Anderson .Paak, A$AP Ferg, RÜFÜS and all the action.
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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 ZAYN, Nao, Charli XCX, Baauer, Tokimonsta and All Saints.
Zanda Wilson: If this song was a drink; it would be a non-alcoholic beer, but one that you expected to be alcoholic, and so therefore you are taking on maximum carbs at minimum efficiency. 2 out of 5
Sam Murphy: Im glad that we finally get to hear some of the Malay material from ZAYN and its definitely a different vibe to Pillowtalk. His voice is near-perfect and its great to hear some runs that we werent really able to hear on his 1D tracks but I cant help but think hes got more to give us. Theres gotta be some real gritty stuff on the album and thats what Im hanging out for. Also I cant help but think this is a slowed-down version of 1Ds Gotta Be You. 3.5 out of 5
Annie Cooper: I was excited to hear Zayns solo stuff initially, but between this and Pillowtalk I cant help but feel really underwhelmed. I mean, at least with 1D there was that guilty pleasure aspect, but this track is kind of just nothing. His vocals are good and so is the production, but quite frankly I cant remember what it even sounded like and the track stopped playing about two minutes ago. Hopefully his album will come bearing grittier tracks but Im not getting my hopes up. 2 out of 5
Jack Cain: Fuck off, Zayn. 0 out of 5
Meshell Webb: Nice to see Zayn being all grown up…leaving behind the childish realm of boybands and instead writing songs for the next Twilight film (theyre still making those…right?) 1 out of 5
Average score: 1.7/5
Fool To Love
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/thisnao/nao-fool-to-love-1[/soundcloud]
Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a spiced rum or whisky, think Sailor Jerrys or even Canadian Club Spiced. Smooth as hell but with a slight kick that you probably werent expecting. 4
Sam: Nao has nailed that funky-electronica aesthetic. It feels like shes got the perfect toolkit and shes sticking to it which means all her stuff is starting to sound really consistent. This is another knockout. Its effortless but also sounds really modern and fresh. Her voice is interesting but not in your face and it doesnt seem like shes forcing anything. So natural and so bloody good. 4
Annie: This track grabbed me from the start, and it only got better as it progressed. Something about it is giving me early ’00s vibes, which I cant get enough of- though its still undeniably very modern. 4 Annies Pick
Jack: Another song like this, how fun. This song takes me back to 2013 when the first lot of producers started bringing this sound back. Not modern. Recycled. Kaytranada and Snakehips made this shit when no one cared. Still kinda cool, but yeah, not mind blowing. 3
Meshell: Will add to my cooking dinner playlist [I like to cook to sexy R&B…what of it?] but Im with Jack when it comes to the production, its incredibly recycled. Luckily, its got some solid melodic content going on. 3.5
Average score: 3.7/5
Paradise (Feat. Hannah Diamond)
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/vroomvroomrecordings/paradise-2min-edit-charli-xcx-4416[/soundcloud]
Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a European Radler or American hard lemonade. You might be worried about it being overly sweet, but theres some real substance there. Some may say that theyre not a fan of the style but you might surprise yourself by indulging. 4.5 Zandas Pick
Sam: Im going to be really biased because I love Charli XCX to death and that love only grows stronger with every batshit crazy thing she does. Shes literally just established herself as a mainstream popstar and then she goes and starts her own label and released sugar-high tunes like this just because she wants to make cool shit. Its a shame commercial radio only accepts different shades of vanilla because this could be a runaway hit if given the chance. 4.5 Sam’s Pick
Annie: I dont know why it took me so long to get into Charli XCX, because this track and everything else shes released as of late is killer. Shes come a long way since Boom Clap, and im very thankful for that. If her future releases follow in this direction, shell be making a big fan out of me. 4
Jack: Scooter called, they want their Logical Song back. What is this exactly? Sounds like a bunch of Minions shit into a sampler. 1.5
Meshell: I would rather listen to the Donald Trump says China REMIX than ever have to listen to this all the way through ever again. 0
Average score: 2.9/5
Kung Fu (Feat. Future and Pusha T)
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/baauer/kungfu[/soundcloud]
Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a decent-quality whisky or bourbon. Think perhaps Monkeys Shoulder or Makers Mark. Something that should probably be enjoyed alone but you might find yourself occasionally adding it to a playlist and mixing coke with. 3.5
Sam: The way I know Baauer is doing a great job at the moment is because I literally forgot that Harlem Shake existed until it popped up on my feed the other day. Hes forged ahead with dope tunes and this is another one of them. Getting Future on the track at the peak of his career is a clever move and it also helps that he suits the Baauer sound down to the ground. Still, Future adds the melody here but its Pusha T who raises hell. 3.5
Annie: Getting Future and Pusha T on this track only proves that Baauer is becoming a huge artist in his own right. With that said, I cant really get into this track. Its undeniably catchy and I could definitely hear this being played in clubs, but its just not for me. It feels incomplete, as though it was building to something that just never happened. 2.5
Jack: Big swing, no ding. 2
Meshell: Sorry to say that Im ready to fall asleep right now…but getting Future on your track is a smart move, now every fuckwit in Adidas Superstars and a Thrills t-shirt is going to think youre a trap god. 2
Average score: 2.7/5
Giving Up (Feat. Johnny Pierce)
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tokimonsta/giving-up-feat-jonny-pierce[/soundcloud]
Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a long island iced tea. There are a whole lot of elements here that work together so well, but theres nothing soft about what youre drinking. Each part is just as important as what together they create. 4
Sam: At different points in my life Ive wanted to be The Drums and Tokimonsta so this pairing is obviously right up my alley. The Drums were more of a circa 2010 thing for me but Tokimonsta is very much the sound of the future so shes able to bring Johnny Pierce into 2016. This doesnt hit as hard as the Anderson Paak-featuring Put It Down but it brings a haunting vibe that circles the ears nicely. 3.5
Annie: The pairing of Tokimonsta and Johnny Pierce was a great one, their combined talents make this track one of Tokimonstas best so far. Its pretty easy going, never reaching so far as to go over the top, but it really works. As a SoundCloud user stated, this some magical shit. 3.5
Jack: Hello, it’s me the guy who hates everything. I was wondering if you were all wondering if I’d end up liking something. This is it, this is great, fuck yes. A beat that kicks in and takes you tumbling through your head and into a dancefloor, vocals put in their place nicely and a thought-provoking arrangement. Its 2016, this is living, Barry. 4 Jacks pick
Meshell: A GOOD SONG! A GOOD SONG! Good to know those are still getting made. This is a clever and unexpected pairing. The piano is gorgeous and the choice of instrumentation in the chorus is charming and everything I love about Tokimonsta. 4 Meshells pick
Average score: 3.8/5
Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a smooth, dry white wine. Relatively inoffensive on the palate but not a whole lot else to back up the soft exterior taste. 2.5
Sam: For a group that really only have about three songs that Ive circulated, its interesting that I still really care about All Saints. I think Ill be forever paying them appreciation for adding a minute long monologue to the beginning of a pop song and thats why I was really excited about them coming back. The best thing is, theyre not reuniting to join some 90s tour with 5ive and Bewitched, theyre actually making good tunes that sound like 2016 but also sound like All Saints. The harmonies are on point here, the vibe is Pure Shores and they dont look a day past twenty. 4
Annie: Im pretty sure the last song I heard from All Saints was on a Total Girl CD back when I was 9. I probably appreciated them more back then, this song isnt really doing anything for me. Kudos to them for making a track that sounds more legitimate than a reprise of their old 90s sound, but theres still nothing too memorable here past the point of listening. 2.5
Jack: Ill never ever be listening to this again. 1
Meshell: Im glaring at my computer screen cursing a certain somebody I know would have made sure this got a spot on the First Impressions list because its 2016 and there is no place for All Saints in my musical spectrum. Frankly Im offended by the blatant attempt to rebrand as some sort of Haim rip off…and thats coming from somebody who doesnt even like Haim. 0.5
Average score: 2.1/5
Now time for your vote:
Ngaiire’s return, Tame Impala’s foray into remixing, Charli XCX’s weird return and Baauer’s huge rap track.
The best songs from the week including Katy B’s return, Flume’s second offering and Rihanna’s ‘ANTI’ highlight, ranked.
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]
There’s been so much new music released this week that we considered doing 43 Songs You Need To Hear This Week but we’re time poor and ready for a wine so we didn’t. Sorry. But we did put together 10 and they are a dazzling set of tunes.
Shamir- On The Regular
Shamir has been an interns favourite since he released his Northtown EP earlier this year. Being the clever lads they are, XL Records have snapped him up and launched his campaign with the bombastic, On The Regular. Shamir just oozes sassy charisma and the whole song has the cool persona of something like Azealia Banks, 212. Something tells me Shamir won’t be having any beefs with musicians any time soon, either. This is Shamir on the regular, so you know.
It’s been a good week for this Brisbane teen. First she dropped this stellar new single, Stone, and they she said “oi, listen up” to everybody in the country, performing an unbelievable version of Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head on triple j’s Like A Version with Peking Duk. Her breathy voice is utterly captivating on Stone and the brass stylings that swing in during the chorus give us shivers. And yes, we’re very jealous. She’s 17 for goodness sake.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/joy-aus/stone[/soundcloud]
Calvin Harris- Pray To God (Feat. HAIM)
It’s true, we tease Calvin a bit here on the interns. Oh gosh, how we tease, but give the man credit where it’s due. He’s gone from a dorky producer to arguably the biggest DJ in the world in a relatively short amount of time. His new album Motion sounds like one continuous song but this one with LA girls HAIM is a standout. Harris takes the backseat letting HAIM take most of the glory and they may have just helped us become Harris believers.
Nicki Minaj (Feat. Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown)- Only
Nicki Minaj is absolutely killing it with single covers right now. Anaconda was ridiculous and this one is just as great. Only sees Minaj pack three others into the one song with Drake and Lil Wayne delivering verses and Chris Brown singing the hook. “I never f**ked Drake, I never f**ked Wayne”, she opens with just to clear things up and from there continues to rap like a dark queen. Drake’s verse is great and Wayne’s is average but really it’s just nice to have Nicki down off her Spaceship and rapping like the bad bitch she is.
Jacques Greene- 1 4 Me
Montreal producer Jacques Greene is releasing a new EP this month called After Life, After Party and he’s starting it off with the brilliant 1 4 Me. “1 4 me was trying to challenge myself to keep an arrangement dead simple”, he says of the track and it shows. It feels spacious yet warm and brooding.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/jacquesgreene/14me[/soundcloud]
Ara Koufax- Brenda
The delightful lads of Cut/Copy are releasing a mixtape full of all the wonderful tracks Melbourne has to offer called Oceans Apart. The first track they’ve dropped from it, is by Ara Koufax and it’s just so beautiful it makes us want to cry. It’s a emotion-packed, euphoric song that has these sad undertones that run beneath it and we can’t quite figure out where all these feels are coming from. Maybe it’s the lush, hearty vocal sample or the striking keys that drive the songs second half.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/cuttersrecords/6-ara-koufax-brenda-1[/soundcloud]
We sung the praises of Norwegian producer Drippin’ a few weeks ago and we’re just going to keep on belting because he’s dropped another brilliant track. Waterfall is a dark, mesmerizing cut with gun-shot beats and icy, industrial synths. It sounds like something that Kanye would’ve easily rapped over on Yeezus, and we think he may just have a few rappers coming his way looking for beats. Ka-ching!
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/litcity/drippin-waterfall[/soundcloud]
Bauuer- One Touch (Feat. Alunageorge & Rae Sremmund)
Somehow Baauer has quite cleverly manoeuvred away from the shackles of a viral smash and has been able to go along doing his own thing unnoticed. One Touch is a million miles away from Harlem Shake with Aluna’s slinky vocals and Rae Sremmund aggressive rap sitting more in the category of RnB than electronica.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/baauer/one-touch[/soundcloud]
Thelma Plum- How Much Does Your Love Cost (Dugong Jnr Remix)
Thelma Plum is a fast-rising Australian queen of folk, so it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that she’d release anything club-bound but it worked for Emma Louise with Jungle and it’s definitely working again here. Fellow Aussie producer Dugong Jnr has transformed How Much Does Your Love Cost into a flickering, fluctuating track that actually shows Plum’s potential as an electronic vocalist.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/dugongjr/thelma-plum-how-much-does-your-love-cost-dugong-jr-remix[/soundcloud]
Saint Pepsi x Maxo- Celebrate Me
Saint Pepsi is one of the most unapologetically joyful producers around. Everything he churns out have sharp accents of happiness and smiling vocal samples. Celebrate Me is a bit more down-tempo than we’re used to but it also uses this delectable vocal sample that just fills you up with warm and fuzzies. I don’t even think I want to tell you what happens at the end. Just listen, it’s a beautiful, beautiful moment.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/saintpepsi/saint-pepsi-x-maxo-celebrate-me[/soundcloud]
We heard the first taste of Baauer‘s solo EP, ß, when he released his Rae Sremmurd and Alunageorge collaboration, One Touch, yesterday and now the American producer is streaming his debut in full. While the surprisingly genial first track may have been a sign that the Brooklyn beatmaster may be restraining his trademark heavy bass beats, Floreana, Boog and Swoopin prove that he’s not giving up his steady builds or sirens any time soon. The 5-track EP also features a ‘VIP’ version of One Touch which sees Baauer unleashing his trap-infused beat a bit harder than what was previously heard on the original.
Baauer spoke of the influences his globetrotting had on the EP when he spoke to The FADER:
“A lot of the samples came from my trip with Redbull for the Searching For Sound documentary we did. I went to Japan and the United Arab Emirates and was able to record some incredible stuff. A lot of those samples get chopped, filtered, distorted, and then in one way or another folded into the tracks. There’s also a lot internet samples in there too, like someone’s recording of their cousin singing a song they learned at camp.”
Stream via Spotify below.
ß will be released 4 November on LuckyMe.