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This Week’s New Single Releases (5th January 2014)

My round up of the new singles available for digital download this week.

Above and Beyond – ‘Mariana Trench’
Inspired by the geographical landmark, ‘Mariana Trench’ captures the feel of the sea very well and has shades of underwater levels from mid-90s video games mixed with the best of Robert Miles. As a fully instrumental piece it succeeds in constructing a pleasant, evocative atmosphere and mostly manages to avoid the clichés of the genre until the final quarter of the piece. It’s not the crowning point of the musical area and the radio edit fades away rather than offers a powerful conclusive, but it’s a sweet, enjoyable piece of music that will fit nicely into a calming, background compilation. (6.5/10)
Watch the video

Backstreet Boys – ‘Show ‘em (What You’re Made Of)’
The first new song by them to come to my attention after the brilliant ‘In A World Like This’, ‘Show ‘Em’ isn’t as strong a track, falling too much into the bland ballad category. It feels genuine though and sung with emotion, and it settles in during its final third, but it just lacks the killer moment of a boy / man-band tune. (6/10)
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Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z – ‘Drunk In Love’
The first cut from her surprise self-titled album, ‘Drunk In Love’ feels like a parody of R Kelly’s ‘Trapped In The Closet’. It’s a long, drawn-out song with little visible structure and no feeling of progression, though the musical production work creates a smooth feeling you don’t mind spending time with, and Jay-Z’s rap at least adds some freshness into it, though its allusions to domestic violence leave a poor taste in the mouth. The experimental nature of the record has to be applauded with Beyonce doing something different to her overtly commercial offerings, but it’s hardly an exciting number to listen to and the very low-brow lyrics feel like you’re unwillingly prying into a couple’s sex-life. (4.5/10)
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Burial – ‘Rival Dealer’ (EP)
If you thought the last song was rambling then this soundscape is even more so. At over ten minute in length, this eccentric number mixing in spoken word elements, various riffs and samples is a definitely unusual sonic number. ‘Rival Dealer’ is an interesting experiment but not really my cup of tea, feeling as it does more like the accompanying music to an unusual film.  Second track ‘Hiders’ is a third of the length and in many ways a better experience, sounding much more like Moby meets Fatboy Slim, though lacking the ear for a repeating hook or theme that they have. Third track ‘Come Down To Us’ is even longer than the first and rounds off an EP that will have its niche audience, but I’m not part of that crowd. (2.5/10)
Watch ‘Rival Dealer’
Watch ‘Hiders’
Watch ‘Come Down To Us’

Cutline – ‘Never Let You Go’
Continuing a vibe of some of the songs released this week ‘Never Let You Go’ mixes up the sonic stylings of the previous songs but adds a bit more a pop-friendly structure, with a short lyrical part that gives you something to hook onto, and is a better example of 21st Century dance than we’ve had recently, though still lacks the freshness we would hope coming into 2014. (5.5/10)
Watch the video

Hardwell feat. Matthew Koma – ‘Dare You’
‘Dare You’ might have a few familiar tropes on display here but it also shows off plenty of heart as well in its style that sounds like ‘Owl City’ have become more dance-y. Yes, we’ve heard it all before but its sweet enough to carry the lyrics and music for almost four minutes. (6.5/10)
Watch the video

John Smith – ‘Great Lakes’
‘Great Lakes’ is a stripped back acoustic number that feels like a song to settle down to on a cold January evening. It’s a smooth, gentle chill-out number held together by Smith’s vocals that are thankfully more distinctive than his common or garden name. Fans of Mumford and Sons and Ed Sheeran will be at home here. An unremarkable, but soothing number. (6/10)
Watch the video

The Killers – ‘Just Another Girl’
It’s appropriate that a song connected to a clever video echoing some of the band’s best videos and photo shoots that ‘Just Another Girl’ should be a song that has shades of other songs, from ‘Spaceman’ to ‘Bones’ to ‘When You Were Young’ and many others. Taken from ‘Direct Hits’ as the second new track, it lacks the immediate power of predecessor ‘Shot At The Night’ and feels a little like they’re treading ground, but after a handful of listens its magic will rub off on you. Not their greatest hit, but a fun listen for fans. (7/10)
Watch the video

Maximo Park – ‘Leave This Island’
Taken from their 2014 album ‘Too Much Information’ out in the spring, ‘Leave This Island’, with its throbbing intro, feels like a better re-introduction to the Geordie band than from their previous album. The familiar Maximo Park elements are all here – heavy and pretentious yet poetic lyrics, strong indie theme – but they are all dressed up with a great beat, electronic feel, plenty of vocal hooks and a building structure that grabs you and develops slowly but genuinely up to its end. One of their best singles since their second album though its sombreness is unlikely to attract new fans. (7.5/10)
Watch the video

Mint Royale feat. Willem Dafoe – ‘Ring’
Following on from the incredible ‘GTFU’ last year, ‘Ring’ is a big change in direction with actor Willem Dafoe monologuing over a xylophone track in the style that Baz Luhrmann did over a decade ago on his number one. With a low-key musical chorus separating the verses, ‘Ring’ doesn’t have the same grabbing power of the uptempo ‘GTFU’ but is fun in its own way, thanks mainly to its uplifting lyrics and positive outlook. Not so convinced about it as a song though, rather looking at is as motivational audio. (6/10)
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Sneakbo feat. L Marshall – ‘Her Name’
With shades of ‘Fuse ODG’ in this dancehall number, Sneakbo scores one of his best singles. Pleasingly uptempo and a neat azonto style this is a catchy, memorable number that brings a little bit of sunshine to this time of year. It perhaps runs out of steam with a lack of new ideas half-way through, though Marshall’s work helps to avoid that in parts, but it’s a fun poppy dance number. (6.5/10)
Watch the video 

Wiley – ‘Fuck It’
The fifth in a series of singles yet to appear on an album, ‘Fuck It’ is an improvement on his last few songs thanks to a more distinctive production style but it still feels quite disjointed and doesn’t gel too well together as a whole number, and the slower pace doesn’t grab you as much. But the smattering of samples through it and the attitude carry it, and it feels like his best single in a while. (6/10)
Watch the video

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