Hogland feat. KIDDO – Letting Go

“Sod it, we’ve got no idea what to do, let’s just DANCE and GET SMASHED and DEAL WITH IT TOMORROW. DANCE DANCE DANCE.”

Tim: Hogland is, according to the first link that comes up with a search, “a Swedish music producer and DJ whose melodic songs have captured the ears of several million listeners”. Isn’t that nice?

Tom: Unless you’re one of the millions who want their ears back, sure.

Tim: Yep, fair. I must confess I’m not of of those several million listeners, as I’d never heard of him until this came up on a playlist last night, but see what you think.

Tim: For me, you see, my ear is well and truly captured, because that’s flipping brilliant.

Tom: You’re not wrong.

Tim: Right from that start, that guitar line promises a lot, but even with the piano tinkling, the occasional booming drums and the silence that comes along in the build up, you never really get an idea of the enormity of what’s to come until it hits, and you’re left being whacked round the head with a fantastic breakdown, the likes of which you’ve not heard in a long, long time. It’s just brilliant.

Tom: It seems to takes a very, very long time to get there: objectively, it doesn’t, but I expected the drop to hit much earlier. That’s not really a complaint: it’s decent, and the anticipation’s mostly worth it.

Tim: I’ve not been so excited on hearing an artist for the first time since Alan Walker did Faded, and I am hugely looking forward to checking out the rest of his work. I don’t even mind that the lyrics offer no resolution at all – just a “we can try, but, you know…” – because that’s followed immediately by that enormous dance breakdown.

Tom: Hmm. I’m not quite as convinced as you. There’s some really good stuff in here — but when it gets to the actual breakdown and instrumental chorus, it feels a bit generic and a-few-years-ago to me. There is, I’ll grant you, a huge amount of potential in here: if they can make a song that builds this well and also that sticks the landing, I think it’ll be spectacular. Until then, well, yes, I can see why you’re excited.

Tim: Right? So as the lyrics effectively end up being: sod it, we’ve got no idea what to do, let’s just DANCE and GET SMASHED and DEAL WITH IT TOMORROW. DANCE DANCE DANCE.

Galantis & Yellow Claw – We Can Get High

“True to form, that is entirely not garbage.”

Tim: Just a few days on from their last one, here’s a new collaboration, hurrah!

Tom: They’ve found themselves a pretty good niche: find a good collaborator, work with them on a track, make a good dance tune. I don’t think there are many artists who work like that — DJ Khalid aside. But there’s a chance that this could be by-the-numbers: they’re not all hits, particularly when there’s such a short release schedule between them.

Tim: A fair possibility, but we’ve not had anything that’s complete garbage for quite a long time. Let’s try this one.

Tim: And, true to form, that is entirely not garbage.

Tom: Like the Kygo track yesterday, I wasn’t convinced about this until that build to the chorus.

Tim: Admittedly, the vocal styling might not be fully appreciated by some, as in the wrong place I wouldn’t like them. On the other hand, this is very much the right place for them – stuck just in front of a properly banging post-chorus with a great melody.

Tom: I was surprised by that post-chorus itself, though: on first listen, I thought it seemed a bit spartan and harsh. But by the end of the track: yes, I think this works. I suspect you’ll have the same problem as me, though: no middle eight.

Tim: Well, yes: obviously my usual moan about a lack of middle eight applies here, but I’m increasingly convinced that may be a lost cause, so I’ll just appreciate what I’ve got, simply because it’s very good. Very good indeed.

Kygo, Chelsea Cutler – Not OK

“Standard Kygo. Perhaps, even, above average Kygo.”

Tim: Advance warning for you, Tom: I’m in beautiful sunny Majorca right now, so there’s a strong chance (alright, a certainty) that most of the music this week will be summery dance tunes.

Tom: There’s a chance of rain here, Tim. Every day this week.

Tim: Well, with this you can pretend otherwise.

Tim: Standard Kygo. Perhaps, even, above average Kygo. A good vocal feature, a good chorus, a good theme running through it, and most importantly of all a good breakdown after it.

Tom: I wasn’t convinced until that build towards the chorus — and then, yes, I think “standard Kygo” fits it well. It’s a pretty good standard, though, isn’t it?

Tim: It really is. And who cares if you’re not okay, as long as you can dance all over the place? I had, for some reason, got it into my head that Kygo was in a bit of a funk right now, releasing disappointing tunes. But no – as this shows, that’s not even slightly the case.

Saturday Flashback: DJ Vibes – Hey Jude

“Not because it’s good. Just because it’s memorable.“

Tom: I know that we’re ostensibly doing music reviews here, as opposed to just keeping in touch by sending music to each other. But sometimes I don’t want to do that: I just want to say “Tim, listen to this.”

Tim: Fine by me. What have you got?

Tom: Please enjoy this ridiculous, terrible, awful, happy hardcore track, off the Ravers Choice label. Not because it’s good. Just because it’s memorable.

Tim: That…that is certainly a track that exists, and turns one of the most terrible songs ever into something, well, differently terrible. Thank you Tom.

Saturday Flashback: Harris & Ford – Drop Me Amadeus

“I never knew I needed a rave tribute to a prolific 18th century composer with an added Lonely Island style explanatory rap.”

Tim: I’ve been intrigued by this act since we featured them with Scooter the other day, not least because of their truly brilliant name.

Tom: They’re on Kontor records, same as Scooter, which does make some sort of sense.

Tim: Checking out their back catalogue, a large amount of it is somewhat unlistenable for me, being way too hardcore rave for my liking. This almost fell into that grouping, but then I kept listening.

Tim: Up until now, I never knew I needed a rave tribute to a prolific 18th century composer with an added Lonely Island style explanatory rap, but who’d have thought it?

Tom: Lonely Island-style is about right. I’m genuinely not sure whether this is tongue-in-cheek or not: there’s precedent for this sort of thing being serious but I can’t be sure. It, er, it certainly leaves an impression.

Tim: Turns out, that’s exactly what I need. It’s ridiculous, it got me giggling a bit, and it got me raving. Top stuff.

Avicii – Heaven

“It’s officially seen the light of day, which is nice.”

Tim: The album TIM is out today, with a number of interesting featured signers on there. Also interesting, to music nerds like us at least, is the crediting – almost all of them are ‘Avicii feat.’, though there are two exceptions. One’s credited to Avicii & Imagine Dragons equally, a fairly bizarre track that I really don’t think works at all; another, as in this one, has no credited vocalist at all. Even though the vocalist is Chris Martin.

Tom: And it’s Chris Martin going full Chris Martin, too. Interesting choice of title and lyric for a posthumous release, too.

Tim: It was recorded back in 2014 when they worked together on A Sky Full Of Stars (which in turn didn’t have Avicii as an official featured artist, maybe it was a reciprocal arrangement), and has been played in various live sets since, but now it’s officially seen the light of day, which is nice.

Tom: It sounds like an Avicii song from a few years ago, even down to the build in the middle — and the length, which is much more than you’d expect from a track in the streaming era.

Tim: It’s the most typical Avicii song of any of the pre-released tracks, and it’s nice. That repeating melody, the opening twinkly bit, the lovely sentiment of the lyrics, and the general feeling throughout it – just really, really nice, and particularly with those lyrics it may be my favourite of the recent releases.

Tom: Agreed. Although somehow it seems a little hollow: this is very much a posthumous release finished by others.

Tim: I miss him, you know. I know we’ve had a lot of new stuff from his hard drive recently, but it’s not quite the same, really. Not the same at all.

Galantis x Passion Pit – I Found U

“This is just fabulous.”

Tim: Galantis, I have decided, are firmly back in my good books, and I’m fairly sure I can count on them as reliable. So, how will they perform here, with perhaps not the most obvious of bedfellows?

Tim: Easy answer: brilliantly, because this is just fabulous.

Tom: That’s a really good introduction, isn’t it? I wouldn’t have thought that sort of organ-synth would work in this century, but it does.

Tim: It does, pleasingly, manage to sound just like a Passion Pit track and also just like a Galantis track, though it’s not just the straightforward verse/chorus split we might have been treated to with lesser people in charge. There’s a bit of everybody everywhere, and as such the track flows in and out seamlessly from one part to another, unlike a lot of collaborations.

Tom: Often with collaborations, you feel like one side or the other hasn’t brought their A-game — that they’ve decided to keep the good stuff for themselves. But this really does seem like a joint track: it deserves “×” rather than “feat”.

Tim: And, on top of all that, it sounds good! Great melody, great beat, great production, great…everything. ALL GREAT.

Sigala, Becky Hill – Wish You Well

“BREAK OUT THE PINEAPPLES.”

Tim: Remember 2016’s theme of Tropical Fridays? Well, it’s obviously too early to suggest they might be making a comeback, but for now, let’s BREAK OUT THE PINEAPPLES.

Tim: It’d be a good start, no?

Tom: It’s not bad! That “loyalities, insecurities and priorities” line stands out as being a really well crafted lyric: I don’t know the rhythm terms to explain what’s going on there, but it’s certainly catchy. As is most of the song, unexpectedly.

Tim: Admittedly I’ll always have a slightly rose-tinted view of Sigala, partly because he’s from Norwich, much like me, and also because his name is Bruce, which is an astounding name for a 27 year old Brit to have. Even so, I think this is a very good track to come out with.

Tom: You’re not wrong there. I am properly surprised by this: I expected this to be another regression-to-the-mean standard dance track, but there’s something in there that really stands out.

Tim: It’s his first new track since he put out his album last year, and that post-chorus breakdown, whilst being entirely devoid of coconuts, is astonishingly good. It is, in fact, entirely reminiscent of early ’00s dance tracks, and I absolutely love that.

Perhaps it’s a little lazy to immediately assign a ‘yes please’ to a track just because it brings back good feelings of times gone past, but I don’t care. Those are memories of music I loved, and never stopped loving, and it’s fantastic to hear it all over again. Especially when it sounds this damn good.

Avicii feat. Agnes & Vargas & Lagola – Tough Love

“Ah, a Eurovision entrant.”

Tim: Second single from the upcoming album (which, I’ve since found out, is getting the profits donated to a mental health organisation, so it’s not icky after all).

Tom: They didn’t really get off to a flying start with the first single, so I’ve not got high hopes.

Tim: Piano dance is so ten years ago, country guitar so five years ago, so right now we’ve got, well, this.

Tom: Ah, a Eurovision entrant. Specifically, the type that uses some traditional instrument and scale for one bit while otherwise adhering to European pop norms.

Tim: It is a bit odd, isn’t it? Well, to most Western European ears at least. Took me a few listens to enjoy this, for that and also the same reason Wake Me Up took a bit of getting used to: it’s just so different, and so initially janky from one style to the next, that it seems almost irritating. After a couple of times, though, it kind of works a bit, in the way that I at least appreciate both bits individually, and am more or less okay with them being mixed up, I guess?

Tom: There are some really inspired parts in here. Okay, there’s one really inspired part in here, and it’s one chord progression in the middle eight. Maybe I would learn to love it, but I just don’t think I’m going to give it that chance.

Tim: Reading that back it comes across quite harsh, but I do enjoy it. Kind of.

Jubël – On The Beach

“That is a bit unsettling.”

Tim: Here’s a thing I never knew: the massive 2000 hit O.T.B. (On The Beach) was a cover, ish, of a 1986 track by Chris Rea.

Tom: I had no idea. That is a bit unsettling; it’s like the first time I heard the song that Groove Armada sampled for At The River. Anyway! It’s a cover?

Tim: Yes, and so’s this.

Tim: Nice, that, isn’t it? I know we’ve discussed the concept of chilled house music multiple times–

Tom: Along with the fact that I don’t really like it.

Tim: –which is why I’d like to give me one last chance to justify it. Thing is, this precisely sums it up: nice music, with a strong but non-invasive beat, that you can listen to in the summer, as background music when you’re hanging around relaxing with some mates, in a park, maybe, or, well, on the beach.

Tom: Yes, fine, all right, I’ll grant that this is a solid mid-playlist bit of gentle party music. I’d say it’s actually better than the 2000 hit, which does tend to outstay its welcome somewhat.

Tim: Arguably due to the fact that there were basically no lyrics in that at all. Here we’ve got full vocal verses, bringing us a fully decent chilled house song. The sun’s strong, the drinks are flowing, this is playing nicely in the background, and everyone’s enjoying themselves. Not too much, mind, or at least, if they are then ideally they’ll have separated themselves from the rest of the group and blimey, I’ve gone wildly off topic here. Basically: sun, drink, friends, this. A good afternoon.