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Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

With the way individual tracks are now consumed, the idea of what constitutes a single has shifted dramatically in the last half a decade, and its for this reason that the songs reviewed across the next six pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. All are treated equally – well, most of the time – with Breach’s ‘Jack’, So Solid Crew’s latest comeback single and more in the line of fire.

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So Solid Crew – ‘UK Hot Wid It’


Chal Ravens: I’m charmed by the pummelling, everything-turned-up-to-11 vibe they’ve gone with, but the “you-kay, you-you-kay” hook is just weird, isn’t it? All over the place but could’ve been so much worse. (5)

John Twells: I’m always ready to apologize for So Solid Crew, but ‘UK Hot Wid It’ is just a bit rubbish isn’t it. I know it’s the year of the comeback, but there are some bands (most bands?) that work far better as fond memories than they actually do in real life a few years past their sell-by date. (3)

Steve Shaw: As a statement of a UK sound, Orange Hill’s production here is pretty indicative of the kind of thing you’ll hear on primetime BBC 1Xtra and music channels today, so I can see where this is coming from. But it’s also so deliriously overblown and stressful that the vocals – also pretty haphazardly done – seem laboured trying to cut through it. As a comeback single this doesn’t separate them from anyone else in terms of originality – let’s not forget how minimal a production ’21 Seconds’ was, and how fluid and varied all the vocal contributions were – but at least they’re trying something completely different. (3)

Joe Moynihan: In terms of the tunes I appreciate most today I definitely owe more to So Solid than the rest of the countless artists long past their prime picking this year to make a comeback, so why wasn’t I excited in the slightest by the announcement of this new joint? Probably, like most of these pixel/column-hogging oldies trying to rekindle their flame and ending up looking like them chiefs in smoking areas with broken lighters too embarrassed to ask for a light, because it was oh so blatantly going to be as pony as it is. Saying that, Neutrino alone gives this track a few points for the line “and I made Dilemma, me one that’s a fact” and another point for it being spat over the infinitely more tolerable – and to this day next level – ‘Dilemma’ beat. (4)



Elvis Costello & The Roots – ‘Walk Us Uptown’


Chal Ravens: Caffe Nero music (no dis to Caffe Nero). (4)

Chris Kelly: A collaboration that is less surprising the more you think about it. The Roots are as tight as ever, putting those Late Night backing band skills in service of Costello’s spry sneer. (6)

John Twells: Surprisingly decent – this was looking like the year’s least essential collaboration to me, but it seems to be paying off. There’s very little in the way of fresh ideas, but it doesn’t need much embellishment – The Roots’ dusty, cinematic funk is just right as it is, sitting alongside Costello’s hoarse croak. Is that even a trace of Spaghetti Western in dub I hear in there? (6)

Brad Rose: Was there a memo back in January that said 2013 was the year of big-name collaborations nobody in the world (except maybe your lame brother-in-law) wants to hear? This just sounds like artists well past their primes trying to remain relevant some way, some how and coming up comically short. Move along, nothing to see here. (3)

Steve Shaw: Nobody needs another funk track that demands its instruments remain in the 60s and 70s. (3)


Breach – ‘Jack’


Steve Shaw: I’m alright thanks. (3)

Brad Rose: Twells is gonna give this a 10 for the ginger section, isn’t he? (3)

Joe Moynihan: Love Breach’s stuff usually but bun this tune. The vocal is sorta like what I’d imagine an awkwardly timed and even more embarrassingly written sext reads like while you’re on the tube during rush hour surrounding by sweaty bastards who are blatantly reading your phone too, getting a wee glimpse into your tragic love life. Then there’s that flaccid shallow house beat and oh god the fact that I’ve heard this go off at a bloody office party clumsily sandwiched between the seventh play of ‘Get Lucky’ and what sounding like a DnB remix of a One Direction tune and just make it stop already. (2)

Chal Ravens: So many questions. Are we really listening to a song about jacking in 2013? Are people buying this record to reminisce about the days they used to jack? Or are they oblivious because they were born years after jacking was even a thing? Also, if you’re going to make the thousandth track ever made about jacking, try to do something that actually fucking jacks, yeah? Wack. (3)

Chris Kelly: Sure, it may be too on the nose for some, but even with everyone doing Chicago house homage/tribute right now, it’s hard to deny the light-hearted elegance of this one. (6)

John Twells: Nope. (2)


Rare Times – ‘Watched Over’


Brad Rose: This should win an award for whitest song of the year.  They still give that award out somewhere, right? (4)

John Twells: I’m rapidly losing patience with the glut of bands that have based their sound on the crap bits of the Risky Business OST. It’s been done fairly well before, and Rare Times do it adequately enough so as not to sound like the guy who used to sit in Wolverhampton city centre with a broken Casio, but what’s the fucking point? Really? I need a Darkthrone cleanse, stat. (3)

Steve Shaw: This was going alright until that chorus came in. Then I realised this band has possibly passed straight through the looking glass of era appreciation and into a terrifying lifestyle that can only be described as ‘80s Maroon 5’. (5)

Joe Moynihan: Often-gorgeous slow jam complete with the perfect kinda throwback synth/drum palette that makes me want to be heartbroken by my crush at the high school prom again, or at least live vicariously through someone who actually lived that experience, like those people on the telly or something. (7)

Chris Kelly: The 80s pastiche goes down smoothly enough, but the lyrics (“that girl needs to be watched over”) quickly approach The Weeknd territory. (4)

Chal Ravens: Listenable but pointless retroism made even more superfluous by the existence of inc., who at least treat their throwback slow jams to a little invention and flair. Plus the singer really should have had a few more attempts at the high note in the verse. (4)


James Ferraro – ‘Eternal Condition / Stuck 2’


Chal Ravens: The mood and construction of this are really similar to some tracks on the excellent recent album by Dean Blunt, another artist whose music fascinates and confounds in equal measure. This particular track probably wouldn’t seem that interesting without the context of Ferraro’s earlier work, though, so it’s hard to grade. (6)

Steve Shaw: I wish Ferraro wasn’t doing so much commentary on things at the moment, as it’s difficult not to regard this as his version of The Weeknd, as opposed to something difficult to categorise, like Dean Blunt’s solo songs. However, it’s admittedly pretty good, in a really nauseous, depressing way. (6)

John Twells: Kudos for using the same sound palette that Varg Vikernes did when he was holed up in a Norwegian prison, but if I wanted to hear someone quietly singing out of tune through a laptop mic I’d frequent Tumblr more. When does it stop being ironic and start simply being shit? (4)

Joe Moynihan: As is almost always the case with Ferraro I went into this tune expecting the unexpected and left falling absolutely in love with exactly that. All kinds of brilliant – albeit a different approach to giving listeners the spooks, the first minute and the second part of this tune is up there with that terrifyingly phenomenal Arca ‘&&&&&’ in terms of the most unsettled a piece of music has left me this year. (9)


Visionist – ‘Snakes’


Chal Ravens:
Sounds like someone could do with a bit of fresh air. Baked paranoia of the highest order, with synths that feel like a hangover and more guns than the state of Texas. (7)

John Twells: Oh yes, FM synthesizer sounds! This is my kinda shit – any synths that remind me of Malcolm Clarke’s soundtrack to Resurrection of the Daleks get a double thumbs up from me. The fact that there’s a bunch of brittle grimey rhythmic business going on around it hardly matters. It’s a bit busy, all being said – but synths, yay. (6)

Chris Kelly: Visionist is one of the most captivating members of grime’s new school because of tracks like this. Striking a balance between claustrophobic paranoia and seductive danceability, the vocal clips cascade like footwork but the click-bang samples are pure grime. (8)

Steve Shaw: Glassy and claustrophobic, this is a great step towards what I suspect is a bigger picture for Visionist. Using delicate chime melodies as contrasting material is a bit predictable these days, but the FM bells are vicious and the ‘you’ve been lied to’ stretches are brutal. He’s constructing a solid sound world for himself and I’m looking forward to his collaboration with Fatima al Qadiri. (8)

Joe Moynihan: Hello, in place of words here I have created for your attention a graph that illustrates why I like this track. Please click here for something that may also prove useful to artists looking to score highly on these pages in the future. (8)


Danny Brown & Insane Clown Posse – ‘When I’m Clownin’


Joe Moynihan:
Danny Brown featuring Insane Clow- SAY NO MORE. (0)

Brad Rose: How is this a thing that exists?  More importantly, how much did Danny Brown get paid to appear on this? Amazingly, it’s worth listening to just for his verse – he’s just that fucking good these days. I mean, this is obviously garbage, but I’ll listen to Danny Brown rap on anything at least once. (2)

Steve Shaw: In the on-going, baffling, yet really quite depressingly beautiful struggle that is the lives of ICP, having fun with Danny Brown is a pretty special moment. (3)

John Twells: I really didn’t wanna hate this and I’ve got nothing against ICP to be honest, but there’s little to save this daft old mess. The two points are strictly for Danny Brown’s verse, when it sounds a little like he’s trying too hard compared with the disaster that is the entire rest of the track. If ICP split up and reformed in ten years, could they actually be worse than they already are right now? It’s one of those huge questions that really needs an answer. (2)

Chris Kelly: I think picking on Juggalos is shooting fish in a barrel of Faygo, but don’t make me listen to ICP. I’m sure Danny Brown had a blast working with Detroit’s second biggest rap act; they seem more up his alley than Eminem. (2)

Chal Ravens: Danny Brown redefining procrastination right now. Album loaded and ready for the past six months yet he’d rather be filming a video with Insane Clown Posse? Pull your finger out, son. Anyway, I quite enjoyed the break-in-the-clouds moment where DB drops in to show them how it’s done, and as his verse takes up about 20% of the song, there’s two points for ya. (2)


Bloc Party – ‘Ratchet’ (Rustie Remix)


Joe Moynihan: Basically the sounds of student nights from two wildly different eras colliding with each other. Works surprisingly well. (7)

Steve Shaw: Taking into account that a) Rustie has bills to pay, and b) getting a request to remix Bloc Party is probably the music industry equivalent of jury service, he’s made a pretty good job of a bad situation. (5)

Chris Kelly: Quick, dance punks: grab the zeitgeist with both hands. Rustie does an admirable job, but this gets dangerously close to the #trapfuneral he hath wrought. (5)

John Twells: The original track can fuck right off, but as usual Rustie manages to polish the dear live out of Bloc Party’s sun-baked turd. I’m not really sure how he manages it, but it sort of works – it’s funny (those drum rolls) but it’s not ‘zany’. I’d still rather hear a Rustie track sans-Bloc Party, mind you. Is it listenable? Yes. Will I play it again? Probably not. (5)

Brad Rose: Rustie might just be the best producer in the world for my money. I didn’t even realise Bloc Party still existed (and why in the fuck do they or should they? ‘Ratchet’? Really? Jesus), but if they were smart they’d just pay Rustie some ungodly sum of 0money to remix their entire record (or discography). Typical over-the-top sonics from Glasgow’s prodigal son, Rustie manages to make this sound interesting and relevant. It’s not his best work by far, but it’s still ten shades above the original. All hail Rustie. (7)

Chal Ravens: When did Bloc Party become so embarrassing? The Rustie treatment can’t rescue this bizarre is-it-farewell single from Kele & co, but at least it’s not Insane Clown Posse. (3)


Final scores:

Visionist – ‘Snakes’ (7.4)
James Ferraro – ‘Eternal Condition / Stuck 2’ (6.3)
Bloc Party – ‘Ratchet’ (Rustie Remix) (5.3)
Rare Times – ‘Watched Over’ (4.5)
Elvis Costello & The Roots – ‘Walk Us Uptown’ (4.4)
So Solid Crew – ‘UK Hot Wid It’ (3.8)
Breach – ‘Jack’ (3)
Danny Brown & Insane Clown Posse – ‘When I’m Clownin’ (1.8)

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