New Music Round Up: July 2018 (Part One)

July ushers in a summer full of new hits from your Eurovision faves. This month we take a look at new tracks from Latvia’s Aminata, everyone’s favourite saxy group Sunstroke Project, Polish butter churner/singer CLEO and Eurovision 2018 alums Lea Sirk (Slovenia), AWS (Hungary) and Sevak Khanagyan (Armenia).

Sunstroke Project- ‘I Want You’

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Moldovan 2010 and 2017 representatives Sunstroke Project’s followed up their third place finish in 2017 (and Moldova’s best to date) with a string of hit singles including the Eurovision NI Awards nominated ‘Sun Gets Down’. For their latest offering they team up with Moldovan Dance and Electronic maestro Broono for ‘I Want You’. The song opens with a Spanish guitar riff, introduces a dance beat (which is distracting), but it takes for the sax to come in on the chorus before we are in familiar Sunstroke territory. The song isn’t up there with ‘Hey Mamma’ or their recent summer jam ‘Sun Gets Down’, but it has enough to keep fans interested.

Arash- ‘Dooset Daram’

★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Arash is best known for teaming up with Aysel for the 2009 Azerbaijani entry ‘Always’. He’s enjoyed success in the past ten years including collaborations with the likes of Shaggy, Lumidee, Snoop Dogg and Sean Paul. He joins forces again with Helena for his next release ‘Dooset Daram’. The music video for the song has all the trappings of a high budget rap video; overhead shots from a drone, fancy cars, sublime landscapes. The song however couldn’t be further from that. It is a perfectly balanced harmonious ballad which allows both Helena and Arash’s strengths to play out.

Cleo- ‘EVA’

★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Cleo may have found it difficult to shake the reputation as the butter churning singer for Poland in 2014. ‘My Slowianie’ managed 14th place and since then Cleo has not just churned out butter but also hit singles, most notably ‘Wole Byc’,  ‘Zabiorę nas’ and ‘N-O-C’. She has replaced rapper Donotan for Mesajah for new track ‘EVA’ which seems to take inspiration from the Adam and Eve story in the Bible. Cleo displays her slavic beauty in all its glory and is either dressed in fig leaves or not at all for the duration of the video. Cleo swims at the foot of a waterfall or sways on a tree swing while she delivers a song that is less impressive.

Sevak- ‘Amena’

★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Fresh from his appearance at this year’s contest where his song ‘Qami’ missed out on the final, Sevak Khanagyan releases new track ‘Amena’. The song uses the Azeri horn that has infiltrated many songs from Eastern European/Asian countries at Eurovision in recent years. Like with ‘Qami’, ‘Amena’ is a solid song, but it doesn’t leave you wanting more. It lacks any memorable moments. There is an attempt to make the song more current with the use of more modern instruments added to the fray. However what is essentially a slow ballad with a drum beat on the chorus, isn’t anything special.

AWS- ‘Hol Voltal’

★★★★★★★★☆☆

Another Eurovision 2018 alum is Hungarian rock outfit AWS. Their screamo vocals and pyrotechnics saw them sail through to the Eurovision final with track ‘Viszlat Nyar’. Leading on from this is their new song ‘Hol Voltal?’ (Where have you been?), is a riotous rock song with all the metal trimmings. The song gives out major Linkin Park vibes from the shouty vocals, dominant drums and even the lyrics. The video sees lead singer Örs Siklósi (almost comically) scream in the faces of different people he encounters in the club.

Salvador Sobral- ‘Cerca del Mar’

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Salvador Sobral is easily my least favourite Eurovision winner in recent history. His arrogance knows no bounds. This was cemented further when he returned to the Eurovision stage in 2018 when Lisbon hosted, only to make cutting comments about some of this year’s acts, most notably winner Netta’s song ‘Toy’. He follows up the release of ‘Mano a Mano’ which he performed at Eurovision 2018 with latest track ‘Cerca del Mar’ (Near the Sea). The song continues in the same vein as his previous releases, a sombre ballad this time with haunting woodwind instrumentation. The black and white video depicts a young boy playing on the beach. Salvador joins him and the two go into the water and scream at the sea. Weird.

Lea Sirk- ‘Back to Being Me’

★★★★★★★★★☆

Lea Sirk famously remarked at a Eurovision 2018 press conference that her song for Slovenia ‘Hvala Ne’ took no time at all to write and that she wasn’t as proud of it as she was some of her other stuff. We loved ‘Hvala Ne’ and if this is her at what she perceives not to be her best, we were very much looking forward to hearing some music that she took more time and care over. Her first release since Eurovision is ‘Back To Being Me’ (perhaps a commentary on her Eurovision song?) and I have to say the girl continues to knock it out of the park. The song has the electro funkiness that we come to expect from her. It is fun, upbeat and celebrates individuality. The vocal has elements of light jazz, mambo, swing, electronica and pop and it works really well. It put me in the mind of ‘The Boy Does Nothing’ by Alesha Dixon.

Aminata- ‘Zero Love’

★★★★★★★★★☆

Latvian singer Aminata has proven time and again that she has the musical gonads to rival any big international pop star. Her Eurovision 2015 song ‘Love Injected’ ended Latvia’s six year streak of not qualifying for the final and even broke the top ten, finishing sixth. Since then she has written ‘Heartbeat’ (the Latvian entry for the following year), competed in the Voice of Russia and continued to release epic new songs including the 2016 album ‘Red Moon’ and ‘Prime Time’ which has recently nominated for Best New Song at the Eurovision NI Awards 2018. Her latest offering is ‘Zero Love’ which surprise surprise is another complete banger! Everything about Aminata is just so appealing- her music, her vocals, her style, her personality and her non-stop attitude.

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