This week in The Singles Bar #16, Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles features:

Sam Smith announces his latest single Pray feat. Logic. Smith’s sophomore album The Thrill of It All is out now. The new single sees legendary producer Timbaland work with Sam Smith for the first time alongside long time friend and collaborator Jimmy Napes. The result is a sensational, soul-infused, slow-jam that demonstrates Smith’s delicate yet powerful vocals as he traverses a huge range backed by a powerful choir. The new single also features additional vocals from American rapper Logic transforms the track by adding own unique verses to the original.

Speaking on the inspiration behind the song, Sam explains “We are all looking around at what’s happening in the world and it is just messed. You’ve got no choice but to look up to the sky and put your hands together and pray for something to happen, because I feel helpless as a human right now.”

Picture the scene: a late summer evening, crickets sing their song, your bare feet firmly planted in the soil, the poplars gently sway in the wind, and the stench nearly knocks you out cold.

Creative firebrand Manuel Gagneux returns with a brand new Zeal & Ardor single. Mixing blues, gospel, and soul with harsher music has opened up a world of possibilities for Gagneux. Previously creating as a one man solo effort, the immense interest and critical acclaim Zeal & Ardor attracted upon release of debut album Devil Is Fine, has led to the project becoming a fully-fledged, internationally-touring band. After months hidden away, crafting the new songs for Stranger Fruit, Gagneux entered the studio with producer Zebo Adam and mixer Kurt Ballou (Converge, Kvelertak, Nails). While the finished sound is larger and heavier, it is still unmistakably Zeal & Ardor.

Gravedigger’s Chant is out now, and serves as an omen of what’s to come from his forthcoming second Zeal & Ardor album, Stranger Fruit.

With its haunting refrain of “bring the dead body down”, Gravedigger’s Chant takes listeners on someone’s final journey. Manuel intones, “The gravedigger’s chant is the song sung by the people who lay your body to rest. These people don’t care where you were, but they know what you did and who loved you. All they know is what lies before them. So they sing this song, since you can no longer breathe a note.”

After Lauv’s triumphant sold-out tour of Australia this month and the honour of collecting his first ever sales award – a TRIPLE PLATINUM for I Like Me Better – Australia has well and truly fallen for the man Rolling Stone America labelled “pop’s upand-coming heartbreak king”. And the independent singer, songwriter and producer drops his massive follow-up smash, Chasing Fire premiering on radio across the world today.

Lauv said of the single: “’Chasing Fire’ is about fighting for something that’s already over. It’s the beginning of the end. It’s desperation. It’s grand. But it’s hopeless.”

Chasing Fire serves as the follow up single to his global smash hit song I Like Me Better which has surpassed 500 million streams, garnered platinum certifications in 7 countries, gold certifications in 3, and scanned platinum in the U.S. and is currently #17 on the Top 40 radio chart.

5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) lift the covers off the video for their new single, Want You Back. The moody video featuring performances from the band, was directed by James Larese and shot in Los Angeles. Want You Back, written with J Kash, Andrew Goldstein and Asia Whitacre, is Sydney band 5SOS’ first new single in nearly two years. After 18 months on the road in support of their No. 1 sophomore album Sounds Good Feels Good, the band has spent the last year living, writing and recording their new album in Los Angeles, set for release through EMI Music Australia later this year.

Good Morning have today announced their new album Prize // Reward to be released on Friday 11th May via Bedroom Suck / Remote Control Records. The duo have also shared two new singles Mirror Freak and Escalator.

Mirror Freak is the closest thing to a garage rock song on the record. Sounding akin to some of the more experimental sounds of Ty Segall or Parquet Courts, the track even comes complete with a free-jazz sax solo, performed by songwriter Stefan Blair’s dad. On a record that jumps wildly between moods and genres, this two-minutes-fifty-three seconds is something like a cannonball into the deep end

Marilyn Manson releases the hotly anticipated video for Tattooed In Reverse. The clip, directed by Bill Yukich, stars Glo Taylorr alongside Manson himself and features Courtney Love and Lisa Marie Presley. Tattooed In Reverse is off Manson’s latest album Heaven Upside Down.

Manson’s sensationalist music and art that rejects conservative values created an icon who has infiltrated fashion, television, film and music, and whose fingerprints coat modern culture.

Underøath, who have announced both the release of their sixth album, Erase Me (April 6, Fearless Records/Caroline Australia), as well as a spate of worldwide tour dates, have unveiled the video for Rapture via Apple Music.

“I think we really wanted to capture something different with this video,” said guitar player Tim McTague of the video. “The song is so unique for Underøath and we have always been a visual band. I think being able to tell a visual story with an audible narrative that ties everything together is one of the things that makes Underøath special to fans. We are stoked to see the reaction.”

Adelaide’s duo, The Hard Aches unveil new single, Happy. Happy is the follow up to title-track, Mess taken from their upcoming sophomore album, Mess out April 13 via Anchorhead and will see them tour in April nationally with special guests.

“I remember the writing of this song more vividly than probably any other song on the record. Struggling with identity, struggling with finding where you belong in your own little world and who you want to be in your own little world but also finding that light in times where its hard to see passed the dark. “hoping like hell we can find our way out of this mess”. Saying “hey I’m not doing to well” but also asking “hey, are you doing ok?”. Featuring guest vocals by my best friend Georgia Maq (Camp Cope), someone who for me has been a huge light and influence over the years. This tracks sets the mood and theme for the new record Mess, something we are all so proud of and excited to share with you all”, explains Ben David.

Belle and Sebastian have shared the video for Poor Boy, the latest single taken from their new triptych of EPs, How To Solve Our Human Problems Parts 1-3, out now via Matador / Remote Control

Continuing the EP series’ nuanced exploration of the tapestry of human lives and interactions, the video, made in partnership with Tidal and directed by Oscar Sansom & Ciaran Lyons of The Forest of Black, follows the various goings-on of an apartment building, set to the songs addictively slinky R&B groove and soulful vocal hooks.

Taken from their Neon Tetra’s forthcoming EP Pollen, The End Begins Again shines with synth-pop grooves. Josh Allen’s vocals soar, while the ever-present saxophone you heard from the onset of the song provides a lush sound that throws back to golden days of late 70’s, early 80’s pop. A natural progression for Neon Tetra, who spent 2017 impressing with refined sounds displayed on the catchy Reflections, The End Begins Again is the perfect companion single to the band’s last dose of infectious hybrid synth-pop.

Twenty-four years into their career and still with all original members, US heavy rockers Sevendust are set to release their 12th studio album, All I See Is War, on May 11 via a newly-inked deal with Rise Records! The band have just released the video for the albums first single, Dirty.

The clip is the first to feature the band in it since 2013’s Decay. Recorded last year at Studio Barbarosa in Florida, the new album was produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Slash, Coldrain, Story Of The Year). All I See Is War is the follow up to 2015’s Kill The Flaw, a record that brought the band their highest album sales chart position of their career and saw them nominated for ‘Best Metal Performance’ at the 2016 Grammy Awards.

All the Colors. See the Colors. Feel the Colors… on a kaleidoscopic audiovisual voyage with Beck as your guide. Available exclusively at Apple Music, Colors is the dazzling new video directed by Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, The Cornetto Trilogy, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), that brings the title track of Beck’s current album to vivid multi-hued life, aided and abetted by kinetic choreography by Ryan Heffington. Beck and Wright’s collaboration on the Colors video has resulted in something completely alien yet strangely familiar, as if an extraterrestrial culture had accidentally intercepted a transmission of a Busby Berkeley film—and chosen to create their own sequel.

For Tracyanne & Danny’s first music video from their self-titled debut (due May 25), the respective Camera Obscura and Crybaby singer-songwriters chose the single Alabama and paired it with a scenic drive through North America. Think of it as a “pre-enactment” of their upcoming tour dates on this side of the Atlantic!

Fans of Scottish indie rock know Tracyanne Campbell from her time spent writing and singing songs for Camera Obscura, the charming group whose five LPs to date carry on the tradition of chiming Scottish pop. And anyone who loves beautifully melancholy acts like The Smiths and Lloyd Cole should already be aware of Crybaby, the masterfully crafted, eponymous 2012 album recorded by Bristol singer-songwriter Danny Coughlan.

The lyrics on the tight, ten-song Tracyanne & Danny, the duo’s self-titled debut record, draw from deep within their own experiences, from Campbell’s steel-guitar-accented Alabama, a reflection on the life of her late friend and bandmate Carey Lander (“It was important to make it sound joyous,” she says), to Coughlan’s peppy Cellophane Girl, a song about his adolescent infatuation with a co-worker at a plastics factory. Inspired by a variety of artists including Serge Gainsbourg, The Style Council, Lou Reed, The Roches, and Dion, Tracyanne & Danny is vibrant, melodic, musical, and at times, even murder.

Vodafone Music Award-nominated singer/songwriter Theia makes a phenomenal return with her new single Bye Bye. The Christchurch-born artist releases an epic statement of a song, which oozes sass and serves as an anthem for anyone who’s ever had to fight to be taken seriously.

“It’s written from the perspective of the underdog. It’s a big finger up at the doubters and the haters,” says Theia.

Theia wrote Bye Bye in February 2017 alongside legendary US-producer Mike Elizondo, renowned for his collaborations with Eminem and Dr Dre. Theia had the opportunity to work with Elizondo when she was invited to take part in Songhubs in Australia – an annual series of song writing sessions funded by APRA AMCOS, which pairs international hit-makers with local artists.

Australian hip-hop artist L-FRESH The LION and Kiwi singer-songwriter Vince Harder were also part of the writing team and the track was produced by LA-based Tony Buchen, who was nominated as ‘producer of the year’ at the 2016 ARIAs.

For more music news, interviews, live reviews and photos head to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles.