Friday, April 4, 2014

Haim go disco and nine other songs you may have missed

The latest in a semi-regular round-up from pop's bargain bins. This week's overlooked classics include:

1) Haim - If I Could Change Your Mind (Cerrone Mix)
A couple of months ago Haim got Giorgio Moroder to remix Forever. Now they've roped in French disco lynchpin Cerrone (the inspiration for Goldfrapp's Supernature) to overhaul If I Could Change Your Mind.

He keeps nothing but the vocals, laying them over a smooth Chic groove, thus transforming Haim into a shaggy-haired Sister Sledge.

Roller skates at the ready...

2) Shakira - Empire
Always at her best when she goes full bananas, Shakira holds nothing back on this furniture-chewing torch ballad. As usual, her metaphors go awry in translation ("And the stars make love to the universe??") but she sings it with such demented conviction you let her get away with it.

If you fancy more Empire, Shakira's performance on last week's The Voice UK was a masterclass in stagecraft.

3) Nick Mulvey - Meet Me There
Until 2011, Nick Mulvey was one of the members of Mercury-nominated jazz outfit Portico Quartet, where he played the Hang, a sort of steel drum invented in Switzerland 13 years ago.

These days, however, he's doing lots of clever, Latin-flecked finger picking on his acoustic guitar. You may have already come across his Jack Johnson-y single Cucurucu, which got to number 26 last year.

Meet Me There is even better - elevated above the usual "wispy boy with a guitar" fare by a beguiling bowed cello counter-melody. You don't get a degree in music from the School of Oriental and African Studies for nothing, you know.

4) Tourist (ft Will Heard) - I Can't Keep Up
Signed to Disclosure's Method Records, Tourist is the alter-ego of DJ William Phillips. Like the Lawrence Brothers, he's been building a profile with a bunch of influential instrumentals, before hiring in a few vocalists to send his career chartwise.

Lifted from his forthcoming Patterns EP (which also features Lianne LaHavas) I Can't Keep Up features the soulful crooning of Ireland's Will Heard, and builds steadily for three minutes before, whoosh, soaring off into the stratosphere.

In the week when Frankie Knuckles sadly passed away, this is just one of a dozen new releases that's utterly indebted to his music.

5) Rita Ora - I Will Never Let You Down (Westfunk mix)
I wasn't sure about Rita Ora's comeback single when it premiered on Monday but, with every listen, it sounds more like a hit. Calvin Harris's production is a little subtle, though, so here's a ridiculous rave remix. Air punch o'clock.

6) Sex On Toast - Hold My Love
Of course there's a band called Sex On Toast, and of course they make retro 80s lurve ballads. This is essentially trying to cover Prince's Scandalous, all slap bass and vocoder solos and sticky-fingered fumbling under your sweater.

At least the band don't take themselves too seriously, as the video demonstrates.

7) Drake - Draft Day
New material from "Drizzy" who's always better when he's rapping. This samples Lauryn Hill's Doo-Wop (That Thing), which should go some way towards paying her legal bills.

8) Chloe Howl - Rumour (acoustic)
Chloe Howl deserves a break. Rumour only got to number 84 when it came out earlier this year - but somehow #Selfie goes Top 10? The world is an unjust place.

Especially when you can make a terrible bit of "online content" work so well in your favour. Would you catch Beyonce delivering a flawless performance on a freezing cold rooftop with her hands shoved in her pockets to avoid chillblains? I think not.

9) Sam Smith - Stay With Me
An acceptable recovery after the godawful Money On My Mind, here is Sam Smith doing what Sam Smith does best - singing a lovelorn ballad with the voice of an angel.

"Hang on," you might say, "Surely warbling over the top of Disclosure songs is what Sam Smith does best?" And you would be right. So here is Sam Smith doing what Sam Smith does second best.

10)How To Dress Well - Repeat Pleasure
With touches of both Janet (breathy falsetto)and Michael Jackson (Human Nature synth line), this is seductive, forward-looking soul from American musician Tom Krell. The comparison isn't completely plucked out of thin air, by the way, he covered Janet's Again last year.

NB: You should stick with this one to the end - it grows and grows like a Wotsit in a glass of water.

The end.

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