TOP INDIE SONGS - WEEK 37
September got off to a productive start here at We Are: The Guard, with the last seven days not only seeing the launch of our coveted New Artist Forecaster, but also the much-anticipated return of our Best Music Videos column (the TOKiMONSTA clip is a personal favorite!). We brought you a whole load of Best New Tracks, too, and as we head into the second week of fall, things are showing no signs of slowing down with the latest edition of Top Indie Songs. The world may be descending into a mixture of climatic and political chaos around us, but we nevertheless hope that the following tracks from St. Vincent, Lemaitre, Ariel Pink, Rostam, Joseph and more help to brighten up your Monday morning.
ST. VINCENT – NEW YORK
The countdown to St. Vincent's MASSEDUCTION is on, and to celebrate, the Oklahoma artist has shared the video for the album's elegiac lead single “New York.” Directed by Alex Da Corte, it's very much an ode to the city after which the song is named, with Annie Clark seen posing outside of a bodega, perched on The Gateway to Soho, spinning the Astor Place Cube (while an ass hangs out of one of its crevices, naturally!) and more in the iconographic clip. “I think Annie's New York is the New York of my dreams – one that is blurry and fractured, dreamy and flat,” writes Da Corte. “It is the Toontown to my Hollywood. It is beautiful but slightly out of reach.”
LEMAITRE (FEAT. MATY NOYES) – HIGHER
Lemaitre – the Norwegian producer duo comprising of Ulrik Denizou Lund and Ketil Jansen – continue their meteoric rise this September with their latest single “Higher.” Featured on their recent debut album Chapter One, it's yet another forward-thinking piece of dubstep from Lund and Jansen that contrasts grounded verses with skyscraping bass drops. Maty Noyes, meanwhile, contributes airy vocals, with the Mississippi singer-songwriter also starring in the Austin M. Kearns-directed video as a gamine-like figure who's trained up to be an assassin-of-sorts.
ARIEL PINK – FEELS LIKE HEAVEN
With five days to go until his latest album, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, hits the shelves, Ariel Pink has shared “Feels Like Heaven.” The follow-up to “Time to Live” finds the lo-fi pop auteur at his most dazzlingly dreamy, with Pink's unapologetically love-struck hooks wading through a pillowy swirl of shoegaze guitars and 80s-indebted synths. Directed by Pete G.D., the video is equally starry-eyed, with a newly cropped Ariel seen staring affectionately into space while sniffing roses.
WAFIA – BODIES
Australia's Wafia continues to infuse pop music with a powerful sense of weight and gravitas with “Bodies.” The follow-up to “83 Days” is a perfect piece of dancefloor fodder that, behind the lustre and sheen, carries with it an important message about togetherness, as inspired by Wafia's extended family's struggles to escape the ongoing civil war in Syria. Wafia: “The idea is that I wanted to draw similarities between the large groups of Syrian Refugees walking miles to safety and those that can protest freely in the western world. I can't think of anything more human and simple than reminding ourselves that we are fragile bodies but the strength that can come of bodies in large numbers.”
ROSTAM (FEAT. KELLY ZUTRAU) – HALF-LIGHT
Ahead of the release of his debut album, Half-Light, on Friday, former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, mononymously known as Rostam, has shared the dream-inducing title track. Starting out as a crepuscular piano ballad, “Half-Light” soon transmutes into something more glowing and transcendent, with fuzz-caked guitars and live drums, not to mention the angelic guest vocals of Wet frontwoman Kelly Zutrau, surging up to illuminate the song like a morning sunrise.
BRUNO MAJOR – ON OUR OWN
For the past year, Bruno Major has been releasing one song a month, and this September, the English troubadour brings to a conclusion his jazz-indebted A Song for Every Moon project with perhaps his most devastatingly affecting piano ballad to date. Written after the death of his grandmother and his mother's subsequent turn to religion, “On Our Own” is a poignant, timeless piece of music, with Major approaching the intimate topics of grief and spirituality with a profound sensitivity that'll resonate with you long after listening.
JOSEPH – EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD (TEARS FOR FEARS COVER)
Meet Joseph, the Oregon trio comprising of sisters Allison Closner, Meegan Closner and Natalie Schepman, who make their debut on We Are: The Guard with their wistful cover of Tears for Fears' 1985 hit single, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Pairing Joseph's tightly knit harmonies with delicate, earthy acoustic guitars, it's a stripped-down cover that succeeds in shifting the focus back to the decidedly pertinent lyrics of the song, with the sisters even adding some of their own after the bridge: “Make the most of freedom and pleasure/All I know is take care of each other/An open door, a seat at the table, there's enough to go around.”
CLUB KURU – YOU WANT IT BAD
British five-piece Club Kuru render us a gooey mess with their sumptuous latest slow jam. “You Want It Bad” is an indulgent piece of what Club Kuru so accurately describe as “psychedelic crooner music,” with enigmatic frontman Laurie Erskine's viscous vocals melting into a luxurious cascade of wah-wah and flanger-drizzled guitars. Think Tame Impala meets the caramelized sounds of New Zealand oddball Connan Mockasin, and you're almost there!
ANNA OF THE NORTH – ALWAYS
Anna of the North makes a stand on her crystalline latest single, “Always.” Featured on her recent debut album, Lovers, it's yet another crisp piece of Scandi-pop perfection from the Norwegian upstart, with Anna Lotterud calling out an unaffectionate partner over an icy instrumental courtesy of bandmate Brady Daniell-Smith. “I'm tired of being in love,” sings Anna in the chorus. “Always in the background.”
AQUILO – I COULD FIGHT ON A WALL
English duo Aquilo prove that they haven't lost touch when it comes to writing sweepingly introspective music with their latest single and their first material since January's Silhouettes. A lush, cavernous folk opus that builds on its rich instrumental and vocal layers to a truly grandiose crescendo, “I Could Fight on a Wall” is an expansive return from Ben Fletcher and Tom Higham. Aquilo: “'I Could Fight on a Wall' marks both of us finding confidence again through people we'd grown close to over that year really. We don't find ourselves writing positive songs often but for some reason this just came around.”
Until next time! x
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.