FI_10Nov

First Impressions: Coldplay, Craig David, Rustie and More

FI_10Nov

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 Coldplay, Craig David, Rustie, Ty Dolla $ign and more. 

Craig David x Big Narstie
When The Bassline Drops 

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/craigdavidofficial/craig-david-x-big-narstie-when-the-bassline-drops[/soundcloud]

Jack Cain: What do you get when you take something like what Disclosure have been trying to copy for ages and mix it with an actual artist from the era of what Disclosure were trying to copy (I'm referring to Artful Dodger)? You get this track, which has been absolutely nailed by a fairly unknown producer known as White n3rd, enlisting the RnB superstar Craig David who is just filling everyone in that in 2015 he is still relevant, still on point and still chilling on Sundays. There's no way anyone will be walking away from this tune when it gets played in the club. 4.5 

Alistair Rhodes: I've never actually liked Craig David ever but he has come bouncing right off the blocks with this song. It's dance, RnB and Grime, mixed all into one song. Grime is seriously the flavour of the month at the moment, spreading out across the world from England where it's going through a massive resurgence. 4

Sam Murphy: Ayo! Craig David is back and is going about it exactly the right way. Pairing Where Are U Now with Fill Me In was a genius move as it married nostalgia with something that's current and he's done it again here on this track. It capitalises on the whole garage rejuvenation that's happened this year thanks to the grime movement and it's also classic CG. It's catchy, melodic and energetic but best of all it doesn't make him sound like an old fart. 4

Santigold
Can’t Get Enough Of Myself

[soundcloud width+"750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/santigold/cant-get-enough-of-myself-feat-bc[/soundcloud]

Jack: I am a big Santigold fan, although I'm not a big Can't Get Enough Of Myself fan. Maybe it's because of all the other music I have been listening to lately but this just sits in a place I don't want to. It reminds me of The Jackson 5 but it's like a song that wouldn't have ever made it to the public’s ears, and I think that just says it all.  The song seems confused; I don't know what it is, where it came from, or where it is going. I feel like Macklemore would have more luck getting me to like this song because at least I'd be expecting it from him. The bridge is my favourite part, and I wish it was the chorus. In saying that, songs like this tend to grow on me. While this is my first impression I may be swayed further down the track.

Alistair: I've also been a massive massive fan of Santigold but what the hell is this rubbish. I Can't Get Enough Of Myself has taken a huge turn in another direction from her usual songs. The hook is really repetitive and quite annoying to be honest. 1.5

Sam: Santi is back and going about it the right way in my opinion. This is one of her lightest, sunshine-soaked tracks to date and the melody just hits you immediately. I love the way she navigates the slightly off-kilter beat and then ramps things up for the chorus. I can't get enough of Santigold frankly. 4

Ty Dolla $ign
LA (Feat. Kendrick Lamar, Brandy, James Fauntleroy)
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/tydollasign/stream-la[/soundcloud]

Jack: I really enjoy this. It’s so good to hear some hip-hop that isn't smashing your ear drum with a rolling snare, kick drum combo. But rather this song is layered with beautiful strings, piano, and soul. Kendrick Lamar brings to the table his lyrical wisdom and truthfulness as he ever so reliably does. This song is the one you roll a blunt to just before sex.

Alistair: This would have to be the first song that I've heard from Ty Dolla $ign. For the first couple of verses I was  really starting to wonder where the song was going to go, then Kendrick Lamar stepped up to the mic and really gave it that explosion of energy that was needed. Without Kendrick I personally think this song has nothing and just meanders along. 3

Sam: I couldn't hold it together when I saw Kendrick, Ty and bloody Brandy, of all people, on a track together. The last really obvious LA anthem was courtesy of Katy Perry and the city of angels deserves better than that. Cue LA. The track is as smooth as any hip-hop track I've heard this year with flawless harmonies and an A+ verse from Kendrick. It brings together so many facets of the hip-hip world of yesterday and today and it just works. Absolutely love it. 4.5 Sam's Pick

Rustie
Peace Upzzzz

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/rustie/peace-upzzz[/soundcloud]

Jack: do like Rustie, always have. But how long does Rustie get to be Rustie before we are all bored of the same synths and sounds, squeaks and drum patterns? This wondrous thought of mine extends also to the likes of Flume or anyone who is just going back to their biggest hits and re-sampling the same sounds. With all that aside, I do enjoy this. It’s ambitious and experimental, though it builds for me for way longer than it needs to, considering the end result is somewhat anti-climactic. I think it could be a stepping stone away from the ultra thizz sounds of 2012. 3.5 

Alistair: I'm really liking the sound of Rustie's latest album, EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE and Peace Upzzz is indicative of that. Yes, it's weird and a bit odd, but you can really lose yourself to it...especially when that bass drops. 

Sam: In one way I agree with the point about this being classic Rustie once again but I think that's only at the end. The idea of starting really minimalistic and then only hitting hard right at the end os something really new for Rustie. It feels a lot less glossy than the last album and totally bereft of label influences. This is the music Rustie genuinely wants to be making and it sounds exciting. Big upzzzz from me. 4

Ecca Vandal
End Of Time

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/dewprocess/ecca-vandal-end-of-time[/soundcloud]

Jack: I saw Ecca Vandal live once and I really couldn’t get what was going on. I do remember noting that the music production was top class, that the ideas in place where good ones and I can happily say that “end of time” for me is the definition of nailing those two things firmly into place. I now know to expect huge things from Ecca; her voice is insane, her sound is mature, despite her young age, and clearly the team behind her know what they are doing. End Of Time/Ecca is Australia's answer to MIA. Now i'm just waiting for her to take down Malcolm Turnbull in a political stage rant.

Alistair: What more do you want in a song...You've got a dirty heavy bass-line with a powerful voice that can reach notes that most singers can't. I love this song. The production on this song is top notch. 4.5 Alistair's pick 

Sam: To be honest I haven't really understood the hype surrounding Ecca Vandal before. And that's probably because I haven't given her enough of my time. I actually heard this on the radio for the first time and immediately pricked up before I knew who it was. Now I feel I'm willing to give a little more time to Ecca. This is a killer tune. It's dark and haunting but also really melodic and accessible. Her personality comes through stronger than most new artist and makes me really want to love her. Really great. 4

Coldplay
Adventure Of A Lifetime

Jack: Do I like Coldplay? Yes. Do I have great memories at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre during their Viva La Vida tour with paper butterflies falling upon my head during Lovers In Japan? Of course I do. Is Adventure Of a Lifetime a refreshing step-up and away from anything they've done in the past two years? Fucking oath. And yet they still sound exactly how I remember them. Chris Martin has always had the ability to make the most complicated parts of life seem like simple sentences in his songs. The guitar riff makes them sound like an emerging indie band, and I think from a bunch of middle-aged men, some youthfulness is quite nice. 5 Jack’s Pick

Alistair: I can't say I'm usually a Coldplay fan but Adventure Of A Lifetime had me moving in my seat. It's got a powerful rhythm to it and great singing. We know these lads can write music and perform it like none other and the same goes for their production. Think I'll put this on my iTunes to purchase list. 

Sam: There's something about this song that makes me feel sick in the stomach. I'm not sure if it's the tacky cover or the over-glossy production or the chorus that doesn't really go anywhere or the corny lyrics or...you get the point. I don't use this word often when talking about music but I think this song is lazy so I will say that it's just shit. Coldplay produced by Stargate should never happen. It's not even an arena tune. It's one made for pop radio and it just lacks any human emotion. 0.5

Now time for your vote:
[poll id="61"]

FirstImpressions

First Impressions: Grimes, Chance The Rapper, EL VY And More

Grimes Image: The Fader

Grimes Image: The Fader

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 Grimes, Chance The Rapper, Blood Orange, EL VY, Wishes and DJDS.

Grimes
Flesh Without Blood

Ben Kyi: Ramping up the anticipation nicely prior to the release of her fourth LP, Claire Boucher aka Grimes, has dropped the catchy Flesh, Without Blood. The track showcases the smart and engaging electronic production of which Grimes is known for, while maintaining a much poppier edge compared to previous outings. Also worth noting is that Boucher’s vocals are a lot more discernible this time round than in the past. Flesh, Without Blood reaffirms the song-writing prowess of Boucher, and how much of a front runner she is within the field of electronica. The accompanying video clip is definitely worth a watch. Absolutely bonkers, though strangely brilliant. 5 Ben’s Pick

Jack Cain: I can see the indie quirky art students choking on their pencil tips after they read this next line but here goes, Flesh Without Blood sounds like it was written for and by the Veronicas. Which don't get me wrong is not a bad thing. That guitar riff is what makes this song so universal and the quicker people realise grimes as universal the better, and maybe not in the Taylor Swift style but maybe more in the Die antwoord style. This song is Grimes’ Can't Feel My Face, it's the song that people are going to go crazy over, because that's what happens when underground artists turn to pop music. even if it is just for a moment. 4.5

Sam Murphy: When I heard this for the first time last week and put it on loop and listened to it about 14 times before I convinced myself that I’d become extremely sick of it in a matter of days if I kept going this way. The last song I did that for happens to be Grimes’ Oblivion and while I can’t really explain it it’s got something to do with the way Grimes crafts her melodies. If you stripped everything back and put a singer like Katy Perry on them they would be bonafide hits but instead she gives them this alien-like quality that makes them completely enthralling. There’s something so bizarre and otherworldly about this song but then the lyrics are so real - “just let me go.” I love that she’s gaining the confidence to make those kind of personal statements. She’s a once in a generation artist and she just keeps getting more interesting. Flawless. 5 Sam's Pick

Blood Orange
Sandra’s Smile

Ben: While being a smooth and flowing R&B number, Blood Orange’s latest cut Sandra’s Smile doesn’t really get off the ground. The heavy subject matter hits all the right spots in a lyrical sense, but the track loses a bit of steam and finishes with a fairly abrupt fade out. It isn’t a bad song by any means. It’s just not overly memorable. 3

Jack:Blood Orange reminds me of Prince, but not so much the genius Prince that we all know and love. Maybe I like to imagine a prince who was formerly known as something else while figuring out how good he really was going to be/could be. I really like this song, it reminds me of the early 2000s which was a great era, but the song after a lot of listens lacks a lot of substance. On the surface it's good, but deep down if this song was released in the era where this music was popular it may of been great, but for me this has been done, and it's largely irrelevant now. The most exciting part of this song for me is the end. I want to hear more of whatever that beat fading out is. 3

Sam: To be completely honest I’ve already made my mind up about Dev Hynes and as such he could strum a guitar once and I’d find a way to wax lyrical about it. Sandra’s Smile is such a worthy and powerful story and Hynes has found the grooviest way to tell it. I feel like when dealing with subjects like this it’s so common to churn out a ballad but Hynes manages to channel the sadness and anger in this through funky guitar licks and ‘90s-tinged beat. It’s kind of like how Marvin Gaye would give real soul to his tracks dealing with the state of the world. I think Sandra’s Smile works as a song seperate to the story and just gets all the more powerful once you do know the story. 4

Chance The Rapper
Angels

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/chancetherapper/angels-feat-saba[/soundcloud]

Ben: An ode of sorts to his native hometown of Chicago, Angels sees Chance The Rapper spit intricate rhymes with ease, utilising his always dynamic flow. The backing track is giddily exciting and incorporates an infusion of jazz, topped off with the blowing of horns and the hitting of a steel drum. Along for the ride on guest vocals is the excellent Saba, who only further compliments the cadences delivered by Chance. Fantastic stuff. 4.5

Jack: LIDO, that is all. Seriously this beat is what I'm talking about when I say I want a real good hip hop beat in 2015, this beat is the hero for me it's like college dropout 2k15 edition.  I feel even Kanye West himself would be sitting in his room listening to this bouncing his head around to it while complimenting himself constantly. Chance is on fire in the verses painting a lyrical picture of life in his city and it's refreshing to hear some uplifting hip hop every once in awhile.This song is like drinking 3 litres of water after a huge weekend of no sleep and pingaz. just so good! 5 Jack’s Pick

Sam: As much as I loved Surf, I’m glad to see Chance putting out songs under his own moniker again. Angels doesn’t disappoint at all turning the joy to 100 with flaring horns and a beat that sounds drunk. Chance meanwhile runs all over it like the poetic master that he is switching up the flow at every corner. That hooks is also instantly memorable and because of that it has the potential to be Chance’s biggest single to date. He is also such a positive force in the rap game right now and that’s exactly what we need right now. 4.5

EL VY
Silent Ivy Hotel

Ben: Featuring the unmistakably smooth vocal delivery from The National’s Matt Berninger, the low key Silent Ivy Hotel harks back to the 1970’s for inspiration, with a definite Doors vibe shining through. The balance between the instrumentation is fantastic, as the two utilise vintage organs and keys, jaunty guitar work and solid drumming to great effect. If El Vy’s debut LP is anything like Silent Ivy Hotel, then the duo are sure to have an absolute winner on their hands. 4

Jack Since it was me who suggested this song be thrown in the mix I better give it a good wrap, and I will do that. This song is eerily reminiscent of the 1970s. Reminds me of haunting organs you'd hear in The Doors songs or The Animals. The song is a sad tale of never being able to work it out with someone no matter how much time you spend together, it makes you want to go get a bottle and sit on a rooftop and cry. The guitar riff bounces along with the drums and cuts in and out constantly. It's almost in a similar way the Arctic Monkeys used their guitars on Crying Lightning. So yes I like this song a lot but it's mostly here so i can talk about the fact that the EL-VY album which was also released this week is one of the best albums I've heard all year. No Time To Crank The Sun and It's A Game are pure genius. Matt Berninger from The National is no newcomer, and it shows all over this project. 4.

Sam: In my opinion, Matt Berninger is one of the best lyricists around. He’s honest and straight to the point and so is his voice which is obviously the perfect pairing. Silent Ivy Hotel is so bare particularly in the first verse that his voice is the main event and it seems to be even more croaky than what it is usually like on The National tracks. The atmosphere of the whole track is scary, a little sleazy and also sad which is not an easy thing to achieve at all and I’m completely in agreeance Jack about it reflecting The Arctic Monkeys’ Crying Lightning in some ways. I’m not a huge fan of the chorus as I feel it doesn’t really go anywhere but the bridge is really strong and the choir at the end gets me going. 3.5

Wishes
I Wanna Be Alone With You

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/wishesmusic/i-want-to-be-alone-with-you-1[/soundcloud]

Ben: Recalling the electro-pop stylings of Passion Pit and Foster The People in equal measures, I Wanna Be Alone With You is the impressive debut single from Sydney producer Wishes. The track slinks along at a steady pace and shows off some nifty production. Bound to get your feet moving and a vocal line or two stuck in the head, Wishes is one producer to watch. 3

Jack: This song reminds me of Dance The Way I Feel, While Ben recalls Foster the people and Passion pit I’m much more reminded of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, but hey those three in total are still good comparisons if you are a small Australian electronic music producer. I’m thinking there are a lot of other producers out there who wish they were Wishes, and I bet all of you who hadn't heard this song before now are all wishing you heard of Wishes earlier. I know very little about Wishes myself, but it won't be long till he is signed to a major label and all over your radio’s, Rufus watch out, There's a vocalist with a dance formula to rival the best in town. 4

Sam: Maybe it’s because I’ve had the latest Neon Indian record on repeat but the first time I heard this I was hooked in the first few seconds. Four or five years ago everyone was making this kind of indie-electro music off the back of the Passion Pit record but it’s such a difficult thing to actually get right and make interesting. I Want To Be Alone With You is effortlessly joyous with a DIY charm and it manages that without sounding messy or cheesy. The atmosphere that he creates over the hook with those swirling synths and rollicking drums is beautiful as is the paired-back climax. I will dance to this at least 20 times this summer and I will not stop summer until that is achieved. 4

DJDS
Stand Up And Speak

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/bodyhigh/djds-stand-up-and-speak[/soundcloud]

Ben: Stand Up And Speak by DJDS, formerly DJ Dodger Stadium, has real potential. Which is why it is so frustrating that the track has glimpses of sheer delight, which are unfortunately cancelled out by some really uninspired sections. What could have been a solid dance track has really been hampered by the presence of a lacklustre build and not much of a payoff. The song doesn’t take you anywhere you haven’t been previously. 2

Jack: I listened to this song once and that was enough, I listened to the whole thing only so I would know how to summarise it. And in short (because all of these are in short) it's pretty disappointingly boring. I'm a fan of djds too, and i'm just  left constantly disappointed, at every moment you think this song is going to take off, it just doesn't. It's like the musical equivalent of trying to masturbate and every time you get close to orgasming your mum walks in or your dog comes to your window. I get what the song is trying to do, but what it ended up doing was something that's been done to do death by now. 1

Sam: My favourite thing about DJDS is that you never really know what route they’re going to take. You’re not always guaranteed a climax and you’re not always guaranteed reprieve from an aggressive beat. It’s off-putitng but there’s something really thrilling about that. The first thing I noticed about this is that there’s an actual vocal in here whereas they usually rely just on one looped sentence. As such I kind of expected it to take off like a huge house tune. The second time I listened I reminded myself it was DJDS and I’m bloody hooked. I love that they continue to layer and layer leading you to a climax that never comes. It feels anxious and that’s a mood that’s underrepresented in dance music. Can’t wait to hear what the new albums like given their past three releases have been so different. 4

[poll id="60"]

First Impressions

First Impressions: Bloc Party, The 1975, Violent Soho And More

First Impressions

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 GoldLink, Bloc Party, The 1975, Leisure, Violent Soho and Kiiara.

GoldLink
Spectrum

Michelle: I’m not sure what the point of the foreign language interludes are, but they don’t do this track any favours. By the time we get to the body of this tune, it’s a lighter-than-usual rap track that plays well with pitch, yet, regrettably, it maintains a kind of rhythmic monotony instead of building up to any climax. 2

Sam: GoldLink is the perfect rapper for 2015. He’s tipping his hat to rap of old (the Missy sample), looking to club music for inspiration and then throwing down killer verses on top of that. Everything comes together for him on this tune and while I think the Missy sample is a little too frequent and long the guts of this song is near perfect. It bounces in the right places and bursts with energy whenever he decided to step out. Laneway were so on point booking this guys to come to Oz. 4

Bloc Party
The Love Within

Michelle: This track takes a while to build up, but once it gets there, it’s good. Simple melody, more electronic than what they’ve done in the past but it’s a d-floor friendly track that manages to perfectly coincide with the start of the Australian summer. The original rock-heavy Bloc Party is gone, which fans will be disappointed with, but they’ve done well. 3

Sam: The issue is not that this is bad - It’s not at all. It’s an ear worm track with a strong melody and plenty of legs to excite festival audiences. The problem is it’s just not memorable. It sounds like your run of the mill alt-rock song from circa 2010 when everybody discovered that you could go electronic as a band and guitar music was prematurely declared dead. It’s definitely got more of a pop edge than their previous stuff but given that half the band is gone maybe that’s what they needed to shot Bloc Party back into the public eye. It might work. I can’t imagine many people hating. I also can’t imagine many loving it. 2.5

The 1975
Love Me

Michelle: I don’t know what’s up with the crybaby wah-wah in the opening bars but I don’t think the 1975’s tweeny bopper fan population will mind. It has more of a pop vibe than the punk rock image they’ve cultivated over the past few years, but the rhythm is creative – almost experimental. Can’t wait to see what direction their new LP will take, although I hope they stop fooling around with the wah pedals. 3.5

Sam: I must admit I actually had no idea The 1975 were so popular until I started watching this track shoot up the iTunes charts when it was released. I don’t entirely understand the teen appeal either but maybe it’s because they look like bad guys while still making really accessible pop-rock. All props to them, they’ve completely embraced their position as a pop band and have made a slammer of a pop track. This is really groove and full of delectable sounds that catch your attention straight away. They could’ve so easily shunned their massive fan base and made a wanky, challenging second album but they haven’t. When this premiered they said there isn’t enough good pop music around and they’re right. This is good pop music. 4

Leisure
All Over You

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/theleisurecollective/all-over-you[/soundcloud]

Michelle: This delicate track is so well-balanced, a match made in heaven of softly spoken lyrics and gentle jazz-inspired instrumentals. It’s incredibly well put-together and manages to be minimalistic, tart and full-bodied all at once, kind of like crème fraiche. In one word, SMOOOOOOTH. 4.5 Michelle’s Pick

Sam: It’s alllllll about that bassline. This is the very definition of a slow-burner. It just smoulders away for nearly four minutes with a sexy tempo and a soulful vocal. The guitar solo at the end gets me excited but apart from that it probably could’ve done with a little more dynamic. That said, I’m writing this off my first listen and these type of tracks have a tendency to grow with repeat listens. Leisure are definitely a name worth keeping an eye on and given how confident their first few songs have been, they’re in for a big 2016. 3.5

Violent Soho
Like Soda

Michelle: The opening bars weirdly remind me of the Wombats’ early albums, but before that goes anywhere, it builds up to a killer verse and chorus. After all, Violent Soho know what they’re doing with the rock aesthetic. Not terribly original and slightly heavier than their other tracks, but it does the trick. The scratchy vocals are average, though, but the clever lyrics make up for that. 3

Sam: Violent Soho are making punk music that is international on appeal. Too often Australian bands are confined to this country because the sound only relates to a homegrown audience but these guys don't do that - whether that's on purpose or not. Like Soda is raucous and tough but it has this really accessible melody running through it. This is going to please fans of old and also win some new ones too I reckon. 3.5

Kiiara
Intention

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/kiiaraonline/intention[/soundcloud]

Michelle: The hip-hop force is strong in this one – Kiiara’s on fire and while this isn’t necessarily better than any of her previously hyped releases, Intention doesn’t disappoint. The lighter-than-air electropop songstress has the melody, the vocals (the chorus of “never my intention” is catchy in the best way) and the lyrics – we’ll have to see what she whips up next for her debut EP. 4

Sam: I feel like all week I've spoken about how much I love Kiiara. I was a massive fan of Feels but now that this one is so good she's got four from four and has certified herself as someone deserved of the hype. This track has this hip-hop-tinged beat that hits hard beneath woozy vocals and other-worldly synth-work. It feels really familiar but it's not at all. There's so much uninspiring synth-pop doing the rounds right now and it's so refreshing to hear something like this. 4.5 Sam's Pick

[poll id="58"]

FI_15Sept

First Impressions: CHVRCHES, Raury, Tinashe + More

FI_15Sept
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 CHVRCHES, Tinashe, Lana Del Rey, Yeo, Kylie and Raury

CHVRCHES
Clearest Blue

Zanda Wilson: The latest single from CHVRCHES' forthcoming sophomore album is another gorgeous exploration in pop-synth from the Scottish group. ‘Clearest Blue’ is easily the most up-beat of what we’ve heard from ‘Every Open Eye’ so far. The concluding minute or so has to be the absolute highlight, built on what is a fairly simple synth riff, but building in a way that explores the intricacies musical layering with Lauren Mayberry’s stunning and bordering-on-iconic vocals mirroring this building progression. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Alistair Rhodes:

What can I say about CHVRCHES... I never really used to be a fan of them to be honest but the more and more I've listened to them the more I've grown to like them. This is why it's great that they've been teasing  our taste buds with the release of a few singles off their soon to be released album Every Eye Open. The latest single Clearest Blue is more of a fast pace track to what we're used to hearing from these guys. This synthpop number just keeps building and building towards the last minute where it just pops and explodes into one catchy tune. 3.5

Sam Murphy: Everything so far off this new CHVRCHES record has been good but this really smashes through. I feel as if it’s a combination of my two favourite tracks from The Bones Of What You Believe, We Sink and Tether. It has the sprawling, heavy-beated instrumental of We Sink and then it bursts into that spectacular climax just like Tether. Of course, the whole time you spend waiting out for the climax but the start of it is utterly captivating as well in a sort of tense, edge-of-your-seat way. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Tinashe
Party Favors (Feat. Young Thug)

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/tinashenow/tinashe-party-favors-ft-young-thug[/soundcloud]

Zanda: Set up by a dope combination of bass and beats, ‘Party Favours’ sets up an instrumental accompaniment that complements Tinashe’s vocals really well. From the very beginning the track feels like it’s ready to take-off but unfortunately there isn’t a whole heap of progression either rhythmically or instrumentally. I don’t feel like Yong Thug’s vocals add much either, in so far as I think the track would be supplemented better by someone not so heavily reliant on auto-tune. 3

Alistair: Right off the bat you get the feeling that this is is going to be a dirty and dark track. The heavy bass and slow singing really gives you that impression which excited me at that point. Skip forward a couple minutes and I'm pretty over it. Party Favors just doesn't seem to amount to much. To be honest I was pretty sick of constantly hearing "party favors for you." 2

Sam: Tinashe has nailed something that not many R&B singer are usually able to do. She treads a thin line between the mainstream and the alternative, singing over beats that light up radio and also contribute to a greater body of work like her brilliant debut Aquarius. Party Favors does exactly the same thing. That woozy, drunk synthline is really interesting but deliciously melodic and then she appeases the mainstream fans with that flawless hook. The tempo basically moves at snail's pace but her voice is so sexy, it grips you from the beginning. Young Thug gives the best Tinashe-feature verse we’ve heard so far too. 4

Lana Del Rey
Music To Watch Boys To

Zanda: Lana Del Rey’s voice just doesn’t take a step back, and this latest track is further proof of her status as the queen of summery, shimmering vocals. However that’s about where my interest in this track ends. The production seems kind of purposeless when it starts so sparse and doesn’t really build to much. Whatever the echo effect being used on both her vocals and that background drum effect, it is being flogged way to hard. The result is a track that seems to drift aimlessly, which is unfortunately because there’s no doubting the potential that is unlocked in the opening phrases. I’m falling asleep. 2.5

Alistair:

Lana Del Rey has just hit the ground running over the last few months with song release after song release. I get the feeling that you either like Lana Del Rey or you don't. She is one musically talented person who writes really heartwarming tracks that you can tell mean so much to her personally. With Music To Watch Boys To I'm once again left wondering and seeking for more. The track doesn't seem to go anywhere yet her vocals are what makes this track an alright song for me. 2.5

Sam: This year for Lana Del Rey has been really interesting. Everyone’s gone from really hating her and questioning her identity to either not caring or loving her. I’m in the latter category and while I have been from the start, this material from Honeymoon is the best I’ve heard from her yet. It perplexes me how I could be so enthralled by her Marilyn Monroe vocals that almost sound lazy but they have a certain allure to them - maybe it’s in the way she gently slurs. Music To Watch Boys To captures the very essence of that. It’s slow moving and subtly orchestral, setting a stage for Lana to be the absolute star. I don’t usually see Lana as being sexy but this is sexy in a vintage, film noir way. 4

Yeo
Icarus

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/snackswithyeo/icarus-1[/soundcloud]

Zanda: Many of us got our first taste of Yeo on Hermitude’s latest album ‘Dark Night Sweet Light’ where he features on a couple of banging tracks. Proving he’s got what it takes to smash out songs on his own, ‘Icarus’ is a fun track with plenty to like. Playing around with effects, guitar licks and other sounds, Yeo has created a song here that is easy to enjoy and is equally melodically pleasing. There could be a little more depth to the rhythm and bass, but that’s probably not the effect he’s trying to achieve here. 3.5

Alistair: Icarus is finally allowing Yeo to step out of Hermitude's shadow. We are now seeing what this tastemaker is capable of. Yeo's melodies are just simply outstanding. There's so much going on instrument wise with this song that it takes you a couple of listens to appreciate it for all it's worth. This fun track makes me wanna have a little jive and a shimmy. 4 Alistair's Pick

Sam: I just love that Yeo is finally getting his time in the sun. He constantly churns out banging pop melodies that were just crying out to be heard by more people and now it sounds as if Icarus will. The first listen actually went straight over my head but on repeat listens that funk, ‘80s-tinged chorus really stuck - so subtle yet so smooth and there’s something about it that just makes me swoon. Yeo fan boy since the start and I ain’t goin’ anywhere. 4

Kylie Minogue
Black And White (Feat. Shaggy)

Zanda: Kylie and Shaggy! Oh my stars and stripes. It’s a weirdly fun track and Kylie’s vocals are lovely as always. And wow I didn’t realise how much I needed Shaggy back in my life until now. The only thing I don’t understand is why they’ve decided to leave the peak distortion on the EQ levels for the chorus sections, because surely that’s intentional? A good bit of fun. 3.5

Alistair: Not even a minute in and this already has everything that we know and love about our gal Kylie. The catchy upbeat tune screams the Kylie of old. Then the song decides to hit you with Shaggy, another 90s hero. I love that these two have teamed up together. The last 30 seconds really turns into a bit of a dance number and I love that. I can't say I've ever been a massive Kylie or Shaggy fan but for what this song's worth it's a good combination. 3.5

Sam: It’s a bit of a shame that everyone snoozes over a surprise Kylie drop because she does still have the pop goods. Her last album Kiss Me Once was like a seven out of 10 which is A+ in the pop world and this tune is actually really great. I like hearing her over production that’s less manicured, she’s got a really sweet tone and it’s often strained when she goes for those big pop bangers. How Shaggy turned up there I’m not really sure but I haven’t see a “feat. Shaggy” since circa 2000 so I suppose it feels a little like an old friend turning up at your door stop after a prison stint. It’s surprisingly comforting. 3.5

Raury
Friends (Feat. Tom Morello)

Zanda: Some real summery, chiller vibes here. The production strikes me immediately as being extremely well balanced and just aptly put together. It plods along in a fairly satisfying way, and the multi-layered choral vocals are really nice to just chill out to. As the video-clip suggests, this is some for-real road-tripping music. 3.5

Alistair: Now I'm sure we are all familiar Raury due to God's Whisper which has been remixed many a time and has become a staple at music festivals for DJs. He has teamed up with Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello for this tidy little number. It's got such a summer vibe to it and it does what Raury does best and that's tell a story lyrically. It's a good song, it's not a great, but it's good. 3.5

Sam: Raury has so much talent and he’s capable of delivering so much fire but he just keeps giving us stuff like this. It’s so boring that I could feel myself slumping further and further down my chair until I was just in a heap on the floor dreaming of Tom Morello at the Big Day Out. I just want so badly for him to give us something iconic but this feels like the kind of song that would turn up on that awful album Johnny Depp just did with Alice Cooper. 1.5 

Now time for your vote: 

[poll id="55"]

FI7SEPT

First Impressions: Miley Cyrus, Kelela, Club Cheval And More

FI7SEPT

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 Kelela, Miley Cyrus, Basenji, Tory Lanez, Club Cheval and Her

Kelela
Rewind

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/kelelam/rewind[/soundcloud]

Michelle: What’s with the high-pitched range? Despite Kelela’s soulful vocals, the high pitch of this song has the unfortunate side effect of transforming an otherwise soulful song into something strangely saccharine. The ebbs and flow in tempo keeps the tune interesting and while the bridge stuns, the echoes are somewhat (entirely) excessive. 2

Annie: Kelela has been showing up everywhere lately, and this song is the perfect example of why I don’t mind. Her vocals remind me of a young Janet Jackson, but rather than overpowering, they work with the beats behind them to create the ideal modern R&B track. 3

Sam: Wow, what a production team on this one - Nugget, Kingdom and then bits by Obey City and Girl Unit. Despite the massive team behind it though Kelela still manages to remain front and centre with her distinctive brand of future R&B translating immediately. I love how she’s gone for a bit of a banger with this one, rather than serving out another slow-burner. In some ways it reminds me of like a pared-back I Wanna Dance With Somebody, probably due to the ‘80s-tinged beat and full-bodied chorus. It feels sexy and joyous which is a rare combination for Kelela but it really works. She’s easily one of the best new artists, if not the best, out there right now and deserves every accolade she gets. 4.5

Miley Cyrus
Do It

Michelle: Coyne, we know how much you love the fuzz pedal but Miley’s voice could have done with a lighter touch on the damn thing. The lead single on her experimental / dancing unicorn / psychadelia record comes  from left field but still manages to pay homage to the dance-heavy hip hop vibe of Bangerz. However, this track is hardly representative of the rest of Dead Petz – it’s quite possibly the most energetic of the 23-track LP that’s all mild guitars and whimsical ballads. The lyrics, meanwhile, sound like she’s trying too hard to cement her position as the biggest happy hippie there ever was. 3.5

Annie: Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love Miley Cyrus. Even through the Robin Thicke debacle I defended her, ‘she’s just expressing herself!’ I said, ‘let her explore!’. But no, this is too far. I am so pissed off at this song and the album that came with it. Firstly, I knew that this musical ‘evolution’ was impending (anyone that follows Miley on instagram would), and yet that still doesn’t soften the blow of this god-awful piece of work. Secondly, it’s just shit. Like, really, really shit. The song itself is boring as fuck, and the lyrics are so embarrassing they bring literal tears to my eyes. Am I being too dramatic, too sensitive? Absolutely. But listen to the rest of My Dead Petz, and I assure you, you will come out of that 24 track monstrosity feeling the exact same way. 1.5

Sam: The Miley album surprisingly has some really beautiful moments - mostly the MikeWillMadeIt-produced tracks. Unfortunately Wayne Coyne really hasn’t done anything of value for a while now and he’s just shat all over this track, not that Miley delivers much either. It’s obnoxious, shouty and try-hard and barely delivers any melody. I understand that she wants to do something different and evolve but this was just a shocking end to the VMAs and a really alienating first single - if that’s what it is. Lighter or Fweaky would’ve been a much better introduction to the album and actually much more indicative of what the album is. This just sucks arse, really. 1

Basenji
Can’t Get Enough

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/futureclassic/basenji-cant-get-enough-1[/soundcloud]

Michelle:  The melody works but I don’t know what’s with the preschool vocals. It could have done without the prepubescent singing because the tune is quality on its own – that is, until the breathy, mismatched vocals come in. Luckily, the horns, backed with hints of jazz piano, save an otherwise average brass-influenced track. 2

Annie: I already liked Basenji on a ‘can listen to, but probably won’t download’ level, but this track may have just made a real fan out of me. The vocals add a certain cuteness to the track that makes it sweet enough, but when the horns start to play it brings it up to a whole new platform. I can’t get enough of this song. 4 Annie’s Pick

Sam: Basenji is just absolutely nailing it right now. He’s taken that cutesy, kawaii sound that has been doing the rounds on Soundcloud and really cleaned it up, adding pop sensibilities at the same time. Petals perfected that formula and this one goes even one better. It’s so euphoric and gives off so many warm and fuzzies while also hitting with a really killer brass-driven instrumental. Right now I think Basenji could be Australia’s answer to SOPHIE and could actually work with mainstream pop artists and give them something really interesting. People are going to have problems with this vocal but that’s a shock to no one, it’s meant to be divisive but if it’s your kind of thing it’s like a brilliant sugar-rush. 4

Tory Lanez
Initiation

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/torylanez/initiation[/soundcloud]

Michelle: Above-average hip hop but Initiation isn’t striking. It’s delicate and well-constructed with cadenced melodies yet unlike Lanez’ past releases, it doesn’t have much built into the track. Slow-moving and unremarkable and, having heard his last few releases, I suspect Lanez can do better. 2

Annie: The introduction to Initation gave me high hopes, but they were quashed pretty quickly. It’s not altogether a bad song, it’s just really forgettable. With that said, I definitely don’t have the finest ear for hip-hop, so that may just be my lacking knowledge of the genre. 2.5

Sam: Tory Lanez is kind of like the new Jeremih. He’s good at the mainstream R&B stuff but he’s also been really open to working with different producers like BenZel (like on this one) and the WeDidIt crew. On Initiation, BenZel really build the production around his style coming into Lanez’s world rather than the other way around. I really like BenZel’s much softer approach to urban production and it means Lanez is left to bring a tougher edge with his voice. The hook really doesn’t grab me too much but it’s a cool song, I’m just not going crazy for it like I was with Say It. 3

Club Cheval
Discipline

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/clubcheval/discipline-original-mix[/soundcloud]

Michelle: While not terribly original, Discipline is another solid, heady club beat from the DJ supergroup. What it lacks in originality, however, it makes up for in melody, and despite its repetitive and unoriginal rhythm, it’ll still do brilliantly in most strobe-filled rooms. 1

Annie: To be honest, I’ve never listened to Club Cheval before this, but knowing that they’ve mixed with the likes of both Brodinski and Gesaffelstein, I had relatively high expectations. Discipline met none of them. It’s not a terrible song, if anything it’s standard EDM, but it doesn’t feel like a solid track. It just feels really lazy. I would hate to hear this in a club, but obviously there’s a huge market for tracks like this so undoubtedly it will be successful. 1.5

Sam: I love that DJ Dodger Stadium and Club Cheval are really championing that hard-hitting brand of nostalgic techno. While DJDS use repetition where Club Cheval have used a more conventional verse, there’s still that really thumping beat and alarm-like synth that really smacks hard on the dancefloor. It’s really cool to hear an R&B type verse amongst a track like this but it’s that synth-line in the chorus that is getting me really excited. It feels like so many styles have been combined here and it just works so well. There’s so much trendy electronica floating around at the moment but this feels detached to any kind of movement. I just bloody love this. 4.5

Her
Five Minutes

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/thebandher/five-minutes[/soundcloud]

Michelle:  I love how stripped back Five Minutes is – it maintains a perfect balance between the lyrics and sparse instrumentals. This is the very definition of minimalism because there’s enough to fill the voids but remains empty enough for the listener to cleanly focus on the groove. Shame it doesn’t make it all the way to five minutes. 4 Michelle’s Pick

Annie: Such a good display of minimalism. Through stripping back this song it allows the listener to pay more attention to the beautiful lyrics that come with. The vocals too, are stellar. They’re so strong in a way that fits superbly with this song. 4

Sam: Her’s debut Quite Like made me take an invested interest in this band immediately with only one track to their name and in some ways that’s been justified after hearing song number two Five Minutes. This one’s a little less sexy and sounds more Jungle than alt-j but it’s another really smoothly-produced track that triple j listeners would just eat up if they added it to heavy rotation. I like it and I think it will probably grow on me even more but it doesn’t really blow me away completely - maybe it’s that the chorus doesn’t hit hard enough. It could’ve probably done with a bit of amping up for the final part - some more vocal layering. 3.5

Now time for your vote: 

[poll id="54"]

FI_3SEPT

First Impressions: Justin Bieber, Macklemore, Zhu And More

FI_3SEPT

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 Harpoons, Macklemore, Zak Abel, Kacy Hill, Justin Bieber and Zhu.

The Harpoons
Ready For Your Love

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/the-harpoons/the-harpoons-ready-for-your-love[/soundcloud]

Sam Murphy: The Harpoons have this way of approaching love that’s so fresh and warm. Their whole debut album tackled the topic and now it seems they’re back singing it about it on this new one. Ready For Your Love is full of light, summery house vibes and then the chorus has the added gospel touch on top of it just to complete it. The track feels so full of love not just because of its lyrics but also because of the way it’s been crafted. It feels like it’s been approached with a full heart and it shows. 4 Sam's Pick

Zanda Wilson: This is so funky, it gives off dance vibes straight away and the chorus of vocals that come through in sections is very soulful. The accompanying synths are used sparingly and that really allows the vocals to feature and pierce through the rest of the track. Tropical vibes for days. 4 Zanda's Pick

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Downtown

Sam: This is my least favourite song of the year for a number of reasons. Firstly, because Macklemore keeps banging on about how it took a year and a half to make. Honestly, I couldn't care less about how long it took to make - some of the best songs ever were written in a minute. It actually detracts from it that it took so long because it sounds so full and overloaded with ideas that it sounds like an entire album in five minutes. Next, the lyrics are so dumb I don’t even want to talk about it. And then there’s the fact that he’s latching onto a style Mark Ronson nailed almost a year ago. A terribly desperate attempt at reclaiming the popularity they built on their debut. Nup nup nup nup nup. 0

Zanda: What the shit is with that cowbell, it hurts my brain and has no place sitting behind rapping. This is so overloaded with stuff I don’t even know where to start. There is pretty much no merit in whatever Macklemore is doing in the sections where he features, but weirdly I kind of dig the ballad sections. I think if they’d used that style with the epic singing throughout the whole thing it would actually be alright. In saying that, the transitions between sections are horrible and kind of kill any good there might be. 2

Zak Abel
Say Sumthin

Sam: This guy has such a distinctive voice. It’s one of those that just hits you from the first note and never leaves you. The problem with those kind of voice is they can become tiresome very quickly (ahem, John Newman). Say Sumthin doesn’t feel tiresome at all and that’s because Kaytranada has just killed it with the production. It’s funky and dense channeling ‘80s vibes while remaining totally current. And then Abel does a fantastic job of wrapping his raspy voice around the beats making sure he doesn’t steamroll over the whole thing with his ridiculously strong voice. 4

Zanda: The most noticeable thing for me immediately is that the percussive elements are eq’d so well on this track. You don’t often get such strong and loud percussion that compliments a vocal as well as this, and full credit to Kaytranada for that. The bass sits nicely underneath the drum-elements as well and give the accompanying elements some fantastic depth overall. Abel’s voice is also fantastic, except right towards the end where it almost sounds like he is hitting peak levels and there is some distortion. Presumably this is on purpose but if it is, I don’t get why. 3.5

Justin Bieber
What Do You Mean?

Sam: Whoever has worked with Bieber on this comeback has done a phenominal job. In just over 12 months he’s gone from being everyone’s least favourite twat to a comeback hero and it’s thanks to a big attitude change, Where Are U Now and this track. Comeback or no comeback this is a near-perfect song. The beats crafted by Skrillex are so crisp and effortless completely in line with that house tropical house thing that’s going on at the moment without totally entering that cringeworthy genre. Bieber seems to have acknowledged that he doesn’t have a really strong voice but does have a great tone and here he just allows his voice to lay-back into the beat which is perfect for him. It’s not a pop song that smacks you in the face (like Macklemore’s for instance) but it’s just a really pleasant cut that I really can’t see many people having a problem with. 4

Zanda: I am so incredibly shocked by the quality of this. In saying that the lyrics are pretty annoying and meaningless, but the production is strong and enjoyable. I don’t really get that clock ticking sound, and honestly it detracts from the synth and vibe melodies that sit nicely under Bieber’s vocals, which are obviously sung well. Torn about this one. 3.5

Kacy Hill
Foreign Fields

Sam: Kacy Hill doesn’t strike me as the most obvious signing for Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music but I suppose until you hear her vocals on a Kanye, Pusha T or Vic Mensa song we won’t really know what their vision for her is anyway. Based solely off this track it’s clear she’s got something really interesting about her. At the start it’s this gentle, jazz-infused number but then suddenly it flourishes with waves of dense synths in the chorus. Everytime we’re given this layering she pulls it back again only to really unleash at the end when things get really spectacular. Definitely someone worth watching. 3.5

Zanda: Very intriguing stuff here from Kacy Hill, but I’m not sold on the production here. It’s a track that’s not sure if it wants to be a soulful jazzy number or something with a deeper electronic theme. There’s no doubting the quality of Hill’s voice, but the song only really starts for me around the 2:30 mark where it really finds it’s groove. 3

Zhu & AlunaGeorge
Automatic

Sam: This one’s a hard one for me because I’m a really big fan of Aluna’s vocals always but I’ve never been super into Zhu’s dark, mysterious production. Like Faded, I feel like the instrumental on this just really flatlines the whole way through and it’s left up to Aluna to inject some energy into it. Having said that, Aluna does successfully inject that energy into it and it ends up being far less tiresome than Faded. It’s really nice to hear Aluna on something current other than that terrible DJ Snake remix, but I feel like the AlunaGeorge project is a lot stronger than this.

Now time for your vote:
[poll id="53"]

FI_25AUG

First Impressions: The Weeknd, ODESZA, Jojo And More

FI_25AUG
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

ODESZA
Light (Feat. Little Dragon)

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/odesza/light-feat-little-dragon[/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

Banoffee
With Her

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/banoffeeme/with-her-2[/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

JoJo
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

Kwabs
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"]

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