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This Week’s New Single Releases (12th January 2014)

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

Armin Van Buuren – ‘Save My Night’
The superstar DJ returns with his sixth cut from his fifth album ‘Intense’ (though the extended edition, natch) and the mostly-instrumental number avoids some of the expectations from 21st Century dance and feels like a big middle finger to Calvin Harris and other DJ’s who continue to release identikit tracks built on certain tropes. The building riffs pull together with a classic Daft Punk sound feel and there is a distinct chorus that actually really works. The robotic voice sounds a little too much like Siri is guest vocalling on the record, but there’s not much intrusion from the dance-cyborg and it does what it needs to. ‘Save My Night’ will keep hardcore dance fans and the more radio-consuming public happy. (7/10)
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Bombay Bicycle Club – ‘Luna’
The second single from their upcoming album ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ is quite rambling, like the Bicycle Club have got lost in Bombay and the mobile signal is down. The balance between Jack Steadman’s lead vocals and the female backing line work really well and the subtle use of the drum rhythm helps build the track. The final third is far better than the opening third which lacks of sense of purpose, with ‘Luna’ needing some time spent with it before it shows its hand. It’s not their best single, it struggles to gain traction with one solid idea and doesn’t really get going until half way in, but is a fun enough slice of indie. (6/10)
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Coyu feat. Aaron David Frith – ‘Salvation’
House music is obviously a refined taste but it’s one that I’m happy to sample. However, for the first two minutes of ‘Salvation’ I thought my computer had crashed and was stuck in an infinite loop that fans of Crime Traveller would be proud off. But, actually, no. It’s just that this track from Coyu is incredibly repetitive with little variation, like the Heartbeat of music tracks. It does start to finally put in some new samples about three minutes in with the title making a brief appearance, before it returns to its earlier modus operandi. House can be great and really build you up to something incredible. This is more like a piece of condemned building work. (1/10)
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Crystal Fighters – ‘Love Natural’
After ‘You and I’ grabbed my attention last year, here comes another cut from their poetically-titled album ‘Cave Rave’ (well, it rhymes). And like someone with winter gloom switching on a sun lamp, ‘Love Natural’ feels like a slice of June in January. Jaunty and perky, it’s difficult to listen to this without smiling. Though it doesn’t have a huge chorus that would cement it as a classic the chorus still hooks you in with its speedy lyrical delivery. The summery fast-paced musical style really suits the number and if you can avoid dancing to this in your room then clearly you need to turn the volume up. (6.5/10)
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Duck Sauce – ‘Radio Stereo’ (EP)
Accompanied by a clutch of remixes, the latest release from Duck “Barbra Streisand / Big Bad Wolf’ Sauce, continues the theme of those two releases with a quickly repeatable vocal riff and a big, chunky backing. It’s not going to garner the same cult following as their ode to that actress but it’s still a quickly singable and memorable number that uses its simplicity to hook in. Plus it can join Robbie Williams and Queen in the list of songs to play to promote radio shows. Short and sweet, but a nice balance of repetitiveness and throwing in some curveballs. (7.5/10)
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Ed Harcourt – ‘Time of Dust’ (EP)
With six tracks but only one available to preview, ‘Time of Dust’ is the latest EP from the once Mercury-nominated Ed Harcourt. ‘The Saddest Orchestra (It Only Plays For You)’ is a powerful, atmospheric number that swells from a quiet beginning to a dramatic ending. It perhaps over eggs the dramatic pudding as it nears its conclusion but it’s difficult not to get involved with this touching, well written and produced number from the London-based singer-songwriter. (7/10)
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Eliza and the Bear – ‘It Gets Cold’
‘It Gets Cold’ is a reasonably straight-forward indie tune in the vein of ‘If Mumford and Sons can do it then so can we!’ Which is perhaps a little unfair as it’s a bit more variable than something from the ‘Sons whilst also retaining their ear for a tune. Lacking the poppy edge of a stand-out chorus, it’s the guitar and drum work and the general fun, involving vocals that hold it together down the speedy, toe-tapping verses. A worthwhile listen from a promising indie band. (7/10)
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Elyar Fox – ‘Do It All Over Again’
What does E. Fox say on his debut release? Well, ‘Do It All Over Again’ is a teen-pop number with some more credible electronic elements put to it, built around an adapted playground chant. It feels like a record that has been cynically put together by a record label and producer keen on hooking in the 1D crowd but in doing this they have fashioned quite a catchy pop number that hovers just on the right side of cheese. Accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek knowing video, ‘Do It All Over Again’ balances a catchy musical track, clichéd-but-knowing lyrics and a little bit of attitude. It’s pretty similar to much in the genre but it’s hard not to be sucked into its constructed pop licks. (6.5/10)
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Hackman – ‘Change My Life’
Though sharing some similarities with the earlier Coyu track, ‘Change My Life’ is a much more listenable track that, though slow to get going, builds up progressively and keeps holding your attention for its five minute running time. A warm, involving number, this Hackman track sets and keeps the mood and is a pleasure to spend some time with, though once you start imagine the ‘Finding Nemo’ seagulls singing it the song is ruined. (6/10)
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James LaBrie – ‘I Will Not Break’
Now onto solo work away from his work with American progressive metal band ‘Dream Theater’ James LaBrie’s latest on-his-own offering is a loud, determined heavy rock tune. Certainly taking the concept of head-banging to a new level with a guitar-heavy, moshing set-up, ‘I Will Not Break’ will please the genre fans but as a track it doesn’t really forge its own identity. It’s listenable and captures the mood well, but doesn’t really set its own course, with the chorus being pretty accomplished but the verses too awkward. (6.5/10)
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Kaiser Chiefs – ‘Bow and Arrows’
Returning soon with their fifth album ‘Education, Education, Education & War’, this is the Kaiser Chiefs lead track to promote it. With co-songwriter Nick Hodgson having left the band prior to this album this was always going to be a turning point for the band and, though ‘Bows and Arrows’ includes strands of what made the group great, this feels like their most different lead single yet, and the least immediately accessible. It takes a few listens to settle in before the bridge and chorus reveal their hooks and the typical repeated breakdown two-thirds in works really well. With shades of The Stranglers in their sound, it’s a welcome return that holds together, it just struggles when compared to ‘Never Miss A Beat’ or ‘Little Shocks’. But it’s a definite grower if you give it the chance. (7/10)
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Kid Ink and Chris Brown – ‘Show Me’
You can sometimes tell when an artist is struggling when they adopt an older song wholesale and use it as the main hook for a record. Here Kid Ink and Chris Brown lift Robin S’ 1993 hit ‘Show Me Love’ (still a club favourite even today) and use it as the sole reason to listen to this record. Kid Ink’s good, but generic, rapping doesn’t add anything to what the record did twenty years ago, and Chris Brown is reduced to a multi-layered karaoke singer. It’s a good song, but only because of the power of the original. Stick with the first version as it’s far better than this. And frankly Chris Brown giving someone what they need just comes across as dodgy. (5/10)
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Martin Solveig and Laidback Luke – ‘Blow’
Joining last year’s brilliant ‘Hey Now’ as a track without an album yet, follow-up ‘Blow’ is a harder, much darker number than what we’ve come to expect from Solveig. Sounding like the dramatic music accompanying a final boss in a video game, ‘Blow’ lacks the sunny charm of his older records but works in a different way and hooks you in, though it’s certainly not as commercially friendly as his last effort. I think Solveig works better with lyric-led songs than this music-dominated piece, but it’s a catchy enough listen and a solid performance and its structural simplicity works in its favour, though I do wonder if there is a not so subtle sexual or drug-based innuendo around. (6.5/10)
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Massive Horse – ‘Baneing’
Wandering into comedy territory for a moment surreal comedy duo ‘Massive Horse’ release their latest comedy record after a string of fun numbers. Though their timing is not the greatest, coming out a eighteen minutes after the film in which Bane appears, this is a funny number about becoming the slurring baddie by putting your headphones side-on and appearing like the character. Importantly it’s quite a catchy and well produced song and has some funny throwbacks and surreal moments, plus a couple of neat rhyming fast-paced section, though it’s a song that works best when accompanied by the video so struggles on its own as a song, mainly because some of the lyrics get lost in the production. Fun enough, and based on a great idea, and takes a well deserved pot-shot at internet trends. (5.5/10)
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Matthew Styles – ‘Out All Night’ (EP)
Track one ‘Dominion’ joins Coyu as joint recipient of the most repetitive record of the week, though this edges it slightly in memorability stakes, though it still takes a hardy soul to get through all of its seven minutes. The song is also joined by ‘Freestanding’ which is unavailable for preview, though I can’t say if that’s just as boring. (2/10)
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The Orwells – ‘Dirty Sheets’
The latest release from ‘The Orwells’ is a gritty, Arctic Monkeys-sounding number with an obvious retro feel, though it lacks the ear for a hook that the Sheffield band specialises in. ‘Dirty Sheets’ grows on you with each listen but it fails to really kick up to the next gear though it’s raw sound will win you over and it revels in its fun indie sound. (5.5/10)
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Raleigh Ritchie – ‘Black and Blue’ (EP)
Lead cut from the EP “Bloodsport” by British actor Jacob Anderson – he has appeared in Primeval, Broadchurch and Game of Thrones – under this pseudonym is an atmospheric, slow-paced number that is a pleasant, well-written four minute ballad. It feels like it’s missing the crucial ingredient to make it a success in the charts, but it’s pleasing to the ears. ‘Overdose’ continues in a similar vein but has a little bit more energy behind it; and ‘Free Fall’ continues the bland, sound-a-like tracks on a well done, but unexciting EP (‘Stronger Than Ever’ unavailable for preview). (5.5/10)
Watch ‘Bloodsport’
Watch ‘Overdose’
Free Fall

Watercolor – ‘Stick Around’
And to wrap up this week’s releases something a bit more enjoyable and uptempo; not quite fully pop but sounding like an overly autotuned ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’. Fun to listen to and jaunty enough to keep you interested, it’s just a little bit average. And the autotune is, well, very distracting. (5/10)
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