“Photo” by Tim Gouw

I'd like to begin today's post by thanking the lovely Beca for covering for me last week while I was away on vacation. Intermittent-to-non-existent Wi-Fi meant that I was unable to listen to ANY songs – let alone write insightful and hilarious commentary on them – for three whole days (it was terrible), so I really do appreciate her stepping in at such short notice and saving my butt. Anyways, I'm home now and all caught up on the latest releases, so it's back to business this week with the following edition of We Are: The Guard's New Indie Music. Featuring Cigarettes After Sex, Jacob Banks, RITUAL, Mr Jukes, K.I.D and more, there's something here for everyone!



When it comes to unlikely covers, it doesn't get much better than Cigarettes After Sex's synth-driven take on “Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon. The El Paso band slow things down for their dream pop interpretation of the 80s power ballad – which was originally written by Kevin Cronin for the album Hi Infidelity – exposing in the process the song's deeply melancholic core. “It felt very desperate and sad,” Cigarettes After Sex's frontman Greg Gonzalez says of the cover. “There was a pain to it, which wasn't as apparent in the REO Speedwagon version.”



Introducing British chanteuse Minke, who makes an understated yet hard-hitting debut this 2017 in the form of “Gold Angel.” Minimal guitar curlicues are overlaid with restrained vocals on the soul ballad, which finds Minke turning her lyrical attention to the unattainable standards that women are so often expected to meet: “I'll be your gold angel/If you want me/I'll be your gold angel/Baby, you want me?!” FFO: The xx, London Grammar.



British blues crooner Jacob Banks compares a love that's addicting but damaging to that of chainsmoking on his impassioned latest number. “It's getting harder to breathe/Chainsmoking your love/Can't be good for my sanity/Can't be good for my lungs,” rumbles Jacob atop a foot-stomping backdrop, which is felt in the bloodstream. “'Chainsmoking' is about understanding that shit may be hard, but we push on any way,” Jacob tells The FADER. “I am really happy to share it, the sound mixes old and new vibes which is done across the EP in different colors.”



He recently broke my heart with a cover of Coldplay's “The Scientist,” but Bipolar Sunshine sticks the pieces back together again with his triumphant latest offering “Are You Happy.” The track is the definition of “life-affirming.” Mixing pop, electronic and even gospel influences (Bipolar Sunshine is accompanied by a Los Angeles choir), I can safely say that existential crises have never sounded as euphoric as they do on the celebratory “Are You Happy” – an undoubted contender for song of the summer!



There's nothing that thrills me more than coming across an artist who pushes boundaries like Francis Novotny. The Swedish producer – who currently resides in France – has completely won me over with his experimental latest single “Hit N Run.” Featuring his smooth-as-molasses vocals melting into a cascade of vibrant synths and throbbing beats, it's an intriguing R&B and electronic soul hybrid that SoundCloud commenter WEMERCY is quite right in describing as “the love child of Disclosure and Flume.”



Following on from the epic “Moving as One,” LOYAL return this Friday with “Tower Over All.” Opening with warped vocals set against a backdrop of finger snaps before surging up into a slow-burning lounge groove anchored by funky basslines, “Tower Over All” is yet another banger from this British band. LOYAL: “Some feelings aren't worth our patience, some moments aren't worth remembering, yet the few that are tower over the rest and make up for the time between. We accept the shade: having experienced the sun once, we know it's only a matter of time before we experience her light again. 'Tower Over All.'”



Having recently returned with “Drown the Lovers,” RITUAL continue to titillate our ears this 2017 with a cover of 6LACK's “Loyal.” To call the British R&B band's interpretation of the song unrecognizable would almost be an understatement. By replacing 6LACK with an alluring female singer, RITUAL manage to carry “Loyal” into a more cinematic, dramatic direction that dare I say that I prefer to the original?!



Having previously written hit singles for the likes of Little Mix, Zayn Malik and Emeli Sandé, Phil Plested, AKA Plested, assumes his own rightful place in the spotlight this 2017 with the intimate “Habits.” Described by the British troubadour as a “messed up love song,” “Habits” showcases Plested's soulful tendencies against minimal flourishes of electronic guitar, resulting in an authentic, introspective and gut-wrenching piece of music that's sure to resonate with you long after listening. #RightInTheFeels



One year after Bombay Bicycle Club announced their indefinite hiatus, frontman Jack Steadman, who records as Mr Jukes, returns with “Angels / Your Love.” The debut single to be unveiled from Jack's forthcoming solo album, God First, is a two-piece jazz suite that marks quite the departure from the guitar-driven set-up of his former band. Opening with a children's choir singing over a blast of funky horns and hip hop-style breakbeats before transitioning into the second part of the track featuring the ever-incredible BJ the Chicago Kid on guest vocal duties, “Angels / Your Love” makes for nothing short of groovy listening.



Canadian duo K.I.D transport us back to the days of being young and in love on “Boy,” as featured on their latest EP, Poster Child. An exhilarating synth pop and alternative rock hybrid, “Boy” is the musical embodiment of sneaking out of the house after midnight to go and kiss your high school crush (gasp!), with lead singer Kara Lane heard making like a hormonal teenager in the chorus: “Oh, boy, I like your tongue in my mouth/Oh, boy, I like my back on your couch/Oh, boy, c'mon and put my anxious heart to rest.”


See you next week! x

Photo” by Tim Gouw is licensed under CC0 1.0 (cropped and resized).

About Jess Grant

When Jess Grant isn't writing on music, she can be found playing it – on her guitar, on her ukulele, and on her recently acquired mandolin. Playing it hideously, she ought to add. Jess also studies. She studies the English language, to be precise. Jess is currently on her way to a degree in the subject, and enjoys starting and never finishing novels, screenplays, and poetry in her spare time. She also likes dogs. Lots of dogs.