First Impressions: SBTRKT, Nick Jonas, Kiiara And More

Written By the interns on 03/29/2016


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 SBTRKT, Kiiara, Feki, Elliphant, Nick Jonas and A.K. Paul

GOOD MORNING (Feat. The-Dream)

Sean: Dreamscape. I’m somewhere else with this one. I’m not sure where but I’ve got a good feeling about it. 3.5

James: I reviewed this album late last week (shameless plug) and this song was one of the highlights. If you’re a romantic, like me, and you’ve ever experienced the morning after and run away with your thoughts - they made this song about just that. James' Pick

Sam: I love those big epic synths at the beginning of this. I’ve never really seen SBTRKT as much of a hip-hop producer but he takes The-Dream’s vocal on this to some places it’s never been before which is good to hear. It probably could’ve done with a bit more of a distinct hook but there’s nothing really bad about this song. It sounds great, it just could’ve gone further. 3.5

Jack: This whole album is hit and miss for me. This one sounds like a poor attempt at a Kanye west circa My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy era. Miss. 2.5

Alistair: As I’m listening to this I’m starting to wonder if this track is going to go anywhere...And I’m still wondering. The-Dream’s lyrics just don’t seem potent enough to be alongside powerful synths. SBTRKT has dropped the ball lately. 2

Average Score: 3.1

Hang Up The Phone

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Sean: I thrashed Gold so much that I can’t listen to it anymore without instantly reaching for the skip button. I definitely think I’ll get more mileage out of this one. I love the pop sensibility of Kiiara, and the restraint on the production polishes this off. 4 Sean’s Pick

James: I’m forced to liken the sound of this beat to ‘electronic xylophone on acid’, but I dig it, and Kiiara’s voice holds up really well with the backing track - almost ethereal in a very interesting way. It’s catchy, it’s trippy, I get a vague Purity Ring vibe. This is well worth a listen, and a re-spin (or two). 4

Sam: I literally can’t believe that Kiiara has had a platinum single in Australia. I’ve never been more proud to live in this often backward land. Now moving onto our next point of business, let’s get this one to the same position. It’s another knockout with those trademark woozy vocals surrounded by glitchy but delectable synths. Kiiara’s tracks are always centred around one distinct line and here it’s “I ain’t going nowhere except somewhere with you”. Perfect. 4

Jack: This week I’m like all RNB and shit, thanks to the DVSN album. So anything in this field or close enough is going to get me feeling the vibes I think. I really do like this; it makes me think this is what the postal service would sound like if you remixed them into 2016. I don’t know, maybe no one else would think like that. I love the “nowhere” sound. The vocals are a bit neither here nor there. But it’s very nice on the eardrums. 3.5

Alistair: Am I excited? YES I sure am. As soon as those dirty and distorted basslines open the song I was super excited to hear where this was going to go. You then get hit with Kiiara’s beautiful vocals that carry this song and they gel ever so nicely with the backing track. 4 Alistair’s pick

Average Score: 3.9


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Sean: This song has its pitfalls, but when it’s good it’s very good. I’d love to hear a topline on it. It’s a bit inconsistent but I’m into it. In before Feki gets a release on Foreign Family Collective. 3

James: I hear a chipmunk sample, a calypso beat and something that sounds totally like it would belong on a level for Mario Kart on Nintendo 64. I respect the sound, but I don’t know that I feel incensed to give it a second listen at all. 3

Sam: Feki is one of the few producers in Australia right now who is able to inject instrumental tracks with bucket loads of emotion. This one is like a big, swelling heart pumped along by those epic synths. It’s kind of like a less hyper Wave Racer and that makes it less kitsch and more affecting which is nice to hear. 3.5

Jack: Well nothing to see here that I haven’t heard many times before. I get it, it’s cool, it’s pretty, its well-structured, and the layers are beautiful. But I can’t help but compare it to the musical equivalent of bubble and squeak, everything in it I’ve heard somewhere else, it’s just leftovers heated up the next day. And does anyone else hear the exact same melody as the vocal from Japanese Wallpaper and Airling’s song, Forces? 3

Alistair: Is this song perfect? No it’s not quite perfect and it sounds quite similar to a lot of electronic music that’s been coming out of this country over the last 18 months. Its got a very Waver Racer influence behind it and that by no means is a bad thing but it’s just sounding too similar to a lot of stuff I’ve heard as of late. 3

Average Score: 3.1

Nick Jonas
Close (Feat. Tove Lo)

Sean: I like this narrative, and I like this chemistry. Good beat, and Nick’s already proven he’s got vocal chops. But on this track, he’s all technique and no soul. I just wanna feel, man. And I don’t really feel anything. Tove kills it though. 3.5

James: I feel like I’ve heard this song before. One thousand times. Even the video strikes me as a rip-off of something Sia would do and/or has done. 2

Sam: this is all about that marimba-like sound that runs through the entire song. That makes it pretty impossible to refuse but then Nick jumps in and things start to fall of the rails a bit. His falsetto is great but sometimes it sounds like he’s tensing his mouth and is about to run out of breath, particularly in the chorus. I think Tove is much better suited to the track but it is genuinely pretty enjoyable from start to finish. 3

Jack: I actually just yawned, and now I’m writing about yawning, could this situation become any more boring? Yes, because I did it while listening to this song. 0.5

Alistair: It’s been a very big and long Easter long weekend, I’m tired enough as it is and then you add this song into the mix and I’m even more exhausted. The backing track picks things up a bit during the hook but not enough to save the song. Nick’s vocals just don’t do it for me. The best part of this number is Tove Lo, she earned this song an extra point. 2

Average Score: 2.2

Everybody (Feat. Azealia Banks)

Sean: We’re still giving Azealia Banks airtime and I’m not biting.This is definitely an Elliphant aesthetic but it’s no Love Me Badder. 2.5

James: This song is as grating to me as Azealia Banks’ personality is. I’m not feeling this, no, no, I’m not. 0.5

Sam: Finally we get to hear something energetic one again from Elliphant. There’s not much to say about the song really other than it’s a heap of fun. I love when Elliphant is operating in that dancehall world and Azealia Banks surprisingly slips in perfect in a style that she normally wouldn’t operate in. That said, most of Banks' recent mixtape Slay-Z is better than this. 4

Jack: I interviewed Elliphant once, and she is a great bloody girl, I like her HEAPS. Love Me Badder is a tune. Her voice is cool as fuck, she is on a different level to most people in her soundscape. She smokes Azealia Banks, and while this song isn’t anything to write home about, it sure could do with 100% less Banks. 2

Alistair: FUCK YES!!! My initial thought was that electronic guitar opens the song, add Elliphant’s fun and powerful voice to it and you’re well on your way to a nice song. The only thing that I’m not sold on is Azealia Banks featuring on it. 3.5

Average Score: 2.5

A.K. Paul

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Sean: I’m way more impressed by the fact that he AK did everything on this track. Total killer. Am I sold that Paul Institute will ‘change the way we think about music’? No. It’s a great track, but it’s not Michael Jackson. 4

James: There’s such an amalgamation of sounds here that it feels difficult to wrap my head around everything. How it went from Interstellar soundtrack, to motorbike sounds, to Prince circa Tim Burton’s original Batman era, I truly don’t know. 3.5

Sam: So smooth and yet so dirty. The instrumental sounds like a car engine and are perfectly juxtaposed by A.K.’s effortless falsetto. It’s probably not the easiest song to swallow on first listen but maybe that’s what so exciting about it. It actually sounds like he’s playing with different tools and actively trying to do something different. Electro-R&B was getting really stale and now we have ourselves a fresh loaf of bread. 4 Sam’s Pick

Jack: I legit thought of some bloke cruising around in his land cruiser, sinking tins and bopping his head, which would probably be the exact opposite scenario of the demographic likely to listen to a sick beat like this but you know. Seriously though, it gets you excited for Paul Institute, if and when it’s coming. The horns sound like they are getting blown into a fan on a hot day after they just finished playing outside like children. It’s almost like this whole song was produced and recorded while a big industrial fan blew greatness all over it. 4.5 Jack's Pick

Alistair: Yeah right, well this is something different. I’m still not 100 percent sold on this and I’m not sure about how much is happening on it. What is good about this track is that A.K. did everything on this track himself. Why that motorbike sound came back again towards the end of the track though,  I don’t know. 2

Average Score: 3.6

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