This Week’s New Single Releases (23rd February 2014)

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

Single Of The Week

Foxes – ‘Let Go For Tonight’
The second single from their debut album and this is a much more accomplished listen than their first cut. With a bombastic backing tune and a hugely danceable vibe, with Louisa Rose Allen’s vocals belting out, this is a great slice of bouncy pop with some well-placed lyrics, musical breaks and a fun, closing section. Hopefully this will do well for the young singer in the charts. (7.5/10)

ALX – ‘Beautiful Criminal’
‘Beautiful Criminal’ is a smooth mid-tempo rnb ballad with a repetitive, but atmospheric, backing but a pace that never really lifts from the ponderous. Lyrically straight-forward, ALX’s song is well sung and romantically touching, but it’s hardly the most exciting or passionate love song you’re going to hear this month. It’s like a first date at McDonalds; the idea is there but there’s little effort. Neither particularly beautiful or criminal, it occupies that middle bit of listenable, but unremarkable, songs though the chorus will get in your head after a few spins. (5.5/10)
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Brody Dalle – ‘Meet the Foetus / Oh the Joy’
Previously a member of two Australian rock bands, this is the first cut from Dalle’s debut solo album and immediately the title raises an eyebrow. The first half of the connected song is a gruff, raw and muddy light-rock song. The initial drum-opening and the hooky ‘sh-sh-shot through the heart’ in the chorus are the positives that lift the song up from the otherwise incomprehensible collection of lyrics and riffs but the repetitive, singable ‘Oh the Joy’ is a far better end. The five minute tune is a mess of guitar licks, pop-hooks and groany, punk vocals and it’s moments of fun just about counteract the awkward moments. It’s experimental and exciting, but like all the best experiments sometimes the results aren’t what you’d expect. (6/10)
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Capital Cities – ‘Kangaroo Court’
It seems like an age since the brilliant ‘Safe and Sound’ landed onto these shores but finally here is Capital Cities’ follow-up and it has all the hallmarks of the catchiness of their previous hit, with a bouncy, poppy-chorus with plenty of lyrical hooks all over a jaunty radio-friendly tune, alongside plenty of thematic lyrics and some sweet production work. It’s perhaps not as all encompassing as their first but this burst of synth-pop will keep those who want their further fix of the more commercial end of the Daft Punk sound. Plus the video is great. (7/10)
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Circa Waves – ‘Stuck In My Teeth’
‘Stuck In My Teeth’ is a perky pop-indie number with shades of The Vamps or The View, and possibly other bands not beginning with the letter V. The hook of ‘I’m a little too young with not enough time’ will resonate with the target audience and its simple repetition grabs you. This hit from Circa Waves could be accused of being bland teenage-pop, but it’s sunny and poppy enough to reach out. Worth a listen. (6.5/10)
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Dario G and Dame Shirley Bassey – ‘We Got Music’
It’s been a while since either of these artists have released a new song and it’s a welcome return with ‘We Got Music’ being firmly in Dario G’s ballpark if you’re familiar with his late 90s dance tracks with infusions of salsa. Centred around Bassey lyrically repeating the musical riff, this Latino track really suits the Dame’s voice and though it lacks the punch of some of her other collaborations, such as the one with the Propellerheads, it’s enthusiastic tempo and joie de vivre will get you up and moving. Presumably Shakira wasn’t available for the record, but Bassey lends a gravitas to proceedings even if there are echoes to her take on Pink’s ‘Get The Party Started’. (6.5/10)
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Donatan feat. Cleo – ‘Slavic Girls’
Well here’s this week’s novelty record but like most comedic records there is actually a fun catchiness to it, but feels like a missed opportunity for a Eurovision song. Here it’s an uptempo number mixed with a RnB beat and some traditional Slavic music. It comes across a little like a tourist information video if their remit was to promote their national women as, well, a little loose, but as a song it’s fun, catchy and pleasantly tongue-in-cheek, with a video that slaps a fair bit of innuendo around. I’m booking a plane ticket now. (6.5/10)
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Erasure – ‘Make It Wonderful’
Quite why they’ve done a video with such a strong Christmas theme for a February release is beyond me, but away from the dated filmic qualities, this is a positive, synth-heavy memorable number that shows Erasure can still make a great pop-electronic tune well out of their golden period. It’s not one of their best ever pieces but it’s a strong enough single to enjoy. (6.5/10)
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George Ezra – ‘Cassy O’
Following his breakthrough hit ‘Budapest’ George Ezra releases this ‘Aloe Blacc’-esque number with a strong folk sound and a much deeper sound to his voice, but keeping the pop vibes for the more commercial side. If you enjoyed ‘Wake Me Up’ and other songs of that ilk from last year then you’ll be at home with this country, folk-tinged jaunty number with some witty and well observed lyrics. Great. (7/10)
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Glass Animals – ‘Gooey’
Gooey in name, gooey in nature. Smoothly produced with an eerie, ethereal note to both the lyrics and production, this almost-tribal number is a subtle, calming listen with lead vocals as sultry as they bleeps and bloops of the music are. The chorus doesn’t really shift the song up a gear keeping it very much in one style and the five minute running time feels a little too indulgent. But it’s a smooth enough listen for the time being. (5/10)
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Hobbie Stuart feat. Ghetts – ‘Still Here’ (EP)
Hobbie Stuart sounds like Mike Skinner from the Streets if he actually sang or rapped rather than spoke his way through his discography. The EP’s title track name checks Steve Jobs but talks about the current situation of the country with a slab of autotune joining proceedings, over a simple, sombre backing. The poppier chorus sounds like it will become an anthem for the moment and a fast rap from Ghetts rounds off a strong song that mixes politics with a great tune. Elsewhere on the EP his softer version of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Mirrors’ is shorter and, dare I say it, better than the original with its simple piano tune, twinkly production values and his more atmospheric voice. The extended play is rounded off with ‘Counting Stars’ (presumably the OneRepublic song), ‘Put A Movie On’ an original song that’s gentle and subtle but not as exciting as the main song, and a non-rap including version of the main track. A great EP. (7.5/10)
Watch ‘Still Here’

Watch ‘Mirrors’

Watch ‘Put A Movie On’

James Blunt – ‘Heart To Heart’
I have a love-hate relationship with the new James Blunt song. I enjoy the main bulk of the song, especially the chorus which nails the themes of the song and his usual style, but I enjoy less the light-piano and the awkward ‘woah’-secondary vocals Blunt has added to the piece, which for some reason irritate me. It’s not as listenable as the brilliant come-back song ‘Bonfire Heart’ from late last year, but it’s a tune that his fans will embrace and it’s certainly an enjoyable listen. I just wish some of the production decisions had been different. (6.5/10)
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Julio Bashmore feat. Jessie Ware – ‘Peppermint’
There is a certain level of enjoyment to ‘Peppermint’ but it’s enjoyment you can experience in the first thirty seconds as that’ pretty much all you need to hear to have heard the entire 210 seconds as this is the most repetitive song I’ve heard in a long time. Great riff and hook but not after you’ve heard it for the eightieth time with very little variation. Hmm. (2/10)
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KaneUHF feat. Sneakbo – ‘Turn It Up’
After the thirtieth time to ‘turn it up’ I feel more like I want to turn it off. This collaboration between Kane and Sneakbo feels like a smattering of ideas pulled together into a tune with Justin Timberlake’s falsetto as inspiration. It’s a song that doesn’t so much come together as just happen. The chorus, in any of its forms, is repetitive and boring and the production is equally samey. Sneakbo’s rap is the best part of it but that’s like saying that hospital food is the best part of a stay in the local A&E. (2.5/10)
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M.A.D. feat. Kobi Onyame– ‘Fame & TV’
And here’s another young boy band in the vibe of the Vamps with a bit more edge than, say, One Direction. ‘Fame & TV’ feels like the poppier cousin of Good Charlotte’s ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ but for all its lyrically questioning of reality you can’t shake the idea that this is as manufactured as what they criticise, and Onyame’s appearance has a whiff of Rebecca Black’s rap-including debut. It’s very poppy, it’s very catchy, but it’s also very derivative with lyrics and production tricks that have been done so many times before and better, and it lacks the bite that you’d hope for. But it’ll keep the tweenagers happy. (6.5/10)
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Marlene – ‘Stay Awake’
‘Stay Awake’ is a mid-power-ballad performed with gusto by Marlene. Though her vocal power can’t be denied she’s been lumbered a little with a bland song that doesn’t give her much to get her chops around. It’s listenable enough but doesn’t really have anything that will bring you back to the song. A shame, as with better material she might shine. (5/10)
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Nick Cannon – ‘Looking For A Dream’
American actor, comedian, rapper, and radio/television personality, and Mr Mariah Carey, Cannon’s ‘Looking For A Dream’ is his second cut from album ‘White People Party Music’ and there’s a definite Will.I.Am feel to the piece but with a more focussed Calvin Harris focus on simple, hooky lyrics over the stupid wording of Mr I.Am. It’s hardly high-brow but the juxtaposition of the more rap-focussed verses and the balls-out chorus works well and it’ll stick in your head thanks to the stadium-esque crowd effects. It runs out of steam before the end though. (7/10)
Watch the video

Paloma Faith – ‘Can’t Rely On You’
Faith goes a little Pixie Lott on this new record, the first cut from her upcoming third album, which sees Pharrell Williams’ on production duty, and you can certainly hear it and he once more earns some cash by making random noises on other people’s records. My feelings on this song are confused as I want to enjoy its funky and solid overtones, but feel that it’s too stop-and-start to stick with me, and relies too much on cherry picking other records, with influences from ‘Blurred Lines’ and Lott’s catalogue and even, as Alex Kapranos has said, some links to Franz Ferdinand’s famous ‘Take Me Out’ riff. Overall I’d say it’s a song that I want to enjoy but it’s too pretentious and derivative to enjoy and keeps pausing when it should be building. Her voice is great but I feel she’s trying to jump on Williams’ ascending star in lieu of her style which is far better than this. (6/10)
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Prides – ‘The Seeds You Sow’
Glaswegian synth-pop band ‘Prides’ release their new single and it’s built around some strong hooks that you’ll really enjoy. With an eighties vibe to the production, this is a subtly catchy number that builds to a conclusion. With echoes of ‘Johnny Hates Jazz’ and a non-falsetto Aha, this is a refreshingly strong number this week. (7/10)
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The Pretty Reckless – ‘Heaven Knows’
The follow-up to ‘Going To Hell’, ‘Heaven Knows’ is a thumping rock track that feels like it’s taken out of a live set with its big focus on call-and-response vocals. But its strong opening ninety-seconds never really develops into anything more and it loses the impact. The chanty nature of the chorus grabs you but it never feels like it fulfils its ambition especially in the light of their previous rip-roaring single. Not bad, but heaven knows why there isn’t more to it. I bet it’s great live with some crowd interaction. (6/10)
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Rascal Flatts – ‘Rewind’
The lead cut from their upcoming ninth album ticks the boxes of a mid-tempo country ballad that fits nicely into the radio playlists of stations like Radio 2 but, unlike songs like Big and Rich’s recent number, it doesn’t quite have a hook that stands out. But it’ll keep the country fans happen. (5.5/10)
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Rhodes – ‘Raise Your Love’
‘Raise Your Love’ is a slow, emotive ballad with a strong focus on the sombre. Beautifully sung and lyrically strong, it takes a while to settle in but proves to be touching enough to pull you in, though it lacks the emotional heft or the musical strength to make a true impact. It’s nice enough, but there’s no real more praise from me for it. (5.5/10)
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Rudimental feat. Becky Hill – ‘Powerless’
Rudimental continue to release by-numbers music with another great female artist lumbered with some generic lyrics and a synthesized drum beat. If you’ve enjoyed some of more balladic tunes from them, Chase or Status or similar then you’ll like this, but it’s not particularly exciting and is too similar to other in the genre, failing to do anything interesting to make me want to press repeat. (4/10)
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Skaters – ‘Miss Teen Massachusetts’
Taken from their debut album, ‘Miss Teen Massachusetts’ is a muddy, rock number with vocals that get overshadowed by the generic rock backing. Keeping the indie-rock fans happy with their angst and enjoyment of some strong guitar, this doesn’t particularly grab me outside of the solo. Listenable but forgettable. (4/10)
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Tiesto – ‘Red Lights’
Keeping the tradition of generic dance music going this confirms to so many rules and regulations I’m surprised Tiesto hasn’t published a book. Let’s be honest, it’s a good song, but you’ve heard it all before? Tired, let’s move on. (3/10)
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Tiffany Houghton – ‘Love Like That’
I might be able to forgive this country-tinged song for its incredible similarity to the guitar riff from George Michael’s faith as it’s a pretty catchy, sunny pop song that sounds like Taylor Swift meets Avril Lavigne, meets a young Dolly Parton. It’s pretty simple and unfussy and I wish at times for a bit more bulk to the music, but it’s a pre-summer bubbly number that does what it needs to then finishes. (6.5/10)
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Wilkinson feat. Detour City – ‘Too Close’
Seems like Wilkinson have bought Tiesto’s book (I’d like to think from the shop they share their name with) as they’ve gone from creating the great ‘Afterglow’ to this generic song which shares so much DNA with Rudimental’s ‘Waiting All Night’ I’m surprised it’s not appearing on the Jeremy Kyle show next week. I was expecting more than this electronic drum heavy bland number. Shame. (3/10)
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Within Temptation feat. Dave Pirner – ‘Whole World Is Watching’
Now this is more like it. In the tradition of the female / male vocal combos that have graced many film soundtracks in the past, this is a touching well-produced number which boasts the vocals of Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner whose vocals can never be understated. It’s perhaps not the best example of the style but it has a great sound and pulls a little on the heartstrings, and after the last few boring numbers it shines. ‘Whole World Is Watching’ is a filmic number that grows on you, and is a great balance of music, lyric and power. (6.5/10)
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Post Author: Philip Lickley