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

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

Meadowlark

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

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Foals

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

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Crystal Fighters, Wild Ones

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

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Zedd and Katy Perry, 365

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

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Weezer, Take On Me

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

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David Gray, A Tight Ship

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

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Cardi B & Bruno Mars, Please Me

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

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Stereophonics, Chaos From The Top Down

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

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MYKL, Conversation

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

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KYOTI, Restart The World

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

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Hot Dreams

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

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

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

Beck, Super Cool

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

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Seafret

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

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Olafur Arnulds

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

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Mullally, Think About You

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

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The Chainsmokers, Who Do You Love

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

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Lucy Rose

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

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Cleo Sol, One

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

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ViVii

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

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Marina

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

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

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

Bear's Den

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BEAR’S DENFUEL ON THE FIRE: Bear’s Den are one of those bands that are synonymous with quality. Hence, the arrival of their third album, So that you might hear me (out April 26) is a cause for celebration, particularly as it comes accompanied by two taster tracks. The first, Fuel on the Fire, pulses and blossoms from the visceral throb of drum machine beats and electric guitars into an orchestral beauty that showcases the more electronic side of the band. The electronic pulse is particularly catchy, getting into your head and refusing to budge. But while there is a pop element to it, which is augmented by the snappy guitar riff that also winds its way in and out, the lyrics are typically heartfelt and thoughtful. This finds the band declaring “fuel on the fire, remembering how to love” over some suitably emotionally charged back-up lyrics, which are by turns bittersweet and hopeful. It’s the warmer of the two tracks and – perhaps – the most instantly accessible by virtue of its charming melodies. But it’s also a damn fine reminder of just how great Bear’s Den can be… and why they should have a bigger army of followers by now!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bear's Den

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BEAR’S DENBLANKETS OF SORROW: The second new song from Bear’s Den is as brilliant as the first, albeit completely different. Blankets of Sorrow, is a self-consciously bewitching song that demonstrates the more intimate Bear’s Den sound and explores themes of familial love and of trying to reach someone who can no longer be reached. Hence, there’s a melancholy undertow to be found in the lyrics, as well as the central piano arrangements (which are beautifully composed). At times, there’s a Snow Patrol vibe to the vocal delivery, albeit delivered with less intensity and more laidback beauty. Bear’s Den create some vivid lyrical imagery (“frozen lake or raging storm, the same damn thing…. the water only reflects what it’s been shown”) to compliment their lush instrumentals, which even in intimate form resonate with the listener. It’s a magnificent return.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Odette, Lights Out

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: ODETTELIGHTS OUT: Odette has shared the stirring new single Lights Out ahead of the highly anticipated arrival of her debut album To A Stranger (out February 8). Co-written with Sarah Aarons (Alessia Cara, Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey) and Alex Hope (Troye Sivan, Years & Years), the beginning of the track starts with faint pops of a vinyl record before a beautiful piano melody immediately sets the mood, which moves in perfect harmony with Odette’s lyrics of heartbreak and hope. Odette explains: “I wrote Lights Out in a really awesome session with two very talented women [Sarah and Alex]. It’s a song about realising your precarious situation and feeling a need to protect yourself. It’s a song about my endurance in a time when everything was a little shaky.” Hence, it’s an empowering track, yet one that also builds from a position of vulnerability (“as I found out on the way down”). Odette’s lyrics are particularly striking: soulful, hopeful and beautifully delivered, so as to be inspiring and yet endearing. But the backing harmonies, the trickling beats, the lush electronics and the melodic chorus contribute to a song that is instantly gratifying and well worthy of numerous repeat listens. It’s easy to see why there’s such a great buzz surrounding the forthcoming album. Odette is also set to embark on her first headline UK and EU tour, which includes a London gig date at St Pancras Old Church on February 18 – tickets on sale now. One can only get excited about how songs like this will sound in live form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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HYYTS

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: HYYTSBULLET: Scottisd duo HYYTS have unveiled the video for their new single Bullet, the follow-up to previous singles, Butterflies In My Head and DWY. The track finds them continuing to explore the boundaries of modern pop misic, as swathes of keyboard, a choral backing chant and a hypnotic drum beat built to a likeably harmonic chorus, built over skittering and pulsating beats. It’s a song that purrs seductively, evoking memories of some great soul-pop songs, as well as some R’n‘B ones. The chorus is genuinely catchy, complete with some provocative lyrics that tie into the bullet theme. Commenting on the accompanying video, Adam of HYYTS said: “We were really interested in it being quite shocking and a little bit scary. We teamed up with filmmaker Harry Barber and basically put ourselves into a bunch of sado-masochistic scenarios in a house on the outskirts of London. Harry absolutely nailed bringing the ideas we had to life and really got behind the whole project. When I showed it to my dad, he was freaked out and said that I scared him, so I think that can only mean we did what we set out to do.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jax Jones and Years and Years

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: JAX JONES AND YEARS AND YEARSPLAY: BRIT-nominated Jax Jones and Years & Years channel Supermarket Sweep in the video for their top 10 hit single Play, out now. Directed by Oliver Jennings (behind killer videos for Avelino feat. Stormzy & Skepta, Chase & Status and MIST), the video sees a miniature Jax and Years frontman Olly Alexander take over the conveyor belt, dodging Fruit Loops and fruit n’ veg. The track itself is fairly populist – but the video is worth checking out. Built around slick beats and playful electronic loops, this is tailor-made for the NYE party-seeking crowd. It’s a dancefloor filler that plays to the mainstream, from the Ibiza-leaning, garage inspired beats and synth loops, through to the catchy but repetitive chorus. And while that’s not necessarily a good thing, there’s something disposably catchy about the track that gets under your skin. On the creation of Play, Jax commented: “Olly’s got one of those unique voices – he commands your attention as soon as you hear him sing – he’s a compelling artist. We had a lot of fun writing this song together and it was great to collaborate with someone so down to earth and open to new ideas. After we had written the song I started building a track with a strong UK Garage influence, as well as my love of soul and house.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Interpol, Fine Mess

INTERPOLFINE MESS: Interpol have dropped a new track in the form of the fiery Fine Mess – bit it’s only partially successful. The track continues the urgent and visceral spirit of Interpol’s acclaimed 2018 album Marauder, with Paul Banks’ feverish vocals and haunted lyrics interlocking with serpentine riffs and a thundering rhythm section, coming together around the seditious refrain: “You and me / make a fine mess.” But while the guitars are as angular and art-rock leaning as ever (often impressively so), there’s something deliberately messy about the track [in keeping with the song’s title and emotions] that makes for an uneven listen. It catapults the listener straight into the song, for starters, almost opening mid-track, while Banks’ vocals are as angsty as the lyrics suggest. It means that the band feel more edgy and experimental than on better tracks such as Pioneer To The Falls or Rest My Chemistry. It’s one for the purists. Paul Banks says of the track: “Fine Mess is about a sanguine and starry pair, buoyed and dashed alike by their own dreams and appetites.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Alexander Wolfe

ALEXANDER WOLFEAVALANCHE: Alexander Wolfe releases his rousing new single Avalanche through Dharma Records. The track is featured in BBC 6 Music’s Tips for 2019 and is taken from his anticipated forthcoming album Little Death, which will be released on March 22. Speaking about Avalanche, Wolfe explains: “I initially wrote the bones of Avalanche with my friend Starling in a little studio in Hackney a couple of years ago. The instrumental was knocking around for a while and I loved how raw it was and I wanted to match that with really self-effacing, honest lyrics. It was written as a stream of consciousness when I was feeling out of control, It’s about trying to start afresh, it’s like confronting yourself and saying, you’re not doing good things, you’re not being kind to yourself. There’s some stuff about self-medication and mortality on there.” Going further to speak about the record he adds: “There are a lot of really big themes on my new album, some of it feels a little uncomfortable talking about. Sex, death, religion etc.” The song is big, foreboding and atmospheric, yet robust too. There’s some striking guitar riffs, a brooding back-beat and a vigorous chorus that finds Wolfe dropping incendiary lines such as “I’m just trying to reset… I’m just trying to forget”. It’s stirring stuff, with some really standout instrumental work. Avalanche marks Wolfe’s return after a short hiatus at the end of 2018 where he again performed the music for the critically acclaimed theatre piece The Trench – a dark, otherworldly fantasy set in the World War One trenches- by theatre company Les Enfants Terribles, of which Wolfe was nominated for an Off West End award for the soundtrack, which he also wrote.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chemical Brothers, Got To Keep On

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERSGOT TO KEEP ON: Got To Keep On is the third single to be lifted from The Chemical Brothers’ forthcoming No Geography LP – and arguably the best offering to date. A lighter dance track than the hard sound of MAH, this dips into the psychedelic territory of former tracks such as Star Guitar and thereby delivers one of their most accessible tracks in a while. There are chants to back the song’s title, with a looping “got to keep on, got to keep on, getting me high”, which should appeal to the festival crowds this summer. But the ‘high’ could just as easily not be pharmaceutical, but high on life in general, as the track suggests you should let go, feel its rhythm and just have a good time. It’s easy to do so, too, with chiming bell sounds, trippy electronics, toe-tapping beats and a general feeling of letting go infusing the track and giving added impetus to those vocals. This track boasts genuine crossover potential and is a nice contrast to the far more politically charged MAH.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Astrid S, Someone New

ASTRID S – SOMEONE NEW: Rising pop star Astrid S releases Someone New, out now via Virgin EMI Records / Universal Music Norway, and continues to make a good impression. The track, co-written by Charli XCX [which shows], is a catchy, melodic pop anthem with an energetic bassline that’s paired perfectly with the Norwegian pop star’s stand-out vocal talent. There are some sharp melodic hooks, a catchy chorus and a keen mix of the euphoric and the humble. Astrid says of the track: “Someone New is a song about being a little obsessed with an ex. I wanted it to sound a bit childish and desperate, but still have a chorus you can sing along to in your car. I made it with Noonie Bao, Charli XCX, Jakob Hazell and Svante Halldin. I’m very excited for people to hear it.” The obsessiveness comes in a confessional sense (“I can’t stop myself from thinking about you”), while also being drenched in melancholy (“but you’re thinking about someone new”). But it’s that bittersweet juxtaposition that makes the song so striking… and where it’s easy to find the influence of Charli XCX, whose assistance here looks virtually guaranteed to help land Astrid S a well deserved super smash hit single. Someone New is Astrid’s first release of 2019 and comes just off the back of a successful tour of UK and Europe with Years & Years.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Kawala, runaway

KAWALARUNAWAY: Kawala return with a spring in their step in 2019 with the release of their new single Runaway, through Mahogany Records. Speaking about the track, Kawala explain: “With our new single, Runaway, we wanted to start the new year with something more upbeat, rhythmic and dancey. While we’ve maintained a strong running theme of journey and exploration, we’ve also managed to pair that with a video about space aliens and monsters, obviously.” There’s a tremendous sense of energy to the song, with an almost African intensity to it, which is married to some radio friendly ‘pop’ sensibilities. It’s also a song that’s high on positivity, boasting no-nonsense lyrics such as “I’m on an A train and I won’t be wasting my time”. Hence, that energy is married to a sense of optimism that is empowering to boot. It’s a welcome return from Kawala. Runaway is the second single to be taken from their forthcoming sophomore EP, Counting The Miles.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Heather Woods Broderick

HEATHER WOODS BRODERICKWHERE I LAY: Oregon-based artist Heather Woods Broderick will release her new album Invitation on April 19 via Western Vinyl. The cinematic first single from the record, Where I Lay, is streaming online now. Laden with beguiling baroque-pop, Where I Lay is a powerful anthem whose immense drums and persistent piano are sincerely pained, delivering a strong centrepiece for the upcoming album. It’s evocative of the ethereal pop tendencies of acts like Lykke Li (no small compliment), while also being distinct enough in its own right to help Broderick standout. Speaking about the new track, Heather said: “Where I Lay is really a poem about the impermanence of all things. So many of our questions will remain unanswered but if we slow down and appreciate things as they are it can provide a simplicity and an ease that inspires wonder amidst the chaos.” The lyrics are thought-provoking, for sure. But it’s the way they’re surrounded by such cinematic instrumental arrangements that helps them to standout. The electronics and pianos are stirring, indeed, while the percussion is suitably brooding and nicely layered, so as to give the electronics and Broderick’s striking, ethereal vocals the biggest focus. The chorus really sweeps you along.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

Vampire Weekend

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: VAMPIRE WEEKENDHARMONY HALL: It may have been six years since we last heard from Vampire Weekend but the wait has been worth it. To mark their comeback, the band have dropped two new tracks in the form of Harmony Hall and 2021. The former is stunning. Ezra Koenig taps into some trademark bittersweet elements with the central lyric, “I don’t want to live like this, I don’t want to die”, while summoning swirling melodies around him. There’s tumbling acoustic guitar licks, swirling piano arrangements, classic percussion elements, hints of country, classic ’70s pop riffs, as well as a nod or two to classic acts like Simon & Garfunkel. It’s a work of immense quality, as intricately layered as we’ve come to expect, but different enough to be refreshingly new and oh-so very, very welcome. The song is taken from new album, Father of the Bride, which is already shaping up to be pretty darn special.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Beck, Tarantula

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BECKTARANTULA: The continually evolving music box of wonders produced by Beck continues unabated with new single Tarantula, a track inspired by Alfonso Cuaron’s award-winning [and now Oscar nominated] Netflix film Roma. Befitting its inspiration, this is cinematic, yet thought-provoking. Dripping with atmosphere, this finds Beck’s distinct vocal offering a hushed, contemplative exploration of life over echoed, atmospheric electronics, the occasional string arrangement and piano. It’s beguiling stuff, evocative of Bowie and Peter Gabriel in its design and scope. The central line of “and when the thunder breaks, it breaks for me” cuts to the core of the film’s message, which offers a very personal journey for its filmmaker. Beck has long been a master of combining outlandish moments of trendy yet original alt-pop with something more sombre, introspective and heartbreaking. Here, he adopts the latter style to conjure something equally brilliant and lasting. Cuaron will be proud.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Julia Michaels, Anxiety

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: JULIA MICHAELS feat SELENA GOMEZANXIETY: GRAMMY® Award-nominated multi-platinum singer and songwriter Julia Michaels is set to release her new album, Inner Monologue Part I. To celebrate, she’s dropped the single Anxiety, featuring Selena Gomez – and is simplicity is disarming. As confessional as it is catchy, Anxiety finds acoustic guitar bristling against Michaels’ breathy delivery on vivid lyrics such as: “My friends, they want to take me to the movies. I tell them to f*ck off, I’m holding hands with my depression.” It’s a timely release, too, given the newfound impetus that recognition for mental health issues are generating at the moment. But it’s also honest, underlining the complexity of coping with a mental condition while also struggling to keep up with the demands of modern life (from friends to family). It should, therefore, become a go-to anthem for anyone struggling with such issues. That it does so in a way that’s so catchy, should also ensure that the song reaches a wider audience, thereby fostering a culture of greater understanding beyond those living with it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Twenty One Pilots, Chlorine

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: TWENTY ONE PILOTSCHLORINE: Twenty One Pilots have shared the official music video for standout album track, Chlorine. Directed by long-time collaborator Reel Bear Media, the video finds the band initially inspecting a disused swimming pool before being joined by an alien-like, Gremlin-style creature. Eventually, an unlikely bond develops between band member and ‘beast’. It’s an endlessly fascinating watch and well worthy of video of the week status. And then there’s the single itself, a bona fida classic that underlines why the band’s latest album, Trench, has enabled them to grow enormously in popularity. Marked out by a hip-hop style back-beat, a classic chorus and some really nicely interwoven piano loops, this is melodic, cinematic and catchy as hell – breaking between mainstream and alternative EDM in effortless fashion. It is one of the many highlights to feature on the LP.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Gray, Watching The Waves

DAVID GRAYWATCHING THE WAVES: Watching The Waves is the latest single to arrive from Gray’s forthcoming new album, Gold In A Brass Age. Produced by Ben De Vries, the record takes its name from a Raymond Carver short story, with artwork provided by tattooist London Boy. Speaking about the track, which is notable for its quiet sincerity, Gray said: “In part, this is a song for a friend who died. The lyrics are all over the place. You can extrapolate them in to countless corners of life, depending on your own experiences. It’s up to the listener to decide. I’ve been through a phenomenal amount of emotional upheaval in the past few years. Life itself is often more than you can take and a person can only process so much.” The sentiments behind that statement, as well as some of the lyrics of the song (“Thoughts like crumbs in the sheets, Words thrown like coins in a cup, Just one more house in the rain, Just one more spoonful of salt” or “I gave it all I could give, I took that ghost for my bride, Went day by day trying to live, With my heart on the outside”), are genuinely thought-provoking and applicable to most lives. The accompanying instrumentals, meanwhile, are low-key, electronic and quietly beautiful, allowing Gray’s equally reflective vocals to shine through. It may not be the most instantly accessible of the releases from the album so far, but it’s undeniably thoughtful and it stays with you.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Newton Faulkner, Don't Leave Me

NEWTON FAULKNERDON’T LEAVE ME WAITING: Newton Faulkner has dropped new single Don’t Leave Me Waiting to kickstart an exciting year ahead, having previously announced his new album, The Very Best Of Newton Faulkner… So Far, which will be released in March with a major UK headline tour taking place this Spring. Commenting on the track, Newton said: “I wrote this on a trip to Australia when I was meant to have a day off, which doesn’t normally happen when working so far away so I put a writing session in and I’m very glad I did. It’s a song about a friend’s relationship and a situation I think most people have found themselves in, of waiting to find out if someone wants to go out with you, or not. She said yes, so it’s all cool.” There’s a sense of uncertainty in the lyrics early on, which is echoed in the hushed early style of the song (and its soul-pop vibe). But as the optimism grows, the song begins to soar, layering in background vocals and harmonies, as well as lusher instrumentals. It’s a slow-builder that blossoms beautifully – just like all classic Newton Faulkner records tend to.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Vampire Weekend

VAMPIRE WEEKEND – 2021: The second new song from Vampire Weekend [after their six year hiatus] may not be as great as Harmony Hall [few songs can be] but it’s distinct in its own way. A very short, stripped-down offering that’s barely two minutes in length, this is built around a sample of a track by Japanese musician Haruomi Hosono, which was written to be played in Muji stores in the Eighties. It finds a steely guitar intertwining with a soft synth, while Koenig sings: “2021, will you think about me?/I could wait a year but I couldn’t wait three.” It doesn’t instantly register as a worthwhile single, given its brevity, but there’s a striking beauty and a disarming simplicity that suggests it could work really well within the album as a whole. As a stand-alone, it merely drops more temptation and anticipation ahead of the release of Father of the Bride as a whole.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ian Brown, Ripples

IAN BROWNRIPPLES: Ian Brown has released Ripples, which is taken from his highly-anticipated upcoming album of the same name – his first solo material in nine years. As you’d expect from Brown, it drops a funky back-beat, as well as some unmistakeable vocals, as well as the occasionally playful electronic (a kind of zany loop that zig-zags its way in and out of proceedings from time to time). It’s arguably the type of song that long-time fans of Brown will lap up. But while certainly fun, complete with a blistering mid-track guitar breakdown, it’s not really stretching the singer-songwriter into new territories. It feels like a song that operates well within Brown’s comfort zone – and that’s taking into account the fact that Brown produced all the album’s new material himself, as well as writing the majority of the tracks and playing guitar, drums and a host of other instruments. It’s good, just not as great as we all know he’s capable of. Incidentally, the release date of Ian’s eagerly anticipated album has been brought forward to February 1, 2019.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Diplo, Boom Bye Bye

DIPLO feat NISKABOOM BYE BYE: Following the global success of his acclaimed California EP last year, global superstar Diplo has released the new single, Boom Boom Bye featuring breakout French star Niska. The track will feature on a follow-up sister EP to California, called Europa, out soon. The resulting track is sung in French but embodies many Diplo traits – from its hip-hop beats and slick electronic instrumentals, to its easy appeal (which boasts crossover potetial beyond the hip-hop market). And the French vocals add some European allure, virtually guaranteeing the song’s appeal on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s highly catchy, effortlessly danceable and typically cool. For those that don’t know, Niska is a pioneer of Afro Trap in France, having already achieved 5 diamond certified singles and accrued over 1 billion YouTube views, leading him to become a ubiquitous figure in France and across social media, where he has over 2 million Instagram followers. His influence even extends to Blaise Matuidi, the tireless Juventus midfielder, who celebrates each of his goals by mimicking Niska’s signature gesture. Commenting on the collaboration, Diplo said: “Niska came over late one night in Paris and we played this idea down on a piano loop that I made. I had only been familiar with him because he had every song on the French Spotify chart that moment. I was really excited that he came through and made this crazy idea with me. One year later we finished it, and it’s out for all my Parisians now.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Kut, I Am Vain

THE KUT – I AM VAIN: The Kut have dropped a striking video for their single I Am Vain, a blistering guitar anthem that finds the band in fiery form. Driven by those spiky guitar riffs and a genuine sense of bravado, this epitomises the angry state of American rock at the moment, and is as no-nonsense as the sentiments behind the song suggest. Explains Princess Maha: “I Am Vain wasn’t just about vanity. It was about laughing out loud in the face of criticism. About taking undue negativity with a pinch of salt. It’s like when someone says something about you, to try and put you down, but instead of being affected by it, you are just thinking, hmm, and so what?” The music video sees Princess Maha as pilot of a private jet, rocking out in an aircraft-hanger with Diana Bartmann (drums) and Stella Vie (bass), and spinning out a neat tapping solo to boot. And that’s not forgetting the cracking guitar solo, which should appeal to any airheads out there who need something to get their groove on in this fading scene. The video, the eighth from the new album Valley of Thorns, is well worth checking out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Robinson, Karma

ROBINSONKARMA: Hotly-tipped New Zealand pop act Robinson reveals her new single Karma, out now via Ministry of Sound Recordings. The track is an empowering response to being mistreated in a relationship and the consequences that come with breaking someone’s heart. She explains: “It’s about opening up your heart to someone who ends up taking that for granted, then when you end things, they try and come back like nothing ever happened. I really wanted Karma to explore the pain of early heartbreak… I also wanted it to have real power to it – you can’t break someone’s heart and then act like you didn’t.” Rather than wallowing in a self-pitying vibe, however, Robinson adopts a more sassy outlook. The back-beats are bouncy, in line with the accompanying electronic loops, and the song as a whole carries a sense of empowerment (especially when Robinson declares that “karma’s a bitch and she’s coming for you”). It’s the type of song that has plenty to say and that should easily help to get her noticed. Karma is Robinson’s first release of the year, following an array of successes for the pop newcomer. In 2018, her debut single Nothing to Regret was certified Platinum in Australia and in her home country of New Zealand, she received two nominations at the New Zealand Vodaphone Music Awards for Breakthrough Artist of the Year and Single of the Year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tarantina, Hunter

TARANTINAHUNTER: Self-taught singer, multi-intrumentalist, producer and videographer Tarantina returns following the release of her debut EP Teething in 2018 with new single Hunter. The song is being hailed as a powerful and stirring return from the Londoner and was co-produced by Tarantina and Tommy Sheen. “Hunter is about that feeling in the pit of your stomach, a gut instinct you get when you know someone you love is hiding something from you,” she explains. The darkness inherent in that type of inspiration is also to be found in the atmospheric instrumentals, which are driven by a fierce back-beat that succeeds in getting the track noticed. That said, the opening is stripped back and almost acoustic, with subtle electronics and a fragile vocal laying out the vulnerabilities inherent in those lyrics. The beat soon drops, though, along with layered instrumentation, giving the song a boldness that’s equally ear-catching and provocative. The same can be said for the accompanying video too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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

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

LOVA, My Name Isn't

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: LOVA – MY NAME ISN’T: Sweden’s fastest-rising new musical export LOVA shares a new single entitled My Name Isn’t and continues to impress. The 20-year-old pop singer and songwriter pulls no punches with this empowering female declaration of independence. Over a backdrop of handclaps, echoing guitars, organic percussion and warbled samples, she announces: “My name isn’t ‘Baby,’ you cannot say whatever you feel like… I am not the things you call me.” The ensuing track boasts a sassy, pro-feminist outlook, some timely point making and a bouncy backdrop that ensures your head and feet will be nodding and tapping along. The hip-hop lite beats are a plus, too, bringing some edge to the pop sheen and tipping its toe into R’n‘B waters vocally. LOVA is obviously someone to watch because this is fiercely empowering power pop that’s as catchy as hell. She comments: “It’s nothing new that we women are tired—tired of living in the background of men, tired of having to raise our voices to be heard, tired of feeling afraid late at night, and tired of always adjusting for men who cannot keep their hands and mouths under control.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE 1975 – I LIKE AMERICA & AMERICA LIKES ME: To mark their sold out shows at London’s O2 Arena this weekend, The 1975 have dropped the single and a 3D animated lyric video for I Like America & America Likes Me, taken from their critically acclaimed new album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The result is as striking as any of the tracks they’ve released so far, albeit a little more experimental. Featuring a vocoder style vocal, fragmented electronic loops and vocals, and provocative lyrics, this manages to be both a compelling listen and a song with something to say. The central line, “I’m scared of dying”, is backed up, throughout, by observations and pleas such as “when you bleed – say so” and “would you please listen!” It’s a song with a lot on its mind. Fans of the band will doubtless lap it up. But this may boast crossover potential for anyone willing to get behind – or who already agrees with – its sentiments. I wouldn’t expect it to feature on Donald Trump’s playlist though!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Slide

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: SLIDEFLOATING: Indie fans pining for the absence of bands like Feeder can console themselves with Slide’s latest offering, Floating. A lively indie-pop anthem in waiting, this has a classic Feeder vibe attached to the guitars, some Flaming Lips-style vocals and some very bouncy piano arrangements, that add up to a very lively, addictively catchy whole. It’s not got much meaning, by the band’s own admission, but it does offer a dreamy slice of indie-pop that’s effortlessly easy to enjoy. Commenting on the track themselves, Slide said: “We aren’t entirely sure what the song is about to be honest. It’s a dreamy one, but it’s supposed to be, you know? We liked the idea of this hallucinatory element of some of the instrumental being present in the lyrics as well. I think it’s about losing yourself in thought, and maybe losing yourself in love too. Ultimately anything can become a ghost and whether it’s just in your head or not doesn’t really matter. Either way you end up spending a whole lot of time in there… behind the eyes that is.” Floating is taken from Slide’s debut EP, Into Happiness, which is set for release in Spring 2019. It’s the follow up to their debut single, Laugh Some More, which was released in November and encapsulates the band’s spirit perfectly. Rough around the edges but with plenty of heart, like all their rock heroes before
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Skinny Lister, My Distraction

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: SKINNY LISTER – MY DISTRACTION: Skinny Lister kickstart their 2019 with a gutsy piece of pop-rock in the form of the foot-stomping My Distraction. The track is already being hailed as a premier piece of procrastination-inspired power-pop goodness given that it finds its touch points in the angular and playful sounds comparable to Blondie or The Jam at their peak. A new-wave flecked, sugar-coated thrill clocking in at just over the two-and-a half-minute mark, the single is the latest cut to be lifted from the band’s highly anticipated new album, The Story Is… out on March 1, 2019. It’s a romp of a record, that suggests Skinny Lister have added some edgy grit to their more amiable pop melodies. Offering further insight into the themes of the new single, Skinny’s Dan and Lorna said: “My Distraction is about being so obsessed with something that everything else falls by the wayside. When only one thing is in focus and everything else is merely background noise. Even though written initially with broader meaning, the lyrics are particularly fitting for our current fixation with modern technology and, even more particularly, our tethering of ourselves to our smart phones.” On typically fun-loving form, My Distraction is of course companioned with a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek new video that sees the band playing on the track’s themes of our tech-binging addictions. In scenes perhaps best described as GoggleBox meets Star Trek, the video finds frontwoman Lorna Thomas unexpectedly transported across space and time at the hands of her TV remote.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dan Caplen, Love Me The Same

DAN CAPLENLOVE ME THE SAME: Rising singer-songwriter Dan Caplen has announced the release of new single, Love Me The Same, which lands as his first new material of 2019. Stripped back and written at the piano, Love Me The Same is a tender, gentle ballad written to honour his mother, with whom he credits for always having his back, through both the good times and the bad. “To put it simply, it’s about my mum,” says Dan. “No matter how far I’ve gone, she’s there to put me in check, and set me straight when I’m outta line.” It’s a personal song, for sure, but it also displays some big ideas. The provocative opening line, for instance, declares “I’m not holy, but tell me who is, a priest can be saintly or a hypoctive”, the song then proceeds to confess “there’s no hiding the things that I do”. It then turns its attention to Caplen’s guiding force, his mother, who loves him no matter what, as well as providing an inspiration and a guiding light. The song is a really nicely composed ballad that is relatable for anyone who appreciates what their mother does for them. The video, too, finds Caplen at the piano, as well as visiting his mother for some touching mother-son bonding. It’s inspiring stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters

CRYSTAL FIGHTERSALL MY LOVE: Supported by Jack Saunders at Radio 1, Crystal Fighters’ latest track All My Love has proved to be the most popular moment of their recent Hypnotic Sun EP. It’s now set to be discovered by a wider audience with the launch of its official video. The track continues the band’s adventurous streak for exploring personal experiences within exhilarating electro-pop anthems. This time around, they capture the uncertainty of a potentially blossoming relationship with a sing-along hook that’s sure to be a standout moment of their future live shows. The chorus, in particular, is catchy as hell… and anthemic. It’s euphoric, almost, yet nowhere near as celebratory as the title suggests. Rather, it asks: “Am I wasting all my time with you?” The accompanying hooks, electronics, beats and vocals are geared to making you want to get up and dance in celebratory fashion. It’s a standout moment. Talking about the song, the band’s multi-instrumentalist Gilbert Vierich commented: “We’ve all been there, right? You’re there, you really like someone, but are you wasting your time? This happens to me on a weekly basis. The people I’m in love with aren’t in love with me.” The accompanying video, directed by Balthazar Klarwein of the O Creative Studio (Solange, A$AP Rocky, FKA twigs) in Barcelona, transports Crystal Fighters’ frontman Bast Pringle to a trippy, psychedelic tunnel. He falls under the spell of mysterious Goddess, her already otherworldly status heightened by her striking four-eyed facial features. The video’s aesthetic touches on the retro-futuristic style of Gaudi and Kubrick.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Orville Peck

ORVILLE PECKDEAD OF NIGHT: Masked enigmatic country crooner Orville Peck has announced he will release his debut album, Pony, on March 22, 2019, via Sub Pop. New single and video, Dead of Night, from the record, is streaming online now. The track is described as a torch song about two hustlers traveling through Nevada desert. Their whirlwind romance takes us on a dusty trail of memories – racing down canyon highways, hitchhiking through casino towns and ultimately, ending in tragedy. It’s a trippy slice of country, with stark, Duane Eddy style guitar hooks and a Chris Isaak meets Nick Cave kind of vocal… laidback but foreboding. And while it’s definitely an acquired taste, it has something addictive and compelling about it, which is only enhanced by the cinematic video that finds Orville and his posse of companions – a washed up gambler, a Cubano boxer, a Senegalese cowgirl and a Wild West club kid (played by Hopper Penn, Alex Cammen, Magné Ndiaye and Dez Sam, respectively) – at the legendary Chicken Ranch brothel (the real-life inspiration for The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas). It features many of the ladies who work there. Dead of Night was directed by Michael Maxxis, and shot on location in Nevada. Orville, himself, will also play a London residency this February and March with three live shows announced.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mull Historical Society

MULL HISTORICAL SOCIETYLITTLE BIRD: Mull Historical Society starts 2019 with a new single and several live shows. Islander Colin MacIntyre, award-winning musician, author and now playwright, is proving himself to be one of the UK’s most prolific talents. He rounded off last year – which included two new book releases – with a very special London show on St Andrew’s Day with Bernard Butler, producer of the latest widely acclaimed album Wakelines, released on Xtra Mile Recordings last autumn. A beautiful new mix of Little Bird, by Bernard (taken from the album) is available now, backed with an acoustic version of MacIntyre’s debut single, Barcode Bypass, released originally in 2000 to wide acclaim, achieving the NME Debut Single of the Year. The new mix plays up the cinematic elements of this soaring ballad, featuring skyscraping vocal harmonies, lush string arrangements and pining vocals that enable the song to reach some giddy heights. As ever, with MacIntry’s songwriting, it’s thoughtfully composed and beautifully delivered.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Kyle Falconer, What's Love Got To Do With It?

KYLE FALCONERWHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?: After five hit albums, a Mercury Prize nomination and countless sold-out shows with The View, the band’s frontman Kyle Falconer released his debut solo album, No Thank You last year on Riverman Records. The album received fantastic critical acclaim and earned Falconer ‘Best Album’ at the Scottish Music Awards in December last year. Falconer has recently returned from Thailand where he recorded a covers EP of some of his personal favourite songs, leading with the surprising What’s Love Got To Do With It?, his take on the Tina Turner classic. And while perhaps a surprising choice, it’s a lovingly delivered cover version that pays suitably stylish homage to the original. The basic construct remains the same, albeit with Falconer’s distinct vocal style replacing the husky tones of Turner, and some brilliant guitar solos replacing the more pop elements of the ’80s original. Falconer injects plenty of passion, too, gutsily blasting out the central vocals over the chorus, and sounding suitably crestfallen as well. It’s a great insight into the type of quality we can expect from the rest of the EP, which also includes the mouth-watering prospect of hearing him cover Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way and Toy Story‘s You’ve Got A Friend In Me (to name but two). Black Eyes, Blue Tears and Four Seasons In One Day round out the playlist.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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

ViVii

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ViVii – AND TRAGIC: Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii release their dreamy new single And Tragic through Dumont Dumont (Ry X, Charlie Cunningham, Josin). Taken from their eponymous debut album, which is set for release on March 15, the song is as idyllic a listen as only the Swedish trio know how to deliver. The electronics are charming and rife with melody, the female vocals delectably sultry and heart-meltingly beautiful. It’s a song to bring genuine cheer to the January blues, which feels emotionally honest, feel-good and laidback to the point of being horizontal. Speaking about the single, ViVii explain: “We had an idea about what this song was going to be about, but under the process it all changed and the song took its own turn.I guess thats how we like to write music, to let the song happen and to let the music have its own way. But the essence of the song is that life is fun and tragic all at the same time.” As bittersweet and true as that statement is, the lyrical ingredients make for a wholly satisfying listen. Having made their New York live debut at the Sweden Makes Music showcase on December 4, 2018, ViVii are confirmed for this year’s SXSW festival in Texas, as well as Eurosonic and By:larm and will play London’s Hoxton Bar and Kitchen on February 15.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Catfish & The Bottlemen

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMENLONGSHOT: Billed as an ode to success and survival, Catfish & The Bottlemen’s rousing new anthem Longshot is a blistering comeback of sorts. The Welsh rockers have been away for a little while but they have long been the creators of skyscraping rock anthems that tap into a classic songwriting sensibility. Here, some catchy, meaty guitar riffs, some chirpy melodic hooks and a toe-tapping back-beat contribute to a track that is alive with positivity and enthusiasm. It’s a rock track, first and foremost, but it’s also the type of song that boasts genuine crossover appeal, tipping its toe into a pop arena at times. Hence, if you’re fans of bands such as Kasabian and Muse, who know how to tap into the mainstream without sacrificing their core values, then this will tick all of your boxes. It’s a cracking start to 2019 for the band. Expect to hear plenty from them (as well as the song itself) throughout the remainder of the year. The accompanying video offers black and white, simple visuals, courtesy of director Jim Canty. Comprised of a single shot, with no cuts, this finds the camera, McCann’s car and the band themselves in a continual state of motion, as they embark on a journey against a stunning coastal backdrop.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Trapper Schoepp, What You Do To Her

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: TRAPPER SCHOEPPWHAT YOU DO TO HER: Xtra Mile recording artist Trapper Schoepp has premiered What You Do To Her as the latest track from the Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter’s eagerly anticipated new album, Primetime Illusion – and it marries a timely, hard-hitting message with classic rock songwriting values. Featuring vocals from Nicole Atkins, the song presents the grim story of sexual assault’s continued impact in our communities and serves as a call to action in the cultural fight against sexual violence. It boasts lyrics such as “what you do to her, we all see, what you do to her, you should never be free”. You don’t have to strain your brain too hard to guess who the song’s targets are. But it’s also a rallying call to anyone who has suffered sexual abuse and violence, which makes it timely as hell, while furtherhing the momentum of the #MeToo movement. Yet, while socially astute, the guitars and harmonica contribute to a rabble-rousing slice of pure rock, which owes more than a passing resemblance to the likes of Tom Petty in his prime and even The Boss. It’s a song that packs a punch, while offering a good time. The video was created by Milwaukee-based animator, Casey Hoaglund. Commenting on the track themselves, the band said: “This song is about the epidemic of sexual assault and the ripple effects these attacks have within our communities,” says Schoepp. “The verses tell the all-too-frequent story of a man who gets away with his actions, while the the chorus reminds us how we’re all affected – survivors, their families, their friends, and the community as a whole. For too long, men have stood on the sidelines on this issue. I wrote this song to call out behavior like this, and we need to do this in our daily lives, too. It’s one thing to show solidarity behind the scenes, but men need to become vocal allies and do the work to change our culture. The time for accountability is now.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Janelle Monae, Screwed

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: JANELLE MONAESCREWED (feat. ZOE KRAVITZ): “I live my life in a magazine, I live my life on a TV screen, I live my life on birth control, I lost my mind on rock n roll”…. so sings Janelle Monae over the opening moments of catchy new R’n‘B single Screwed. And as some of those sentiments suggest, this is very much a rant against the state of the world, which she aptly describes as “screwed”. Rather than sounding angry, however, Monae has chosen to wrap the single up in lively beats, R’n‘B-tinged, pop soaked melodies and the odd rock guitar twang. But make no mistake, the song takes a very proactive view to society, taking potshots at the emphasis placed on celebrity, sex, power and money in the current climate. She therefore concludes “we’re so screwed”. The accompanying video, featuring Zoe Kravitz, is hard-hitting, too, taking a seemingly carefree opening and turning it into something altogether darker and more troubling, complete with a sobering conclusion.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Chemical Brothers, MAH

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERSMAH: The Chemical Brothers have dropped a hard-hitting club banger in the form of MAH as the second offering from their forthcoming new LP, No Geography (out in the spring). The ‘MAH’ of the title stands for ‘mad as hell’ and it’s easy to guess that this is a protest record to boot. The central refrain states: “I’m mad as hell” before declaring “I aint gonna take it no more”. And while this could relate to anyone’s personal problems, it’s safer to assume it’s an assault on the state of the world, which sees divided nations expressing their disdain for politicians, bureaucrats and big business. The energy of the accompanying beats and squelchy electronics taps into that feeling of anger, while the rave element hints at something underground bubbling beneath the surface. A sense of rebellion perhaps? Hence, while hard-hitting as hell in a dance kind of way, this is also a Chemical Brothers track with something to say. And while it’s very hard dance, and therefore for the die-hard Chemical Brothers enthusiasts only, it’s still worth checking out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hot Dreams

HOT DREAMSSTRONGER: After having been highlighted as one of her New Names by Radio 1’s Annie Mac, Hot Dreams grabbed further airplay from the likes of BBC London Introducing and Radio X. Now, Hot Dreams move towards the release of their debut EP by sharing new track Stronger. The track’s euphoric mood brims with emotional yearning before it erupts into flight with a soaring, anthemic chorus that deserves to grace larger stages. Self-produced by the band, and mixed by Michael Sealy, it blurs the boundaries between the atmospheric intensity of post-punk and the enticing immediacy of pop. That is to say, there’s edge to offset some of the more radio-friendly melodies instrumentally. Vocally, though, Hot Dreams channel the emotional sweep of singers like Chris Martin when they hit falsetto highs, while also tapping into something a little more rough around the edges in the build-up to those moments. Perhaps more impressive is the message the song holds. Lyrically, Stronger is a personal account of the stigma surrounding mental health and the consequences of (particularly men) not opening up to each other. It’s a call for compassion and conversation when it comes to things we may not fully understand in other people. If the remainder of the EP is as ear-catching, then Hot Dreams look set to make a very big impression in 2019.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Believer

IMAGINE DRAGONS feat LIL WAYNEBELIEVER: Having teamed up with rapper Lil Wayne for a remix of their track Believer during the College Football Playoff National Championship halftime show earlier this month, Imagine Dragons have now released the track as a single. They’ve worked together before, of course, on the Suicide Squad soundtrack. But this is more of a remix that dabbles with the idea of offering something new. In truth, the song isn’t doing that much different. It’s still the same song, albeit with a prolonged rap interlude from Wayne. The chorus, though, is still as big and shouty as before, with brooding electronics and pounding beats forming the lively backdrop. If you’re a fan, you’ll doubtless dig the remix. If not, you won’t be moved. It’s not their best. But it does the job. Perhaps regrettably, there’s no new video – but then the original did, notably, feature a cracking boxing match between Dragons’ lead singer and a certain Dolph Lundgren. That was a bona fida video of the week!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSECONVERSATION: Lucy Rose releases her fourth album No Words Left on March 22, 2019. To introduce the record, the album’s opening track Conversation is streaming now – and it’s typically assured and beautifully composed. A tender acoustic ballad, this finds Rose reverting back to basics and allowing her stark vocals to take centre stage. The acoustics are intricately composed, as are some subtle piano arrangements and strings… but this is really about letting the lyrics do the talking and hearing what the song – about really listening to each other when things get hard – has to say. As a result, the emotions should resonate with anyone who has been through the ups and downs of a relationship (“no one loves me quite like you do, but no one lets me down the way you do”). It’s a beguiling, fascinating listen. The new album, No Words Left, finds Lucy using her voice to devastatingly frank effect throughout. Lyrically and musically fearless, this record is a beautifully intense, but often unsettling listen. It’s a body of work, a fine modern example of the enduring strength of the album format. Following the album’s release, Lucy wil be heading out on a tour of the UK and Europe in April.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Westlife

WESTLIFEHELLO MY LOVE: Westlife’s first new single in eight years, Hello My Love, is as cheesy and predictable as they come. Written and produced by superstar hitmakers Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac, this is clearly designed to be a soaring pop anthem featuring the band’s trademark vocals and harmonies. Shane, Nicky, Mark and Kian exchange vocal duties on a song that celebrates a ‘perfect’ love (“belly and far from perfect teeth” et al), complete with sweeping choruses, fizzing electronics, toe-tapping beats and a general sense of euphoria. Admittedly, the protagonist is full of self-doubt, struggling to believe how lucky in love they are. But any sense of vulnerability is drowned amid the positivity of the song as a whole. Arriving in January, it’s clearly also designed to bring a little cheer to the January blues. But while the fans will doubtless be delighted with the comeback, it’s so perfectly manufactured (and thereby manipulative) that it never rises above a slick pop offering designed to win Westlife back into the hearts of the mainstream. As sceptical as that sounds, the trick is to avoid being suckered in if you’re not a fan already. The presence of Sheeran as a producer, complete with the same kind of melodic structure as some of his songs, only serves to underline this.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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

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

James Hersey, My People

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: JAMES HERSEY & JEREMY LOOPS – MY PEOPLE: Keeping the momentum going in 2019, James Hersey releases the new single My People, a collaborative track with South African singer-songwriter Jeremy Loops, out via Glassnote Records. Co-written by Hersey and Loops, the track is a head-nodding upbeat indie-pop track which compliments both artist’s unique vocals as they flow back and forth, then congregate on the infectious chorus over the guitar-led production. With its message of positivity and inclusion, this has an easy-going, feel-good quality to it that is entirely addictive. The guitar strums are breezy and endearing, while the mix of vocal styles works nicely against each other, before coming together for that catchy chorus. If you’re fans of music from the likes of Paul Simon, Ed Sheeran and Jack Johnson, then this will tick all the right boxes for you. It’s just a really good listen. On My People, Hersey explains: “Jeremy and I both lead lives that require us to spend a lot of time away from home. My People is an homage not to the places we come from, but to the people there that keep us coming back.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Balthazar

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BALTHAZAR – I’M NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN AGAIN: Belgium’s finest Balthazar see in 2019 with a new track I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again, taken from their new album, Fever, on Play It Again Sam and released on January 25, 2019. Like the album’s previously unveiled title track, Fever, I’m Not Gonna Let You Down Again features Deprez on lead vocals mining a now familiar vein of upbeat, newly discovered playfulness with the addition of distinct vocal accompaniment from Devoldere. It finds Balthazar in their own hazy world of r’n‘b infused pop, an altogether looser feel that draws on their recent solo outings. But while certainly loose and laidback, there’s a coolness to it, too, that has a very funky vibe. The guitar riffs are simple, retro and highly effective (right down to the cracking solo), while the soulful falsetto vocals have a smooth groove appeal that help the track wash over you in sublime fashion. On the evidence so far, Fever could be the first great album of 2019. Commenting on the track, Deprez explains: “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again is a break-up song with a twist, a groovy soul ode with a synthesizer, a chorus with a Bee Gee touch. It’s shaking it off, wherever it stuck.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Gray, Tight Ship

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: DAVID GRAY – A TIGHT SHIP: David Gray has released his new single, A Tight Ship, as the latest new offering from his forthcoming album Gold In A Brass Age, due for release on March 8, 2019, via IHT Records / AWAL Recordings. You’ll still recognize Gray’s gravelly rasp on the track, but the singing is softer, sweeter, more intimate and occasionally falsetto. It’s part of a song-writing shake-up that defines a more intuitive approach from Gray across the album. Using a cut and paste approach to the arrangement of songs, lyrics have been transformed, with couplets closer to poetry, and whilst his guitar and piano playing remain, it’s the ushering in of electronica and the exploring of alternative sound textures alongside new production techniques that take to the fore. Here, we have a trip-hop style back-beat, a distinct vocal difference, an upbeat vibe and some quirkily breezy electronics. Speaking about A Tight Ship, Gray said: “This was by far the toughest track to get right. It has a quirky chord structure that keeps changing key and I’m singing in an almost Marvin Gaye falsetto, which is in no way comfortable for me. For ages I had the opening couplet ‘The better then, to know myself/Fear be damned, let love be wealth’. Beyond that, I was stuck. The song has a lovely lightness that means the lyrics couldn’t be heavy-footed. The line that unlocked it was ‘To dance like no one sees’. That’s the pay-off.” The effort was more than worth it! Produced by Ben de Vries, son of producer and soundtrack composer Marius de Vries, Gold In A Brass Age – Gray’s first album of new material in four years – will arrive just ahead of a run of 17 headline shows across the UK and Ireland. Dates in Cardiff, Cambridge, Dublin, London and York are already sold-out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fleur East, Favourite Thing

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: FLEUR EASTFAVOURITE THING: Fresh from her triumphant stint in the jungle on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Fleur [almost inevitably] kicks off the new year in vigorous style with Favourite Thing. Written by Fleur herself with Phil Plested and Dayo Olatunji, and produced by Red Triangle, the track is a lively fusion of dance beats, tribal drums and African chants, all held together with an indelible melody. It’s a power pop anthem that’s destined to make a big splash at the start of the year, complete with sexually charged lyrics about touching her body and sending her into ecstasy. The electronics are sharp and bouncy, as are the beats, while the sassy vocals have that Beyonce/Pink kind of vibe that ensure you’ll be taking notice. The video, too, is eye-catching. Fleur commented: “The song has influences from my mother’s side of my family in Ghana. My mum has always made sure I know a lot about my heritage. It’s really anthemic and upbeat. I’m so grateful to be starting 2019 in the position I’m in. I really feel like people got to see the real me in the jungle. I’m so much stronger as a person now and I’m really happy with my new music.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis

RHYS LEWISBETTER THAN TODAY: 2018 was certainly a whirlwind year for London-based singer Rhys Lewis. With his music reaching an ever-growing global fanbase, his music has become known for dissecting his own experiences with an impressive honesty and bravery making it irresistible to listeners worldwide. He looks to kickstart the New Year by building on that momentum with the release of impressive new single Better Than Today. A New Year’s resolution of sorts, the song is an empowering piano-based ballad that finds Lewis once more tapping into an everyman vibe that is ridiculously easy to relate to, courtesy of lyrics such as “because we’re all reaching for something, we’re all craving change, hoping tomorrow, tomorrow is better than today”. It’s a ballad with real emotional depth and meaning… and a fine start to 2019 for Lewis. Speaking of the new track, Rhys said: “We’ve been living through some pretty turbulent times in recent years. I wrote this song to ease my anxiety about the state of the world and remind myself that, whatever our differences are, whatever we choose to believe in, we all live with the same good intentions common, and we’re all hoping for a better tomorrow.” Fingers crossed…
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ian Brown, From Chaos to Harmony

IAN BROWNFROM CHAOS TO HARMONY: Ian Brown has released his new single, From Chaos To Harmony, the latest track to come from his highly-anticipated upcoming album, Ripples, which is released on February 1, 2019. Marked by the wah-wah guitar that permeates throughout, this is something of a departure from the more trademark Brown sound. Sure, his vocals remain as distinct and laidback as ever. But the wah-wah sound is something new, while there’s a psychedelic element that makes this even more laidback than normal, minus the usual backing beat (which has become a hallmark). There’s even a bluesy vibe at times. You could even make a case for saying this is as close to emulating the late David Bowie as Brown can get, complete with a mid-track change of pace, which – like the title suggests – elevates the track from something dark to more optimistic and playful. Ian produced the album, Ripples, and wrote the majority of the tracks, as well as playing guitar, drums and a host of other instruments. Three of the songs were co-written with his sons, who also feature on various instruments on the new record.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lizzo, Juice

LIZZOJUICE: Born in Houston and raised in Detroit, Lizzo adopted her moniker in 2011 and fronted Lizzo and the Larva Ink after moving to Minneapolis. Her work began to intertwine with the city’s indie scene, allowing her to work with artists like Gayngs and Doomtree. She returns with new single Juice and aims to bring a lively disco-soul-pop anthem to kick off the New Year in energetic fashion. But while certainly lively, the track is only partially successful. The disco-soul vibe has a nice retro feel to it… but therein lies the problem. The track has a feeling of over-familiarity without necessarily doing anything new. Hence, while fun while it lasts (and in limited doses), this is just as quickly forgotten.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Oh Land, Human Error

OH LANDHUMAN ERROR (LIVE ACOUSTIC): Danish star Oh Land has put her new track Human Error online and announced a new album, Family Tree, out May 3. To accompany the track, she has also released a live acoustic version of the track on YouTube and showcases just how great the track is in stripped back form. Accompanied by a bittersweet, autumnal piano, this is delicately delivered with Oh Land’s fine vocals to the fore. It enables the lyrics to really stand out, as she unveils a heartbreaking tale of human error and learning (“my baby doesn’t know the rules, he’ll grow up missing me…”). Oh Land – the stage name of Danish composer Nanna Øland Fabricius – said of the album: “Since the release of my latest album, I’ve experienced the biggest ups and downs of my private life. Everything I’d been working on musically suddenly seemed unimportant and irrelevant to the new life I had to slowly piece together. So, I ditched all the songs and recordings I had done and started writing from the uncertainty of where I was.” It was during that period that Nanna had a baby, moved back to Denmark after living in NYC for 10 years, and got a divorce all in the span of 18 months. Produced by Thomas Bartlett (St. Vincent, Florence & the Machine, The National), Human Error is the first single from Oh Land’s new studio album, Family Tree, which unlike Oh Land’s earlier work, is being described as a deeply intimate album. On the evidence so far, it will be a compelling listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, December 21, 2018

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

Cigarettes After Sex, Neon Moon

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CIGARETTES AFTER SEXNEON MOON: Ambient American pop trio Cigarettes After Sex have dropped a doozy of a single ahead of Christmas. Neon Moon may not evoke the spirit of Christmas, but it does have a cold winter night feel to it. Dripping with lush, hushed beats, subtle guitar and electronic riffs, and a gentle central vocal from Greg Gonzalez, this dazzles by virtue of its easygoing beauty. The central line of “and I’ll be alright, as long as there’s light from a neon moon” also brings a reassuring quality to the record, which neatly offsets some of the early uncertainty to be found in the lyrics. But overall, there’s a hypnotic beauty to the single, which combines a cinematic majesty with something utterly beguiling and enchanting. If you’re a fan of Cigarettes After Sex already, then this is the perfect Christmas gift from them. If not, then you might just become one after hearing this. It’s a song to take you through winter in a good way. We can’t wait to hear more from them on this type of form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Raconteurs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: THE RACONTEURSNOW THAT YOU’RE GONE: Rock fans delight! The Raconteurs – aka Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler – are back with the release of their first new music in more than 10 years… or rather, two new songs. The first of those is Now That You’re Gone and it’s a belter. Featuring Brendan Benson on lead vocals, this adopts a classic rock approach with its gutsy, distinct guitars, bouncing piano loops and melodic chorus. There’s a very definite sense of melancholy in the lyrics (which reflect on a desperate life ‘now that you’re gone’), but the instrumentals help breathe a sense of life into the despair. The guitars, as you would expect, exhilarate – albeit quietly. They’re reigned in but they’re distinct and given plenty of room to breathe. There’s a throbbing bass at times, too, which raises the excitement levels, while some of the piano arrangements have a bounce and energy that invokes the spirit of Motown. But part of the track’s appeal lies in its ability to reference classic songwriting values while bringing its own sensibilities, Raconteurs-style, and a contemporary edge.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gaspar Narby

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: GASPAR NARBY feat D.A.N. – SIGHT: Following on from the release of single Words of July, featuring British singer LEES, the London-based, Swiss producer Gaspar Narby has now unveiled his A Stare Makes Two EP. This is accompanied by the single Sight, a great track that also boasts an eye-catching video. The video follows two people through the streets of New York, both going through the pain of heartbreak and surrounded by memories of their time together. One of the most poignant lines in Sight perfectly sums up the unpredictability of a broken heart: “You never let me in, so I let you go, then I cut you out, now the tables have turned, and the glass is all broke.” Speaking about the video, Gaspar explained: “The video was shot on 16mm by Theo Le Sourd, in Manhattan. I was really happy to work with the same director on all the videos for the EP, as he also made the video for Words of July. Just like D.A.N’s lyrics, it follows he shifting dynamic within a relationship. The regrets, the memories and the present all dance together in Theo’s take of the song.” The track itself is great, alive with beats, electronics and soulful, reflective vocals. There’s a falsetto feel to the vocals, which hang over the beats perfectly. The instrumentals, meanwhile, have that air of the cinematic about them [befitting the accompanying video], as well as the sort of layered beauty that artists such as Bonobo bring to their work. It’s seductive listening, beautifully conveyed.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Celeste

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CELESTELATELY: Brighton-bred and now West London-based soul singer Celeste has shared the striking video for current single, Lately, which has been directed by rising photographer and filmmaker Sam Hiscox from an original concept by Celeste. She has described the track as the soundtrack to “overthinking relationships with money, boys, family and work, and not making the most of them,” and the video expands on this idea, cutting from a pensive, chain-smoking Celeste to arguing couples, seedy bars and faceless crowds. It’s genuinely worth seeing. The track, meanwhile, offers a delightful showcase of Celeste’s sultry singing style. Her voice is silky smooth, laidback and distinct, yet with hints of classic artists from Motown to Portishead via Amy Winehouse. The beats help with the Portishead comparison, especially when they kick in a little bit late on… but the darkness inherent in the lyrics is also comparable to both Portishead and Winehouse. There’s a wistful quality to this brooding track, which feels genuinely cinematic to boot. Celeste is very definitely an artist to watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Raconteurs

THE RACONTEURSSUNDAY DRIVER: The second new track from The Raconteurs features Jack White on lead vocals and has all the feel of a classic White track (from his White Stripes days) mixed with a classic rock track. There’s an edgy central guitar, which is stop-start, and an energetic central vocal that has all the livewire tendencies that White brings to his singing. There’s also a pretty kick-ass back-beat to ensure this is the livelier, rockier offering of the two. Just to keep listeners on their toes, there’s even a mid-track diversion into trippy, psychedelic territory to further evoke comparisons with the rock acts of yesteryear. But it does the song no harm, ensuring that it’s alive with invention and creativity. Guitar hounds, however, will certainly delight in the riff-making that takes place here, with several solo moments to savour. It’s a very welcome return from this act. Now That You’re Gone and Sunday Driver both stem from recent sessions for the long-awaited new Raconteurs LP, due for release sometime in 2019. On the evidence so far, we can’t wait to hear more!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rudimental, They Don't Care About Us

RUDIMENTAL feat MAVERICK SABRE & YEBBATHEY DON’T CARE ABOUT US: Rudimental have shared the latest taste of their hugely anticipated new studio album, Toast To Our Differences, teaming up with Maverick Sabre and hotly-tipped, star-on-the-rise YEBBA for the new track, They Don’t Care About Us. And for a song that boasts a title as sad as this, it’s a paradoxically laidback track. The ensuing track therefore combines trippy back-beats and woozy electronics with the soulful, sultry vocals of Grammy nominated, US vocalist YEBBA and the heartfelt, soulful rap balladry of Irish singer Sabre. The result is toe-tappingly effective… akin to a cool breeze on a hot day – and just as fleeting. It doesn’t linger for too long afterwards, in spite of the impassioned lyrics. The mix of vocals is effective, though, and adds to the feelgood vibe surrounding the forthcoming LP, which features a stellar, wide-ranging cast of guest vocalists from all over the world. The album is out on January 25 and the omens appear good.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Wet Dreams

WET DREAMSBAD BOY: The NME has described Wet Dreams as being like a cross between Motorhead and The Hives. The band itself hail from Oslo, Norway, and feature members of Death By Unga Bunga, FOAAAM and Warp Riders. The new single, Bad Boy, is a robust, in your face dose of lo-fi garage and addictive power-punk that refuses to let up for the duration of its two minutes and 40 seconds. Hence, it’s easy to see where the NME got the Motorhead reference from, especially in the crunching nature of the riffs. The garage sound comes from the vocals, which have a raw, scuzzy feel. But the relentless nature of the track makes it something of a niche record – for fans of the genre only. It’s giddy, for sure, and boasts some rollicking guitar solos towards the end. But it sometimes feels a little too excessive and punk for its own good.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Galantis, San Francisco

GALANTIS feat SOFIA CARSONSAN FRANCISCO: Galantis seem to be taking their musical cues from Chainsmokers. New single San Francisco has that same kind of EDM meets pop sensibility as the likes of Paris. There’s disco pop beats, female vocals from Sofia Carson and a bouncy, disposably catchy chorus that repeats the central lyric, “I know I won’t forget that night in San Francisco”. That said, it’s nowhere near as good as Chainsmokers at their best, largely because it feels so derivative. Hence, while you’ll probably be finger clicking along with the beats and nodding your head in appreciation to the chorus (and its accompanying upbeat trumpet fanfare), it’s got that overly familiar feel to it that suggests you’ve heard it done better somewhere before. It’ll doubtless go down a storm on the club scene this winter, though. And it does bring back warm memories of some of my own favourite nights in San Francisco.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, December 14, 2018

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

Skinny Lister, The Story Is...

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: SKINNY LISTERTHE STORY IS…: With the cold dark nights closing ever tighter as the year draws toward the solstice, the soul-stirring chimes that lead Skinny’s sparkling latest single, The Story Is…, could well be the winter warmer you were looking for. The title-track of the band’s upcoming fourth studio album (out March 20191, , via Xtra Mile Recordings), The Story Is… sees the band poetically sing about love and loss with words that will surely tug at the heart strings during this timely season of reflection. Speaking about the track’s themes, Skinny Lister said: “Everyone has that someone or something, that to live without, would leave them incomplete. The Story Is… is an ode to this state of complete dependence. An over-dramatic declaration of love, addiction, obsession and surrender.” And true to those words, the song has a reflective, thought-provoking quality that resonates emotionally the instant you hear it. The guitar hooks, drums and chimes (not to mention the beautiful violin) have a winter warmer vibe that is tailor-made for this time of year, but which could well be appreciated at any other time too. It’s a beautifully composed offering from a band on top form. As with the rest of the upcoming long-player, The Story Is… was recorded, produced and mixed with the highly capable Barny Barnicott (Arctic Monkeys, The Enemy, The Temper Trap). In the deep, dark hours of one particular alcohol fuelled studio late night session, Barnicott introduced the band to an old piano and a set of pitched bells and tubes. Quickly striking upon the chiming soundscapes now available at their finger tips, the band began to get experimental with their electric guitars, uniquely marrying the two to create the entrancing, ethereal melody that defines the backdrop of this irresistible new single.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Crystal Fighters, Goin' Harder

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: CRYSTAL FIGHTERS feat BOMBA ESTEREOGOINHARDER: Crystal Fighters have shared a new video for Goin’ Harder. It opens with frontman Bast Pringle being woken by his alarm clock, but a stir of his morning coffee unveils a hallucinatory vision full of surreal sights and dazzling delights. Utilising stop motion animation, video game imagery and kaleidoscopic flourishes, it takes in surreal visions, including fornicating unicorns and gargantuan snakes, and featuris Li from Bomba Estereo performing her verse. As soon as Bast achieves a state of nirvana, he re-awakens. It’s trippy and euphoric and totally mind-blowing stuff. The single finds Crystal Fighters and Estereo stirring up an exuberant concoction of influences: Latin America grooves, pure Basque energy, psychedelic pop and punchy electronic beats. The result has a crazy, celebratory feel that’s tailor-made to get the dancefloor buzzing. There’s a somewhat off-kilter, manic energy to the song at times, as the various influences collide in often spectacular fashion, but the song is also kept balanced by the keen sense of melody, the infectious ryhthm and the central chorus that’s made to be sung out loud. Commenting on the video, Bast said: “The song was originally inspired by the Hawaiian Indegenous practice of Ho’oponopono. This means that if there is a disagreement between two parties, a council is needed to resolve the issue through communication and dialogue. Ho’oponopono literally translates as “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me” and this is the attitude that both parties are encouraged to adopt. We thought this was a beautiful message, and couldn’t help but subvert it to make it more fitting in our eyes for the crazy modern world. Instead of Ho’oponopono, we’re ‘goin’ harder’. This is also the inspiration behind this very cool new video. Somewhere in the annals of our subconscious there is the possibility for anything, including extreme polarities: love/hate and war/pece. It’s about what we choose to feel on a conscious level and about what we cannot help but feel as we dream on a subconscious level. How much of the subconscious affects our decisions on a conscious level? How do we cultivate a peace-loving subconscious when we’re being bombarded with disharmony?”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Newton Faulkner

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: NEWTON FAULKNERWISH I COULD WAKE UP: It’s a very fond welcome back to Newton Faulkner, who has simultaneously released his new single, Wish I Could Wake Up, along with news of a Best Of LP (out March 2019) and a UK tour (including a date at London’s Palladium on April 24). The single offers a brilliant reminder that there is more to the commerciality of Christmas and that the best gift is often already part of our lives. And while it is officially a Christmas single, it avoids the schmaltz or trimmings of a traditional Christmas record, bar the odd chime. Rather, the folk-pop of classic Faulkner is alive and well, with robust acoustic guitars and handclap beats, as well as a keen sense of melody, enabling the song to transcend the time of year. It can be listened to all year round, with a message that’s equally important at all times of the year. Talking about the new track, Newton commented: “This song’s about wanting to wake up next to someone special at Christmas, and how that person can make any day, Christmas or not, seem so much better just by being there.” Commenting on the forthcoming hits compilation, Faulkner added: “The Best Of feels like a real milestone. I’m so proud of it as a body of work and the second disc was so much fun to make. I love the challenge of covering songs, which probably is reflected in my song choices. For people that have seen me live before, there are some old favourites and there’s also some tracks no one has ever heard me do.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: YOU ME AT SIXSTRAIGHT TO MY HEAD: Following their sold out UK tour, including three nights at London’s Brixton Academy, You Me At Six have revealed their first ever animated lyric video for new single Straight To My Head. Speaking of the inspirations behind the visual, director Peter Reeve explains: “We’ve been long time fans of both You Me at Six and Rick and Morty, so when we had the chance to bring the two together we of course jumped at it! We had a lot of fun creating this and bringing together ideas from the band and using imagery from their back catalogue to create a crazy animation.” The video is a whole lot of fun, while paying perfect homage to Rick and Morty too. The song itself is another power rock-pop anthem that’s shot through with lively riffs, skyscraping melodies and an anthemic chorus that’s tailor-made for being sung loud in concerts. What’s more, it combines a headrush quasi ’80s vibe with something that’s very typically You Me At Six. It’s a blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ian Brown, Black Roses

IAN BROWNBLACK ROSES: Former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown has released a second new track, Black Roses, which is taken from his highly-anticipated upcoming album, Ripples – his first solo material in nine years. The song is a cover of the 1983 track by Jamaican reggae and dancehall legend Barrington Levy. But the reggae elements are barely traceable. Rather, all the elements of a classic Brown cut are in place, thanks largely to the Monkeyman’s distinct vocals, but also because of the driving beats and guitar loops, which maintain an indie swagger (especially during the lively chorus). It’s a track that fans of the Stone Roses can easily get behind, even though it is a cover version rather than new material. Black Roses and previous single First World Problems precede the new album, Ripples, which is released on February 1, 2019. Brown produced the album, wrote the majority of the tracks, as well as playing guitar, drums and a host of other instruments. Three of the songs were co-written with his sons, who also feature on various instruments on the new record.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Fergus, Strangers In The Night

FERGUSSTRANGERS IN THE NIGHT: London-based singer-songwriter Fergus has released a hauntingly beautiful cover of Frank Sinatra classic, Strangers In The Night. The singer’s take on this iconic song is tinged with a deep longing and sadness that has become synonymous to the artist. A pristine pitch perfect vocal glides over delicate strings, as the track builds over brooding drum beats and a hypnotic backing vocal. The track was produced by, Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, The Libertines). The recording started out as part of an intricate marriage proposal Fergus was asked to be a part of. Fergus explained: “A supporter of my previous releases got in touch saying he was planning to propose and asked if I’d cover one of the songs that mean the most to him and his girlfriend. I said straight away “I’m doing Strangers. I just knew I could do something different with it. At the time, I really needed something to throw myself into, so I spent three days recording it on my sofa. I wanted to make something special for Mitch and Jess, of course, but really, I did it for a girl… I poured all my longing and devotion and sadness into it, and I liked it so much I took it to Jake to mix properly for release.” The result fully deserves that release. It’s haunting, yet beautiful, tapping into a sense of longing and affection that might get missed in Sinatra’s original. And it doesn’t even sound like a cover, such is the transformative nature of the song. Hence, it feels fresh and vital.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Papa Roach, Elevate

PAPA ROACHELEVATE: We kind of have a love and hate relationship with this single. On the one hand, we like the beats and electronics, which combine urgency with cinematic foreboding. We also rate the chorus, in which they sing “I need something to life me up, when I’m down”. It has a keen sense of melody, crossover appeal and the kind of vibe that Linkin Park pulled off so effortlessly with their last album. But it’s not content to stick to those things. There’s a rapped element that grates, as well as stop-start electronics and some warped sounds to break things up further. And they don’t work that well, disrupting the momentum of the track in general. It’s a shame, for there are moments when this sounded like it could become one of Papa Roach’s most popular tracks to date. The track is taken from the band’s new album, Who Do You Trust?
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Trapper Schoepp

TRAPPER SCHOEPPFREIGHT TRAIN: Originally written and performed in 1988 by San Francisco alt-rockers Sister Double Happiness, Freight Train powerfully chronicles the grim realities faced by those suffering with AIDS/HIV. Led by Wilco’s Patrick Sansone on piano, Schoepp and band become another link in this song’s chain. “It was passed along like a folk song while I was out on tour with the Jayhawks,” Schoepp says. “Guitarist Kraig Johnson showed me the two chords backstage and I took to it instantly. There’s an urgency in the lyrics that speaks to the pain of the epidemic. It’s a powerful perspective to sing from, someone in the throes of the illness.” That sense of urgency is given extra impetus by the guitars, which bring a classic rock n roll quality, and a genuinely thrilling instrumental backdrop. The lyrics, meanwhile, are delivered with all the pent-up fury and aggression that they suggest, amid lines like “I called mama, she said don’t come home, my friends shun me, I’m all alone, when they come at me, they put on the gloves”. It’s a rabble-rouser of a record with a potent social message about an epidemic that hasn’t gone away [unlike its headlines].
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, December 7, 2018

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

Island, Just That Time of the Night

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ISLANDJUST THAT TIME OF THE NIGHT: Just That Time of the Night is the first piece of material to be taken from a forthcoming EP from four piece Island, which will be released early next year via Beatnik/Frenchkiss. The track ushers in a new direction for the band, maintaining the atmospheric undertones that resonated through their debut, but striving to take things to effortless new heights, harnessing their remarkable ability to transport you to a specific time and place through delicately balanced layers of instrumentation and powerhouse, emotive vocals. This is never more evident than in the soaring guitars, which have an epic, cinematic quality akin to classic Dave Gilmour, Clapton and Dire Straits. Vocally, there’s more of an alt-indie edge, however, with a cracked central vocal shot through with the emotion inherent within the thought-provoking lyrics. Speaking about the track, Island said: “Your night is winding down, everything is starting to feel a bit weird. Disconnected from your surroundings and the people around you. It’s just that time of the night.” The beauty of the track is that you can fill in the blanks for yourself, applying it to whatever mood takes you. Island also recently announced an intimate UK headline tour for February, which includes a night at Islington Assembly Hall, and comes in the wake of the band selling out KOKO earlier this year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Naughty Boy, Bungee Jumping

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: NAUGHTY BOY feat EMELI SANDE & RAHAT FATEH ALI KHANBUNGEE JUMPING: For a song whose origins stemmed from a game that Naughty and Emeli Sande played, where they attempted to write a song about the most random thing that came into their heads, Bungee Jumping is striking stuff. A musical departure from Naughty Boy that actually veers more into Bonobo territory, this is a world record that combines Pakistani influences with soft acoustic flourishes, gentle beats and serene vocals from Sande herself. It’s highly cinematic, effortlessly laidback and beautifully intoxicating, transporting you to a lovely state of bliss. Lyrically, it’s similarly intelligent, with Sande commenting on the risks inherent in falling in love, while co-singer Rahat attempt to strike a balance by offering up his own thoughts on the eternal power and emotional commitment needed to be in love. It’s the type of record that, for all of its lofty lyrical ambition, can strike a chord with listeners across musical genres, making this another surefire success for Naughty Boy, that could well broaden his appeal.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Paul Weller

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: PAUL WELLERBOWIE: Paul Weller touchingly plays tribute to the late, great David Bowie on his latest single, the aptly named Bowie. Taken from his critically-acclaimed LP True Meanings, which offers a lot of musings on life and death, the song is both a reflective piece on the nature of life, as well as a tipping of the hat to an artist he has long admired – despite the fact the two were involved in something of a fedud for years. It was resolved, of course, with Weller admitting that Ziggy Stardust was one of his favourite LPs. The song is principally an acoustic ballad, softly delivered, with intricate string arrangements woven throughout. Weller’s vocals, meanwhile, take on a reflective quality, while sometimes sounding Bowie-esque. While there are also harmonic nods to the kind of notes Bowie would often hit. It’s a classy piece of work, boasting a similarly affecting video, featuring Martin Freeman.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chelou, Out of Sight

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: CHELOUOUT OF SIGHT: Chelou has unveiled another impressively mind-altering video today for new single Out of Sight, which is also excellent. This new video is the work of Los Angeles artist Robin Eisenberg, known for her luminescent astro-femmes and intergalactic backdrops. Along with animator Kris Baldwin, Eisenberg sends our heroine on a journey through a trippy outer space cityscape, a Star Wars Cantina-like bar scene, and a heart-pounding high-speed finale. It’s mesmerising, electrifying stuff. And the song taps into Chelou’s penchant for combining loopy guitars, intricate beats and trippy vocals into something effortlessly laidback and enjoyable. There’s a cinematic quality to the way the track unfolds, too, building in momentum in the same way that the video does. Hence, while the start is beautifully trippy, the heightened sense of energy it generates come the end makes for a thrilling sonic ride. Put together with the video, it’s a striking piece of work. Written during a time of uncertainty following the untimely departure of his drummer, Chelou says the song “sums up where I was at the time….” “I’m trying to get going but I already see that I’m done,” he adds. “Despite this, the song has an overall sentiment of hope at the end – despite my running and feeling of disillusion there was always hope.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ten Tonnes, Better Than Me

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: TEN TONNESBETTER THAN ME: Ten Tonnes continues to build anticipation of his self-titled debut album, out next April, by sharing the video for the belting new track Better Than Me. And while it’s just a playful look at the act performing the song, complete with focus on the drums and guitars that make the instrumentals so bouncy, it’s a good enough reason to endorse the song as another video/single of the week offering. The song itself just gets better and better, the more you hear it. Contrasting dark, tongue-in-cheek lyrics with uplifting energy and an immediately insistent hook, Better Than Me adds another dimension to Ten Tonnes’ growing catalogue of modern indie anthems. One of the last songs to be written (with former Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson) for the album, Ten Tonnes recorded the track with producer Dan Grech (Wolf Alice, The Killers, Liam Gallagher). The result is pure music magic… an indie rock gem to rival early Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs or Jake Bugg. The chorus, in particular, is deliciously vibrant, boasting geniuine sing-along appeal (“you’re doing better, better, better than me”), while the guitar hooks are short, sharp, simple and disarmingly effective. It’s a celebratory track – and one that will definitely heighten awareness of and raise expectation towards the forthcoming LP. Commenting on the song himself, Ten Tonnes – aka Ethan Barnett – said: “This was written in one of the last sessions for the record and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It was really fun to write and it came together really quickly. When we got to recording it I played all the instruments (excluding drums) as this is how I always used to make my records. It was lovely getting back to that way of recording and piecing the track together. I’m chuffed with the outcome, I can’t wait to get out and play it live everywhere.”.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liimo

LIIMOPINEAPPLE RADIO: Indie pop trio Liimo release their catchy new single Pineapple Radio and succeed in getting themselves noticed. The group bonded over their mutual love of thoroughly modern pop stars, such as US R’n‘B act Khalid, pop sensations Nay and Drake’s sultry protege Majid Jordan. But while there are elements of those here, there’s also a soft pop focus to the electronic sound that could also hark back to ’80s pop culture. And that’s no bad thing. The chorus, too, is tailor-made for singing along with hook-laden lyrics such as “all these upper class things and their porn star names, yeah they’re putting me to shame” [never mind the astute social observation!]. Commenting on the track and their inspirations, Liimo said: “There needs to be a whole vibe and belief in what you’re doing but that spans more than music, it’s about the aesthetic, how you act, what you say, everything.” On the track itself, they add: “It’s one of the most honest tracks that we’ve written and we can’t wait to get it out there. The song is about withdrawing from the highs for a little dose of what really matters.” It’s a striking release from the Edinburgh outfit.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Palace, No Other

PALACE – NO OTHER: London based three-piece Palace have released their new single No Other, a love letter lead singer Leo Wyndham wrote about finding love during a dark time in his life, and the hope he found from it. He explained: “No Other is about being rescued by someone at a terrible time I once went through. When all felt lost and hope had faded – love prevailed and I found someone incomparable to anyone – during a dark time in my life. It’s hopeful, blissed out and feels like new life.” The blissed out sound is evident in the guitar riffs, which have an echoed, almost psychedelic feel to them, akin to mainstream Pink Floyd with a touch of the art-rock of Interpol thrown in. The vocals, too, have a hazy quality to them, occasionally expanding into falsetto territory, especially late on as the guitars become more pronounced. It’s a beautiful effort. What’s more, it makes it easy to see why Palace are growing in stature as a UK band, with a UK tour next February already almost sold out (including a sold out night at Village Underground in London). Leo Wyndham, Matt Hodges and Rupert Turner have been friends since they were thirteen and released their acclaimed debut EP Lost In The Night in 2014, followed by the Chase The Light EP the following year and their debut album, So Long Forever, in 2016. The strength of those releases saw their fanbase steadily grow, leading to extensive touring, ever-larger festival slots and culminating in a sold-out UK headline tour, including London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The band have since been busy writing and recording new music at their own studio in Tottenham, North London.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Blossoms

BLOSSOMSWONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME: Blossoms have released a cover of Paul McCartney’s classic, 1979 hit Wonderful Christmastime. The cover is available to listen to on streaming platforms now. The band have made an accompanying Christmas comic strip and will reveal a new piece of it each day on their Instagram page. The song itself is as straightforward a cover as you can get, complete with the original organ sound (although the guitar solo is admirably different and perhaps the best bit!). Even vocally, Blossoms have managed to channel the youthful joy and energy of McCartney in his prime. Admittedly, it’s one of the more tolerable Christmas anthems that get played over and over this time of year, while the retro values are a nice touch. It would be a fun game to put each track alongside each other and hear if you can tell the difference. Blossoms are currently on a sold-out December 2018 UK tour, which will see them play their biggest London show to date at Brixton Academy next Thursday, December 13. The band recently announced that they will headline Stockport County’s Edgeley Park Stadium on June 22, 2019. Tickets for the hometown show sold out in half an hour.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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