First Impressions: The Weeknd, ODESZA, Jojo And More

Written By the interns on 08/25/2015

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. This week we pick apart tracks by ODESZA, DJ Dodger Stadium, Kwabs, JoJo, The Weeknd and Banoffee

Light (Feat. Little Dragon)

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Krissy: This track is the product of a collaboration curated by only the Gods themselves. ODESZA’s partnership with Little Dragon has delivered a parcel of familiarly tantalising synth and jangly beats wrapped up in ribbons of Yukimi’s sexy vocals right to our ear-holes. A perfect lead up to Spring- and who is surprised? These two acts could do no wrong in my books. 4.75 Krissy's Pick

Sam: I’ve always thought that Little Dragon have never really nailed their down-tempo numbers even though Yukimi Nagano’s voice is perfect for them. ODESZA have delivered the perfect mellow backdrop on Light and Nagano’s voice sounds like it’s in its natural habitat. It just wafts along with no real climax apart from the rush of layers in the chorus and that seems to work perfectly based on the fact that the whole thing sounds serene and beautiful. It definitely doesn’t have the immediacy of Say My Name but it has a beauty deeper than that. 4

Annie: Perhaps one of the better collaborations of this year, ODESZA and Little Dragon have slayed this track, producing a solid electronic track for the masses. Yukumi Nagono's vocal are a delight to hear on this track, her crooning about a reckless, one-sided love affair transporting you to another world. 4

DJ Dodger Stadium
You Don't Have To Be Alone

Krissy: A bright, yet very repetitive and very flat dance track from DJDS – I admittedly don’t know of who these guys are, but this track reminds me of when I had just turned 18 and went to dodgy nightclubs in the Valley, drinking my vodka raspberries and dancing on very sticky floors. 2

Sam: Once I got past the fact that the video is the most ridiculously cute thing this year, I got stuck into the song and realised that I also very much enjoy it. DJ Dodger Stadium’s 2014 debut has to be one of my favourite electronic records of the decade and this track doesn’t change up the formula too much from that. If anything, it’s a little bit lighter and more accessible than anything on that record with airy house keys really driving it along. The repetitive vocal sample is one of the things I really love about these guys - that they can just build and build the instrumental while running that over top. It’s mind-warping and heartwarming. 4

Annie: DJ Dodger Stadium have made their own brand of techno that's more emotive than most and this song is no exception. It's a warming track that fits perfectly with their album Friend Of Mine, though I wouldn't call this the best release from their album it is definitely a grower, and unavoidably catchy. 3

With Her

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Krissy: A very sophisticated release by ultimate cool chick, Banoffee. A peculiar intro into beautiful and raw vocals which then builds layer upon layer of keys, synth and basically everything nice that we love about synth-pop. Props, also, for the sneaky Mario reference towards the end – bringing a little noughties nostalgia into my day. 4

Sam: Definitely one of the strongest tracks to come from Banoffee. She’s gone with that same kind of dance aesthetic that we heard first on Let’s Go To The Beach and it really works for her. Her vocals feel really homely and warm yet they teeter on this emotional edge. Also props for slotting in a tip of the hat to Mario’s Let Me Love You. 3.5

Annie: Banoffee just keeps popping up in my life, and I love it more and more each time. With Her is a perfect introduction to Banoffee for new fans, it completely encapsulates the feel of the artist while being energetic and entrancing enough to lure you back for more. Banoffee is known for emotional intensity and this track is no different, definitely a stand out. 4

When Love Hurts

Krissy: JoJo’s back baby! Except, now, she’s strayed from her RnB roots and tried to conform to the whole dance/electro scene – which does not work for her. With generic dance beats and cheesy lyrics like, “When love hurts, that’s how you know it’s real.” Really, JoJo? I don’t mean to sound all high and mighty, but should you really be putting out music with a lame and delusional message such as this? Don’t mistake me for a JoJo hater, I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I was drunkenly listening to her old stuff last weekend – but this song is shit and I can’t find anything nice to write about it. Half a point just for being JoJo, though. 1.5

Sam: JoJo’s done some really sweet stuff since she disappeared from the mainstream after her second album. This is her commercial return and it’s kind of distressing that she’s gone straight for something really generic with this one. It’s a decent pop tune with a big soaring chorus kinda David Guetta circa When Love Takes Over, but JoJo’s a damn good R&B vocalist and this just feels like a wasted opportunity. I get that she wants to edge her way back into the mainstream and she probably has tracks of hers that she loves more than this but still it’s a shame. 2.5

Annie: I haven't heard much from JoJo since she made that film with Robin Williams, but this is a pretty good track if you're into nostalgia. The girl has developed considerably since Leave (Get out), but kudos to anyone who can listen to this and not go back to her older work directly after. 2.5

The Weeknd
Prisoner (Feat. Lana Del Rey)

Krissy: Halloween has come two months early this year. A haunting and eerie track (what else do you expect from Lana, though) with an alluring and unpredictable ever-changing formation and pulse. This chilled out track features a rich, choral chorus severed with silky smooth lyricism and classic Weeknd perks we have all come to love. 3

Sam: These two are seemingly from two different musical worlds but together their dark inclinations really blend and this cut is one of the true highlights of The Weeknd’s record. The Weeknd goes for a much softer vocal style to better match LDR’s and that makes the two blend so easily over this haunting, thumping beat. Lana’s first line “I think I’ve been in Hollywood far too long,” is a real goosebump moment and really makes me hope for some more R&B-tinged stuff on her album. The Weeknd and LDR feel like real underdogs of the music scene and this year has so far been really good to them. The timing for a duet couldn’t be better. 4.5 Sam's Pick

Annie: The long awaited pairing of The Weeknd and Lana Del Rey has finally happened. Their vocals compliment each other like no other, it's a pretty solid track. While this is sure to cause a riot amongst fans, I've heard better from both of them and to be honest, prefer them far more as solo acts. 2.5

Walk (Feat. Fetty Wap)

Krissy: This is a really catchy song that I’d like to learn the lyrics to and bust it out Karaoke style for my friends next time I’m getting ready for a night out (lame or awesome? You be the judge.) I did a little digging and was surprised to learn that this was a remake (unless I am the only person in the world who hadn’t heard of this song before!) The original was without Fetty’s appearance, and honestly, all I could think of when his verse came on was that he sounded so much like O.T Genasis and was expecting him to shout “I’M IN LOVE WITH THE COCO” the whole time. I’m not too bothered with the addition of Fetty, but as one Youtube user commented, “This song is like wasting a 30yr old whisky by drinking it with coke… it's not that I don't like coke too but you just don't mix it.” The Youtube jury has spoken. 3.5

Sam: From the first second of this song it sounds like a motherflippin’ massive hit and Fetty Wap’s inclusion only adds to that appeal in my opinion. Kwabs’ has been churning out some really quality stuff for a while now but none of it feels as weighty as this one with its dense pop melody and really affecting vocals. If chucking a rapper-of-the-moment on the tail end of it grabs it some attention then so be it. And as far as afterthought features go, this one’s actually really good. 4

Annie: Kwabs is an interesting artist to enter the mainstream. His soulful vocals seem more attuned for gospel hymns, but that's not to say they don't work, he's like a sassier Sam Smith. This is a more radio-friendly track from the artist, it's slow moving but picks up the pace at the end and makes you wish you had even an ounce of the talent he has so you could sing along. 4 Annie's Pick

Now time for your vote: 

[poll id="52"]