First Impressions: Aphex Twin, Calvin Harris, Mary J Blige + more

Written By Bianca on 09/08/2014

FI_9Sep

First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the week passed, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week.

Aphex Twin- minipop 67 [source field mix]

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/warp-records/aphex-twin-minipops-67-1202source-field-mix[/soundcloud]

Sam: I was nine when Aphex Twin’s last album, Drukqs, was released so excuse me for not being overly excited about his return. Coming at this with fresh ears though, it’s an introverted, intelligent tune that bubbles along, working itself further and further down the rabbit hole. This is jam-packed full of sounds and melodies, but it sounds completely removed from dance music today. It’s weird, unexpected and yet totally captivating. 4

Bianca: This is a weirdly wonderful assortment of sounds that don’t even hint at a 13-year hiatus. I feel like a ‘How It’s Made’ episode could be made for minipop 67 [source field mix] to unravel the mystery behind the mash-up of analog and digital which have somehow been smooshed together to create a strange, yet, perfectly functioning piece of music. 4

Lizzie: This is very cyborg, I feel like I should be hurtling into another galaxy with Dr Who. I am really sorry to say but the last 30secs made me actually giggle out loud, just not my cup of tea! 1.5

Kindness- This Is Not About Us

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/kindness/this-is-not-about-us[/soundcloud]

Sam: I’m loving Kindness’ whole aesthetic for this new album. It has the immaculate tailoring of ‘80s MJ, the smoothness of Sade and the effortless cool of Dev Hynes. I’m not sure if this is the most exciting thing we’ve heard from him but it helps to formulate that image and sound that I imagine will all make sense on the album. There’s plenty of bells and whistles looping under Kindness’ most soulful vocal yet. In the words of the wonderful Britney Spears, “gimme more”. 3

Bianca: Came for the swinging vocals, stayed for the cowbells. The percussion and Kindness’ croon are honestly a bit too minimalist for my liking but the funky bass line manages to keep it from falling too flat. 2

Lizzie: The "sssssss" in his vocals are unshakeably distracting. Take him out of the equation, its actual are really nice mellow track. Great for running errands and what not, and who can say no to a cowbell! 2.5

Swick & Lewis Cancut- Wishes (Feat. Tkay Maidza)

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/shhsecretsongs/swick-lewis-cancut-wishes-ft-tkay-maidza[/soundcloud]

Sam: This is just a melting pot of a few of my favourite things really. Ryan Hemsworth is releasing this cut on his Secret Songs compilation and it just so happens that the first release is an all Aussie affair. Swick & Lewis Cancut’s beat is popping bubblegum born from the PC Music era while Tkay just kills ‘em all, singing rather than rapping for the first time. I know we’ve seen a lot of Aussies do well overseas recently but, my goodness, if this girl doesn’t beat them all, somebody strip me of any music credentials. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Bianca: Tkay is just like Vegemite in the way that she goes with everything. Whether she’s laying down R&B rap or singing stylised, sugary-sweet tunes over a glitchy 8-bit beat, this girl is multi-faceted and is about to be Australia’s hottest export. And, unlike Vegemite, I feel the US is going to develop a taste for Tkay instantaneously. 4

Lizzie: This is such a pleasant surprise! It's not my usual style but this is a great example of how to make a lollipop PC track and not drive anyone crazy (i.e me)! The two minute mark is a glittery treat, and something fresh and more feminine from Tkay. 4

Calvin Harris- Blame (Feat. John Newman)

Sam: My biggest tip here would be don’t look at the lyrics. It was only when I looked at them that I realised just how repetitive this is. Until then, I was content listening to Newman’s gravelly tones. In terms of Calvin’s beat it’s more of the same, isn’t it? It’s the same breakdown we’ve been hearing since Rihanna’s We Found Love. Then, it was a rush of blood to the head, now it’s a rush of nausea to my stomach. This guys the highest paid DJ in the world and he’s practically doing it in his sleep. Definitely a hit, but a personal triumph? I don’t think so. 1.5

Bianca: It’s just the same tried and tested formula from Calvin. Last year, he claimed he was “doing more dance music that probably won’t get into the charts” but it feels he’s slipped right back into over-familiar territory and mass-producing hits suffering from a serious case of same shit, different day. Where is the old Calvin we used to know and love??? 1.5

Lizzie: O oh spagettio, he's got me again. As much as I want to resist his dance floor charm, Calvin has got me under his EDM spell with 'Blame'. And the worst thing it's totally not his best hit by FAR! John Newman delivers yet another whiny heartfelt overlay which is tolerable, Calvin brings his classic Calvin geddup...and sadly I can just see myself shamelessly dancing to this all Summer.  3.5

Theophilus London- Tribe (Feat. Jesse Biykins III)

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/theophilusl/tribe[/soundcloud]

Sam: Theophilus is relatively unknown but he has some damn cool friends including Solange, Big Boi and Karl Lagerfeld who shot the album cover for his forthcoming record. I played this out loud the other night and lost my shit. It’s got an effortless flow that’s both groovy and hard-hitting. This is a party-tune that would sound best to popping champagne corks and the trickle of spirits hitting ice. Smooth and so, so trendy. 3.5

Bianca: There is such an effortless groove to Theophilus’ vocals which have been deliciously contrasted by Brodinski’s eccentric, accelerated production. So many good vibes from this track with my only issue being that it ends too prematurely. 4 Bianca’s Pick

Lizzie: I feel instantly so much cooler for listening to this song. I am in love with the beat, the swagger and the CHORUS - oh the chorus. I have not heard a track like this in forever, it's brilliantly layered and keeps you on your toes the entire time 4.6 Lizzie's Pick

Mary J. Blige- Right Now (Prod. by Disclosure)

Sam: Disclosure are no strangers to working with Mary J. Blige, so where her guest spot on F For You felt a little intrusive, here she sounds completely at ease. Blige is 43 right now and constantly changing up her sound yet always keeping her gut-wrenching soul. Disclosure have toned it down on a notch on this one, as to not let their own exuberance flood Blige’s vocal and the give and take does them good. I can just see Blige strutting across the stage to this, glaring through people’s souls. Take not Swifty, Blige is the original queen of breakup songs. 3.5

Bianca: Disclosure’s trademark syncopated rhythms and poppy synths are all over this track with the duo laying down a flawless beat for Mary J to work with. These guys are just the right people to breathe life and 'cool' back into her music career. 3

Lizzie: I had such high expectations for this combo - Mary J and Disclosure - what could go wrong? The thing is nothing is really wrong with it, I am just not digging Mary J's vibe, she just flatlines for me. Hats off of to Disclosure however, their backing production is a lovely tickle to the ears. 3