First Impressions: Mariah Carey, Stormzy, London Grammar And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 02/07/2017

First Impressions are our weekly roundtable reviews sifting through all the fresh new music. Our writers take a listen, slap a score on it and then justify said score. This week London Grammar, Stormzy, Liv Dawson, Gussy, Mariah Carey and Vince Staples face the jury.

London Grammar
Big Picture

Harrison: This song is a momentum builder, building right up to that three minute mark where things really begin to hammer down. I am expecting it to appear somewhere amongst the mid-section of their new album and boy it cannot come soon enough for me. The plucky guitar riff gives me goosebumps. It’s an honor to listen to Hannah sing, her vocal work is nurturing, warm and and a gift. She could honestly sell ice to eskimos. Combine that with the fact Jon Hopkin’s did production on this track and you have yet another reason to be very very excited for London Grammar’s sophomore album. 4

Reece: I’ve never loved London Grammar and I suspect Big Picture isn’t the kind of song that was ever planned to win over the non-believers. It’s fine and Hannah Reid has a lovely voice, but the band never feels emotive enough to wrench at me. Big Picture moves away from their ‘xx cover band’ sound they adopted for the first album and I appreciate the growth, but the jury’s still out on whether London Grammar can be a band I in any way enjoy. 3

Sam: Jon Hopkins own work is so exciting and forward-thinking that it surprises me when he takes on artists like London Grammar and Coldplay that don’t really leave him much room to weave his magic. That said, this is a sweeping, cinematic track and it’s definitely better than Rooting For You. I also think they are growing as a band and starting to gain a real presence but it still feels like they’re not pushing the boundaries enough to really carve their own lane. A band that had a reception like they did to their debut should be returning with top 10 singles and this just isn’t it. 3

Average score: 3.3

Big For Your Boots

Harrison: Without being an expert on Grime or Stormzy, this feels and sounds like the most accessible Stormzy track to date. Lyrically and soundwise, it still holds that viciousness that I like about Grime, all the while very much sounding like it could be a track you’d show someone that perhaps may not know or like the genre. Also no matter how cheesy these grime video clips are, I’ll never stop loving them. They totally nail the Grime vibe of the UK streets. 4

Reece: Stormzy is exactly the ascendant superstar grime needs to stay scorching hot. Dizzee Rascal may have been the pioneer and Skepta heated the genre up, but getting a fresh face at the start of his career with Stormzy’s talent is such a blessing. This track is a beautiful marriage of the accessible simplicity of grime’s core and some shiny new tricks to rope in the fence sitters. Stormzy is one of the game’s most charismatic young rappers and 2017 is the year everyone else finds that out. 4.5

Sam: This is exactly the sort of single you release when you’re announcing your debut album. It’s so grand and beefy that it’s impossible to ignore. The vocal samples in the beat give it texture, Strormzy gives it strength and the beat gives it rhythm. It’s got all the elements of a knockout grime track and yet it’s different enough to set it apart from all the other grime tracks around right now. Extraordinary. 4.5

Average score: 4.3


Harrison: Looking at the roster of names for this song and clip it’s a brilliant and talented bunch. I’m glad this song gave a little more ‘oomph’ at the 1:55 minute because it was starting to sound a bit repetitive and dull for me. I like most genres of electronic music, but this isn’t something i’d put on nor am I completely wow’d by it. 2.5

Reece: We’ve seen this so many times in First Impressions: a decent song by a young artist who is still refining their sound, who is on their way to huge heights. Morning is marred by repetition and drags on its way to three minutes, but is blessed with some wonderful vocals and a fantastic foundation. In a strange way, these songs get me more excited than the high-profile polished releases. We’re hearing the artists of tomorrow today and this is another step in their growth. 3.5

Sam: Australia really needs an artist like Gussy and this track makes me so excited. I can’t compare him to any other local artist right now which is exactly what we need in a climate where a lot of stuff is beginning to sound and look the same. The hook of this is so delicate and melodic and Strict Face’s beat is bubbly and malleable. It may not be the most accessible thing but I think he’s tapping into a sound that’s going to be familiar to a lot of people very soon. 4

Average score: 3.3

Liv Dawson
Searching (Prod. By Disclosure)

Harrison: First things first, you can immediately hear the Disclosure production. Do I vibe it though? Hmmmm. It might grow on me but it literally just feels like a polished version of a track that perhaps missed the cut for Settle. This isn’t even a Disclosure track, they just did the production. Apologies if I’ve totally missed the mark, but that’s all I’m getting from this. 3

Reece: I love Liv Dawson and think she’s one of the most talented new artists, but Disclosure have done her no favours on this one. Harrison placed it perfectly, their contribution was surely an offcut from Settle. In 2013, this would have been a lot of fun but four years on, this sucks. The production just floods everything else on the song and makes it one forgettable mess. 2.5

Sam: Totally agree with Reece about the production of this being dated but for me Liv Dawson’s vocal totally saves it. I was a massive fan of Settle so maybe I’m just feeling a little nostalgic but it’s really taking me back to pre-Nocturnal when they didn’t produce the voices within an inch of their life. Dawson sounds like the star here, as her buttery vocals run from one line to the next like it ain’t no thing. She’s got a classic, timeless voice and everything she’s done so far has been so lovely. 4

Average score: 3.16

Vince Staples

Harrison: Honestly, I feel like Vince Staples was a huge quiet achiever of 2016. Sure, we cover and praise him like crazy, but there still isn’t no where near enough vibe around this guy. He knows exactly what he wants from a track and BangBak is yet again proof of this. Commanding beats paired equally with commanding vocal capabilities. If Hannah Reid can sell ice to eskimos, than Vince Staples could sell sand to the Sahara. 4.5 Harrison’s Pick

Reece: “Tell the President to suck a dick because we on now” is the kind of political discourse I expect and crave from Vince Staples, the no-damns-given poet of this generation. Whether it’s with Flume, Earl Sweatshirt or on his solo work, Vince has such a defined sound and executes it with loud perfection. 4.5 Reece’s Pick

Sam: It’s interesting to hear Vince Staples move towards more modern beats because there was an organic, throwback feel about Summertime ‘06 that I really dug. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of this because this is great. It’s anxious, heavy and pacing perfectly encapsulating what he’s saying politically without even having to look into the lyrics. “Tell the President to suck a dick,” is not a hugely inspiring line but given the President’s rhetoric since being elected, it’s appropriate. 3.5

Average score: 4.16

Mariah Carey
I Don’t (Feat. YG)

Harrison: I have zero time for Mariah Carey. I understand the whole ‘princess’ thing, but everything she is now about grinds my gears to the core. Her presence in music in some respects is now a little bit of a meme and it almost feels like everything she does now is “where’s my paycheck”? If it’s only star power, then I don’t see any reason why you’d want to in today’s world of music appear on a track with Mariah Carey. This isn’t 1993 Dreamlover Mariah……. 0

Reece: Any time you’ve got a song that makes YG feel lethargic, you know you’ve done something wrong. This song doesn’t hit any of the right notes with me, it feels like it drags, didn’t need to be written and doesn’t do anything memorable. That being said, Mariah Carey seems pretty upset with James Packer and this track already has seven million views. She’s not doing pop music right anymore, but at least she knows how to win breakups? 2

Sam: Y’know what, you’ve gotta hand it to Mariah. While every other popstar has gone ridden every trend that’s come and gone over the past decade or so, she’s still making R&B that sounds like it would slot right into The Emancipation Of Mimi and I’m here for it. There’s something distinctly Mariah about changing “I do” to “I don’t” and posing like she does in the video. She’s untouchable and I like that. Sometimes I just go on Mariah Carey’s twitter to see what 2005-looking gif she’s posted and I’m always amused. We need Mariah and quite frankly, she’s beyond criticism. 4

Average score: 2

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