As 2012 comes to an end and 2013 starts, we’re putting together reviews of the latest singles. Many of these tracks have already been put in sets throughout 2012 and, at the tail end of the year, are just seeing an official release. For what to listen to and what to avoid, read our recommendations.
Andrew Bayer – “Gaff’s Eulogy” (December 17 on Anjunadeep)
The leading single from Bayer’s upcoming sophomore album If It Were You, We’d Never Leave takes listeners on a low-key, ambient journey through glitch beats, subtle percussion, and lush yet plaintive strings. This electronica track starts slow and gradually builds through the inclusion of new instrumentation: smooth, clear synths form the foundation for harp tones, percussive elements, and orchestral strings. For a chill-out track that’s equal parts intricate and beautiful, “Gaff’s Eulogy” is about as perfect as you can get.
Gareth Emery & Ashley Wallbridge – “DUI” (December 17 on Garuda)
On one hand, Gareth Emery and Ashley Wallbridge’s second collaboration is hardly genre-pushing. The ebb and flow of sizzling synth melodies and light beats is practically a trance staple at this point. On the other, its structure – or lack of – hints at a simpler time for the EDM subgenre, one in which vocals didn’t take over and smash through every track. Its melodies and structure hark back to the subgenre’s heyday and briefly lull the listener away from the cringe-worthy state of modern-day trance.[rating:3]
Gabriel & Dresden – “Play It Back Remixed” (December 24 on Original Nature)
“Play It Back,” featuring Betsie Larkin, was Gabriel & Dresden’s first release in about five years. Now a club staple, the track received the remix treatment from Ken Loi and Maor Levi. And, the two interpretations couldn’t be more different. Loi’s reworking gives the track a harder, syncopated, yet choppy edge, while Levi aims for the expansive and uplifting. The two remixes are just as good, if not more substantial, than the original, and should soon be part of setlists in clubs everywhere.[rating:4]
Fedde Le Grand – “Raw” (December 24 on Spinnin Records)
Last decade, Le Grand commanded fans to “put [their] hands up for Detroit” and “Raw” ensures they keep them there. A quintessential dance floor track, “Raw” is a slick production of circular arpeggios complimented by heavy bass and beats that lead into a bass drop – one that’s warranted, in this case. “Raw” is rough, expansive, and overall exciting, and if any track is selected to start off 2013, it should be this.[rating:5]
Afrojack vs. Keane – “Sovereign Light Café (Afrojack Remix)”
Hey, Afrojack, want to step outside of David Guetta’s shadow? Try some new production techniques. Adding a heavier beat and a syncopated synth line to a rock track doesn’t make a remix and serves no purpose other than as festival filler.[rating:1.5]
Avicii vs. Nicky Romero – “I Could Be The One” (December 29 on Le7els)
“I Could Be The One” (previously titled “Stranger”) found its way into Avicii’s setlists over the past year but was only recently released. Although a catchy synth line is the definitive feature of “I Could Be The One,” with a stomping beat supporting, a shrill, totally unnecessary vocal line mars the production and dominates the instrumentation in the single version. What could have been a truly good collaboration is simply an average progressive house track. Don’t waste your time on the single version – wait for it to surface as an instrumental live, which can be heard below.[rating:2] – for the single version, [rating:4] – for the instrumental
Showtek & Bassjackers – “Hey!” (December 31 on Spinnin Records)
Bigger, better, and laden with bass – that’s essentially the gist of Showtek and Bassjackers’ collaboration. With the possibility to turn into another hit for Bassjackers (and officially break them into the higher ranks of EDM), “Hey!” is bass-heavy house for fans that like the deep, gritty character of dubstep but want, y’know, a stable rhythm. While not a groundbreaking track, “Hey!” has “check this out!” all over it.[rating:4]
Mikael Weermets – “Make Some Noise” (January 7 on Garuda Music)
Weermets’ “Make Some Noise” could either be one of the most clichéd or tongue-in-cheek EDM tracks to surface – it’s not exactly clear. With the title shouted at various points throughout, “Make Some Noise” is a brief tour of all “it” genres. A rising buildup opens and soon dissipates into a tranquil melody reminiscent of trance. From there, the still chords transform into big-room synth iterations, from which another build emerges. Title aside, “Make Some Noise” might be one of the more disjointed efforts to blend more than one subgenre of EDM.[rating:2]
Sander Van Doorn – “Joyenergizer” (January 7 on Doorn Records)
Often grouped in with those saccharine or soporific A State of Trance artists, Sander Van Doorn, it appears, doesn’t have any edge to him. Yet, this upcoming track, already with a video out, shows off this producer’s darker side. Ascending and descending octave glissandos give the track a slippery, discordant quality, with tribal, glitchy beats supporting. A synth line in thirds emerges halfway through as a reminder of the DJ’s melodic skills. If Doorn is looking to separate himself from the glut of European trance artists, “Joyenergizer” certainly does it. Note, the video below is NSFW.[rating:4]
Calvin Harris – “Drinking from the Bottle” (January 27 on Columbia)
Calvin Harris, what happened to you? Your early trance-influenced tracks like “I’m Not Alone” showed your promise as an electro artist who sings and produces, but frankly, every single off 18 Months has been nothing but generic EDM. Get back behind the microphone, stat.
“Drinking from the Bottle” is simply nonsense: synth lines obscured by awful lyrics, courtesy of rapper Tinie Tempah, a rhythm that’s too similar to “Let’s Go,” and big beats that any house producer can drop. If you think David Guetta is the nadir of modern EDM, Harris, unfortunately, scores a new low with this track. Note, video is NSFW.[rating:1]