnotic, surreal fashion….
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lord Huron

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LORD HURONANCIENT NAMES PART II: And no sooner has Part I ended in that dreamlike state, then Part II explodes into life in an almost unrivalled punk-rock intensity. The band really unleash their full power on this one, with edgy vocals, livewire guitars and more scattershot drums. There’s even an electronic breakdown that almost turns frenzied, before seguing into some cool guitar licks that ease the track into a more coherent climax. Ancient Names Parts I and II really do showcase Lord Huron at their most ambitious, embracing all of the classic elements that have helped them get to where they stand now, while hinting at an even greater sense of adventure moving forward. If the remainder of the new album is as good as this, then we’re once more in for something special. Vide Noir was written and recorded over the past two years at Lord Huron’s Los Angeles studio and informal clubhouse, Whispering Pines. The album was mixed by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips/MGMT) and engineered by Sonny DiPerri (Portugal. The Man, Animal Collective).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Barr Brothers

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: THE BARR BROTHERSYOU WOULD HAVE TO LOSE YOUR MIND: As The Barr Brothers prepare to play some sold out UK shows, they now release the video to one of their great singles of last year, You Would Have To Lose Your Mind. The video is set in a small house on the remote coast of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Quebec, as a dancer goes wild – exploring every inch of the space, up, down, around, through rooms and on top of furniture, using uninhibited, improvised movement to reach a devastating emotional climax. Contemporary dancer Brittney Canda is the perfect complement to the Barr Brothers’ soaring sound and yearning lyrics. Filmed partially on a Super 8 by frequent Barrs collaborator Vincent René Lortie, the video captures a woman trying to convey what words and even music cannot say. This is You Would Have to Lose Your Mind, the evocative second video from the Barr Brothers’ latest release album Queens of the Breakers. As a record itself, the track displays a similar capacity to hypnotise. Built around a striking guitar riff, this hooks you from the opening strum and then proceeds to offer up an ethereal journey into the sublime (with traces of Lord Huron and Rogue Wave thrown in). The vocals are softly delivered, the lyrics thought-provoking and suitably intimate, while the subsequent accompanying beats nicely delivered to add an extra element of atmosphere. It’s a beautifully beguiling concoction. The remainder of the album explores the raw, elemental power of reflection, forgiveness, loss, and growing up while also exploring the outer limits of folk, blues, rock and Americana.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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They Might Be Giants

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: THEY MIGHT BE GIANTSTHE GREATEST: US alt-rockers They Might Be Giants released their 20th studio album, I Like Fun, in January to huge acclaim from the likes of BBC 6 Music, MOJO, NME, Rolling Stone, SPIN and many more. Over on the other side of the pond, I Like Fun debuted at No.3 in the Independent Albums, No.8 in Alternative Albums, No.14 in Tastemakers and No.22 Top Album Sales. The band have also now dropped the official video for The Greatest from the album, which features Parks & Recreation luminary Nick Offerman. The song eschews many of the more trademark They Might Be Giant values, with a horn-like central instrumental that does very little, while remaining surprisingly effective. A somewhat melancholy vocal then decries “they call me the greatest, cos I’m not very good and they’re being sarcastic”. It’s a bittersweet record in many ways – darker than a lot of the band’s material, but all the more notable for it. And the video is really striking, with Offerman providing a compelling focal point.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Men

THE MENROSE ON TOP OF THE WORLD: The Men have dropped Rose On Top Of The World as the second single from their upcoming album, which is due March 2 via Sacred Bones Records. The Brooklyn-based band also celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. Vocalist and guitarist Nick Chiericozzi said the following about the new single: “Rose On Top Of The World came out of a Spanish guitar lick, a radar weather map, a poem and maybe a few other things. It has a good title; one that creates a definite mental image but could really be about anything.” The record itself thrives off that Spanish guitar lick, which infuses the track with a breeziness that’s not necessarily present in the slightly more gruff vocals. If anything, the guitar work reminded me of early Cure, while the mid-track solo has a meatier, almost REM-like quality about it. Vocally, there’s more of a moody approach, with Chiericozzi occasionally channelling the style of Dylan. Nevertheless, Rose On Top Of The World is a really good record. Drift marks the seventh full-length LP by NYC rock polymaths The Men. The band’s last album, the self-released Devil Music, was the sound of a band who had been through hell hitting reset and looking to their roots to rediscover themselves. On Drift, The Men return to their longtime label Sacred Bones Records and explore the openness that Devil Music helped them find.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Fickle Friends, Swim

FICKLE FRIENDSSWIM: As the release of their hotly anticipated debut album approaches, Fickle Friends have announced that their new single will be a new version of Swim – the first track that they ever released as a band. To celebrate the release of the new version of Swim, a three track EP will also be released featuring a very special acoustic version and remix from Great Good Fine OK. Since they first dropped Swim in demo format – unmanaged and without a team, back in 2014 – much has changed for the Brighton five-piece, fronted by Natti Shiner. In March they will release their debut album You Are Someone Else on Polydor Records – the label that signed them off the back of the three years of solid touring, hard graft and unexpected success that came with Swim originally (it’s since had over14 million streams on Spotify). The new version retains the vibrancy and electro-pop energy of the original, while quite possibly emerging as something even more effervescent. It’s a romp of a record. The Great Food Fine remix adds a little edge, infusing the song with stop-start beats and on-off electronic flourishes. It’s a really good remix. In contrast, the acoustic version of Swim showcases a much more tender side to the record, with some disarming vocals adding a sense of vulnerability that’s heightened by the piano backing. It’s a beautiful transformation of an already great song.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tarantina

TARANTINA – I AM A LONER: Having previously released the single Fables and 1/9 late last year, self-taught singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and videographer Tarantina returns with the release of the video for her latest single, I Am A Loner. Speaking about the video, which was a collaboration between herself and director Samuel Thomas, Tarantina explains: “I Am A Loner is about a girl who watches her ex-boyfriend through his window, scales the walls of his building and inhales from his chimney like a cigarette. I wanted the video to demonstrate how love can push someone to the edge of madness.” The video is, indeed, a striking piece of work, cinematic in its depiction of that descent into madness. The song itself has a similarly cinematic quality, as well as something that’s exotic and dangerous. Tarantina’s sultry vocals purr over proceedings, only really hinting at the madness inherent in the lyrics. The beats, meanwhile, are nicely layered, while the inclusion of a brass-style electronic harmony adds a sense of urgency. But it’s all about the slow-build and the backing vocal harmonies have that ethereal, dream-like element that adds to the hypnotic effect of the record. I Am A Loner is taken from Tarantina’s forthcoming Teething EP, which will be released in Spring 2018. It should be very good.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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LOVA, You, Me & The Silence

LOVAYOU ME AND THE SILENCE: LOVA wants her music to make a difference, and start a conversation. Hence, new single You, Me and The Silenc embodies this vision, and wraps it in an impossibly catchy tune. A good role model isn’t someone who always says the right things, never makes mistakes or lives the ‘perfect life’ on Instagram. A role model for LOVA is someone who dares to acknowledge her personality, someone who is willing to be herself and doesn’t adapt to the norm and society’s liking. She explains further: “You Me and The Silence is about how we, in today’s society, constantly need to perform and entertain each other in social gatherings. No matter if it’s a close friend or someone you just met, we are immediately supposed to deliver humour, intellect and interesting conversations. All to avoid the uncomfortable and scary silence that appears when we don’t know what to say. I don’t want to have conversations that are filtered and untrue, it doesn’t give me anything. I want to be in a room with you and everything we have is the silence and that will be enough. That’s more than enough.” Noble [and correct] message aside, You, Me And The Silence is also striking for the way in which it takes a worthwhile message and still manages to wrap it up in something that sounds fresh, exciting and fun. The beats are lively, the vocals beautiful and the melodies and harmonies ear-pleasing and tailor-made for playing loud across the radio. The central beats and electronics could even be something that David Holmes would be proud of. It’s a striking statement from LOVA that marks her out as an artist to watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nina Nesbitt

NINA NESBITTSOMEBODY SPECIAL: Nina Nesbitt’s recent tracks The Best You Had and The Moments I’m Missing demonstrated a huge leap forward from her Top 15 debut album Peroxide. It displayed a command of modernist pop and R&B-tinged sounds which she blends with her own confessional songwriting. As a result, they’ve both been embraced by fans including Hollywood royalty in the shape of Chloë Grace Moretz and Taylor Swift, who included The Best You Had on her ‘favourite tracks’ Spotify and Apple playlists. Now, Nesbitt looks set to further her burgeoning reputation with the release of Somebody Special, which again shows a deft command of R&B-soaked modernist pop. The beats are sharp and moody, the synths are slick and sleek, and the confessional lyrics are delivered in a vocal style that’s equal parts innocent and sultry. The song itself is a love song with a twist – it’s about a relationship which inspires someone to rediscover their own self-worth and potential. “I think everyone wants to feel good about themselves”, Nina explains “but when you’re with somebody that is emotionally abusive it can really wear you down, so I wanted to show that moment where she realises that she deserves more and finally takes control of the situation.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Will Varley, Let It Slide

WILL VARLEYLET IT SLIDE: Will Varley has released a new track, Let It Slide, which arrives just ahead of his forthcoming fifth studio album Spirit Of Minnie, released February 9, 2018 through Xtra Mile Recordings. A folk-rock record dripping in Varley’s trademark husky vocals, this is also a song dripping in atmospheric moodiness. Varley implores the listener to “let it roll, let it roll, let it slide out of our control”, somehow marrying a despondency with something more determined. The guitar, meanwhile, is mostly folksy and slightly bluesy. But a mandolin occasionally weaves its way in and out of the track to add something a little bit extra whenever it’s around. Following 2016’s much praised Kingsdown Sundown and a sold out show at London’s Union Chapel, Spirit Of Minnie marks a distinct change of direction for the singer-songwriter, recording for the first time with a full band set up. Produced by Cameron McVey (Massive Attack, Portishead, Neneh Cherry), the new album expands on the pared back musical palette of Varley’s previous sound, all the while retaining his gift for painterly, affirming and immediate lyric writing.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 26, 2018

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

Thirty Seconds to Mars, Dangerous Night

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THIRTY SECONDS TO MARSDANGEROUS NIGHT: As they gear up for the release of their highly-anticipated fifth studio album, multi-platinum selling band Thirty Seconds To Mars release the record’s second single, Dangerous Night. The track was Zane Lowe’s World Record on Beats 1 – and it’s easy to see why. Less bombastic than former record Walk on Water, this nevertheless has a smouldering intensity that’s born out of lyrics that claim “I am a man on fire, you violent desire”. And yet for all of that inherent danger, the chorus is anthemic in a more pop-rock kind of way – catchy as hell, empowering and inspiring. There’s ‘oh oh’ harmonies running throughout, lending it an extra sheen that should serve it well during the band’s tour dates. Early on, there’s a slick fusion of beats, finger-click beats and stop-start electronics, therefore enabling the song to burst even more emphatically into life. It’s Thirty Seconds To Mars at their best – and it’s a song capable of breaking genres and encapsulating more fans for the band.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mike Shinoda

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MIKE SHINODAWATCHING AS I FALL: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda surprised everyone by releasing three new solo tracks as a digital EP this week. The EP, entitled Post Traumatic, comes as a direct response to the tumultuous months since the passing of former band member Chester Bennington. As Shinoda states: “The past six months have been a roller coaster. Amidst the chaos, I’ve started to feel an intense gratitude — for your tributes and messages of support, for the career you have allowed me to have, and for the simple opportunity to create. Today, I’m sharing three songs I wrote and produced, with visuals that I filmed, painted, and edited myself. At its core, grief is a personal, intimate experience. As such, this is not Linkin Park, nor is it Fort Minor — it’s just me. Art has always been the place I go when I need to sort through the complexity and confusion of the road ahead. I don’t know where this path goes, but I’m grateful I get to share it with you.” Watching As I Fall has enough about it to clearly be the kind of song that’s stemmed from the pen of a Linkin Parker – the emphatic beats, the sense of rage and confusion within the lyrics, the hip-hop infused beats and the nu-metal energy and synths. But it’s very much Shinoda’s own sound, too, with the songwriter singing and rapping in equal measure. It’s a song that combines energy, edge and alternative influences with something that’s equally catchy (in the livewire chorus). It’s a great record.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Justin Timberlake, Say Something

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE feat CHRIS STAPLETONSAY SOMETHING: Another week, another Justin Timberlake newbie from his Man In The Woods LP. But if they continue to display the quality experienced so far on this and last week’s Supplies, then he’s more than welcome to keep dropping new records every week. Eschewing the trademark hip-hop/R’n‘B influences in favour of Timberlake’s newfound respect for ‘modern Americana with 808s’, this has a much more laidback, potentially more serious vibe. Indeed, you could even accuse Timberlake of ‘doing a RagnBone Man’ in the way that he sings earnestly over some folk-infused backing. The presence of country and western maestro Chris Stapleton merely enhances the Americana vibe, as though the song is tapping into the American heartland in search of new fans. Instrumentally, there’s some ear-pleasing acoustic guitar, some smooth soul backing, some finger-click beats and a growing sense of the epic as the song reaches its conclusion. It’s stirring, impassioned stuff (“maybe I’m looking for something I can’t have”) that seems to tap into the current state of uncertainty surrounding most things American at this moment in time.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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No Hot Ashes, Skint Kids Disco

NO HOT ASHESSKINT KIDS DISCO: Skint Kids Disco is the latest tune to emerge from No Hot Ashes’ forthcoming EP of the same name, set for release via the Modern Sky label on March 30, 2018. Picking up where former single Eight Till Late left off, Skint Kids Disco is described as an anthem custom-made to power the listener on into the early hours. Flaunting the band’s mutual love of ’70s and ’80s funk and disco records, the record is a complex concoction of pepped-up percussion, catch-fire chord changes and booty-shaking basslines. The indie-infused vocals, meanwhile, hark back to the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Inspiral Carpets, Jamie T or Just Jack in their prime. And there’s also a spiky, punky element to them that lends the track a little extra edge. It’s energetic, edgy fun. Speaking about the track, frontman Isaac Taylor said: “We wrote this song with every intention of writing an outright disco-pop anthem. Skint Kids Disco incorporates a multitude of sounds and elements that are reminiscent of the music styles we love as individual musicians. Sleazy guitar tones, fat funk bass lines and big disco beats.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mama's Gun

MAMA’S GUNLONDON GIRLS: London Girls, the new single from Mama’s Gun, holds a salient place for frontman and founder of the band, Andy Platts. “I wanted to write a London song,” he explains. “For most of my career, I’ve been making American-influenced music so it’s nice to do stuff that kind of points to where you’re from – having something with ‘London’ in the title without it being too tongue-in-cheek.” While the track works on a patriotic level, it also references the strong females that surround Platts, from his wife, Jodie Seymour (who co-wrote the track), to his own Filipino mother who is depicted on the single’s artwork. Platts, who was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, was introduced to music at a young age through his mother’s Spanish guitar playing. The song itself is a lively romp that feels as celebratory as its subject matter. There are lively piano arrangements, sharp stabs of brass, some slick guitar work midway through and a shuffling back-beat that lends some disco-meets-funk elements. It’s retro leaning, yet contemporary sounding. And, above all else, it’s fun, with a sense of energy that’s entirely infectious.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mike Shinoda

MIKE SHINODAOVER AGAIN: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda surprised everyone by releasing three new solo tracks as a digital EP this week. The EP, entitled Post Traumatic, comes as a direct response to the tumultuous months since the passing of former band member Chester Bennington. As Shinoda states: “The past six months have been a roller coaster. Amidst the chaos, I’ve started to feel an intense gratitude — for your tributes and messages of support, for the career you have allowed me to have, and for the simple opportunity to create. Today, I’m sharing three songs I wrote and produced, with visuals that I filmed, painted, and edited myself. At its core, grief is a personal, intimate experience. As such, this is not Linkin Park, nor is it Fort Minor — it’s just me. Art has always been the place I go when I need to sort through the complexity and confusion of the road ahead. I don’t know where this path goes, but I’m grateful I get to share it with you.” Over Again is the song that bears the biggest pain, revealing in eye-opening detail the feelings of hurt, confusion and disillusionment felt by the band in the immediate aftermath of Bennington’s suicide. It’s raw, honest, heartbreaking and – you’d hope – healing. The chorus is catchy, in spite of the edginess of the rapped verse. But it’s the strikingly honest lyrics that really catch your attention. They hurt.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSEALL THAT FEAR: Lucy Rose has unveiled a new track, All That Fear, which is available to stream online now. As with the recently released End Up Here, All That Fear was recorded during the studio sessions for Lucy’s Something’s Changing LP, which is out now on Communion Records / Caroline International. As ever with a new song from Rose, there’s a raw intimacy to the song that’s utterly endearing. Rose employs her silky soft vocals over tightly written piano melodies and a stirring sense of honesty (“I don’t care”) in her lyrics that is quietly empowering. It’s a song that quietly impresses, dissecting a relationship from a position of hurt, yet clarity. It’s also further evidence of why Rose’s new album is so highly regarded. It boasts a classic sense of songwriting. Committed to playing for as many of her fans as possible, Lucy Rose will embark on her first ever Australian tour next week, playing a selection of headline shows as well as supporting Ben Folds. Following that, Lucy will travel to New Zealand, North America (including a stop over at SXSW in Austin, Texas – showcase details to be announced imminently), and finally mainland Europe in April.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have made It’s A Beautiful World the official second single to be taken from the Number 1 album Who Built the Moon?, following the success of the first single Holy Mountain. Driven by a fantastic back-beat, some propulsive electronics and some stirring guitar riffs, this is fuelled by a tremendously invigorating energy. Gallagher’s distint vocals work brilliantly in tandem with those instrumentals, which benefit greatly from the presence of a certain David Holmes on production details. The chorus then breaks free from the main instrumental to lift the track into soaring, anthemic territory, that’s tailor-made for sending those spines tingling in live form. Coming off the back of previous taster tracks Fort Knox and Holy Mountain, this maintains the quality surrounding all of their new material. Heck, we even like the French speaking interlude late on. Producer David Holmes said: “The track had so much space and was feeling great. After Noel wrote the song he asked me about getting a French vocalist to do some kind of spoken word, so I called my friend Charlotte Courbe and played her an extract from a French short film that I always loved and wanted to borrow from. She then produced an astounding piece of writing that contrasted Noel’s song and music so beautifully.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sam Johnson

SAM JOHNSONPERFECT CIRCLE: Sam Johnson releases his debut single in the form of Perfect Circle and quickly shows plenty of potential. Displaying his penchant for writing emotive and soulful songs, this is built around some moody piano and an earnest, emotive set of vocals that tap into the emotional complexity within the lyrics. The inclusion of some subtle acoustic guitar licks and back-beats only enhances the track’s overall appeal late on, while showcasing Johnson’s ear for a nicely layered, slow builder of a song. Speaking about the track, Sam explained: “This song is all about my childhood and youth growing up as an only child in the countryside. I was always desperate to have brothers or would quite frequently take myself off on solo adventures around the fields and woods to keep myself occupied. During these outings, I would often imagine someone else there to keep me company, and I suppose this is where I drew the inspiration for the song. The lyrics ‘you’re just like me’ aren’t really referring to someone else in a tangible sense at all, but more a figment of my imagination dreamt up to combat the usual restlessness and boredom I’d experience away from my friends in school.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Skelhorn

SKELHORN – A WONDROUS PLACE OF OUR OWN: Skelhorn’s music reflects the past and glimpses the future, fusing his acoustic roots with a passion for electronica via his wonderfully authentic vocals. Think Tarantino meets Morricone, a dusting of Twin Peaks and a shot of rock’n’roll, and you’ll start to get the idea. New single A Wondrous Place Of Our Own has something cinematic about it – but the kind of cinema associated with David Lynch, by way of Chris Isaak fused with Elvis Presley vocally. It’s dream-like, hypnotic (especially when employing a background whistle) and deeply impressive. The strings, the guitars, those vocals… they blend together seamlessly to create something that really takes you on a journey that’s worth listening to. Skelhorn began his musical career at the age of 14, performing in clubs and pubs across the North West of England. He was quickly noticed by Radio Merseyside and Radio City, and could regularly be heard and seen on live broadcasts and roadshows. Through this early radio support, he met and performed with legendary songwriter Bill Dees (Pretty Woman) and Sonny Curtis (The Crickets). Now, though, he looks set to create a very big name for himself.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 19, 2018

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

Beck, Dear Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECKFIX ME: Having dazzled with the upbeat likes of Colors, Up All Night and Wow from his latest album, Beck now serves up a charming reminder of his ability to charm too with the more tender Fix Me. Call it a Coldplay moment, if you like (a la Fix You), this drops a sedate beat, some spine-tingling electronic arrangements and a hushed set of vocals that declare “I want you” several times throughout. It’s got a bittersweet element, too, given that the singer is essentially asking to be fixed. But it’s delivered in a warm, intimate manner that genuinely endears, making this another great example of why Beck’s continued ability to evolve and dazzle remains undimmed. Indeed, his latest LP could rate among the best of his career given the number of sensational hits it has so far delivered. Fix Me is capable of repairing the darkest moods. It’s sublime.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sean Christopher

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SEAN CHRISTOPHER – A THOUSAND HUES: A Thousand Hues is the new single from Bristol-based singer-songwriter Sean Christopher, and it’s a tender, beguiling, but still beautiful listen. A heartbreaking song inspired by real life tragedy, it is genuinely poignant and thought-provoking, befitting the story that inspired it. “I read a story a few years ago about a Japanese man who lost his wife during the tsunami back in 2011,” explains Sean. “He could not find her on land and so decided to take diving lessons to search the sea. I was really moved by it and A Thousand Hues was written soon after.” Accompanying Christopher’s tender vocals and heartfelt lyrics is a sublime, folksy acoustic guitar (wrapped around a simple harmony), as well as some suitably cinematic, yet atmospheric electronics, that conjure that feeling of being at sea, both physically and – in this song’s case – mentally. A Thousand Hues is the third track to be taken from Christopher’s debut album, Yonder, which is due for release on May 11. It follows previous releases Carry On and Paper Plane Pilot and maintains the high standards Christopher is setting himself. Heck, it’s no faint praise to say that in terms of emotional range, A Thousand Hues is comparable with acts like Elbow.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Van William

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: VAN WILLIAMCOSMIC SIGN: former Port O’Brien frontman Van William has unveiled a new single, Cosmic Sign, from his newly released LP Countries. And it’s the second of this week’s singles to sound mournful in the face of the current US political scene. Says William: “Cosmic Sign was the last song written for my debut record Countries. I wrote it after the election when I was feeling particularly dark and my initial instinct was to go hide in a cave somewhere. I challenged myself to write a song from the perspective of the country that I love and yearn for. Despite the monsters in the White House, I still have great hope for this country, and I wanted to reflect that in memories I have from traveling around, getting inspired by the people and places that actually make this country what it is.” In spite of the sorrow surrounding its inspiration (“just need to make sense of this mess”), the song still retains an upbeat sensibility, especially when landing its punchy chorus. The acoustic guitars, meanwhile, are nicely delivered and full of bright melodicism, while William’s vocals are tender and thoughtful. It’s a song that’s as quietly empowering as it is poignant – reflecting the sad state of a nation that finds itself in turmoil.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Eels, The Deconstruction

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: EELSTHE DECONSTRUCTION: “The Deconstruction has begun… time for me to fall apart”…. So sing Eels over the opening lyrics of new release, The Deconstruction. The title track from their forthcoming LP, it’s a suitably emotive offering that builds towards a heady chorus in which the band lament: “I break apart.” But while certainly rousing during those choral moments, the song is a slow-builder that dips its toe into the cinematic, the surreal and the psychedelic. And it’s all the better for doing so. Eels have never been a band to shy away from experimentation and doing things a little differently, while remaining hip and exciting in the process, and The Deconstruction is a mighty fine offering. I mean, there’s the disarmingly deceptive low-key opening, built around acoustic guitar and strings, before the track finds an R’n‘B-style rhythm section and swirling cinematic strings. Not content with building, it also deconstructs things at times, allowing pause for thought, to consider the themes at play. It’s playful, serious, inspirational and the type of song that just keeps getting better with each listen. We can’t wait to hear the rest of the new material.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Daniel Avery, Slow Fade

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 5: DANIEL AVERYSLOW FADE: Five years after his critically acclaimed debut Drone Logic, London-based producer Daniel Avery announces his highly anticipated second album, Song For Alpha, which is set for release on April 6, 2018 on Phantasy worldwide and Phantasy/Mute in North America. The album is preceded by a four-track limited edition 12” vinyl EP entitled Slow Fade, which is available now. The new long player, on which the track Slow Fade will appear, looks set to cement Avery’s reputation as a producer to watch – especially if the lead single is anything to go by. A late night anthem that’s propelled by haunted, swishing electronics and subtle, ghostly beats, this is immediately striking, hugely evocative and even a little bit ethereal. You could well imagine it gracing the soundtrack of a new Michael Mann thriller, or a Nicolas Winding Refn Drive sequel, such as the way it transports you to neon landscapes interlaced with beauty and danger. It’s a seductive instrumental that, for all of its danger, has a beauty too. It leaves you begging to hear more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Justin Timberlake, Supplies

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKESUPPLIES: The second new release from Justin Timberlake’s forthcoming Man of the Woods LP is another strong offering from the global superstar. Supplies maintains the harder, edgier sound of predecessor Filthy in the way that it drops gritty hip-hop infused beats, sharp synths and an equally gritty vocal. Indeed, this could be the closest Timberlake has come to a straight hip-hop single, even though it eventually opens up into something more pop, when a flourish of instrumentals swamp the record and brighten its finale. Prior to that, there’s a more straight-forward hip-hop/R’n‘B hybrid that works on its own terms. And when Timblerlake drops the chorus of “I got supplies”, it’s tailor-made for singing along. In our opinion, this is even better than Filthy.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Spinn

SPINNAFTER DARK: A break-up staged beneath the streetlights, soundtracked by duelling guitars, Spinn’s latest release, After Dark, is a high quality slice of indie-pop that should further endear this band to a lot of people. The guitars, in particular, make for an ear-pleasing backdrop, reminiscent of classic The Cure and The Smiths; while the lovelorn lyrics are nicely conveyed by frontman Jonny. Commenting on how After Dark‘s songwriting provided him with his biggest challenge yet, Jonny said: “It was a song I struggled writing the lyrics to, because in comparison to a lot of our stuff its quite heavy and dark. And I’m not a heavy or dark kind of person really. Essentially it’s about seeing some friends of mine relationship slowly break down. I wrote about it in a ‘he said, she said’ way because as they say, there’s always two sides to a coin or a story.” It’s the intelligence in the lyrics that also helps the track to stand out, lending it a melancholy undertow in spite of the bright, sharp melodies and hooks.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Sick Boy

THE CHAINSMOKERSSICK BOY: The Chainsmokers adopt a slightly darker tone for their new single Sick Boy and, admittedly, lose some of their charm. A lament about the state of modern America, this is nevertheless a timely recording that taps into the US mood of the moment. It drops lines such as: “I’m from the east side of America, where we choose pride over character… I live on the west side of America, where they spin lies into fairy dust.” Hence, while some of the synth pop and EDM signature traits remain intact (enough to lend it dance cred), the overall piano sound and symphonic elements are far more melancholy and subdued. It’s harder to sing-along, yet easier for the lyrics to linger. Indeed, vocally, there’s a haunted quality to it at times. The track does build to a rousing finale, but this serves to merely underline the points the song is making. Hence, while Sick Boy may not be The Chainsmoker’s most anthemic, euphoric offering, it’s arguably their most potent.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Editors, Violence

EDITORSMAGAZINE: Editors have unveiled Magazine as the first taster of forthcoming album Violence. Described as a dizzylingly bright, yet barbed opening salvo, it’s also being hailed as a stylistic shift for the band. It’s essentially an anthemic pop song, with indie leanings, that savagely attacks the empty gestures and posturing of those in power. Built around a rousing chorus, some swelling keys and crunching, industrial chords, it’s designed to be a muscular, yet dynamic call to arms. And it succeeds in getting itself noticed, thanks to that surging chorus and some occasionally sharp stabs of guitar. As ever, Tom Smith’s vocals are powerful and edgy, lending extra bite to the politically charged lyrics. Talking about Magazine, Smith said: “Magazine is a pointed finger aimed at those in power… some corrupt politician or businessman…. a character, and a tongue-in-cheek poke at the empty posturing and playing to the masses of the power hungry.” It’s songwriting such as this that keeps Editors so contemporary and relevant.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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George Ezra, Paradise

GEORGE EZRAPARADISE: The man behind the insanely catchy Budapest is back with new material… and he’s recaptured that catchiness straight away. An ode to unbridled fledgling romance, this is a breeze of a record from the outset that is tailor-made for singing along to. There are cute harmonies, slick guitar riffs, toe-tapping beats and an overall sense of infectious energy that’s difficult to resist. Yes, the elements are simple but they are tellingly effective. The cuteness is underlined by the shouted background vocals that emphasise each point the record is making, as well as the anthemic chorus, the t’t‘t’-time or boom boom lyricism that – again – invites sing-alongs, and the electrifying central guitar riff that runs playfully throughout. It’s a welcome musical shot to the arm that reminds you of the power of a good song to sweep away the blues, and bring out that summery, sunshine feeling. If you thought Ezra might struggle to write another record as populist as Budapest, then think again. Roll on the rest of his new material.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lokki, I Catch You

LOKKI – I CATCH YOU: New artist Lokki releases his debut single in the form of the piano-led I Catch You and impresses. The singer says of the track: “I Catch You is a late night song. Its sound world is like waking up in the early hours of the morning, with music from a sound track drifting through the walls. The strings gradually meld with the piano, seeping into your sleepy mind. Splintering and falling apart, reforming and fading.” It’s a slow-building offering that showcases a tender, emotive singing voice from Lokki, as well as a deeply cinematic sensibility in the layered instrumentals. Indeed, the way the strings eventually combine and integrate with the pianos is often brilliant, providing a swirling emotional backdrop to a song that is shot through with heartfelt intimacy. If you imagine classic Elton John mixed with A Beautiful South and Aqualung, then you might be somewhere close. Lokki is an artist to watch.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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485c

485C – KAPOW: Kapow! is the fourth single from 485C, following on from She’ll Lie, Strange Medicine and Better The Man – tracks which saw them gain support from the likes of Steve Lamacq at 6Music, who included Strange Medicine in his tracks of 2017, John Kennedy at Radio X who invited them in for an evening session performance and Spotify, who included Strange Medicine in their ‘The Best of the Indie List 2017’ playlist. Hailed by many as an addictive slice of indie-pop bedlam, Kapow! lives up to the sound that its name suggests in that it’s a short, sharp shock of winding guitars, louche vocals and slick harmonies, all wrapped up in two minutes and 49 seconds. It’s rather like listening to Leisure-era Blur with touches of The Smiths thrown in. Hence, for anyone thinking they don’t make those sorts of records anymore, then think again. 485c consist of Adam Hume (vocals), Dom Watson (guitar/vocals), Lucas Hunt (drums), Rory McGowan (guitar/backing vocals) and Sam Watkins (bass/backing vocals).
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 12, 2018

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

Hudson Taylor, Run With Me

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: HUDSON TAYLORRUN WITH ME: Irish duo Hudson Taylor – comprised of brothers Alfie and Harry – aim to start 2018 on a high with the release of new single Run With Me, the follow-up to their 2017 comeback single Feel It Again. An instantly appealing slice of Americana-influenced pop, with elements of folk tossed in, this has a warm glow attached that makes you want to toe tap and sing along. The chorus, in particular, is shot through with ear-pleasing melodies and hum-along harmonies, while the sentiments contained within the lyrics (“we’re all in it for the long road, we’re all in it for life”) are genuinely empowering. The accompanying video features Alfie and Harry in their native Ireland taking a visit to the Dogs Trust, whom the band partnered with in the making of the video. Speaking about the video, the band said: “Run With Me is about those friends that are by your side at all times and lift you up whatever you’re going through. Dogs are often that exact type of friend for people and we wanted to make a video that was uplifting and fun but also delivered the message that there are so many dogs in shelters and rescues across the country that just need loving homes. We absolutely loved making this video and we hope people not only enjoy watching it but also consider giving a rescue dog a home and having that dog give them their unconditional love and friendship in return.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fall Out Boy, Wilson

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: FALL OUT BOYWILSON (EXPENSIVE MISTAKES): Fall Out Boy continue their resurgence in fine fashion with lively new single Wilson (Expensive Mistakes), the latest offering from their forthcoming M A N I A LP. Embracing the punk-rock elements of old, especially lyrically, this declares “if I can get my shit together I’m going to run away and never see any of you again” before also opining “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker colour”. There are fanfare-style horns, ‘whoa oah’ harmonies, a rousing, EMO-laced chorus and an overall feeling of rebellion mixed with euphoria. Patrick Stump’s voice is as lively as ever, flitting between falsetto and baritone with consummate ease, yet ensuring the song never sits still for a minute. The song’s meaning is open to interpretation, too, with several online commentators referencing Tom Hanks’ volleyball friend Wilson in the film Castaway (a theory backed up by its obvious nod in the video), while others saying that it simply reflects the band’s ongoing attitude to life. But no matter what the meaning, this is a rollicking good listen – the type of which Fall Out Boy have proven themselves capable of many times in the past. It’s so far, so good for the long-gestating new album, though.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Henry Green

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: HENRY GREENANOTHER LIGHT: Rising Bristol-based electronic artist Henry Green has announced his debut album, Shift, is set for release on March 30, 2018, via Akira Records. He’s also sharing his new single Another Light online now. Speaking about the track, Green said: “I had a really vivid image/moment in mind when I wrote Another Light. I was sat on a silent beach in the early hours of the morning, slightly hazy from the lack of sleep and I wanted to write about the whirlwind of colours and textures, both in the landscape but also in my mind at that moment. So, much change had happened in such a short amount of time and I was just reflecting on it all.” The ensuing track combines hazy vocals, of an ethereal nature, with slick beat arrangements (comparable with Bonobo) and minimalist but striking electronic arrangements. The result is as cinematic as it is beguiling. It’s also evidence of an emerging artist who is well worth keeping track of as 2018 progresses, especially if you get your musical kicks from artists like Bonobo and Kygo.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rhye, Song For You

RHYESONG FOR YOU: Rhye have dropped the enchanting Song for You as the latest track off their highly anticipated sophomore album BLOOD, due out on February 2, 2018 via Caroline Records. A low-key, beautifully delivered slice of alternative R&B, this showcases the sensitive side of the LA-based outfit. The smooth vocals drift over the horns, electronics and ticking beats in genuinely soothing fashion, easing you into the type of relaxed state needed to best appreciate what it has to say. Rhye frontman Milosh commented: “Song for You was written for her. Listen to it in a way where it becomes your album.” The forthcoming BLOOD follows Rhye’s debut album Woman, which was released in 2013 to wide critical acclaim. The album is available for pre-order now. Fans who pre-order the album will receive instant downloads of Song for You, as well as previously released tracks Count To Five, Taste and Please.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Will Varley, Seven Days

WILL VARLEYSEVEN DAYS: Will Varley has released Seven Days as the latest track to emerge ahead of his forthcoming fifth studio album Spirit Of Minnie, released February 9, 2018 through Xtra Mile Recordings. Propelled by Varley’s burnished, husky vocals and an innate gift for relatable lyricism, the track arrives alongside an animated music video created by Varley himself. The folk-rock elements of the song create a familiar, yet highly appealing backdrop, complete with an engaging chorus that is full of warmth and life. Vocally, there are traces of Dylan and Jose Gonzalez in Varley’s delivery, which adds to the appeal and the classic sense of songwriting. While the sentiments contained within the lyrics are easy to relate to for anyone used to finding themselves on the road (for work or travelling pleasure). Compelled by the track’s affirmation of life’s fleeting, milestone moments, Varley has created the monochrome pixel art animation which accompanies the release of Seven Days, influenced by the classic 8-bit dos games of his own 90s childhood. It’s well worth taking a look.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jack White

JACK WHITECONNECTED BY LOVE: Has it really been as long as six years since The White Stripes broke up? Well, White seems unaffected by it since Connected By Love is the first new material to emerge from his third solo album since then. And it’s something of a change of pace. A retro-leaning slice of balladry with gospel leanings, this is a moody, brooding offering that seems to find White channelling his inner Mick Jagger. Vocally, there’s a swagger that belies the hurt contained within. The gospel backing adds an extra layer of drama to proceedings, while the Hammond organ solo midway through underlines that quasi ’70s feel that is obviously deliberate. Just occasionally, the instrumentals threaten to run away with themselves, and veer too far into experimental territory. But the showman in White always keeps things interesting, especially when rebuilding the song following that instrumental interlude. It means that Connected By Love, while never matching the seering intensity of classic Stripes (or brilliance) remains compelling throughout.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jack White

JACK WHITERESPECT COMMANDER: The second of two tracks released this week by Jack White is Respect Commander, the second half of his Double-A side. It’s a different prospect entirely from Connected By Love, especially in its livewire opening half. A collage, of sorts, this owes more, initially, to something like a DJ Shadow production, mixed with the retro elements of a Paul Hardcastle, in the way that it samples sounds, drops hip-hop infused beats and tries to be cinematic. But then it stops dead in its tracks, changes tack and ushers in a slower, more brutal and depressed second half, informed by a bluesy guitar riff, some uttered vocals and – eventually – a volatile set of shouted vocals that hark back to White Stripes-era music. It’s a raw, ragged, disjointed listen that somehow hangs together and works as a curiosity piece, while underlining White’s continued penchant for experimentation. But be warned: you probably have to be in the right mood as this one does occasionally feel more like an indulgence.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Shift K3y, Only You

SHIFT K3Y – ONLY YOU: Shift K3Y – aka Lewis Jankel – is back with new single Only You. The release follows the recent exclusive first play of the track on BBC Radio 1Xtra as Mistajam’s Jam Hot Record. Only You is the first single of 2018 from the multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ, singer-songwriter, and is being hailed as an anthemic, hypnotic banger. Alas, it’s somewhat monotonous. Built around some generic electronic arrangements and beats, as well as an indifferent set of vocals, this is geared solely towards the dancefloor and Ibiza-style club scene, without making much of an attempt to breakout. Hence, it trails in the wake of recent material from the likes of Avicii and Diplo, which work hard to combine genres and mix things up to make them sound more appealing. On creating this track, Jankel states: “After I came back from a few shows in the US, I started to draft ideas for new material. I wanted to take it back to the nature of what I am about musically, utilising my vocal on my own production. Only You is a tongue in cheek, passionate track combining all the influences that make me the musician that I am. I wanted to combine the love I have for R’n‘B and Funk instrumentation from the ’80s and ’90s, with the sounds that I am playing within my sets.” Sadly, this hasn’t translated to the track itself, at least as far as we’re concerned.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Holly Miranda

HOLLY MIRANDA feat KYP MALONEEXQUISITE: Holly Miranda continues to impress with stylish new single Exquisite, featuring TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone. A compelling mix of vocal styles, this finds Miranda as soothing and lovely as ever, positively purring over the opening moments of the track, before Malone then drops his far more gruff and edgier vocals. Miranda returns, of course (this is her record, after all), but Malone also revists and even drops in a hint of Bowie into the mix. The slick beat arrangements and smooth electronics ensure the track has a really cool vibe, which is by turns psychedelic and pop-friendly. Speaking about the accompanying video, which arrives ahead of new album Mutual Horse on February 23, Miranda said: “Have you met my friend Kyp Malone? Not only does Kyp give the best hugs on the universe, but he has the most beautiful voice, the most insightful and honest lyrics and now to add to that list he has made my absolute favourite music video. These images and animation directly communicate visually where we were emotionally writing this song together. Confronting ourselves. Owning our actions. Asking for forgiveness. I hope you enjoy it.” We sure did.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 5, 2018

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

BØRNS, God Save Our Young Blood

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BØRNS feat LANA DEL REYGOD SAVE OUR YOUNG BLOOD: BØRNS has enlisted global superstar Lana Del Rey for new song, God Save Our Young Blood, and the results are as good as you might expect. A sleek slice of dream-pop, this features both artists in laidback form, dropping their wistful vocals over smooth synth waves and subtle beat arrangements. There’s a siren-like central electronic arrangement that lends the song some urgency but, in the main, this has a hazy, dreamy vibe befitting the vocal strengths of both artists (who compliment each other really well). The chorus, meanwhile, is as catchy as they come without being too energetic. It’s a perfect kind of song for just kicking back and chilling out with (right down to sentiments like “save the birds, save the bees”). The track has been chosen as the first Beats 1 World Record of 2018, and will be featured on BØRNS’ sophomore album, Blue Madonna, which is set for release on January 12, 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Justin Timberlake

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: JUSTIN TIMBERLAKEFILTHY: The first big event tune of 2018 took no time in arriving thanks to Justin Timberlake’s penchant for showmanship. Filthy marks the first taste of the singer’s forthcoming LP Man of the Woods, which marks his long-awaited follow-up to The 20/20 Experience. The result makes you sit up and take notice. Co-produced by Timbaland and the latter’s protege Danja, this is built around funk and space-pop, dropping a huge wobbling bassline as a centre-piece and placing a sharp emphasis on darkness and edginess. The central lyric, of “whatchu gonna do with all that meat?” is designed to be provocative and succeeds in being so. It’s very much a future sounding record that is designed to push the musical envelope. Hence, while the funk inherent within nods to Timberlake’s signature elements, it’s also fresh enough to be doing something entirely different. And yet there are nods to Prince too, as well as the bombast of Daft Punk with some electronic flourishes into guitar rock territory. It’s a shape-shifting, wholly ambitious production that’s designed to make you take a side. Hence, while the younger fans pining for a new tune like Can’t Stop The Feeling may well be disappointed at the lack of sing-along or sugary pop elements, Filthy lives up to its name in being a dirty, provocative foot-stomper of a tune that succeeds in making you excited to hear just what more Man of the Woods can deliver by way of surprise.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anderson East, Girlfriend

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: ANDERSON EASTGIRLFRIEND: Alabama soul singer Anderson East has unveiled the official video for new song, Girlfriend, and it’s a fittingly lively offering for a track that is all about stealing away with somebody else’s girlfriend. The video features Anderson singing while a young boy and girl duel in some woods and in a field. It’s got plenty of imagination, much like the brass-heavy song itself. Showcasing a ’70s funk sensibility in both its bombastic use of brass and its swirling, retro synth arrangements, this also showcases Anderson East’s vocals at their most soulful and brash (think The Heavy). It’s a romp that can’t help but make you feel instantly excited the moment you hear it. Written by East, Dave Cobb, Aaron Raitiere and Avicii, Girlfriend is the third song taken from East’s highly anticipated new album, Encore, which will be released next Friday, January 12 (2018) on Low Country Sound/Elektra Records.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jeryko

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: JERYKOFIGHTING FOR: “What are you fighting for, she asked me simply, are you the lover or are you the enemy?” So sings NYC artist Jeryko over the opening chords of his new single Fighting For. And it’s this emotive, provocative lyricism that adds to the singer’s instant appeal. It makes you listen. But the rest of the song is just as striking. With a clean and driving acoustic guitar, smooth vocals, original choruses and meaningful lyrics, Jeryko lays down an early marker as one of the artists to keep a keen eye on in 2018. His singer-songwriting approach may bear comparison with the likes of Ed Sheeran (no bad thing) and others of that type, but there’s also a keen sense of his own identity. Hence, Fighting For is intricately layered, dropping in some late robust beats, echoed vocals and vibrant acoustic licks as it reaches its empowering finale. It’s a song that reaps big rewards. The video comes as the first of a two-part saga that rides the themes of brotherhood, bravery and cliffhangers akin to a full-length film. Roll on part two, we say!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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MGMT, Hand It Over

MGMTHAND IT OVER: The latest offering from MGMT’s current LP Little Dark Age is the psych-rock slow-builder Hand It Over. Taking its cues from the similarly synth heavy and psychedelic When You Die, this once again finds the MGMT boys adopting an ethereal falsetto and allowing it to soar over those trippy synth arrangements. It has a bittersweet element to the lyrics, which lament the passing of time as much as anything. But it also allows room for some beauty, too, infusing the chorus with a female backing harmony that only heightens the psychedelic/dreamy nature of the song as a whole. It’s still a far cry from the euphoric greatness MGMT achieved with breakthrough track Time To Pretend but it’s a nice tune to relax with, while showcasing a different side to their musical make-up. Indeed, we’ve heard the track compared to Ariel Pink’s Dedicated to Bobby Jameson and it’s a fair description of what to expect.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Youngr, Ooh Lordy

YOUNGROOH LORDY: As he looks to kick off the year with a bang, Youngr has announced the release of new collection, This Is Not An Album, led by new single Ooh Lordy, via Island Records. This Is Not An Album is a collection of Youngr’s releases to date, including the likes of goliath hit Out Of My System, Monsters, recent release Give It Up and new single Ooh Lordy. This latter track is described as an instantly euphoric slice of house-pop that finds Youngr at his effervescent best. There’s a bouncing synth loop, slick finger-click beats and a near-falsetto vocal that feels positively jubilant. It’s infectious and makes you want to hang out with those fireflies too. Commenting on the new collection, Youngr said: “This Is Not An Album is a collection of all the songs I’ve released over the past year, plus my first ever releases from back in the day; September Sun and Disappear and my newest jam, Ooh Lordy. Thought I’d throw them all together in one nice organised package for your aural pleasures.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Into The Ark

INTO THE ARKBURNING LOVE: If the title of Into The Ark’s latest single seems familiar, then it’s because it’s a cover of the Elvis Presley classic, Burning Love. Here, though, it’s stripped of the soul-infused rock and roll of ‘The King’, and replaced instead with the acoustic sound synonymous with this duo. And you could almost be forgiven for not recognising it at all, especially if you’re not familiar with the lyrics. With that in mind, it’s possible to best enjoy the cover by forgetting that it is, indeed, a cover and appreciating the new spin put upon it. In this form, it’s very much a slow burn/smoulder approach, with the acoustics laidback and almost melancholy. The vocals, meanwhile, are delivered in a style more reminiscent of Turin Brakes than Elvis Presley. It’s delivered with Into The Ark’s usual passion and works on its own merits. But that might not be enough to prevent fans of the original from emerging slightly disappointed. The track was recorded live at the world famous RAK Studios in London. It’s the second single, concluding their double A-side following on from Straight To Your Door – available now. This double A sided, limited edition, RED vinyl will ONLY be available through the band’s web store, giving fans the opportunity to own a rare live acoustic recording from the band. You can purchase one of 500 individually numbered and signed 7 inch vinyls on the website link below. Taylor, of Into The Ark, explained: “We’ve played this song for a couple of years now and we really wanted to capture it live so we recorded it acoustically (at RAK) for the 7 inch… it’s a well travelled song – not just for Elvis – but for us too, and one that means so much to us and our journey and to say we’re proud of it coming out on vinyl is a massive understatement.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bruno Mars, Finesse

BRUNO MARS feat CARDI B – FINESSE (REMIX): Bruno Mars comes over all retro in more ways than one with the newly issued remix of 24K Magic favourite Finesse in remix form. Tapping into an unashamedly late ’80/early ’90s synth pop vibe (think The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff), this is clearly designed to bring about a keen sense of nostalgia and offer up another funky slice of fun. And it works, too. The track isn’t wrong when it claims to be ‘dripping in finesse’ over the chorus – but then Mars is rapidly becoming one of the most stylish artists working in the mainstream at this moment in time. The presence of Cardi B lends some needed sass to the vocals, too, and strike a nice balance with Mars’ own soulful crooning, making this a certain dancefloor favourite for early 2018. The accompanying video is similarly nostalgic, featuring ’90s-themed outfits, bouncy choregraphy and colourful video sets.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kendrick Lamar, SZA, All The Stars

KENDRICK LAMAR, SZAALL THE STARS: If you thought that Marvel’s forthcoming Black Panther movie already looked set to become one of the coolest films of 2018, then get a load of this. The soundtrack is being curated and produced by Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony ‘Top Dawg’ Tiffith. The first taster of this collaboration is Lamar’s new single, All The Stars, and it’s a sleek slice of synth-pop/soul that is instantly gratifying. Kendrick drops his familiar rap, and embraces the film’s themes of conflict and resolve, while SZA drops some sensual vocals that offset the rap element well. There’s an anthemic synth hook and some suitably pumped up beats, ensuring that the song zips along in suitably grand fashion. The chorus is especially lively, ensuring that it has an anthemic vibe capable of giving it crossover appeal while raising the profile of both artists.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sea Girls, Heavenly War

SEA GIRLSHEAVENLY WAR: Following quickly on the heels of the R1 approved (Annie Mac/Huw Stephens/BBC Introducing) What For, Heavenly War furthers the bold claim that Sea Girls are one of the most reliable new bands for penning these instant indie-disco, festival-ready anthems (a la Scouting For Girls). Written and fronted by Henry Camamile, Heavenly War follows Call Me Out, Lost and What For as another timely example of what this young British band are capable of. It’s got catchy hooks, robust drum loops and an indie-disco vibe that makes you want to toe tap along and nod your head appreciately. And it’s lively fun. Commenting on Heavenly War, Sea Girls’ Henry Camamile saod: “This song is about that weirdly exciting but quite difficult conflict of feelings and events that makes our lives worth living. Ultimately describing that moment when you feel the best about life. I think it’s a really positive message.” That positivity shines through.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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

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

Amanda Mair

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: AMANDA MAIREMPTY BLOCKINGS: Amanda Mair’s new video for Empty Blockings is about a battle of anxiety and depression, and running away from these problems for so long that it’s often forgotten what you’re running from. The accompanying record is a striking addition to Nair’s already impressive catalogue of songs. Built around swirling synths and slick beat arrangements, this finds Nair adopting a typically ethereal set of vocals that are, by turns, as vulnerable as the subject matter suggests, and simultaneously as soaring as the record demands in order to find a wide audience. It’s a seamless fusion of intelligent, heartfelt and resonant song-writing with the type of synth-pop sounds capable of enabling the song to reach out to the masses. Thematically, Mair has described the song as “an apprehensive approach to love”. The rolling beat is designed to echo a pumping heart, afraid to open up to a damaged lover’s ‘demons getting louder’. There’s a promise of protection and security, but will it be strong enough to stabilize the relationship? You’ll be hoping for a positive outcome.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Moby

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MOBYMOTHERLESS CHILD: Moby has released a new single and video for Like A Motherless Child, taken from his forthcoming album Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt. Featuring LA-based soulstress Raquel Rodriguez, Like A Motherless Child is a re-work of the well-known spiritual, with its origins in the slavery of the American South. The track describes the void left when one feels separated from a parent, higher power or similar guiding force. Over the years this powerful song has been reinterpreted by the likes of Odetta, Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson, Laura Mvula and Van Morrison. In this form, it’s moody, atmospheric and just as thought-provoking. There’s a slick bassline hook, some subtle beat layering and a satisfying mix of spoken word vocals from Moby and soothing vocals from Rodriguez. It manages to impose Moby’s signature to a song that also remains distinct in its own right. On the evidence of this, Moby’s latest could be another great piece of work. The album is being described as a glowing tapestry that explores spirituality, individuality and the brokenness of humanity and it finds him returning to his orchestral, soul, trip-hop and gospel roots.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Monarchy, Hula Hoop

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: MONARCHYHULA HOOP 8000: Having already clocked up in excess of a million streams for their single Hula Hoop 8000, Monarchy herald the release of their forthcoming album with the premiere of Hula Hoop 8000’s stunning video. Given Monarchy’s long-standing reputation for delivering innovative and sumptuous looking videos, their latest one – the work of Grammy nominated production team Canada directed by Virgili Jubero – doesn’t disappoint. The song, explains Monarchy’s singer Ra Black, was written “as an escape from reality”. “I created a fantasy about how someone would feel when they get emotionally and physically engaged with someone that suddenly appears in life. In some way, I’m always wanting to create music that makes me feel like a kid again. I’m really happy with how Hula Hoop 8000 turned out, cause it’s both authentic and fantasy.” The song itself has a disco-pop sound akin to the likes of Scissor Sisters, with falsetto vocals set over ’80s infused electronics and slick, dancefloor-friendly beats. It’s kitsch, cool and as hip-swingingly good as its name suggests.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anna Leone, I Never Really

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: ANNA LEONE – I NEVER REALLY: Anna Leone makes a welcome return with her second single, I Never Really, released via indie-label Awake in collaboration with All Points/Behave. A piano-led track, the song is beautifully realised – displaying some heartfelt, intimate sentiments in a sincere but highly endearing manner. It’s an exploration – a personal one that resonates beyond the singer’s own experiences. The mix of piano and acoustic guitar blends well with Leone’s husky vocal style, which is reminiscent of Sia at times and Martina Topley-Bird at others, while retaining an identity of Leone’s own. She really is a talent to keep an eye on. This blossoms in ever more wonderful ways, the longer it lasts. Anna says of the track: “The song deals with the idea of suppressing things you don’t want to deal with and wondering if that’s right or wrong and how that impacts your life and relationships. This is the most recent song I’ve written and the latest one recorded in the studio, so it all came together very quickly. I was writing a lot at home and this one stood out as something very sincere. I discovered the riff first and everything sort of fell into place after that, both the lyrics and melody.” To accompany the track, Leone has now unveiled a beautifully shot night-time video, co-directed by Victoria Lafaurie & Hector Albouker. It features Anna and some very cool synchronised car action and is well worth a look.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli, Perfect Symphony

ED SHEERAN with ANDREA BOCELLIPERFECT SYMPHONY: One week after releasing his Perfect duet with Beyonce, Ed Sheeran now delivers a Perfect Symphony with opera legend Andrea Bocelli. As ever, the beauty lies in its simplicity. For while this version embellishes the background sound with a string backdrop, it remains understated (an acoustic string accompaniment if you will), with the emphasis – as ever – on the vocals. For his part, Sheeran remains on-song, delivering the song in his usual disarming, heartfelt style. The big interest lies in hearing what Andrea Bocelli brings to it – and it’s typical class. His booming vocals, delivered in his native Italian tongue, bring even greater romanticism to the song (if that were possible), sweeping you along on a love-struck high. Bocelli remains understated in his delivery, never fully unleashing his powerhouse chords, but there’s something grand and operatic about the song in this form. And it’s a pleasure to listen to. If anything, it’s a better collaboration than the one with Beyonce. Hell, it even has a mandolin moment that really brings on the appreciative shivers.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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MGMT, When You Die

MGMTWHEN YOU DIE: MGMT drop the second single from their latest album, Little Dark Age, in the form of the dark, psychedelic When You Die. In spite of its dark themes and lyrics (“we’ll all be laughing with you, when you die”), the song retains a jaunty Congratulations-style vibe, whereby the beats are upbeat and the guitars wonky and ever so slightly loopy. If anything, the song exists in its own state of delirium, with a self-consciously trippy sound accompanying lyrics that speak of eating hearts out and more. The accompanying video is just as messed up in its own right, featuring somewhat disturbing images of operations in progress and that heart being eaten. It’s not for the squeamish. Your overall enjoyment of the song largely rests on what you think of modern MGMT. If you like the Time To Pretend sound, then this probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for something that continues to be adventurous and playful, as well as dark, then this might tickle your fancy – particularly if you’re tiring of the schmaltzy Christmas songs that get wheeled out endlessly this time of year.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Sad Song Co

THE SAD SONG CO. – WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT: The Sad Song Co have delivered a somewhat rousing new single in the form of What You Make Of It, albeit one that’s couched in melancholy sentiments. Drawing on Talk Talk’s Life’s What You Make It, and emerging as something of an anti-response, this is shot through with swirling piano arrangements, lively drum loops and soaring vocals, that grow bigger with each chorus. The central sentiment of “life is what you can make of it” is followed with the somewhat more realistic, “so don’t despair, look to the sky and see there’s nothing there”, which brings the listener down a notch. But it’s delivered with such indie-pop gusto that you’ll probably find yourself swept along anyway. What You Make Of It is the first track to emerge from The Sad Song Co’s new album, Worth, which is out on February 9, 2018. Tracks from Worth will get their first live performances in January and February 2018.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Major Lazer

MAJOR LAZERBUSCANDO HUELLAS: Major Lazer has shared a new video for Buscando Huellas, featuring J Balvin and Sean Paul. The track is taken from the global superstars’ new EP, Know No Better, which was surprise-released earlier this year to widespread acclaim. Buscando Huellas drops a Caribbean-infused back-beat over Hispanic vocals that create something of a Samba-orientated, celebratory whole. That being said, the mid-track musical breakdown also draws on Indian and Pakistani influences, while Sean Paul drops some typically dancehall sounding vocals. It’s arguably the track’s weakest point. But in all other areas, this struts a lively swathe through the current mainstream scene, to deliver something that’s fresh, invigorating, distinct in its own right and a fine example of why Major Lazer’s Know No Better EP has been generating such positive buzz.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Mikaela Davis

MIKAELA DAVISLITTLE BIRD (LIVE): Mikaela Davis is the kind of songwriter who routinely defies expectations. The 25-year-old artist is a composer of striking maturity. Her arrangements deftly combine elements of psychedelic rock, folk and chamber pop, and her vocals display a wisdom and a ruefulness that belie her years. Mikaela and her band recently stepped into the studio to perform a live session version of her current single Little Bird – and it’s really rather beautiful. The track finds the singer-songwriting taking on dual singing and harp-playing responsibilities and crafting a song that’s shot through with emotional highs and cinematic sweeps. There are finely layered beats, piano and guitar arrangements to accompany the distinct sound of the harp. Yet throughout, Davis’s swoonsome vocals drift over proceedings in dream-like fashion. It’s an assured piece of work that also showcases just how great a live performer Davis is. She’s definitely an artist to keep a close eye on in 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Susanna

SUSANNAFREIGHT TRAIN: After recently announcing her new album Go Dig My Grave, which is a unique project between Susanna, Swiss baroque harp player Giovanna Pessi, accordion player Ida Hidle and fiddle player and folk singer Tuva Syvertsen reworking 10 eclectic songs from seemingly disparate worlds, Norwegian artist Susanna is sharing the second track from the record, Freight Train, online now. It’s a disarmingly simple, but tellingly effective offering, that finds Susanna adopting a reflective, even melancholy vocal, as if aware of her own mortality throughout. And yet, there’s a beauty to the subtle harp-playing and accordion that infuses the song with an element of warmth – and never more so than during the various instrumental moments. It’s a beautifully realised offering from a singer who has most definitely captured our attention. Speaking about the track, Susanna said: “Digging for gold in LA’s vinyl stores, I came across Elizabeth Cotten’s album When I’m Gone, which is an appealing title in itself. A wonderful record, and one of the songs is Freight Train. I am deeply fascinated by how people think of death, as the final rest or the moving beyond to something new- do you find comfort in thinking it’s all going to end some day or do you fear it. Freight Train is such a master piece of a song, cut to the bone about being content with what this life has to offer, the tempo of it all and how some day it’s going to be just fine to wrap it up.” The album, Go Dig My Grave, is due out on February 9, 2018, via SusannaSonata.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, December 8, 2017

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

Darlingside

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: DARLINGSIDEESCHATON: Evoking comparisons with Surfjan Stevens and, to a lesser extent, acts like Vampire Weekend, Darlingside’s new song Eschaton is a bleep-laden, indie-infused oddity of delight. Constructed around lots of catchy electronic bleeps and the odd acoustic strum, which eschews their anti-folk values, this is a lyrically intelligent look at the largeness of life and the questions it constantly poses. Vocally, it’s extremely laidback, the vocals working well with the tight melodies and harmonies to create something as distinct as it is beautiful. And it’s a real grower too – quirky at first, it gets warmer and more accessible with each listen. The track is taken from the band’s forthcoming album, Extralife, which on the evidence thus far looks set to be something worth rushing to hear. Here’s what the PR has to say about it. “Where [debut LP] Birds Say was steeped in childhood nostalgia and the loss of innocence, Extralife finds Darlingside looking to the future, mourning the loss of our world with an almost post-apocalyptic view. While the subject matter may seem bleak, Extralife is not without an underlying sense of hope and optimism. Eschaton leads the way to the new album set for release worldwide on February 23, 2018, and the band will launch the record at an intimate show on January 30, 2018 at the Courtyard Theatre.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sam Vance-Law

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: SAM VANCE-LAW – I THINK WE SHOULD TAKE IT FAST: I Think We Should Take It Fast is the cheeky new single from Sam Vance-Law, released this week on Caroline International. The follow-up to September’s debut single Prettyboy, the track is another musically and lyrically fascinating track from Berlin-based newcomer Vance-Law. It’s essentially a song about trying to get laid, with the main protagonist urging the object of his lust to dispense with the slower, more traditional method of getting to know one another, in favour of heading straight to the bedroom. But the speed of action doesn’t end at the bar… but also in the bedroom – in a comically and nicely realised climax to the song. It’s designed to poke fun at the male ego on a drink-fuelled Saturday night – and it works in showcasing the kind of theatrical indie-pop that Vance-Law now specialises in. You can’t help but listen with a smile on your face. The accompanying video is a treat too. Sam explains: “I Think We Should Take It Fast is a song about a guy going out to get laid, and we thought it would be great to make a music video in which that guy, me, miserably fails to do so. And I got to pretend to be drunk the entire day which turned out, perhaps worryingly, to be a lot easier than I had thought!”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fenne Lily

FENNE LILYFOR A WHILE: Fenne Lily has shared a typically enchanting new track in the form of For A While. With previous singles hinting at a fuller band sound, For A While strips things back to basics and offers a wonderfully wintery listen with a crescendo of warm analogue synths nestling alongside Fenne’s captivating vocals. Early on, it’s the vocals that take centre stage, along with some subtle acoustic guitars and a really melancholy vibe (“they say that it’s cold, so I hope that it shows”). The heart-on-sleeve nature of the vocal delivery is evocative of artists like Annie Lennox mixed with a touch of Bjork. But as the song grows, so the synths and strings layer in and add something almost cinematic to the mix. It’s a very classy, beautifully wintery offering. Not many young artists can count up millions of Spotify streams off the back of the first song they’ve ever written, but then again, not many young artists are Fenne Lily. She isn’t just one to watch for 2018, she’s one you won’t be able to keep your eyes off for a second.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Out of My Head

CHARLI XCX feat TOVE LO & ALMAOUT OF MY HEAD: Pop polymath Charli XCX has announced details of her new mix-tape Pop2, which will be released on Friday, December 15. To coincide with the announcement, she has has unveiled her futuristic club track Out Of My Head – and impresses as ever. Pop2 marks XCX’s second mix-tape of the year and the next instalment in Charli’s mix-tape series, following on from her critically-acclaimed March 2017 release Number 1 Angel. Teaming-up with previous collaborators AG Cook, who here executively produced the mix-tape, and SOPHIE alongside King Henry (Beyoncé, Justin Bieber), David Gamson and EASYFUN (Charli XCX 3AM) on production, Pop2 features an all-star cast of writers and vocalists, including Caroline Polachek (Chairlift), MØ, Tove Lo, ALMA, Carly Rae Jepsen, Pabllo Vittar, Jay Park and many more. The new single combines sass (“you f**ked me up like this”) with slick beats and stylish synth flourishes, to create a track that combines urgency with a cool energy and a bad-ass vibe. It’s perhaps not as pop as some of XCX’s but it’s dancefloor status cannot be denied. It’ll ensure you want to get up and dance.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Haim, Walking Away (Musa Masa remix)

HAIMWALKING AWAY (MURA MASA REMIX): Los Angeles trio Haim have enlisted Mura Masa for a glittering, bleep-laden remix of standout album track Walking Away – and it works in creating a new kind of futuristic sound for the girl group. With bleeps to the fore, as well as some sluggish but effective beats, this provides an ear-catching backdrop to Haim’s always angelic, dreamy vocals and harmonies. The result infuses the track with a greater urgency and potency. The remix follows the official release of HAIM’s Shania Twain cover That Don’t Impress Me Much, originally recorded for Triple J radio, and their recent singles Nothing’s Wrong and Little Of Your Love – the latter of which saw them team up with acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson once again for an LA line dancing spectacular. Mura Masa, aka 21-year-old Guernsey-born Alex Crossan, continues his winning streak following the release of his star-studded Grammy-nominated eponymous debut album earlier this year, adding to Walking Away the kind of lush, futuristic production that has seen him collaborate with the likes of A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX, Christine and the Queens.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jessie Reyez

JESSIE REYEZCOTTON CANDY: Jessie Reyez has unveiled a new track in the form of Cotton Candy, a track she describes as a song “written and recorded in my living room while I was crying over someone who didn’t deserve it”. With lyrics that plead “baby don’t lose me now”, sung in genuinely heartbroken fashion, this tugs at the heart-strings and is delivered in a raw, stripped back style that enhances the sense of loss and regret. Indeed, the accompanying instrumentals are kept to a minimum, and are confined mostly to acoustic guitar licks. It’s an effective offering. The release of Cotton Candy tops off an incredible year for the hotly-tipped Toronto-based singer and songwriter. The release of Reyez’ debut EP, Kiddo, in April was met with widespread acclaim. It included the similarly pared-back acoustic number Figures, which quickly exploded online and thrust Reyez into the spotlight. Accompanied by an emotional video which to date has been viewed 15 million times on YouTube, the track peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Top 100, with 25 million Spotify streams and counting. Cotton Candy only looks set to build on that success.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, Black Coffee

BETH HART & JOE BONAMASSABLACK COFFEE: Grammy winning Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa are back with their new duet album Black Coffee, which will be released on January 26, 201 via Provogue/Mascot Label Group. Featuring songs made famous by Edgar Winter, Ray Charles, Etta James, Steve Marriot, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Lucinda Williams, LaVern Baker and more, this was recorded in five days at Studio at the Palms, Las Vegas in August 2016. For the title track, which is now available as a single, the duo harness prime Steve Marriot on his take of Ike & Tina Turner’s Black Coffee. The inspiration came from his live version on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973. As they explain: “It’s really predicated on the vocals,” said Bonamassa. “We can’t cut these tunes without Beth singing and once she starts singing, it’s the glue that inspires us to get the extra 10% out of the playing. If we just cut them and sang later, the magic wouldn’t be there.” True to his words, Hart’s central vocal is belted out in supremely powerhouse fashion, evoking the vocal depth of classic Turner as well as her own blues-rock tendencies. Bonamassa’s guitars provide a heady backdrop – a caffeine charged shot of classic rock adrenaline that goes down a storm.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Little Kicks

THE LITTLE KICKSBANG THE DRUM SLOWLY: Aberdeen’s The Little Kicks return with their punchy, designed to be uplifting new single, Bang The Drum Slowly, via Loosen Up Records. Hailed as an off-kilter indie pop foot-stomper, the track races through with scuzzy hooks, glitchy beats and sweeping harmonies, resulting in a quirky, kind of post-punk meets leftfield indie sound akin to the likes of Hot Hot Heat or OK Go. But with the central lyric declaring “I’ve got nothing to be scared about”, it’s designed to be empowering. And it certainly rocks its way into your subconscious in effortlessly punchy fashion. Bang The Drum Slowly is the fourth single to be taken from their latest album, Shake Off Your Troubles. Describing the album, lead singer Steven Milne explains: “The themes of the record would be a feeling of happiness, gratitude and to be thankful with what you have and not take things for granted. Furthermore, not to let others get you down or let anyone put you in your place.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Syrra

SYRRA – I CAN BE MEAN: Syrra have just released their debut track I Can Be Mean, Along with a wonderfully mesmeric video directed by Laura Brown. The name Syrra – a Swedish term for ‘sister’ – came to Aneta in her dream, and perfectly encapsulates the essence of the project. The duo set out to create a place they can come with their flaws, insecurities and struggles and support each other like sisters, remembering nobody is perfect. Their songs strive to find beauty and strength in vulnerability, in a world bombarding us with expectations. Hence, I Can Be Mean drops vulnerable lyrics like “how can you love me when I don’t love myself enough to keep my head with happy thoughts?” Surrounding such sentiments are moody pianos, click-style beats and vocals that evoke comparisons with artists like Sinead O’Connor. It’s a highly absorbing listen, nicely constructed to create a distinct style of dark pop that serves as a near-perfect antidote to some of the more overly sentimental offerings dropping this time of year. Syrra are clearly an act to watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, December 1, 2017

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

First Aid Kit

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FIRST AID KITFIREWORKS: Swedish pop sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg – aka First Aid Kit – drop Fireworks from their forthcoming Ruins album and remain as beautiful and essential as ever. Dripping with their lovely vocals, this waltzes along in dreamy fashion, setting those delicious vocals against a backdrop of warm guitar licks and subtle piano and string arrangements. The melodies are heart-meltingly charming, the vocals expansive and soaring the longer they last. The background harmonies that enter around the midway point are another nice touch, imbuing the track with an extra layer of warmth. And for all of its beauty, there’s a heart-breaking sense of melancholy surrounding the lyrics, which lament the break-up of another relationship (“why do I do this to myself every time”). It’s a song that resonates by virtue of the emotional depth underpinning it. And while certainly sounding modern, it boasts a classic sense of timelessness that should make this a song for the ages.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Abisha

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: ABISHAALL THAT: From Devon by way of south London, Abisha is an alt-R&B singer-songwriter who channels introspection. Following the rapid success of debut track All That, she has now dropped the darkly atmospheric All That, complete with a similarly dark video directed by Jack Bridgland (House of Pharaohs, Nike, Adidas). The song itself is sure to draw vocal comparisons with premier singers such as Sade for the way in which it employs silky smooth R’n‘B vocals. But instrumentally, it owes more to acts like Massive Attack for the way in which it employs slick beat structures and stylish synths. It’s a supremely classy offering that showcases a major new talent. Commenting on the accompanying video, Abisha said: “The video for All That is like a huge visual metaphor for the song – that’s why I love it. From the red-lit room to the bath tub and ending being submerged in water; it all symbolises the entrapment that you feel when the love just isn’t right. I hope that this resonates when people watch it and they feel the real vulnerability and honesty within it.” You can add brutally honest, intelligent songwriting to that list.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jax Jones, Breathe

JAX JONES feat INA WROLDSENBREATHE: Following the success from his recent world-wide smash hit singles Instruction and You Don’t Know Me, Grammy nominated artist, songwriter and producer Jax Jones looks set to continue his winning streak with new single Breathe. Featuring Norwegian hit maker Ina Wroldsen, who has sold over 20 million singles as a writer for Calvin Harris, Clean Bandit and Anne Marie, Breathe is a slow-burning and addictive house record, one likely to propel him even further into the global consciousness. The ‘dum dum da da da da’ harmony that kicks in every so often is particularly catchy, thereby propelling it effortlessly into a lot of listeners’ subconscious. But also of note are the subtle use of beats, slick electronics and a feisty set of vocals that channel some of the premiere female singers of the moment, while lending Breathe an identity of its own. The sexual nature of the lyrics lend it extra late-night energy too. This one’s a hot dance ticket for the twilight crowd.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alina Libkind, Out Of My Head

ALINA LIBKINDOUT OF MY HEAD: Toronto based and Russian born artist Alina Libkind has released new single Out Of My Head as a means of celebrating falling in love. Featuring a sultry set of vocals and some smooth electronics and beats, this is rousing, dreamy and hypnotic, with a touch of the ethereal thrown in (courtesy of Libkind’s vocals). It’s a confident track, stylishly delivered to offer something far more intelligent and lasting than a lot of mainstream disposable pop songs about the same subject. Speaking about the song, Alina said: “I wrote Out of My Head on cloud nine. The track is about stepping into the uncharted waters of falling in love.” Out Of My Head is a suitably impressive follow-up to her introductory track, Connection, which drew lots of online attention from the likes of Indie Shuffle, Press Play and Diamond Deposits.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Calexico

CALEXICOVOICES IN THE FIELD: Calexico have shared a second track, Voices In The Field, from their forthcoming ninth studio album, The Thread That Keeps Us, which is due out on January 26, 2018, via City Slang. The song continues to find the group, led by vocalist/guitarist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino, in fine fettle with an album that captures their stylistic variety and unpredictability, while still finding solace in limitless creativity. Its driven by some robust beats and a stirring central guitar, which weaves its way in and out of the song like a twister. Indeed, it’s the guitars and hand-clap beats that infuse the song with its stirring energy, thereby allowing Burns to drop a moody central vocal and spin another compelling lyrical yarn. As ever, Calexico deliver complexity with listening brilliance. Burns says of the song: “In the age of the extremes, when walls attempt stifling words, this song is inspired by the poems on postcards from those uprooted by war and oppression. It’s a song to remind us to open up our hearts and hear other voices sing their stories. I was listening to Mavis Staples, Bombino, Joe Strummer and Bob Dylan.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, Perfect

ED SHEERAN AND BEYONCEPERFECT: Not content with leaving Perfect to stand up on its own merits (and become another gargantuan hit in the process), Ed Sheeran has now teamed up with Beyonce to record a new version of it – new in the sense that it boasts a duet. The collaboration came about after Ed played the song to Beyoncé on his guitar, prior to the release of his 10.5 million-selling album ÷ (pronounced ‘divide’), and she immediately fell in love it. In late summer 2017, the pair took to the studio to record the duet, creating one of the biggest collaborations of the year. Whether Beyonce adds much to it is debatable, but she certainly lays down some really earnest vocals that are augmented by a gospe-style backing chorus. It remains a subtle, understated song, reliant on acoustic strums and sincerity. And it will still melt hearts. But if we’re being ultra-picky, we think the song works best when left to Sheeran. It’s an endearing song but it somehow works better in original form.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bright OST

LOGIC & RAG’N‘BONE MANBROKEN PEOPLE: One of the artists of the year, Rag’n‘Bone Man unites with rapper Logic for new single Broken People, the latest to be taken from the apparently star-studded soundtrack of the Netflix film Bright (starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton). An emotive blend of hip hop and R’n‘B/soul, this plays to the strengths of both artists. Rag’N‘Bone man takes chorus duty, delivering a sweeping sung rendition of “we’re broken people now”, while declaring “there’s no glory in defeat”. Logic, meanwhile, raps lyrical over the themes inherent in the film – race, politics, acceptance and more. Instrumentally, there’s hip hop beats and cinematic strings to heighten the big screen vibe. The mix of styles works well between the two artists, especially since Rag’N‘Bone Man often uses similarly emphatic beat structures in some of his songs. And it’s notable, too, for allowing the personalities of both artists to shine through, without compromising on the elements that make them distinct in their own genres. Following on from Bastille’s World Gone Mad, the soundtrack to Bright looks very promising.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

GET CAPE WEAR CAPE FLYJUST A PHASE: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly drops another taster from his forthcoming Young Adult LP (out on January 19), in the form of the lively Just A Phase. Built around punchy guitar hooks and a punk-style central vocal, this belts along at a cracking pace, sweeping the listener along with it. With its fizzing alt-rock riffs and woozy undulating synthesisers, Just A Phase is designed to be joyous and carefree in nature. But as ever with Get Cape’s music there is more to be found when you scratch the surface, with the track opening-up an intriguing dialogue about our triangular relationship with politics and social media. Speaking about the track, Sam Duckworth AKA Get Cape, said: “We’re constantly told of all the things that are going wrong, how idiots are running the world into the ground. How division and hopelessness are everywhere. We watch others argue and laugh at our own demise. It’s about getting ready to get tough because the real fight is an offline one. Rebuild and repair, means getting off Twitter and back to the physical realm.” These are fine sentiments married to a fine record.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Tates, Water

THE TATESWATER: The Tates release their new single Water as a digital download through Libertino Records. Hailed as a brightly infectious record, the track has been eagerly anticipated after the success of the band’s debut release Electric Girl. It has also been supported by Huw Stephens, BBC Introducing, Radio 1 and gained Amazing radio play-listing as well as being A-listed on BBC Radio Wales. Lyrically, Water asks a poetic question exploring themes of nature over nurture, as Tom the guitarist explains: “Are the flaws that we share with our parents who we are, or have we learnt from them? Are we free to be the people we want to be or are we trapped by our genetic makeup and our immediate environment and society?” The song itself boasts some slick electronic and guitar hooks, as well as a catchy chorus that declares “there must be something in the water”. It has a playful energy to match its lyrical intelligence, meaning this is easy on the ear while posing questions of the mind – not a bad combination.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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No Hot Ashes, Eight Till Late

NO HOT ASHESEIGHT TILL LATE: Eight Till Late is the first single to emerge from No Hot Ashes’ upcoming EP, Skint Kids Disco, which will be released on the Modern Sky label on March 30, 2018. Marrying the louche strut of Orange Juice and liquid rhythms of Two Door Cinema Club, vocalist Isaac Taylor overlays his agile and distinctly fierce vocal stylings on a record that fizzes with a palpable energy. The central guitar riff has a siren-like feel to it, as well as a post-punk vibe, which works well against Taylor’s gruff, punk-infused vocal style. And yet, there’s a keen sense of melody too, enabling the song to drop a genuinely catchy, radio-friendly chorus. It’s easy to see why the track was picked up for use by critically-acclaimed, hit BBC series The A Word. Designed to move the listener physically and emotionally, the lyrics of Eight Till Late also see frontman Taylor open-up about his own personal struggles with mental health. Speaking about the track, Taylor explains: “The single is about mental health and how it’s affected me and people around me. I wanted to give a fairly honest account of how day to day struggles can weigh on the brain, everything from work to your favourite fizzy drinks being tampered with. As a band we think that modern life is all a bit much and taking time to fix your head is essential.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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