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ALBUMS3

the interns’ Best Albums Of 2015: Honourable Mentions And Staff Lists

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These are the albums that didn’t quite make the main list but were brilliant nonetheless…

HiatusHiatus Kaiyote
Choose Your Weapon
If there was ever a band to not only recognise the rule book for genre conventions, but to then throw said book deftly into the wind, Hiatus Kaiyote would surely be at the fore. The Melbourne act’s sophomore outing Choose Your Weapon improves strongly on the foundations laid by their debut, faultlessly moulding jazz, soul, funk and a splash of electronica into an exhilarating and uncompromising 70 minute adventure. Never prone to incorporate half measures, the record is constantly changing with deep bass reigning supreme on the jittery Laputa, Nai Palm’s sultry jazz-infused vocals soothing on Breathing Underwater, and Atari receiving a breakneck tempo and 8-bit electronic treatment. Hiatus Kaiyote’s Choose Your Weapon is an incredible achievement by a band who fully deserve your attention. – Ben Kyi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gang Of YouthsGang Of Youths
The Positions
The Positions came to fruition over the space of a two year period and tells of the tumultuous relationship between Gang of Youths’ frontman David Leaupepe and a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer. An album birthed out of sheer necessity, The Positions manages to maintain an uplifting air of defiance while painting a sprawling picture of grief, loss and ultimately hope. It is one thing to delve into such a heavy subject matter on your debut long player, but it is another entirely when the kind of precision and finesse displayed in the execution reflects that of an act far beyond their mere years would suggest. Anchored by the incredible vocal range delivered by Leaupepe, from the rollicking Poison Drum and the triumphant Magnolia, to the heartbreak of Kansas and Sjamboksa, The Positions is beautiful, raw, honest and far reaching indie rock where risk pays off in hefty rewards. – Ben Kyi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AlisonAlison Wonderland
Run
There was no need for Alison Wonderland to release a full album. Before Run she was already playing some of the world’s biggest stages and had released a steady handful of stellar tracks including I Want U. She could’ve gone on releasing singles and had a huge year but instead she applied herself to an album and thank goodness she did. Run is by far the biggest Australian electronic album of the year – a conglomeration of huge drops, room-shattering synths and howling vocals that soundtrack hazy late nights. Opener Run is a swelling, behemoth of a song but tracks like Games prove she knows how to craft a perfect pop song. It’s an ambitious and honest project that establishes AW as the person most well-equipped to change the face of Australian electronic music. Listening to it now, it feels like a triumphant victory lap. – Sam Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SampaSampa The Great
The Great Mixtape
If you were asked to name an Australian female rapper right, you’d say Iggy Azalea. It’s nothing to be ashamed of but you would. Sampa may have been born and raised in Africa but she’s living in Sydney now and she’s the female voice in hip-hop we so desperately need. The Great Mixtape, as the name suggests, is just a mixtape but it’s still one of the best local releases of the year. It’s a vibrant trip through experimental, jazz-infused beats with verses that set her well on the way to being recognised among the likes of Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper. She traverses topics of identity, feminism and race all the while laughing in between tracks. “I’m an F E M A L E from the ghetto,” she raps on F E M A L E simultaneously announcing to us all the she’s an absolute boss. No new artist in this country was as exciting as Sampa in 2015 and that’s because there was no other record worldwide that sounded like this. – Sam Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SamoSamo Sound Boy
Begging Please
People too often write club records off as not having heart. It may be because of the atmosphere that they’re consumed in and because they often lack lyrics but Samo Sound Boy’s emotional Begging Please disapproved that this year. The album is a story of heartbreak told through built up climaxes that are then scattered like dust and swelling vocal samples that are interlaced with isolated synths. He may only use vocals in the form of repetitive samples but he uses them to swell emotion. What Can I Do is full of desperation, Got It Bad is love drunk while Save Wait Time brims with hope. As dark as it gets, it still feels like he’s getting over the heartbreak with every song particularly when it ends with the nostalgic but euphoric You Come For Me. – Sam Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DawnDawn Richard
Blackheart
2015’s most underrated release comes courtesy of former Danity Kane member Dawn Richard who’s making genre-defying music at a rapid rate. Blackheart effortlessly melds together eccentric electronica with R&B moving from instrumental epics like Calypso to stomping bangers like Blow. At times her voice sounds superhuman and manipulated within an inch of its life but that’s because it’s treated like an instrument rather than a vessel for words. You never get the sense she’s forcing the verse/chorus structure rather moving with the music wherever it demands her. She goes on tribal, tropical and club-inspired detours but nothing ever feels out of place. Rather it’s just all part of her experimental journey. – Sam Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LanaLana Del Rey
Honeymoon
Lana Del Rey’s career was almost over before it even began. Label involvement and the wrong producers turned her debut Born To Die into a glossy, manicured missfire but inch by inch she’s showed her artistry with Ultraviolence and this year the even better Honeymoon. Honeymoon trades the rock roughness of Ultraviolence for vintage Hollywood glamour that’s often more heartbreaking than glamorous a la the life of Marilyn Monroe. Terrence Loves You is a gorgeous jazz-influenced number, the title track is an infatuated ballad and Music To Watch Boys To is a creeping tale of lust. She never sounds in a rush, consistently choosing style over an immediate hit which realises her vision of bringing together the past and the vintage more than ever before. When she sings, “all I wanna do is get high by the beach,” you know that Lana finally gives zero fucks and that’s her greatest weapon right now. – Sam Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BieberJustin Bieber
Purpose
2015 was the year that it became ok to like Justin Bieber. Not because he stopped being a twat or because we all got to see his penis but because the music was just too good to deny. With lead-singles What Do You Mean and Sorry, key-producer Skrillex found a sound that nurtured Bieber’s smooth but limited voice and pulled him back from the far less accessible R&B world of Journals. Purpose is self-obsessed particularly when it ventures into ballad territory but that’s kind of what we’ve come to love about Bieber. Any other popstar singing, “What about the children?” would sound ridiculous but somehow Bieber turns it into a banger on Children. It seems he can do no wrong and it’s because Purpose is the biggest guilty pleasure of the year. So much so that everyone has set out to make excuses as to why it’s ok to like it. It’s ok to like it because it’s full of bloody good tunes and that’s the only explanation necessary. – Sam Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JulioBashmoreJulio Bashmore
Knockin’ Boots
Julio Bashmore had a big hand in the house revolution that shot Disclosure to fame with their debut album Settle but even though he was riding with a trend he didn’t rush his debut album. Knockin’ Boots came just as Disclosure were releasing their second album which pales in comparison to this record. It’s a joyous, euphoric and dance-ready exploration of deep house and all the different influences that have impacted it from disco to the ‘90s. The vocal sample on the opening title track is “we danced and danced ‘til we fell in love,” which is basically the mantra of the whole album. From the soulful seduction of For Your Love to the giddy flirtation of Let Me Be Your Weakness, it’s all about falling in love on the dancefloor. Bashmore’s had a very successful relationship with the dancefloor and it only seems to be getting stronger. – Sam Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AdeleAdele
25
Adele’s 21 was a huge, earth-shattering record but given the sheer size of it, it’s a testament to Adele that she actually managed to disappear. When she returned with the now iconic line, “hello, it’s me,” it felt as if we were hearing from a long lost friend. The voice was back and so was the forthright honesty. Sound-wise there’s nothing shocking about 25. She may try some bigger notes but it’s still a cross between soulful ditties and big ballads. What’s so special about Adele is everyone actually cares about the lyrics. We know she’s moved on from the man that broke her heart for 21 and on 25 she’s dealing with new love, a baby and fame while saying goodbye to her youth. “I’m so mad about getting old it makes me restless,” she sings on album highlight When We Were Young. It’s one of the album’s select goosebump moments because she shrieks vocally. Worrying about getting old is not a new sensation but no one says anything quite as succinctly and honestly as Adele. That’s why she’s breaking records, because she’s able to write about universal emotions in a way everybody can relate too. She may make it sound easy but it’s not. – Sam Murphy

Adele’s 25 is not available on Spotify.

Wolf AliceWolf Alice
My Love Is Cool
The debut album from London four piece Wolf Alice is one of contrasts. Chaotic and grungy one moment, refined and delicate the next. Despite its tonal variations and genre bending, My Love is Cool remains an engaging, fully coherent and cohesive body of work. Your Loves Whore and Bros are incredibly catchy and heartfelt, while the hectic duo of Lisbon and Giant Peach show a band not afraid in the slightest to get their hands dirty. Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell oozes charisma and uses a fantastic set of lungs to full potential, as the musical backdrop shifts between the light and dark with ease. My Love Is Cool showcases a true sense of both wonder and a certain familiarity with dazzling results. – Ben Kyi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UMOUnknown Mortal Orchestra
Multi-Love
The subject matter of someone’s album can be a crucial part of its rendering – think about The Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come For Free.  That is a story told throughout multiple songs, an aural journey of British slang and everyday life. Multi-Love is a story on a whole another level. A story not told by many, a story of a love triangle practically unheard of in the musical world, a story told with lo fi funk from a front man who boasts some of the best guitar work you’ll see or hear. This album is about so much more than just music, and that’s what is so exciting about it. – Jack Cain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CD What Went Down.jpgFoals
What Went Down
This latest creative effort seems to channel the varying styles of previous albums and does so in the most satisfying and successful way. What Went Down also includes several tracks that follow what seems to be a growing trend for the group towards a slower, more introspective style of song. After getting dark and emotional on such tracks like London Thunder, which references the musical journey they have taken over time, the album then starts to get into the luminous funk that those who’ve been listening since Antidotes have come to expect from Yannis, Jack and co. Night Swimmers throws back to the gorgeously light guitar countermelodies that caught the ears of many back in 2008. Those expecting some proper British rock are treated to a couple of tracks that involve some seriously heavy basslines and much more intense vocal, through tracks like Snake Oil. In short summary, It’s not a record that is necessarily enhanced by being listened to as a whole, and perhaps that’s not what they were aiming for. What Went Down is exactly what it intends to be. – Zanda Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click through to page 2 for staff lists.

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These are the albums that didn’t quite make the main list but were brilliant nonetheless…

HiatusHiatus Kaiyote
Choose Your Weapon
If there was ever a band to not only recognise the rule book for genre conventions, but to then throw said book deftly into the wind, Hiatus Kaiyote would surely be at the fore. The Melbourne act’s sophomore outing Choose Your Weapon improves strongly on the foundations laid by their debut, faultlessly moulding jazz, soul, funk and a splash of electronica into an exhilarating and uncompromising 70 minute adventure. Never prone to incorporate half measures, the record is constantly changing with deep bass reigning supreme on the jittery Laputa, Nai Palm’s sultry jazz-infused vocals soothing on Breathing Underwater, and Atari receiving a breakneck tempo and 8-bit electronic treatment. Hiatus Kaiyote’s Choose Your Weapon is an incredible achievement by a band who fully deserve your attention. – Ben Kyi

Gang Of YouthsGang Of Youths
The Positions
The Positions came to fruition over the space of a two year period and tells of the tumultuous relationship between Gang of Youths’ frontman David Leaupepe and a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer. An album birthed out of sheer necessity, The Positions manages to maintain an uplifting air of defiance while painting a sprawling picture of grief, loss and ultimately hope. It is one thing to delve into such a heavy subject matter on your debut long player, but it is another entirely when the kind of precision and finesse displayed in the execution reflects that of an act far beyond their mere years would suggest. Anchored by the incredible vocal range delivered by Leaupepe, from the rollicking Poison Drum and the triumphant Magnolia, to the heartbreak of Kansas and Sjamboksa, The Positions is beautiful, raw, honest and far reaching indie rock where risk pays off in hefty rewards. – Ben Kyi

AlisonAlison Wonderland
Run
There was no need for Alison Wonderland to release a full album. Before Run she was already playing some of the world’s biggest stages and had released a steady handful of stellar tracks including I Want U. She could’ve gone on releasing singles and had a huge year but instead she applied herself to an album and thank goodness she did. Run is by far the biggest Australian electronic album of the year – a conglomeration of huge drops, room-shattering synths and howling vocals that soundtrack hazy late nights. Opener Run is a swelling, behemoth of a song but tracks like Games prove she knows how to craft a perfect pop song. It’s an ambitious and honest project that establishes AW as the person most well-equipped to change the face of Australian electronic music. Listening to it now, it feels like a triumphant victory lap. – Sam Murphy

SampaSampa The Great
The Great Mixtape
If you were asked to name an Australian female rapper right, you’d say Iggy Azalea. It’s nothing to be ashamed of but you would. Sampa may have been born and raised in Africa but she’s living in Sydney now and she’s the female voice in hip-hop we so desperately need. The Great Mixtape, as the name suggests, is just a mixtape but it’s still one of the best local releases of the year. It’s a vibrant trip through experimental, jazz-infused beats with verses that set her well on the way to being recognised among the likes of Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper. She traverses topics of identity, feminism and race all the while laughing in between tracks. “I’m an F E M A L E from the ghetto,” she raps on F E M A L E simultaneously announcing to us all the she’s an absolute boss. No new artist in this country was as exciting as Sampa in 2015 and that’s because there was no other record worldwide that sounded like this. – Sam Murphy

SamoSamo Sound Boy
Begging Please
People too often write club records off as not having heart. It may be because of the atmosphere that they’re consumed in and because they often lack lyrics but Samo Sound Boy’s emotional Begging Please disapproved that this year. The album is a story of heartbreak told through built up climaxes that are then scattered like dust and swelling vocal samples that are interlaced with isolated synths. He may only use vocals in the form of repetitive samples but he uses them to swell emotion. What Can I Do is full of desperation, Got It Bad is love drunk while Save Wait Time brims with hope. As dark as it gets, it still feels like he’s getting over the heartbreak with every song particularly when it ends with the nostalgic but euphoric You Come For Me. – Sam Murphy

DawnDawn Richard
Blackheart
2015’s most underrated release comes courtesy of former Danity Kane member Dawn Richard who’s making genre-defying music at a rapid rate. Blackheart effortlessly melds together eccentric electronica with R&B moving from instrumental epics like Calypso to stomping bangers like Blow. At times her voice sounds superhuman and manipulated within an inch of its life but that’s because it’s treated like an instrument rather than a vessel for words. You never get the sense she’s forcing the verse/chorus structure rather moving with the music wherever it demands her. She goes on tribal, tropical and club-inspired detours but nothing ever feels out of place. Rather, it’s just all part of her experimental journey. – Sam Murphy

LanaLana Del Rey
Honeymoon
Lana Del Rey’s career was almost over before it even began. Label involvement and the wrong producers turned her debut Born To Die into a glossy, manicured missfire but inch by inch she’s showed her artistry with Ultraviolence and this year the even better Honeymoon. Honeymoon trades the rock roughness of Ultraviolence for vintage Hollywood glamour that’s often more heartbreaking than glamorous a la the life of Marilyn Monroe. Terrence Loves You is a gorgeous jazz-influenced number, the title track is an infatuated ballad and Music To Watch Boys To is a creeping tale of lust. She never sounds in a rush, consistently choosing style over an immediate hit which realises her vision of bringing together the past and the vintage more than ever before. When she sings, “all I wanna do is get high by the beach,” you know that Lana finally gives zero fucks and that’s her greatest weapon right now. – Sam Murphy

BieberJustin Bieber
Purpose
2015 was the year that it became ok to like Justin Bieber. Not because he stopped being a twat or because we all got to see his penis but because the music was just too good to deny. With lead-singles What Do You Mean and Sorry, key-producer Skrillex found a sound that nurtured Bieber’s smooth but limited voice and pulled him back from the far less accessible R&B world of Journals. Purpose is self-obsessed particularly when it ventures into ballad territory but that’s kind of what we’ve come to love about Bieber. Any other popstar singing, “What about the children?” would sound ridiculous but somehow Bieber turns it into a banger on Children. It seems he can do no wrong and it’s because Purpose is the biggest guilty pleasure of the year. So much so that everyone has set out to make excuses as to why it’s ok to like it. It’s ok to like it because it’s full of bloody good tunes and that’s the only explanation necessary. – Sam Murphy

JulioBashmoreJulio Bashmore
Knockin’ Boots
Julio Bashmore had a big hand in the house revolution that shot Disclosure to fame with their debut album Settle but even though he was riding with a trend he didn’t rush his debut album. Knockin’ Boots came just as Disclosure were releasing their second album which pales in comparison to this record. It’s a joyous, euphoric and dance-ready exploration of deep house and all the different influences that have impacted it from disco to the ‘90s. The vocal sample on the opening title track is “we danced and danced ‘til we fell in love,” which is basically the mantra of the whole album. From the soulful seduction of For Your Love to the giddy flirtation of Let Me Be Your Weakness, it’s all about falling in love on the dancefloor. Bashmore’s had a very successful relationship with the dancefloor and it only seems to be getting stronger. – Sam Murphy

AdeleAdele
25
Adele’s 21 was a huge, earth-shattering record but given the sheer size of it, it’s a testament to Adele that she actually managed to disappear. When she returned with the now iconic line, “hello, it’s me,” it felt as if we were hearing from a long lost friend. The voice was back and so was the forthright honesty. Sound-wise there’s nothing shocking about 25. She may try some bigger notes but it’s still a cross between soulful ditties and big ballads. What’s so special about Adele is everyone actually cares about the lyrics. We know she’s moved on from the man that broke her heart for 21 and on 25 she’s dealing with new love, a baby and fame while saying goodbye to her youth. “I’m so mad about getting old it makes me restless,” she sings on album highlight When We Were Young. It’s one of the album’s select goosebump moments because she shrieks vocally. Worrying about getting old is not a new sensation but no one says anything quite as succinctly and honestly as Adele. That’s why she’s breaking records, because she’s able to write about universal emotions in a way everybody can relate too. She may make it sound easy but it’s not. – Sam Murphy

Wolf AliceWolf Alice
My Love Is Cool
The debut album from London four piece Wolf Alice is one of contrasts. Chaotic and grungy one moment, refined and delicate the next. Despite its tonal variations and genre bending, My Love is Cool remains an engaging, fully coherent and cohesive body of work. Your Loves Whore and Bros are incredibly catchy and heartfelt, while the hectic duo of Lisbon and Giant Peach show a band not afraid in the slightest to get their hands dirty. Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell oozes charisma and uses a fantastic set of lungs to full potential, as the musical backdrop shifts between the light and dark with ease. My Love Is Cool showcases a true sense of both wonder and a certain familiarity with dazzling results. – Ben Kyi

UMOUnknown Mortal Orchestra
Multi-Love
The subject matter of someone’s album can be a crucial part of its rendering – think about The Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come For Free.  That is a story told throughout multiple songs, an aural journey of British slang and everyday life. Multi-Love is a story on a whole another level. A story not told by many, a story of a love triangle practically unheard of in the musical world, a story told with lo fi funk from a front man who boasts some of the best guitar work you’ll see or hear. This album is about so much more than just music, and that’s what is so exciting about it. – Jack Cain

CD What Went Down.jpgFoals
What Went Down
This latest creative effort seems to channel the varying styles of previous albums and does so in the most satisfying and successful way. What Went Down also includes several tracks that follow what seems to be a growing trend for the group towards a slower, more introspective style of song. After getting dark and emotional on such tracks like London Thunder, which references the musical journey they have taken over time, the album then starts to get into the luminous funk that those who’ve been listening since Antidotes have come to expect from Yannis, Jack and co. Night Swimmers throws back to the gorgeously light guitar countermelodies that caught the ears of many back in 2008. Those expecting some proper British rock are treated to a couple of tracks that involve some seriously heavy basslines and much more intense vocal, through tracks like Snake Oil. In short summary, It’s not a record that is necessarily enhanced by being listened to as a whole, and perhaps that’s not what they were aiming for. What Went Down is exactly what it intends to be. – Zanda Wilson

Click through to page 2 for staff lists.

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Sam Murphy
Editor
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Jamie xx – In Colour
3. Grimes – Art Angels
4. Tame Impala – Currents
5. Empress Of – Me
6. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
7. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit
8. Beach House – Depression Cherry
9. Dawn Richard – Wildheart
10. Carly Rae Jepsen – E.MO.TION

Bianca Bosso
Creative Director
1. Tame Impala – Currents
2. Jamie xx – In Colour
3. Grimes – Art Angels
4. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
5. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
6. Beach House – Depression Cherry
7. Miguel – Wildheart
8. Justin Bieber – Purpose
9. Christine & The Queens – Christine & The Queens
10. Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon

Zanda Wilson
Contributor
1. Tame Impala – Currents
2. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
3. Foals – What Went Down
4. Grimes – Art Angels
5. The Wombats – Glitterbug
6. Hermitude – Dark Night Sweet Light
7. Last Dinosaurs – Wellness
8. San Cisco – Gracetown
9. Jamie xx – In Colour
10. Alison Wonderland – Run

Ben Kyi
Contributor
1. Gang of Youths – The Positions
2. Grimes – Art Angels
3. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
4. Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon
5. Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep
6. Jamie xx – In Colour
7. Fightstar – Behind The Devil’s Back
8. The Staves – If I Was
9. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
10. Blur – The Magic Whip

Meshell Webb
Contributor
Point Point – Contrastive Focus Reduplication
Björk – Vulnicura
Tyler, The Creator – Cherrybomb
Mew – +-
Daniel Johns – Talk
Jaga Jazzist – Starfire
Towkio – .Wav Theory
Battles – La Di Da Di
Alina Baraz & Galimatias – Urban Flora
Dillon Francis – This Mixtape is Fire

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Sam Murphy
Editor
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Jamie xx – In Colour
3. Grimes – Art Angels
4. Tame Impala – Currents
5. Empress Of – Me
6. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
7. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit
8. Beach House – Depression Cherry
9. Dawn Richard – Wildheart
10. Carly Rae Jepsen – E.MO.TION

Bianca Bosso
Creative Director
1. Tame Impala – Currents
2. Jamie xx – In Colour
3. Grimes – Art Angels
4. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
5. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
6. Beach House – Depression Cherry
7. Miguel – Wildheart
8. Justin Bieber – Purpose
9. Christine & The Queens – Christine & The Queens
10. Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon

Zanda Wilson
Contributor
1. Tame Impala – Currents
2. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
3. Foals – What Went Down
4. Grimes – Art Angels
5. The Wombats – Glitterbug
6. Hermitude – Dark Night Sweet Light
7. Last Dinosaurs – Wellness
8. San Cisco – Gracetown
9. Jamie xx – In Colour
10. Alison Wonderland – Run

Ben Kyi
Contributor
1. Gang of Youths – The Positions
2. Grimes – Art Angels
3. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
4. Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon
5. Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep
6. Jamie xx – In Colour
7. Fightstar – Behind The Devil’s Back
8. The Staves – If I Was
9. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
10. Blur – The Magic Whip

Meshell Webb
Contributor
Point Point – Contrastive Focus Reduplication
Björk – Vulnicura
Tyler, The Creator – Cherrybomb
Mew – +-
Daniel Johns – Talk
Jaga Jazzist – Starfire
Towkio – .Wav Theory
Battles – La Di Da Di
Alina Baraz & Galimatias – Urban Flora
Dillon Francis – This Mixtape is Fire

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FI_23Nov

First Impressions: Adele, RÜFÜS, Childish Gambino And More

FI_23Nov

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 Adele, Tkay Maidza, TOKiMonsta, Childish Gambino and more. 

Adele
When We Were Young

Zanda Wilson: I’ve never been a huge fan of Adele, but this song is moody and captivating. The vocals in particular give the song all its strength and backbone. Apart from Adele’s vocals though, there isn’t much here that no session instrumentalist couldn’t do. I appreciate that she’s a fantastic artist and vocalist but I can’t see anything special here. 2.5

Sam Murphy: Adele and Tobias Jesso Jr. are just such a great pairing because they both write really honestly and also tap into nostalgia with ease. This is my personal favourite of 25 because it’s a ballad, like much of the album, but it’s so natural in the way it unfurls. There’s no obvious, stadium-ready chorus but there’s so much emotion and power behind what she’s singing. I love at the end when she sings, “I’m so mad about getting old it makes me reckless.” Getting old is bloody scary even in your mid-20s, I can’t imagine what it’s like when you’re doing it in front of the whole world and titling your albums accordingly. 4.5

Annie Cooper: Adele’s not someone I listen to on the regular, but with that said it’s undeniable that she’s one of the most powerful musicians right now. It’s kind of hard to review any song she makes, because even if she sung over the backing tracks to Watch Me Whip, her vocals would still overpower that bullshit. This track is a good example of that, her voice sets the mood and is 100% the focal point here, while the backing instrumentals are just okay for me. 3

Jack Cain: Recently I talked about a song that had in it what sounded like to me the choir of 10 prepubescent boys singing all at once. I forget what the song was called mostly because I didn’t care about it and hated it. In this wonderful Adele epic there is also a choir (it comes in at the 3.40 minute mark). And that people is how it’s fucking done. This is a hit, this is a song that when you’re a music producer standing in the mixing room, putting on the final touches, you know you’ve got yourself a ballad to rival some of the best (eg: Total Eclipse Of The Heart). It’s everything all Adele fans want and expect from their cherished international treasure. She is the biggest thing in music, with one of the best voices of all time. All of what I just said are the first things you think listening to this. If you look any deeper, you’re expecting too much. 4

Average Score: 3.5

RÜFÜS
Innerbloom

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/rufussounds/innerbloom[/soundcloud]

Zanda: A nine minute epic from these guys was definitely not what I was expecting, but dayum I’m glad they made this one. The start almost sounds like the introduction to something by Deadmau5, but once the rhythm comes in it’s RUFUS all over. The bass just oozes funk and as usual the vocals are echoey and mysterious. There is so much going on in the synth layer as well, and the percussive layers are also used in such a multitude of ways. Just fantastic stuff. 4

Sam: This one’s a difficult one for me. On one hand I applaud RUFUS for doing something ambitious and nutting it out for nine minutes but on the other hand it sounds like an extended version of everything else we’ve heard from them over the past few months. It’s definitely beautiful and sprawling but I can’t help but feel myself nodding off after about four minutes purely because of the fact they’re not giving us anything new. It’s a deep house beat with wistful vocals which has been done over and over. There are some really great parts in this but maybe I was just deterred by the run time. Almost like when you think you’re going to be in the RTA for 20 mins and you end up there for two hours for seemingly no reason other than they didn’t hurry the f**k up. 2.5

Annie: My first reaction after realising this song runs for 9 minutes was “I don’t have time for this shit”, but it wasn’t as terrible as I had anticipated. It’s typical RUFUS with its mysterious vocals and superb bass lines, and I definitely enjoyed this more than anything else they’ve released lately. Full disclosure though, I did find myself skipping forward a few times. It’s a good track, the length just feels unnecessary. 2.5

Jack: I was sent this tune on promo the other day, I’m a huge fan of Sweat It Out (the record label) and I usually open everything I get and listen to it right there and then. This song’s been out for two or three days and I still haven’t listened to it. But here it is in this thread, so here goes.. lol brb.

Okay, so my fears have been confirmed. The intro kind of reminds me of the theme music to a really shit ’80s sci-fi movie. then da beat drops and the vocals come in. Honestly, I can’t even say anything else. Just holla at me when y’all write a different vocal melody for one of your songs. As for the rest of the song, it’s a musical yawn and it’s lazy. Can we please bring back The Presets and the Pnau’s (there is so a new album coming) of the world? 2

Average Score: 2.75

Tkay Maidza
Ghost

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tkaymaidza/ghost[/soundcloud]

Zanda: Tkay Maidza has played pretty much every festival in Australia this year, but that obviously hasn’t kept her out of the studio completely. This might be her best track to date, in no short part due to some incredible guest producers. I can hear quite a strong Baauer influence with the dark vibes and darker beats. Tkay’s rhymes are flawless and rhythmic, and the bass is absolutely banging.
4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: I’ve loved watching Tkay’s trajectory this year. From a massive Splendour In The Grass set to a sold-out national tour she’s just continued to grow her fanbase purely based on the fact she’s got a great stage presence and excellent songs to boot. Ghost is her first real big name collaboration but she still manages to come out as the main event atop George Maple, What So Not and Baauer. It’s one of the darkest things she’s ever done and perhaps also the heaviest. It forces her to annunciate more and bring a tougher flow which is great to hear. The hook is so strong and Maple’s coos in the background only add to that. 4

Annie: Tkay is one of my favourite artists of this year, and this could well be my favourite release from her thus far. Everything about this is just flawless, from the obvious Bauuer and What So Not influences, to her flawless vocals- I love this. Just envisioning this live gives me chills. If her next releases follow in this vein, I will be one happy girl. 4.5 Annie’s Pick 

Jack: It’s very well-produced and features a bunch of artists that are easy to love. Tkay has a killer flow, and it really just leaves me wondering how long until she takes over the world and is rapping on tracks with Dr Dre. I’m gonna give this a 5, because each person featured gets a 1 for their part, which is an automatic 4 and its easily the best song of the week. 5 Jack’s Pick 

Average Score: 4.5

TOKiMONSTA
Put It Down (Feat. Anderson .Paak and KRNE)

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tokimonsta/put-it-down-feat-anderson-paak[/soundcloud]

Zanda: A well-produced track here, in that the production is seamless and smooth. However, that chord progression is interesting for about the first thirty seconds and after that it’s just annoying and repetitive. I definitely expected more from the drop as well. The rapping is monotonous and again, repetitive. The piano at the back-end redeems it somewhat but overall I’m not a huge fan. 2.5

Sam: TOKiMONSTA is probably one of my favourite producers of the last few years and Paak is a voice I’ve been raving about for the better part of this year so I’m suitably hyped to see them teaming up again. Paak’s vocal on this is perfect and that’s aided by TOKi and KRNE’s well-crafted chords but it’s the drop that I think steals the show on this. I love the melody injected into those really dense horn sounds. But then there are also the horns under Paak’s voice in the verse sounding excellent so maybe I’m going to retract my initial statement. Basically, I haven’t decided what I like most about it because I think the whole thing is next level. It’s one of the most accessible things TOKi has put out and I hope she gets her dues for it. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Jack: The drop really disappoints me and kind of makes me hate the song, I don’t know why songs with a bunch of vocalists need to be turned into some trap anthem. Other than that, this beat is pretty sick, and it is very nicely produced. Pakk kills it and I do agree with Sam, it’s the most wholesome and accessible thing TOKiMONSTA has done. I think it’s safe to say we will be hearing this song well into 2016. 3.5

Average Score: 3.5

Childish Gambino, Vince Staples
Waiting For My Moment

Zanda: An interesting use of horns and strings here, giving the whole thing a kind of orchestral feel to it. The sections with raps and vocals definitely provide more interest, and unfortunately for me there is just too much build up with these orchestral periods lasting minutes at a time. It’s also quite random in its structure, and although various elements fit together I feel like it’s a track that doesn’t know quite what it wants to be. 3

Sam: On paper, this sounds really good. Jhene Aiko, Vince Staples and Childish Gambino is a winning trio but it sounds lame and limp to be honest. “Fighting hard and stronger,” over horns and a choir is really predictable for a boxing movie. It sounds like it’s something Muse have had a hand in which is never a good thing if you’re not looking for something to soundtrack Cathy Freeman lighting the 2000 Olympic flame. Structurally the song is a dog’s breakfast too. Really disappointing. 2

Annie: I’m really confused about my feelings towards this song. Structurally, it’s quite random- I found myself loving some parts, and then feeling bewildered at it’s quick change into something else entirely. It’s orchestral feel (at some points) was a nice touch, but it doesn’t quite fit. It kind of just sounds like a mess, but I guess I didn’t mind it? 2

Jack: I feel like I’ve just watched The Lord Of The Rings simultaneously with The Sound Of Music whilst also watching 50 Cent’s Candy Shop intro on repeat, which leads to a Diamonds Are Forever-esque segue which leads to chants from Blood Diamond. Um yeah, I don’t know what this is. I kinda of like it in some parts. It’s clearly a hybrid score to the movie Creed (which is meant to be good). Hey, Gambino: if you wanna know how to rap in a movie watch Django Unchained. Now that’s a rap score. 1.5

Average Score: 2.125

KLOE
Touch

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kloemusic/touch-1[/soundcloud]

Zanda: Very brooding and mysterious, and I’m loving the delay effect on the percussion. KLOE spends a lot of time on this track playing around with texture and melodic space, with various aspects EQ’d very deliberately in ways that make you listen really hard for the effect. It’s captivating, the vocals are gorgeous, and theres a lot in the accompanying layer to sink your teeth into. 4

Annie: This is one of those songs that grow on you as they progress, leaving you obsessed. KLOE’s vocals are gorgeous, and when layered with the percussion of this track- make for something really impeccable. I’ve never listened to KLOE before and after this song, I’m hooked. There’s so many aspects to this song that make it as delightful as this in, I’d recommend it to anyone. 4.5

Jack: I like this. Her voice reminds me of the ’90s. Gwen Stefani, is that you? 2015’s answer to 2005 Gwen Stefani is a good title. So Kloe, I give you that. Take it or leave it. Although, I’ll make a comparison to Hilary Duff. Don’t care what anyone says, Come Clean is a tune.

Average Score: 4.16 

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