"Is it appropriate to start a review with YAAAAS?" - Reviews of the week past's new music.
"Is it appropriate to start a review with YAAAAS?" - Reviews of the week past's new music.
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. Today we pick part tracks by A.G. Cook, The Singles, The ex-Sugababes + more.
This week, we gave one of our writers the option to utilise their poetic licence and evaluate the tracks via acrostic poem. Results found below:
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/drop-fm[/soundcloud]
Sam: Maybe I’ve been off PC Music-induced sugar for a little too long because it’s taken me a little longer than usual to get into this one. Hannah Diamond’s Every Night was the closest she’s got to guilty-pleasure pop yet and this one feels like the least accessible yet.
As it is an A.G. Cook song it makes sense that it’s a little more unconventional. It stops and starts and has this jolting motion to it almost like you’re riding in a car with a nervous driver. When Diamond is allowed to really hit the melody it sounds effortlessly brilliant. I think for full effect it really needs to be turnt up loud so that bass can hit hard with those flurry of dense synths. 3
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/purplepurplepurple/01-extinction[/soundcloud]
Sam: I love most things WeDidIt puts out and I feel no differently about this one. That’s not to say that this is exactly the same as everything the label has released in the past. The dark, brooding tones are there but you also get a real sense of the artist’s presence on this one which is something that is often clouded in mystery with WeDidIt.
Extinction has a mournful, late-night reminiscing vibe. The vocals float while the beats way the song back down leaving it caught somewhere between being real and a dream (I borrowed that line from the song, btw). The prospect of more stuff from PURPLE this year is really exciting. 4
Sam: This is light years away from anything on Age Of Adz. It’s Sufjan Stevens as the singer/songwriter and not the multi-instrumentalist producer which is nice in a ‘back to basics’ type way. I’m feeling like we’re back to the raw beauty of For The Windows In Paradise.
These stylings usually don’t appeal to me in any way but Stevens’ voice is so fragile with every word seemingly dangling in front of you until he utters the next. All it takes is a little vocal layering for him to create slight crescendoes. “Fuck me, I’m falling apart” is just such a perfect moment in time within the song. I am really feeling like we’re getting back to a point in music when artists can afford to be simple again and rely purely on the strength of their songwriting. CC: FourFiveSeconds, Tobias Jesso Jr, Father John Misty. 4.5
Sam: Dev Hynes working with the original Sugababes has the potential to be so brilliant and I feel like with this and Flatlines they’re just scratching the surface. The being said it’s a crime against humanity that Flatlines didn’t reach the heights on the charts it deserved last year, in the UK particularly.
In Back In The Day we really get to hear their pitch-perfect harmonising which is really what MKS should be all about. Structurally it’s pretty simplistic but Hynes does enough with the melody and backing track to make sure it doesn’t float into boring mid-tempo territory. In fact, everytime I’ve listened to the chorus of this it’s grown on me. No mainstream pop music today is this stylish and crisp. I think it’s something we really need to hear on the charts and Hynes deserves a mainstream break, as do these girls (again). 3.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/demo-taped/i-luv-u[/soundcloud]
Sam: Bedroom RnB at its absolute best. This is definitely taking me right back to Jai Paul’s Jasmine but the vocals are a little more up-front making it more easily digested. It’s got this woozy, off-kilter feel to it created by its ocean-like synths. Demo Tapes says on his Soundcloud that he wanted to emulate “the feeling of love” and it really feels like he’s successfully done that. It sounds like that moment when you know everything is good but you can’t really tell why and everything surrounding you is blurred. In this case Demo Taped’s voice is in focus and everything surrounding is a blur. Super, super smooth. 3.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/federalprismrecs/candy/[/soundcloud]
Sam: I’ve always actually had a bit of a soft-spot for Scarlett Johansson’s musical projects. While her Tom Waits’ covers album was a little bit drawly, I thought the way she re-did Falling Down was actually warming. Her stuff with Pete Yorn also showed that she had a melodic side and a voice good enough to make her sound like an actual musician.
I feel like the news surrounding her release as The Singles is surrounded by less negativity. Before I say anything, I’ll say this - this is good, by any standards, whether she is a somebody or nobody. The problem I have with is is it sounds like circa 2010 when alternative girl groups were really in vogue and yet none of them did anything particularly spectacular. This is enjoyable but it’s enjoyable in the way a zooper-dooper tastes good. It’s always going to taste good but it’s never going to blow your mind. Candy. 3
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. Today we pick apart tracks by Hot Chip, Florence + The Machine, Kendrick Lamar + more.
We've decided to take the chance in today's First Impressions to test whether a picture really does speak a thousand words. One reviewer is doing so through text while the other has chosen images to try and best represent the songs. Can things really be reviewed with zero words? Allow six .gifs below to answer that.
Sam: I definitely was hoping that Hot Chip would go in the same sort of direction as Flutes on their next album and it seems like they are. As good as they are at pop songs, sometimes I prefer when they head straight for the dancefloor and ditch the vocal hooks. Huarache Lights sits in between those two. It still has the more organic sounding instrumentation but then sometimes like the sassy vocal sample pulls it right towards the dancefloor.
The tempo and the backbeat of the track is so mundane yet their subtle layering somehow keeps you hooked for the whole five minutes plus. At times I wish that they’d ditch the vocal and just keep with the vocal manipulation for something entirely different but that would probably ostracise a whole audience, so best they keep with what they’re known for. I feel like the bizarre, woozy soundscape of the track gives them so much room to do something a little more spectacular with the vocal though. It’s a great track but Hot Chip do great so effortlessly and maybe that’s the problem. 3.5
Sam: I’ve always really struggled to commit myself to Dan Deacon because in 2009 he released like three records and that’s a lot to handle. It’s kind of like never hearing The Smiths or Morrissey and then deciding you’re going to go through his whole back-catalogue with no knowledge of who is and then just deciding that it probably is more work than you’re prepared for.
Anyway that was obviously pure laziness because Learning To Relax is great. I’m always intrigued when elements of electronica combine with prog-rock. MGMT did it to a poppier spectrum with their debut and even Tame Impala did it to some extent on Londerism. Even though I can’t understand one word Deacon says, I’m thoroughly intrigued for the whole thing. That schizophrenic synth is anxious and at the same time mesmerizing while the vocal manipulation washes over you in a psychedelic haze. Maybe this is what I wanted from the Hot Chip song? Is it a coincidence that YouTube is recommending I listen to Ready For The Floor? Anyway, the final minute of this song is a hot mess and it’s utterly exhilarating. 4
Sam: The first time I listened to Florence’s second record Ceremonials I was impressed. It was grandiose and sophisticated and all the while had this reckless ambition but as I kept listening it revealed itself to be over-produced and too big. I had no thoughts on how she was going to tackle this third album but I’m really happy with the direction of What Kind Of Man. We haven’t heard her this aggressive since Girl With One Eye from her debut Lungs but we’ve never even heard her like this before.
The gentle beginning is beautiful but it’s the way she sings when the brass howls and the drums thrash that’s really impressive. Her accent is like nothing we’ve ever heard before, like an angsty PJ Harvey tightening the jaw. She’s lost the crystalline image of Ceremonials and roughed up to a part-primal state. She could’ve easily called up Calvin Harris and sold millions of copies but the fact she’s leading with this single shows she cares way more about her legacy than the amount of times she’s shazamed. I think this year she’ll make her upgrade to festival headliner and that will be an important talking point this year. Florence is a woman with the personality and ambition to tear up the main stage of any festival far better than a weary AC/DC or U2 can. 4
Sam: It’s obvious from the first few seconds of this song that it’s way better than i. Kendrick’s last album was so successful because it was so raw and passionate and had something to say. i felt a bit Lamar-lite which wasn’t the comeback track he needed (or maybe he did. He won two Grammys), this is the track he needed. He sounds angry and it actually feels like he has something to say. “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015”, is a pretty powerful line to open with particular when it’s over a dark, raw instrumental that sounds like something Nas would’ve happily put on Illmatic.
The reggae samples are just as affective as they were on Kanye West’s I’m In It, giving some kind of melody to grab on to in an otherwise pretty instrumentally linear track. I wish I could give some greater insights into his comments on race in this but I really don’t feel I could do it any justice. His line are so pertinent and powerful that they need no elaboration. “I mean, it’s evident that I’m irrelevant to society/ That’s what you’re telling me, penitentiary would only hire me.” That’s some powerful stuff right there. Potently powerful. 4.5 Sam's Pick Of The Week
Bianca: 4.5 Bianca's Pick Of The Week
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/jesse-davidson-9/laika[/soundcloud]
Sam: On the surface this is such a simple song but there are so many different amalgamations of genres in it. On first listen I got a strong Chet Faker vibe but there’s so much more to it than simply labeling it with a lazy comparison like that. Davidson’s voice sounds like Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard if he spent his early years listening to R&B/soul and the instrumental oscillates between crisp electronica and expansive psychedelia with the chorus taking a turn towards Tame Impala.
What I’ve described it above makes it sound like a truncated, mess of a song but it isn’t. It’s actually quite a simple melody lifted by a melting pot of different genres that effortlessly blend into one another. Laika is definitely the strongest track from Davidson yet and the clubs are going to go crazy for this one. I’m actually keen to hear him on something even more expansive, borrowing more of those elements that he uses in the chorus of this. That’s when he sounds truly unique. 3.5
Sam: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is wayyyy polished for a mixtape. Energy is definitely the best track on the record and that’s because Drake just digs in and goes hard for three minutes. There’s no singing, there’s no pop hooks, there’s no features, it’s just him being wonderfully arrogant.
It’s such an interesting track because it essentially digs at the internet (“Fuck going online, that ain’t part of my day”) and the culture surrounding it yet his mixtape drop basically centred around the hysteria of the internet. Drake has kind of always been a walking contradiction and for some reason that works for him. Energy is really paranoid and that’s what makes it fascinating. It feels like he’s sleeping with one eye open even though he’s not quite sure who his enemies are. Sometimes we just need to stop making sense of Drake. That and his memes take up way too much of my brain capacity. 4
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. Today we pick apart tracks by Obey City, Say Lou Lou, Paces, Unknown Mortal Orchestra + more.
[soundcloud width=”750” height=”200”]https://soundcloud.com/obey-city/waterbed/[/soundcloud]
Bianca: It’s slow-burning, sexy R&B without being overly soulful or smutty (choosing to ignore the use of the term ‘panties’. Ugh, I hate that word.). The electric guitar/piano breakdown is an interesting lead-up to the outro which gives us roughly 1.5 minutes of quiet reflection. 3
Sam: I haven't heard a slow jam like this for a long time. It's got the sort of soul that D'Angelo's Untitled had and yet it replaces organic instrumentation with a punchier, electronic sound. I'm actually quite surprised that this sound hasn't made more of a resurgence in the RnB resurrection but the up-side is that this sounds so much fresher and in a league of its own. I'm always up for a guitar solo to finish proceedings. 4
Meshell: I’m trying very hard to love this song because I love Obey City but it feels SO unfinished production wise and lyrics like “got your face down, ass up” can really only be sung by real bad-asses and this song makes me feel like being I’ve been slapped with a wet towel. My favourite bit is the outro, when our feature singer has left us and I can just enjoy some sweet Never Ending Story-esque synths. 1.5
[soundcloud width=”750” height=”200”]https://soundcloud.com/sayloulou/nothing-but-a-heartbeat[/soundcloud]
Bianca: This is an instantly catchy pop tune; simple and cleverly arranged by the Australian-Swedes, Say Lou Lou, like an Ikea instruction manual. There’s an element of nostalgia to it in the form of the anthemic chorus and dreamy synths, brought back to earth with piano keys and tingling strings. 4
Sam: These girls are making such crystalline pop music and yet for some reason they haven't had that track that really makes everybody look up yet. I would've though it would be Games For Girls but that kind of whimpered on and off the internet. Nothing But A Heartbeat also has the goods with its big sprawling chorus bolstered by ethereal vocals. I feel like it's perfect for a TV promo and that would give them just that extra push. Either way, this makes me super excited for the album. If we're talking purely melody and vocals, it's almost faultless. 3.5
Meshell: The opening hook of this song is a blatant imitation of that annoying Ed Sheeran song Sing and so I am already lost.There are dreamy synths and reverb filled guitars galore which I'm sure is meant to give the song sweet indie cred but to me I am hearing a cleverly arranged pop tune that is going to be stuck in my head all day…still, I’d probably go watch their set at a festival (Laneway 2016?) because I’m curious. 2.5
[soundcloud width=”750” height=”200”]https://soundcloud.com/towkio/involved-ft-vic-mensa-prod-kaytranada[/soundcloud]
Bianca: Vic’s Down On My Luck was one of the most exciting tracks of 2014 and seeing the Chicagoan in action at Laneway Festival on the weekend secured his status as a promising MC. Towkio holds his own in the beginning and Kaytranada’s production is as clean as ever but it was Mensa and his velvet-smooth vocals that I was really holding out for. The finale is very confusing for me. The crescendoing chanting braced me for an exciting climax but instead I’m left wanting more. 3
Sam: Vic Mensa and Kaytranada are becoming quite the team now, aren't they? This is probably the funkiest thing they've combined forces for and that's probably owed to Towkio. Towkio is part of the Save Money crew with Vic and, based on the strength of this, could easily be the next highlight to come from the label. The verses aren't overly memorable but the dense baseline that runs behind it really drives it home. The end gets me excited for another chorus and then leaves me high and dry 🙁 3
Meshell: The great thing about this song is that even though Vic Mensa is dripping his fantastic brand of lazy cool onto it, he’s not stealing the show because the production is totally holding its own. That beat, that bass, that boys-club chant at the end of the tune. I’d play this at my next house party. 3.5
[soundcloud width=”750” height=”200”]https://soundcloud.com/jagjaguwar/unknown-mortal-orchestra-multi-love[/soundcloud]
Bianca: This is pure heart-melting stuff. The multi-layered Multi-Love has smatterings of pop and touches of soul, led by the ethereal voice of Ruban Nielson. Like love, it’s bittersweet; swaying between the moods of happiness, satisfaction, sadness, agony and ecstasy. I may not know much about love but I do know that I have strong feelings for this song. 4.5 Bianca's Pick
Sam: I was captivated by Unknown Mortal Orchestra's last record. It was this warped indie-rock thing that somehow weaved in melodies taken straight out of the Motown era. I'm so happy to hear that Multi-Love still brings that familiar warmth to it. The difference is, this is much cleaner. There's less reverb and the keys are far perkier. It's good to hear UMO in a different mode than loneliness because I feel their warmth lends better to tunes that have a little more sunshine. Mark Ronson would love this/wish it was his. 4.5 Sam's Pick
Meshell: This new clean-cut production from Unknown Mortal Orchestra is so unexpected and has me totally entranced. There is a perkiness in the rhythm and melancholy in the vocals all strung together with hints of psychedelia, romantic piano and beautifully reaching melodies. There really is just something a little bit magical going on here, I’ve just played this track 4 times in a row and it gets better every time. If this single is anything to go by, the album is going to be mind-blowing. 5 Meshell’s pick
[soundcloud width=”750” height=”200”]https://soundcloud.com/pacesmusic/nothings-forever-feat-kucka-2[/soundcloud]
Bianca: The slinky mood is instantly set as Kucka’s crystalline voice, followed closely by the music box-inspired melody, opens the track. Once Paces’ signature future-beat sneaks its way in, Nothing’s Forever instantly turns into a glitchy, yet structured, piece of sugary sweet goodness. Possibly a bit too sweet for me. Paces’ shimmering production, however, is as clean-cut as ever. 3
Sam: Kucka's opening line to this just melts me. Her voice is so tender and yet so other-wordly. Below her Paces sounds like he's lightly tapping on china making the whole thing beautifully fragile. Things then ramp up a bit and we're left with a bass-heavy drop before the storm calms and we're delivered a far more dense second verse. Paces work with Tkay Maidza has been nothing short of brilliant and he does the same here with Kucka. He's great at showing his production chops and also allowing enough room for the oddities of his vocalists to come through. 4
Meshell: Paces is kicking all kinds of goals this year (hello Hottest 100) but that clearly hasn’t made him complacent. This new offering is a perfect blend of tropical bubblegum glitch and grimy future-beat. This is the epitome of the “Australian sound” that is so envied in the world of EDM at the moment. This track isn’t pushing the envelope in terms of originality but it’s fun, well-layered and it’s nice to see to young Aussies teaming up and setting the bar for new talent crazily high. 3
[soundcloud width=”750” height=”200”]https://soundcloud.com/ara-koufax/market[/soundcloud]
Bianca: Ara Koufax always know how to set the mood. While some may class 2013 and 2014 as the years of sax overkill, courtesy of Ariana Grande and ♪♫ Jason Derulo ♪♫, I still find it very necessary. But only when used appropriately. In Market, it’s used tastefully, acting as the vehicle for the track and not as an annoying, looping add-on found in mainstream pop songs. Backed by a steady bass and undulating synths, this track can weave its way into any late night playlist. 4
Sam: This is the ultimate summer dusk mood setter. It's been an unbearably hot day but he sun is beginning to set and a slight breeze is beginning to weave through loose-clad clothes. Both Brenda and Market have given me this heartwarming sense of community. Cut Copy dropped the former at OutsideIn and without any commotion the crowd put their hands in the air and began to sway. It's the same with this. It makes me want to be with friends, listening to the same thing, all pretending we know a shit load about the history of contemporary sax playing. Of which I know nothing. 4
Meshell: That sax….THAT SAX. I have never heard of Ara Koufax before but I am now on the bandwagon. This song is a total slow burner FYI but somewhere amidst the serene synths and drone-like bass, is something that makes this song way too sexy to play in the office without getting a few weird looks. In all seriousness though this is a fantastic display of great musicianship and production know how, and if Andrei Eremin is following them on Soundcloud, you know they’re good. BRB going to remove a few layers of clothing. It’s getting hot in here. 4
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. Today we pick apart tracks by Daniel Johns, Kaytranada, Shlohmo + more.
Donna: All Courtney Barnett’s songs sound the same to me. My honest opinion is that she’s not that great. The lyrics to Pedestrian at Best are sombre and depressing, and her Aussie twang doesn’t help matters. 2
Sam: I said it when I wrote this up and I was pretty pleased with myself so I’ll say it again- Courtney Barnett is doing for Aussie accents what Alex Turner did for British accents. It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea but every artist with a clear distinction has been divisive and Barnett is no different. This is her bringing her A-game. She’s angsty and sings like a runaway train, allthewhile making the mundane sound raucous and thrilling. Love her who vibe and her in general, actually. 4
Sam: I said it when I wrote this up and I was pretty pleased with myself so I’ll say it again- Courtney Barnett is doing for Aussie accents what Alex Turner did for British accents. It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea but every artist with a clear distinction has been divisive and Barnett is no different. This is her bringing her A-game. She’s angsty and sings like a runaway train, allthewhile making the mundane sound raucous and thrilling. Love her who vibe and her in general, actually. 4
Bianca: Courtney B has got such a unique twang to her singing style. Slightly ocker Aussie without being painfully bogan, she manages to portray her lyrics with an honesty and wit that enable her songs to be received in an amusing way, much like the comical Australian poetry and yarns found in the most woop woop of pubs. Like Vegemite, I feel people will love or hate this song. And I loooove my Vegemite. 4
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/shlohmo/buried/[/soundcloud]
Donna: Not overly familiar with Shlohmo, but Buried is a dark, rock-centric track that takes a while to get going. While every facet of the track is painstakingly obvious, it is not necessarily a bad thing, and I found myself being drawn into the song. Shlohmo shows off his musical dexterity, and grasp of structure within Buried, and while I couldn’t picture the perfect setting for it, I imagine there would be ravers and/or goths dancing to this track. 3
Sam: I’ve been watching rock creep into electronica for a while now and it’s actually really doing things for me. Shlohmo is the dark king and Buried is exactly what you’d expect from him if you’d just seen him for the first time. It sounds like an old, creaking church whose bells chime when rats scurry over them. It’s the middle section climax that really drives it for me. That’s when it’s no longer unbearably mysterious. I’m also feeling some Metallica vibes in there. 4
Bianca: When releasing this track, Shlohmo was quoted as saying: “You don’t have to like it, just listen to it.” And I’m doing as told. This one is a bit too sci-fi for my liking, the dark synths and pitter-pattering melody kind of leading nowhere. Buried belongs as an intro or interluding track on his upcoming album, Dark Red, and nowhere else. 2.75
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/kaytranada/drive-me-crazy-featuring-vic-mensa[/soundcloud]
Donna: Since I heard his remix of Erykah Badu’s “Love of My Life”, I have been a staunch fan of Kaytranada, and Drive Me Crazy solidifies that love. Vic Mensa changes it up with hard, choppy rapping, and then soulful singing in the chorus (and thank gawddd he doesn’t once say “bitches” or “hoes”). Kaytranada’s production prowess is evident, as little bits of melody created with dreamy synth sounds are carried by thumping kick drum, and goes from hard and trappy in verses to soft in the choruses. The 2nd single off his upcoming album, Kaytranada does not fail to impress. 4.5
Sam: Well this is pretty much a who's who of hyped artists. Vic Mensa and Kaytranada are a match made in heaven with Mensa perfectly slotting his rap into Kaytranada’s electronica come hip-hop aesthetic. It’s woozy and a little unsettling but that’s what makes it interesting. I think the hook could have been a little bit more memorable but to do that would be to damage the vibe of the song, so I don’t know what I want. 3
Bianca: Vic’s velvety vocals really make this for me. He manages to smooth out the track just as the rap portion becomes a little bit monotonous. The production leaves a little to be desired, however. A second over 4:02 and I would have certainly become bored. 3
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/howtodresswell/the-one[/soundcloud]
Donna: How To Dress Well is an artist I have labeled as part of the elite “white boy RnB” club, and rarely misses when it comes to releasing new tracks. From the #songsfromscratch series, How To Dress Well worked with TALA to create a stellar track. TALA, although pretty new on the scene, delivers some nice vocals, explaining how her first live show sold out last week. I love the intermingling of the male and female voices at the end, and HTDW’s vocals are on point as usual. While it is a good addition to the summer playlist, with just the right amount of trap/tropical vibes, it’s not a massive standout within the genre. 4
Sam: I just love this so much because it’s so abrasively melodic. Tom Krell is a master of melody and TALA is becoming an innovative force within the electronic music sphere; together they’ve created something that’s a definite RnB throwback but one that also sounds futuristic. You know how in turn of the Millennium video clips everyone was obsessed with space and metallic outfits? That’s the visual I get from this. I want to direct a video and have the two of them floating around in some loved-up embrace. Aside from that, it’s really nice to hear TALA’s vocal potential straight up without the experimenting she does on her own work. I think that’s Krell’s doing. He’s the best. 4.5 Sam’s Pick
Bianca: I love it. Krell’s voice really shines with the fast-tracked, skittering backbeat. You can definitely hear TALA’s influence making an appearance; the Middle-Eastern-cross-Caribbean melodies creating a sonically beautiful cross of cultures. 4 Bianca’s Pick
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/danieljohnshq/ariel-love[/soundcloud]
Donna: Well, this is different, and as one Soundcloud commentator pointed out: I can’t believe this is not rock. No, it definitely is not! What Ariel Love is, is a sexy, steamy and intimate song to enjoy while sipping some red wine in the spa. The song, with its throbbing kick drum pulsating all the way through, adds an element of heat, with the inviting vocals and harmony in the pre-chorus drawing the listener in. Despite being a drastic change for Johns’, this song is effortless, remaining simple, with layered vocals creating a satisfying ebb and flow effect ensuring the song continually moves, and the listener is never bored. One point: this track, while extremely “on trend”, sounds like what many artists are currently doing - very Drake/Sohn sounding. In saying that, this is Donna’s Pick 5
Sam: When I was a kid my two idols were Ian Thorpe and Daniel Johns. When Thorpe came out last year, I found this fire in me that felt like I had to defend him against the naysayers, like some paternal instinct. I feel the same with Johns. Aerial Love is so far removed from Silverchair, that I don’t even really feel as if they have to be mentioned in the same sentence, but I just did it so...That track definitely doesn’t have that pop-smack that radio would eat up but it doesn’t seem Johns is endeavouring to go down that path. Instead he crafts a minimal, mellow track that’s the most soulful thing he’s done. His voice is wildly unbelievable but it’s really nice to hear him pull it back and show some restraint. 3.5
Bianca: It’s so refreshing to hear someone making such a subtle comeback. This track oozes experience and self-reflection; Johns has had some time away from the limelight, re-visiting his music career and approaching it in a new light. The R&B influence suits him surprisingly well and I look forward to hearing the rest of his upcoming EP to see if he follows the same direction. 3.75 (Side note: This is my Mum’s pick of the week.)
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/theweeknd/mike-will-made-it-drinks-on-us-feat-the-weeknd-swae-lee-future[/soundcloud]
Donna: I find this track to be pretty average and the chorus lyrics uninspired (and repetitive). I enjoy the rapping - both rappers have a good flow and feel within the track, but it would have been good to see them more integrated, instead of just tacked on at the end. Nothing monumental is happening in the instrumentation, which is by large repeated throughout the whole song on a loop. This clocks the track in at a relatively uninteresting 5 minutes. I feel this track could have had some more work on structure, however, the Weekend doesn’t disappoint on vocals. 3
Sam: I love Mike Will Made It but this song pisses me off to no end. I think if he began the song with the Future verse I would be able to prepare myself for The Weeknd but starting with his slimy vocals on that annoying hook is just unfair really. I feel like they’re channelling a Move That Dope vibe but failing. There’s something about The Weeknd that really irks me and he really has to be in the pocket for me to come around. Unfortunately, he makes this feel limp. Future’s verse is on point though, so it’s a shame it only comes in after 3 minutes. By that time it has already lost me. 2
Bianca: Well, this is quite monotonous. You’d think with all the guest spots, the rhythm would have been shaken up a bit? I’m also going to take a point away because The Weeknd’s hair was a bitch to photoshop. 1.75
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. Today we pick apart tracks by Rihanna + Kanye + McCartney, Petite Meller, Tobias Jesso Jr + more.
Sam: I honestly have zero idea what Kanye is doing at the moment. All of his sound reinventions (even 808s and Heartbreaks) made sense but this Paul McCartney ballad territory is totally out of the box. Literally everyone has been waiting for a Rihanna comeback and then she delivers this. It’s not made for the clubs, it’s not even made for the car, but that’s the greatness of it. Melodically it’s a sucker-punch and Rihanna has never sounded better but the best thing about it is how conceptually confusing it is. By doing something so simple, Rihanna, Kanye and Paul have, oddly, done something revolutionary. Sometimes you should just keep it simple, stupid. This is brilliant. 4.5 Sam's Pick
Donna: I used to be a massive fan of Kanye West, and knew all the words to the “Graduation” and “College Dropout” albums. But from the release of Yeezus, I have honestly not given a stuff about his music, because I feel as though his whole life since Kim Kardashian is just a ridiculous publicity stunt. (Also, likening yourself to Jesus? Give me a break.)
But I did find myself enjoying this song, far more than I care to admit. It’s refreshing to hear Rihanna’s voice sounding so natural, and a relatively acoustic track released by Kanye? Wahhhhh?
I don’t know what to make of all this. However, I do wonder where Kanye is going with these past 2 releases. I feel as if he is trying to be overly sincere, and after his recent shenanigans, I don’t buy it. Soz Kanye. 2
Caitlin: What happens when you mix two extremely prominent musicians of the noughties with an iconic 60s legend? The answer, fourfiveseconds (of genius). To be honest when the internet began to blow up this track I expected Rhi Rhi to be singing about strip clubs and diamonds with Yeezus demanding world domination but to my surprise both artists were belting out heartfelt lyrics to a breathtaking acoustic track laid down by no other than Sir Paul McCartney. Even though I’m still trying to figure out what the term “wildin” means, this track will definitely be on repeat all day every day. 4.5 Caitlin's Pick
Sam: Every time I listen to Tobias Jesso Jr, I have to double-check to remind myself I’m not listening to Lennon. The fact is Jesso Jr is so effortlessly an old soul that it doesn’t sound cliche or forced. You can produce things within an inch of their life and layer like you’re baking a cake but all great songwriters need is a simple tune. How Could You Babe is so simple from its melody to its subject matter, but it’s so beautiful and so heartbreaking a little like Lennon’s Oh Mother. 4
Donna: I listen to a lot of new music on a daily basis, so I am kicking myself wondering how I missed Tobias Jesso Jr. How Could You Babe could be a Beatles song, with its simple chords, mellow vocals, and understated sound. Unlike Kanye, the sincerity in this track is believable, and the simple songwriting, while cliché, is effective. 3.5
Caitlin: Sitting in front of a fire place with a nice glass of red is what comes to mind when I hear Tobias Jesso Jr stroke the piano keys and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. How Could You Babe may possibly be an anthem for anyone experiencing a break up before Valentines Day but don’t fret, Tobias knows exactly how you feel. With the announcement of his debut album set to drop in March, I can guarantee you will never feel alone again. 4
Sam: When the first Florence and the Machine record Lungs came out, I wanted to burn copies and take it to everybody at school because it had this energy that made me want to tell everybody about it. Of course, piracy restricted me from doing so but you get the idea. I feel the same about Baby Love. It’s got this flaring energy, delivered by the manic keys jabs vivacious bongos, that make it impossible to sit down. It feels like we’re being taken to church. It feels like we’re being taken to a club. It feels like we’re dancing at an outdoor festival. Its influences are so confused and yet tied together so brilliantly by the burgeoning chorus. Petite Meller’s fashion is spot on too, might I add. 4.5
Donna: There are so many things I don’t like about this song, mostly because I watched the film clip first and it just annoyed me to no end. I don’t like Petite Meller’s vocals. I don’t like her juxtaposition of wealth, clean buildings etc. with dusty African villages. As an African person, the music video offended me for the stereotypes it painted about Africa (villages, huts, dusty, barefoot children, dancing in the street). In saying that, Baby Love has feel-good vibe that makes it very hard not to tap your foot along to, at the very least. 1
Caitlin: Brb, going to go dance in Africa for a little while. There is nothing much to say about this song other than the energy and catchy chorus will brighten anyone’s day no matter the circumstances. 3.5
Sam: Moore has a startling voice so packed full of emotion that you always feel she’s a note away from a tear but her solo tracks haven’t exactly made me do handstands. Elsewhere is another track that sees her rely on her beautiful, melancholy voice but really struggles to give me anything apart from that.its definitely nice but I reckon she has more in her than just nice. 3
Donna: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. This track carries a distinctly James Blake vibe, with that unique British take on sparse, emotional electronic music that artists of African descent seem to muster so easily (Kwabs, Vicktor Taiwo, Oyinda). The balance of vocals, emotion, sparse instrumentation, and harmony are perfect. Elsewhere is simple, but pulses with life. This slow burner is exactly what I will be adding to my Soundcloud playlist. Will be waiting in anticipation for Denai’s album release in April! 5 Donna’s Pick
Caitlin: Elsewhere is a song that will definitely take the listener elsewhere. Personally I rarely listen to slow soulful songs but there was something about this track that kept me listening until the very end (and left me wanting more). There is no denying Denai has amazing vocal cords and musical talent beyond her years but understandably this type of music is not for everyone. If you do however give it a chance, there will be no regrets after having a listen to this little gem! 3.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/denaimoore/denai-moore-elsewhere[/soundcloud]
Good Love- Alone
Sam: This song is all about that breakdown with the howling guitar. It sounds like it would sound right at home on Prince's Purple Rain soundtrack if the vocals were just a notch higher. It's definitely in the lane of RnB but it has a rock edge which gives it a little more organic grunt. This is begging to be remixed with a four to the floor beat. 4
Donna: 0:00 - 0.37: I’m loving this
0:37 - 0:57: His voice is getting a bit annoying but still a pretty cool song
0:57: All hope is lost. Chorus spoilt the whole song.
I don’t know what is happening here, but somebody got lost along the way. Alone started off as a track I would share with all my friends, but the song is all over the place in terms of style, and the electric guitar laden chorus is just cringeworthy. 2
Caitlin: Alone has me conflicted. One minute I don’t want to listen to it again, the next I am singing it as I prepare a meal. Good Love (formally known under his stage name Patrice) provides smooth R&B influenced vocals over an equally supportive beat to get that head bobbing and those fingers clicking. But do keep in mind; this song is highly infectious so play it in the car with family on a long car ride to ensure they have Good Love permanently stuck in their cranium. 3
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/goodlove/alone-1[/soundcloud]
Trinidad James- T James Express
Sam: I loved 100s mixtape last year because it had this sexy-cross-creepy feel but was oh so smooth and I think I like this one for the same reason. I've been playing a lot of music out loud over the holidays and this one is the one that has raised eyebrows. Some laugh at the chorus, some start to groove a little bit but no one so far has said its awful. If you're going to write a song that has the potential to be creepy, it's a good thing if no one calls it awful straight off. As for me, I reckon it's got the potential to be a runaway hit...all aboard. 4
Donna: Despite trying hard not to, I found myself dancing around to this track… shuffling was involved. I guess I have been moving away from American rap and hip hop culture for a good while now, but I am still so surprised by how insulting the songs lyrics are. In saying that, this song is fun, and seems to have been created with good humour in mind. 3
Caitlin: I’m no train expert but I do believe the T James Express is very different from the Polar Express. However, it is a catchy HipHop/R&B tune that may appear in nightclubs for people to grind to in the future. I wouldn’t under estimate T James just yet after all he has had 2 Chainz, T.I and Young Jeezy feature on a remix of a track from his debut mix tape. So who knows what T James will come up with next? 2
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/derekallendja/trinidad-james-t-jame-expre-prod-by-dja[/soundcloud]
We're into our third week of 2015 and we thought it's about time that we started to get our teeth sunk into some of the new music coming through. This week, we're reviewing new tracks by Ciara, Lido, Django Django and more. And while it's only early days, it's looking like 2015 could give us the goods. Particularly if the six artists mentioned below drop albums.
Sam: Ciara is one of my favourite female artists on the planet. She’s chipped away at the scene quietly for more than a decade as an under-appreciated RnB artist who had a few hits in the early hours of the Millennium, but she’s really come into her own recently. Her last album was brilliant and this track sees her head in the same direction. If you’re going to do a mid-tempo breakup song, do it like this. It’s so simple but her flow is on point and the production is deliciously nostalgic. The ironic thing is, it actually would sound at home on a Future album. 4 Sam’s Pick...obvs
Bianca: Good to see Ciara has 1, 2-stepped back into the spotlight. It's a faultless track that sees the RnB songstress laying her hallmark vocals on the subtly skittering backbeat. Side note, can anyone remember when the vicious rumour went around back in the day that Ciara was a man? lol. Memories... 3
Krissy: I have just been transported back to the early 2000s where every Destiny’s Child lyric was etched into my brain and Usher was my ideal future husband. Where it’s no surprise that Ciara is great vocalist, this just doesn’t tickle my fancy. It’s pretty boring. Also, what’s with the dude randomly chiming in every 4 seconds? Pointless and not needed. 2.5
Sam: Seeing Lido late last year was a religious experience. The Norwegian producer lives and breathes music, with a surprising gospel undertone to all his tracks. This one leans further towards RnB than any of his songs so far and it suits him. Hasley’s vocals soothe the soul while Lido’s production would no doubt have a few hip-hop producers jealous. 3.5
Bianca: Lido blew our minds with his live set last December. With that fond memory firmly tucked away into my brain, any sort of material coming from the producer is gold in my opinion. With its trappy undertones and slow-mo vocals, this track won't make you go anywhere in a hurry. 3.5
Krissy: Genius. Geeenniiiusss. I love this. This remake of Jaden Smith’s Fast takes a trap-hop approach which accentuates and highlights the incredibly smooth vocals of Hasley. The slinky yet hard-hitting production from Lido is insane. I was (shamefully) unaware of these two before this collab- they are now on top of my radar. Hopefully there’s more to come from these two. 4.5 Krissy’s Pick
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/lidogotsongs/slow[/soundcloud]
Django Django- First Light
Sam: This track is a solid return for Django Django. And if it was on their debut album, I would’ve had absolutely no problem with it. But as the track is a return, my issue is that it doesn’t really extend the band’s capabilities. We’re seeing Django Django in the same light as the first album and I probably would’ve liked something a bit different. That said, the vocal layering and jangling beat are on point. 3
Bianca: Like an old friend that you haven't seen in years, Django Django have returned. Hurrah! But just like meeting with said old friend, the conversation revolves around now-stale past jokes, the friendship begging for new experiences and fresh memories to be made. It's really quite pleasant but it's nothing new from the band, leaving me hankering for something new from these guys. The best thing this track has done for me is re-introduce me to an old favourite, Default. 3.5
Krissy: I’m on the fence about this track. There’s nothing terrible about it, but there’s nothing amazing that stands out for me. Note: Don’t listen to this before your morning coffee… you may fall asleep. In saying that, it will probably be stuck in my head for the next couple of days. 3
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/djangodjango/first-light[/soundcloud]
Sam: begin again is probably one of the most accessible things Purity Ring has done. The chorus is shimmering, driven by Megan James’ beautiful voice. In terms of aesthetic, it’s similar to the debut in the way that its a dim-lit, minimalist sound that would sound at home on a Hunger Games soundtrack. Given that their debut teetered on the edge of RnB, it’s interesting to see that they’ve shed that skin now that the genre is in vogue. It’s probably a good move and makes the song less disposable. 3.5
Bianca: This track is deliciously dark and brooding; the slowly-building crescendo further adding to the atmospheric nature. Megan's voice is ethereal as usual, taking this track to seventh heaven. 3.75 Bianca's Pick
Krissy: A pinch of darkness, a splash of vivacity and a generous drizzle of soaring synth. begin again explores light and dark dynamics thoroughly which made it mesmerizingly catchy for the first half – but I felt like it was tiring toward the end. I can sense a million remixes are about to come! 3
Sam: At this point, I’m trying to figure out why Juce haven’t quite cracked it in the way HAIM did. They’ve nailed the look and they’re committed to the funky sound but I think what’s missing is that killer hook. The Other One has brilliant, textured verses but kind of falls flat when it comes to the chorus. I’m a big fan of these guys though, I think they’re holding back some great stuff and are going to smack us with it right when it counts. 3
Bianca: Juce are one of those bands that you can throw onto a playlist and they will blend into any scene, instantly lifting the mood. This unfortunately might not work in their favour, putting them in danger of fading into the background and becoming lost in the crowd. And they're so, so much better than that. Shine bright, you glorious diamonds. 3.5
Krissy: Sorry I’m late… I’ve just been taken for a cruise around Funky Town. If you’re looking for a Summer-vibing track, this is it. I’m hoping that these British gals come to Australia very soon – I’ll be the crazy one tearing up the d-floor. You could probably find me playing this track as I leave the office every Friday. 3.5
Sam: This song is the very definition of brooding. Now signed to Dew Process, this is the first time I’ve really sat up and paid attention to one of her songs. I think the deep, heavy synths make it sound profound and really accentuate her voice. I love the final third where the production gets a little more experimental. Eves The Behavior is definitely one to watch in 2015. 4
Bianca: This track transcends the confines of the boob tube, its namesake. Mammoth in vocals and production, it's a cinematic and arresting beast that belongs on the big screen. Following the likes of Lorde and Grace Mitchell, I now should be used to these incredible voices coming from people almost a decade my junior but they never cease to render me surprised/jealous 3.75
Krissy: Woah… 19 year old Eves The Behavior kind of makes me wonder what I’ve been doing with my life (not making awesome music, like her– obviously.) Her maturing talent shines through on this track and I’m looking forward to more releases from this gem. The only thing I could fault this track on is the abrupt ending which just left me hanging. 3.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]http://soundcloud.com/dewprocess/eves-the-behavior-tv[/soundcloud]
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. Today we pick apart tracks by Klo., Tourist, Little Simz, Joseph Marinetti, Royal + Ryan Hemsworth.
Sam: I have really liked everything that Klo. have put out but I’ve been waiting for something to smack me in the face. This is most definitely that, thank goodness. Chloe Kaul (vocalist) just sounds smokey and seductive with an extra confidence we haven’t heard before. It’s just like a big warm hug this, with its steamy drums and lush synths. 4
Hannah: Chloe Kaul. I mean seriously. Can I just listen to her forever? I disagree with Sam though. While Kaul really stands out for me here it’s almost to the detriment of the rest of the song. This is a seriously big fish in a seriously small pond. Jump out and play with the big kids Chloe, you’ve got big things waiting for you. 3.5
Bianca: Klo. have always churned out deliciously minimalist melodies but this is the first time I’ve heard something with a bit of ‘oomph’ coming out of the cousin duo. Chloe’s husky voice shines over the delicate percussion, which marries beautifully into the dreamy synths. The only thing lacking here is more of a crescendoing climax. 3.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/klomusic/underlie[/soundcloud]
Sam: I think Tourist could be onto a chart winner with this one, in the UK at least. It follows that style-of-the-moment with a flickering dance beat and a soulful vocalist to drive it along. Years & Years’ vocals are almost on par with Sam Smith for me and really help this song revel as a shimmering, after-dark number. It’s not the most revolutionary thing I’ve ever heard but it’s pretty hard to pick a reason why I don’t like it. 3.5
Hannah: There’s a hangover from that time when top 40-ites tried to do electro Dub swirling in layered beats of Tourist’s latest offering. Which, while not necessarily a bad thing, does mean that, like most of the chart-inclined it’s just a little bit... vanilla. The “soulful” vocals are more blah than ballad, the glitches aren’t quite glitchy enough, and the running pulse is headed straight for a flatline. I actually really don’t like this at all. 1
Bianca: I don't hate it but I don't love it. This one lies straight down the middle for me. 3
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/touristmusic/illuminate[/soundcloud]
Sam: I usually really hate these retrospective rap songs. They’re very Eminem circa 2000 and always sound a little whiny, but I’m very much on board with Time Capsule. It’s probably because Little Simz and Jakwob go so hard from the second verse that it’s more a tale or rising up rather than being beaten down. Simz sounds like what Angel Haze should've on her whole debut. Fierce, impassioned and confident. 4
Hannah: Well here’s a lesson in indecision. I’m sure if each line of this track were fleshed out into its own song, the three would have a complex and interesting album on their hands, as it is though, there’s just too much going on in the brief 3 minutes and 34 seconds to really grab a hold of any of it. 2
Bianca: This is a bit of a confusing one. Little Simz’s spit of the tongue commands your entire attention, with little else making way in between her grittiness. By the time 1:19 rolled around, though, I was enveloped in track’s rawness and trap undertones, which reminded me slightly of Robyn’s Monument. If only it continued down this path. I’m not really taking to the soulful breakdown courtesy of Caitlyn Scarlett; it completely throws me off my groove. More of 1:19-1:53, please, and a bit less of everything else. 2.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/littlesimz/little-simz-jakwob-time-capsule-ft-caitlyn-scarlett[/soundcloud]
Sam: What’s going on now with this whole PC Music take on electronica is almost incomprehensible. Everything about this is completely bizarre, from the slow-motion video to the carnevale synths and rave beat. It’s lucky I’m completely on board with this style, it’s exciting, bright and boundary-pushing. I don’t think it’s appeal ends there though, the vocal sample just melts in your ears. 4
Hannah: It’s becoming apparent that by the time I have children, these will be the samples featured on their Fisher Price light up xylophone.... It’s a good thing that’s at least 5 years of mental preparation away. 2
Bianca: I like to think of Hey QT as the Rosetta Stone of PC Music; it allowed me to finally understand the hype of the curiously kitsch phenomena and I can actually enjoy the melodies made of bleeps and bloops and inhuman vocals reminiscent of Siri through a chipmunk voice changer. Don’t take that as me completely understanding the purpose of the movement though. Whether it be revolutionary or a complete inside joke that has the PC Music creators taking us for a ride, I’m happy just sitting here and enjoying it for whatever it is. Ms Telesales, with its cutesy vocals and plonky computer synths, is no different. It’s a boppy, vibrant number with its obscure video clip acting as the cherry on top for me. 3.75
Sam: I love this marriage that’s happened between hip-hop and electronic music a la Four Tet and Rome Fortune. This is cool. Desktop’s verses are quite composed and standard, which is beautifully juxtaposed by the perky beat that Royal lays down. Erring very close to Drake, but it’s fine. We’ll let them off just this one time. 3
Hannah: I wish this sounded more like Drake. 2.5
Bianca: This sounds like it should belong on a soundtrack to a GTA and Mario Kart hybrid game. Which is a very good thing in my books, by the way. While I wait for Rockstar Games and Nintendo to get started on my dream, I’m just going to go back to Soundcloud and partake in Round Two of this track. 3.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/royalmakesmusic/round-two-feat-desktop[/soundcloud]
Sam: BRB, I’m just going to go and get my third tissue box. Hemsworth’s use of actually live instrumentation here works perfectly. When the orchestral section kicks in, it’s literally as if somebody grabs your heart. It’s so minimal and seemingly unwavering but those sharp waves of emotion just make the ride so much more interesting. 4.5 Sam’s Pick
Hannah: Ryan Hemsworth is the Patron Saint of all I do so it’s not surprising that this slow burn, lofty offering is one of perfection as far as I’m concerned. Please, show me a better example of synthy punctated vulnerability colliding with brute strength bass or a more perfect marriage of Japanese tinkerings and orchestral samples. That slight crescendo rising just below Hemsworth’s repetition of never leave me alone, pure chills. 4 Hannah’s Pick
Bianca: Ryan Hemsworth has this knack for making delicate melodies that sound like they have come straight out of a music box. The glittering synths wash beautifully throughout the string samples, with the plucking strings mirror the tugging of my heart strings, which gives Walk Me Home an almost epic movie-like quality. I could turn the key to this music box all night long. 4 Bianca’s Pick
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. Today we pick apart tracks by Giraffage, Shamir, Baauer, K Stewart, TĀLĀ & BenZel.
Sam: Giraffage is such a lush, understated producer. He really doesn’t go straight for immediate appeal rather drawing you in slowly. Tell Me is full of crystalline sounds and a calming vocal sample. I love when he really lays it on in the fourth quarter with that dense, hearty synth. 4
Bianca: Giraffage always has the knack of creating these delightfully minimal, delicious slices of synth pop. Tell Me isn’t overly dense but, like a lemon meringue pie, it is fluffy and light, with just the right balance of sweet and tart. 4
Lizzie: This one took a couple of goes to wrap my head around. Not because of its complexity, because it is so simple and soft, I may have tuned out the first time (sorry). That may sound incredibly insulting, but I think maybe I just felt incredibly comfortable and at ease that I just melted away. It’s a solid 3.5
Hannah: 1:18 is perfection. There’s just so much space to indulge in a Giraffage track. He’s a producer gives every sample, every vocal, every bounce and every poppy synth equal parts loving affection and quality attention and makes for a truly harmonious ear party. 4
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/foolsgoldrecs/giraffage-tell-me[/soundcloud]
Sam: The first time I heard Azealia Banks’ 212 I listened to it like 10 times in a row and thought she was the coolest person on the planet. On The Regular has that bratty, careless flow that 212 had. Shamir just beams with personality. XL Records have made a damn good decision- as far as I’m concerned this is on repeat for the whole summer. 4.5 Sam’s Pick
Bianca: If Shamir could go ahead and just be my friend right now, that’d be great. So much sass, so much confidence, so little time! If this is Shamir on the regular, sign me up now. 4
Lizzie: Wow I did not expect this. I don’t even know what just happened but I think I may be a bit too sober to understand it. In saying that, this track is not about understanding, it is all about letting your guard down and totally just wiggling, bopping and dancing like a crazy person. Let loose! 4
Hannah: Well, say hello to the If-you-don’t-know-now-you-know-Mother-Fucker track of the summer! Shamir brings sass and cheek in a sugary sweet in a way that only a 5’10 skinny boy getting about in rainbow tie dye is capable of. It’s strength lies in its hypnotic bounce and studiously self-aware, yet totally rappable lyrics. This is on repeat, on the regular. 4.5 Hannah’s Pick
Sam: Hmm. I know this is First Impressions but I’ve had to listen to this song just under 10 times to really be able to understand what the hell is going on. One listen I don’t think Aluna works with Rae Sremmurd and then the next I do, so god knows what’s going on in my mind. One thing’s for sure, Aluna sounds slinky and sultry, really shining above the minimal beat like she so often does. 3
Bianca: I’m actually really enjoying the amalgamation of styles. Baauer’s bass is just heavy enough and Aluna vocals float on top ever so ethereally. Rae Sremmurd’s rhymes are rough and verging on angsty but, as long as I don’t listen to the actual lyrics, they surprisingly don’t irk me. An unlikely combination that happens to make a lot of sense. 4
Lizzie: Rae, you sound like a whiny croaky teenager whose voice is teetering on breaking. I am in such a love/hate relationship with One Touch, I wish they had just left Aluna alone to do her awesome thing (as always)! 3
Hannah: Rae Sremmurd is the rap equivalent of a yappy chihuahua. If you just ignore the yappy, bitey, over zealous - I’d say furball but really, what Chihuaha has anything worth considering as fur - thing running about your ankles while Alunageorge and Baauer bring it, you’d have a good song. 2.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/baauer/one-touch[/soundcloud]
Sam: I’m such a sucker for airy, Aaliyah-esque RnB vocals so naturally I’m instantly in love with this one. There’s something really cool about artists that feel that they don’t need to bust their arse on the chorus. The chorus of Close Enough is free flowing, flirty and delicious. K Stewart is three for three right now in terms of solo singles. 3.5
Bianca: It’s boppy, it’s fresh, it’s girly and oh so Summery. K’s dreamy vocals are the perfect addition to the grooving melody that manages to be noticed but isn’t completely grabbing for your full attention. 3
Lizzie: Close Enough could easily slip into your Summer DJ mix. It’s nothing out-of-this world, but perfect for a chic outdoor get-together to get them in the mood for the season. Why do I get this feeling that Zhu could remix the shiz out of this and add a bit more depth to it? 3.75
Hannah: You know what, while I adore this song and its smooth groove, I really think K Stewart’s vocals get totally lost to production. Amp up those Aaliyah sounds. Close, but not close enough. 3.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/kstewartmusic/kstewart-close-enough-1[/soundcloud]
Sam: I absolutely love TĀLĀ and I can’t wait to hear how this one sounds in the context of the album. She’s gone with using one of the most recognisable vocal samples and transformed it into the glorious, euphoric number that ebbs and flows in waves of happiness. It’s almost worth doing another remake of Romeo + Juliet just to include this. Crowdfunding anyone? 4.5
Bianca: Don’t listen to what Sam says, Romeo + Juliet. You are perfect as you are so don’t go changin’. In saying that, TĀLĀ has somehow managed to improve on an already flawless song with her touches being oh so deliciously minimal. She has maintained the celestial feeling of the original, amplifying it to seventh heaven with undulating synths and a ricocheting beat. 4.5 Bianca’s Pick
Lizzie: Despite the initial corniness of the first 5 seconds (you will understand when you hear it), this is a gorgeously twist on an old favourite. It is perfectly tickled with a bit of electronica, R&B and well-crafted samples - and hold out to the the last 30 seconds, that’s where I am found myself utterly smitten. 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick
Hannah: Sam, where do I sign up? TĀLĀ is doing for this track what Luhrmann did for Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet in the first place. While the lofty vocals and original lyrics give it an undeniably uplifting character, TĀLĀ grounds her rendition in the dirt, grit and grime of street culture. With heavy bass, quivering percussion and wait, was that a motorcycle I heard, TĀLĀ’s vein of feel good is a seductively dark one. 4
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/talaofficial/everybodysfree[/soundcloud]
Sam: I’m not sure how I feel about BenZel as hip-hop producers. Their work with soulful vocalists has been so impressive that it’s quite different to hear them in this aesthetic. What I do love is that they make the chorus so tantalisingly melodic, just by taking the vocal down in pitch and laying down in soulful guitars. The rushing end is also great but it’s all not really enough to save Juicy J’s uninspiring verses. 3
Bianca: Like someone pouring a shit load of unnecessary ketchup on hot chips, this track has had a whole lot of uninspiring vocals laid over its deliciously steamy production. The ending is where things really start to pick up for me but unfortunately it’s all too little too late by then. Then again, I’m sitting in a cafe with Maroon 5 seeping through my headphones so my opinion could possibly be unfairly swayed. 3
Lizzie: Yawn. 1
Hannah: This is what happens when someone seasoned in tantric sex jumps into bed with a 16 year old gangly virgin. Juicy J just lacks the oozy sex of someone like Jeremih to rap this slow about hoes and fucking. Juicy gettin’ bored? Yeah me too. That said, if BenZel and Cashmere Cat just took their production elsewhere (cough Jeremih), we might have had a winner here. 2
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/officialbenzel/four[/soundcloud]
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. Today we pick apart tracks by Drake, Iggy Azalea, MØ, CHVRCHES, Yeo, Les Sins & The Black Hearts Club.
Sam: It doesnt really do much in terms of furthering Drakes sound but its solid. The murmuring vocal samples underneath the track give it a nice texture and the way the beat swings in and out of clarity is nice too. I think the only thing that really lets it down is its hookless. I dunno though. It still kind of does it for me, so where I sit on this one Im not sure. Sorry I couldnt be much more help. 3.5
Lizzie: How bout now, how bout now? No matter how many times he asks, Im not going to tell him I like the song. How bout now? NO! Take your slowwwww jams elsewhere please, except leave the JT style backup singers with me. 2
Bianca: It just seems like there's nothing going on in this track. Im happy with the backing track being minimal as long as theres something being delivered on the vocals, and vice versa. But that doesnt seem to be the circumstance. Instead, what I first thought was a case of having my treble too low was in fact just a case of a boring song. And you know Im all about that treble. 2
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/octobersveryown/drake-how-bout-now[/soundcloud]
Lizzie: I can just see this going off at Schoolies *sigh*. Underage kids, UDLs and Iggy - the perfect combination for a Summer hit. In saying this, I have had it on repeat for the last hour and I am #sorrynotsorry. 3
Sam: Wait, is this Fancy? Everything from the minimal beats on the verse to the chanty chorus sound scarily similar to her breakout hit but I suppose if it aint broke dont fix it. I absolutely love that MØ is on this one. Her album is one of the best pop records of the year and she deserves all the success she gets but this song just lacks anything special. She sounds sick on it, but Iggy is becoming a little tiring. 2.5
Bianca: I feel that MØs really wasted on this track 🙁 And not in a drunk in the back of the cab a là One More video clip kind of wasted. It seems that Iggy is using the same old recipe and frankly Im bored. I guess anythings better than Booty, right? Right?? 1.5
Lizzie: Yes, yes, 1000 times yes. I instantly feel at home when I hear Laurens voice, and the pace is perfect for the Drive soundtrack revival. I was a massive fan of that album, so hats off to them for birthing a track which fits in seamlessly. 4
Sam: Quite a bizarre concept that Radio 1 have going here but if they can pull in people with CHVRCHES Im more than happy for them to carry on. CHVRCHES suit the dim-lit synth-pop vibe of Drive down to the ground so it makes total sense to get them involved. So many of the songs on their debut were aggressive so its nice to hear them here a little more sweet. The chorus is beautifully subtle and I love that they take it right to the dancefloor for the final one. 4
Bianca: Just when you thought the Drive soundtrack couldnt be topped, CHVRCHES have delivered with a track of the perfect haziness and nostalgia that could sidle in unnoticed alongside the original tracklist. Nightcall and A Real Hero will forever be my favourite Drive numbers but Get Away comes in at a very close third place. Beautiful. 4.5 Biancas pick
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/chvrches/chvrches-get-away[/soundcloud]
Lizzie: These guys should have made it onto the Drive soundtrack as well!! No seriously, I can see myself driving in my Cadillac into the sunset, its so cinematic.. Musically, this is a beautifully layered track, something I could easily get lost in (its dreamy eyes ). Definitely an act to watch. 4.5 Lizzies Pick
Sam: Oh, I love how Yeo is so unashamed to deliver a straight-up, huge pop chorus. So many artists try to disguise it under many things but Yeo just goes for it, like a massive 80s power ballad. The whole atmosphere of this is perfect, from the way the synths twinkle gently to the way Yule Post saunders in with her smokey vocal. Can we also pop this on the re-work of the Drive soundtrack? 4 Sams Pick
Bianca: I dont know what secret power Yeo has got but boy has it got a hold on me. I feel that he has really grown up on this track, with the melancholic synths and Yeos doleful voice creating a sombre affair, further accentuated by Yule Posts entry in the second verse. The combination of both their voices later down the track is spellbinding with the mournful sax really taking it home. 4.5
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/snackswithyeo/secretpowers[/soundcloud]
Lizzie: The voice samples mixed with the typewriter tap in the background, remind me a little of Jamie xxs All Under One Roof Raving - minus the tropical drums. Just when I thought this track was all over, the 2.30 min mark happens...where the song becomes a thicker and interesting. Its that style of music which can babysit you for hours. 4
Sam: Toro Y Mois dance project is actually grabbing me a lot more than his work as Toro. This one reminds me of that moment when there are only a handful of people left in the club - the bass has dropped very low and the vocal samples just swirl around your brain. Talk About is woozy, acid house that subtly climaxes with a forceful synth. Put this on and Ill happily be the last man standing in the club. 3.5
Bianca: Im not entirely sure of what the vocal is saying but it sounds a lot like shakshuka. I really like shakshuka though and, coincidentally, also this song. Like the heavenly middle eastern breakfast of Gods, Talk About is a steamy, hearty morsel that will spice up your life in all the right ways. Give this to me with a side of chorizo and Im all yours. 3.75
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/company-record-label/les-sins-talk-about[/soundcloud]
Lizzie: Despite the Sesame Street style saxophone at the start, this a jazzy jam of a track. The combination of the looping and the euphoric chimes are a treat - definitely something to click your heels together with joy on a sunny day. 3.5
Sam: This is literally the start of like Frasier or something right? Its almost as if these guys have taken the cream from Pharrell's Girl and left the over-the-top crap. It doesnt take itself serious and I have a massive smile on my face just listening to them singing over the horns. Its easy to get caught up in the novelty of it all but the whole instrumental is actually really impressive. They effortlessly blend from those horns into a day-dreamy chorus and back into stomping verses. Please give me what theyve got. They sound like happy chaps. 4
Bianca: I am so into this. Bordering on slightly comical, the jazzy horns are the star of the show as the grooving bass struts along, perfectly accompanied by Well$s initial verse and Luchos falsetto, Pharrell-style hook. Im also totally je t'aime-ing Lomanis French spoken-word breakdown at the 1:53 mark which is the cherry on top to making Girl the perfect recipe to make anyone happy...and if thats not the point of music, what is? (Deep.) 4
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/immaculate-taste/girl-tell-me-something[/soundcloud]
©2017 THE INTERNS MUSIC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.