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

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

Mark Ronson

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MARK RONSON feat LYKKE LI – LATE NIGHT FEELINGS: Now here’s a collaboration to die for… producer Mark Ronson and sultry Swedish pop superstar Lykke Li. The results are as classy as you might have predicted. A self-proclaimed ‘sad banger’, this plays to the strengths of Li’s vocal tones, offsetting her ethereal vocals with a sense of melancholy. The beats (some of them with a Caribbean tinge) and synths are as slick as you’d expect from a Ronson production, albeit more restrained than some of his more club leaning material (such as the recent country-pop offering Nothing Breaks Like A Heart). But the change in pace works a treat, broadening Ronson’s appeal, while bringing Li even more fans. The mid-track breakdown, in which Li’s vocals are allowed free reign, is a particularly striking touch, allowing for the confused emotions in the lyrics to really be heard. But it also allows for a near-perfect re-introduction of the hip-hop infused beats, paving the way for a climax that’s, by turns, disco-pop and – belatedly – dreamy harmony. It’s a track that just gets better with each listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Novo Amor

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: NOVO AMOR – I MAKE SPARKS: The ever excellent Novo Amor has released a new track entitled I Make Sparks. The track originally featured on physical copies of his debut album Birthplace, sold in Japan, and has now been made available on digital streaming platforms for the first time. And it’s a typically beautiful, beguiling offering that’s actually a cover version. Opening amid some intricate guitar licks, the song slowly ushers in some tender, ethereal vocals, some trademark intelligent lyricism and some atmospheric background electronics, to create another soothing, effortlessly laidback track. Speaking about his reasoning for recording this track, Novo Amor himself said: “I Make Sparks is a cover of a song by Irish artist Katie Kim, from her album Salt. I fell in love with her bedroom demo a few years ago and have been looking for an opportunity to record my own version, to show my appreciation for Katie’s music. I found time after I’d finished my debut album, Birthplace, and it became a bonus track on the Japanese release. I’m really happy it’s getting a release worldwide now.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Avicii, SOS

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: AVICII feat ALOE BLACCSOS: Avicii’s new song SOS (featuring Aloe Blacc) is out now – and it’s a great way to remember and enhance his legacy. The first track to be released from the upcoming album TIM is a sleek and modern song, built on Aloe Blacc’s soaring voice and brightly layered pop production from Tim Bergling, Albin Nedler and Kristoffer Fogelmark. It’s a song that’s every bit as memorable as Avicii’s signature tunes, with Blacc’s soulful vocals providing a powerful focal point, laying down a chorus that invites you to chant along: “We could be more than just part-time lovers.” Avicii’s production values are typically pristine, too, combining pop with dance to create a bright, breezy sound that also has a bittersweet side, given its themes of asking for help. In the personal notes recovered after his passing, Tim wrote that he wanted to work with Aloe Blacc, the vocalist on his previous hit Wake Me Up. This prompted Albin and Kristoffer to invite Aloe in to work on the song. Talking about this, Aloe explains: “I feel like SOS was a song that was probably ahead of its time for when he wrote it. He wrote these lyrics obviously about some of his battles and I think it’s a really important topic to approach and to share, especially with his visibility and his access to ears and hearts. To give people the words to be able to say ‘I need help’.” Avicii’s new album TIM will be released on June 6, 2019. Avicii’s net proceeds from the album will go to the non-profit Tim Bergling Foundation and the purposes it will work for, among other things, to prevent mental illness and suicide.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Morello, Can't Stop The Bleeding

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: TOM MORELLO feat GARY CLARK JR & GRAMATIKCAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING: Tom Morello has released a genre-crossing new single in the form of the blistering Can’t Stop The Bleeding, featuring Gary Clark Jr. and Gramatik. The track exclusively premiered as Zane Lowe’s World Record on Apple Music’s Beats 1 – and it’s easy to hear why. With a clear guitar nod to one of Morello’s heroes, Jimi Hendrix, the song also manages to incorporate elements of electronica (around the midway point), as well as future pop and hip hop late on. The second half of the song, in particular, takes you to all kinds of crazy places, turning the track on its head for some genuinely thrilling electronic take-downs and mixing that lend it more dancefloor appeal than rock (with Beastie Boys elements). Morello tosses in some blistering guitar hooks during that outro, too, as if to amplify the crossover nature of the song. It’s a monster of a song. Tom says: “Can’t Stop The Bleeding is the latest Marshall stack bass drop banger from Gary Clark Jr., Gramatik and myself. Influenced by W.B. Yeats, Jimi Hendrix and terrified Ultra fans, this latest salvo of Shred Step just erupted from The Atlas Underground.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bear's Den

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: BEAR’S DENLAUREL WREATH: Bear’s Den have released the new video for their latest single Laurel Wreath and succeed in blowing you away sonically and visually. Much like its predecessors Fuel On The Fire and Blankets of Sorrow, Laurel Wreath reminds the listener how organic, intimate and deeply moving this record is set out to be. The guitars are atmospheric, but beautifully so, while the vocals have a tenderness to them, there’s also something poignant and bittersweet too. It’s a trademark offering in that it’s so thoughtful and layered, you get more with each listen, especially in reassuring moments such as “you don’t have to be lonely alone, I could be there in a heartbeat”. It’s quietly empowering stuff, complete with a rousing, charged finale. The Laurel Wreath video was shot in the Marzahn-hellensdorf neighbourhood of Berlin, which is a neighbourhood that is both home to many immigrants to Germany, but also a stronghold of the far right. It features local actors from an East Berlin housing centre for refugees, and, like the track, explores the idea of loneliness, with the cast living their lives blindfolded, only able to remove them within the confines of their own homes. Brazilian director duo ‘Jungle’ commented: “When we were sent the brief, the last scene immediately came to our minds: Layers and layers of people stashed above each other separated by 50cm walls. People living their lives in the private cubicles they call home, willingly unaware of each other. Paying a price for their individuality. A dreamlike reality where people embodied their isolation through blindfolds.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Callum Beattie, Connection

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CALLUM BEATTIECONNECTION: Callum Beattie has dropped an eye-catching video for his equally ear-catchy new single Connection. The humourous mini film is designed to offer a clever take on the word ‘Connection’ as it follows an endless, unbroken chain of a diverse group of people holding hands in different everyday settings. Filmed as a continuous shot, the connection between people of all sorts shows a common humanity as they enjoy each other’s company and the single. Co-written with long-time friend and songwriter Michael Ochs whilst in Berlin, Connection is an easygoing, effortlessly upbeat track that’s led by Callum’s distinctive, powerful vocal. The effortless melodicism and surging uplift of the track is reminiscent to the rush of the beginnings of a budding relationship. There are easygoing hooks, toe-tapping beats, sunshine melodies and a headrush chorus that’s tailor-made for getting more than a little giddy with. You can predict that a lot more people will have a connection with Beattie after hearing this and then watching the fun video.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Good Lovelies, I See Gold

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: GOOD LOVELIES – I SEE GOLD: Juno Award winning Canadian trio Good Lovelies return to the UK this Spring with the physical release of new album Shapeshifters, impacting in the UK on April 5. As a taster, the new single I See Gold offers a beautifully disarming shot of optimism. The track actually opens the new album with the band’s signature blend of beautiful harmonies, pop choruses and sweeping instrumentation. An ode to parenthood, which is augmented by a lovely video, this finds the Good Lovelies offering up warm melodies over reassuring lyrics that declare: “Let it go, let it go, everything’s going to be alright.” The gold of the title refers to children… and there’s a sense of wonder attached to the accompanying visuals, which celebrate parenthood from the perspectives of both mums and dads. The lush instrumentation and harmonies make for a completely lovely listen, which showcase Good Lovelies at their absolute best and most catchy (you may well be singing along to the infectious chorus). This newest collection of songs offers a perfect balance between a more modern production style and the musical influences that have made them a household name over the years in their native Canada.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charlie Cunningham

CHARLIE CUNNINGHAMDON’T GO FAR: Having clocked up five million streams in the last two months for both the title track and follow-up single Sink In, Charlie Cunningham announces his second album Permanent Way released on Infectious / BMG on June 7. As a taster, he also drops the new single Don’t Go Far. The track is signature Cunningham, swooping and diving to capture the deftest melody, the deepest emotion. It’s an acoustic offering, that’s gentle and reflective and more than a little bittersweet. There’s a sense of yearning in the lyrics, which find Cunningham imploring someone to go, “even though it’s hard”, before adding: “Just don’t go far.” And in those vocals, there’s a sense of sorrow and loss that’s difficult to resist, tapping into feelings that we’ve all probably experienced at some time, and can therefore easily relate to. Cunningham’s low-key delivery is evocative of the style of Jose Gonzalez, which only makes the track more memorable. Permanent Way documents life’s uncertainties: the need for intimacy and love, but also space and independence. “I’m quite a private person outside of performing,” Cunningham admits. “There is some autobiographical stuff in the lyrics, but it flits in and out quite a lot; it’s much more about people generally and their interactions.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tommy Ashby

TOMMY ASHBYSOMEONE NEW: Scottish singer-songwriter and doctor in ‘the perception of sound’ Tommy Ashby releases Someone New, the third single from his forthcoming Golden Arrow EP (set for release April 2019). The track sets the scene of a break-up and describes the raw emotions that can be stirred from memories that associate that special someone to specific places. It’s got a haunted, ethereal vibe to it, which is found in the subtle acoustic guitar licks and near falsetto vocals that accompany them. The thoughtful lyrics tap into the pain of heartbreak and having to move on. But it also has a quiet resolve attached, which allows room for some optimism. It’s quietly affecting stuff. Tommy said about the song: “I like the image of a specific table in a favourite café where a couple’s life together unfolds from the first sparks and through all the ups and downs. Their conversations held in that same spot… It’s really exciting to inhabit another character when you’re writing to describe your emotions.” The song is produced and mixed by Grammy award winner Sam Okell (John Grant, Graham Coxon), who stripped back the song to just vocals and acoustic with just a few atmospheric touches.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Menke, Echo

MENKEECHO: Swedish singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist Menke has released her new single Echo, the first new music she has released in 2019, following the release of her internationally acclaimed debut EP, Till Havet, in 2018, where she put music to eight poems by Swedish author Karin Boye. With Echo, the lyrics are not by Boye but Menke herself. It’s also the first release that sees her sing in English, showing us that this is only the beginning of a very grand musical journey. Her vocals soar over a soulful soundscape constructed by the most unexpected instruments that Menke brings to bear: glass, lyre, cello, banjo, saw, guitar and piano. The result is quietly intoxicating, with Menke’s serene, beautifully mellow lyrics soaring above the lush soundscapes created by her sometimes obscure choice of instruments. But it makes for a highly appealing listen – something different but reassuring. Speaking about the single, Menke says: “What’s an echo? An echo is a reflection of sound. For me, my life and who I am is also an echo of all that I have experienced and done.” The track found meaning in the mental health issues that her mother was suffering from – issues that bounce from the person affected to those around them; and then back again. Just like an echo. After living in Berlin for a period of time, Menke decided to move back to where she was born, to the Swedish village of Järna. Because she wanted to and because she had to. This is where she addresses her inner thoughts, feelings and emotions in music and turns them in to beautiful and fascinating sonic landscapes, as evidenced on her new single.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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James Morrison

JAMES MORRISONFEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: James Morrison released his new album, You’re Stronger Than You Know, to winning reviews earlier this year. He now shares the album’s second single, Feels Like The First Time, which is arguably the track on the album that best captures his soulful take on the Motown and Stax traditions. And even though the track shimmers with an uplifting energy, it was inspired by a tough time in Morrison’s life. He wrote the song while his long-term relationship was on the verge of collapse. As he explains: “This song is me saying to her, when things are right it still feels amazing. But I didn’t know if she felt like that too, and we nearly split up.” There is a sense of hope, though, born from the fact they are still together. Overall, however, the song offers trademark Morrison gruff vocals, heartfelt passion and a keen sense of intimacy. The Motown and Stax elements are apparent in the cute guitar hooks and the organs, lending it a retro feel. And it’s perhaps for this reason that the track doesn’t completely blow you away instrumentally. By wearing its influences a little too keenly on its sleeve, there’s a sense of over-familiarity to it. But there is a power to the lyrics and Morrison’s vocal delivery that still make this an appealing listen.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jax Jones

JAX JONES & MARTIN SOLVEIGALL DAY AND NIGHT: Following Jax Jones’ triumphant sold out hometown show at London’s Roundhouse, where Europa – his collaborative project with Martin Solveig – saw its live debut, the pair have premiered a dizzying, CGI-peppered official video for their lively debut single, All Day And Night, featuring white-hot US singer Madison Beer. A club banger that does actually boast crossover potential, this mixes some hard club sounds (courtesy of some banging electronics) with a more pop vibe, courtesy of Beer’s gutsy, soulful vocals. She brings a sense of purpose and emotion to the song, lamenting that she’s giving up on her love with a genuine sense of sorrow. It serves as a nice contrast to the song’s more dancefloor-leaning tendencies, which taken on their own terms work well in appealing to the masses. Hence, while offering the potential for that crossover appeal, there’s also no doubting that the track will also be a big summer anthem on the club scene, from Ibiza to Miami. The video is eye-catching as well.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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

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

Vampire Weekend, This Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: VAMPIRE WEEKENDTHIS LIFE: Vampire Weekend drive into bittersweet overdrive with new single This Life, a willfully happy-go-lucky offering instrumentally, that also hints at something darker lyrically. There’s a summery jangle to the guitars and the sleek, hand-clap beats that accompany them (both reminiscent of Brown Eyed Girl era Van Morrison), while Ezra Koenig’s vocals are similarly upbeat (complete with ‘whoa whoa’ harmonies). But the lyrics, on the other hand, opt for something a little more dramatic, with a chorus that declares: “You’ve been cheating on, cheating on me, so I’ve been cheating on, cheating on you”. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition that makes you feel giddy and almost guilty for enjoying it, all at the same time. But it’s another fine example of why the new album, Father of the Bride, looks set to be one of the year’s best and another Vampire Weekend classic.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Vampire Weekend, This Life

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: VAMPIRE WEEKENDUNBEARABLY WHITE: Continuing their newfound ‘tradition’ of releasing two tracks at a time to promote their forthcoming LP, Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend also unveil Unbearably White, the unofficial B-side to This Life. And it’s typically provocative, or playful, depending on how you read it. The name of the song suggests some form of political or social commentary about colour in the age of Trump. But lyrically, the reality is far different. The song doesn’t actually appear to be about much more than nature itself, with references to surviving the cold (perhaps on a ski trip). But it’s just as easily a reflection on a frosty relationship, couresy of lines such as “it’s hard on the body, it’s hard on the mind, to learn what kept us together, darling, is what kept us alive”. There’s a typically bittersweet vibe, too, with Ezra Koening’s vocals sounding melancholy as he laments the ‘unbearably white’ nature of life/love, and background beats that shuffle along in laidback, quasi hip-hop fashion. It’s another gem of a track, though, and evidence of just how intelligent, melodic and enjoyable Vampire Weekend material is.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Lumineers, Gloria

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE LUMINEERSGLORIA: After the triumph of their UK and US No.1 record, The Lumineers are back with their third studio album, III, out on Decca Records on September 13. The two-time GRAMMY nominated band also release Gloria, the first single from the album – and quickly succeed in raising anticipation for the record. Shot through with robust acoustic guitar licks (that veer towards a rock sound), some jangling pianos and a brisk, catchy chorus, this is a blast of a record that rushes into your subconscious and refuses to shift. There’s the spirit of classic acts such as Tom Petty, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen in the delivery, while also embracing some more traditional Lumineers elements. It’s a song to enjoy over and over, which looks set to put The Lumineers on the radar of even more listeners. A conceptual album presented across three chapters, III is described as audacious: every note, every syllable, and every moment of silence in between is emotionally charged. The album is darker in tone anything they’ve done before, with each part centering on one main character from a fictitious family known as The Sparks, who span three generations in the album’s storyline. Mixing raw emotional themes with their ear-catching melodies, expressive vocals and trademark acoustic sound, III moves masterly in artistic directions not yet travelled by the band. The wait begins…
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Aurora, The Seed

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: AURORATHE SEED: Norwegian pop artist Aurora has delivered another slice of emphatic ethereal pop with new single The Seed, a potent lament about the fragility of the world. Described as “a cry for Mother Earth”, the song is a rallying call to the world to take action to save the planet, whether cleaning up polluted rivers or declaring over the angry chorus: “You cannot eat money, oh no”. It’s a powerful sentiment, clearly aimed at the world’s profiteers and conglomerates who go on making money no matter what cost to the environment. Far from coming over too preachy, however, the track has a vibrancy to it in the atmospheric harmonies, the powerfully melodic chorus and the emphatic beats and electronics. It’s an anthemic offering, designed to be chanted aloud whenever played live, or played for influencers to listen to. It’s time we all were forced to make a stand on behalf of Mother Nature.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The National, Light Years

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: THE NATIONALLIGHT YEARS: There’s often a great deal of beauty to be found in melancholy, if you look deep enough. Exhibit A is The National’s new single and video, Light Years. A meditation on life and the nature of relationships (some of them long distance, others divided by time), this unfolds without any back beats and just a sombre central piano line (barring some late strings). It’s a quietly moving piece of work, with lyrics that make you think about the people that have informed your own life. And it’s a beautiful, tender ballad that just gets better and more meaningful with each listen. What’s more, it comes with a video by director Mike Mills, excerpted from the album’s accompanying short film, which is also called I Am Easy to Find. The black and white offering stars Alicia Vikander and is similarly striking, filled with achingly beautiful images of family young and old. Mills is also credited as a co-producer on the forthcoming album, I Am Easy To Find, which is due for release on May 17.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Speight

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: TOM SPEIGHTHEARTSHAKER: Tom Speight has finally dropped a video for his excellent new single Heartshaker – and it’s suitably eye-catching. Commenting on the video, Speight said: “When it came to filming a video for Heartshaker, I wanted to give a little nod to its 80s influence (Paul Simon Graceland and Tom Petty), via the video… I thought it would be cool to create a kind of Blade Runner neon world. Grant Taylor [the director] decided we should build our own set from scratch so it would have its own unique look! I didn’t expect they would be as ambitious to build a train in Hackney! It was a lot of fun filming with Grant, plus working with the talented Bianca Hendrickse-Spendlove (actress).” The track itself is also a gem. Inspired by both Paul Simon and Vampire Weekend, and reminiscent of both, this also adds strong rhyhtmn and African influences and rates as the most upbeat track to be taken from the LP so far. Commenting on the track himself, Tom said: “Heartshaker was written after travelling back from New York City. I was in a relationship at the time and it felt like everything was moving very fast for me and I was struggling to take it all in. I got back from the trip and finally had a chance to write about how I was feeling and had time to process the feeling of being afraid of being left behind in a relationship.” It may be a song steeped in a certain self-doubt, but there are some suitably lovely lyrics about seeing a girl from the West Side on the A train, or “dancing girl watch the sunrise”, while those lively beats and robust acoustic guitar licks provide an inspiring backdrop. It’s a track steeped in classic songwriting values that could easly become one of Speight’s most crowd-pleasing songs to date.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Divine Comedy

THE DIVINE COMEDYQUEUEJUMPER: Neil Hannon, one of the country’s foremost songwriters, releases a sublimely catchy new single in the form of Queuejumper, the first taste of new Divine Comedy album Office Politics (out on June 7). It’s the follow-up to the acclaimed top 10 2016 album Foreverland. Office Politics is being described as a 16-track tour-de-force full of inventive, timeless music peopled with a typically irreverent cast of characters. “It has synthesizers. And songs about synthesizers,” Neil says. “But don’t panic. It also has guitars, orchestras, accordions, and songs about love and greed.” As a taster track, Queuejumper is an utterly infectious crowd-pleaser of a record that leaves you hungry to hear more. Featuring a chorus that declares “I jumped the queue, I jumped the queue because I’m better than you”, it has a playful quality that offsets some slightly arrogant lyrics with a jaunty pop style that’s high on slick bassline grooves, toe-tapping beats and playful vocals. It’s irresistibly fun.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Diving At Dawn

DIVING AT DAWNTHE HUMBLING OF A GOOD MAN: The Humbling of a Good Man is drescribed as a soundtrack to everyday life. Dreams fall by the wayside, ambitions get cut to the quick and lives aren’t lived to the fullest. The song finds the protagonist at the end of a journey, the end of a dream, crash landing back into suburbia and trying to make sense of where he’s been and what’s to come. It’s shot through with everyday observations of surviving life’s struggles – the day today grind of getting up, going to work, providing for you and the family, and setting aside your hopes and ambitions – a different kind of hero, or good man. Yet, in spite of the inherent sense of realism and melancholy, there’s a bittersweet beauty to the delivery, which finds Pete Hobbs (formerly of The Boy Least Likely To fame) delivering harmonic vocals around swirling string arrangements and robust acoustic guitar licks. And there’s something reassuring in hearing lyrics that declare “it’s hard to get by when you’re living a lie, it’s hard to get by when a part of you dies”. It’s a sentiment we’ve all probably shared from time to time.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Pocket Sun

POCKET SUNTIGHTLY: Tightly is the second track to be taken from Pocket Sun’s debut EP, Sleep Inventions, which is released on May 17, 2019 – and it stays true to their musical ethos of delivering kaleidoscopic, hyper-melodic sound through lush layers of vocal harmony, synth and beats. Hence, there are trip-hop beats, dreamy female vocals and woozy electronics that serve to create a soundscape that’s, by turns, laidback, trippy and blissful. Tightly is therefore a great track to kick back and relax with, and a really nice introduction to a fascinating new band. The Bristol quintet have also released an accompanying animated video that’s every bit as quirky as you’d perhaps expect. It somehow fits in nicely with the overall vibe of the track, though. Pocket Sun is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter GMT, who has been quietly hatching a mountain of audiovisual art from her Bristol home. In 2018, the colourful five-piece came together to embrace her vision, and have since been working behind the scenes on their blissful live show.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Away Days

THE AWAY DAYSDESIGNED: Istanbul-based dream pop duo The Away Days return with a new single, Designed, out via Epic Istanbul/Sony Music Turkey. It’s the first track to be released since You Think You’re High in 2018, which was released to celebrate the first year anniversary of their last album, Dreamed at Dawn, in 2017. The track finds melodic synths washing over lush guitar harmonies, designed to create a swirling atmosphere as a ghost-ridden, dreamy vocal talks of unknown powers controlling our daily existence. It’s a very dream-pop offering, which succeeds in easing you into a relaxed state of mind. But there’s also something very Eurovision Song Contest sounding about it, which adds a somewhat cheesy element that gets in the way of the overall enjoyment. Speaking about the single, the band said: “Istanbul feels like a black hole, more and more each day, pushing us to question life itself. We are left to wonder if everything around us is being touched and dictated by another power… not by God, but something else.” Eurovision comment from us aside, the message behind the track is well worth contemplating though.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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James Deacon, Not Givin' Up

JAMES DEACONNOT GIVIN’ UP: Hailing from Johannesburg, 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist, musical prodigy James Deacon has teamed up with recording outfit Bad Future Records (Hunter As A Horse) for his new release, Not Givin’ Up. The track heralds from Deacon’s awakening to his own powerful determination. It’s billed as a blistering clarion call to those who yearn to give their managers and imposers, their higher ups and inhibitors the two-finger salute and to take their destiny into their own hands. And while it opens in soulful fashion, the track quickly drops an emphatic, hip-hop infused beat and some quasi-rapped vocals to emphasise the determination inherent in the lyrics (which declare “I’m living freestyle”). It’s a mix of styles that’s designed to get Deacon noticed, arriving with an unapologetically brash style of delivery (instrumentally and vocally) that is very pronounced and, therefore, notable. At times, it reminded me stylistically of Rag’n‘Bone Man, which can only be a good comparison to further the attention surrounding him.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 29, 2019

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

Feeder

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FEEDERFEAR OF FLYING: Feeder are in the midst of a resurgence, having scored consecutive Top 10 albums with 2016’s All Bright Electric and the 2017 Best Of. That renewed power continues with their tenth studio album Tallulah, which will be released on August 9, 2019, via BELIEVE. To mark the release, the band have dropped the incendiary, crowd-pleasing new single Fear of Flying, which is classic Feeder mixed with elements of Foo Fighters. Lyrically, this is the band looking on the fragility of fame and confronting their fear of the bubble bursting. But it’s delivered with trademark gusto, thereby emerging as more empowering and anthemic than insecure or melancholy. It harks back to the classic Feeder sound, albeit with a little more bite in the guitars. It’s a great way to announce a new album. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song a little more, Grant Nicholas revealed: “Everybody in music who has some success has a fear of the bubble bursting. A lot of things that come with success aren’t always positive. I wrote it with a female rock star in mind, but it was based upon my own experiences of being in a band, and what you see when you’re hanging out with other bands. It also touches on being a band in the social media age. It’s not just about being reviewed by a certain magazine anymore, it’s about being reviewed by virtually anyone who wants to do so. It’s a whole different world out there for everyone, of any age.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jesse Mac Cormack

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: JESSE Mac CORMACKGIVE A CHANCE: Montreal native singer-songwriter Jesse Mac Cormack will release his anticipated new album, Now, on May 3, 2019, via Secret City Records. As a taster, he reveals new album cut Give A Chance. The result is utterly compelling. The album, as a whole, is said to be prismatic and forward-facing, recalling the adventurous pop of acts such as Tame Impala, Talk Talk and Perfume Genius. Mixed by Matt Wiggins in the UK (Adele, London Grammar, Lorde), it is a work of ardent, kaleidoscopic art-rock that is at once a dazzling premiere and the culmination of a meticulous five-year evolution. The lead single showcases this in mesmerising fashion. Comprised of fractured beats, cinematic electronics, edgy vocals and soaring choruses, this creeps up on you and seduces in a way that you’d never expect. The beats, though unconventional, grip the attention, while the vocals have an edgy, atmoshperic quality that’s oddly uplifting (particularly when the chorus lands). The electronics, meanwhile, have a cinematic quality befitting a Michael Mann, Heat-style production. They’re epic. The finale, which builds to something quite heady and mind-blowing, is exhilarating. Think Peter Gabriel meets Talk Talk and you’re somewhere close.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Kills You Slowly

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE CHAINSMOKERSKILLS YOU SLOWLY: They may have their detractors, but The Chainsmokers remain – to us – one of the most consistently engaging EDM acts around. They don’t always get things right but their willingness to mix up their sound so consistently means that every new release [and they’re prolific] comes with a keen sense of anticipation. New offering Kills You Slowly once again plays around with their sound and emerges as anything but trademark. A ballad of sorts, this drops a low-key tempo, in keeping with the song title, that is highly endearing. Hence, the track eschews some of the duo’s more club-based material to deliver something more radio friendly and resolutely pop, couched in those ballad values. The vocals have a hushed, bruised quality, while the beats and electronics are subtle by comparison to some of their heavier club-leaning material. There’s a keen sense of melody, too, which makes this instantly gratifying in a mainstream kind of way. It’s sure to be another smash hit for them and one that could potentially win them even more fans.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Editors

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: EDITORSBARRICADES (THE BLANCK MASS RECORDING): Editors have announced the release of The Blanck Mass Sessions for Record Store Day 2019. An electronica-infused alternative version of their acclaimed top 10 album Violence, The Blank Mass Sessions cast the songs in a bold new light, offering a fascinating insight into the album’s creative process. The album will be released on limited edition colour vinyl on Record Store Day on April 13 with general release on May 3 via Play It Again Sam. As a taster, the band have dropped the track Barricades complete with a striking video. The track itself finds lead singer Smith’s hopeful lyrics combine with yearning synths over robotic drum machines and sweeping basslines. The beats are particularly striking, lending the track an emphatic focal point. But the synths are equally notable late on, adopting an almost Depeche Mode quality. But the layered vocals, combined with Smith’s distinct, moody lead, also provide a formidable presence for the single, helping it to register strongly from the moment you hear it. The thoughtful lyrics, which pose questions such as “how long would you wait for the one that you love?” also ensure the album sticks in the memory. It’s terrific stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FOALSCAFE D’ATHENS: From playing chaotic house parties in their home city of Oxford to becoming major festival headliners across Europe, Foals’ trajectory has been remarkable. They’ve earned critical acclaim (NME and Q Award wins, plus Mercury Prize, Ivor Novello and BRIT Award nominations) and fan devotion (1.7 million sales of their four Gold-certified albums, plus over half a billion streams at Spotify since 2015) in equal measure. New album, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 has seen them achieing new heights. To mark the release of the LP, Foals have now dropped a video for the track Cafe D’Athens and continue to impress. A hypnotic, trippy offering (visually), the video somehow arrives as a striking juxtaposition to the track itself, which is alive with energy and only heightens the comparisons that have been made with Radiohead’s OK Computer LP. The beats shuffle along in quickfire fashion, while trippy, almost experimental electronics weave in and out. The vocals veer between stoner and falsetto, lending the track a striking element that refuses to let go of your attention. Hence, while the overall style is far from mainstream, there’s something deeply ear-catching about the delivery that helps to ensure that Foals are very much one of the buzz bands of the moment.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tarantina, One Eye

TARANTINAONE EYE: One Eye is the third track to be released from self-taught singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and videographer Tarantina’s second EP Organs (out now) – it’s typically impressive. Billed as a haunting, goose-bump inducing offering, this combines some of Tarantina’s now trademark elements: from ethereal, Kate Bush-style vocals to layered insrumentals and intelligent lyrics. The overall result is a striking track that manages to be both urgent (instrumentally, especially in its robust drum loops) and dreamy (vocally). But it’s this juxtaposition that lends the track such a fascinating presence. And lyrically, it’s well worth taking the time to listen to, as Tarantina herself explains: “One Eye is about understanding that we may never fully know the whole truth about who we are or where we’re going but at the same time, trying to search for that is very human and something which we can all relate to.” Speaking about the accompanying EP, Tarantina adds: “Organs is the result of a period of internal reflection. These songs are part of a remedy or a healing process.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Interpol, Weekend

INTERPOLTHE WEEKEND: Interpol have announced new EP A Fine Mess, which will be released on May 17, 2019, on Matador Records. The announcement comes with new track The Weekend, which offers up a classic slice of Interpol art-rock. Recorded during time spent in upstate New York with Dave Fridmann, the five songs that make up A Fine Mess gradually emerged as a body of work with a narrative and flow unto itself. The title track, and BBC 6 Music-playlisted single Fine Mess, then received further production from Kaines & Tom A.D. and mixing from Claudius Mittendorfer, who had first worked with Interpol as engineer on Our Love To Admire. The resulting set is a living, breathing postcard from the band to their fans as they tour the world throughout 2019, and a linear continuation of the visceral and contagious energy set loose with Marauder. Lead single The Weekend is three minutes and two seconds of angular guitars and edgy vocals that combine to create something of a trademark sound. But while the song revels in its retro values, this should come as good news to Interpol loyalists, who have had to endure quite a lengthy wait for new material. It’s lively, vibrant and energised… complete with that guitar sound that only Interpol can create.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Cage The Elephant and Beck, Night Running

CAGE THE ELEPHANT feat BECKNIGHT RUNNING: Two great acts combine to create Night Running, the lively new single from Cage The Elephant, featuring Beck. Taken from the forthcoming Cage The Elephant album, Social Cues, the track – sadly – isn’t quite the classic we had hoped it would be, perhaps because it defies easy categorisation. There’s something of a reggae vibe to it early on, as well as a future pop sound that’s inherent in some of the more electronic elements. But the backbeat, when it’s allowed to take centre-stage, certainly lends itself to reggae, while there’s a dub-style element to some of the accompanying sound effects. The track’s refusal to adhere to any one genre is also evident in the hip-hop-infused beats that accompany the verses, with both Beck and Cage The Elephant’s Matt Shultz trading trademark vocal styles to further bring out the track’s eccentricities. It’s actually the type of song that gets better with each listen… the initial disappointment giving rise to something more appreciative. With Beck involved, you can almost always guarantee a sense of cool (especially when any kind of beat is involved). But this one takes time to properly ingratiate itself.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis, End Like This

RHYS LEWISEND LIKE THIS: Featuring Rhys Lewis’ trademark soulful and honest vocals, End Like This is a harrowing recollection of a relationship unravelling and the crushing heartache of it ending. The track showcases Rhys’s captivating gift for telling poignant and vivid stories through his lyrics, and his willingness to bare all. But at the same time, it’s also stirring stuff, refusing to wallow – instrumentally at least – in that sense of melancholy. The pianos and accompanying beats are carefully deployed, but nevertheless help to create something of a cinematic backdrop. The vocals, meanwhile, find Lewis bearing his heart and soul for all to hear… it’s impossible to resist, such is the conviction with which they are delivered. The lyrics, in particular, are highly relatable to anyone who has had to recover from a break-up, with telling lines such as “I still sleep on the left side, like you’re laying with me”, and “I still reach for two cups, when I’m making coffee”. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song, Lewis explains: “Putting too much faith in love is the only way to feel it in its strongest incarnation. When you do feel it powerfully for someone you put all your trust in it, you start thinking 10 years ahead and picture what your lives might look like together. When a relationship breaks down, you not only have to let go of the person you were with, but every single one of those visions too. So, for a while at least, you have to live with a different image of the future.” The song is the third single to be taken from upcoming EP In Between Minds, which features five tracks, including recent singles Hold On To Happiness and Better Than Today.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rob Thomas, I Love It

ROB THOMAS – I LOVE IT: Multiple Grammy® award-winning singer/songwriter Rob Thomas has released new track I Love It, the second instant-grat track from his highly anticipated fourth solo album, Chip Tooth Smile, which releases everywhere on April 26. The Matchbox Twenty vocalist has gone for straight-up rock on this one, delivering an urgent crowd-pleaser of a track that’s driven by emphatic beats, fiery guitar riffs and an infectious energy that’s evident from the “I love it” chorus. It’s the type of song that’s designed to whip the fans up into a frenzy in live form (or when played loud on the radio) and it succeeds in doing that. A charismatic, engaging, and indefatigable live performer, Thomas has spent much of the past two decades on the road, fronting massive world treks with Matchbox Twenty and on his own as well as a series of intimate acoustic tours. Thomas is also a dedicated philanthropist, establishing Sidewalk Angels Foundation with his wife Marisol Thomas in 2003. The organization is dedicated to providing critically needed funds and support to over 20 no-kill animal shelters and animal rescues, across the US, that help to fight for the rights and fair treatment of those with no voice.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Liimo, Get Weird

LIIMOGET WEIRD: Edinburgh natives Liimo return with their breezy, trippy new single Get Weird, featuring Lizzy Land, through B-Unique Records. An R’n‘B infused slow jam featuring the honeyed vocals of US vocalist Lizzy Land, this is a daydream of a record that takes a surreal trip through life, as if lived in a movie. It’s got dreamy beats, sultry boy-girl vocals and a pop sheen that makes this tailor-made for the term ‘radio-friendly’, albeit with a late-night, smooth groove vibe attached. Commenting on the inspiration behind the track, Liimo’s frontman Kieran explained: “Get Weird is a song about a whirlwind romance. That sweet spot at the start of a relationship where everything feels unlike anything you’ve ever been used to. The kind of moment where all other things in life take a backseat, you’re both making it up as you go alone, seeing how it all plays out. We’d written the song with a collab in mind and we completely fell in love with Lizzy Land’s interpretation of it.” The overall effect is deeply hynpotic, but highly satisfying, with some thought-provoking lyrics thrown in for good measure.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Carnival Youth, Phantom Planet

CARNIVAL YOUTHPHANTOM PLANET: Latvian trio Carnival Youth are back with a new release – a double A side featuring Birthday and Phantom Planet (the track we’re focusing on), via their own label. Blending hazy vocals with Tame Impala-esque jangle guitars, the two new songs manage to combine the melodic, experimental sojnd for which the band have become known for. In the case of Phantom Planet, this is both good and bad. For while the song certainly has an identity and an energy all of its own, the edgy, broken-up style sometimes grates. The vocals never really settle into a satisfying groove, while the electronics also have an off-kilter, leftfield vibe that occasionally gets in the way of an easy listen. It’s consistently intriguing, if only to find out what direction the track will take next (akin to listening to They Might Be Giants kind of material). But it eventually becomes tiring, with an ending that sums up the overall sense of dissatisfaction.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, March 22, 2019

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

Two Door Cinema Club, Talk

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUBTALK: Talk marks Two Door Cinema Club’s first new music since their 2016 Top 10 album Gameshow – and it’s well worth the wait. A funky, lively, upbeat offering, this combines disco-infused beats with indie-rock leanings, to create something that’s by turns empowering and fun to listen to. The melodies are particularly difficult to resist, making you giddy in a ’70s pop kind of way, while the disco grooves are geared towards getting you up on the dancefloor. The song, as a whole, reminded me of Beck’s recent material (Up All Night) and the way in which he plays with music genres, while remaining hip and relevant at the same time. Two Door Cinema Club, by emulating that kind of fearless songwriting style, have matched Beck’s capacity to keep themselves immediate and trendy. Talk is an irresistible return from a band we need to keep hearing more from. In more Two Door Cinema Culub news, the band have also announced a headline show at Oval Space on March 30 for Annie Mac’s inaugural AMP London series. The show will bring to a close the series of live music, talks and discussions taking place in London between March 27 and 30.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Syml, Wildfire

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SYMLWILDFIRE: Having recently announced his self-titled debut album, set for release on May 3, Seattle-based artist and producer SYML (aka Brian Fennell) has now released the official video to accompany fan favourite Wildfire. A collaboration between SYML and Mark Ralph (Clean Bandit, Rudimental, Rag’n‘Bone Man), Wildfire is described an incredibly emotive and moving comparative. It’s built around a stirring falsetto vocal (which reaches its high when declaring “I’m burning up” over the powerhouse chorus), as well as emphatic beats and similarly stirring electronic arrangements. The song boasts a cinematic grandeur befitting the likes of Coldplay and Maroon 5 at times. It’s a track designed to get the band even more noticed. The accompanying visual is the perfect companion to Wildfire, breathing life further into the song and personifying the struggles Fennell documents within. Speaking about Wildfire and working with Mark Ralph, Fennel explained: “This song started as a gentle production, comparing the devastation wreaked by wildfire to what some experience in their everyday lives. It was invigorating to work on the album version with someone as imaginative as Mark Ralph. He really made this song sound as powerful as its theme.” Going further into its inspiration, Fennell adds: “I wrote this song when all I could see was smoke and falling ash outside of my studio. The whole west coast of the US has been dealing with wildfires since mid-summer and they have wreaked havoc. People have lost everything from their houses to their lives. It struck me that in these seasons of destruction and loss, someone might need to hear that there is hope and that they matter. There can be beauty in destruction, literally and figuratively.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marina, Orange Trees

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: MARINAORANGE TREES: “Flowers in my hair, I belong by the sea… just you and me, sitting by the orange trees”… the lyrics to Marina’s latest song convey blissful summer evenings spent by idyllic coastal stretches, with fresh oranges and love. It’s a delightful record, laden with smooth groove beats, warm acoustic guitar licks, hushed, sensual vocals and an overall sense of bliss. Marina says herself of the track: “I wrote Orange Trees about the island that my family and I are from in Greece. It’s called Lefkada and it’s my favourite place in the world. I always feel at peace there. It’s like my body recognises I’m back home.” The accompanying video is similarly relaxing, featuring Marina and friends on that isle, which is awash with colour – deep blue seas, lush green foliage, swimsuits, sandy beaches and vibrant yellow/orange dresses. It’s a perfect summer anthem that eases away all of your stresses and strains.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Catfish & The Bottlemen, 2All

CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN – 2ALL: Catfish & The Bottlemen return with another robust single from their forthcoming album, The Balance (out April 26, 2019), in the form of 2All. Driven by lively guitar hooks, another big, anthemic chorus and some kick-ass drums, the track finds singer Van McCann considering issues such as lies, loyalty and love, which have come to had a great bearing on his recent life. It’s a song that reflects on the people who have turned their backs on him, while declaring he will share his love 2all those who have stuck around. In spite of the bittersweet emotions surrounding it, however, the song maintains a generally upbeat mood to infuse it with a catchy, epic quality that’s particularly evident in the fiery guitar solos that permeate throughout. There’s a grandeur to the song, too, befitting bands of the size of Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. It enables the track to assume an epic sense of edginess reserved for only the world’s biggest bands. The chorus is particularly memorable, once again.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Mosa Wild

MOSA WILDNIGHT: Mosa Wild have announced their return with the release of a new single, Night. Streaming everywhere, the track is taken from the band’s forthcoming debut EP Talking In Circles, which will be released on Glassnote this summer. Despite being one of the tracks that took longest to form during the process of making this anticipated EP, Night is Mosa Wild at their most sonically immediate. The anthemic refrain of ‘help me be strong’ throughout the chorus is an instant rallying cry, ready-made for audiences en masse. And it’s empowering, especially when backed up by sentiments such as “I’m torn like he is” and “help me be strong”. The song is very much about not existing in anyone else’s shadow, of not being bullied… but rather being strong. To accompany that sense of empowerment is that anthemic chorus, some propulsive guitar work and robust beats, which lend the track its aformentioned immediacy. It’s almost an indie-rock track, albeit with a little more restraint. Produced partly by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Bombay Bicycle Club) and partly by James Kenosha (Pulled Apart By Horses, Dry The River), there’s a cohesive experimentalism to Mosa Wild’s debut EP that is grounded in their huge guitar riffs and walloping drum lines, but it’s the gentle lilt of lead vocalist Jim Rubaduka’s smooth vocals and the spacious backdrop of their songs that elevates Mosa Wild beyond typical British indie tropes. On the evidence of Night, the EP should be well worth looking out for.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Grim Streaker

GRIM STREAKERTODAY NEW YORK: Brooklyn’s underground scene has spawned a noisy, new neighbour in Grim Streaker, who announce the release of their debut album, No Vision, on May 17 via Local Boy Fun Records, led by raucous new single, Today New York. The riotous punk-rock track specifically references themes of waiting tables to pay rent and trying to pursue creativity through music at the same time. It’s about getting carried away with life’s darkest lures, playing a show that leads Bushell to being injured, sexually assaulted and robbed at the end of the night. And after all of that happened, having to go back to the New York hustle of life, day in and day out. It’s a song that deserves to be as edgy, in sound, as its lyrics demand. And for that, it’s quite eye-opening… a provocative, chastening lament about the harshness of life at times. Punk rock fans may have a new favourite girl band (an L7 or Hole for a new generation). The others had best stay away. Explaining the songs that inform the album, singer Amelia Bushell commented: ““I’ve definitely come to know the highs and lows of living in New York after being here for seven years now. The songs we write tell the story of those experiences: They’re about people I’ve seen but never met – people I’ve met that are no longer in my life, alcohol and drug use, the all-around hustle (and trying to come to terms with life), the feeling of being a broke loser who is still doing the same shit and not really progressing when it seems everyone else around me is! It’s about the passage of time and how quickly life is moving. One moment you’re there, the next moment you’re here. New York today is an all-out fast way of living.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Emile Kahn

EMILIE KAHNTHREE: Emilie Kahn has unveiled a video for her current single Three, the latest track to be taken from her new album Outro which is available everywhere now via Secret City Records. A bittersweet offering that errs on the side of melancholy, Three is a thoughtful lament that finds Khan on deeply reflective form. And yet, in a nod to Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight, there’s a sudden change of pace around the minute and a half mark, heralded by some pounding drums, which ushers in an altogether more lively middle section. Kahn’s vocals remain tender and intimate throughout, but this mid section of the track has a greater urgency that, arguably, brings it even wider appeal. Given Kahn’s propensity for mixing things up, she does so again for the third and final section, stripping the sound back down to reflective, with a harp-like sound in the background augmenting some Lamb-like vocals. The song ends on a dreamy, almost ethereal note. Overall, however, Three is thoughtful, intelligent and impressive stuff. The video is equally eye-catching. Speaking about the creative process for it, director Baz shared: “A six minutes song with three distinct parts is a real challenge for a director. I really wanted to do something different and try to embrace each universe of the song fully – in terms of tone, style and rhythm.” Following on from the album’s recent release, Kahn will arrive in London for a one-off headline show at The Waiting Room on Monday, May 13.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alexander Wolfe, Catherine

ALEXANDER WOLFECATHERINE: Alexander Wolfe has released emotional new track Catherine through Dharma Records and continues to impress. A tender, stripped back offering, this is built around subtle acoustic guitar licks and melancholy piano chords, while showcasing Wolfe’s passionate vocals. A love song, of sorts, it’s actually a break-up anthem that reflects on the journey of that entanglement from the time they met, to the time things fell apart. At times, it exhibits an Elbow-like ability to stir the emotions, albeit without the layering. This remains quiet and intimate throughout, with just some soaring vocals and the odd string arrangement to enhance it. That being said, it remains a quietly endearing ballad. Speaking about the track, Wolfe explains: “I wrote Catherine a few days after breaking up with my ex. I wanted to tell the story of our relationship from meeting in a bar in Edinburgh to sleeping together, falling in love, growing apart, our last kiss. and the intrinsic link between pain and love. For a while I was a bit uncomfortable with how raw it was, I thought about softening it and changing names, taking the sex out, but in the end I decided to keep it as it was, back then in the eye of the storm when the feelings were fresh. Listening back to it now it feels pretty brutal and exposed, you can hear the defeat in my voice. There’s not much use of poetic license in there, it’s all pretty much as it happened. I’ve always loved those bruised romantic records… Jaques Brel, Leonard Cohen etc, I suppose this is my version of that.” It is the latest release from the talented singer-songwriter’s remarkable forthcoming album, Little Death, which will be released on March 29, 2019.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Swimming Tapes

SWIMMING TAPESPASSING SHIPS: Swimming Tapes have unveiled a second new single from their forthcoming debut album. Passing Ships is the opening track from their Morningside LP, which is released on May 24, 2019, via Hand In Hive. The new track is an ode to London life, the city in which Swimming Tapes came into existence as a band and the city in which Morningside, was both written and recorded. It’s marked by lush guitar rhythms and hushed, hazy vocals that lend it a somewhat slacker vibe. It’s designed to be both sun-drenched and optimistic, reflecting the diverse landscape of the city they have come to love. Both Passing Ships and recent single Pyreness demonstrate Swimming Tapes’ ability to draw on a range of musical influences from the effortless summer melodies of The Beach Boys to Wild Nothing’s dreamy, shoegazing hue through to the interweaving guitar work of Real Estate. Passing Ships has elements of both, with the guitars, in particular, bringing out the song’s more vibrant quality, even when the vocals drift more into shoegaze territory. The sudden, almost abrupt ending is a neat touch, too, making you realise that you could actually do with hearing a bit more! It’s therefore quietly upbeat songwriting.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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REN

RENBLUE HOUNDS: Ren, aka Conor Owen, has released his spellbinding new single Blue Hounds as a follow-up to debut EP A Calling From The Shore, which received over 650K streams on Spotify. Written and recorded in Newcastle, the track takes careful aim at the dogs let slip by a savage Tory agenda from Theresa May’s 2017 Tory manifesto to current EU negotiations. Says REN: “With this song, I wanted to make people more aware of and engaged in current affairs. It’s a call for people to take a stand against policies that infringe on our rights.” Listening to it, though, you’d be forgiven for missing the sharper political edge. The lyrics are certainly intelligent and philosophical (“keep your blue hounds from my door”), but they’re delivered in a laidback, acoustic way that puts the emphasis on enjoyment. There’s a Jose Gonzalez vibe at times, with those lush acoustics beautifully constructed and hypnotic in their own way. The instrumental interludes are also beautifully delivered, adding extra edge to a song that is layered with meaning, yet high on overall enjoyability. To mark the official release of the single, REN has also dropped a YouTube video featuring an acoustic performance of the track, which is also well worth taking the time to check out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

Charlie Cunningham

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CHARLIE CUNNINGHAMSINK IN: Having heralded his return with the song Permanent Way and a sold out show at London’s Omeara, Charlie Cunningham has now gone one step further with the release of a second new track, Sink In – and duly impresses. What Charlie describes as “the slightly ominous guitar part” of Sink In inspired a tale of ambiguous persuasion. It’s nevertheless a striking offering, combining an ethereal quality reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez, with something equally cinematic. Indeed, this could easily be described as dusty driving music that mines that rich seam of Flamenco guitar that runs through much of Cunningham’s music. It’s quiet, thoughtful, emotionally driven and hypnotic in all the right ways. It’s the kind of song that you’ll want to hear over and over again. Sink In was produced alongside Sam Scott and Duncan Tootil and features the White Brothers – better known as Hugo, Felix & Will from The Maccabees – on keyboards, electric guitar and bass, respectively. Cunningham is currently on an extensive tour of the US ahead of a one off headlining show at Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre on June 12. Along with his band, Cunningham then takes to the road again in October for dates across Europe ahead of a headlining UK tour in November.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Howard Kaye, Origin

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: HOWARD KAYEORIGIN: Howard Kaye, former frontman of alternative hip-hop band Croox, has started to release his eagerly anticipated solo material. His captivating debut single Origin bodes well for the future. A track that Howard holds a deep connection to, given that it’s an incredibly raw and touching tribute, and the first song he had written since his father passed away, Origin is beautifully delivered and very emotional (in keeping with its personal themes). Beginning with a brooding violin melody that fades behind sweet R’n‘B vocals, Origin combines different elements that are the result of Kaye’s diverse musical background. But lyrically, the track cuts to a deeper level that can only be reached through truly vulnerable songwriting, with the verse touching on his thoughts at the time, while the chorus takes on a more positive, hopeful slant. Kaye’s vocals are shot through with emotion (combining a sense of loss with hope), while the beats have a hip-hop vibe that’s nicely offset with the more soulful electronics and that striking use of violin. It’s a track that builds to a cinematic grandeur.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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ViVii

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: VIVIIPICK ME UP: Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii have just released their self-titled debut album through Swedish label Dumont Dumont (Ry X, Charlie Cunningham, Josin). Featuring critically praised singles Love Love Love, And Tragic, Suckerpunch, Savant, Siv (You and I), it also now boasts their latest offering, Pick Me Up. As with so many of the songs on the LP, stunning soundscapes abound… all delivered with a beautifully laidback, even dreamy haze. As the title suggests, this is about rescuing someone and making them feel better about themselves… and just like the themes it embraces, the song itself serves as a pick me up in its own right. Dreamy vocals abound, as do lush electronic arrangements and slick beats. It’s a dream-pop offering that floats into your subconscious in effortlessly soothing fashion, making you feel good in the moment it lasts and thirsting for more. But whether it’s just for the quick fix of the single, or for the whole album, it’s well worth becoming acquainted with ViVii. Speaking about the album, ViVii said: “This is our journey that started five years ago portrayed in music, words and pictures, it’s been a long time coming. The album represents creativity, musical freedom and a safe zone for three vulnerable souls. We are truly proud of this baby of ours.” We wish them luck.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kyle Falconer, Kelly

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: KYLE FALCONERKELLY: After five hit albums, a Mercury Prize nomination and countless sold-out shows with The View, the band’s frontman Kyle Falconer released his debut solo album No Thank You late last year on Riverman Records. The album received fantastic critical acclaim and earned Falconer ‘Best Album’ at the Scottish Music Awards. Ahead of his UK Spring/Summer tour, Falconer has now released a video for tender, heartfelt track Kelly. The video was directed by Jordan Shearer, from Neon Waltz, and the track is a particularly emotive one for Falconer, as he explains: “The director, Jordan, had a very artistic and creative vision which I feel mirrors the song well. The song is about self-acceptance. I wanted to get across that in this day and age especially, it’s okay to be whoever you want to be, love whoever you want to love, and be free and confident within yourself, no matter what sexuality you are or how you choose to present yourself to the world. I met a lot of people dealing with these issues in rehab and it opened my eyes to the struggles that people face daily for just trying to be themselves. I wanted to let my fans know that it’s okay to be you in a world where people are heavily scrutinised and judged.” The song itself is an emotive, impassioned listen that – while having something to important to say – isn’t stifled by well meaning. Rather, it’s beautifully realised, with acoustic instrumentals working in tandem with lovely string arrangements and a really stirring central vocal, that builds to some really passionate highs. It’s one of Falconer’s best offerings and indicative of why his solo album has been so well received by fans and critics alike.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FOALSMOONLIGHT: Foals have delivered an odd but weirdly fascinating video for their new album offering, Moonlight. A single shot video, the track opens with just a classic piano sitting in front of the camera, before frontman Yannis Philippakis appears (via a jumpy edit) to deliver the song. Over the course of the song, he barely moves, but the footage – like some old news reel – continues to flicker the more the emotion seeps in. And, eventually, Philippakis disappears, leaving the piano to stand alone once again. It doesn’t do much but remains compelling, in part because of the power of the song itself. There’s a sense of emotional desolation attached to this one, of being lost, given its lyrical themes of walking into the desert and black holes. Early on, it’s relatively sparse… an atmospheric electronic and guitar lick accompanied by those striking central vocals. But gradually, the instrumentals get layered in, with haunting electronics and ghostly beats providing an ever increasing sense of atmosphere that feeds into the vocals. It’s striking stuff – not as in your face and punchy as Foals can be; but ear-catching for a different reason. It’s evidence of the band’s growing diversity, while offering yet another highlight from the current LP, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Spraggan, Lucky Stars

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: LUCY SPRAGGANLUCKY STARS: Lucy Spraggan is in a good place and wants to share it with the world. Hence, she’s announced her fifth studio album, Today Was A Good Day, which is out on May 3 on Cooking Vinyl, and shared the bright and breezy new single Lucky Stars. A celebration of all things family and love, with a cosmic element thrown in, this is driven by brisk, vibrant acoustic guitar licks, breezy whistles and lively percussion. Spraggan’s vocals are alive with positivity, sharing things like “I thank my lucky stars that I discovered you” and “I thank my lucky stars that you’re so close to me, like Venus and Mercury”. It’s utterly infectious songwriting. Commenting on the track herself, Spraggan said: “I thank my lucky stars for my family. I’ve been through some incredibly dark times and although I’ve made many steps forward, I still get anxious and paranoid. This is how I came up with the idea for the video for Lucky Stars – when I feel anxious, I feel like people are staring at me as if I’m from outer space… So I donned an astronaut suit for the entire video. Marrying her wife ‘G’ and fostering children has turned life around for Lucy, which she describes as ‘amazing’ and ‘challenging’ and underlines the common theme throughout the album. “We’ve had 14 kids stay with us so far”, explains Lucy. “We are also trying for our own child so we will see what happens. All this has played a huge part in my writing –it’s an album about growing up.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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RuthAnne, Love Again

RUTHANNELOVE AGAIN: Award winning songwriter RuthAnne is back with highly anticipated music for 2019. Her uplifting new single Love Again, co-produced by George Moore (Yebba – Evergreen) and long-term collaborators Futurecut (Rihanna), sparks a new chapter for the Irish artist as she gives us a taste of what’s to come from her long-awaited debut album, out later this year via independent record label, The Other Songs. Love Again instantly captivates the listener as RuthAnne’s powerful vocal takes center stage. Starting off with just her and an electric guitar, the vibrant track builds into a harmonious chorus as RuthAnne’s soulful vocal is supported with a choir, creating an atmospheric upbeat production. It’s got retro leanings, with Northern Soul elements (especially in her blistering vocals and the use of some brass late on), as well as a sense of triumphing against adversity (which is something we all need at the moment as a global society). The new track is about RuthAnne convincing another that ‘love’ still exists and if they allow her in, she can help them to love again. She explains: “I wrote the idea down for this song after I had a few dates with someone who had just gone through a break up. He said to me ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to love again’ and I immediately wrote it down on my phone and underneath I wrote ‘I know that I can make you learn to love again’. When writing the song I was thinking of all the things in life we do when we lose out, when we fail, when we get our hearts broken. I realised that no matter what happens I always believe in trying again and never giving up on love or my dreams and so I wrote the song thinking about that and how important it is to always keep your heart open and that the love is out there. Go where the love is.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Retro Video Club, Addicted

RETRO VIDEO CLUBADDICTED: One of the most exciting bands in Scotland right now, Retro Video Club have released the incendiary follow-up to last year’s 3AM in the form of Addicted (out now on Manchester’s LAB Records). As with previous singles, it’s another driving indie anthem that can’t fail to get the crowd bouncing whenever it’s played live. There are gritty guitar hooks, a punk edge at times, which gives rise to a more anthemic, chant-along chorus (akin to listening to classic Kaiser Chiefs at times). “Lyrically it’s a song about being dead into someone,” says singer Liam Allison, “only to find out you’re the person on the side. The second choice.” In spite of the forlorn sentiments surrounding the lyrics, the brash delivery sets up an otherwise foot-stomping album that empowers in spite of the sorrow surrounding it. As Retro Video Club get bigger and bigger and extend their popularity beyond their Scottish borders, this song could well become a huge anthem for them. Retro Video Club are Liam Allison (vocals/rhythm guitar), Sam McGill (lead guitar), Michael Ward (bass) and Kieran Burt (drums/backing vocals).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marsicans

MARSICANSYOUR EYES: Fast-rising UK indie quartet Marsicans drop another enjoyable indie rocker in the form of Your Eyes – which veers from melodic to bonkers throughout its short runtime. Lyrically, the track finds the band turn introspective, taking on a much grittier approach to their indie-pop sound than previous singles. An insight into growing up, this finds the band contemplating the bigger things in life and letting go of the juvenile tendencies that have informed their life story to date. And yet, there’s a giddy abandon to the delivery of the track, inherent in the sometimes shouty lyrics and mid-song breakdowns that turn the song from bright and breezy indie anthem into something more chaotic and edgy. In that regard, there are traces of early Blur in those artistic tendencies. Marsicans singer/guitarist James Newbigging offered some insight into the accompanying video for Your Eyes, saying: “For this one, we teamed up with our friends at Sodium, an independent film company based in Leeds who are doing some amazing things. The video basically shows our alternative selves watching our real selves performing. So, it’s something of a “what might have been” if we all didn’t choose to pursue a career in music, tying in with the song’s main theme about choosing your path in life.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kiefer Sutherland

KIEFER SUTHERLANDSOMETHING YOU LOVE: Having announced a selection of UK dates for later this spring, actor/singer Kiefer Sutherland has released single Something You Love and offers up a good time rock anthem that wears its inspirations on its sleeve. The propulsive Petty-meets-Springsteen rocker bursts with energy, and is shot through with American rock values. Co-written with Cole, it pays tribute to the “average person who works very hard just to stay in the middle”, who finds themselves betrayed by big business. “Has it happened to a lot of people I care about?” questions Sutherland. “Yes, of course it has.” It boasts lyrics such as “wasting my time just paying my bills, staying in line but getting no chills”, thereby striking at the heart of a popular sentiment at the moment [albeit a frustrating one], while also tipping his hat to the working man structure of many a Springsteen offering. Rather than wallow in the frustrations inherent in the lyrics, however, Sutherland dresses it up with some hard-rocking elements, indulging in some lively guitar solos as well as delivering his own set of blistering, gutsy, raw vocals. It’s a rabble-rouser with plenty of meaning that nevertheless offers a real good time of a listen. It should go down an absolute storm whenever it’s played live!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSETREAT ME LIKE A WOMAN: Lucy Rose has shared a third track from her forthcoming new album. Treat Me Like A Woman is a devastatingly frank track, boldly capturing self-critical fears with an introspective look at gender equality. It’s a timely release, too, arriving just after International Women’s Day and the #MeToo movement. There’s a disarming honesty, as ever, to Rose’s songwriting. For while empowering in the sense that it’s asking – if not seeking – for equality, Rose isn’t afraid to admit to feelings of being “afraid and scared”. In spite of this, however, the song retains an air of optimism that things can change. Instrumentally, the song is very sparse, with little more than acoustic guitars and subtle strings to accompany the vocals. But this only adds extra emphasis to Rose’s voice, which is as tender, compelling and heartfelt as ever. Treat Me Like A Woman is lifted from Lucy’s fourth album No Words Left, which will be released on March 22, 2019. Commenting on the track itself, Rose has plenty to say: “Treat Me Like A Woman was written one afternoon in Munich after a combination of events which pushed me to think about the way people interact with me purely based on my gender. I’ve often thought things like, ‘Would that have happened to me if I was a man?’ and a feeling of lack of respect at times purely because I’m a woman. For a long time I’ve been unable to express these thoughts, almost scared of what they mean and worried that I would start a battle I wouldn’t be able to finish. I don’t want a debate, this isn’t a song aimed at men, it’s a conversation that everyone needs to have with themselves. Have I ever judged a woman differently to a man? The truth is, most probably at some point in my life I have. And why? I’m so far from perfect, I feel I have no right to judge anyone on their behaviour and this song isn’t about that. It’s very much about my own feelings that until now I’ve been incapable of describing or understanding. The smallest things fester into a huge deal if they happen a lot. This song has been created inside me over years and years of small, tiny, and in ways, insignificant events that have built into a tower of anger. That afternoon in Munich was breaking point. After soundcheck, I isolated myself from my entire touring party, including my husband. I couldn’t explain to them how I was feeling, they knew I was upset, but why? The next night, in Vienna, I played Treat Me Like A Woman for the first time. Like playing any new song, it was emotional, but wow, in all my career I’ve never felt so empowered and liberated to be expressing something that for so long I had felt unable to explore.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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

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

Vampire Weekend

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: VAMPIRE WEEKENDSUNFLOWER feat STEVE LACY: Vampire Weekend come over extremely trippy for their latest new offering, Sunflower, featuring The Internet’s guitarist Steve Lacy. Opening amid a flurry of 70s inspired guitar riffs, the song then drops some trip-hop beats and a delicious vocal from Ezra Koenig that talks about sunflowers banishing the evil away. In the background, meanwhile, that 70s classic rock sound becomes more and more pronounced, complete with some trippy backkground harmonies. And then, as the song reaches its climax, the song enters even more psychedelic territory, for a truly gonzo climax. And in spite of its experimental, retro tendencies, there’s something immensely fun about it. There’s a celebratory feel, inherent in those harmonies, and the bouncy nature of the percussion and guitar stabs. It’s designed to put a smile on your face and it succeeds, while remaining lyrically engaging. It’s another excellent taster from their new album, Harmony Hall, which looks set to become one of the year’s highlights.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chemical Brothers

VIDEO/SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS – WE’VE GOT TO TRY: The Chemical Brothers may just have dropped the best track to date from their new album, No Geography (out April 12). Tapping into some of the early style of their Exit Planet Dust days, this combines some dark techno undertones with rapid-fire, sometimes woozy synths and a gutsy female vocal to offer some sweetness. It’s a livewire dance track that boasts edge to match its energy, and it’s totally exhilarating. Put together with the video, though, it’s even better. Directed by Ninian Doff, who last collaborated with the brothers on 2015’s Sometimes I Feel So Deserted, it features an abandoned dog, who works her way through the ranks of motorsport on a journey of self-discovery, before being thrust into space on a mission that looks set to have a very dark ending. There is a feel-good finale, though, which is every bit as surreal as what’s come before (Wes Anderson would be proud). It’s amusing, mysterious, and more than a little disturbing. But it works, perfectly complimenting the track itself.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters, Wild Ones

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CRYSTAL FIGHTERSWILD ONES: To mark the release of their new album Gaia & Friends, Crystal Fighters have shared a surreal new video for one of its highlights, Wild Ones. Always eager to share dazzling surrealist visuals, the band once again share a singular vision. Hence, as a searing sun sets, a mysterious figure rises beyond the earth’s atmosphere to embark upon a playful voyage of discovery that encompasses alien encounters, unknown landscapes and joyous dance moves. The figure evolves from man to woman to baby, before the sun rises on a brand new day. It’s eye-catching, visually stylistic, hypnotic and mesmerising. The song itself encapsulates everything that’s great and life-affirming about listening to the current album. There’s an infectious calypso style percussion and a euphoric chorus with lines such as “tell me how long, can this go on, like we’re floating in the arms of God, with the wild ones, with the wild ones, and we rage on, ‘til we’re blazing in the sun”. The ‘la la’ harmonies add an extra layer of sunshine hospitality. But knowingly so. It’s a song designed to make you feel giddy and good about yourself. And it does so with aplomb.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wallows, Sidelines

WALLOWSSIDELINES: Wallows offer another taste of their highly-anticipated debut album, Nothing Happens, with new track, Sidelines, a bittersweet tale of love and loneliness post-break up. And yet in spite of the sense of loss, there’s an indie slacker vibe attached that’s highly evocative of bands like Weezer. The hazy, laidback vocals add to that, as to the guitars. But there’s also a sharp sense of melody, which serves as a nice contrast to the more despairing elements contained within the lyrics. Hence, while a lament on loss, it’s still lively and hip enough to give it a sunshine kind of alt-rock feel. We like it a lot. Shot at Los Angeles’ Castle Park, the accompanying self-directed video features band members Braeden Lemasters, Cole Preston, and Dylan Minnette as they make their way through a mini-golf course, reflecting on the heartbreak and uncertainty that accompany the ending of a relationship. Sidelines follows lead single Are You Bored Yet? (feat. Clairo) and follow-up single Scrawny, which are all available instantly upon pre-ordering Nothing Happens.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Vampire Weekend

VAMPIRE WEEKENDBIG BLUE: Just as they did with the release of the first two tracks from Harmony Hall, Vampire Weekend have dropped another two tasters: one short, the other long. The shorter version clocks in at just under two minutes and is a low key tribute to the big blue of the title… or rather, a questioning of the big things in life and maybe beyond. Instrumentally, it’s disarmingly simple, opening amid some arpeggios and intermittent drum machine clicks, before eventually blossoming into a lusher song with surf rock style guitars. Ezra Koenig, meanwhile, finds himself questioning some of the big things, albeit with an edge of uncertainty. Hence, while initially insisting “big blue, for once in my life, I felt close to you”, he then questions “So am I learning my lesson? Or am I back on my own?” It’s a typically irresistible, albeit brief, yet highly intelligent offering from Vampire Weekend.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Morabezo Tobacco, Ally McBeal

MORABEZA TOBACCOALLY MCBEAL: Swedish duo Morabeza Tobacco have always been ones to re-purpose cult TV shows into their music. With their previous single, Defenders Of The Glam taken from the 80s cartoon series Defenders Of The Earth, the pair now return with their latest release, Ally McBeal, although it is not actually inspired by the hit TV show. “We’re not sure actually [where the name came from]”, the band say. “We were talking about what to name the song, then Ally McBeal popped up and both of us thought ‘yeah, that’s the one’. One theory we have is that we associated it with one of the lines in the song (‘it’s no big deal’ =Ally McBeal)”. Stepping away from the more groove-filled singles of late, Ally McBeal taps into be the band’s more ethereal and psychedelic side. It boasts notable comparisons to the likes of Animal Collective and Toro Y Moi, and is filled with dreamlike synths and subtle yet commanding basslines that give this new release a very grand and cinematic-like experience. But there’s also a trippiness that’s very defined, meaning that the song has an experimental edge that makes it a very acquired taste. Even fans who have enjoyed the grooviness of past offerings may struggle to embrace some of the more trippy leanings on this song. It’s interesting more than compelling, placing you into a blissed out state of mind-space without necessarily making you want to come back for further repeat listens. An oddity, then, but a fascinating one, nonetheless.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Angie McMahon

ANGIE MCMAHONPASTA: Australian solo artist Angie McMahon has unveiled a new single in the form of Pasta ahead of her appearance at this weekend’s SXSW. Written after she had consumed a whole lasagne, the song itself is about feeling tired and more than a little lose, and seeking solace in pasta! It starts off in pretty disconsolate, downbeat fashion, with a gruff vocal and a bluesy guitar. There’s a sense of despair (“I’ve been lost, I’ve been lost”) and grim resolve, with McMahon eventually admitting that she spends so much time eating pasta. But just as you think you have the measure of the song (and its food), it bursts into life and rocks out. McMahon admits she wanted to evoke a Springsteen vibe with this element of the song, and while that may be a little beyond her reach, the more aggressive nature of the second half of the song is invigorating and fun (a move away from the carb-induced malaise). A quirky official video for the single is also now streaming online alongside a video for Angie’s recent single Keeping Time. Both tracks will feature on Angie’s to-be-announced debut album, Salt, which is expected later this year. Speaking about the Pasta video, Angie shares: “I wanted this video to show how it feels to do nothing, just letting your brain stew, because I struggle with time management and I can be really mean to myself about it. When I needed to make merch for my first tour, I spent so long freaking out about it, worrying that it wouldn’t look cool and I wouldn’t be able to design something that felt genuine. The day before it was due, I quickly scribbled this picture of some dogs lining up to go to a concert (dream come true). I got to the tipping point where I let go of the pressure and just did whatever felt good. This music video is a kind of adaption on that. The gold star reminds me of being a kid and having encouragement, getting a tick of approval or whatever, but the adult version that I’m learning is that you just have to encourage yourself and not wait for other people to do it. And if you can’t make yourself feel awesome, dogs might make you feel awesome. It’s a reminder to go outside.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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REN

RENBLUE HOUNDS: Ren, aka Conor Owen, has released his spellbinding new single Blue Hounds as a follow-up to debut EP A Calling From The Shore, which received over 650K streams on Spotify. Written and recorded in Newcastle, the track takes careful aim at the dogs let slip by a savage Tory agenda from Theresa May’s 2017 Tory manifesto to current EU negotiations. Says REN: “With this song, I wanted to make people more aware of and engaged in current affairs. It’s a call for people to take a stand against policies that infringe on our rights.” Listening to it, though, you’d be forgiven for missing the sharper political edge. The lyrics are certainly intelligent and philosophical (“keep your blue hounds from my door”), but they’re delivered in a laidback, acoustic way that puts the emphasis on enjoyment. There’s a Jose Gonzalez vibe at times, with those lush acoustics beautifully constructed and hypnotic in their own way. The instrumental interludes are also beautifully delivered, adding extra edge to a song that is layered with meaning, yet high on overall enjoyability.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Andreya Triana, Broke

ANDREYA TRIANABROKE: Andreya Triana has shared the video for her latest single, Broke. The powerful video features shots of Andreya performing the soulful track mixed with scenes of a mother and daughter doing everyday things at home, reflecting the song’s heartfelt lyrics about Andreya growing up with her mother. It’s a song that is very personal to Triana and is delivered with suitable convicton, a blues-soul vocal taking centre stage over instrumentals that invoke a Northern Soul vibe. There’s gospel-tinged backing too, to add extra layering. It’s another impressive offering from Triana. Broke is the second single to be taken from the album, and follows first single Woman, while preceding the new album, Life in Colour, which is released on May 24, 2019 through Hi-Tea Records/The Orchard. Commenting on the new track, Triana said: “My new single Broke is for anyone that’s had to live off baked beans and make a tenner last a lifetime. It was inspired by a particular time in my life, but I’m forever thankful to my friends and Mum for always being there to help me out. After all, if we have love then we have the ultimate riches. On that note… must pay Mum back that tenner!”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Deportees

DEPORTEESBRIGHT EYES: While almost unknown outside of Sweden, Umeå-based trio Deportees have long been both a critical and commercial success back home. Their most recent album, 2015’s The Big Sleep, was awarded the Swedish Grammy for Best Rock Album, an award the band had also picked up for their previous long-player Islands & Shores. And now, not before time, Deportees release their first single internationally, Bright Eyes. And no, it’s not a cover and has nothing to do with rabbits. Rather, the song is an empathic plea to a friend to stop crying and start healing. It’s call for new dreams free from dejection and nostalgia, and a mission-statement for the band’s upcoming EP Re-dreaming, which follows on May 17. Lead singer Peder Stenberg explains: “Encouraging a friend to stop their crying might sound harsh, but it’s not because I lack sympathy. It’s because I need this person to function.” The track is emotionally honest and empowering in its own way. But it’s also shot through with ear-catching melodies – the synth-pop sound working to create a highly endearing backdrop. The moody vocals offset the lush electronics nicely, bringing a nice contrast and balance: the song has serious themes but it never sounds so. Rather, it soars once the electronics are allowed to guide you towards its climax.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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

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

Zero 7, Aurora

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ZERO 7 feat JOSE GONZALEZAURORA: It’s taken us a week to catch up with this one but Zero 7’s reunion with Jose Gonzalez, Aurora, is as great as we’d been hoping it would be. Built around some ambient synth arrangements, and subtle, layered beats, this is a laidback, beautifully beguiling offering that works wonders because of the return of Gonzalez. We’ve been waiting to hear something new from Gonzalez for some time now and his distinct, hushed vocals shine here, providing a soothing focal point that’s perfectly in keeping with the laidback ambience of the song in general. Lyrically, it sets up a mystery to solve, and is worth contemplating. But perhaps even more striking is the way in which he tees up the song at around the two minute, 50 second mark to suddenly shape-shift. The synths become more pronounced, even cinematic, and occasionally ’80s leaning. The drums also kick in occasionally, providing the track with an added impetus that’s really well realised. Gonzalez takes a back-seat, here, allowing Zero 7 to play around with the instrumentals. But it’s a glorious finale to the track, ensuring that it keeps you genuinely excited and expectant for more Zero 7 material throughout the rest of the year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marina, Superstar

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MARINASUPERSTAR: Superstar marks the second offering from Marina’s eagerly anticipated fourth studio album Love + Fear – and a song that has been surrounded by excitement since Marina teased the title in 2018. The track effortlessly weaves flurries of pulsing beats and soft keys around lyrics that find Marina paying tribute to a partner who embraces all of her imperfections (“we’ve worked so hard and we’ve come so far”). The fizzing synths provide an effortlessly laidback listen, with the equally well realised beats creating a semi-trip hop style state of bliss, which perfectly compliments the tone of the record (which celebrates that special relationship). Marina’s vocals, meanwhile, have that blissful quality that she brings to so much of her work, complete with a keen sense of harmony and a nice change of pace during the striking chorus. They help the track to soar in all the right ways. Written by Marina alongside ‘Electra Heart’ collaborators Captain Cuts (Halsey, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tove Lo), Superstar is taken from the Love collection of the album set, due for release via Atlantic Records on April 26, 2019.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Speight

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: TOM SPEIGHTHEARTSHAKER: London-based artist Tom Speight has dropped the fourth single from his forthcoming album, Collide, in the form of the stirring Heartshaker. Inspired by both Paul Simon and Vampire Weekend, and reminiscent of both, this also adds strong rhyhtmn and African influences and rates as the most upbeat track to be taken from the LP so far. Commenting on the track himself, Tom said: “Heartshaker was written after travelling back from New York City. I was in a relationship at the time and it felt like everything was moving very fast for me and I was struggling to take it all in. I got back from the trip and finally had a chance to write about how I was feeling and had time to process the feeling of being afraid of being left behind in a relationship.” It may be a song steeped in a certain self-doubt, but there are some suitably lovely lyrics about seeing a girl from the West Side on the A train, or “dancing girl watch the sunrise”, while those lively beats and robust acoustic guitar licks provide an inspiring backdrop. It’s a track steeped in classic songwriting values that could easly become one of Speight’s most crowd-pleasing songs to date.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Susto, Homeboy

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: SUSTOHOMEBOY: Charleston-based band Susto’s new album, Ever Since I Lost My Mind, is available now, and well worth checking out on the strength of current single, Homeboy. An Americana influenced alt-rocker, this is driven by a rolling guitar riff that instantly gets into your head and refuses to budge, as well as some gritty vocals and a sharp sense of storytelling. Every so often, that rolling guitar also broadens out to include something more electrifying, with some gutsy riffs to break up the otherwise smooth running of the song. It only makes the song more memorable. The record was produced by Grammy-award winning producer Ian Fitchuk (Kacey Musgraves, Ruston Kelly) with input from Osborne’s longtime creative partner Wolfgang Zimmerman. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song, fronman and lyricist Justin Osborne said: “I kind of found myself on the other side of the fence, the people in town being like, ‘Ok, I wanna get out of here. I want to see it from the other side’. And at the same time experiencing this profound homesickness, or FOMO, because I love what I do, and I am so glad I get to do it, but some of my friends were spending their last days in town when I was gone. So, I felt like this era was ending, and I was already gone. So it’s kind of a reflection of that, of just wanting change in your life and making that change happen. And also once you get there, looking back and seeing where you came from. And sometimes the grass looks greener ahead, and sometimes the grass looks greener behind, and I think the song just kind of goes on both sides.” It’s a terrific listen. Osborne first began writing songs as a teen in South Carolina, performing with numerous bands before forming SUSTO. During a self-imposed hiatus, he moved to Havana, Cuba and befriended local musicians who encouraged and inspired him to start writing music again. “It was a weird moment. I just had to finally quit keeping one foot out of music and dive in,” he explains. The band’s name, SUSTO, is derived from a Latin American term that can be roughly translated as ‘panic attack’.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Arizona

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ARIZONAFIND SOMEONE: Atlantic recording group A R I Z O N A return with the release of their hugely anticipated new single Find Someone. The incredibly catchy ’80s vibe bop helps to give the song a keen sense of immediacy that’s laced with a knowing retro nod. The result is a fun, if disposble, listen that gets your toes tapping. The melodies are tight, the chorus is catchy, and the overall vibe is one of unbridled, self-aware positivity. The accompanying video is shot through with furry animals and is designed to offer maximum cuteness. “We wanted to find a fun way to portray an alternate take on a song like Find Someone with the music video. The idea is: if someone or something is not good for you in your life, there are many simple ways and places to find happiness,” says Zachary Charles. “In the case of our video, that ‘someone’ who can always be there to love you better and turn your day around very well might be your puppy! Or chicken… or turtle… or goat… or baby bunny… or… well you get the idea. We love animals and literally couldn’t contain ourselves the entire day we were shooting this. It probably shows.” Find Someone marks the first single from A R I Z O N A’s upcoming second album, the follow-up to their hugely successful debut album Gallery, which proved among 2017’s biggest global releases, now boasting over 750 million worldwide streams and counting.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ten Tonnes, Lucy

TEN TONNESLUCY: Ten Tonnes has hit a killer run of form in recent months as the May 3 release of his self-titled debut album approaches. Tipped in YouTube’s Ones To Watch 2019 playlist as well as Radio X’s Great X-Pectations list of the best new music for 2019, he started the year by completing a headline tour that sold-out in advance. Now, the artist, aka 22-year-old Ethan Barnett, has added to that momentum by sharing his new single Lucy, which Annie Mac played as her Hottest Record in the World. Firmly established as a fan favourite as a regular closer to his live show, it’s a track which distils all of the musician’s finest traits into one song: immediately captivating melodies, an anthemic holler-along hook and his characteristic lovelorn lyrics. The lyrics are filled with hopeful yearning, but are delivered in a bright, breezy fashion as epitomised by the swooning, Kooks-a-like chorus. As ever, the guitars are lively and the vocals crisp, edgy and vital. It’s easy to see why Ten Tonnes is such a hot tip for big things in 2019. Commenting on the track himself, Barnett said: “I’m so excited to finally properly release this tune. It’s the song that started everything off for me so I’ve always had a special place for it, and it’s become a fan favourite on tour too.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

FOALSSUNDAY: Hot off the back of lively new release On The Luna, Foals return with yet another new offering from Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 in the form of the reflective Sunday. The track finds Foals pushing boundaries and breaking free of genre expectations, as is their liking. Opening in a restrained style – dreamy, atmospheric, elegiac – that contrasts frontman Yannis Philippakis’ apocalyptic imagery, Sunday then belatedly erupts into life in its second-half with a thrilling psychedelic funk-punk burst of energy. It’s a complete contrast of styles within the same song that thrills and excites, particularly in anticipation of hearing it played live when the back hit the capital (Alexandra Palace) later this year. Indeed, by the time it reaches its epic conclusion, there are skyscraping “woohoo” harmonies, befitting the stadium-sized venues the band will be playing. And while the first half of the song is undoubtedly laidback and bittersweet, that epic second half stirs the senses and brings something of a headrush quality that really does exhilarate. It’s so far, so exciting for Foals’ new material.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Novo Amor and Gia Margaret

NOVO AMOR & GIA MARGARET – NO FUN/LUCKY FOR YOU: Novo Amor and Gia Margaret have surprised their fans with the release of a collaborative double A-side single, entitled No Fun and Lucky For You. The two tracks were written in 2018 after the pair met while Gia was supporting Novo Amor’s headline North American tour, marking the release of his debut album, Birthplace, which is out now on AllPoints. Acoustic in nature, Lucky For You and No Fun epitomise the sweetness and fragility found in both musicians’ solo work. Melodically sparse, the tracks are an intimate moment in time. Speaking about how their collaboration came about, Novo Amor’s Ali Lacey recalls: “Gia and I met in Atlanta last November. It was raining, a lot. We spent the first weeks of winter travelling around the country, playing shows together, recognising our creative likeness and just becoming friends. No Fun and Lucky For You were written and recorded together over a long weekend at my home studio in Wales. We saw a bridge across our usual geographical divide and said ‘hey, let’s make some music!’. It feels almost against our nature to try and explain this. We had no preconceptions. We just love music, the process of making it, how it can make you feel and what it can do for people. I think it’s just something that we wanted to share.” Contrary to its name, lead track No Fun isn’t joyless. Rather, its sombre approach lends it a melancholy undertow, but there’s something beautifully beguiling about their dual vocals, which have that kind of reassuring Jose Gonzalez kind of vibe. The gentle acoustics are really nicely composed, as are some of the atmospheric surrounding ones. Lucky For You, meanwhile, picks up the pace slightly, with an instantly warmer acoustic sound and more pronounced boy-girl vocals. But it remains a quietly soothing listen, marked out by its sensitive lyrics and thoughtfully constructed approach. Novo Amor, in particular, continue to impress, off the back of last week’s stunning video releases.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Hildur

HILDUR – 1993: Hildur’s new single 1993 invites inevitable comparisons with artists such as Lykke Li and Robyn, given the ethereal pop sound she also indulges in. But that’s no bad thing, either, giving her the opportunity to find a ready-made audience beyond her Icelandic homeland. Hence, 1993 is a sweet slice of autobiographic pop that showcases a lovely set of vocals (vulnerability married to pop saviness), as well as some slick beats that – again – marry a certain humility with something ear-catching and radio-friendly. The harmonies and melodies are tight and slickly produced, while the sentiments behind the lyrics in the chorus are both effortlessly sing-along (“when I grow up, I wanne be me”) as well as empowering. Commenting on the track, Hildur said: “1993 is an autobiographical anthem of my childhood. It was when I was five that I realised my dream was to create, tell stories and stand on stage. As per the hook – when I grow up, I wanne be me, it came to me as it was only recently I realised I had really become the person the five-year-old me wanted to be and was doing all the things I had dreamt of, without really giving myself the credit. This song is my journey and all the loopholes and fallbacks it took, all the disbelief but passion I experienced, all the insecurity and the creativity – which is me. So, if my five-year-old self could hear one song from the future, I would want it to be this one. And I hope someone else on their journey to become themselves can relate.” It’s beautiful stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Murder Capital, Feeling Fades

THE MURDER CAPITALFEELING FADES: The Murder Capital ended 2018 as that rare thing: a band tipped from all corners without having released a single song. In an age where people and bands overshare by default, The Murder Capital have been doing the opposite. With debut single Feeling Fades, the band attempt to fulfil their early promise – delivering a brooding, propulsive slice of post-punk recorded with Flood (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Foals). In one of their rare interviews so far, the band have stated they are driven by the genuine desire to affect cultural change, and when front-man James McGovern repeats the lyric “the now elapsed ‘round you and me, and it kept us all together” on this, their debut single, you begin to realise that their post-punk sound is designed to offer social commentary in a no-nonsense, hard-hitting and occasionally provocative fashion. Indeed vocally, there are throwbacks to bands like The Strangers. But it’s this unfussy, raw, style that also makes them an acquired taste. Hence, if you like classic punk, then you’ll dig this. If not, then whatever the band’s messages may be, they’re likely to fly over your head as you reach for the ‘off’ switch. Feeling Fades is provocative, for sure. But it’s loud, raw and not as great as the hype surrounding them suggests.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 22, 2019

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

Zero 7, Aurora

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ZERO 7 feat HIDDENMONO: Mono is one of two tracks taken from Zero 7’s new Ep, Aurora. It’s a change of pace for them, being less trip-hop than normal. New vocalist Hidden adds an element of smooth soul with some smooth groove vocals, which drift between serene and falsetto. The accompanying instrumentals, meanwhile, drift between laidback and blissful, and cinematic and urgent. There’s a stabbing quality to some of them, before they drift into a smooth soul groove that’s tailor-made for washing over you. The longer the track lasts, the more layered it becomes, though, with bassline grooves, intricate guitar licks and added percussion bringing a greater sense of urgency and cinematic sweep. It’s a beautifully composed listen that finds Zero 7 back on form, while also being evocative of artists such as Bonobo. The second track, Aurora, features regular collaborator Jose Gonzalez.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Novo Amor

SINGLE AND VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: NOVO AMORSLEEPLESS (CHAPTERS I & II): Novo Amor has released a new short film with producer-directors Jorik Dozy and Sil van der Woerd (aka Sil & Jorik). The trio’s most recent collaboration was the now multi-award winning video for the title track from Novo Amor’s debut album, Birthplace. Now, we see the release of a two-part video – Chapter I soundtracking a song entitled Sleepless and Chapter II soundtracking Repeat Until Death, both of which are taken from the album. For this latest project, Sil & Jorik headed to Mongolia and spent almost three weeks capturing spectacular scenery of landscapes rarely seen in mainstream western media. This two-part film tells the tale of a young Mongolian girl battling the health effects of air pollution, and her journey of recovery from modern life in the city to a lifestyle in the countryside that is more in-keeping with nature. Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, is one of the world’s most polluted cities. During winter months, temperatures drop well below -35C and residents rely on burning coal for heat. The consequence of this is an intense period of air pollution which is wreaking havoc on the city’s residents. All the while the city’s population is swelling as an ever-changing climate weakens the habitat of reindeer and the nomadic people who herd them (The Tsaatan) and leads them to migrate to the city to seek alternative employment. Today, only 40 Tsaatan families remain. The first track, Sleepless, has the air of the epic about it. It’s tranquil, beautiful, ethereal and evocative of acts like Elbow and Snow Patrol, its cinematic instrumentals befitting the accompanying video, which carries a timely, striking message. Repeat Until Death continues the momentum, slowing things down to something melancholy yet beautiful. The piano is sombre yet stunning in its simplicity (and belatedly accompanied by some stunning strings), while the accompanying falsetto vocal has an air of fragility befitting the fragility of life, and the presence of snow in the video (for its quiet sparseness). It’s another stunning achievement. Indeed, there’s so much to say about this release, that we’ve written a full story that is accessible via one of the links below.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Vampire Weekend

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: VAMPIRE WEEKENDHARMONY HALL: It may have been six years since we last heard from Vampire Weekend but the wait has been worth it. To mark their comeback, the band have recently dropped two new tracks in the form of Harmony Hall and 2021. The former is stunning. Ezra Koenig taps into some trademark bittersweet elements with the central lyric, “I don’t want to live like this, I don’t want to die”, while summoning swirling melodies around him. There’s tumbling acoustic guitar licks, swirling piano arrangements, classic percussion elements, hints of country, classic ’70s pop riffs, as well as a nod or two to classic acts like Simon & Garfunkel. It’s a work of immense quality, as intricately layered as we’ve come to expect, but different enough to be refreshingly new and oh-so very, very welcome. The song is taken from new album, Father of the Bride, which is already shaping up to be pretty darn special. The accompanying video, while nothing particularly striking, is quirky enough to keep you watching, featuring the band cooking, dancing and, well, being mindful of a snake.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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The Leisure Society, John Simm

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: THE LEISURE SOCIETYGOD HAS TAKEN A VACATION: The Leisure Society share the video for new single God Has Taken a Vacation, featuring esteemed actor (and friend of the band), John Simm. The track has a lazy rock vibe that’s totally endearing, with some laidback riffs to match the easygoing – yet strangely lamentful – vocals. The song itself is questioning of life in general, as well as the global political climate, but was ironically born out of something more intimate – the break-up of a relationship. Speaking on the new single, frontman and songwriter Nick Hemming commented: “I started writing the song about my break-up, but world events started finding their way in too. Division, borders, a loss of hope. There were a lot of shared themes!” The video is stunning. Explains director Matt Campion: “On first listen, I immediately thought about all the things that have gone wrong in the world of late. So, a heist film where Trump, Putin and Kim Jong-un try to steal data, felt like a good starting place in a godless world. Add the brilliant John Simm and a few guns to the mix and we have a film that raises more questions than answers.” It’s a clever political statement that is also evocative of classic genre movies such as Reservoir Dogs (the slow-mo walk) and Point Break (with the dead presidents motif updated for the present day). John Simm said of his involvement: “When I first heard God Has Taken A Vacation, I knew I had to be involved in the video. I have been a fan of The Leisure Society for many years, so was thrilled to be able to work with them on their new album.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis

RHYS LEWISHOLD ON TO HAPPINESS: Accompanied by a simple stripped-back guitar, Hold On To Happiness presents Rhys Lewis’ soulful vocals at the forefront, instantly gripping the listener from the very first note. Produced by Rhys working alongside Aidan Glover, the track was recorded straight to tape at their studio in South London. Speaking about the track, Rhys explained: “We’re simple creatures at heart, I don’t believe we need a lot to be happy, but we live in a complicated world now that seems to make us focus more on the things we don’t have than the things we do. Social media makes people fall into that trap, and I’ve realised how damaging it is. Life just happens, and it’ll pass you by if you let it. So, I’m trying to stay more in the present, to be truly there when the moment’s golden, to make memories I’ll reminisce not regret.” The sentiments behind the song, as well as the idea of holding onto happiness, are worthy indeed, and delivered in a humble fashion that allows the listener to really take in the song’s meaning. Its unflashy, yet compelling… emotionally honest and socially astute. Lewis’ vocals are fragile, and semi falsetto, while the acoustic backdrop compliments them beautifully. It’s a song to enjoy and put into action.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tarantina

TARANTINAHEAL: GRAMMY® Tarantina releases her new single Heal through Quite Crafty. Written and co-produced by Tarantina and Tommy Sheen, the track is an incredibly emotive and stark track that highlights her incredible vocal prowess. Commenting on the track herself, Tarantina explained: “Events can leave an emotional stain on a place, Heal is about trying to live with those ghosts.” The starkness is disarming. There’s a sombre, solitary piano arrangement that’s barely there, yet beautifully emotive. While Tarantina’s vocals have a yearning and sense of loss that somehow finds hope amid the pain. It’s a record about healing. But it’s equally a lament for a lost relationship. And the emotional intensity is impossible to ignore. It’s cinematic. Heal is the second track from the self-taught singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and videographer’s second EP Organs, which is set for a spring release.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Teenage Fanclub

TEENAGE FANCLUBEVERYTHING IS FALLING APART: Teenage Fanclub have released a new single, Everything Is Falling Apart, which marks the Scottish indie band’s first new track since the departure of co-founder Gerard Love last year, following a ‘sadly unresolvable difference of opinion’ concerning the group’s touring schedule. Fortunately, the signature sound doesn’t seem to have departed with him. This is a classic indie anthem that marries downbeat lyrics with toe-tapping instrumentals. The guitars, in particular, have that classic indie vibe, while the beats are toe-tappingly good. The hazy vocals add a slacker vibe that’s instantly recognisable as a Teenage Fanclub record, meaning that the core fanbase will welcome the song with open arms. Whether or not the track will generate much appeal beyond the fan-base is debatable, but as a throwback to the classic 90s indie scene, this ticks all the right boxes and offers up an immensely satisfying, albeit lyrically sobering, listen.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sting and Shaggy

STING AND SHAGGYJUST ONE LIFETIME: In a week where songs and videos seem to have got overtly political, Sting and Shaggy team up for another rumination on the current global scene. And while the tone is upbeat, with easygoing melodies and a slick mix of pop and calypso, the message is undeniably serious. Lyrics include “unite the world and survive” and “the time has come a reckoning, we all knew it was coming”. That’s not to say there isn’t the odd surreal moment, such as “the walrus smoked a cigarette, he claimed it was his last”. But the central ideology of there being one life to live, is worth remembering when contemplating issues such as war, global warming, displacement, refugee crisis and political corruption. The trick here, however, is that rather than hammering it home, the upbeat vibe, toe-tapping melodies and easygoing nature of the song, make it easy to nod along to while slowly considering the meaning behind it. The song is taken from 44/876, the collaborative album inspired by Sting and Shaggy’s mutual love for Jamaica, which was released in April 2018. Since its release, the pair have enjoyed chart success around the world as well as taking their collaboration on tour in North America, South America and Europe to critical acclaim.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Orville Peck, Turn To Hate

ORVILLE PECKTURN TO HATE: Masked enigmatic country crooner Orville Peck has dropped another new single, Turn to Hate, taken from his upcoming debut LP, Pony, which is due March 22 via Sub Pop. Turn to Hate is a song about Orville’s struggle in keeping his resentment from building into hatred. A continuous battle between embracing the strength and freedom of being an outsider and the inevitable struggle of wanting normalcy and familiarity – Orville’s dilemma as a cowboy. He sings about having to constantly repair situations in his wake, and fighting with himself over his decision making. To stay or go; to cry or not; whether to leave without saying goodbye in order to soften the blow; And all the while wishing someone would tell him that they “can’t stay” – to make the decision for him. In the words of Orville himself: “Turn to Hate is essentially a song about the anxiety that comes with being on the outside of things. Treading the line between existing as a loner but not letting that solitude turn into resentment. All that wrapped in a good ole’ country stomping barn-raiser!” The song has a country rock twang to it, which is appealing, while the vocals have a similarly to Lloyd Cole in his prime, with a touch of Johnny Cash. It’s an empowering listen, born from self doubt, that is oddly inspiring. Orville’s debut album, Pony, promises to deliver a diverse collection of stories that sing of heartbreak, revenge and the unrelenting tug of the cowboy ethos. Warm lap steel guitars and echoing drums move through dreamy ballads and sometimes near frantic buzzsaw tunes – all the while paying homage to his country music roots
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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

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

Meadowlark

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MEADOWLARK – H.I.T.H.: In the wake of recent singles Appetite and Family Tree, Meadowlark have released another new single entitled H.I.T.H. The track marks the start of an exciting new chapter is the band’s career as their first release on German label Guesstimate, to which they recently signed, and arrives ahead of a European headline tour which will take place throughout April. Speaking of the curiously titled new single, Meadowlark share: “H.I.T.H (Hole In The Head) comes from a place of undeniably wanting to be near someone, but hating the fact that you do. From wanting someone physically but being terrified when emotions follow. Admitting your feelings for someone is one thing, but to let yourself fall in love and take on all that comes with it is one of the scariest places we can go as a human being. We make assumptions about the future to protect ourselves from the fear of it possibly going wrong. But love is relentless… it’s like a hole in the head. You have to address it before it takes over.” As ever, Meadowlark marry lyrical intelligence with addictive instrumentals but perhaps sound more pop than usual [or mainstream]. H.I.T.H thrives on breathy vocals, sweeping beats, sleek electronics and a sharp sense of melody. It’s as radio friendly as Meadowlark get, and deserving of big hit status.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: FOALS – ON THE LUNA: Foals have unveiled a second track from Part 1 of their ambitious dual album project Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, in the shape of On The Luna. Already picked out by Q as one of the album’s highlights, On The Luna stirs Foals’ strident grooves and skyscraping hooks with sparkling synths and a clattering cowbell. Meanwhile, Yannis Philippakis’ lyric declaration, “we had it all but we didn’t stop to think about it”, underlines the track’s foreboding atmosphere, as if giving the band’s listeners something to think about in regards to the current social and political upheavel affecting us all. The track itself is shot through with sharp hooks, off-kilter rhyhthm changes, ’80s leaning vocals and an energy that’s impossible to ignore. It’s a song that refuses to sit still, but one that remains utterly infectious and strangely empowering. The accompanying video offers an observational, documentary-style snapshot of all things Foals… the grainy, Super 8-styled video blends the visceral energy of their live show with intimate, behind-the-scenes footage as they work on Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost. It’s an exciting time to be a Foals fan!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters, Wild Ones

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: CRYSTAL FIGHTERSWILD ONES: Always inspired by new experiences and taking the road less travelled, Crystal Fighters release their new record Gaia & Friends on March 1, 2019. The record has been launched with the new single Wild Ones, an exuberant fusion of psychedelia, global modern pop and bass heavy production. And in true Crystal Fighters style, it’s a blast – a ray of musical sunshine that’s tailor-made to make you feel deliriously happy during these gloomy wintery days. There are giddy ‘la la la’ harmonies, an almost calypso chime to some of the electronics and back-beats, as well as a feel-good fusion of boy-girl vocals that create a self-consciously hip party vibe. It’s a celebration of diversity that stays true to the Crystal Fighters ethos of offering something different. New album Gaia & Friends is being described by the band themselves as a “snapshot of time and a chapter of music” created across continents, with a crew of collaborators and with a clear message at its heart. Featured on the record are Anna Of The North, Colombian superstars Bomba Estéreo and South Africa’s Petite Noir, alongside interludes, samples and field recordings captured by the band on their travels across four continents. The title ‘Gaia & Friends’ is a reflection of Crystal Fighters’ outlook on the world and existence – ‘Gaia’ representing Mother Earth and ‘Friends’ her diverse inhabitants. Humanity, animals and plant-life co-exist in the moment, with the planet representing a gigantic party for life in all of its many forms. The songs naturally touch upon themes of togetherness, inclusivity, conservation and connectivity, all united by the realisation that we need to respect the world that we live in. We can’t wait to hear more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Zedd and Katy Perry, 365

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ZEDD & KATY PERRY – 365: Having collaborated with some of the biggest artists on the planet already (including Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande), Russian-German producer Zedd now teams up with Katy Perry for new single 365 – and he could just have delivered his best work yet. A sleek slice of electro pop with R’n‘B influences, this has a modern vibe thanks to the chiming beats, which lend it a futuristic vibe. Perry, meanwhile, drops one of the most sultry vocals she has ever delivered. It’s a mature performance from her that perfectly compliments the subtle electronic arrangements and those memorable beats. The chorus, meanwhile, is catchy as hell… and seductive, with Perry purring “are you gonna be the one that’s on my mind, all the time, 365”. The accompanying video is hot stuff, too. It underlines the futuristic vibe with Perry playing a robot who gets to learn about human love. It has an ex_Machina kind of vibe.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Weezer, Take On Me

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: WEEZERTAKE ON ME: OK, so this is a cover version… and one that meticulously strives to be as close to the inspired original as possible. But on this occasion, it works. Weezer’s covers compilation, aka The Teal Album, is full of highlights, but their version of A-Ha’s seminal 80s hit Take On Me is terrific. It maintains the sweep of the original (which has already enjoyed its own revival on the Bumblebee movie soundtrack), as well as the giddy pop exuberance. Rivers Cuomo’s vocals are deeper than Morten Harket’s, of course, but he delivers the chorus with typical gusto, while some of the guitars provide a nice alterative to the dated synths. But this remains a blast – paying due reverence to that original. The video, too, does the same. Where A-Ha’s iconic original featured a drawing coming to life, so Weezer’s version finds the band practising the song at home and eventually becoming absorbed into a drawn world. It’s highly effective and a deserved selection of video of the week.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Gray, A Tight Ship

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: DAVID GRAY – A TIGHT SHIP: David Gray has just dropped the video for former single A Tight Ship, which he’s created with Rex Russell (son of filmmaker Ken Russell) using green screen techniques. It’s lifted from the upcoming March album Gold In A Brass Age and is suitably strking. Speaking about the making of the video, Gray said: “The central idea came directly from the beat of the song. The first part is in a 6/4 time signature and when I was moving it seemed like a really natural thing to have a little mark on every sixth beat to help accentuate each change. Green screen afforded us more freedom in post-production to really get this concept working. On the day, it was good fun although walking on the walkolator whilst focussing on the camera wasn’t without it’s challenges. I came off several times!” The track itself is classic Gray, with a modern touch. Hence, while you’ll still recognize Gray’s gravelly rasp on the track, the singing is softer, sweeter, more intimate and occasionally falsetto. It’s part of a song-writing shake-up that defines a more intuitive approach from Gray across the album. Using a cut and paste approach to the arrangement of songs, lyrics have been transformed, with couplets closer to poetry, and whilst his guitar and piano playing remain, it’s the ushering in of electronica and the exploring of alternative sound textures alongside new production techniques that take to the fore. Here, we have a trip-hop style back-beat, a distinct vocal difference, an upbeat vibe and some quirkily breezy electronics.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cardi B & Bruno Mars, Please Me

CARDI B & BRUNO MARSPLEASE ME: GRAMMY® Award-winning Atlantic recording artist Cardi B has released her first new track of 2019 in the form of the provocative Please Me with Bruno Mars. A sexually playful, and sometimes risque, offering, this finds Cardi B and Mars striking sexual suggestions off each other, which add up to a chorus that begs “please me baby”. Cardi, for her part, talks about being on the dancefloor with “no panties in the way”, while the object of her seduction, Mars, keeps on pleading “just turn around and tease me baby”. The instrumentals lean towards smooth groove R’n‘B with a little hip hop thrown in. But while slickly produced (with Mars also helping in that capacity), the song becomes tiresome after a while. It’s all tease and no real climax… a beg-athon that just keeps begging. Please Me arrives mere days after Cardi B received the ‘Best Rap Album’ GRAMMY® for her chart-topping, RIAA 2x platinum certified Invasion of Privacy, making history as the first solo female artist to win that prestigious category. Unfortunately, Please Me doesn’t suggest further awards will follow.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Stereophonics, Chaos From The Top Down

STEREOPHONICSCHAOS FROM THE TOP DOWN: Stereophonics have delivered a surprise release with their new song, Chaos From The Top Down, a typically anthemic pop-rock offering. Of the song, Kelly Jones said: “Chaos From The Top Down is a song sung from the imagined perspective of a 15-year-old boy laying in the road after being shot. He’s reflecting in his time of dying about his life and the choices he made through the lack of options and opportunities he felt he had in today’s Britain. It also touches on the tags and labels that have been stuck on him. The stereotypes and clichés that were placed on him. It’s based on a true story that happened just outside my street. It’s happening everywhere. I’ve always written about what’s going on around me or within me since Local Boy In The Photograph in 1996. It doesn’t fit into the style of the album I’m writing and the current political climate inspired me to release it now.” The themes of the song are powerful, indeed, and delivered in a style that give proper pause for reflection. But while designed to reflect both personal experience and collective social responsibility, the surrounding instrumentals are robust, melodic and radio-friendly, thereby helping to get the message even more noticed. Stereophonics fans are sure to embrace the track as another anthem, especially in live form. But this could just as easily appeal to new listeners as well.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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MYKL, Conversation

MYKLCONVERSATION: Sonically reminiscent of 80’s pop, Conversation – the new single from MYKL (MakeYouKnowLovr) – is another self-written and produced track with an atmospheric sound that highlights MYKL’s alluring vocals and ability to conjure some catchy pop hooks. Conversation is about reconnecting with someone after time spent forgetting their undeniable feelings for one another. It’s the type of track, with its emphasis on electronics, beats and falsetto soul vocals, that plays well to fans of acts like The 1975 and Michael Jackson, deliberately tip-toeing the line between ’80s influenced pop and more contemporary indie-pop. And while those comparisons do suggest a sense of over-familiarity, Conversation actually comes across as an effortlessly likeable offering that thrives on those falsetto vocals, slick beats and lush electronics. It’s genuinely likeable, with emotional sincerity to boot.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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KYOTI, Restart The World

KYOTIRESTART THE WORLD: Acclaimed art pop trio KYOTI return with an explosive new single in the form of Restart The World. Kicking off with a sparse backdrop of pounding electro beats and snappy percussion, the track then builds into an energy infused anthem with catchy infectious synth hooks. It sounds like 80s era Depeche Mode mixed with Pet Shop Boys. But it arrives with a timely social message too, being described as an anthem for a technology dependant, politically charged and anxiety-fuelled era. Hence, while upbeat, this dystopian party tune also has a lyrical intelligence that has plenty to say. Speaking about the track, the band said: “Restart The World is about feeling powerless in a quickly changing world. We are slowly losing our humanity and giving it over to machines. Our collective memory is being eroded, falling in to the endless sea. We need to start again.” It’s a strong enough offering to hopefully make people take notice, even if those retro leanings can sometimes be diverting in terms of having you pick out the musical references. KYOTI are Ed Burgon (vocals), David Mabbott (keys/synths) and Benji Huntrods (drums). Collectively, a powerhouse of disparate influences, including jazz, funk, dance and pop, together they create rich soundscapes of synths and beats, interlaced with thoughtful lyricism.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hot Dreams

HOT DREAMSCALIFORNIA: Hot on the heals of releasing their single Stronger in January, London indie quartet Hot Dreams continue apace with the release of their new single California, a slice of hazy sun-drenched indie. Speaking about the record, the band explained: “California is about growing up and moving on. It’s a simple yet heartfelt letter about breaking up and realising the value in independence.” The resulting single offers up that sunshine indie vibe with something altogether more lyrically bittersweet. And it’s a really strong juxtaposition. For while instrumentally, the track sounds tailor-made for hitting the sun-drenched highways of California itself, top down, the break-up anthem nature of the lyrics call for some greater introspection and listening, as you contemplate some of the loves you, yourself, may well have lost. It’s ear-catching stuff from a band that are clearly on the rise. Hot Dreams formed in 2016 over a shared interest in artists such as Pumarosa, Blonde Redhead, Slowdive and King Krule. They’re completed by Kai Fennell (vocals, guitar), Aaron Clarke (bass), Alex Bloomfield (guitar, keys) and Cam Fyall (Drums).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

Beck, Super Cool

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECK feat ROBYN AND THE LONELY ISLANDSUPER COOL: A song called Super Cool absolutely has to be as cool as its name suggests. Fortunately, the producers of The LEGO Movie 2 have got two (if not three) of the coolest acts around to deliver it. Beck has long been an advocate for cool, while Robyn is no slouch when it comes to that. The song itself therefore drops hip-hop inspired beats, synth-pop and euphoric melodies to smash the coolness out of the park, complete with some savvy lyrical nods to the subversive nature of the LEGO Movie itself (there’s rap work about the importance of the film’s end credits). OK, so there’s not much meaning attached. But if you’re looking to feel good, funky and to exit the cinema on the highest of highs, then this ticks all the right boxes. Beck’s vocal prowess is matched by Robyn’s ethereal tones, to create something that could be produced by Mark Ronson and occasionally even delivered by The Beastie Boys. You can have some super cool fun with this one.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Seafret

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SEAFRETLOVING YOU: Seafret have released their striking new single Loving You through Kobalt. Sparse and almost desolate at times, it’s an emotional return for the East Yorkshire duo, which explores a relationship in raw, honest and utterly heartfelt passion. It’s a song about an undying love that is bittersweet, yet achingly romantic (especially when they declare that “I’ll still be lving you” and “proud to wear the scars”). The accompanying instrumentals are cinematic in quality, built as they are around strings and pianos. Speaking about the new single Seafret explained: “After the release of the last EP, Monsters, we wanted to follow it up with something a little different. Loving You was one of those songs that seemed to write itself. We first recorded it onto a voice recording memo on a phone and there was something about the rawness in just the vocal and the piano that we loved. With that in mind we took it to the studio and decided to accompany it with a cello and sparse drums played with mallets for more of a texture than a beat, keeping the space and rawness of it’s original form. We love how it’s turned out and hope you do to.” Loving You is accompanied by a very emotive video, directed by Stuart Alexander, who shot the video for their previous single Monsters. Speaking about the video’s inspiration, Stuart said: “The idea for the video is inspired by my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died of a broken heart 11 hours after hearing of her husband’s passing. I wanted to capture the feeling of that person being by your side regardless of how impossible the distance is between you.” He goes further to say: “Skye is a mixture of incredible beauty and isolation, everything that we needed to capture the tone of the video. We filmed through rain, snow storms and a constant sub-zero temperature. People thought we were nuts for attempting something like this in January, especially taking a grand piano up a mountain. It was worth the effort, especially seeing the look on the Brazilian hill climbers faces as they walked past.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Olafur Arnulds

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: OLAFUR ARNALDSEKKI HUGSA: BAFTA-winning artist, composer, musician and producer Ólafur Arnalds has released the new music video for his latest single Ekki Hugsa. Filmed in his native Iceland, the title of the new release translates as ‘don’t think’, and features uplifting synthesised melodies combined with acoustic cello hooks, resulting in Ólafur’s distinctive, multi-layered sound. “The video is about not overthinking and getting lost in a moment. When you turn off the noise in your brain so much creativity can be discovered inside of yourself,” explained Arnalds. The video, produced and directed by Arni and Kinski, features a highly-choreographed routine created by Asrun Magnusdottir and Alexander Roberts, showcasing both contemporary and traditional steps. Ekki Hugsa features Ólafur’s ground-breaking new software, Stratus, which transforms the piano into a unique and entirely modern instrument. The Stratus Pianos are two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos and the centrepiece of Ólafur’s latest works. The custom-built software controlling the pianos is the result of two years of work by Ólafur and audio developer Halldór Eldjárn. The result offers up a cascading loop of electronic melodies that wash over you like sonic waves, albeit with strings weaving in and out. It’s lively, it’s beautiful and it’s inspiring. When put together with the video, it offers up a moment of pause that’s breathtaking.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mullally, Think About You

MULLALLYTHINK ABOUT YOU: Brit-soul contemporary Mullally returns with emotive new ballad, Think About You – a track produced by Grammy-nominated duo Rice’N’Peas, the brains behind G-Eazy hit, Some Kind Of Drug, and Bazzi’s standout smash, Beautiful ft Camilla Cabello. “Think About You is me spilling my feelings on a page, and into a song. Sometimes we forget that the world doesn’t stop when you go through shit. I had to pick myself up and go to the studio when I was emotional and drunk, and in a happy accident we captured a really honest, true reflection of what was happening in my life at the time. Writing this song allowed me some clarity.” Given that the song stemmed from a drunken low, it’s all the more impressive. The soul-searching is piercing and honest as he reflects on a love cherished and lost, yet accompanied by snappy back-beats and electronics that heighten the pop-soul vibe. Mullally’s vocals are suitably emotional, digging deep into the depths of his despair and trying to find some optimisim for the future. Hence, by the time reaches its powerful climax, the song has started to soar.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Who Do You Love

THE CHAINSMOKERS feat 5 SECONDS OF SUMMERWHO DO YOU LOVE: The Chainsmokers return to form with new single Who Do You Love, featuring 5 Seconds of Summer. Tapping into the darkness that’s inherent in a lot of their most recent material, this is a break-up anthem that finds the EDM giants exploring what went wrong and demanding the truth. It’s shot through with that heartbroken emotion, with the hard-hitting beats and darker electronic loops reflective of that. 5 Seconds of Summer also augment the sense of heartbreak with some blistering vocals of their own. Sure, there are some overly intrusive dance elements punctuating proceedings, where The Chainsmokers can’t completely resist the urge to drop in their more trademark club sound. But in the main, this is the kind of easy listening offering that offers up a lively chorus, bittersweet sentiments, and plenty of crossover potential. It is back to doing what Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart arguably do best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSESOLO: Lucy Rose has shared the second track in preview of her forthcoming new album. Solo(w) is streaming now and lifted from her fourth album, No Words Left, which is released on March 22, 2019. A beautifully stark, intense listen and another telling introduction to a record of raw emotion and heart, Solo(w) is a tale of longing and confronting emotions. It’s raw, intimate, tender and quite often heart-breaking, but further compelling evidence of Rose’s ability to confront humanity in an authentic, endearing fashion. The piano work is understated and belatedly accompanied by some sax and strings, while Rose’s vocals have an underlying sense of melancholy that strikes a nice contrast to the sweetness she always brings to her songs. Commenting on the track herself, Rose explains: “This was the last song I wrote for the record. It feels like it was the first time I could look back at a period of time and understand it. I wasn’t out of the dark but I could see a light. Like every song on this record, it’s helped me in a way but this one felt like it was pulling at me to say ‘it’s ok’ and it’s time to move on. I confronted a lot of thoughts in this song, it was time to finally accept it all and come out with a better understanding of it all – ‘I’m afraid of the morning and I’m afraid of the evening, maybe I’m afraid of everything.” The song is accompanied by a black and white performance video.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Cleo Sol, One

CLEO SOLONE: Cleo Sol is a London-born and raised singer and songwriter beginning 2019 with a new release called One. It follows her acclaimed debut EP last year, entitled Winter Songs, which i-D magazine deemed ‘a collection of four heartbreakingly beautiful tunes’. One is being billed as a transcendent track featuring Cleo’s commanding, soulful voice intertwined with an array of hazy, moving instrumentals and rich percussion. It not only demonstrates Cleo’s abilities as a singer but as an excellent lyricist as well, serving as a hazy, blues-infused call to action for the human race to come together for strength, as one entity. And, as the PR suggests, Sol has delivered a genuinely thought-provoking, beautiful song in One that should be embraced by the world as a whole. Her bluesy vocal tones are an addictive guide to the message behind the song [one of global unity], while the R’n‘B infused beats and instrumentals [coupled with those vocals] evoke memories of classic artists from Nightmares on Wax to Diana Ross with Michael Kiwanuka and Macy Gray thrown in.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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ViVii

VIVIILOVE LOVE LOVE: Following their latest well received single And Tragic, and a series of stunning performances at Eurosonic, Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii release their new single Love Love Love and continue to impress. Built around some beautifully ethereal hooks and harmonies, this combines boy-girl vocals to similarly striking, ethereal effect – especially when playing on the dreamy female side of things. But it’s an ode to love that finds warmth in the coldest of places. It’s echoed harmonies, subtle acoustics and delicate vocals are designed to put the listener at ease and allow them to soak in the song’s message from a state of bliss. Speaking about the single, ViVii explain: “Anders recorded a melody on his phone right after his daughter was born, the beginning of Love, Love, Love. And when we met up a couple of weeks later we finished it.” ViVii’s eponymous debut album will be released in March 15, 2019.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marina

MARINAHANDMADE HEAVEN: Multi-faceted, award-winning and platinum-selling pop innovator Marina (previously Marina & the Diamonds) returns with her eagerly anticipated new single, Handmade Heaven. Her first solo material in four years, the track is a lush, surging slice of piano-laced pop and a welcome reintroduction to Marina’s distinctive, ethereal vocals. The powerful, self-penned track finds Marina imagining a world as simple as the beautiful creatures and nature that surround her. It’s an instantly compelling track, fuelled by the potent imagery that talks of escaping from the real world (and all of its pollutants, political upheaval and angst) to something solitary, beautiful and driven by nature itself (“in this handmade heaven, I come alive, blue birds forever, colour the sky”). It’s designed to offer up a piece of musical escape that also carries a timely call for action. Marina’s distinct vocals regularly soar, combining ethereal edge with melodic potency, thereby providing the song with a distinct sound that’s still completely radio-friendly and therefore capable of appealing to the masses. It’s a successful comeback.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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