First Impressions: The Weeknd, Basenji, Pitbull And More

Written By the interns on 06/16/2015

FI_16JuneFirst 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 pick apart tracks by The Weeknd, Prince Royce, Basenji and more.

The Weeknd
Can’t Feel My Face

Sam: It was only a matter of time before The Weeknd traded in pussy and drugs for a more radio-friendly sound. Well, the moment is here and it’s come in the form of a Max Martin-produced pop masterpiece. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t lost any of The Weeknd’s identity. His vocals are still as soulful as they always are and it’s made denser by a dirty bassline which acts as the replacement for the sex-orientated lyrics that usually feature. It would be good if he could find a way to make both this style and his much more explicit style work on his forthcoming album because on the last one he failed. 4 Sam’s Pick

Zanda: This is kind of unexpectedly up-beat and bass-heavy for The Weeknd. He doesn’t sacrifice any of his typical smoothness though, and the heavy bass really compliments some of those acapella-esque harmonies midway through the track. Definitely a radio-friendly track that, at the same time keeps the core elements of his style. 3.5

Annie: I can usually take or leave The Weeknd, I haven’t been able to understand the hype surrounding him. However, this song has left a vastly good impression on me. Radio-friendly is a good descriptor of this track, but I don’t feel as though that’s an altogether bad thing. Undoubtedly, this will be stuck in my head for the next week, but it’s sweet sounding enough that I probably won’t even care. 4 Annie's Pick 

Basenji
Petals (Feat. Scenic)

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/officialbasenji/basenji-petals-featuring-scenic[/soundcloud]

Sam: I love this wave of glassy, angelic electronic music and Basenji just gets it oh-so-right with first track for 2015. Petals is quite literally a daydream where you’re walking through a park full of majestic basenji’s, where the flowers are baby pink and the sun has the glassiest tint you’ve ever seen. It’s just do damn beautiful and captures the very essence of escapism. Of course, it’s kitsch but that’s purposeful and it works in this context. 4

Zanda: Basenji is one of a group of young Sydney producers whose production worth and skills seem to be on an exponential bend upwards. Finally we’ve got a new track from him and euphoric doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s a bit more chiller than some of his early stuff but its smooth as silk, and Scenic’s vocals compliment the washy vibe synths happily. Worth the wait for this bad boy. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Annie: This was such a lovely song to wake up to this morning. The track floats by leaving you with immense feelings of exultation and joy, I’m romanticising again, but it honestly sounds gorgeous. This is the first time I’ve listened to Basenji, and what a good introduction it was. 3

Prince Royce
Back It Up (Feat. Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull)

Sam: You see Pitbull and J.Lo on the same song and you run for the hills - that’s the general rule isn’t it? Unfortunately in this scenario we’re forced to listen to the song and as such I’ve heard “Mr. Worldwide” for the first and last time this year. I’m not quite sure who Prince Royce is but it’s not the smartest move to put these two on his track and basically take all the attention away. And he should be ashamed of himself for bringing J.Lo and Pitbull back together when J.Lo was doing so well without him. If I have any advice it’s that this song is best consumed on mute where you can truly appreciate that she is 45 years of age and the finest looking woman on the planet. Meanwhile, Pitbull is in his early thirties and looks like an aged scrotum. 1.5

Zanda: I’m not sure whether we are supposed to take the lyrics seriously, being that they suggest some sort of sexual tension or romance between Prince Royce and J-Lo even though he is literally 19 years younger than her and could realistically be her kid. Pitbull isn’t even worth analysing. There isn’t even really enough musical worth here for this to be successful on commercial radio. 1

Annie: The song finished only a few minutes ago and I can’t remember what it sounded like. My only real impression is that Pitbull looks so much like a mole rat in this video it’s unsettling, his dancing is truly something to look out for also. 0

Health
Stonefist

Sam: Now that Crystal Castles are in tatters we need someone to fill the void between electronic music and death metal. Health have returned just in time to fill that spot effortlessly. To be honest I wasn’t really aware of all the work they did for Max Payne 3 until I did a little bit of research but the context really means shit, because this song stands-up by itself. It’s so haunting and yet so present and hard-hitting. The base thuds like a heavy shoe hitting the pavement and the vocals just breathe right down your neck. 3.5 

Zanda: A super intense track with some pretty heavy synths among other sounds. It’s almost like metal rock had a baby with hardcore electronic music. I’m a sucker for melody and melodic development, and unfortunately I don’t get a lot here. I understand that’s not the goal but to be honest it’s a little abrasive to consider a second listen. 2.5

Annie: I feel like I’m missing something here. The track is fine, to say the most. I’ve heard many good things about this band, but I just am not capable of understanding it. The most suiting word I could use to describe my feelings towards this song would be lacklustre, but still, something about the track makes me feel like I’m the problem. Maybe it’s just not my genre. 2

Loren Kramer
My Life

Sam: So this is the unsigned guy that Apple plugged in their Apple Music conference last week that actually turned out to be signed. Whatever. With the internet these days it doesn’t really matter what you are as long as you have the heavy-hitter of a debut single to get people’s attention. Kramer’s voice is definitely the biggest drawcard here. It’s kind of like an old soul twisted up in influences of the modern world. For some reason I keep comparing to Lana Del Rey because their in the same kind of indie singer/songwriter realm. My Life is good but it doesn’t have the same immediate beauty of Video Games. Maybe it’s just skimming the service of what Kramer can do, but we’re going to need to hear a little more from him before he really impresses. 3

Zanda: Loren Kramer’s voice really doesn’t sound like anyone else going around now. It kind of seems like a bridge between modern vocals and some very particular elements of something intensely old school. Unfortunately here, for me at least, the production doesn’t stack up. It just feels clunky and the choice of sounds and effects just doesn’t really add much to Kramer’s already amazing efforts. 3

Annie: Kramer’s voice is so unusual, in a really good way. The track as a whole is a little underwhelming; it feels like something bigger and better could be done with that voice. But Kramer is a new artist, and this is in no way a bad place to start from. I look forward to hearing more from him, hopefully something that will beg its audience to listen again. 3

GoldLink
Dance On Me

[soundcloud width="750" height="415"]https://soundcloud.com/goldlink/dance-on-me[/soundcloud]

Sam: It’s great to see a rapper that is treading a careful line between hip-hop and electronica appear on a list like XXL’s Freshman Class. Dance On Me is the perfect example of how well the two genres can go together. His flow is so good that it effortlessly weaves through rushing beats that wouldn’t sound unfulfilled as purely an instrumental track. GoldLink’s rap just takes it to another level though, colouring it with a certain bounce provided by his outgoing verses. Let’s stay with this type of production. It’s right on the money. 4

Zanda: This is just awesome stuff here from GoldLink. This track strikes an appetising balance between vocals and production, with some lovely smooth melodic synths used to really add some poise to a rising and falling intensity. So many elements; rap, vocals, effects and some fantastic transitions between sections, really come together here in a very cool way. Also, some clever use of melodic space when it comes to building to the key climaxes of the track. 4

Annie: The more crosses between hip hop and electronic the better. I really, really enjoy this.
The production minus Goldlink’s verse would feel lacking, and vice versa. The two genres compliment each other so smoothly, it’s unsurprising that more and more artists are delving into this cross between. 3.5 

Now it's your time for your vote: 

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