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First Impressions: K Stewart, Giraffage, Shamir + more

Written By the interns on 11/05/2014

FI_NOV15

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. Today we pick apart tracks by Giraffage, Shamir, Baauer, K Stewart, TĀLĀ & BenZel. 

Giraffage- Tell Me

Sam: Giraffage is such a lush, understated producer. He really doesn’t go straight for immediate appeal rather drawing you in slowly. Tell Me is full of crystalline sounds and a calming vocal sample. I love when he really lays it on in the fourth quarter with that dense, hearty synth. 4

Bianca: Giraffage always has the knack of creating these delightfully minimal, delicious slices of synth pop. Tell Me isn’t overly dense but, like a lemon meringue pie, it is fluffy and light, with just the right balance of sweet and tart. 4

Lizzie: This one took a couple of goes to wrap my head around. Not because of its complexity, because it is so simple and soft, I may have tuned out the first time (sorry). That may sound incredibly insulting, but I think maybe I just felt incredibly comfortable and at ease that I just melted away. It’s a solid 3.5

Hannah: 1:18 is perfection. There’s just so much space to indulge in a Giraffage track. He’s a producer gives every sample, every vocal, every bounce and every poppy synth equal parts loving affection and quality attention and makes for a truly harmonious ear party. 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/foolsgoldrecs/giraffage-tell-me[/soundcloud]

Shamir- On The Regular

Sam: The first time I heard Azealia Banks’ 212 I listened to it like 10 times in a row and thought she was the coolest person on the planet. On The Regular has that bratty, careless flow that 212 had. Shamir just beams with personality. XL Records have made a damn good decision- as far as I’m concerned this is on repeat for the whole summer. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Bianca: If Shamir could go ahead and just be my friend right now, that’d be great. So much sass, so much confidence, so little time! If this is Shamir on the regular, sign me up now. 4

Lizzie: Wow I did not expect this. I don’t even know what just happened but I think I may be a bit too sober to understand it. In saying that, this track is not about understanding, it is all about letting your guard down and totally just wiggling, bopping and dancing like a crazy person. Let loose! 4

Hannah: Well, say hello to the If-you-don’t-know-now-you-know-Mother-Fucker track of the summer! Shamir brings sass and cheek in a sugary sweet in a way that only a 5’10 skinny boy getting about in rainbow tie dye is capable of. It’s strength lies in its hypnotic bounce and studiously self-aware, yet totally rappable lyrics. This is on repeat, on the regular. 4.5 Hannah’s Pick

Baauer- One Touch

Sam: Hmm. I know this is First Impressions but I’ve had to listen to this song just under 10 times to really be able to understand what the hell is going on. One listen I don’t think Aluna works with Rae Sremmurd and then the next I do, so god knows what’s going on in my mind. One thing’s for sure, Aluna sounds slinky and sultry, really shining above the minimal beat like she so often does. 3

Bianca: I’m actually really enjoying the amalgamation of styles. Baauer’s bass is just heavy enough and Aluna vocals float on top ever so ethereally. Rae Sremmurd’s rhymes are rough and verging on angsty but, as long as I don’t listen to the actual lyrics, they surprisingly don’t irk me. An unlikely combination that happens to make a lot of sense. 4

Lizzie: Rae, you sound like a whiny croaky teenager whose voice is teetering on breaking. I am in such a love/hate relationship with One Touch, I wish they had just left Aluna alone to do her awesome thing (as always)! 3

Hannah: Rae Sremmurd is the rap equivalent of a yappy chihuahua. If you just ignore the yappy, bitey, over zealous – I’d say furball but really, what Chihuaha has anything worth considering as fur – thing running about your ankles while Alunageorge and Baauer bring it, you’d have a good song. 2.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/baauer/one-touch[/soundcloud]

K Stewart- Close Enough

Sam: I’m such a sucker for airy, Aaliyah-esque RnB vocals so naturally I’m instantly in love with this one. There’s something really cool about artists that feel that they don’t need to bust their arse on the chorus. The chorus of Close Enough is free flowing, flirty and delicious. K Stewart is three for three right now in terms of solo singles. 3.5

Bianca: It’s boppy, it’s fresh, it’s girly and oh so Summery. K’s dreamy vocals are the perfect addition to the grooving melody that manages to be noticed but isn’t completely grabbing for your full attention. 3

Lizzie: Close Enough could easily slip into your Summer DJ mix. It’s nothing out-of-this world, but perfect for a chic outdoor get-together to get them in the mood for the season. Why do I get this feeling that Zhu could remix the shiz out of this and add a bit more depth to it? 3.75

Hannah: You know what, while I adore this song and its smooth groove, I really think K Stewart’s vocals get totally lost to production. Amp up those Aaliyah sounds. Close, but not close enough. 3.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kstewartmusic/kstewart-close-enough-1[/soundcloud]

TĀLĀ- Everybody’s Free

Sam: I absolutely love TĀLĀ and I can’t wait to hear how this one sounds in the context of the album. She’s gone with using one of the most recognisable vocal samples and transformed it into the glorious, euphoric number that ebbs and flows in waves of happiness. It’s almost worth doing another remake of Romeo + Juliet just to include this. Crowdfunding anyone? 4.5

Bianca: Don’t listen to what Sam says, Romeo + Juliet. You are perfect as you are so don’t go changin’. In saying that, TĀLĀ has somehow managed to improve on an already flawless song with her touches being oh so deliciously minimal. She has maintained the celestial feeling of the original, amplifying it to seventh heaven with undulating synths and a ricocheting beat. 4.5 Bianca’s Pick

Lizzie: Despite the initial corniness of the first 5 seconds (you will understand when you hear it), this is a gorgeously twist on an old favourite. It is perfectly tickled with a bit of electronica, R&B and well-crafted samples – and hold out to the the last 30 seconds, that’s where I am found myself utterly smitten. 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick

Hannah: Sam, where do I sign up? TĀLĀ is doing for this track what Luhrmann did for Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet in the first place. While the lofty vocals and original lyrics give it an undeniably uplifting character, TĀLĀ grounds her rendition in the dirt, grit and grime of street culture. With heavy bass, quivering percussion and wait, was that a motorcycle I heard, TĀLĀ’s vein of feel good is a seductively dark one. 4

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/talaofficial/everybodysfree[/soundcloud]

BenZel (Feat. Juicy J & Cashmere Cat)- Four

Sam: I’m not sure how I feel about BenZel as hip-hop producers. Their work with soulful vocalists has been so impressive that it’s quite different to hear them in this aesthetic. What I do love is that they make the chorus so tantalisingly melodic, just by taking the vocal down in pitch and laying down in soulful guitars. The rushing end is also great but it’s all not really enough to save Juicy J’s uninspiring verses. 3

Bianca: Like someone pouring a shit load of unnecessary ketchup on hot chips, this track has had a whole lot of uninspiring vocals laid over its deliciously steamy production. The ending is where things really start to pick up for me but unfortunately it’s all too little too late by then. Then again, I’m sitting in a cafe with Maroon 5 seeping through my headphones so my opinion could possibly be unfairly swayed. 3

Lizzie: Yawn. 1

Hannah: This is what happens when someone seasoned in tantric sex jumps into bed with a 16 year old gangly virgin. Juicy J just lacks the oozy sex of someone like Jeremih to rap this slow about hoes and fucking. Juicy gettin’ bored? Yeah me too. That said, if BenZel and Cashmere Cat just took their production elsewhere (cough Jeremih), we might have had a winner here. 2

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/officialbenzel/four[/soundcloud]