First Impressions: Kesha, HAIM, Kamaiyah And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 07/12/2017

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 Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, DJ Khaled, ODESZA, Swick and Tove Styrke face the jury.

Kesha - Praying

Sam: I haven't heard a ballad this good for a very long time. It's such a perfect return for Kesha that touches on the past few years while making it about her rather than him. Her voice has always been incredible but it's very rare that we've been able to hear it in this setting. I have a feeling Rainbow is going to give us even more opportunities to hear what she has to give too. That moment when the piano kicks in and she pulls stupidly good notes out of god knows where is the stuff goosebumps are made of. 4

Annie: It’s hard to recognize the fact that this song is from the same girl that dropped Tik Tok on us way back when, but a lot has changed since 2009. Post #FreeKesha, this is exactly the kind of vulnerable ballad that I anticipated sonically, though through her purposeful lyrics Kesha displays a level of empathy that is worthy of attention. Knowing its background, Praying can be somewhat hard to listen to casually, but it’s an empowering and welcome return to form from Kesha. 3.5 Annie's Pick

Set Mo - I Belong Here (Feat. Woodes)

Sam: Set Mo just gave us all a very good reason to start looking forward to the summer. This is one of those songs that just instantly feels good running through your ears. While Woodes sings, "Do I stand alone?" there's something really communal and inclusive about this song which makes it so warm. Perhaps, it's the all-female choir that joins and sends this song into the stratosphere. 3.5

Annie: I Belong Here follows that trademark Set Mo sound, however, where it really wins is on it’s guest vocalists. Woodes is joined on the chorus by KLP, Elizabeth Rose and Asta- the four blending together to create something really beautiful. It’s a lot more melodic than any Set Mo release i’ve heard before, a welcome respite from the usual that ultimately suits them. 3

Motez - The Future (Feat. Antony & Cleopatra)

Sam: It's really cool to hear Motez doing something more melodic and I have a feeling this one's going to be one of his most successful drops to date. It instantly picked up buzz and that's because it sounds so effortless and easy on the first listen. The chorus is obvious but it's not in-your-face and that sort of subtlety suits Motez so well. 3.5

Annie: Motez turns things down a few notches for this track, creating something that has a more personal touch than his usual. Through it’s poignant lyricism linked together with a softer bassline, The Future is an atmospheric track which may sound jarring to listeners accustomed to Motez’ usual dancefloor anthems. This new direction works well, though for me, isn’t overly memorable as a whole. 3

AlunaGeorge - Turn Up The Love

Sam: AlunaGeorge have such a knack for turning simple melodies into something incredible but on this one, I feel as if I'm listening to something from before their first EP. The production feels so bare and the chorus is just a little lazy. The cover to me is also ripped straight from a Target catalogue. Aluna is one of the coolest people in music but it's not coming across here. I don't know what's gone wrong. 2

Annie: I’m always excited for new AlunaGeorge, but this track isn’t really cutting it for me. You can almost gauge what direction it’ll take by song title alone, and in that sense, everything is delivered as expected. It just feels too watered down, like it never really ‘gets there’. Hopefully this is just an outlier for the duo. 2.5

Kamaiyah - Build You Up

Sam: Kamaiyah brings the vibes every damn time. This is a '90s jam that would've given Whitney Houston's career a second wind. Kamaiyah bleeds positivity and this would've come across cheesy at the hands of most artists but because she's in front of it, beaming, it's so infectious. She maintains her West Coast vibes but also brings a whole other element of accessibility that's likely going to make her a massive critical and commercial success. 4

Annie: This is the first time I’ve listened to Kamaiyah, but I’m definitely into this. This track is a nostalgia-inducing, uplifting bop peppered with lyrics touting self-respect and female empowerment. Kamaiyah’s vocals are accessible and inviting, creating a track that will undoubtedly be added to many car playlists. 3.5

HAIM - Nothing’s Wrong

Sam: I love when HAIM come in with the vocals in the very first second. They not afraid of booting a melody into action from the get-go and that brings me into this song straight away. From there it's all Shania Twain and Sheryl Crowe vibes which should be oh-so-wrong but I gotta admit it, I'm a sucker for an alt-country banger. Danielle slides through those verses like she's weightless and it's impossible not to be swept up in the whole thing. 4

Annie: I’ve never been super into Haim, and this track definitely hasn’t shifted my opinion. However, it’s clear that the girls definitely know what they’re doing in terms of making a solid, distinguishable track. This song could have been lifted straight out of the 80’s and as is usual with Haim, is lifted by strong, personable vocals. While Haim may not be my thing, if it’s yours I’m sure this will be a hit. 2.5

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