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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 16, 2019

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

Third Eye Blind, Screamer

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THIRD EYE BLINDSCREAMER: It’s exciting times to be a Third Eye Blind fan! The US outfit (responsible for such hits as Semi Charmed Life and Never Let You Go return with a new album (co-produced with Billy Corgan, no less) and a couple of UK shows in October (inluding London’s Kentish Town Forum). The first taste of the new material is the title track, Screamer, featuring Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. And like its name suggestsm, Screamer blasts out of the stereo amid Stephan Jenkins powerhouse vocals, some shouted background chants (including the empowering “you’re so damn beautiful”) and head-rush synths and guitars. It’s a wall of sound kind of offering, designed to raise excitement, while having plenty to say about the state of the modern world. As the band state: “Screamer explores the duality of our dystopian present as catalyst for passionate humanism.” It’s therefore bittersweet in nature… hopeful but realistic. If taken as a rallying call, however, it offers a very good time that hits some euphoric highs. Commenting on the forthcoming LP, Jenkins continued: “My current mood resonates with rebellion, energy, courage, and risk. I seek to combine it with a percussive level of musical immediacy in this collection of songs to cultivate collective idealism and an unapologetic aspiration towards humanistic values.” The album is due on October 18.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher, One of Us

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LIAM GALLAGHERONE OF US: One week after Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds mixed up their sound to dazzling effect with This Is The Place brother Liam now drops his latest new offering, One Of Us. And while it’s not as big a departure from the tried and tested sound we’ve come to expect from him, it’s arguably one of the strongest offerings from his solo output to date. What marks this one out are the sweeping strings and gospel-tinged backing vocals that help to heighten the emotional impact of a song that expresses hope that a fractured relationship can be salvaged in the future. Fans who attended last weekend’s MTV Unplugged set in Hull witnessed the song’s live debut and will have surely noticed a memorable reference to the Oasis classic Live Forever. And while that reference is deliberate, and perhaps a flaw in the way that it once again relies on a trademark sound (the strings also evoke Whatever), the delivery here is great. Gallagher’s distinct vocals soar and retain an element of hope for the future, the guitars mix brilliantly with the drums and strings and the inclusion of those gospel tinged backing vocals late on brings the song to a really, really nice – even epic – close. It’s assured, mature, cinematic even… the sound of Liam at his very best. “One of Us is about family, friendship and a sense of belonging,” says Liam. “I love the groove and the gospel outro. It reminds me of The Sweet Inspirations.” Liam co-wrote One Of Us, while his youngest son, Gene, contributed bongos, accompanied by Nick Zinner, of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, on guitar.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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You Me At Six, What's It Like

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: YOU ME AT SIXWHAT’S IT LIKE: Ahead of their return to the Reading and Leeds Festival Main Stage, and biggest outdoor UK headline show to date at Gunnersbury Park on September 8, You Me At Six have released the volatile new single What’s It Like, the first new material since their acclaimed UK Top Ten album VI, released on Underdog Records / AWAL. The track expands on the genre kaleidoscope of VI, and sees icy electronic rock and hip-hop fuse for an earworm built to disrupt the status quo. Speaking of the new single, frontman Josh Franceschi explains: “What’s It Like is us flexing our creative muscles. Combining our favourite genres and bringing them together in one track. For me, lyrically, it’s looking at our society in parts in 2019. I definitely feel as though we are living in a time where we’ve lost our way a little bit. There are great innovators and pioneers which we can rely on, but there is also a feeling of the blind leading the blind and a lack of humility present. Within the title and the chorus I sort of poke fun at those who are libertines or self serving – ‘what’s it like being perfect all the time?’. Life’s not a competition, but people have a tendency to play it out that way.” The track is as hard-hitting as that idea suggests – the emphatic synths and hip-hop beats combining with those questioning, semi angry lyrics in punchy, powerful fashion. And yet, for all of the inherent darkness and soul-searching, there’s an epic sweep that empowers. It’s anthemic stuff that should go down a storm in live form. The accompanying video comes with a warning, as it may potentially trigger seizures for people with epilepsy. Viewer discretion is therefore advised before clicking on the link below.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Death Cab For Cutie, Kids in '99

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – TO THE GROUND: Death Cab For Cutie’s latest single To The Ground is another to be released from their forthcoming The Blue EP, which is due out on September 6. Like former track Kids in ’99, it addresses the aftermath of a tragedy… a car crash. The track therefore finds lead man Benjamin Gibbard meditating on the circle-of-life stuff that happens when a natural environment grows around the husk of a crashed car. It’s high-brow lyricism married to appealing instrumentation, just as we’ve long come to expect from this band. The guitars, here, are particularly striking… more emphatic and pronounced than usual. They have an almost Cure-like sense of atmosphere and brooding, which elevates the song. While the accompanying drums also add extra brooding atmosphere. The late instrumental breakdown, when the electronic side of things take over for a wall of sound kind of noise, adds to the cinematic nature of the song, while adding to the sense of peril inherent in the crash. It’s a thought-provoking offering… yet big and expansive enough to be considered one of the band’s most stadium-sized offerings. Roll on the rest of the EP!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kiwanuka

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 5: MICHAEL KIWANUKAYOU AIN’T THE PROBLEM: In the same week that Michael Kiwanuka confirmed the release of his third album, Kiwanuka, on October 25, the singer drops the secong single, You Ain’t The Problem – and it’s another gem. A soulful foot stomper, this wallows in retro qualities (that could find their way onto the soundtrack of a ’70s cop thriller at times), with an urgency that’s utterly contemporary. In retro terms, the psychedelic soul evokes deliberate comparisons with Bobby Womack’s early ’70s street symphonies, while also bringing disco qualities to its insistent beats. The guitars are pure ’70s, as are the backing ‘la la la’ harmonies. But Kiwanuka’s own vocals eschew conventional values, offering an almost spoken alternative to his more soulful delivery. It’s a track that therefore subverts expectation at times. But it’s all the more ear-catching for it, while also lyrically confronting societies problems and the need to make some changes. It’s thought-provoking, hip-shaking and timeless. Kiwanuka would appear to be cooking up somethinhg special with his new album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Two Door Cinema Club, Once

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUBONCE: Two Door Cinema Club have shared their new video for Once, taken from their critically-acclaimed and third UK top 5 album, False Alarm. The macabre video sees the Bangor trio cast as deadpan ventriloquists, competing for the limelight with ostentatious dummy versions of themselves, all in a satirical and hedonistic ’70s showbiz setting. But while creepy and fun in equal measure, the video takes a violent twist towards the end as it hurtles towards a shocking conclusion (with the emphasis still on fun). Once music video directors Mathy and Fran said: “It was huge fun making this video! Knowing that the song was about narcissism in the Instagram age, we hit upon the idea of Ventriloquist dummies, which felt strangely relevant to the way we all act on social media – creating personas who speak for us, and live the lives we wish we had. It was really enjoyable to imagine a world where Alex, Sam and Kevin are completely sidelined in favour of their celebrity dummies, and we had no idea they’d be such good puppeteers… until of course, they get to enact their revenge!” For all of the messages in the lyrics about narcissism, the song itself has a breezy, upbeat positivity that sweeps the listener along. The boys deliver the lyrics in soulful, falsetto style, thereby heightening that sense of briskness. It’s alt-pop at its shimmering best… with a memorable video to boot.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cari Cari, Anaana

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CARI CARIANAANA: Guinness has just unveilled their new ad campaign Liberty Fields, soundtracked by Austrian duo Cari Cari’s single Anaana. To tie in with the launch Cari Cari, who’ve been described as ‘the lovechild of The Kills and The XX’, have now unveiled the striking video for the single. Commenting on the Guinness ad (which celebrates the pioneering Japanese women’s rugby team that changed rugby), Cari Cari’s Stephanie Widmer aka Louise Yamamoto said: “As a blackbelt-judoka and a female drummer in the male-dominated music industry I feel incredibly connected with the women in the video. No matter whether you’re a drummer, a rugby player or a firefighter. Women around the world are fighting against stereotypes and paving their own way everyday. That’s why we are both incredibly proud to be part of this campaign and can help send this important message to women everywhere. We LOVE the ad and the message that it sends. Really, really proud to be part of this.” Having been described as ‘the lovechild of The Kills and The XX’, Cari Cari duly deliver on that promise with Anaana, which is vast, epic, sprawling, cinematic and pioneering in its own way. The central wail is particularly striking, as are the accompanying guitars, which chug along and give the track its shape. The boy-girl vocals also have plenty of atmosphere and brooding, as well as a touch of psychedelia. The song also thrives on its retro leanings, which embody the type of sound that has helped to make so many of Quentin Tarantino’s soundtracks so cool. You’ll be wailing along in no time!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jorja Smith, Be Honest

JORJA SMITH feat BURNA BOY – BE HONEST: Multi-award-winning British singer Jorja Smith has unveiled her new single, Be Honest, which marks her first piece of new music since the release of her Mercury Music Prize nominated debut album Lost & Found in Summer 2018. Produced by Izy (Koffee ‘Toast’) and Cadenza (who previously worked with Jorja on her 2016 single Where Did I Go?), Be Honest is designed to represent a sonic contrast to the singer’s calmer, ballad-leaning album tracks. The single is therefore up-beat and flirtatious, with a smooth groove R’n‘B vibe, toe-tapping beats and sultry vocals that trade off nicely with Burna Boy’s. It’s a pleasant enough listen, even if the overall result doesn’t quite manage to feel as empowered as its PR suggests it should. But Smith appears to be having fun and there’s a certain infectious quality to that. The Amber Grace Johnson-directed video (who’s previously worked with Rihanna and A$AP Rocky), was filmed in locations across London, including Rye Lane Market and Peckham Liberal Club. The visual sees Jorja and two of her best friends, Erin and Sandra, battling effortlessly through the hot London summer as Jorja dances and sings along to the infectious single.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Charli XCX, Cross You Out

CHARLI XCX feat SKY FERREIRACROSS YOU OUT: Charli XCX continues to tap into some darker material with new single Cross You Out – a power ballad driven by striking synths and impassioned, pained vocals. Charli herself has stated: “This song is about me leaving someone toxic behind and finally feeling free.” Hence, lyrics include “when you’re not around, I’ll finally cross you out”. But while celebratory in the sense that it’s designed to celebrate breaking free from something hurtful, there’s an urgency and danger attached to those throbbing synths that accompany the track, while the beats also evoke a sense of restraint that’s a million miles removed from some of the singer’s more breezier pop songs. Produced by Lotus IV and A.G. Cook, the song thrives on its thudding instrumental delivery and the feisty vocal delivery of both Charli and her collaborator Sky Ferreira. It strikes a definite blow for feminism throughout and shows a different, but no less exciting side to this singer-songwriter.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sam Johnson, Trip on Gold

SAM JOHNSONTRIP ON GOLD: Shorpshire born singer-songwriter Sam Johnson has dropped a kooky, catchy new single in the form of Trip On Gold. The playful song, co-written with the renowned Irish songwriter Iain Archer, explores the desire for authenticity and permanence always lurking beneath Johnson’s playful exterior. He sings: “I never had much luck in life but I always had a way with words / My heart can’t get satisfied, living with this modern curse.” It’s a track about ‘the transient, casual nature of relationships’, he explains (“Don’t want a magpie love / I’d rather go for gold”). “But I’m naturally romantic, so there’s an uplifting side to it all,” he adds. The track has some really breezy hooks, a melody strewn chorus and a happy go-lucky demeanour that flies in the face of some of the more uncertain feelings contained within those lyrics. The guitar work is particularly endearing, as are Johnson’s vocals. It’s a really nice record. Trip On Gold is the follow-up to Johnson’s most recent single, his impossibly catchy calling card Medicine For My Brain, which was the first single to be released from Sam’s forthcoming debut EP. It offers a witty kiss-off to the music industry, with a dazzling guitar accompaniment reminiscent of his heroes John Martyn and Ben Howard.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Death Valley Girls, Dream Cleaver

DEATH VALLEY GIRLSDREAM CLEAVER: After releasing their album Darkness Rains last year, Los Angeles doom boogie/dystopian punk/occult glam rockers Death Valley Girls are sharing a new standalone single, Dream Cleaver, via Suicide Squeeze Records. Described as a rousing anthem in praise of psychonaut and ethnobotonist Terrence McKenna, his research on ;the spirit molecule; DMT, and the possibility of trans-dimensional travel, the track is a self-consciously unapologetic, stone-cold rocker… an unabashed orgy of Farfisa organ hooks, Larry Schemels’ hypnotic and propulsive guitar chords, hallucinatory sax lines and Bonnie Bloomgarden’s call-to-arms vocals. The hooks are particularly engaging, keeping the track on-side when some of the more hallucinatory/experimental elements (that sax) threaten to derail it. But Bloomgarden’s vocals also work, lending the song an alt-indie vibe akin to retro acts like L7. It’s a hazy, provocative offering that forces you to have an opinion. And while never exactly managing to fall in love with it, Dream Cleaver still had us wanting to hear more.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 9, 2019

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

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

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSTHIS IS THE PLACE: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will release This Is The Place, an-all new EP of music on September 27. The title track is now available and it’s a belter. Driven by super-slick beats and a more alt-pop sheen than we’ve usually come to expect from this band, the track also drops a cracking chorus and some empowering female backing vocals that heighten the sense of atmosphere and cinema. There’s a blistering guitar solo midway through, too, which slides in seamlessly with those backing vocals and synths, while Gallagher himself delivers a suitably moody set of vocals to propel the track ever forward. It’s got hints of INXS at times, albeit with the type of polished production sheen that David Holmes can deliver. And it’s further evidence of how Noel is happy to keep reinventing himself and pushing his musical output into new musical directions, as opposed to brother Liam, who seems more content to trade on the familiar. If some of the High Flying Birds output is more patchy as a result, then that’s no bad thing. As the quest for keeping things fresh also continues to throw up gems such as this. The full EP will be available digitally and on vinyl – including picture disc and coloured vinyl versions on September 27.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bear's Den

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: BEAR’S DENHIDING BOTTLES: Bear’s Den have released a powerful new video for their track Hiding Bottles, which candidly takes on the theme of Alcohol addiction in a family member. Having personally experienced alcohol addiction in a family member, lead singer Andrew Davie took to spending time at Al-Anon meetings – a charity who support those with family and friends that struggle with alcohol addiction. Al-Anon bring a sense of community between those who are going through the same difficulties and it’s from these meetings that Davie began to write the song Hiding Bottles. Davie describes the song as a track ‘about life with an alcoholic relative’. “It’s an exploration of the inability to reach someone and the isolation that intrinsically creates,” he adds. The video itself follows a teenage girl’s account of her father’s alcohol addiction and the pressure it puts upon herself and her loved ones. It is both inspired by and features quotes from people that have experienced alcoholism in a family member. Splitting into a ‘Sliding Doors’-style narrative, we view two parallel worlds in which her life diverts, each with its own pitfalls. The scenes feature the introduction of alcohol to a young son, care-fuelled arguments between family members and withdrawal from family life, all of which touch on experiences that many people are experiencing on a daily basis. It’s thought-provoking and heart-breaking, yet earnest and potentially life-changing for anyone at a crossroads in their own life. The song, too, is pure Bear’s Den… a slow builder driven by thoughtful, impassioned lyrics, heartfelt vocals and a mounting sense of instrumental layering. Hence, what starts out as soft and restrained, eventually kind of explodes into guitar-driven wails of anger and frustration. It’s beautifully bittersweet, as only Bear’s Den know how. Davie had this to add about his experiences: “I think the main thing Al-Anon allowed me to understand was that there are just so many people going through issues caused by having an alcoholic friend, loved one or relative – how many lives can be affected by just one life. For us as a band to work with Rollo and be able to make a video that might ring true for other people who could be looking for help or support was something we really wanted to do. The idea that the video could potentially help lead someone to an organisation that has helped me and so many others and could help them just feels really right to us and important.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nasty Cherry

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: NASTY CHERRYLIVE FOREVER: Femme fatales Nasty Cherry have premiered their third single Live Forever on Rolling Stone, who named the band a ‘best new artist of the year’. They have also delivered their self-produced music video, which was made during a recent Los Angeles writing trip; offering a true look into the playful personalities behind Charli XCX’s favorite new act signed to her label Vroom Vroom Recordings. In their own words Live Forever, is a song about being ‘unconfined, unrefined and self-assured’, so naturally, ‘the video shows a less filtered side of the band…’ says Nasty Cherry band-mate Georgia Somary who also directed the video, edited by Matt Copson. “I wanted all of us to be seen as we are. We just went to a theme park for my birthday, ate a ton of fried pickles and filmed most of it there on our phones, as well as in sessions, and at Gabriette’s apartment over two days.” If the video shows off a carefree side to the girls, which suggests a similarly carefree pop song, then think again. There’s a thought-provoking element to their songwriting, which speaks of confusion, hate and the sometimes irrational nature of human behaviour and the relationships they form. In that regard, there’s an alternative, punk-like vibe attached, which makes the sound decidedly leftfield. If you imagine L7 adopting an electro-pop vibe, as opposed to grunge guitar, this might be the sound that resulted. Live Forever is a cracking song from an eye-catching new act. We dig the video too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Lumineers

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: THE LUMINEERSLEADER OF THE LANDSLIDE: The Lumineers have shared the next instalment from their upcoming full-length visual album III, out September 13, 2019, on Decca/Dualtone. Their new track Leader Of The Landslide is the second song taken from the album’s second chapter, Junior Sparks. Speaking of the track, lead singer Wesley said: “Leader Of The Landslide is about trying to outrun the ghosts that haunt you. We jokingly refer to this song as our folk Stairway To Heaven because it’s an epic song with three distinct parts. The new album is a cinematic narrative told in three chapters, with the songs from each chapter focusing on one primary character from the three generations of the fictional Sparks Family. Each chapter will be released as an audio EP within the full-length album. Songs and videos from Chapter I, Gloria Sparks were released this past spring, and Leader of the Landslide marks the second release from the second chapter, Junior Sparks, the grandson of the aforementioned Gloria. Chapter III will revolve around Gloria’s son, Jimmy Sparks. The video is a movie in its own right, part reflective and intimate, but also capable of bursts of celebratory emotion mixed with continued torment and substance abuse. It’s highly visceral, clocking in at over six minutes. The song is similarly epic… but quietly so. It begins in stripped back ballad form, uncertain vocal (to accentuate the state of mind at play). But it gradually layers in a folk rock element that fits in beautifully with the nature of the song. The vocals, meanwhile, retain that sense of fragility and vulnerability that enable the lyrics to so easily be heard.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Keane, Love Too Much

KEANELOVE TOO MUCH: Keane are sent to release their new album Cause And Effect on September 20, their first fresh work for seven years, together with a new single and a reflective video for Love Too Much. And while not immediately as impressive as former release The Way I Feel, this still boasts plenty of signature elements. Singer Tom Chaplin’s vocals remain crisp and shot through with emotion, while the accompanying instrumentals have a positive vibe that helps to convey the song’s earnest message about trying too hard in life and love. It’s a ballad-style offering, albeit delivered at a higher tempo than, say, Somewhere Only We Know or Bedshaped. But that’s no bad thing, either, adding a sense of vitality that should help it become even more radio friendly. The melodies are tight, the chorus catchy and the message worth getting behind – something that’s further emphasised in the eye-catching video. Keane’s comeback continues to strike all the right notes. The new album has been produced by David Kosten – aka Faultline – who has produced Marian and The Diamonds singer Marina Diamandis 2015 album Froot and worked with the likes of Coldplay, The Flaming Lips and R.E.M. Keane also hit the road this autumn and winter across the UK, Mexico and The USA, with many dates sold out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Katy Perry, Small Talk

KATY PERRYSMALL TALK: Describing a new offering from Katy Perry as typically catchy and effortlessly appealing is kind of high praise. The singer seems to have the happy knack for delivering easy listening pop songs with real emotional meaning. On new single Small Talk she repeats the trick, delivering a radio-friendly slice of power pop that instantly gets into your head and gets stuck in a bouncy, happy kind of way. And yet, beneath the pop sheen, there’s emotional depth, as she dissects a relationship gone awry (“I just can’t believe we went from strangers to lovers to strangers”). The song probes what it means to go from head over heels infatuated with someone one minute, to then being virtual strangers the next, and only left with ‘small talk’. It’s a feeling of sadness that everyone can relate to from some point in their lives, yet delivered in a relatably unassuming style that enables the song to resonate on a surprisingly comforting note. Small Talk is a follow-up to her May offering Never Really Over and a precursor to a forthcoming new album.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chase & Status, Burning

CHASE & STATUS feat COCOA TEABURNING: Chase & Status have released a deliberately lo-fi, trippy illustrated video for their album offering, Burning, featuring guest vocals from Cocoa Tea. Yet while eye-catching initially, the video soon struggles to maintain your interest… much like the track itself. For while Burning does possess plenty of Chase & Status expected traits, it’s combination of drum n bass and reggae-tinged vocals doesn’t offer enough variety to keep it interesting. The beats adhere to the worst of the drum n bass genre, relentlessly maintaining a set pattern throughout; while the vocals have a Bob Marley vibe at times, yet also struggle to offer anything too worthwhile to keep listening to, despite clearly having plenty to say (amid lines like “the heathen bridge keep burning, burning, burning” and “see how many suffering youths on the streets”). It’s a generic, formulaic offering that has to go down as one of Chase & Status’ more forgettable offerings. It’s taken from the current album, Rtrn II Jungle, which is out now.
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Rob Thomas

ROB THOMASCAN’T HELP ME NOW: Multiple-Grammy® Award-winning singer/songwriter Rob Thomas has shared a dynamic new video for Can’t Help Me Now, off his critically-acclaimed fourth solo album Chip Tooth Smile (available now via Emblem/Atlantic Records). The visual was shot along the just-wrapped first leg of Thomas’ North AmericanChip Tooth Tour and captures the singer in all of his live vitality. The song itself is a typically intense power ballad-style offering, chronicling another tormented relationship and finding the strength to leave it behind. Lyrics include “I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to cry, I don’t want to leave, I don’t want to be here, be here now, like a bad taste in my mouth” and “you’re the one that talks me down, even you can’t help me now”. In that sense, there’s a bittersweet element that gives rise to immense heartbreak, fuelled by Thomas’ impassioned vocal delivery. The accompanying instrumentals sweep the song along, fuelled by drums, guitars and electronics, all blending to breezier effect that some of the lyrics suggest. It’s a break-up anthem that packs real power, and which is the very definition of anthemic.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lana Del Rey, Season of the Witch

LANA DEL REYSEASON OF THE WITCH: Lana Del Rey has understandably released her cover of Season Of The Witch to coincide with the release of the motion picture Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, from which it is taken. Originally released by Donovan in the 60s, the track is given a spookier update that makes the most of the singer’s breathy, sensual vocal style. There’s a hummed intro that sets the tone, before a low-key guitar and subtle back-beats kick in, and even some strings midway through (to heighten the cinematic, soundtrack element). Del Rey almost talks during some of the verses, but once she eases into the distinct chorus, there’s a mixed feel of creepiness married to seductiveness that makes the cover dangerously appealing. It’s soothing, eerie, beguiling and oddly beautiful… Del Rey at her masterful, dreamy, ethereal best.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Molly Hammar, Show Me

MOLLY HAMMAR feat KIM CESARIONSHOW ME: Molly Hammar, the Swedish chart-topping R’n‘B singer hailing from Stockholm, has teamed up with fellow artist Kim Cesarion to release their co-written duet, Show Me, via Cosmos Music. The song is designed to carry a strong positive message about ‘bringing back the romance!’ Explains Molly: “Both myself and Kim are hopeless romantics, so when we got together in the studio for the first time it was clear that we were going to write a song about love. I hope that people who listen to the song will join us in spreading loving vibes to the world.” That positivity is apparent in the record, even though the track itself is a fairly generic slice of smooth groove R’n‘B. It’s slickly produced, with the male vocals evocative of Craig David, with elements of Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson. The female vocals are smilarly evocative of singers such as Whitney Houston. If you like that kind of thing, then there’s plenty to enjoy. But this is for R’n‘B purists only. Produced by Pontus Persson, Show Me is the third single from Molly’s forthcoming EP to be released autumn 2019 and follows hit singles No Place Like Me, featuring Big Narstie, and WORDS.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 2, 2019

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

Haim, Summer Girl

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: HAIMSUMMER GIRL: Haim first debuted their new single Summer Girl in July to an intimate, sold out crowd during a special, one-night only show at Los Angeles’ Teragram Ballroom. Following the song’s debut, footage of the performance quickly spread online and on social media, with many critics hailing it as a laidback masterpiece. It’s easy to see why. Featuring a deliciously shuffling back-beat, some lazy saxophone and those sultry, sultry vocals, this is tailor-made for lying under the sun on a warm sunny day and just letting the vibe wash over you. And yet, there’s a bittersweet element to it too, as Daneielle Haim explains: “I started the song when I found out my partner had cancer. I was on tour and felt like I was trying to send positive energy his way almost telepathically. Whenever I would come home in between shows I wanted to be his sunshine – his summer when he was feeling dark. His hope when he was feeling hopeless.” The song is therefore designed as therapy for hardship, for overcoming something terrible. And taken in that bittersweet context, it could be just as therapeutic for any listener who uses it to add a little sunshine into their lives. It’s beautifully serene, quietly thoughtful and just a really great return from Haim.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Iggy Pop, James Bond

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: IGGY POPJAMES BOND: Who better than to deliver a song about a ‘sexist, mysoginist, dinosaur’ like 007 than, well, a grizzled rock n roll veteran such as Iggy Pop? But then in this age of rewriting the script, empowering women and realising equality, Iggy has well and truly flipped the script. Far from revelling in the type of things that listeners might associate with a track about James Bond, this is sold from a female perspectve and playfully subverts expectations. Sure, the YouTube page features a body emerging from the sea, in classic Bond tradition (both male and female, and the silhouetted figure could just as easily be either), but the track itself declares “she wants to be James Bond” before delivering playful asides about liking M&Ms (as opposed to vodka martinis) and doing what she needs to in order to be perceived in the way that she wants (“she might stand in your way but still she’ll save the day”). The accompanying instrumentals are similarly playful: all cute guitar hooks, sharp stabs of trumpet and cinematic flourishes. It’s a fun offering that also showcases how Iggy Pop can continue to reinvent himself and surprise with the quality of his new music. It’s a delight. Free, the first new Iggy Pop album since 2016’s Post Pop Depression, will be released September 6 on Caroline International/Loma Vista.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Death Cab For Cutie, Kids in '99

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: DEATH CAB FOR CUTIEKIDS IN ’99: Death Cab For Cutie’s new single Kids in ’99 may be as striking and intelligent as usual but there’s an extra level of poignancy attached. The track pays tribute to three children who died 20 years ago in a freak explosion. On June 10, 1999, a gas pipeline operated by the Olympic Pipeline Company exploded in Bellingham, Washington’s Whatcom Falls Park, injuring eight people and killing three children, aged 10 to 18, who were fishing and playing in the area. In conveying the randomness of this tragedy, frontman Ben Gibbard describes the scene and its horrifying immediacy (repeated lyrics like “gone, gone, gone” hammering this home), over a rolling drumbeat and textured guitar. In his delivery, he’s both sorrowful and angry, painfully aware of the innocence that has been lost in an instant. And yet, for all of that gritty, sobering reality, those backing instrumentals ensure that the song never sounds too preachy or melancholy. It’s a song that demands reflection (“thinking about those kids, wonder who they might have been”) but it’s also a track that demands to be enjoyed by virtue of its vitality and intricate layering. It’s a bittersweet gem, taken from their upcoming release, The Blue EP, which is due out on September 6.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: FOALSBLACK BULL: Foals’ creative ambition for Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 resulted in a striking state-of-the-world-address of an album in which apocalyptic lyrical themes were equalled by the sheer impact of the music. It emerged as an immediate album of the year contender that was recognised by also being shortlisted for the Mercury Prize last week. Now Foals complete that artistic statement with the October 18 release of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 and incendiary lead track Black Bull. “Part two is a heavier listen, the guitars are more emphasised and there’s some big riffs on it,” explained Philippakis in an interview with NME. “It’s a rock record and it definitely carries on the narrative from part one. Part one ended with a lot of fire and destructive imagery, part two is trying to respond to that: how you can continue in the wreckage and through the scorched earth? We’re just excited for people to hear it because it completes the journey of what we’ve made over the last year-and-a-half.” That heavier emphasis on giutars is instantly apparent on Black Bull, which bursts out of the speakers from the outset. Built around vehement rhythmic onslaughts, angry vocals and those powerhouse guitars, it’s a head-rush of energy that angrily confronts conflicted masculinity and delusions of grandeur, as only Foals know how. And yet, there’s also something cleverly mainstream too, meaning that the track can easily appeal to fans of U2 at their most grand, as well as acts like Muse and Foo Fighters. It’s a black bull of energy with something important to say, delivered in the type of aggressive manner that’s impossible to ignore. And the accompanying video is just as eye-catching.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jacob Lee, Zen

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: JACOB LEEZEN: Jacob Lee, the independent singer/songwriter based out of Gold Coast, Australia, ha shared the music video for Zen via his own label Philosophical Records. The video was written and directed by Lee and produced by Moonboy Entertainment – and it’s a striking production, featuring the singer tied up with ropes for long periods while reflecting the mixed emotions at play in the lyrics. Here’s what he had to say about it: “Zen is a song where I finally come to terms with my purpose. It speaks of my capacity to write about others and how I feel as though I’m able to tap into a consciousness far from my own. The lyric is shaped around self-discovery, hope and wonder as I describe the process of writing from another’s perspective. The verses of Zen could almost be described as an ambiguous blueprint for how I feel when I write music, even though it’s largely metaphorical. I understand that artists harbour an aptitude for creativity, and sometimes we confuse it with spirituality or something metaphysical. I’m not convinced anything otherworldly is going on when I or anyone writes music, I just like exploring the concept. The music video takes a slightly different route, acting as a visual representation of my wish to converse closer with my subconscious. In the clip, we see a naive version of myself deep in a maze, whilst the other dwells alone throughout a mansion. My hope was to portray my regular self as lost and confused, while the other radiated a sense of wisdom. I wanted there to be a mysterious distance between the two initially, though ultimately they would connect & the innocent version of me would be shown the way & lead onward. Zen was the last song to be written for the record and acts as a stepping stone for the following single, Artistry.” If some of that sounds borderline pretentious [for some], the song is delivered in a style that allows very easy enjoyment. There are soaring choruses, intelligent lyrics, strong melodic hooks and a sweeping sense of emotion that’s both cinematic and grand. Lee may explore some complex themes yet he does so in a way that’s enjoyably accessible.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ava Max, Freaking Me Out

AVA MAXFREAKING ME OUT: Global pop sensation Ava Max has shared two new tracks, in the form of Freaking Me Out and Blood, Sweat & Tears, both of which are available now at all DSPs and streaming services. Commenting on both, Ava said: “Freaking Me Out and Blood, Sweat & Tears are two songs I am so excited to finally have out in the world. The first is about realizing that you’re in love with someone to a degree that feels almost beyond your control and the second is about giving all of yourself to someone you love and sticking by their side no matter what. I can’t wait for everyone to hear and hopefully relate to these new songs.” Of the two, the former is as pop as pop can get. There are bouncy beats, electro-pop flourishes and vocals that flit between purred and gutsy. In that way, it’s also fairly generic. But there’s an undeniable energy, too, which makes it tailor-made to appeal to fans of everyone from Taylor Swift to Sia via Ariana Grande and anyone in between. It’s catchy, hook-laden, breeze pop of the highly disposable but effortlessly enjoyable variety.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Ava Max, Blood, Sweat & Tears

AVA MAXBLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS: The second of global pop sensation Ava Max’s new releases is Blood, Sweat & Tears and, somewhat predictably, it changes pace from breeze summer pop into something a little more sincere and ballad-based. Ava herself has noted that Blood, Sweat & Tears is about giving all of yourself to someone you love and sticking by their side no matter what. And it’s delivered with that kind of sincerity, allowing Ava to showcase a different side to her vocals – one that layers on the emotional content and delivers real meaning. That said, the production values are as generic, in their own way, as those on Freaking Me Out, playing up the emotion by virtue of emphatic, slower back beats, echoed backing harmonies, chiming electronics and – as ever – a keen sense of melody. It’s, again, the type of song that will appeal to fans of generic power ballads (from Sia to Ariana) but perhaps that’s no bad thing, either, given that Ava clearly knows how to deliver a tune that offers easy appeal, if not necessarily anything more lasting.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Rhi, Plain Jane

RHIPLAIN JANE: Plain Jane is the latest single from solo producer, singer and songwriter Rhi, taken from her self-produced upcoming album The Pale Queen (out October 4, 2019). Headed up by lead single Swagger, the LP has received radio support from the likes of Lauren Laverne, Nemone, Cerys Matthews and Tom Ravenscroft (BBC 6Music) and Jason Kramer (KCRW). If Swagger was delivered with a certain laidback swagger of its own, then Plain Jane sees Rhi take a tongue-in-cheek look at herself, backed by her quintessential smooth beats and production style highlighting, her low-maintenance mentality. Rhi explains: “A lot of artists big themselves up in their music. I decided to paint a real picture of myself instead.” Hence, she proclaims that “I’m a natural lady” at several points, over a woozy back-beat and minimalist electronics – the accompanying instrumentals offering a similarly low-key, even ‘plain’ backdrop to the point she’s trying to make. But that’s no bad thing, for the way Rhi composes her beats and delivers her lyrics makes this both alternative and cool in its own, resolutely distinct way. By revelling in the everyday and refusing to get carried away by her own hype or ego, Rhi only makes herself more appealing.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Liimo, If You Love Me

LIIMO – IF YOU LOVE ME: Edinburgh natives Liimo have dropped a new single in the form of If You Love Me, which could well appeal to fans of The 1975 too. A sultry, electro-pop jam about heartbreak, this plays up the sorrow in the vocals, yet also comes across as kind of sexy too – as if to underline the conflicted emotions at play in this tale of sexual heartache. There are similarly seductive back-beats, smooth electronic grooves and a keen sense of melody over the chorus, which is evocative of The 1975 in the way it’s delivered in cool but radio-friendly fashion. Speaking about the new single, frontman Kieran said: “Everyone’s been through heartache in some way, shape or form so with If You Love Me we always knew it was going to have a lot of raw emotion running through it. We actually had the chorus written for a long time before the rest of the song followed. As we threaded the track together, we set ourselves a very high benchmarch because we wanted it to stand up to those heavy hitting ballads that accompanied our heartbreaks growing up, but we love how it’s turned out. Sing it loud.” If You Love Me is the forth single from the London-based Scottish trio, following on from most recent single Pink In Heaven, Get Weird featuring LA artist Lizzy Land and their debut single Pineapple Radio.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Husky Loops

HUSKY LOOPS – I THINK YOU’RE WONDERFUL: With the endorsement of Annie Mac ringing in their ears, Husky Loops release their new single I Think You’re Wonderful through Fighting Ourselves / 30th Century Records. Hailed as their catchiest track to date, the song still manages to incorporate that unique Husky Loops flavouring we’ve come to expect… quirkiness, thoughtfulness and a certain amount of coolness. Hence, while the initial vocal sample may catch you off-guard a little (and may well be irritating to some), once the lazy beat drops and the central refrain of “I think you’re wonderful” lands, you may well find yourself drifting along with its chilled out vibe. Speaking about the new single, frontman and producer Danio says: “I Think You’re Wonderful is a song about universal love, about forgiveness, about empathy, about resilience. I want people to listen to this one and feel encouraged to tell someone they care about that they’re wonderful. We have to be strong and love each other; in 2019 a lot of negative messages are being sold to us. The current political landscape worldwide is scary and our governments are promoting fear. I want our fans to listen to this song and feel empowered, happy, and full of spirit. Human beings are hard-wired to notice and remember negative news and events, but we need to have hope, we have to fight to stay happy and sane.” In that regard, it’s a song that’s well worth getting behind and adopting as something of a feel-good mantra, while also keeping your eyes and ears on global events to keep those politicians in check. I Think You’re Wonderful is taken from Husky Loops debut album ‘I Can’t Even Speak English, which is set for release on September 6, 2019, and follows on from their most recent single, Everyone Is Having Fun Fun Fun But Me.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tove Lo

TOVE LO feat ALMABAD AS THE BOYS: GRAMMY® Award-nominated, multi-platinum selling artist Tove Lo has confirmed a September 20 release date for her forthcoming album Sunshine Kitty (Polydor Records), along with the release of a new track, Bad As The Boys, featuring Finnish artist Alma. And the single is a catchy slice of power pop that’s sure to win Tove even more admirers. In her own words, Tove says of the track: “Bad As The Boys is about my first summer girl crush when I was in my teens. It’s about that sting you feel in your heart when you know summer is coming to an end and so is the romance. Since I’m singing about a girl, I wanted another female artist on it who also likes girls; so I hit up Alma. She really felt the song and was down to sing it with me. She has such an amazing voice and she absolutely killed it! And she’s badass.” In true Tove Lo fashion, the song retains that sense of melancholy in the way she delivers the vocals, ringing out the sense of loss inherent in the lyrics. But the accompanying beats and electronics are pure pop, lending the track an energy that heightens the bittersweet vibe. It’s a song that can be enjoyed in a pure pop fashion, yet one that carries a hefty, identifiable emotional clout too. And that mix of girl-girl vocals also works really well. It’s a song that also makes a statement too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tom Tripp, Glow

TOM TRIPPGLOW: Grammy-nominated artist Tom Tripp returns with new single and video Glow, out now on Polydor Records – and it’s emotionally potent stuff. The self-produced track is an early hours R&B jam that he wrote at the beginning of the year following the inevitable demise of an emotionally abusive relationship. “I was depressed at the end of 2018 and I met this girl online. [I] thought she was a nice person at first, but she would be mentally abusive,” he recalls. “She just ruined me, ruined my whole head. And I managed to get out Glow about that girl.” Lyrics reflect the nature of this relationship with insights such as “it felt like a drug when you told me you loved me” and “you leave me red and blue”. But while certainly serious in lyrical terms, the accompanying R&B vibe makes it an easy, smooth groove listen – albeit with a heightened sense of mood and atmosphere. It’s a slickly produced, emotionally compelling offering from Tripp. The track channels a hint of the Timbaland-produced pop that inspired Tom at the inception of his music-making and comes accompanied by a stylish James Callum-directed video that visually articulates the song’s vulnerability. While Tom is the only character in the monochromatic piece, he has no trouble captivating the viewer with his performance.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ariana Grande, Boyfriend

ARIANA GRANDE & SOCIAL HOUSEBOYFRIEND: Multi-platinum, record-breaking superstar Ariana Grande and buzzing LA singer, songwriter and producer duo Social House release their new song boyfriend and seem intent on shocking, mildly. Grande drops a couple of F-bombs early on, as if to underline the grown up nature of the venture. But I couldn’t really see the point. In most other respects, this is a fusion of pop and r’n‘b that emerges as fairly generic. The lyrics, meanwhile, declare that “you aint my boyfriend, I aint your girlfriend”, while chronicling a troubled, twisted relationship. It’s slickly produced but doesn’t have that much to recommend it. The accompanying video finds Ariana and Social House committing various atrocities in the name of love, including literally ripping out a man’s heart. And while this is, again, clearly designed to bring shock value to the Ariana Grande template, it kind of feels forced, unconvincing and unnecessary.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 26, 2019

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

DJ Shadow, Rocket Fuel

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: DJ SHADOW feat DE LA SOULROCKET FUEL: Now here’s something genuinely worth getting excited about! DJ Shadow has released his first new music since 2017. Rocket Fuel features hip hop legends De La Soul and it’s as slick, fun and funky as you’d expect from such a partnership. Boasting contemporary edge with retro cool, the song explodes with stacks of vocal samples, horns, Shadow’s dazzling DJ scratch work and a muscular vocal performance from the legendary rap crew. Hence, if you love old skool hip-hop, insanely danceable beats, sharp stabs of brass and an effortlessly cool vibe, this ticks all the boxes and more. It’s a riot of energy that makes you feel positive about yourself, while also wanting to dip into the back catalogues of both of these titans of their genres. The even better news is that the song will be featured on a new album coming later this year from DJ Shadow. We can hardly wait to hear more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE 1975 – THE 1975: On the very week that UK temperatures set new records for heat, The 1975 have dropped a new single featuring Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental campaigner who has made so many people listen to her warnings. On a track called The 1975, a version of which traditionally opens each of the British band’s albums, the 16-year-old restates her position on the need to act on the climate emergency, reading a sort of mission statement over a series of electronic bleeps and arrangements. But the backdrop isn’t important, merely in keeping with the natural world backdrop that Thunberg is speaking about. What IS important is the message. And it’s one worth listening to. It begins with a sobering thought: “We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed. But homo sapiens have not yet failed. Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around.” She continues: “We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.” However, Thunberg does state that it isn’t too late, hitting the listener with cold, hard facts and sustained optimism. She states: “If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me. So, I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible. To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible. Today, we use about 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So, we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.” This version of The 1975, for all of its orchestral subtlety, is one almighty rallying call for a generation that NEEDS to listen. The proceeds from the track will go to Extinction Rebellion at Thunberg’s request.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Deacon, Mamma

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JAMES DEACONMAMMA: Rising South African newcomer James Deacon has finally released his debut EP, The Calling, and cements his reputation as an artist to watch. A sonic tapestry weaving soul, rock, hip-hop and pop into a release that offers us a deeply personal glimpse into the life of the 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist, this already boasts IndieLondon favourite tracks Son of Apollo, Not Givin’ Up and Calling Home. Comprised of three more tracks (making six in total), we’ve chosen to highlight another standout: Mamma. The track is, according to Deacon, “about how technology and social media has destroyed my generation”. It’s a blistering blues-rock track that finds Deacon in typically resolute voice. Declaring “mamma didn’t raise no quitter”, he then proceeds to issue a rallying call for people to wake up and halt their decline. There’s a bluesy backdrop in the hushed vocal harmonies, as well as foreboding drums and blistering guitars. But the message, again, is what’s important, featuring such gems as “I’m so tired of hearing about how somebody hurt your feelings from 100,000 miles away” and “but when I look around, faces facing the ground, locations are shared but no one is found…. the world keeps praising your ignorance”. It’s angry, empowering stuff, delivered with grit and guts.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Twenty One Pilots

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: TWENTY ONE PILOTSTHE HYPE: Twenty One Pilots have shared an official music video for The Hype, which is directed by long-time collaborators Andrew Donoho and Reel Bear Media. The track is taken from current album, The Trench, and was released to mark the band’s recent announcement that their 2013 LP, Vessel, has achieved a Gold & Platinum milestone with every individual track from the album receiving Gold, Platinum or Multi-Platinum certification from the RIAA. Twenty One Pilots’ 2015 LP, Blurryface, was the first album of the digital era to achieve this feat back in 2018, making the duo from Columbus the first artist/group with two albums to reach this landmark achievement. The track itself is a mid-tempo offering, built around trademark electronic arrangements, guitar blasts and trendy beats, along with a catchy chorus that finds the band they don’t believe the hype of the song’s title. The accompanying video is as eye-catching as we’ve come to expect, finding the duo initially playing a live set in front of a living room full of apparently disinterested people, before relacting to the roof of the house for something more explosive. Looking ahead in the UK, Twenty One Pilots will headline Reading and Leeds Festival on August 24 and 25, before embarking on a new US leg of their Bandito Tour throughout October and November.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Birds

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: IMAGINE DRAGONSBIRDS: Imagine Dragons have just unveiled a stunning animated video for their current single, Birds, featuring Elisa. If you can imagine Studio Ghibli directing a music video, then you’re somewhere close to what those visuals look like. But the tale that unfolds is similarly deep, reflecting the sense of loss, insecurity and ultimately hope inherent in the song’s lyrics. It’s a captivating piece of filmmaking. The song itself finds the band returning to the source of one of their long-standing images – birds, for a power ballad of sorts that soars. Featuring guest vocals from Elisa, this shows the band at their most stripped back, intimate and thought provoking. The synths are toned down, the beats less emphatic than normal, and the mix of boy-girl vocals beautifully delivered, with a hint of melancholy in both. Elisa, in particular, drops a moody vocal to evoke comparisons with the likes of Sia. But Reynolds also adopts a more moody tone, to bring out the depth of emotion in lyrics that declare “birds fly in different directions, but love will never die”. It’s a song about loss and separation, bringing with it a sense of sorrow and longing. But amidst this, there’s hope: as the feelings of love felt by the ‘birds’ prevails. As a result, it’s not only beautifully bittersweet, but somehow inspiring and empowering
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Takeaway

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: THE CHAINSMOKERS & ILLENIUM feat LENNONTAKEAWAY: It may have been doing the festival circuit for some time, but The Chainsmokers’ collaboration with Illenium and Lennon finally gets a video – and it’s genuinely worth catching. The film finds The Chainsmokers (aka Alex Pall and Drew Taggart), Illenium (Nicholas D. Miller) and Stella Lennon exploring Manhattan’s Vessel structure, and is filled with overhead shots, helicopter footage and close-ups. The intricate structure is designed to reflect the complexity of the emotions at play in the song, which adopts a distinctly melancholy tone. An examination of a doomed relationship, the song boasts lines like “What’s wrong?, I said I can’t stay, do I have to give a reason?”, this is shot through with sorrow and regret from both the male and female singers at the centre of it. The reflective, sorrowful looks on each of their faces in the video further reflects this. It’s a low-key offering by comparison to some work from The Chainsmokers but it’s a sombre slice of EDM that really does resonate with anyone who has ever experienced their own heartbreak and subsequent torment.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jetta, Enemy In Me

JETTAENEMY IN ME: Jetta releases a new video for Enemy in Me, closing the chapter on her EP Tonic. The video sees Jetta’s artistic vision carried on in this dark and imposing creation. Musically, Jetta’s signature vocal is accompanied by an emotive piano riff, layered with a powerful synth bassline and some sleek beats of a finger-click nature. In signature Jetta style, the video highlights her passion for introspection, featuring a lone dancer using her body to look for a way out of her inner angst. It’s haunting, atmospheric and highly stylish. The song, meanwhile, is similarly layered with atmosphere, from Jetta’s dusky, soulful vocals, to the sombre piano notes and – over the impressive chorus – a gospel backing choir. It’s a song layered in emotion that veers from the intimate to the cinematic in truly compelling fashion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher

LIAM GALLAGHERONCE: In the midst of a typically larger-than-life comeback – bounding into the charts with Shockwave, inspiring a biblical reaction at Glastonbury, and the rallying call-for-change that is The River – Liam Gallagher also unveiled a taster of another new track, Once, in the As It Was feature-length documentary. An 81-second extract of the song soon emerged on YouTube, which prompted yet more fan adoration. Now Liam shares the official version of Once, which showcases all that’s good and, well, bad about this artist. Shot through with Lennon-esque emotion, the symphonic ambition of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Liam’s super-charged, vexed-yet-vulnerable vocal, it’s a powerhouse ballad that wears its influences blatantly on its sleeve. Lyrically, it’s open and unguarded, exploring a life-in-a-lifetime moment that can’t ever be replicated, albeit a bittersweet one that can only be achieved the once. Gallagher brings typical intensity, albeit laced with a sensitivity befitting the ballad-style nature of the song. But he also can’t resist some strings to accompany the track, to heighten the emotions. It’s evocative of classic Oasis, as well as more contemporary Liam, and Lennon, of course.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Feeder

FEEDERDAILY HABIT: After already adding further shows to their UK headline tour in November due to demand, Feeder can now announce some intimate in-store shows for August (including both of London’s Rough Trade shops, as well as Banquet Records, in August). To coincide with this announcement, Feeder have also shared a new video for single Daily Habit. A fun offering, the video finds various dancers – including the band members themselves – donning a pink wig (or, on occasion, their hair) and dancing giddily along to the song itself, which is a classic slice of Feeder. Boasting blistering guitar hooks, which channel both Foo Fighters and Weezer at various points, this also drops a chorus that revels in sharp melodic hooks and guitar-backed power. It’s a giddy, crowd-pleasing offering that’s more than capable of appealing to Feeder die-hards and newcomers alike. The song is yet another offering from their tenth studio album Tallulah, which will be released on August 9th via BELIEVE. The LP was created during a particularly busy and productive period in the Feeder camp, with a new generation of fans emerging at shows and festivals in support of the Best Of album. Its songs evolved very organically, with frontman Grant Nicholas writing on acoustic guitar and playing to his songwriting strengths.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Metronomy

METRONOMYWALKING IN THE DARK: Metronomy are gearing up for the September 13 release of their eagerly-anticipated new album Metronomy Forever with another new single, the kooky but catchy Walking in The Dark. The track extends Metronomy’s unorthodox gift for colliding disparate genres and sounds, fusing wonky dancehall, dub-fuelled psychedelia and vintage synths into a quirkily cool groove. It’s a track which uses Metronomy’s past as the impetus for the latest stage in their ever-inspiring journey – in that it uses a pre-set rhythm that Joe Mount found on the keyboard he used in the video for the 2011 single The Look. The result is a disarmingly engaging offering that taps into the alternative nature of the Metronomy sound, while offering elements of pop, electronica, prog-rock and psychedelia. And it effortlessly tap dances its way into your sub-conscious, refusing to budge. You’ll be singing “just holler if you need me” for some time to come afterwards. The accompanying video is the first that Mount ever directed. It’s an engaging halfway house between a surrealist’s subversion of music video conventions and the vibrant colours and imagery of ‘90s pop. The video’s 3D scenes were created by the innovative animator and designer Clara Bacou, who was recently hand-picked as one of Snapchat’s Official Lens Creators. Says Mount: “The Walking In The Dark video is the age old tale of the guru and the fisherman set against a green screen backdrop. Clara is someone I became aware of through a collaboration between ourselves and Central St Martin’s College in London a few years ago. Her style is completely unique and something I was desperate to make part of the video. The song is one of my favourites from the new record and gives a wonderful taste of how eclectic the album is.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Yonaka

YONAKAROCKSTAR: YONAKA have unveiled the official video for Rockstar, another of their blistering guitar-driven anthems. Set simultaneously in the past and the present, lead singer Theresa Jarvis delivers a captivating performance in the video. In the past we see Theresa day-dreaming of things to come in her room at home, while in the present we see her and YONAKA band mates George Edwards, Alex Crosby and Rob Mason giving a trademark blistering performance to a sold-out crowd of screaming fans. Although the two scenes seem worlds apart, the video cleverly draws our attention to the similarities they share. The track itself is rock-soaked… meaning that it’s full of driving guitars, sweeping, anthemic choruses and vocal passion. Jarvis channels her inner Gwen Stefani at times, while also combining a little more grit during the verses. It’s designed to be empowering… in that it celebrates rock success and excess. As such, it’s the sort of rabble-rousing crowd-pleaser that will have the moshpit jumping up and down with giddy excitement whenever it’s delivered in live form (as evidenced by certain shots in that video).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chats

THE CHATSIDENTITY THEFT: Australian punks The Chats have released their catchy, punk-dricen new single, Identity Theft, via their own label, Bargain Bin Records. And if you’re a punk fan, there’s plenty to dig. The track is ““about when you buy drugs on the Internet and a hacker steals your credit card number and your identity”, explains frontman Eamon Sandwith. Boasting a feisty garage punk flavour and plenty in common lyrically with a particular episode of Black Mirror – but you will have to check the lyrics yourself for confirmation on that – this is a rip-roaring slice of punk rock that should play well to fans of everyone from The Clash to The Cult via The Strokes and more. The guitar work is particularly strong, with a blistering solo midway through. And if the lyrics are sometimes raw, rugged and juvenile, the grown-up nature of their delivery and instrumentals more than compensates. It’s a livewire offering. Famed for their classic Smoko video (that has now reached 7.5m views), the Queensland trio have been touring all over America this month (July) to sold out crowds, including a stop in LA where Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, QOTSA’s Josh Homme and Alex turner and Matt Helders from Arctic Monkeys watched them play in front of 1,000 people.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hobo Johnson

HOBO JOHNSON feat ELOHIMUGLYKID: After teasing its impending arrival with Typical Story, the acclaimed Sacramento-based maverick Hobo Johnson officially reveals that his second full-length album, The Fall of Hobo Johnson, will be released on September 13. The album has been launched with the new track Uglykid (featuring Elohim), which was exclusively premiered by Zane Lowe as his World First on Beats 1. A gleefully schizophrenic mosaic of spirited horns, breathy melodies and off-the-cuff confessions, Uglykid is oddly compelling, even if its confessional lyrics feel sometimes a little too revealing and raw. In between caustically catchy choruses, Hobo’s gutter poetry takes the spotlight on admissions such as “I’m an ugly kid, and you’re like a summer sunset in Stockholm. I’m like being stuck in fucking Bakersfield and walking home.” But it’s this honesty and introspection that is winning Johnson so many fans. And his spoken word vocals gel nicely with the more dreamy, laidback tones of Elohim, who provides something of an idyllic counterpoint to the cynical realism of Johnson’s flow. It’s an oddity, for sure, but an engaging one at that, especially when dropping those lazy beats and trippy horns.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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

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

Aaron Smith, Unspoken

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

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

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

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Four Tet, Dreamer

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

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Montaigne, Ready

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

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

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

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Liam Frost, The Slow Knife

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

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The All American Rejects, Send Her To Heaven

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

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Charli XCX, Gone

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

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Two Door Cinema Club, Dirty Air

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

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Moonchild, Too Much To Ask

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

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Skinny Living, My Blood

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

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

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

Lykke Li, Two Nights Part II

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

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Ed Sheeran, Antisocial

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

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Swimming Tapes

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

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Rhys Lewis, What If

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

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Indi Rose

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

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Jax Jones, Harder

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

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Ted Jasper

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

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Scouting For Girls

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

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Of Monsters & Men

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

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Dude York

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

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

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

Bonobo, Linked

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

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Ed Sheeran

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

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Post Malone, Goodbyes

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

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Of Monsters and Men

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

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Ed Sheeran

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

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Snow Patrol, Time Won't Go Slowly

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

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Ed Sheeran, Beautiful People (acoustic)(

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

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Curse of Lono

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

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Lucifour M

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

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Sam Johnson, Medicine For My Brain

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

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Callum Beattie, Without You

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

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

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

The LaFontaines

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

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Zeke Finn

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

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Ed Sheeran, Beautiful People

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

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Liam Gallagher

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

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Cardi B

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

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Cold War Kids

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

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Hildur, Work

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

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Balthazar

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

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Lontalius

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

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Kiefer Sutherland

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

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

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

Imagine Dragons, Birds

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

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Michael Kiwanuka and Tom Misch, Money

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

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Skinny Living

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

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Ed Sheeran, Cross Me

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

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James Deacon, Son of Apollo

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

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AMA, Real

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

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Mosa Wild

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

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Metronomy

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

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Mind Enterprises, Ballare

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

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The Magnettes

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

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Idolising Nova, Run Away

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

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

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

Bat For Lashes, Kids in the Dark

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

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Kaiser Chiefs, people Know How To Love One Another

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

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The Chemical Brothers, Eve of Destruction

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

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Liam Gallagher, Shockwave

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

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Jorja Smith, Goodbyes

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

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DJ Snake

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

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Ren, Spencer Street

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

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Jackie Cohen, Yesterday's Baby

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

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