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First Impressions: MØ, Elliphant, RL Grime + more

Written By the interns on 09/22/2014

firstimpressions_22sept

First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. This week we introduce our guest contributor, Peter Rubinstein, who joins us all the way from Los Angeles. 

Made In Heights- Ghost

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/madeinheights/ghosts[/soundcloud]

Sam: I played DEATH by these guys about 1413 times which is about 1413 more times than I’ve listened to the U2 album, so as you can imagine I’m pretty enamoured with Made In Heights. Ghost only furthers my fascination with their minimal RnB-cross-pop sound. From the get-go the melody just effortlessly flows out with breathy vocals adding to the ease of he whole aesthetic. It’s almost as if JJ stopped smoking pot and went outside. 4

Lizzie: This track grabs your hand and instantly pulls you up to dance. The cow-bell-esque beat is a a bit of fun, and the glistening backing track is a little ’90s R&B. My favourite part of this song is the pace, ain’t nothing slow and boring about Made In Heights at the moment, that’s for sure.

Bianca: From the very first second, the syncopated rhythm of the cow bell bounces along with energy, setting the perfect backdrop to Kelsey’s sugary-sweet vocals and the romantic, wobbling synths. Love both the scratching breakdown and the synth solo finale which meld into the track so effortlessly. 4 Bianca’s Pick 

Peter: The tight percussion and rumbling synths are a great side order to Kelsey Bulkin’s soft and melancholy vocals in this track. I would have loved to hear more of the sexy R&B soloing introduced near the end, but the frequent evolutions throughout the song definitely kept my head bobbing. This is another great addition to the group’s already impressive catalog. 3.5 

RL Grime- Reminder (Feat. how To Dress Well)

Sam: Following the abrasive masterpiece that was Core this is a serious change of pace for RL Grime. So much so that it really sounds like a How To Dress Well song more than an RL Grime song. Tom Krell moves in and out of falsetto providing a sweet vocal that punches when it needs to. As for the instrumental, there’s really not much to say. It’s more of a subtle accompaniment to the vocal. 3

Lizzie: Is it just me, or does this sound like Justin Timberlake’s brother? I could easily add this heartfelt track to my depressed hangover playlist – that sounds like an insult, it’s not, there is just a time and place for tracks like these. 3.5

Bianca: Classic Krell, fitting more syllables into each line than one would think humanely possible. This is definitely a departure from Grimes’ usual trap offerings but it was definitely necessary to strip the production right back in order for the beat to live harmoniously Krell’s emotionally-stirring voice. Although downtempo & RnB in nature, it still has an underlying current of intensity, one that doesn’t sit too well with me at this time in the morning. 2.5

Peter: Following Steinway’s colossal release of Core, by far my most-played song of the summer, I expected this release to blow me away, especially with support from How To Dress Well. Sadly, I was pretty disappointed by the production on this one. The vocals seem very out of place and even off key at some points, and the lack of any musical progression left me wanting much more. Where Because of U succeeded in being a refreshing, slower anthem, Reminder missed the mark in this humble RL Grime superfan’s opinion. 1.5

Elliphant- One More (Feat. MØ) 

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/elliphantmusic/elliphant-one-more-featuring-mo[/soundcloud]

Sam: Oh hell yes. This just proves my theory that Scandinavian girls are the best people in the world. The instrumental of this is so understated yet both their vocals are so cool and full of reckless abandonment. And this sentimental, Robyn-esque chorus hits and it’s like, why bother making music if you’re not from Scandiavia? This is a duo I whole-heartedly endorse and this may be the best work of both their catalogues yet. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Lizzie: I am all smiles after listening to this. Such talent bundled all up into one song with a pretty bow on top. It has this perfect balance of pop and street grunge cool with MO’s short interlude sounding just magical. Love. 4.5 Lizzie’s pick

Bianca: There is such a youthful energy that emanates from these two. The vocals of the Swede and the Dane unite to make a sweet-talking duo that could get away with murder. Once the synths begin to escalate, their badassery really shines through amongst rumbling synths. Girl power, indeed.

Peter: These girls are truly talented. Elliphant and MØ’s vocal ranges complement each other perfectly as they maintain a provocative harmony throughout the track, transforming into a back and forth shouting match as the song comes to a close. The swell of energy keeps the whole production exciting and forward-moving. I think they’ve got a hit on their hands. Now if only they could get Grimes in the studio with them… 4 Peter’s pick

Yung Lean- Ghosttown (feat. Travi$ Scott)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frnOhVxF6Zw

Sam: Yung Lean’s hook in this is gold in my opinion. It’s dark and haunting that has this clumsy attitude that’s hard not to like. I know Travi$ Scott is the one to watch in hip-hop right now but his verses on this sound a little clunky. Only when Lean distorts the rap a bit does it sound in tune with the song. Having heard Iggy Azalea on booty this week I think I can forgive an offshoot verse because the rest is pretty great. 3.5

Lizzie: I am always a sucker to a warping synth, but it needs to be with the appropriate accompaniment. Young lean is an off-note distraction, who ruins the poor synths! Thank god for auto-tune, it is an attempt to make sense of all this mess. 2

Bianca: Yung Lean’s warped chant is giving me vibes of a monk’s sermon and not in a palliative, Enya kinda way. Seems like he’s Yung Leaned too hard onto the auto-tune. Which, by the way, doesn’t do much to disguise his inability to hit certain notes. 2

Peter: I made sure to recline against a wall before checking out Yung Lean’s new release. While the beat had me moving, the overall setup of this track is pretty basic. The autotune and lazy vocal hook were nothing new. He also mentions that he doesn’t “give a f*** about no one expect Lean” but later includes an entire section about all of his homies. Well, which is it?! I just want answers. 2

Montgomery- War Cry 

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/iohyouparty/montgomery-war-cry[/soundcloud]

Sam: Tom from Big Scary is having a great year so far. First he was involved with Airling and now he’s jumped on production duties for this one. Montgomery’s voice is sweet and the whole instrumental of this is part-polished and part-industrial pop making for a Lorde-esque soundscape. It’s a good start but I’m sure there is more in the tank. 3

Lizzie: A classic example of a song that would blow you away if you away if you saw it live. It hits straight to the heart, whether you are a fan of her music or not. I am admittedly not the biggest fan, but I could appreciate it in its big room glory. 3

Bianca: Beautiful, clean production accompanied by an ethereal voice. I’m definitely getting Airling vibes from Montgomery and who better to produce her tracks than Tom Iansek? Dreamy and pensive, War Cry definitely has arresting qualities, although I did find myself becoming a bit bored towards the end. 3  

Peter: This one was way too corny for me. Even though Montgomery’s voice is pretty and controlled, the lyrics completely took me out of the vibe. Wishing she had said things she didn’t, trying to forget someone, “feeling the cold”…bleh. Not up my alley. 1.5

T.O.L.D- Lucifer’s Eyes

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/t-o-l-d/lucifers-eyes[/soundcloud]

Sam: We’ve always had a bit of a thing for steel drums at the interns and on Lucifer’s Eyes it’s really the hero of the song. I feel as if this is a guilty pleasure because it’s so outwardly enjoyable on first listen, but I suppose given he’s a new artist with a dark, mysterious look, it’s not really in the same way that Fancy is, is it? This track comes just in time for our Summer and it’s actually kind of faultless. And for that I remove one point. Nobody’s perfect. 4

Lizzie: This track could have easily found itself on the Tomorrowland After movie released this week. The floaty nostalgia is present throughout, creating this Summertime love story soundtrack. On my first listen I had this desire for the song to become more layered and intense, however after a couple more spins I have come to appreciate it just how it is, in all its simplicity. 4

Bianca: The second the steel drums hit my ears, I was sold. If an artist ever were to win my heart, it would be through the clanging of these Caribbean pans of heaven. Creating happy, tropical vibes, they provide a wonderful juxtaposition to T.O.L.D’s dark, brooding voice which leaves me to wonder whether I should be feeling celebratory or melancholic. Either way, it’s a nostalgia-ridden, evocative tune that’s dropped just in time for Summer. 4 Also Bianca’s Pick 

Peter: “I sleep with no voice, and wake with no name”: vague with extra cheese. I didn’t want to like this one, but the steel drums and droning guitar plucks reminded me too much of seeing big, magical acts like this at music festivals. Take these sounds and rhythms and add 30,000 swaying people, and I’ll listen to Lucifer’s Eyes any day. 3