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First Impressions: The Avalanches, Kanye West, Travis Scott And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 06/07/2016

FirstImpressionsEp1

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 The Avalanches, Montaigne, Kanye West, Sofi De La Torre, Travis Scott, Danny L Harle.

This week in addition to our usual written opinions, we’re also launching the interns’ First Impressions podcast. Meshell Webb, James Schofield and Zanda Wilson spoke in a roundtable conversation with editor Sam Murphy about this week’s choices butting heads and occasionally agreeing on some divisive tunes. Dig into the podcast below and also read some of our other contributors’ opinions below that. 

The Avalanches
Frankie Sinatra

Harrison Kefford: Am I the only person who could never get into The Avalanches? I should say though i appreciate great music when it is in front of me, and what The Avalanches have produced with this comeback is one mighty fine tune. Frankie Sinatra is blend of odd sounds and it’s going to sell super lame, but for me it’s also got this real sunday morning feel to it. 4

Reece Hooker: Well, it only took The Avalanches one track to snatch back the crown. ‘Frankie Sinatra’ may not be my favourite entry by them, but it’s a campy, fun track that reminds us just how well they integrate the most obscure of samples. Danny Brown and MF DOOM show up for excellent guest spots, allowing their elastic flows room to move within the bouncy hues of the flipped sample. 4

Meshell Webb:The popularity of this song is 100% dependant on the fact that it’s been 16 years since the last release, well…that and having MF freaking DOOM pop in (yeah you too Danny Brown). Is it amazing? Not really, but it’s enough to be enjoyable. My favourite part is probably that sample from The Sound Of Music. 3

James Schofield: I don’t think The Avalanches every really had a crown, and I would never think MF Doom’s flow could be described as elastic, but Reece is spot on with the integration of obscure samples here (There’s a Legend of Zelda one in there, FYI). I watched this video and I had four immediate thoughts: Fuck, this song is good. Fuck, this song might not be that good. MF Doom might be God. And holy shit, do I need to call my Grandma and check that she’s alright? Watch the video, listen to the track. It’s going to be everywhere, it already kind of is, so you might as well. But yeah, it’s The Avalanches. 3.5

Sean Singh: This one might need a few listens 2

Average Score: 3.3

Montaigne
Because I Love You

Harrison: Montaigne has all these unique layers to her voice that I really really dig. For me, something first ticked (in a massive WOW way) when I heard Clip My Wings in 2015, but this new tune just isn’t really doing much for me. I feel like after one or two listens and radio rotation it may grow on me, but right now i am not vibing it. 3

Reece: Since bursting onto the scene a few years ago, Montaigne has consistently proven she’s got talent for days. However, she’s failed to find a niche that fits her quirky delivery as she’s waded through a few different styles. Because I Love You is the most promising indication that the Sydney singer has found her spot. Over some bopping piano and synths that would make the Pet Shop Boys blush, this one comes across as a very rough, but promising, offering. I’m not sold that she’s there yet, but Montaigne is slowly finding herself and when it all comes together, the sky’s the limit. 2.5

Meshell: Montaigne feels really lost to me as an artist like either she’s not sure what she’s trying to do or she’s got some bigwigs making her do stuff she’s either not good at or not a fan of. The production on this is pretty cool but the young Aussie is still on the way to finding her own dope sound. 2.5

James: Oh my God, for so many reasons, I’m bored. Why do people let artists get away with this? I can’t even focus on the song, it’s all just doing that weird circular thing where it folds up and becomes white noise because yeah, it’s boring. That’s a first impression for you. 0.5

Sean: This is fun. But it’s not really fun enough. I’ll admit I’m not all too familiar with Montaigne, but it sounds like someone picked New Young Pony Club up, polished them to the nth degree, and made them forgettable. It’s alright, but pop is over-crowded by definition and I can’t see this cutting through. 2

Average Score: 2.1

Kanye West & G.O.O.D. Music
Champion

Harrison: Looking at the names associated with this track, i’m like WOAH. This coming from someone who musically needs something special to vibe hip-hop/rap. Like, the names that unite for this collaboration are pretty much the only thing i appreciate about the track. I feel like i could research my way into truly liking it, but i feel like honesty is the best policy here. Perhaps if Vic Mensa had have dropped There’s Alot Going On a little earlier, a selection from that would have appeared during this week’s First Impressions. Now that’s some rap i can appreciate! 2.5

Reece: Champions is a rollercoaster six minutes. In the first two minutes, Quavo sounds like a star, Kanye is spitting his most confident bars in forever, Travis Scott puts in a killer hook and Gucci Mane shows up. It’s two of the most blistering two minutes of hip-hop you’ll hear this year and sets Champions up to be another all-time great crew cut orchestrated by Kanye West. Then… Big Sean, 2 Chainz and Yo Gotti seize the next three verses and the song becomes a slog. Sure, we are rewarded with an extra Gucci verse at the end, but there’s just too much fat on ‘Champions’ for it to be a great song. 3

Meshell: I think it’s safe to say that this will divide Hip Hop fans. Personally I love it. On first listen all I could to was swag around my apartment pretending I’m cool and on second, third and fourth listens I just enjoyed all the cheeky one liners from each feature verse. This just sounds like a bunch of mates having fun and I WISH MY MATES WERE THIS COOL. 4

James: Lol. I just… can’t. I feel like I’m standing alone in the hip-hop fandom here, and nobody’s really getting it. This is hip-hop on a grand stage, Travi$ Scott (as I mentioned below being one of my favourite artists of any genre right now) is sublime on that hook. Big Sean swings for the fences and connects. Desiigner has that machine gun he plastered all over Panda. Gucci Mane is showing that prison might’ve made him in to a better musician (I wouldn’t recommend going to prison to do that though, but I mean that track with Drake is flames and so is his offering to this). Yo Gotti is shit, SORRY BRO. 2 Chainz spreads joy and cheer everywhere he goes like a hip-hop Santa Claus. And Kanye kind of does enough to make way for the crew, because fuck you, this is G.O.O.D. Music and Cruel Winter is on the way. Unlike Harrison, and seemingly Reece, I’m a big time diehard of the hip-hop genre. Research? I got you. History? Yeah, fam. Love? Got you, bae. But that’s not what First Impressions is about, so my first impression was this – fuck yes, get ‘em, Cruel Winter come at last. 4.5

Sean: The beat here is pretty fire, it’s the kind of grandiose euphoric beat you’d expect to hear Kanye doing some tag team rapping on. Does that make it predictable or does that make it even better? I don’t know. I’m not sure if Kanye puts people like Yo Gotti and 2 Chainz on tracks with him to make him look better, but a rehash of this with those two cut would land far better. Overall though, yeah mate, done. I’m in. I’m a big Kanye proponent and I’m always waiting for someone to tell me something that knocks me off my pedestal, but this isn’t it. Points removed for the unnecessary/skippable features. 3

Average Score: 3.4

Sofi De La Torre
Sit Down

Harrison: Ok, Sofi De La Torre is my weekly discovery. Thank you to whoever selected Sit Down as a track for First Impressions for the week. I love everything about Sofi De La Torre and ‘Sit Down’. I am picking up some low key M.I.A vibes, and the video clip for Sit Down is rad. 4.5 Harrison’s Pick

Reece: Sit Down slinks with sensual, abrupt attitude and has so much swagger for a young, emerging artist. Sofi De La Torre sounds like PC Music’s R&B pop star and that’s nothing but a positive on my end. The off-kilter drum scraping against the skeleton of this track is intriguing and the video is further proof Sofi has all the tools to be an internet icon pretty much any time now. Although the track never seems to build, Sit Down manages to grab you by the collar and keep you hooked the entire time. 4

Meshell: The hashtag on the track is obviously a bit of a red flag but I actually still love this track, it’s definitely unique and catchy. It’s so refreshing to see a pop artist not jumping trends in order to say internet relevant and I think that may be the catalyst to Sofi finding success. 3.75

James: She hashtagged it with #popdoneright which is bold. It’s pretty accurate though, it’s pop, but it’s listenable and a lot of pop can… um… not be. For no real reason at all it reminds me of some overtly sexual song that Peaches might churn out, but I don’t think it actually is that. Harrison, those MIA vibes better be very, very low key because I don’t feel that at all. I’m still a little bored though. Where’s the attitude? 3.5

Sean: I didn’t want to like this because of the hashtag. But goshdarnit I just do. This is where DEV should have gone with her career. It’s perfectly restrained, just sexy enough without getting graphic, and hits the right energy. Pop done right indeed 4 Sean’s Pick

Average Score: 3.95

Travis Scott
Pick Up The Phone (Feat. Young Thug & Quavo)

Harrison: There is going to come a time where a really great hip-hop/rap album drops, (which i vibe) and my voice and reason for liking it will be somewhat lost in all these low scores for these additions to First Impressions. I know there are a lot people that dig this genre of music, but again a track in this genre has to generate something special within in order to gain a better score. 2.5

Reece: Two of rap’s most acquired tastes join forces for a track that finds Thugger and Travis in fine form. Leaning back on their melodic vocals and signature ad libs, Pick Up The Phone is an impressively cohesive, polished release from two artists who have both been knocked in that regard. Hot off their respective production work on Drake’s Views, Frank Dukes and Vinylz team up for another excellent beat. Much like Views, this beat is submerged and distorted, but lined with a tropical finish. It’s on the weirder end of the rap spectrum, but both Young Thug and Travis Scott are right at home in this zone. 3.5

Meshell: No hate here but I’m bored. This track sounds like so many others that are floating around and you gotta really pull something special out to rise above the masses. 3

James: I like that Reece has described these two as an acquired taste, I’ve been shouting their names for a while now and people are only just now starting to pay attention, so acquired taste might explain that. I don’t like to be bored. Words can be boring, music can be boring, people can be boring. Neither of these artists are boring. They epitomise the progression of artistry in the sense that they only seem to be getting better and better, but they also epitomise the act of not giving a single fuck which is just as good. I could go in on the history of this pairing (Thug and Scott), remind people that Quavo is not a fruit but actually a member of rap group Migos, or I could wax lyrical about the composition. But this is first impressions. So first impression? Travi$ Scott is one of my favourite artists of any genre right now, and Young Thug has been putting in work for years deserving of attention, rapidly improving as an artist (Slime Season 3 was crazy good). This might not be their best collaboration (that title is reserved for Skyfall), it goes hard and it’s an enjoyable listen. It’s like… If you went to a trap show in the Galapagos Islands, this is what would play. And Young Thug raps about being faithful to his other half. When was the last time you heard that in hip-hop? Bump, bump. 4.5 James’ Pick

Sean: This style of hip hop never got me and I’m not on board. I’d get down to this in a Bronx warehouse but I’m not vibing otherwise. I see where the talent lies for sure, but it’s not up my alley 2.5

Average Score: 3.2

Danny L Harle
Supernatural (Feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)

Supernatural will be out soon.

Harrison: Supernatural opens with this early ‘00s dance beat, infused with some Wave Racer like PC-Sounds. An is that Runaway With Me queen Carly Rae Jepsen?! Hmmm, yeah this well thought out collaboration. Sometimes collaborations can play out into this disaster of sound, but everything about ‘Super Natural’ just really works. (especially Carly Rae’s vocals). 4

Reece: After releasing an excellent album last year and knocking all of her guest spots out of the park since, I’m beginning to wonder whether Carly Rae Jepsen can do any wrong. This time she’s up with PC Music ringleader Danny L Harle and they make some magic. ‘Super Natural’ bursts in explosively and then pulls back to build itself back up. The song’s beauty comes out in all the subtleties amongst the chaos, be it the low fizzes in the second verse or the rocketing build preceding the instant earworm of a chorus. Sometimes the PC Music collective gets a little too weird to stay in my rotation, but Supernatural is one of the rare tracks that’s going to feel just as fitting on a Pitchfork ‘Best of 2016’ list as it will as year twelve formal. 4.5 Reece’s Pick

Meshell:Okay look I’m NEVER gonna warm to PC Music and you wanna know why? Because this song sounds like it jumped straight out of a blue light disco circa 2002 and honestly it just sounds like complete garbage to me. The production, the lyrics, the song’s structure and the PUNISH of how long I had to listen to it for…just makes up a conglomerate of “fuck no”. If this were released by some Pop Princess under Sony’s guidance you’d all be hating it so hard but somehow it’s shitty enough to be considered indie or something? No thanks. 0.5

James: Ew. I was a closet fan of Call Me Maybe. That was a song I could sing in to my hairbrush whilst wearing only my underwear. This though? I respond to this song precisely how I would respond to a teenage girl having a crush on me. Gross, get the hell away from me. Where’s my bleach? I’ve got ears that need cleaning, I’m dead inside. 0.5

Sean: In the vein of PC Music as a whole this track is so happy that it’s almost vomit-inducing. Carly Rae Jepsen is the perfect artist for the topline, and this feels like the victorious conclusion credit to a kid’s anime movie. I can see where PC Music is coming from, but I’m not on this one as a strong contender. 2.5

Average Score: 2.4

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