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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 10, 2020

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

James Deacon, Mr Misery

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK: JAMES DEACON – MR MISERY: Following the recent release of his EP Renegade – which has already seen major support across three of South Africa’s main radio stations – South African alternative pop artist James Deacon reveals the official music video for his alt-rock banger Mr Misery – and it’s as visually potent as the single is lyrically so. The video sees James and his band mates teaming up with creative visionary and video director, Eric T Graham, who said: “I was absolutely blown away when I heard the new music James has been putting out. It took no more than a few seconds of Mr Misery’s first listen before I was adamant on making a music video with these guys.” Eric explains the theme and concept for the video, saying: “Being heavily restricted by lockdown, I knew I wanted to incorporate and use the restrictions as an advantage, rather than having the video postponed. I took an antagonistic approach towards the current circumstances and restrictions put in place by the over-arching pandemic and the South African government’s response towards it. The music video introduces us to the band wearing face masks, staying the appropriate distance from one another and applying hand sanitiser. Monitoring an empty street at night, the band addresses the situation head-on with withered statements on cardboard (all of which being segments from local headlines). The main theme would be questioning and confronting reality, authority and the layered response from our government. After editing a preliminary video, we shot some silhouettes to mask over the main narrative and performance, to amplify the forms of deflection, masking and deception that this pandemic (and how the government is responding towards it) yields. While being one of my proudest works, this was easily one of the most effortless music videos I’ve ever produced. James, Dan and Pierre were amazing to work with and never doubted or questioned my vision for this video.” It’s a call to arms to respect the dangers of the virus but to question the decisions and the policies of the government officials entrusted with ‘guiding’ us through it. And it has global resonance. The song, too, is a sly commentary on false prophets and misplaced trust, albeit delivered with some crunching guitar riffs, a hard-hitting back-beat and a chorus that genuinely exhilarates and is made for chanting along with. Deacon is a powerful artist, with plenty to say.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Matt Costa

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: MATT COSTALAST LOVE SONG: We always have time for a new Matt Costa offering, as evidenced by our rapturous response to most recent single, the beautiful Avenal (in May). He now follows that up with the disarmingly simple but just as beautiful Last Love Song. Set against a melancholy acoustic strum, some soothing background harmonies and Costa’s own, somewhat downbeat vocals, this nevertheless has a reassuring quality to it. And it’s then, by listening to the reflective lyrics, you realise the depth of emotion at play. The track kicks off with the line: “If I’d never heard your voice, never known its pleasant sound, my time on earth would be, dissonant discord.” It’s a track about an all-consuming, all-empowering and life-affirming love that is one for the ages. Indeed, it builds to the revelation: “You’re the reason why love makes people sing.” It’a achingly affecting, and beautifully relayed in spite of the heartache that also underpins it. Last Love Song was written originally as an anniversary gift, but it soon turned into a painful break-up song. It’s the latest offering from his potential-realising record Yellow Coat (out September 11, 2020). In the mould of the rest of the record, Last Love Song is stamped with the honesty and intimacy of something not meant to be heard. And yet you feel all the richer for having done so.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Eli Gosling

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: ELI GOSLINGCRIMINAL LOVE: Eli Gosling shares the official music video for his hypnotic latest single Criminal Love. Directed by Loona Kasemets (The Graft) and shot in a suburban skate park, the video provides a cinematic and somehow romantic insight into the themes driving the song. Criminal Love was co-written with singer-songwriter and producer Odunsi (The Engine) and is the second single from Gosling, taken from his debut EP Blue Romance, which is penned for release in September 2020. With a dreamy guitar hook, some suitably romantic vocals, this is R&B-pop with a retro sensibility that evokes a keen sense of youthful nostalgia among listeners. It’s a daydream of a record that eases you into a relaxed state of mind and, quite possibly, puts a smile on your face. Loona explained the concept behind the video: “My aim was to encapsulate the feeling of young love, whilst remaining true to the artists daily experiences by capturing honest moments of him and his friends spending time together on a sunny summer day.” Eli added: “I loved working with Loona she completely got my vision for the music video. I’m always on my skateboard at that park, so she wanted to film me there just hanging out. I wanted the video to be as chilled as possible, so she gave me and my friends a DV camera to play around with, and she cut in that footage which made the final video feel really natural. The story is about trying to steel and win the heart of a girl, but sometimes it’s not meant to be.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Katy Perry, Smile

KATY PERRYSMILE: Katy Perry drops the title track from her new album, Smile and succeeds in bringing something of a smile to the face in the process. The track offers up an upbeat, dance-driven groove to match the positive vibes of the lyrics, in which the singer extols the virtue of perseverance after suffering a series of personal setbacks and ‘going through motions felt so fake’. It finds Perry overcoming the obstacles and challenges placed in her path so that she can triumphantly declare over the brash chorus: “Now you see me shining from a mile, finally got back that smile.” And it is a feeling that translates infectiously to listeners, bringing a much needed spot of relief from the continued day to day worries of living under the shadows being imposed by coronavirus. Commenting on the track via her Instagram account, Perry said: “I wrote the title track from the album when I was coming through one of the darkest periods of my life and had lost my smile. This whole album is my journey towards the light – with stories of resilience, hope and love.” Smile, the album, will be released on August 14.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Aaron Smith, Your Turn Now

AARON SMITHYOUR TURN NOW: Following on from the success of his debut EP Loveless and his recent comeback single Brother, which together have amassed more than 37 million streams online, hotly-tipped Scottish singer-songwriter Aaron Smith is back once again to announce the details behind his highly-anticipated sophomore EP, For My Father, out on July 31, 2020, through Platoon, and previewed by the raw and emotional new offering Your Turn Now. A piano-based ballad that exposes the raw emotion at the centre of the song, this is a soul-searching slice of songwriting that finds Smith’s heart laid bare, as he reflects on his upbringing and some of the demons he has carried since that time. The chorus is genuinely heart-breaking as Smith lays his hurt bare for all to hear. And yet, there’s something inspiring about the bravery involved in making these feelings known too. It’s a quietly empowering listen, born from feelings of deep sorrow. And it’s evidence of Smith’s burgeoning songwriting talent. For My Father, the EP, marks an intimate milestone in Smith’s career as he opens up fully about his childhood and the troubles he experienced throughout it. In an almost cathartic exercise, his new single Your Turn Now aims to confront the demons that haunted his adolescence and how, as an adult, he can reflect on those experiences and use his songwriting to truly express the impact that those times have had on him. He explains: “I always say with my music that I like anyone who’s listening to take their own meaning from the track and maybe use it to reflect on something that may have happened in their own life. For me, Your Turn Now is about a bad relationship I had with a family member. It’s from a time in my life where I did not feel safe or settled at home. The story the song tells stems from facing years of emotional abuse and manipulation which in turn took away my childhood.” You can’t help but be emotionally affected by it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Brijs

BRIJSVELVET DITCH: After delivering the bold second single Velvet Ditch from his forthcoming debut album Glitra earlier in June, guitar-pop artist and producer Brijs now returns to unveil the bold and cinematic video for his latest release. Channeling that same pop-leaning psych-rock aesthetic in visual terms, the video for Velvet Ditch sees him collaborate with brothers Andy and David Renton. Andy, an ex-Atlantic records designer and visual artist who has worked on projects for the likes of Ed Sheeran, Marina and Matt Maltese, and David, who is an animator and previously worked with Brijs on the video for his cover of Jai Paul’s Jasmine, have come together to create this truly technicolour spectacle of vivid imagery and chaotic symbolism that firmly represents the feeling of this new offering. Explains Brijs: “Velvet Ditch is about being trapped in comfort and so I boiled this idea down to a simplistic brief of creating claustrophobia with fabrics. I found various bits and pieces around town but ended up almost exclusively using a red spandex table cloth I’d bought from eBay. We stretched it over our faces, our hands, we were inside it at one point… We lost it a little bit, but I think that was necessary.” The result is definitely eye-catching, when relying on the visuals as opposed to the lyrics. But it fits in with the bold, ballsy sonic aesthetic, which finds Brijs pummelling the guitar to deliver some massive riffs. The indie vibe has something of a Hard-Fi meets Kasabian vibe, with Brijs also delivering some brash vocals (delcaring “get out before it eats you whole”). This is an indie rocker to delight the indie rocker purists.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Bee, Be

BÉE – BE: Dutch singer songwriter BÉE (pronounced Bae) shares her captivating new single Be, a piano-based ballad that offers something both intimate and yet cinematic. Produced by Jake Gosling, the track showcases BÉE’s pitch perfect vocal to striking effect, the stark piano work enabling those emotive vocals to really shine. Simple but profoundly emotive, Be is about embracing spiritual sensibility. Explains BÉE: “My mum gave me a tiny red box when I was just eight-years-old. In that box was a little piece of paper that said: ‘If you open this box, an angel will come out and they will listen to all of your stories and help you solve your problems.’ I used to talk to this ‘angel’ for hours and hours pretty much every day for years. I really felt like there was someone, or something there to answer me, even though I couldn’t see them. I desperately wanted to meet this angel in person and for them to be tangible. But, as I got older, I understood that it’s fine to just feel the strength and direction it gives me.” The lyrics reflect the profound elements in this story, offering something reassuring yet bittersweet. It’s beautifully relayed and genuinely thought-provoking, as well as being capable of relating to something you may possess in your own life that boasts a similar power.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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BÉE · Be – BÉE

Tayla Parx, Dance Alone

TAYLA PARXDANCE ALONE: Breakout artist Tayla Parx has unveiled the official video for her latest single, Dance Alone. The track itself is a pleasingly bittersweet offering that reflects on the loneliness of not being able to dance anyone at the moment… and yet finding solace in being able to dance alone. Hence, there’s a melancholy undertow in Parx’s soulful vocals, which is especially reflected in the chorus. But there’s also something dance-worthy in the accompanying disco beats and electronics, which nevertheless still maintain that sense of sorrow. It’s an enticing mix, which also vocally feels reminiscent of artists like Macy Gray at times. Parx is clearly an artist to watch. Of the video, Parx said: “We’re all stuck inside, while coping with being away from loved ones more than usual. We need human connection, but at least when you’re home dancing in your pajamas while blasting your favourite song, you feel a little less alone. You have the music to keep you company. Show me you’re dancing alone if you can relate.” There’s more music to come soon from Parx, who is set to release a new album, Coping Mechanisms, later this year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Joel Corry and MNEK

JOEL CORRY AND MNEKHEAD & HEART: Following the release of their upbeat new single Head & Heart last week, Joel Corry and MNEK have unveiled the official video, which emphasises its summer anthem credentials. With a cheesy, hook-laden chorus that declares “cos my heart goes bum bum da da” et al, this is tailor-made for getting jiggy with. It’s incessantly positive, with club-friendly beats and synths, as well as that infectious chorus. Whether that makes it anything more than disposable dance-pop remains to be seen. But somehow, amid the depression associated with coronavirus and lockdowns, this does deliver a reminder of how fun life can be. And it does bring a little sunshine positivity that’s reflected, now, in the accompanying visuals. Shot via split screen and directed by Elliot Simpson, the video features both Joel and MNEK and taps straight back into the heart-warming, feel-good message of the track itself, playing on the duality of head and heart.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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RAYE, Natalie Don't

RAYENATALIE DON’T: Fresh from the Top 10 success of her smash hit collaboration with DJ Regard Secrets, RAYE returns with the equally insistent Natalie Don’t and its accompanying video. The track is described as a desperate cry for help that sees RAYE begging another woman to please leave her man alone. The song is RAYE’s 21st century take on Dolly Parton’s classic hit Jolene, written by RAYE herself with John Hill and John Blanda. RAYE explains:“I knew immediately when I wrote this song that it had to be a single. The track is about that feeling of panic you have when you know you’re losing someone.The song is beautifully hopeless because you know Natalie will do what she wants regardless.” In spite of the feelings of insecurity and potential loss at play (“it’s been 24 hours, you could’ve bought me flowers, you know I aint happy”), the track itself adopts an upbeat tone, with disco beats and a sassy set of vocals that positively exude sexuality – like a temptress keeping her man suitably seduced, while also exuding the brash confidence required to keep the other woman at bay. It also has something of a Sia vibe, vocally. The video, directed by Fiona Jane Burgess, centres around RAYE’s guide to getting over a relationship for the broken hearted – as if she’s now resigned to the fact the battle has been lost. Nevertheless, it finds her putting on a brave face, as well as some colourful outfits, as if to exemplify what her man has now lost. It’s definitely eye-catching and compliments the spritely, catchy nature of the track as a whole.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jeremy Tuplin

JEREMY TUPLINBREAK YOUR HEART AGAIN: Hot on the heels of lead single Space Magic, Somerset’s Jeremy Tuplin is back with the latest cut from his TV-inspired record Violet Waves (due, August 21, 2020). Break Your Heart Again finds our suave presenter, typically suited and booted, casting a backward gaze on the encounters of the heart. Packed with Tuplin’s trademark wit, Break Your Heart Again is a gentle amble for the most part, before reverberating guitars signal Tuplin’s remission even if a sense of foreboding remains. “Gotta let someone in / Bet she’ll break my heart again,” he concludes. It’s this dark humour that permeates the track – a realisation that love can be painful (and frequently is) but is certainly worth getting damaged for. The guitar work, on this one, is particularly effective… beginning off gentle and laidback, before suddenly springing to life with some spiky, evne angular riffs, as if to underline the growing anxiety felt by the singer. It’s got a classic rock vibe at times, albeit with the alternative element that Tuplin seems to be bringing too. But the late Tom Petty might have been proud of this one. And we dig the video, too, especially his Royal Tenenbaums moment!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Audra Santa, Naked

AUDRA SANTANAKED: Canadian songstress Audra Santa has released her debut UK single entitled Naked, taken from her forthcoming EP, The Boudoir Project, a collection of sensual, downtempo electronica that was a personal mode of self-expression she thought she would never share with anyone. Explains Audra: “Naked was written in secret in my bedroom. A night alone with a bassline and bottle of wine, I expressed myself in a way I never had before. The song is about how tangible sound can be when coupled with desire.” Santa’s vocals have an intimate, stripped back quality befitting the subject matter (“make me lose control”), while the tantalising synths that accompany it have an edge to them that somehow feels naked. It’s a track that becomes more interesting the longer it lasts, especially once a male set of vocals join the fray and heighten the sexual tension. The final line begs the object of the song to “let me feel your pulse”, which takes on extra significance when accompanied by the video that finds Santa provocatively in the arms of the male counterpart. It’s a sensual, cinematic listen that’s designed to get Santa noticed. Indeed, Audra self-directed and edited the video for Naked, which features her dripping in honey, inspired by the sensual hyper-realistic oil paintings of David Shepherd. His ‘honey dust’ painting inspired her to use this sticky metaphor for desire, pouring it over her head until she was completely covered. The painting is also featured in the single’s cover art. Her last self-directed video for her recent release in Canada, Afterglow, was banned from Facebook promotion due to its provocative nature and “sexual content and nudity”. That video also evokes strong sensuality, but she believes neither video warrants censorship. “There has been an attempt to control female sexuality and expression since time immemorial,” Audra says. “The Boudoir Project helped me regain control of my narrative, find my voice and claim my freedom. Releasing Naked is not just a matter of personal catharsis – I am hoping it may encourage others to connect with themselves.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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