This Week’s New Single Releases (6th October 2013)

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

Angel Haze – ‘Echelon (It’s My Way)’
Angel Haze has clearly popped down to the American equivalent of Waterstones and picked up two books: ‘The Dummies Guide To Modern Rap’ and ‘How to Act Like Nicki Minaj’, combining what she’s learnt from these well-thumbed copies to come up with a song and video chock-full of clichés and drum machines. ‘Echelon’ has plenty of attitude and neat-enough production work, and a quite distinctive higher-pitched chorus, but it’s not enough to convince you that this isn’t just ridiculous. (3/10)
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Armin Van Buuren feat. Cindy Alma – ‘Beautiful Life’
The third single from his ‘Intense’ album, ‘Beautiful Life’ is an atmospheric number in the style of Enigma, combining a more subtle power ballad-feel with the requirements of a low-key club number. With a foot in both camps it perhaps fails to satisfy both areas fully but it’s more enjoyable than some of the things we’ve got from this genre recently and though it’s hardly revolutionary it certainly pleases the ear. I just can’t help feeling that there’s a strong power ballad screaming to get out – or at least a Eurovision number – held back by club synthesizers. (6/10)
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Ben Goddard – ‘The Sun Shines’
Having recently toured some universities as part of the ‘Coffee House Sessions’ here is Ben Goddard’s single release of ‘The Sun Shines’, a Simply Red-sounding post-summer ballad that captures the arrival of autumn well in its subtle production. The lyrics are a little twee in parts and the chorus takes a few listens to become distinct from the verses, but it’s a chilled-out number that both grabs you musically and also gives you a strong, positive message through its lyrics. Give it a few listens to settle in and you’ll be won over by its warm, gentle charms and message. (6.5/10)
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Boy George – ‘King of Everything’
Taken from his upcoming album ‘This is What I Do’ this is Boy “Culture Club” George sounding much more mature than we’d expect from him. This could well be his best song in many years: a strong, powerful ballad that combines some heartfelt lyrics with a buildin, chorus backing line. Sounding like one of Robbie William’s big numbers, this should win over the legendary artist some new fans. An unexpected delight from an artist we thought we’d heard everything from, best get your lighters out. (7/10)
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Conor Maynard – ‘R U Crazy’
From his impending second album, Conor Maynard, ‘R U Crazy’ is a song of many halves, from its simple, retro-sounding opening to its fuzzy-electro autotuned main song body, then to its Bruno Mars-falsetto moments. Refusing to settle on one particular style for longer than thirty seconds as if he’s trying to create some sort of demo for his range to give out to record labels, and chucking in random song references (“hit the road jack”) and pressing random effects buttons when he wants, this is one huge melting pot of a song with a smattering of Justin Timberlake moments but it’s far too eclectic, eccentric and disparate to really hold your attention. It’s an interesting concept and I’m sure it’s reflective of the crazy title, but it’s a confusing number with too much going on and I would have loved to have heard the first thirty second as an entire song. “Pick up the pee – cies you left”, tough, is a great awkward split in a line. (6.5/10)
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The Feeling – ‘Rescue’
From their soon to be released ‘Boy Cried Wolf’ album, ‘Rescue’ is very much classic ‘The Feeling’, which is always a good thing in its familiarity. With a perkier title-featuring verse than the chorus, this will keep the fans happy as it could easily have fitted into their recent greatest hits album. Sunny, positive, singable and uplifting, this is quickly singable. They’ve not really revolutionised their sound but when it’s as poppy and as fun as this that’s not really a problem. (7.5/10)
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The Getup – ‘Get Lucky’
A funky, organ cover of the Daft Punk classic. It’s always going to be tricky to beat the classic original but this drum-heavy, stripped back version is one of the most interesting versions I’ve heard (aside from the teamDARE instrumental one from Channel 4’s ‘Gadgetman’) so if you like your songs adapted and intriguing, give this a spin. Not as funky as the original, but a fun, unique spin. (6/10)

James Blunt – ‘Bonfire Heart’
The first cut from his fourth album, ‘Moon Landing’, ‘Bonfire Heart’ is, like the Feeling song from earlier, not a huge departure from his traditional sound. Lacking the huge energy of 1973, even in ballad form, this still succeeds in its gentleness and catchiness, and showcases a keen ear for production. It’s not cool to enjoy a new track by James Blunt but ‘Bonfire Heart’ is a touching, smooth and positive number that is difficult to dislike for fans of some gentle romance-pop. A definite grower and will keep his big fan base happy. (7/10)
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John Newman – ‘Cheating’
The old adage of sticking with a winning formula applies here, as ‘Cheating’ fits neatly into the mould set by his debut ‘Love Me Again’ but, and I say this with caution, seemingly improves on it. Funkier, more energetic and just as distinct, ‘Cheating’ feels like another winner for Newman even if you could just start singing “can you love me again” over the top of this new tune as he continues turning into a Cee-Lo Green impersonator with backing from the Pet Shop Boys. (7/10)
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Lucy Spraggan – ‘Last Night (Beer Fear)’
A re-recording of the track pulled from the charts two years ago to avoid embarrassing Little Mix, ‘Last Night (Beer Fear)’ is a short and sweet track that barely makes it past the two minute point. It’s a perky, catchy number with some witty lyrics and fun rhymes hiding amongst some of the less subtle wordplay. It lacks the power of ‘Lighthouse’ and comes across as a little more immature and sounding like a song even Rizzle Kicks would reject, but it’s a fun number with a quirky feel. (7/10)
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MIA – ‘Come Walk With Me’
The third single from her album ‘Matangi’, ‘Come Walk With Me’ feels like she’s been to the Conor Maynard school of music, creating a track that feels like a few have been squeezed together with the first 90 seconds sounding much different to the rest, a song that throws in some Indian-themes and a series of effects like she has also been testing what can be done in the studio. The least said about the unfortunate swastika in the lyrics video too. It’s a very weird track with no overall theme, but there’s something weirdly addictive about the structure and styles, and the main chorus, even if it becomes too much to hold your attention for the full five minutes. A daring experimental attempt but not quite sure it works for the entirety of its piece. (6.5/10)
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Miley Cyrus – ‘Wrecking Ball’
‘Wrecking Ball’ is a song famous for its video, showcasing Cyrus’ continuing fall into inappropriateness and controversy, but putting naked riding of wrecking balls and licking of sledgehammers to the side, ‘Wrecking Ball’ as a piece of music feels more accomplished than her previous hit and certainly less provocative musically. More emotive, and heartfelt, it’s a shame it’s being overshadowed by her other antics as it’s actually a powerful, clearly autobiographical number. The chorus may claw at some point and feels like the lyrics are being squeezed into a different tune, but it’s a definite grower. (7/10)
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Moby feat. Wayne Coyne – ‘The Perfect Life’
As a fan of Moby, I’m glad to see he has returned. ‘The Perfect Life’ is the second single from his latest album, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve not really being following him since the days of ‘Hotel’ and the incredible ‘Slipping Away’. His new release is a gospel-tinged, uplifting number that fits in with the style Moby is most known for. It’s not a particularly memorable number, lacking the huge hooks he has had in the past, but the chorus grabs you eventually and it feels like a huge number that will put a spring in your step. Fans will enjoy it and the bouncing rhythm will keep you listening. Now I think I should catch up with what I’ve missed from Moby over the last few years. (7/10)
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Patent Pending – ‘Hey Mario’
For fans of Mario or even those who just like some ‘Bowling For Soup’ pop-punky fun, this is a catchy, smile-inducing funny number about Nintendo’s Super Mario and his relationship with the Princess. Capturing the 16-bit feel of the classic video game era perfectly, the speedy well-observed lyrics and witty observations alongside a catchy chorus, make this a cracking jokey listen, but still musically accomplished. (7.5/10)
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Pearl Jam – ‘Sirens’
The second single from their ‘Lightning Bolt’ album, ‘Sirens’ is a passable number but I’m afraid my attention wandered at several times during the course of the song. It boasts a guitar riff, and some excelling instrumentation and, of course, vocals, but ultimately feels a little too bland to hold my attention, especially for six minutes. It’s not a bad song, just pretty unremarkable. (4/10)
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Rihanna – ‘What Now’
With the video still yet to land, ‘What Now’ goes on its own merits and it comes across as a powerfully sung, simple and emotionally strong song but certainly doesn’t live up to her big hits and lacks any really stand out moments. A good album track doesn’t necessarily equate to a worthwhile single. (5/10)
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Sam Smith – ‘Nirvana’ (EP)
The EP’s title track is an unremarkable, but pleasant enough ballad, with enough emotion in Sam Smith’s voice and string backing to carry it, and feels more like it’s referencing the peaceful religious location rather than the shouty screechy over-rated nineties band. Pleasant if forgettable. Before the EP is completed with a live track and an acoustic version of Disclosure track ‘Latch’ on which he featured, we also get ‘Safe With Me’, a similar track thematically with the similar slick sound and smooth feeling. Neither track is particularly astounding but it’s difficult to dislike their composition and smooth moments. (6/10)
Watch ‘Nirvana’

Watch ‘Safe With Me’

The Saturdays – ‘Disco Love’
The follow-up to ‘Gentleman’ finally lands and whereas that name-checked the 1990s, we’re firmly back in the late 1970s with ‘Donna Summer’ and the ‘Bee Gees’ getting a call out and a cheesy segue, and then forward to the 1990s for Britney Spears. Retro only in title and references, it’s back to the generic pop expected of the Saturdays after their truly refreshing previous single. Fans of pop and the band will enjoy the number, and it’s perfectly chart-friendly, but I was hoping for something better than this after ‘Gentleman’. Harmless, poppy but lacking their usual oomph. (6/10)
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The Vamps – ‘Can We Dance’
A song coming out of leftfield to number one if the mid-week charts are to be believed, The Vamps feel like a band in the mould of JLS, The Wanted, One Direction etc but perhaps with a little extra edge, if adding the word ‘shit’ into your songs defines edge. The brass section and catchy singable chorus sells it and you can clearly see their appeal to the tweenagers of the world and they feel a bit more credible than the sound-a-like boy bands thanks to the spot-on production – and they play their own instruments – but it’s a little too twee for my tastes and seemingly calculated to appeal to the masses. (6.5/10)
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We Are Presidents feat. Favulous – ‘Pop Art’
‘Pop Art’ takes the sound of modern dance and club music that has become a little oversaturated recently and gives it as much kick as the robot gets in the video. It’s not going to win over any detractors but definitely holds your interest for its five minutes with its building up and structuring of the loops and hooks. It won’t win any awards for originality but is a well constructed number and feels like a Daft Punk number without words. (7/10)
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The Wombats – ‘Your Body Is A Weapon’
It’s good to hear the Wombats back, and ‘Your Body Is A Weapon’ fits neatly into their sound, though it does take a few listens for it to settle in due to its strained vocals and awkward fitting of words to music. It’s no departure from their traditional sound so should please their burgeoning fanbase, but the chorus at times feels forced as if someone has written a song trying to sound like ‘The Wombat’s. There’s plenty of catchiness and singability in its riffs though and within a few listens it will grab you. It’s not a new ‘Moving To New York’ or ‘Jump Into The Fog’ but it’s almost up there with its structure and production values and throws another hook at you in its dying moments to keep things interesting. (7/10)
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Ylvis – ‘The Fox’
And let’s end of a bit of novelty. Originally created as a television show promo, the deadly seriousness of the singing adds to the humour and lifts up the absurd lyrics and it’s observations about the overuse of clichés in 2013’s dance music is perfectly observed. It’s no real challenge to ‘Gangnam Style’ or the ‘Harlem Shake’ as this decade’s number one novelty, but we’ve had less catchy serious songs this year. The verses are much better than the chorus, which slips too much into absurdity and fits in less with the overall sound, but if this makes modern music producers question their stale production then all the better. Plus it’s educated people on what the fox actually sounds like. Ish. (6.5/10)
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Post Author: Philip Lickley