If Frank Ocean drops his album today this list will be obsolete so let's hope that doesn't happen for our sake...
If Frank Ocean drops his album today this list will be obsolete so let's hope that doesn't happen for our sake...
It features GRADES, the man behind Nao's woozy R&B.
We've been gushing about Sinead Harnett for a little while now and she just keeps giving us reasons to do so. Her last single She Ain't Me was a smooth RnB jam and now she's delivered the attitude-filled Do It Anyway. She's not being gentle at all on this one with lyrics like "I don't need to be apart of this crowd of fools." Her personality shines through on this one with her vocals taking on a whole new persona with a slight Rihanna-tinge. So many British vocalists who feature on dance tracks go on to produce radio-appeasing solo work but Harnett joins Jessie Ware in the league of those that have created their own path.
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 Florence + The Machine, Jamie xx, Hudson Mohawke and more.
Meshell: Scud Books is badass. The gradual buildup hits anthemic heights about a minute in and then drops back again for another step by step build-and again. It's all very simple theme and variation stuff but somehow it’s still captivating. There is a real art in something that sounds this simple because it never is…there is always the exact amount of instrumentation to keep the dynamics on the steady up. I’m really feelin’ this and I am super excited for the album. 3.5
Caitlin: One word – brilliant. Genius, perhaps if two words were needed to describe this track. The build up by Hudson keeps the listener anticipating the next beat drop for just the right amount of time before bringing them into the wonderful sound that is Scud Books. Listen to the music with eyes closed, embrace the festival feel the sound brings to the ear drums and picture the crowd throwing their hands up in unison recording the moment on their smart phones. I don’t know, man, this song makes me really happy. 5 Caitlin’s Pick
Sam: This HudMo record just keeps getting better and better. I have no idea why he led with Very First Breath because everything since then has been miles stronger. The brassy-synths are back on this one with that HudMo-defined bass. Like Ryderz it’s wrapped in this sense of euphoria and just takes flight around the three minute mark. Meanwhile those Nintendo-like synths sweeten the deal with a bit of melody. 4.5
I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)
Meshell: As a prematurely old lady it makes me super happy to hear this sample by The Persuasions having new life breathed into it. Shame original member Jimmy Haze had to be such a wet rag and have a tantrum about an unsolicited sample (don’t worry guys, Jamie did get it cleared and the silly old coot “forgot about it”). Irrespective of the surrounding controversy, this song does make me believe there are going to be good times. First DJ who I hear dropping this in their set will get a free whiskey from me. 4
Caitlin: Collabs these days, am I right? As foreseen as Beyoncé or Drake’s surprise album releases – this collab is pretty left of field. The mix of Jamie xx 's ability to reincarnate a '70s hit, Young Thugs' rap (kind of) and Popcaan's Jamaican charm makes for a pretty decent track. For the younger audience, the lyrics maybe a little M15+ rated (but then again what song isn’t these days) but lets look past the sexual innuendos for just a moment. For me, Popcaan’s smooth vocal chords make this song as good as it is. 3.5
Sam: Loud Places, Gosh and now this - Jamie xx has really run into the album with his best foot forward. First up that Persuasions sample gets you and then Young Thug rolls on with one of his funnest verses. The song is more up Popcaan’s ally than anyone else and he doesn’t disappoint with his slurred rap over the sample. I wish we were going into summer right now and not winter because this track is readymade for sunshine. Unexpected but excellent and the more and more you listen to it the closer it sounds to Jamie’s previous tracks. 4.5 Sam’s Pick
CL, Diplo, Riff Raff and OG Maco
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/maddecent/diplo-x-cl-x-riff-raff-x-og-maco-doctor-pepper[/soundcloud]
Meshell: Sound design in this is so grimy and wonderful and I love that Diplo paired with CL who is the baddest bitch in K-pop…like some wonderful Rihanna/Yolandi Vi$$er/Missy Elliot hybrid child (and if you don’t listen to K-pop the internet thinks you’re irrelevant). TBH I could totally do without RiFF RAFF on this but maybe I’m being bias because I think he is an absolute tool. Not the best thing I’ve heard from Diplo but whaddya gonna do when he just keeps setting the bar so high for himself? 3.75
Caitlin: I read the title of this tune thinking it was a metaphor for something but after listening to it for quite some time the song is literally about the American soft drink Dr Pepper. Now delve a little deeper into the names accompanying the track. Riff Raff is still hanging around the music community backed by music producer and Mad Decent (the label responsible for this) record company founder Diplo, Atlanta rapper OG Marco and wait for it…. K Pop superstar turned English speaking rapper CL. Blame CL for the catchy hook guaranteed to burrow into the brain and never leave, try to look past the fact Riff Raff is still “rapping” and keep your eyeballs peeled for all the internet parodies waiting to be unearthed from this tune. 2.5
Sam: I wondered how long it would take Diplo to get his head around the whole K Pop thing. Given how energetic and over-the-top Diplo’s production usually is it makes sense that he was drawn towards the genre. This, however, sounds nothing like K Pop. Instead CL sounds like Rihanna on a song that sounds strong but brings nothing new to the table. In terms of introducing CL to the Western market as something a little bit different I think it misses the mark. 2.5
Anywhere But Here
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/sineadharnettmusic/anywhere-but-here[/soundcloud]
Meshell: Sinead has a voice like sad honey. Which I have decided is a thing. Her tone is astoundingly inviting, there’s a warmth to it that immediately draws me in but there is a distinct sadness in her delivery and I absolutely adore it. I am such a sucker for bittersweet RnB-electronica (just ask my ex, totally used to piss him off).This girl has serious soul and is an unexpected home run for me. 4.5
Caitlin: How much do I have to pay Sinead Harnett to teach me how to sing? But seriously, the vocals on this are killer. The soft electronic beat in the background of this track highlight her velvet tongue perfectly as she sings some pretty deep lyrics. How have I not heard this song blasted from a 17-year-old girl’s car as I sit in traffic? After listening to this track, I can’t wait to hear her next single coming out in early June. 3
Sam: Sinead’s voice is where it’s at. There was something about the melody of She Ain’t Me that didn’t really stick with me but this one does. Immediately. We get to hear the powerful depths as well as the flighty heights of her voice over a ‘90s throwback, RnB instrumental. I’ll be keeping a firm eye on her solo material now. Consider me won over. 3.5
Give Me Something
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/jarrydjamesk/give-me-something[/soundcloud]
Meshell- The first time I heard Jarryd James’ voice I was probably about 14 and Myspace was still cool (If anybody wants to hear him and his buddy Matt Corby covering Ne-Yo…hit me up). From these humble beginnings anybody who heard him sing knew he was going to make it big one day. It’s taken a little longer than expected but his new partnership with should-be-household-name Joel Little is taking him from strength to strength. The cool thing about this new single is that it feels like a teaser-like Jarryd is only giving the audience a tiny glimpse of how good his voice really is. 5 Meshell’s Pick
Caitlin - Correct me if I’m wrong but I do believe Jarryd James is the Australian Ed Sheeran. Jarryd’s music is not something I would race to put on my iPod and crank in house on a Sunday morning but his voice is so soft and mesmerising it is hard to un-listen once you have heard it. From the comments on the song, I have seen some people call the track 'art'. And that is exactly what it is! The catchy tune sits like a blank canvas, the lyrics almost everyone can relate to acts as the paint brush and the smooth groovy deliverance of the said lyrics are the paint creating this masterpiece. A very close second favourite for me. 4.5
Sam: His voice is very obviously good and it was what immediately drew me to Don’t You Remember but is it enough? To me it feels a little bit Guy Sebastian repackaged for triple j. Joel Little does his best to put a few intricacies into the production but ultimately it doesn’t really help brighten a song that’s a little beige. That said, props where props are due. His voice is great and he’s obviously going to be a huge riser on the Australian scene this year. But it would just be good to hear something different on triple j, rather than giving off a vibe that says Vance Joy discovered RnB. 2
Florence + The Machine
Meshell: I am one of the few people in the music blogging world who just doesn’t get Florence Welch. I appreciate how talented she is and I have really REALLY tried to see the appeal but anybody who’s been in the car with me when Florence comes on shuffle knows I always skip to the next song. Maybe there’s something wrong with me? Maybe I’m just slow? Maybe in ten years time this song will come on and I’ll be hit smack bang in the face by a sonic “ah ha!” moment where I’ll finally get it…for now I’m just kind of waiting patiently for it to finish and thinking about what I should have for dinner. 2.5
Caitlin: There are two types of people in this world – people who know every song from Florence + The Machine and people who only know You Got The Love. And yes, I am the latter. Nothing against Florence, her vocals are definitely one of a kind but this 4:54 song just seems too long for me. It begins with catchy lyrics… the beat shortly follows… Florence then belts out a one of a kind Florence high note… the middle of the song reminds me of a church choir singing the backing vocals… then the song continues and continues then keeps continuing to continue. A three-minute song, possibly good but for me the song is a bit of a miss. Maybe next time. 3
Sam: It’s taken me a little while to realise the true strength of all the tracks we’ve heard off How Big How Blue How Beautiful so far. They don’t smack you in the face like the Florence of old. Instead, they’re far more subtle. On first listen Ship To Wreck sounded limp but a month later, it’s now looking to be one of her finer releases. Despite Delilah having a little more oomph behind it, it does take a while to get on board with. It’s gospel and motown peppered with indie-rock and while it doesn’t fit anywhere in the music spectrum right now, it’s distinctively Florence. She’s always written a killer bridge and here it’s no different. After the three minute mark the song grows wings and takes off. 4
Now it's time for your vote:
Stepping out of the haze of the Coachella weekend and back into the new music world, here are 10 songs that you need to wrap your ears around this week.
Samantha Urbani was the lead-vocalist of uber cool Brooklyn band Friends who broke out with I'm His Girl back in 2011. It seems now though she's stepping out on her own with the assistance of her boyfriend and our favourite producer Dev Hynes. 1 2 3 4 is her first audible endeavour as a solo artist and was apparently half-recorded on a train which is both impressive and confusing. Its sound is a little cleaner than the scuzzy vibes of Friends but it's still melodically tight and buoyed by an impressively strong chorus. Dev's influence is all over it which is a ok with us, as per usual.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/samantha-urbani/1-2-3-4a[/soundcloud]
Let's Get Slow (Feat. Benjamin Diamond)
When you go by the moniker of Aeroplane you better be serving up euphoric, head-in-the-clouds type music and that's exactly what this Italian-Belgian producer does. Aeroplane has done remixes of everyone from Charli XCX to Justin Timberlake but he's also fully-capable of crafting his own tracks of smooth, melodic electronic music. Let's Get Slow features the vocals of Stardust's Benjamin Diamond (remember this?) who helps bring equal parts of funk and sensuality. "Let's get together baby, let's get high," is exactly the kind of lyric the dancefloor needs.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/aeroplane/lets-get-slow-feat-benjamin-diamond[/soundcloud]
Made In Heights
Made In Heights have trickled out brilliant tracks for the better part of two years now with never any word of an album. Now though it seems we are finally going to get that LP with their new track Forgiveness coming with word that an album is set to drop on 26th May. The US duos latest track has us swooning once more with a percussion-driven hook bookended by swelling synths and fragile vocals. They nail the rarely-trodden genre of subtle pop music and we can't wait to see what else they have on their album.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/madeinheights/forgiveness[/soundcloud]
Empress Of made a name for herself in 2013 with a brilliant run of tracks starting with Don't Tell Me but since then she's been pretty quiet. That's because she's been working on a debut album set to be released via Terrible Records and XL Records. XL usually don't waste their time with artists unless their pretty damn sure about them (Adele, Shamir, FKA Twigs) so you can feel pretty confident about what Empress Of has been crafting. Our first taste is Water Water, a rushing synth-driven track which is darkened by the brooding vocals that teeter between Robyn and Zola Jesus. This has the potential to be one of the most captivating records of the year.
Stuck On You (Feat. Tory Lanez)
Two Inch Punch and Benny Blanco are in their own right brilliant producers so it's not surprise that together they've been churning out some pretty impressive stuff. Stuck On You is the latest track to come from the duo and it's the first BenZel track to feature a solo male vocal. Canadian rapper and singer Tory Lanez perfectly weaves through BenZel's smooth, spacey instrumental switching between his two crafts effortlessly. This tracks up for free download so grab it while you can.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/officialbenzel/stuck-on-you-ft-tory-lanez[/soundcloud]
Incase you haven't heard HudMo is prepping the release of his debut album lantern which will be with us in June. First we heard Very First Breath and now we've been gifted Ryderz - a soulful, triumphant number centring around a sample of D.J. Rogers' Watch Out For The Riders. These type of songs are the ones that convert a set from being great to being mind-blowing. It's so grand that it manages to both tug at the heart and raise your hands to the air.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/hudsonmohawke/ryderz-rinse[/soundcloud]
Déjà Vu (Feat. Sia)
The reaction to Giorgio Moroder's collaboration with Kylie, Right Here, Right Now, was lukewarm but it's likely that this one with Sia will excite much more. Sia dons her disco diva alter-ego for Déjà Vu, the title track from Moroder's forthcoming LP. There's lush strings, funky guitar-riffs and a blue-light-disco-ready beat sitting below Sia's euphoric vocal. This is the funnest thing Sia has ever attached her name to and it might just have the same effect on people that Daft Punk's Get Lucky did two years ago.
U Mad (Feat. Kanye West)
If you're gonna drop a collaboration with Kanye West it's probably best you make a moment of it. That's exactly what Vic Mensa did with U Mad last weekend. He performed the song at Coachella to an elated crowd and then shot it out all over the internet. The track has Mr. West all over it both vocally and instrumentally. There's big horns, abrasive raps and a thudding beat. While Kanye is an undeniable presence, Mensa holds his own proving that he can kick it with the big kids. In fact his rap is probably more abrasive and attention-grabbing than Kanye's.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/fuck-vic-mensa/u-mad-feat-kanye-west[/soundcloud]
We go crazy for a big pop tune over here at the interns and No Words by Swedish singer Erik Hassle ticks all the boxes. Despite making brilliant pop songs since 2008 Hassle is yet to have his huge commercial breakthrough as a solo artist. He wrote Shakira and Rihanna's Can't Remember To Forget You but it's about time he had some chart success with his own face lit up in lights. Surely this will do it. It sinks right into the ears effortlessly without being too in-your-face and compliments a happy-go-lucky instrumental with mournful vocals.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/erikhassle/no-words[/soundcloud]
She Ain't No
You would have heard British songstress Sinead Harnett's name pop up a number of times over the last few years. She featured on Discolsure's Boiling and also was the vocalist on Ryan Hemsworth's Small + Lost. It seems, however, Harnett is done with paddling other people's boats as she's gearing up to really push her own solo career with the release of She Ain't No. Harnett's smokey voice is the perfect antidote for the industrial RnB beats. It's a slight step away from the dance world she's operated in as a featured vocalist which seems like the logical step to differentiate herself.
For your convenience, here are all/most of the songs together:
Sinead Harnett has been a guest vocalist for both Disclosure and Rudimental but now it's time for her to step out on her own. A few months ago she delivered No Other Way along with a pretty special Ryan Hemsworth remix and she's followed that up with the lustful Paradise. Swept along by brass stylings, Harnett delivers a sultry vocal. It does exactly what the title suggests creating a dreamland of mellow beats and sunshine-induced ambience. It's currently available on her N.O.W EP.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/sineadharnettmusic/sineadharnett-paradise[/soundcloud]
Ryan Hemsworth serves up the perfect balance of soul and well-crafted production in his most recent rework of London songwriter, Sinead Harnett's 'No Other Way'. The layered synths up the tempo from the original chilled track, to produce a dancey, yet thoughtful augmentation of the original.