First Impressions: Feat. Obey City, Paces, Unknown Mortal Orchestra + More

Written By the interns on 02/10/2015


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 Obey City, Say Lou Lou, Paces, Unknown Mortal Orchestra + more.

Obey City- Waterbad

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Bianca: It’s slow-burning, sexy R&B without being overly soulful or smutty (choosing to ignore the use of the term ‘panties’. Ugh, I hate that word.). The electric guitar/piano breakdown is an interesting lead-up to the outro which gives us roughly 1.5 minutes of quiet reflection. 3

Sam: I haven't heard a slow jam like this for a long time. It's got the sort of soul that D'Angelo's Untitled had and yet it replaces organic instrumentation with a punchier, electronic sound. I'm actually quite surprised that this sound hasn't made more of a resurgence in the RnB resurrection but the up-side is that this sounds so much fresher and in a league of its own. I'm always up for a guitar solo to finish proceedings. 4

Meshell: I’m trying very hard to love this song because I love Obey City but it feels SO unfinished production wise and lyrics like “got your face down, ass up” can really only be sung by real bad-asses and this song makes me feel like being I’ve been slapped with a wet towel. My favourite bit is the outro, when our feature singer has left us and I can just enjoy some sweet Never Ending Story-esque synths. 1.5

Say Lou Lou- Nothing But A Heartbeat

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Bianca: This is an instantly catchy pop tune; simple and cleverly arranged by the Australian-Swedes, Say Lou Lou, like an Ikea instruction manual. There’s an element of nostalgia to it in the form of the anthemic chorus and dreamy synths, brought back to earth with piano keys and tingling strings. 4

Sam: These girls are making such crystalline pop music and yet for some reason they haven't had that track that really makes everybody look up yet. I would've though it would be Games For Girls but that kind of whimpered on and off the internet. Nothing But A Heartbeat also has the goods with its big sprawling chorus bolstered by ethereal vocals. I feel like it's perfect for a TV promo and that would give them just that extra push. Either way, this makes me super excited for the album. If we're talking purely melody and vocals, it's almost faultless. 3.5

Meshell: The opening hook of this song is a blatant imitation of that annoying Ed Sheeran song Sing and so I am already lost.There are dreamy synths and reverb filled guitars galore which I'm sure is meant to give the song sweet indie cred but to me I am hearing a cleverly arranged pop tune that is going to be stuck in my head all day…still, I’d probably go watch their set at a festival (Laneway 2016?) because I’m curious. 2.5

Towkio- Involved (Feat. Vic Mensa)

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Bianca: Vic’s Down On My Luck was one of the most exciting tracks of 2014 and seeing the Chicagoan in action at Laneway Festival on the weekend secured his status as a promising MC. Towkio holds his own in the beginning and Kaytranada’s production is as clean as ever but it was Mensa and his velvet-smooth vocals that I was really holding out for. The finale is very confusing for me. The crescendoing chanting braced me for an exciting climax but instead I’m left wanting more. 3

Sam: Vic Mensa and Kaytranada are becoming quite the team now, aren't they? This is probably the funkiest thing they've combined forces for and that's probably owed to Towkio. Towkio is part of the Save Money crew with Vic and, based on the strength of this, could easily be the next highlight to come from the label. The verses aren't overly memorable but the dense baseline that runs behind it really drives it home. The end gets me excited for another chorus and then leaves me high and dry 🙁 3

Meshell: The great thing about this song is that even though Vic Mensa is dripping his fantastic brand of lazy cool onto it, he’s not stealing the show because the production is totally holding its own. That beat, that bass, that boys-club chant at the end of the tune. I’d play this at my next house party. 3.5

Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Multi-Love

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Bianca: This is pure heart-melting stuff. The multi-layered Multi-Love has smatterings of pop and touches of soul, led by the ethereal voice of Ruban Nielson. Like love, it’s bittersweet; swaying between the moods of happiness, satisfaction, sadness, agony and ecstasy. I may not know much about love but I do know that I have strong feelings for this song. 4.5 Bianca's Pick

Sam: I was captivated by Unknown Mortal Orchestra's last record. It was this warped indie-rock thing that somehow weaved in melodies taken straight out of the Motown era. I'm so happy to hear that Multi-Love still brings that familiar warmth to it. The difference is, this is much cleaner. There's less reverb and the keys are far perkier. It's good to hear UMO in a different mode than loneliness because I feel their warmth lends better to tunes that have a little more sunshine. Mark Ronson would love this/wish it was his. 4.5 Sam's Pick

Meshell: This new clean-cut production from Unknown Mortal Orchestra is so unexpected and has me totally entranced. There is a perkiness in the rhythm and melancholy in the vocals all strung together with hints of psychedelia, romantic piano and beautifully reaching melodies. There really is just something a little bit magical going on here, I’ve just played this track 4 times in a row and it gets better every time. If this single is anything to go by, the album is going to be mind-blowing. 5 Meshell’s pick

Nothing's Forever- Paces (Feat. Kucka)

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Bianca: The slinky mood is instantly set as Kucka’s crystalline voice, followed closely by the music box-inspired melody, opens the track. Once Paces’ signature future-beat sneaks its way in, Nothing’s Forever instantly turns into a glitchy, yet structured, piece of sugary sweet goodness. Possibly a bit too sweet for me. Paces’ shimmering production, however, is as clean-cut as ever. 3

Sam: Kucka's opening line to this just melts me. Her voice is so tender and yet so other-wordly. Below her Paces sounds like he's lightly tapping on china making the whole thing beautifully fragile. Things then ramp up a bit and we're left with a bass-heavy drop before the storm calms and we're delivered a far more dense second verse. Paces work with Tkay Maidza has been nothing short of brilliant and he does the same here with Kucka. He's great at showing his production chops and also allowing enough room for the oddities of his vocalists to come through. 4

Meshell: Paces is kicking all kinds of goals this year (hello Hottest 100) but that clearly hasn’t made him complacent. This new offering is a perfect blend of tropical bubblegum glitch and grimy future-beat. This is the epitome of the “Australian sound” that is so envied in the world of EDM at the moment. This track isn’t pushing the envelope in terms of originality but it’s fun, well-layered and it’s nice to see to young Aussies teaming up and setting the bar for new talent crazily high. 3

Ara Koufax- Market

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Bianca: Ara Koufax always know how to set the mood. While some may class 2013 and 2014 as the years of sax overkill, courtesy of Ariana Grande and ♪♫ Jason Derulo ♪♫, I still find it very necessary. But only when used appropriately. In Market, it’s used tastefully, acting as the vehicle for the track and not as an annoying, looping add-on found in mainstream pop songs. Backed by a steady bass and undulating synths, this track can weave its way into any late night playlist. 4

Sam: This is the ultimate summer dusk mood setter. It's been an unbearably hot day but he sun is beginning to set and a slight breeze is beginning to weave through loose-clad clothes. Both Brenda and Market have given me this heartwarming sense of community. Cut Copy dropped the former at OutsideIn and without any commotion the crowd put their hands in the air and began to sway. It's the same with this. It makes me want to be with friends, listening to the same thing, all pretending we know a shit load about the history of contemporary sax playing. Of which I know nothing. 4

Meshell: That sax….THAT SAX. I have never heard of Ara Koufax before but I am now on the bandwagon. This song is a total slow burner FYI but somewhere amidst the serene synths and drone-like bass, is something that makes this song way too sexy to play in the office without getting a few weird looks. In all seriousness though this is a fantastic display of great musicianship and production know how, and if Andrei Eremin is following them on Soundcloud, you know they’re good. BRB going to remove a few layers of clothing. It’s getting hot in here. 4