fi2ndfeb

First Impressions: Feat. Daniel Johns, Kaytranada, Shlohmo & More

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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. Today we pick apart tracks by Daniel Johns, Kaytranada, Shlohmo + more.

Courtney Barnett- Pedestrian At Best

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

Shlohmo- Buried

[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

Kaytranada- Drive Me Crazy (Feat. Vic Mensa)

[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

TALA and How To Dress Well - The One

[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. Bianca’s Pick

Daniel Johns- Aerial Love

[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.)

Mike Will Made It- Drinks On Us (Feat. The Weeknd, Future, Swae Lee)

[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

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Recycle Culture Wraps Up 2014 With A Retrospective Mixtape

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It's that time of year when everybody is gathering together their life-changing lists of the best songs of 2014. Producer, Recycle Culture, has decided to put together his faves of the year in his MMXIV mixtape which sees him mash-up and remix the likes of How To Dress Well, QT, Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift. It's an extremely entertaining run-through some of the most notable tracks of 2014 and one that would make a good christmas party playlist if your office was more inclined to listen to this instead of the Mariah Carey christmas album. Both are completely ok btw. But, you can name your price with this one, you can't with MC unless you nick it out of your Mum's car.

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