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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 pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. Up this week: Julio Bashmore, TQD (a.k.a. Royal-T, DJ Q and Flava D), Mariah and more.

Julio Bashmore – ‘Holding On’

Tayyab Amin: It’s 6AM, you’re wandering back through LS6 and the party’s still going at that student dig above the new ice cream parlour on the corner. First light before the cold sun rises and half the people there are realising they made a mistake in deciding to stay. The other half are in and out, spaced out in that twilight zone where there mind wants to take them some place but their body won’t let them, or vice-versa. That soulful lifelessness, soulless vivacity kinda vibe. But the kid on decks is having the time of their weekend, and they’re pumping this. (5)

Son Raw: I like that the intro blurs the line between chopped sample and vocalist, but then this quickly devolves into an anthem-by-the-numbers. It’ll go down fine at festivals, but I feel bad for any 20-something whose youth will be defined by this kind of generic soul house in the same way as I shake my head when people think “Blur vs Oasis” when it comes to the 90s. (4)

Claire Lobenfeld: I’ve talked about crushwave, my favorite trend that I made up for 2015, here before and I think this is one the best examples of it so far. The track is an excellent confluence of classic house and Bashmore’s ability to craft heart-swelling ebullience. It’s just pure joy. I want to hear this in a club, a car, a backyard afternoon party, while shopping for sun dresses. If you manage the last one, as clothing store house is generally cornball dreck, good on you. (7)

Mikey IQ Jones: I was digging the lumpiness of the sampled intro and the way that Dew’s vocal just pours over the top like sweet syrup, but then the most milquetoast dance rhythm kicks in and the whole thing becomes quite boring. This had serious potential to be a knotty, fat-bottomed and slightly complex production, but that’s never really been Bashmore’s style, has it? Let’s be clear: I like this. It’s not bad, but it could’ve been oh so much better. (7)


TQD – ‘Day & Night’

Claire Lobenfeld: Back in the summer of 2012, one of my closest girlfriends had Royal T and Elijah as guests on her radio show. The studio was in a storefront in downtown Manhattan and when she had the right guests in the right weather, the block became the greatest private party. While she had a number of amazing guests pass through there before the show came to a close a year ago, this is still one I remember most fondly. That spirit of celebrating the old while pushing forward the new bleeds through this mix. It’s inventive yet classic, a product of taste and creativity. (8.5)

Mikey IQ Jones: I kept waiting for a proper lead vocal, and when it never showed up, I completely lost interest here. This is crying out for the accelerated syllables of an MC; instead we’re stuck having to listen to an overworked sample attempt to unscramble itself over the course of four and a half minutes. Pumping the tempo up just shy of three minutes in almost saves this. Almost. (5)

Son Raw: Proof that you can still push the garage template in interesting directions if you try. The focus for the Night Mix is subtlety over brashness, and yet both the riffy mid-bass and the thundering low end are genuinely overpowering on the right system. Then you have the drums, which shift from skippy syncopation to full-on 4×4 at just the right moment to keep things exciting. One for the 4AM ravers, not the 4AM students puking outside the club. (7)

Tayyab Amin: Too often I see things operate in absolutes. You get pockets of dualism in the market going ignored. So it’s lovely to see that those poignant moments gazing at firefly cities from a balcony beneath night’s navy sky can be married with my Northern love for the obnoxious wub. No doubt the collaborative nature of its production has something to do with that. Love how much of a stomper the final third is too, I’m not sure I wanna hear whatever track gets mixed in after it. (8)


Wiley – ‘From the Outside’ (Special Request mix)

Claire Lobenfeld: Jungle percussion is always going to remind me of being just too young for 90s rave culture, but relentlessly watching Party Girl and praying it would be my adult life. (Maybe? Kinda? I gave up library science pretty quickly, tbh.) This hits me in a good nostalgia place and makes Wiley sound extra hard. The original was certainly menacing, but this takes it to another level of aggressiveness that it deserved. (6.5)

Tayyab Amin: Rate this, it’s got all the boom and bombast begging you to wheel it back and turn it up. I’m not really sure what happened with that perceived junglist revival around 2013, but seeing it paired with grime that’s currently finding mass appeal with their early sound is like seeing pieces to a puzzle fit together all tucked in and snug. (8)

Mikey IQ Jones: Now THIS is more like it. Mammoth bass weight, cartoon lasers, and a deft mix of nervously twitching energy and a puffed-chest, squinted-eye menace. The original was a massive banger, and Special Request’s remix makes over Wiley’s verses in a fresh suit of gear without changing the character he’s presenting lyrically. I’m missing JME’s verse, but not so much that it takes away from the bestiality of this track. (9)

Son Raw: Both of these guys make great music but this isn’t really necessary. I love the idea of Special Request expanding his junglist template to include grime’s distorted 808s but it feels like he just chucked the vocal on for the sake of delivering a label-mandated remix when this would have worked far better as an instrumental or at least, a very sparse dub. As is, this doesn’t quite work for the club and won’t replace the original in your headphones, especially since he cut out JME’s show-stealing verse. (5)


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Mariah Carey – ‘Infinity’

Tayyab Amin: This isn’t doing it for me. The production isn’t doing the most graceful job of backing up Carey’s different vocals, and the big Mariah scream might impress on paper but it isn’t particularly nice to the ears. “Name hold weight like kilos,” sounds like a Migos lyric, shattering any suspension of disbelief. Perhaps I’ll incur the ire of all the 80s babies with this stale cold take, but pressing play again and hearing the strings come in makes me wish for Ariana Grande’s ‘Honeymoon Avenue. (4)

Mikey IQ Jones: What the hell did I just hear!? Mariah apparently wrote a song about telling her ex that she’s eating Frito pie with an internet meme, and that she and Kermit are probably gonna fuck later… sorry, Nick. There are so many terrible metaphors unceremoniously stuffed into these four minutes that I’m beginning to think that this single is a meme unto itself. (2)

Son Raw: R&G and/or footwork remix, please. There’s a few too many histrionic moments here but considering it’s promoting a Vegas residency, it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been. I have an auntie who’ll really like it. (4)

Claire Lobenfeld: (9)


Karen Gwyer – ‘Keisa Kizzy Kinte’

Son Raw: Acid squiggles sure must be approaching the tail end of their comeback’s hype cycle, but these properly morph and play tricks on the mind instead of just reminding us that pills were probably stronger in the 80s. The droning pads and leads are deep enough to get lost in as well. A reminder that making worthwhile dance music often means getting out of your own way and not tripping yourself on your own ambitions. (8)

Mikey IQ Jones: I never thought I’d say this, but can I listen to that Mariah track again instead? I’d rather listen to cocaine gone horribly wrong than acid gone boring. (4)

Claire Lobenfeld: No matter what, any mention of Mariah immediately gets ‘Emotions’ stuck in my head for at least a couple hours — and, to be completely honest, it is what my resting brain defaults to a couple times a year. But you know who has me feeling emotions? Karen Gwyer. This is track is so intricate with its deceptive brutality. There is enough to make you move that halts it from being completely punishing, but to create 9 minutes of hardware electronics that feels somehow delicate in some places and then like someone is actually driving a screwdriver into your eardrum at the exact same time is powerful. She did us a huge favor with that 50 seconds of come-down at the end. Without it, you would have been left with an emotional stirring and physical discomfort and that is really, really rad. (9)

Tayyab Amin: Once again, Karen Gwyer’s music has taken me on an adventure that’s unfolded so organically that it’s hard for me to place where we started in relation to where we ended up. A walk, a march, a pilgrimage through rolling hills of synth and on rocky bridges over acidic pools. Grounds equally exciting and treacherous for someone who doesn’t sit well with the acid sound. By the end, it feels like we’ve come a long way, the tangibility of each step juxtaposed with the jaded memory of the traveller. I can’t be sure why but it feels like the journey was worthwhile. (7)


Final scores:
TQD – ‘Day & Night’ (7)
Karen Gwyer – ‘Keisa Kizzy Kinte’ (7)
Wiley – ‘From the Outside’ (Special Request Remix) (7)
Julio Bashmore – ‘Holding On’ (5.8)
Mariah Carey – ‘Infinity’ (4.8)



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