FAVORITE INDIE SONGS - WEEK 30

7/24/17
“Photo” by Timothy Paul Smith

This weekend, it felt as though the whole world was united with me in blasting out Hybrid Theory at maximum volume. To call that album a pillar of my youth almost seems like an understatement. There are tons of memories burned into those big, cathartic hooks, and Chester Bennington's voice – that fiery, intense and anguished wail that cuts straight through to the core – will never not take me back to those days when I was a shy, reticent teenager, enamored of this spiky haired singer and his near telepathic ability to understand me. That isn't something that I can say about many other artists, therefore July 20 is a date that'll forever hang heavy in my heart. Rest in peace, Chester. Here are We Are: The Guard's Best Indie Songs of Week 30 from Nine Inch Nails, Gordi, Billie Eilish, Terror Pigeon, Angel Haze and lots more.

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NINE INCH NAILS – THIS ISN'T THE PLACE

Following on from the release of “Less Than,” industrial titans Nine Inch Nails have shared the second instalment from their recent EP Add Violence. “This Isn't the Place” opens with an eerie, disquieting swirl of synths and pianos, with frontman Trent Reznor's voice not entering the frame until two-and-a-half minutes into the song. Once that inimitable purr does emerge from the shadows, however, it succeeds in commanding all attention in spite of the mounting urgency of the instrumental surrounding it, with Reznor presiding over the entire scene like some sinister circus ringmaster.

 

GORDI – HEAVEN I KNOW

Ahead of the release of her debut album Reservoir, Sydney singer-songwriter Gordi has shared the video for the electro-organic symphony “Heaven I Know.” Directed by James Soldan, the clip is cinematic mood piece that begins by interspersing shots of Gordi standing in a sparsely furnished room with footage filmed by the “father of the motion picture” Eadweard Muybridge. The camera then starts to pan around the house, before returning to Gordi in time for the song's crescendo, which the 24-year-old proceeds to painstakingly recite down the lens, even as the elements dramatically conspire against her.

 

BILLIE EILISH – COPYCAT

Billie Eilish – the endlessly talented 15-year-old who previously featured here with “Watch” – continues to ooze with confidence and individuality on her personality-packed latest single. Produced by Billie's older brother and long-time collaborator, 19-year-old Finneas O'Connell, “Copycat” very much reads like the Los Angeles artist's mission statement. “I don't belong to anyone, but everybody knows my name,” she growls on the speaker-rattling slice of electronic pop – a call to arms against conventionality that features on Billie's forthcoming debut EP, Don't Smile at Me.

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BAYNK (FEAT. SHALLOU) – COME HOME

BAYNK – the Auckland producer who's already stockpiled 13 million plays and counting on Spotify with singles like “Someone,” “Poolside” and “What You Need” – adds to his ever-growing oeuvre with the Shallou collaboration “Come Home.” Featuring Shallou's sensuous, subtly melancholic dulcet tones gliding over intricate, dynamic and multilayered electronic textures, it's an exquisite, intoxicating daydream of a track that's only set to propel BAYNK further up the beatmaker ranks.

 

TR/ST – BICEP

If Nine Inch Nails failed to quench your thirst for forward-thinking industrial, then meet TR/ST. The brainchild of Robert Alfons, listen as the Toronto musician goes from Trent Reznor-esque sighs to resounding nasal cries over vast sheets of metallic synths and crashing drums on “Bicep,” the first single to be unveiled from his forthcoming third album. “This song and much of the album was written in isolation in a farmhouse in rural Canada. It's about the journey of a figure – essentially a narcissist – fighting with ideas of impurity and worthlessness. It's about the struggle between accepting and resisting shame, as well as an expression of sexual fantasies.” – TR/ST.

 

MILLIE TURNER – UNDERWATER

Hailing from London, 17-year-old Millie Turner belies her years with her genre-defying debut single. At its core, “Underwater” might be best described as a folk ballad, acting as a showcase for Turner's beguiling, Maggie Rogers-esque singer-songwriter abilities. It's thanks to David Turley, however, that the production enters a different orbit, with quivering basslines and synth flourishes turning “Underwater” into an effervescent electronic banger.

 

TERROR PIGEON – ARMS

Terror Pigeon, the self-described “world's sweatiest band” who recently shared a hysterical adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, return with “Arms.” Featured on their recent third album We Will Never Run out of Love, the song finds the Nashville outfit at their life-affirming finest. Sounding like Modest Mouse sans the existential crisis, Terror Pigeon frontman Neil Fridd reveals that he wrote “Arms” after the sudden death of a close friend: “This song is a promise to my friend, that I'm always gonna try, usually for myself, but in the bad times, when that runs out, for her.”

 

MALI MICHAEL – HIDDEN PLACE

Mali Michael, the London producer who debuted on the blogosphere way back in 2013 with “Ghost,” returns after a four-year radio silence with “Hidden Place.” Continuing where “Ghost” left off, it's a beat-centric piece of R&B that begins by slithering along at an almost unnerving pace atop warped synths and subtly insistent percussion. It's during the final minute, however, that the song really comes into its own, with four-on-the-floor drums and Michael's increasingly urgent vocals carrying “Hidden Place” into more dance tent territory.

 

ANGEL HAZE – (NO ONE KNOWS ME) LIKE THE PIANO (SAMPHA COVER)

Angel Haze takes time out from being one of the best rappers in the game to instead reveal a more vulnerable side on a cover of Sampha's “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.” “On some Sampha sad girl shit,” writes the Detroit native of the rendition, which proves how versatile Haze is as an artist. Featuring the 26-year-old delivering a soul-baring vocal performance over classic piano keys, the cover isn't exactly distinct from Sampha's original, but it doesn't need to be, with Haze making the song her own regardless with her individual sense of emotionality.

 

JNTHN STEIN (FEAT. BXRBER) – MASTER CONTROL

Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist JNTHN STEIN cranks up the funk on his BXRBER-featuring latest single. “Master Control” sets feet stomping from the off with a chugging guitar riff, which is punctuated on occasion by STEIN's melodic noodling. A simple drum beat then heralds in guest vocalist BXRBER, whose smooth croon makes for a perfect accompaniment to STEIN's positively groovy production. “Me and BXRBER made this one on a hot, sweaty day in my garage,” reveals STEIN. “Now this whip is supercharged and thirsty for sunny skies, curvy turns and open miles.”

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Until next week. x

Photo” by Timothy Paul Smith is licensed under CC0 1.0 (cropped and resized).

Jess Grant is a frustrated writer hailing from London, England. When she isn't tasked with disentangling her thoughts from her brain and putting them on paper, Jess can generally be found listening to The Beatles, or cooking vegetarian food.