#NewMusicFriday: ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’ by Sam Calver (Jack Wins Remix)

As much as a remix can breathe life into a piece of music, it can also cut free the structural restraints of the original. With his take on up-and-coming artist Sam Calver’s Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, Jack Wins creates new ground for a summery hit.

On the original, Calver experiments with the flow of his vocals underneath a slight trap beat. While at times the weaving of lyrics around the relaxed tempo brings with it a creative flair, it does sound rather disjointed and has this rather ‘tight’ sound to it. There’s a sense of the vocals wanting to explore a new rhythm, but the track’s instrumentals are holding Calver back. Cue Dutch DJ Jack Wins spicing things up a bit.

With new backing piano chords moulding around the vocals, there’s much more room for Calver’s voice to take centre stage with a more anthemic edge. From stabs supporting the higher ends of his vocal range, Wins’ traditional club sound in the second verse works well with the lyrics, giving a much grittier feel to Sam’s sound. Through Jack’s creativity, we finally get a track which feels unrestrained and liberated – a feeling which translates well into the minds of listeners when giving this club track a spin.

Jack Wins’ remix of Don’t Tell Me You Love Me is available to listen to now on Spotify and Apple Music.

Advertisements

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Drink About’ by Seeb feat. Dagny

It’s been nearly three years since the Norwegian DJ trio Seeb shot into the spotlight with their hit remix of I Took A Pill in Ibiza. What followed was a string of collaborations on remixes and original tracks – the group working with the likes of One Republic and Ocean Park Standoff – before last month, the hitmakers finally announced the launch of their debut EP.

Nice to Meet You is out on 20 April, but today saw the release of the first single from the record – Drink About, featuring fellow Norwegian, Dagny.

Once again, Seeb’s traditional, bouncy synths shine through underneath a steady rhythm – a style which has sadly become a bit too repetitive after a lengthy back catalogue from the group, yet still strikes a unique tone with calming piano chords in the verses which make Drink About a more laid-back release.

Although the instrumental backdrop to the track may appear all too familiar, it’s usually the vocal structure of the song which tends to deliver the fresh sound. In this case, Dagny – another artist close to their big music breakthrough.

Like Paloma Faith but without the slight raspiness, the 27-year-old experiments with the flow of lyrics in a playful manner, moving seamlessly between controlled, soft vocals and smooth high notes on this anti-love song.

Packed full of the typical characteristics of a Seeb hit, Drink About easily falls into the uniform structure of the Norwegian group’s previous works, yet somehow also generates a calmer pace unlike remixes such as Lost Boys and Rich Love.

If the lead single is ever demonstrative of the full picture of an EP, then there’s a chance we could see more relaxed tones in addition to club hits when Nice To Meet You is out in two weeks’ time.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Dreamer’ by Axwell Λ Ingrosso

Over five years since the DJ trio Swedish House Mafia announced their split, group members Axwell and Ingrosso have done a good job of filling the SHM-shaped hole in the world of EDM. This time, the pair return with a more reserved dance track in the form of Dreamer.

Whilst tracks like Something New and Dream Bigger have taken the more loud and bombastic route, their latest single – taken from their album More Than You Know – maintains the same anthemic vocals in a rather low-key fashion. In a sense, it’s a song which lacks the traditional punch of a busy dance hit. Whether that it is a good or bad thing in the context of Dreamer is up for debate.

Such an indication comes with the central drop of the track – something which is somewhat underwhelming when one considers the build-up beforehand. Layered with impassioned vocals centre-stage from Trevor Guthrie, a hint of the main melody and additional tones to back it up, it’s an assortment which suggests a hard-hitting hook…

The end result? A descent into a trap-like beat which, although an interesting change of style, feels disappointing until the listener plays the track several times and know what’s coming. The aforementioned elements remain, but it still feels like there’s something missing. It’s almost like the horn-like synths push the song forward, whilst the simplistic drum groove holds it back. Whilst the musical ‘tug-of-war’ may sound like an interesting concept to play with, it just leaves the listener in this weird state of limbo, unsure if this is one of those chill trap tracks or – at a stretch – an unconventional club hit.

The former is what I’ve come to accept Dreamer as being. It’s alluded to with the soft piano chords in the opening, and a slightly orchestral-style interlude in the middle of the song, but it’s not long before this atmosphere is lost to the chorus.

For me, it’s not the first song to fall victim to a delayed fondness. Initially, Something New, the soundtrack to a weekend with friends in February last year, caught my attention with its almost guitar-like melody, but something still felt underwhelming. It was only months later that whatever dissatisfaction I felt went away. On this occasion with Dreamer, the time it took for me to appreciate the change in style was shorter. Yet, in such a judgemental music climate, it shouldn’t have to be down to the third or fourth listen for it all to suddenly click – however replayable a song may be.

Despite feeling stripped back in areas, Dreamer is an interesting change Axwell Λ Ingrosso’s dance style, and in parts of the single where things may feel rather flat, that’s where the remixs – as always – can step in to inject new life into it.

Those should be interesting…

Musical Discovery: ‘Ego’ by Ella Eyre feat. Ty Dolla $ign (Jack Wins Remix)

A successful remix is always one which could be passed off as the original, if the listener hasn’t heard anything different. In my case, as I listened to Jack Wins’ remix of Ella Eyre’s Ego, despite knowing it wasn’t the initial song, it certainly sounded like the first version.

There’s no denying that Eyre’s vocals can’t fit a good dance track (look no further than her recent hits with Sigma and Sigala, which both entered the UK Top 40). From something a bit tropical (Came Here for Love) or drum-and-bass (Good Times), Jack’s remix shows Ella’s suitability for a more club-like sound. With the original version adopting a slow calypso, the club version injects some much-needed fun and pace into the track. Whilst the initial track’s chorus contains nothing more than flowing drums and soulful vocals from Ella, Jack Wins brings a new instrumental melody to this part of the song which gives it that added punch.

Disappointingly minimalistic in its makeup, the slower tempo of Ella’s song lacks a satisfying beat drop and chorus. It may well serve as a more atmospheric single compared to the 23-year-old’s previous, fast-paced pop releases, but it just lacks a certain substance. Ego sounds very much like a track one would see accompanying a big-budget emotional movie trailer. It is great background listening, and is comfortably mediocre, but there’s nothing there to warrant our full attention.

This brings me to Jack Wins’ remix, and my point about this having the potential to be considered the original. The Dutch DJ’s impressive portfolio of hits shows he is no stranger to creating the perfect hook, beat drop and chorus, and fixes all the mistakes in the initial track with ease.

The underwhelming beat drop at the start is replaced with a satisfying drum fill, followed by a chorus complete with a bouncy rhythm and sharp synth chords to set the tone. Yet again, like his Rockabye remix, Jack Wins cuts out the featured rapper in the track (Ty Dolla $ign) for the benefit of the song as a whole.

With a perfect balance between adding new things to the song, and taking other parts away, Jack’s remix style yet again brings out the best in a single in a way that makes it his own – and if that’s not the sign of a good remix, then I don’t know what is.

Musical Discovery: ‘Message’ by Audien

As the name suggests, Some Ideas – the latest EP from the American DJ Audien – contains three songs all completely different from each other. From chill house to hazy synths, it’s a release which sees the musician flex his producing muscles. Yet, by far the most traditional-sounding song of the lot is the EP’s opener, Message.

After all, there’s the repeated lyrics – message from my heart/too loud to stay apart – alongside Audien’s signature beat drops (be it a bass drum or sudden pause in the song) and delicate piano. It follows the usual structure, too: minimalistic piano chords guide the track all the way up to the main lead, which is complete with the occasional off-beat note and a satisfying rising and falling melody. Yet again, US artist sure knows how to create a euphoric dance hit.

Whilst part of this song is down to sampling and the repeated lyrics may come across as simplistic, it must be remembered that this is quite an experimental assortment of songs. Message, Resolve and Rampart see Audien try out new sounds, with each track different from the other. Simply put, it’s a pick-and-mix EP, and there’s a high chance you’ll like at least one of the three.

Musical Discovery: ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’ by Sam Smith (Robin Hustin Remix)

For any DJ, remixing ballads is always a tricky move. Aside from the fact that people like Whitney Houston, Adele and Sam Smith are household names and boast strong fanbases, pushing a slow tempo and finding a unique melody to place on top of the track could take away from the original aspects of the song. Much like how artists were quick to work on Adele’s Hello when she returned in late 2015 (to various success), following Sam Smith’s return last week, DJs are now working on remixes for his latest single, Too Good At Goodbyes. One such artist is Robin Hustin.

It’s a remix which is structurally sound throughout, following the usual rise and fall expected of a dance track. In the verses, Hustin steps back to let Sam Smith take centre stage with his vocals. That is, up until the pre-chorus, which the Danish DJ uses as the perfect build-up to a pulsating drop full of sharp club synths. Whilst the original purposefully – and rightfully – didn’t contain many instruments, Hustin has filled the gap with subtlety and flair with his own creative remix.

Update: Since publishing this review, the remix is no longer available due to ‘copyright issues’.

Musical Discovery: ‘Clap Your Hands’ by Le Youth feat. Ava Max

With a name like Clap Your Hands, it’s understandable for people to approach Le Youth’s latest single with Ava Max with some heightened scepticism (so many artists have sung about clapping your hands over the years) and assume that it’s a traditional pop song which lacks any particular substance which makes it stand out. However, whilst the lyrics to the song are quite simplistic and bland (look no further than the chorus for proof), it’s Max’s smooth vocals on top of flowing instrumentals which saves the song from falling into the generic brand of mainstream music – think Daft Punk meets the voice from How Deep is Your Love by Calvin Harris and Disciples.

Throughout, one off-beat synth chord plays underneath various drum beats – the main one being a groovy rhythm with a double-stroke hi-hat which is to be expected from such a funk-heavy track. The surprise opening of the hi-hat every once in a while keeping the groove fluid and interesting. Swap this for clapping in the final bridge and the beat remains tight throughout.

As for Ava Max’s vocals, the aforementioned synth keeps things nice and stripped back for the American singer in the verses. Pure and soft, it’s a smooth layer to the electro-funk vibes whipped up by Le Youth. The harmonised ah, ah, yeah really adds to the vibrant, chilled feel of the track and makes it a brilliant debut collaboration from the artist, who’s set to release some new music towards the end of the year.

Alongside showcasing the talent of his featured vocalist, Le Youth also stops to show off some of his talents as a producer. Whilst the main chorus offers little progression from the verses, it’s the main instrumental where the true funkiness of the track shines through. A fluttering bass synth hides as a slightly whiny-like electronic melody flows. Listening to this alongside the colourful music video, it’s wonderfully psychedelic and both work brilliantly together to capture that disco funk style we all know and love. To judge this track from its very typical title would be a poor mistake indeed.