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

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

Cigarettes After Sex

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CIGARETTES AFTER SEXFALLING IN LOVE: They’re done it again! Just weeks after making us swoon with Heavenly, Cigarettes After Sex drop another beautifully seductive offering in Falling in Love. Once more employing a sound so sedate you can’t help but melt into its charms, this is an aching declaration of love that is shot through with stark imagery (lakes, feelings, romance, etc). It’s a quiet offering, soothingly delivered with an almost whispered vocal. Meanwhile, a guitar lick offers a subtle but equally lovely backdrop, occasionally taking centre stage to truly mesmerising effect. And while certainly low-key, there’s still a sense of the cinematic about the record, making this more than capable of illuminating an accompanying visual. The track is taken from Cigarettes After Sex’s forthcoming LP Cry, which on the evidence so far promises to be stunning.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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SYML

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SYMLSYMMETRY: Following on from the the release of his self-titled debut album that was released in May this year, and coming just a week after dropping the incredibly emotive video for Everything All At Once, SYML now release the enchanting Symmetry. Commenting on the brooding single, the Seattle-based artist said: “I have been obsessed with black holes for a while now, mostly with how insignificant they make me feel. There is something extremely beautiful and daunting about infinity, especially when it comes to our inability to understand it. This song feels like the dust that gathered in an abandoned space station that’s been circling earth for years.” It’s a profound statement that yields a similarly profound song… but one that shimmers with ethereal beauty and a haunting, lingering quality. Part of this is due to the finger-picked guitar licks that provide a compelling backdrop, but it’s also evident in the slow-building ambition of the song. Midway through, the guitars are accompanied by strings and then, finally, emphatic drums and sax. The conclusion is head-spinning in its majesty. It’s another hugely impressive offering, epic in a way that recalls the grandeur of classic Elbow and Radiohead, yet intimate in a kind of Jose Gonazalez way too. SYML heads back to Europe this autumn on a headline tour, including UK dates in Brighton, Manchester, Cardiff and a London show at Scala on October 29.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Green Day, Ready Aim Fire

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: GREEN DAYFIRE READY AIM: “How many trolls does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The answer is ‘Fire Ready Aim’! A new tune for the loons! This song is about our daily outrage. Attack without thought.. hyperbole. Anyway stick a hammer in your mouth. Shut up and dance!” So state Green Day in the cover notes of their volatile latest offering, Fire Ready Aim. Chock full of angry sentiment (“knock your teeth out” etc), this is a kick-ass slice of punk-inflicted rock that is unapologetically brash and confrontational, yet at the same time as contagious as sin. The guitar hooks are blisteringly good, the hand-clap beats made for nodding along to, and the gutsy vocals designed to get the track – and the message – noticed. It’s old school yet fiercely modern, announcing Green Day’s comeback in unfussy, urgent fashion. You simply can’t get enough of it once you’ve heard it. The song first dropped during last Wednesday’s game between New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers and came accompanied by a video featuring the band on the ice. It will also feature on Green Day’s forthcoming LP, Father of All….
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Seafret, Fall

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: SEAFRETFALL: Bridlington’s finest, Seafret, release their new single, Fall, through The Orchard along with a powerful, WWI based accompanying video. The east Yorkshire band, made up of Jack Sedman and Harry Draper, make a rousing return with this powerful track, produced by Ross Hamilton at Rocket Science Recording Studios, Glasgow. It’s a song about overcoming huge challenges, in a situation where everyone is waiting for you to fall. But it advocates finding the strength to keep going and prove the doubters wrong. Instrumentally, there’s robust percussion (some of which is quite jagged, especially mid-track) and some blistering guitar hooks, as well as a chorus that sweeps you along with its power. Its highly anthemic. The video is equally striking, taking place on a WWI battlefield. It was made by director Stuart Alexander, who also directed the videos for their previous singles Monsters and Loving You. Seafret explain: “After working with director Stuart Alexander on the previous to videos it only felt right to team up with him again for our latest video for Fall. Creating videos for the music really seems to give life to a track and Stuart always delivers above and beyond what we have in mind. The video itself is based in WW1 where a soldier is on the battlefield, fighting for his life trying to get home. The track was written about not giving up when things aren’t going to plan and we feel this powerful footage is a true example of that. Everyone involved in the making of this video worked their socks off to make this happen and we hope people really enjoy and connect with it in their own way.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Melanie Martinez, Wheels on the Bus

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: MELANIE MARTINEZWHEELS ON THE BUS: The opening chimes of Melanie Martinez’s latest single Wheels on the Bus may recall the classic children’s song ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round’, but there’s much deeper meaning at its core. The track is taken from the album K-12, which tells the stories and experiences of a student named Cry Baby at a cotton-candy-colored, dystopian sleep-away school. It’s also the opening track of that album, appropriately positioned since many students’ school days begin with a bus ride. Hence, the song is designed to represent the start of Cry Baby’s tulle-filled nightmares. And as the song unfolds and moves away from the rhyme we all know, there’s a hip-hop meets pop and R’n‘B flavour to proceedings, as Martinez begins the nightmare with observations about inappropriate sexual behaviour (and advances), the ignorance of peers who do little to help [and perhaps enjoy it themselves] and drug abuse. It’s also about the mental toll such events take, especially on Cry Baby, who lights up to shield herself and attempts to find solace by looking at trees. Hence, for all of the innocence inherent in the vocals, and the free-spirited melodies, there’s a darker something happening here, which is all the more striking for the subversive and surprising nature of the song’s delivery. It’s hugely impressive, highly relevant songwriting, with a video that perfectly gets its message across.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals, Into The Surf

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: FOALSINTO THE SURF: As the October 18 release of the eagerly anticipated Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 approaches, Foals boost its profile by sharing a new animated video for Into The Surf, the excellent third single. The track explores a story of two people who are irresistibly drawn together. They each travel across a backdrop of beautiful Greek scenery – mountainous coastlines and clear blue water – as they seek to reconnect. Yet fate has other ideas, and their goal falls agonisingly short at the last moment. The song was inspired by frontman Yannis Philippakis’ Greek family background. It reflects themes that are prevalent in Greek folk music: dying in a foreign land, far away from your family. It’s a theme that resonates with the visuals, which really brings the mournful poetry of his evocative lyrics to life: “There’s a serpent on the beach / If I’m out of reach / Place a garland in the sea for me.” The video was directed by Steve Warne, whose animation has featured in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Warne commented: “The world of the song is so distinctive it seemed right to try and reflect it fairly closely with a mix of shimmering, expansive visuals with a human intimacy. The visual motifs were linked closely to the lyrics. By mixing traditional stop-motion with live action and digital animation techniques the idea was to aim for something that felt just about tangible but almost out of reach, echoing the themes of the song in a heightened dreamlike way. A little bit of reality with a dose of mystery.” As for the song itself [a former IndieLondon track of the week], it impresses on many levels. Where past tracks Black Bull and The Runner were all about being explosive, this showcases a more melancholy and reflective side to the band, which is every bit as striking. Indeed, the track offers up a dreamy, ethereal soundscape which allows Yannis Philippakis’ haunting but elegant lyrics to soar.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mountain Boy

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 4: MOUNTAIN BOYMORNING HEAT: London based Kiwi, Mountain Boy (real name: Aaron Clarke) has dropped new single Morning Heat and impresses in beautifully ethereal, highly atmospheric fashion. A warming ballad written during the depths of winter in New Zealand – the song reminisces on moments of unadulterated togetherness, sharing body-heat when you need it most. Speaking on the moment which inspired the beginnings of Morning Heat, Mountain Boy said: “When I started writing Morning Heat, it was the middle of winter. In that landscape of frost and hibernation, there were many mornings where my wife and I would wake to find ourselves clinging to each other for warmth, with an inclination to stay. As fleeting as those moments were, something about them felt sacred and that was very much the starting place for the song.” The accompanying video, directed by Rachel Ross, follows a young couple as they navigate the complex emotions involved with starting a family. It’s highly cinematic and extremely powerful (marrying realism with something beautifully poignant). Vocally, the song is another of the week’s releases that recalls the style of Jose Gonzalez (which is, in itself, a huge recommendation), albeit with greater emphasis on layered instrumentals. The slow-building nature of the song gives rise to some wonderfully woven in string arrangements, some subtle but effective beat arrangements and that ethereal element that adds to the cinematic nature of the song as a whole. It’s beautifully complex.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Cher Lloyd

CHER LLOYD – M.I.A: With a legion of die-hard fans, 20 million+ combined social media followers and almost a billion views on YouTube, Cher Lloyd returns with expectations set extra high. Fortunately, M.I.A ticks all the required boxes for fans. It’s got plenty of attitude, a little social commentary and a slick mix of pop-savvy, hip-hop influenced beats and toe-tapping electronics. The track was written by Gia Koka, Jeremia Jones, Morien van der Tang and Cher herself, and produced by JOZNEZ (one of Germany’s leading Hip Hop producers with 24 No 1 Records and 91 Top 10 Records under his belt) & NicoTheOwl, with additional production by HITIMPULSE (multi-platinum producer team that has worked with the likes of Kygo, Ellie Goulding, AJ Mitchell). It’s a savvy collection of producers who know what it takes to make a hit. And Lloyd is sure to have one of those here, while drawing favourable comparisons to everyone from [the appropriately named] MIA to Charli XCX. The video features Cher and her dancers wearing clothing and accessories designed by the singer herself. These pieces are now available to buy exclusively on Post Kulture. The full GLO capsule collection will be launching later this month here
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Simple Plan, Where I Belong

SIMPLE PLAN feat STATE CHAMPS & WE THE KINGSWHERE I BELONG: Sometimes you just need a song or a film or a TV programme to offer up exactly what you expect. Step forward the new song from Simple Plan, featuring State Champs and We The Kings, courtesy of anthemic new offering Where I Belong. A guiltily infectious pop-punk powerhouse anthem, this features crunching emo guitar hooks, shouty vocals and empowering choruses that sound like they belong in the 90s (think classic Simple Plan or Lit). The message behind the track is obvious… it’s about self-empowerment and feels timely as mental health continues to take the deserved spotlight. Hence, lyrics include: “I’m sorry that I can’t be perfect, but I’m not changing who I am… maybe there’s no destination, and maybe I’m gonna make mistakes, I’ll let you in on one of my secrets, I’m still just as lost as yesterday.” But by the time the song reaches its chorus, it defiantly proclaims: “Cos this is where I belong!” It’s a sentiment worth getting behind in these uncertain times, so strap on that air guitar and jam along.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Zak Pajak

ZAC PAJAKAGAIN: London-based Zac Pajak releases debut single Again, the first track from his debut EP Early Hours, which is set for release early 2020 via Goldun Egg Records. The infectious urban-infused track effectively blends laid-back R’n‘B melodies with a self-consciously pop-laden soundscape. It’s a song that’s designed to get Pajak noticed, that succeeds in doing so. The beats are lively enough to set those toes tapping, while the vocals have a positive Ed Sheeran-style quality. The overall package is extremely likeable and highly catchy, while the accompanying acoustic version is every bit as good, setting a lone guitar against his striking vocals. Speaking about the single, Zac said: Again is about meeting someone for the first time and getting that rare crazy connection. There’s a glimpse of what could be, that wave of excitement and anticipation when you think you might be on the brink of something special.” Pajak started out busking in the London suburbs and producing his own material from a home-made studio in his parents’ garden shed. His songs soon caught the ear of platinum-selling producer Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, James Bay, Shawn Mendes), which in turn led to breakthrough songwriting collaborations with the likes of Major Lazer, Mr Eazi , Raye, Danny Jones, NUUX and Dusky Grey. Now that he’s going solo, the omens appear to be good for finding a strong following.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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