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

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

The Smashing Pumpkins

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE SMASHING PUMPKINSSILVERY SOMETIMES (GHOSTS): Hot off the back of news confirming the release of new album Shiny And Oh So Bright, Vol 1/ No Past. No Future. No Sun (their first in over 18 years to feature founding members Billy Corgan, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin), The Smashing Pumpkins drop the rip-roaring new single Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts). Built around an insistent, and very Pumpkins’ inspired alt-rock hook, this has an easygoing vibe attached that makes it difficult to resist. Corgan’s distinct vocals also take you back to classic Pumpkins, while the guitars also ramp themselves up for the chorus and solo, delivering some blistering solos to infuse the track with a keen sense of urgency and energy. Indeed, you could be listening to classic era Pumpkins here. They’re back and rejuvenated, which can only be a good thing as the album’s release rapidly approaches. The band also just finished shooting a music video for Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts) with Corgan as the director.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ben Howard

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: BEN HOWARD feat SYLVAN ESSOHOT HEAVY SUMMER: Ben Howard returns with three all-new songs, written and recorded during the sessions for his recently acclaimed third album, Noonday Dream. One of the best of the trio is Hot Heavy Summer, a collaboration with American electro pop duo Sylvan Esso. Commenting on his fortune at being able to record with her, a clearly delighted Howard said: “Amelia (Sylvan Esso) is just incredible… fortune prevailed and we managed to get in the studio. I had it in the back of my mind as soon as we initially recorded Hot Heavy Summer that the track just felt right for her.” And so it proves. There’s a great echoed guitar riff, some minimalist beats, and a smooth boy-girl vocal between the two that works achingly well. A belated guitar solo is also terrific, plugging the sound in and coming over highly atmospheric and cinematic. The beats, meanwhile, have a minimalist style but are also highly effective in lending the track a distinct identity. It’s arguably one of Howard’s finest offerings – which is no mean feat given the overall quality of his back catalogue. Indeed, it’s little wonder that the song has also featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on Radio 1.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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John Butler Trio

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: JOHN BUTLER TRIOJUST CALL: The John Butler Trio have released Just Call as the third music video from their upcoming record HOME (released on September 28, 2018). The video is the final in a trio of visual works (including Home and Wade In The Water) made in partnership with director Nick Mckk, and long-time collaborator Kester Sappho. The video is a single shot tour-de-force, combining careful planning and timing to film a stunt that took six takes to get perfect. The ‘jump’ was filmed at the flood waters of the Murray River in Pinjarra, Western Australia where John lived from age 11 – 20. The song and video hold a lot of significance to John, who describes the lyrics as an ‘unabashed love song’ to his wife, Danielle Caruana. In regards to Pinjarra, John remarked: “I grew up on this river and it became one of my best friends. I surfed it, swam it, jumped outta trees into it, explored abandoned farm houses along its banks and generally lived out a ‘Huckleberry Finn’ existence on this river. What a blessed wonderland to grow up in. I’m a lucky man to have had this country teach me and hold me through the ups and downs of my formative years. This location is ‘Graveyards’, it’s legendary to the kids and locals of Pinjarra.” The video is stunning, much like the locations it was shot in. But the song is great too. A rousing, inspiring, beautifully constructed love song, this grows more and more anthemic the longer it lasts, while wrapping you in the warmth of its positivity. The mandolin-style guitar licks provide a wonderful backdrop, while the chorus is made for singing aloud. Coming off the back of the similarly brilliant Wade In The Water, it would appear John Butler is on a roll.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Starling, You

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: STARLINGYOU: Having recently released her new single You, which featured on Spotify’s NMF and The Guardian’s ‘Tracks of The Week’, who described it as “swooning”, Starling has now unveiled the beautiful visual to accompany the single. Speaking about that video Starling said: “I’m so proud of this video as I feel it is the visual representation of the meaning of the song. I decided to work with my stylist, Rachel Holland, and photographer, David Yeo, as video directors as I love their understanding of fashion and art; they were incredible at realising our vision. The contrast of smoke and the billowing colours against the angular cube is the contrast I wanted to show visually – to mirror the song emotionally. Love is a ride.” The art-pop infused single is a genuinely upbeat offering, featuring a sweet set of honey-dued vocals (the “all I want is you” delivery is guaranteed to send shivers down the spine, in a good way), while the shimmering synth pop loops ensure the song effortlessly slides into your subconscious. But there’s edge, too, courtesy of lyrics that are playfully devilish. The beats also maintain the overall upbeat nature of this track, which should have no problem appealing to mainstream sensibilities (think Sia mixed with Imogen Heap).
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ben Howard

BEN HOWARDANOTHER FRIDAY NIGHT: Ben Howard returns with three all-new songs, written and recorded during the sessions for his recently acclaimed third album, Noonday Dream. The first, Another Friday Night, is interesting by virtue of the fact it emerges as something of a paradox. And by that we mean it opens with an insistent beat that suggests a change of direction from the folk-rock style that is now his trademark. But in no time at all, the guitars roll in and have a gentle, acoustic folk quality to them, while Howard drops a restrained, almost fragile vocal over lyrics that reflect on a sense of melancholy about reaching the end again. Indeed, there’s a sadness to lines that reflect “I wish I had all my friends again”… as if the passage of time has robbed the singer of good times. If that suggests a depressing listen, it’s not. Rather, it’s relatable. And the decision to include a female set of vocals over the chorus adds a laidback, serene beauty to it, too… as does the majestic acoustic guitar solo. Typically, this is a classy offering, built around the slow build style that is also now something of a Howard trademark.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Ben Howard

BEN HOWARDSISTER: Ben Howard returns with three all-new songs, written and recorded during the sessions for his recently acclaimed third album, Noonday Dream. The third and shortest, Sister, is a rare oddity. Clocking in at a mere 1min and 57seconds, it’s a stripped back, haunted song that eschews many of the elements that we’ve come to know and expect from Howard. If anything, it’s experimental. There’s a dull background hum and an echoed vocal… and that’s it. The lyrics, too, are sometimes hard to discern, while there’s a nagging background sound of someone talking [maybe]. It’s oddly compelling in the way that it draws you in, especially when you first hear it. But of the three songs that have been newly released, it’s the least satisfying and least likely to draw repeat listens. Still, three tracks in one day from one of the UK’s premiere artists is no mean feat and if this one isn’t for everyone [even fans], then we’re still being spoilt, aren’t we?
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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The 1975, Sincerity Is Scary

THE 1975 – SINCERITY IS SCARY: The fourth track to be taken from The 1975’s new album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is perhaps the most experimental to date… as well as their most sincere. Featuring lyrics that question “why can’t we be friends, when we are lovers?”, this takes a deep probe into the nature of relationships that almost sounds as if it’s coming from a place of hurt [if not confusion]. Singer Matt Healy is at his most vulnerable here, and it’s kind of endearing… if lacking in the urgency of Give Yourself A Try or potency of Love It If We Made It. Rather, the instrumentals here are more jazzy than indie or alternative. For starters, the guitars are absent, replaced instead by brass, piano and dragging beats. And like all classic jazz, there’s a shuffled sense of doing its own thing… hence the quasi experimental vibe. Heck, there’s even a gospel tinge to some of the latter choruses. Fans are used to The 1975 mixing things up by now but it’ll be interesting to see how they take to this record… it may be their most divisive yet. We like it… just. But it’s also our least favourite of their new material.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sunset Sons

SUNSET SONSTHE RIVER: Sunset Sons have shared the video for The River, the title track of their new EP, produced by MPG UK Producer of the Year Catherine Marks (The Big Moon, Foals) and issued via LAB Records (Now, Now and Hockey Dad). The new video was filmed at the band’s recent packed out London headline show, which sold out in under 24 hours. Speaking about the track, keyboardist and lead vocalist Rory Williams said: “The River came after a conversation I had with my sister on the phone – she had been in a bad relationship that was abusive mentally and physically. I felt she had lost her confidence and character. The song tells her story and hopefully offers some words of wisdom for finding herself again and being strong.” As such, it’s a powerful anthem, built around swirling piano arrangements, slick guitar hooks and moody drum beats. The lyrics are sung with real meaning and have a sense of empowerment when it comes to lines like “I’m glad you closed the door”. A finale in which the guitars temporarily take on a harder sound underlines the cinematic nature of the song as a whole, before things get stripped down to piano and vocals once again. It’s hard not to be moved. The track’s accompanying video is drawn from live footage shot in London around a euphoric sold-out headline show, itself postponed to allow band and fans alike to watch England beat Colombia on penalties during summer’s World Cup, just before Sunset Sons took the stage. Alongside Demob Happy, Sunset Sons will support Nothing But Thieves across their November headline tour, including London’s Alexandra Palace on November 23, 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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St Lucia

ST LUCIANEXT TO YOU: Brooklyn-based indie-pop band St Lucia have unveiled another new track from their upcoming third album, Hyperion, out on September 21 via RCA/Sony. Next To You showcases a more genteel side ttheir sound – away from the pulsing indie-pop they’re renowned for. It features swathes of acoustic and electric guitar, intertwined with flashes of brass and a dense soundscape of synths. It’s also very mellow and laidback. But then what more could you expect from a song that boasts such lovely lyrics as “it’s alright when I fall asleep next to you and turn off the lights and look up at the stars” over a chorus that’s tailor-made for kicking back with a loved one and doing just that! The mix of guitars and brass also has a nicely intoxicating vibe over the instrumental, lending it a cinematic feel befitting a night of relaxation therapy, when the stresses and strains of the world can all but fade away in the company of this song. Next To You follows on from previous tracks Walking Away, A Brighter Love and Paradise Is Waiting. It suggests Hyperion could easily become one of your favourite albums of 2018.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Billy F Gibbons

BILLY F GIBBONSROLLINAND TUMBLIN’: ZZ Top leading man Billy F Gibbons has indulged his passion for all things blues with sophomore solo album, The Big Bad Blues (out September 21). The first taster of this is the rip-roaring cover of Muddy Waters’ Rollin’ And Tumbin’, which neatly pays homage to a blues-rock classic while imbuing it with an unmistakeable sense of the ZZ Top. A fast-paced rabble rouser of a blues track, this showcases a louder, more pronounced blues sound than some people may have been anticipating… one that drops toe-tapping drums and rollicking guitar solos. It’s also tailor-made to showcase Gibbons’ own guitar skills, with some blistering solos thrown into the mix. His distinctly gruff vocals lend it a keen sense of its own identity, of course, but the delivery of the instrumentals is pure Muddy Waters. It’s clear Gibbons is having a good time and that sense of appreciation is entirely infectious. On the evidence so far, The Big Bad Blues could be a whole lot of fun for blues fans and ZZ Top afficionados.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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LANY

LANYTHICK AND THIN: LANY have released Thick and Thin as the third track to be taken from their upcoming sophomore album, Malibu Nights on Polydor Records. And it’s best described as a slice of retro-tinged cheese-pop with a keen sense of sentimentality. As the title suggests, this is about a friend or lover who should be there through thick and thin… but who isn’t. As such, it’s a track that’s tinged with regret (“is this the end?”). And yet it’s delivered in an upbeat pop style that recalls memories of acts like Go West or Hall & Oates. There’s fasletto vocals galore, lightweight beats, synth hooks and woo-hoo harmonies. Pop fans and those with a love of all things ’80s should check this one out. Thick and Thin follows the band’s two latest releases, I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore and Thru These Tears. The two songs have racked up over 34 million streams combined since release. The band has also passed a milestone 1 billion streams worldwide across all DSPs.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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