Slumville Sunrise

This Week’s New Single Releases (27th October 2013)

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

Aloe Blacc – ‘Wake Me Up’
Having appeared on the Avicii number one as an uncredited artist we now get his own take on it. It’s not a huge departure from the original, but forgoes the dance feel for a more straight-forward smooth indie number. Whether you prefer this or the ‘original’ will depend on your musical taste or your current mood, but this is a much more credible take on the song and showcases his voice and its emotion even more and the string breakdown, as opposed to the more drum-heavy style, certainly seems more fitting. The two versions aren’t that far apart in sound and just feel like two different remixes, but it’s nice to hear a slightly different adaptation. (7/10)
Watch the video

Avril Lavigne – ‘Rock N Roll’
You can sometimes see the point in an artist’s career where they jump the shark, and for Avril Lavigne it’s here. Video wise, the god-awful mobile phone promo at the start was so bad I was expecting it to be a parody that never came, and the video feels like an artist grasping for attention (though it does boast one good pastiche and a tongue in cheek feel after the blatant kiss-scene). Musically the ‘I Love Rock N Roll’-lifted riff is catchy but, obviously, unoriginal and she spends three minutes lifting her own lyrics from previous hits and gluing them together into a pop-hit that tries to be oh-so-catchy but ends up feeling oh-so-cliché. I’m going to download it as it ticks all the boxes of my pop-loving side as a harmless cheesy track but it’s derivative and lacks the sparks of all her previous hits. (6/10)
Watch the video

Disclosure feat. London Grammar – ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ (Pearson Sound Vocal Remix)
Single number five for Disclosure raids their familiar songwriting book and stretches it for seven minutes. If you don’t like your dance music repetitive then you’ll struggle with this, but it does, in its defence, try to keep a few things fresher with a chunky piano riff that appears two-and-a-half minutes in – a version of ‘Wow’ by Kylie? – but ultimately it just feels a little too free-flowing to really grab me and, outside of a club set or a genre-specific fanbase, it’s a little boring. London Grammar’s voice is great though, just stuck in a lacking tune. Sorry. (5/10)
Watch the video

Dizzee Rascal feat. Teddy Sky – ‘Love This Town’
Having already mentioned a video this week, I can’t pass without saying that this is a hilarious video that subverts the attitude to ‘the yoof’ perfectly. Musically, you know what to expect from a Dizzee Rascal song but this is actually far better than the appropriately titled ‘Something Really Bad’ and feels like his best in a long time. It drowns in the structure that it chooses as it’s been done to death, but the chorus from Teddy Sky really makes the track and book-ends Dizzee’s raps well. A fun track that’s very listenable, if not that memorable ultimately due to its lack of imagination. (7/10)
Watch the video

Eminem – ‘Rap God’
The third single from his latest album is much more like traditional Eminem than ‘Bezerk’ was, but it’s a far less interesting single. Outside of the interesting production opening, there’s very little of Eminem’s hallmark ear for a hook. The musical riff is fun, when it’s not being repetitive, and there’s a few snaps of well-observed lyrics (“inducted into the alcohol-of-fame”) but ultimately it runs out of steam two-minutes in never mind for its full six minutes. Mr Mathers is still a talented rapper but this lacks the magic of the sort of material collected on his greatest hits. Fans will enjoy it, and the supersonic verse is very impressive, but musically this is average. Flashes of inspiration drowned in another five minutes of blandness. (5/10)
Watch the video

Fatboy Slim and Riva Starr – ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’
It’s always a good day that sees the return of Norman Cook (I’m a huge fan) but this day is perhaps not the best one: slightly cloudy with hints of rain. ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’ has elements of Slim’s big hits, particularly ‘Slash Dot Dash’, though it’s much slower and pondering. When it finally gets to the chorus it’s much better but the extended spoken-sections drag on and though the lyrics are funny and the stoner-sound is nailed, the story-telling section is best suited for an audio book, not this record. It’s like nothing you’ll hear this week but I’m not quite sure who its audience will be: it’s neither full-out dance or full-out sit down and listen. With a radio edit with less speech it’ll do better, but not in this form, Norm. The Calvin Harris remix is more of a 6/10. (4.5/10)
Watch the video

Foxes – ‘Youth’ (EP)
“What do the Foxes say?” Sorry. Joined on the EP by a full version and three mixes, ‘Youth’ is a low-key indie song with shades of Florence and the Machine. A warming, enjoyable track, it perhaps most suffers from being a little too gentle to really pull you into the track. I can’t quite put my finger on what, but there’s something that I like about it. Maybe it’s her beautiful voice, the subtle but appealing music or the casual feel. It’s not a song that will stay with you but it’s nice whilst you’re in its company, a bit like a fire in Winter. (6.5/10)
Watch the video

Franz Ferdinand – ‘Evil Eye’
The third single from the band’s latest album and set to an excellent B-movie horror film-inspired video just in time for Hallowe’en, ‘Evil Eye’ feels like classic Franz Ferdinand, with an instantly memorable riff and some catchy, singable lyrics, all tied together with a cracking chorus. It won’t win over new fans but this is the band at their best, tying together lyrics and music well, with plenty of hooks. The breakdown works well too. (7.5/10)
Watch the video

India.Arie – ‘Just Do You’
From her latest album ‘SongVersation’, ‘Just Do You’ is a sunny, positive number full of uplifting lyrics, sounding like an early RnB hit from the mid-90s. It’s production style and sound is very familiar – is it ‘Mary Mary’, I’m not sure? – but it’s still a straight-up smooth life-affirming number. (6.5/10)
Watch the video

I See MONSTAS – ‘Evolution’ (EP)
‘Evolution’ is a dancey up-tempo number with a catchy, rocking chorus, but also an ear for a more dubstep-influenced backing sound. With a silky breakdown complete with subtle claps, it manages to build enough momentum to hold your interest in the record. It’s not really a musical evolution – as it owes a lot to the sound of 2013 – but it’s enough of a pleasure to listen again. Track two ‘Nowhere’ is a more mechanical sounding number that lacks the punch of the title track due to its lack of strong – and many – lyrics, but the piano riff works well and it combines nicely into a track. ‘Promises’ is slower but adds a little more to the EP with something a little different, with some more intriguing production, but ultimately feels like the lesser of the opening three. ‘High Life’ rounds off the extended play. (7/10)
Watch ‘Evolution’

Watch ‘Nowhere’

Watch ‘Promises’ 

Jake Bugg – ‘Slumville Sunrise’
With a fun tongue-in-cheek video, Jake Bugg actually releases one of his best songs since ‘Lighting Bolt’. I have a love-hate relationship with Bugg: everyone seems to love him, I’m not a big fan, but ‘Slumville Sunrise’, with its Arctic Monkeys-sound and driving guitar is a much better song than we’ve had from him for a long time, and might just win over some people like me who haven’t enjoyed some of his other numbers. (7/10)
Watch the video

Moonbeam feat. ARCHNGL – ‘Sun Went Down’
Electronic Russian band Moonbeam bring us ‘Sun Went Down’ and whilst it’s a pleasant listen, that’s all it is, pleasant. The elements of music work well together and the vocalist is a joy to listen to, but it lacks the killer moment to really say ‘yes, I’d buy this’. Not bad. (4/10)
Watch the video

One Direction – ‘Story of My Life’
The second single from their upcoming third album lacks the guts of ‘Best Song Ever’, substituting the poppiness for a tired ballad that feels like their first single that doesn’t really grab me. I’m sure it’s heartfelt and the fanbase will love it, but it lacks their usual ear for a tune and, outside of the better chorus, it’s just a bit, well, boring, which is weird when it’s written by eight people. Sorry 1D – you should stick to your more speedy numbers. (4/10)
Watch the video

Rizzle Kicks – ‘Skip To The Good Bit’
For those of us of a certain age then this song will be instantly recognisable, samples as it does EMF’s ‘Unbelievable’. To Kicks’ credit they incorporate the sample well and give it a sexy makeover with trumpets, with their rapping flowing well over the satisfying beat, plus throwing in the “sexy woman” voice from their last single. However, the song would be nothing without the sample as that’s the main delight in listening. It’s a very good interpolation of the tune and it fits brilliantly with their rap, but they answer the problem in the title: you just want to skip to the good bit, that is EMF’s work. (7/10)
Watch the video

Robin Thicke feat. Kendrick Lamar and 2Chainz – ‘Give It 2 U’
Continuing his appearance changing into Simon Cowell, Robin Thicke returns with his follow-up to his huge number one and though the lyrics aren’t quite as controversial (no alluding to rape here) they are just as badly written. 2Chainz sounds exactly the same as he has on every recording he’s appeared on and continues his journey into cliché. Thicke’s falsetto and synth sections sound great though and feel inspired by Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’ era mixed with ELO. It’s as shallow, naff and stupid as you’d expect and Thicke is getting too old to pull off such dodgy lyrics and you could write a whole report on the absurdity of the female imagery in the video in 2013, but there’s something catchy about the chorus and production. ‘Give It 2 U’ sort of proves that you can polish a turd in a production studio. (6.5/10)
Watch the video

Showtek feat. We Are Loud and Sonny Wilson – ‘Booyah’
With a band name sounding like a famous security company, ‘Booyah’ is an electronic number with some big reggae influences and very chunky sounds, making it explode through your speakers, with the tempo changes really adding to the feel. It’s a big song but its mixture of elements don’t quite gel so at times it feels like quite a confused track, but there’s plenty of energy and this would work as a great party tune. (6.5/10)
Watch the video

SKATERS – ‘Deadbolt’
New York rock band SKATERS release this dark, raw-sounding Babyshambles-like number that mixes a sombre-voiced lead singer with some crisp guitars, and a fast-paced gruff chorus. Fans of experimental rock will be at home here, and there’s just enough of a Maximo Park sound in the instrumentation to sell it to the indie crowd, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome and wraps up swiftly and well. (6/10)
Watch the video

Sonic Boom Six – ‘High Cost of Living’
I’m a big fan of ska and this mix of that genre with a more urban sound, plus a classical-influenced synth riff and rock guitars, plus the sweet lead vocals of Laila Khan, this is an amalgamation of styles that really works, creating a perky number that isn’t afraid to pick and choose from the huge styles of music, hence how we get an emo-scream section for a brief moment, plus some trumpets for a time and a few bars of rock-out. It’s eclectic but really enjoyable. (7.5/10)
Watch the video

Sway feat. KSI and Tigga Da Author – ‘No Sleep’
I’ve always wanted to hear Darth Vader’s Imperial March played on a kid’s xylophone, so my dream is complete. After that surreal opening the song continues to rap over the top of it and the quality depends on who is actually on the mic. The chorus is catchy and singable, but the appeal of the rap varies considerably, and suffers from too many cooks with three similar-sounding rappers fighting for airtime. It’s tempo works though and holds your interest. (6.5/10)
Watch the video

Taylor Swift – ‘Sweeter Than Fiction’
Taken from the OST for film ‘One Chance’ Swift feels at home on this faster-paced number and her voice suits the lyrics and the fast-firing drum machine. It’s nothing expected from the singer and fits neatly into her established style, but it’s a smooth, entertaining piece of laid-back pop that will keep her fans happy, plus her voice is beautiful on this. (7/10)
Watch the video

Thumpers – ‘Sound of Screams’
Following the brilliant ‘Unkinders’, how will ‘Sound of Screams’ compare? Well it doesn’t have the catchy riff that their previous single employed which sold the record to me, but it’s a harmless indie number that suits a few listens with its MGMT feel and neat mix of production moments. (5/10)
Watch the video

Tinie Tempah feat. John Martin – ‘Children of the Sun’
It seems that Tinie Tempah has taken the structure and style of ‘Written In The Stars’ and created a clone, swapping the guest artist and re-writing the lyrics. That’s not to say it’s a bad song – its chorus is emotive, building and powerful – but it just feels too familiar, and Tempah’s rap is tired here. Not bad. (5.5/10)
Watch the video

Toploader – ‘This Is The Night’
After a two-year gap Toploader are back with a song that will keep their fanbase established after ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ happy. Not a million miles away in style from that record, this is a well put-together indie-pop hit that will put a smile on your face. Mixing a driving drumbeat with a perky feeling, this feels like a perfect autumnal hit. (7/10)
Watch the video

Tyga and Justin Bieber – ‘Wait For A Minute’
In a chart and release schedule saturated by Mr Bieber, it’s difficult to keep interested, especially when his songs are as bland as this. Give him credit, he’s not sticking with one musical style, but he was always best on his poppier side. Yawn. (2/10)
Watch the video

The Wanted – ‘Show Me Love (America)’
The title sounds like a plea from a band desperate to break across the pond. This is their fifth single from an album not even out yet (!?) and it’s pretty typical The Wanted but it does employ a sense of drama with a big string opening. ‘Show Me Love (America)’ is an accomplished song but I’m not entirely sure how it stacks up with their past singles. Fans will enjoy it and it squeezes neatly into their discography, but it lacks that killer, well, show of love! (6.5/10)
Watch the video

Post Author: Philip Lickley