TOP INDIE SONGS – WEEK 28

7/10/17
“Photo” by Brooke Cagle

While most people see Fourth of July as their chance to treat themselves to some much-deserved rest and recuperation, We Are: The Guard was busy working harder than ever over the holidays to bring good music to the masses. Tempting as it was to pause to watch the sky catch alight while chowing down on a spread of overdone frankfurters, we instead persevered in our valiant fight, publishing song premieres, our coveted New Artist Forecaster playlist, not to mention our Indie Pop and Alternative Chill columns. Then, of course, was the matter of delving into the abyss of YouTube and SoundCloud in order to present yet another edition of Top Indie Songs. To say that our job is never done would be an understatement, but we'll let you in on a secret. We love every second of it. Featuring The xx, Foster the People, Tom Misch and lots more, there's something here for everyone.

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THE XX – I DARE YOU

Purveyors of pillowy pop music The xx enlist a whole procession of famous faces for their latest video. The Alasdair McLellan-directed clip for “I Dare You” sees Millie Bobby Brown – the breakout star of Stranger Things – playing a girl who misses school in order to tag along to a concert with her older sister and her boyfriend. Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders and Paris Jackson also feature in the video – which was produced in collaboration with Calvin Klein creative director Raf Simons – with The xx describing the nostalgic, John Hughes-style clip as “our love letter to Los Angeles, a city close to our hearts, where we wrote and recorded parts of our album I See You.”

 

FOSTER THE PEOPLE – LOYAL LIKE SID & NANCY

Ahead of the release of their third album Sacred Hearts Club at the end of this month, one-time indie darlings Foster the People have shared “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy.” Named after punk rock's most notorious couple – Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his manager-turned-girlfriend Nancy Spungen, whose destructive relationship ended in both of their deaths – the five-minute song is the definition of divisive. Featuring frontman Mark Foster referencing the titular duo alongside Sylvia Plath, The Great Gatsby,  Daniel Johnston and others atop ribcage-rattling basslines and aggressive drums, “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” is a certified club banger that's sure to send shock waves through Foster the People's fan base with its electronic-heavy sound. And really, what could be more punk rock than that?

 

TOM MISCH – SOUTH OF THE RIVER

It's no secret that we're big fans of the effortlessly cool Tom Misch here at We Are: The Guard, and we're pleased to announce that the London musician delivers the goods once again with his funky latest offering. “South of the River” is yet another dexterously orchestrated number from the classically trained singer-songwriter and producer. A symphonic groove that features the 21-year-old crooning atop disco violins and smooth handclaps, before giving way to a jazz fusion synth solo (no, really), dare we say that this is the finest addition to Tom's oeuvre to date?

 

BILLIE EILISH – WATCH

Billie Eilish, the 15-year-old pop prodigy who first appeared on the scene last year with the sleepy “Ocean Eyes,” returns to our ears this month with “Watch.” Produced by her brother, the equally precocious 19-year-old Finneas Eilish, the song is a dazzling electronic ballad, with Billie heard fantasizing about dousing a former flame's wheels in gasoline atop a beat seemingly built around a sample of a sizzling match. Billie: “The song is about letting go of someone toxic and moving on. Setting your ex's car on fire is a pretty horrible thing to do...but I can think of worse things.”

 

BIEN – SPINNING ON BLUE

Bien continue to blend organic and synthetic textures on the first single to be shared since the release of their self-titled debut EP in 2016. With majestic synths and grandiose strings coming together to form a canvas over which Bien are able to paint their charming vocal harmonies, “Spinning on Blue” is yet another sweeping piece of dream pop splendour from this Nashville trio. Bien: “There's so much going on in the world right now, and we really wanted to write something that encouraged people to remember we're all sharing this planet. It's our kind of 'seize the day' song that reminds us to take in the beauty and wonder of the world and the people around us.”

 

BUTTER – FOR KATE I WAIT (ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI COVER)

“For Kate I Wait,” the lo-fi love letter to British icon Kate Bush that helped to propel Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti to stardom 17 years ago, gets a sparkling reinvention this July. Butter, the Los Angeles artist who by day puts out music as Lola Blanc, succeeds in bringing a whole different dimension to the hypnagogic pop piece, which originally appeared on 2000's The Doldrums. Featuring her starry-eyed vocals meeting an 80s-indebted, synth-speckled production courtesy of Night Sequels and Freescha's Nick Huntington, it's an otherworldly cover that drains the song of most of its testosterone, refocusing it instead through a dazzling female gaze.

 

IONNALEE – NOT HUMAN

Jonna Lee, who having formed part of the Swedish audiovisual project iamamiwhoami alongside producer Claes Björklund for the best part of eight years, goes it alone as ionnalee on “Not Human.” Co-written alongside We Are: The Guard favorite Com Truise, the song is a larger-than-life piece of electronic pop, with a powerfully rhythmic instrumental acting as a backdrop to Jonna's narrative about her lover giving her shape-shifting abilities: “Oh, oh! You make my waters flow/Now look how tall I grow/I'm not human/Oh, oh! With you, it's magical/The urge is animal/I'm not human.”

 

FUTURE WAR BRIDE – GLOVES OFF

Introducing Future War Bride, the Danish outfit who emphatically steamroll their way onto the blogosphere this July with their debut single “Gloves Off.” A high-octane crusher that pits fuzz-caked guitars and driving drums against dream-inducing psychedelic interludes, the song is a statement-making rallying cry for disillusioned millennials everywhere who feel like the current system has failed them. Future War Bride: “The face down generation is, on a spiritual level, going belly up in the hunt for the next opportunity. It's a weird and cruel philosophy that leads only one way, creating miserable people in a miserable world. This is not a game, and people are not athletes. Maybe it's time to take the gloves off and start fighting with winners and losers mentality.”

 

QUEENIE – I'M READY

There's very little that we can tell you about Queenie, the British musician who arrives on the blogosphere this month with no social media presence or digital footprint, but it really doesn't matter, for her unbelievably bold debut single speaks volume. Entitled “I'm Ready,” the song is a vibrant, life-affirming piece of electronic pop of the highest order. Featuring Queenie singing about taking on the world, one challenge at a time, atop a propulsive, synth-driven production, it's a positively confident introduction that's perhaps best described as the love child of Robyn and Lily Allen.

 

FREYA RIDINGS – MAPS (YEAH YEAH YEAHS COVER)

Having made quite the entrance in May with her emphatic debut single “Blackout,” Freya Ridings returns to command the blogosphere's attention once again this month with a cover of “Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. To call the British act's version of the quintessential indie love song “unrecognizable” would almost seem like an understatement. A profound piano ballad that positions her booming, full-bodied voice center stage, it's a staggering cover, enriched with the kind of emotion that resonates in the bones long after listening.

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Until next time, everyone. x

Photo” by Brooke Cagle 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.