From Charlie's Angels to Charli XCX, it's safe to say that it's been a pretty iconic seven days for pop culture! I'm not sure that I'll ever get tired of seeing Lana Del Rey wielding a rotisserie chicken while Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus (two vegans, I ought to add) look on, or listening to what might be the most legendary album opener of all time. Anyways, while everything Charlie (and Charli) has been dominating much of the conversation, there's still plenty of other music to discuss this week. Buckle up, then, as it's time to check out today's edition of We Are: The Guard's Top Indie Songs, featuring FKA twigs, Rex Orange County, gabriel black, Cautious Clay, grandson, and more!



Having exposed her vulnerabilities for everyone to see on her previous single “Cellophane,” FKA twigs is showcasing a more fearless side to her sound on her latest single, the Future-featuring “holy terrain.” Produced alongside Skrillex and Jack Antonoff, the MAGDALENE cut finds FKA twigs demanding that a lover treats her with the respect and reverence that she (finally) feels that she deserves, with her airy, transcendental falsetto effortlessly riding the frenetic trap beat.



Rex Orange County has chosen to keep it on the down-low over the last few years, but the British troubadour is finally ready to make his return this Monday with “10/10.” It's a jaunty delight of a song about bouncing back from life's difficulties, with charming synths accompanying Rex as he sings about his decision to start making music again: “Now, I'm safe and sound where I belong/It took all my strength to carry on/And though it's still hard work to find the words/I'm still gonna write this fuckin' song.”



Introducing Chiiild, the Canadian collective who are making their debut on We Are: The Guard with “Back to Life.” The collaboration with Shungudzo is a genre-defying slice of psychedelic opulence that channels everyone from TV on the Radio to Tame Impala, with Chiiild and Shungudzo's weightless existential utterings floating with ease over a blend of lush strings and cosmic beats. “This song is a metaphor, a fantasy that life is just practice and somehow in the future, we can get a second shot at this,” writes Chiiild. Enjoy.



Just two weeks on from the release of “flames,” his collaboration with KEY!, gabriel black returns this Monday with another must-hear banger. “blue skies” finds the Los Angeles artist adopting a more sanguine approach to songwriting than what we're used to from the former “sad boy,” with gabriel singing about his newly positive outlook over a buoyantly acoustic backdrop: “I won't let go, I'm schemin'/One day, I swear I'll see it/Blues skies, blue skies ahead of me/Blues skies, blue skies ahead of me.”



It doesn't get much more devastating than this, let me tell you. In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, MXMS are back this Monday with “What's My Name.” The skeletal piano ballad was inspired by the bullying that lead singer Ariel Levitan experienced throughout much of middle school and high school, with Ariel's pain and trauma cutting like a knife from the very first note to the very last note as she describes in gut-wrenchingly raw detail her struggles with teenage isolation: “Boy, what's my name?/Is it slut? Am I strange?/Girl, what's my name?/Is it weirdo? Am I gay?”



Cautious Clay just keeps on getting better and better. Following on from the release of “Swim Home,” the Cleveland native is back this Monday with “Erase.” Featured on the FIFA 20 soundtrack, it's a certified groover that hears Cautious upping the pace on his sound, with funky basslines accompanying him as he sings about deleting his social media and living his best in-real life: “Erase my social (Yeah)/Screenshot kinda thing/Okay we can settle in FaceTime/Erase my social (Yeah)/Deadpan, politic, cut you right out of it, meantime.”



This is my first time featuring Chaos Chaos in this column, although something tells me that it won't be my last time listening to their latest single “Theaters.” Combining elements of punk, electroclash, and new wave (think Sleater-Kinney with Peaches on backing vocals and Johnny Marr on guitar) the Los Angeles duo comprising of sisters Asy and Chloe Saavedra have more than earned their place in this playlist with this fiercely original anthem, which Chaos Chaos reveal is about “thinking of the world as a theater that plays out our own inner dramas.”



While grandson is generally my go-to artist for incendiary rock and roll, the Fueled by Ramen signee is going in a completely different direction on his latest single “Destroy Me.” Featured on his recent EP a modern tragedy vol. 3, it's an unearthly ode to infatuation that presents grandson's voice like never before, with the 25-year-old revealing that the ballad was inspired by Frank Ocean's Blonde and “all the great acoustic songs I grew up with.”



We Are: The Guard favorite Silver Sphere is a sucker for love, no matter how much it hurts, on her latest single “waste my time.” “You are never gonna be the type to commit/One day you're in love, then you're over it/Oh yeah (Oh yeah)/But I can never get tired of chasing you/Even when I know what you're gonna do,” sings the Chicago artist over a carousel of kaleidoscopic synths on the cut, which deserves pride of place on that mixtape that you're currently making for your crush.



With just one week to go until the autumnal equinox, DENM is making the most of what's left of summer with the bombastic “No Break.” The follow-up to the previously featured “Blow It Up” hears the We Are: The Guard favorite continuing to build on his sun-speckled reggae sound – the kind that makes you want to crack open a cold one with the boys – with skank grooves housing DENM's most wildly uninhibited vocal performance to date.


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Photo by Riki on Unsplash


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.