“It’s like starting the night on vodka Red Bulls and then moving to half strength beer – anti-climatic.”
“It’s like starting the night on vodka Red Bulls and then moving to half strength beer – anti-climatic.”
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 Sia, Santigold, SOPHIE, Stormzy, Aura and Mallrat.
One Million Bullets
Zanda: Most of the stuff I’ve heard from Sia in the past has really featured the upper range of her vocals. This one shows how unbelievable diverse her entire range is, by showing off how solid and soulful her lower range is as well. I don’t love everything about this song, but there is plenty to like. Although the production isn’t anything special, the effects used on her vocals create plenty of interest and engagement for listeners. 3.5
Sam: This is definitely the best thing that I’ve heard from This Is Acting so far mostly because it doesn’t have a forcibly big chorus. It’s sparse and gently produced allowing plenty of room to hear Sia’s textured voice. Remember when she wasn’t a big note singer and instead relied on that tone? One Million Bullets kind of brings back that Sia and that can only be a good thing. 3
Bianca: The way Sia’s voice just hangs in the balance on some of those notes is really breathtaking. After the ear-assault that was Alive, it’s really nice to hear Sia bring her powerful voice to such a delicate level. The chorus doesn’t do much for me, providing much of the same old Sia recipe but the verses definitely make up for it. 3.5
Who Be Lovin’ Me (Feat. ILoveMakonnen)
Zanda: ILoveMakonnen’s rapping style almost sounds lazy but is so damn smooth. The thing that really annoys me though is his weirdly un-melodic singing. When Santigold goes to sing the same chorus line it’s much more satisfying on the ear, and actually sounds like she’s hitting notes, which he doesn’t appear to be doing. I understand that particular line of melody is quite dissonant, but it just sounds like he’s not even trying to sing in tune. Its unfortunate because I really like the production, that jingling percussion is really cool. 3
Sam: Ok time for everybody to jump back on the Santigold train. I feel like for some reason her last album turned people off a bit but this track proves that she’s one of the most innovative artists out there. Some people will hate this and that’s the mark of any really great, different song. I happen to love it because I think it sounds drunk and woozy in the best way possible. Santi and Makonnen are the perfect combination because they both have an eccentric tone to their vocals but together it really melds. I also like how Santi gives the first half of the song to Makonnen only to swan in and hit us with a knockout verse. 4
Bianca: I love this. Singing out of tune hasn’t sounded this good since my shower this morning. 4 Bianca’s Pick
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/auramusicaus/new-thing[/soundcloud]
Zanda: The mixing by Aura here is so good it gives me goosebumps. I’m not normally a huge fan of massively manipulated vocals either, but here they form a crucial layer of sound under Aura’s primary lyrics as well as filling in spaces in the texture. It’s a super cool exploration of how echo and other techniques can really change a melodic space with minimal actual change to any instrumentation. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick
Sam: There are so many people making dark electro-pop in Australia right now but this song proves that Aura is one of the most fascinating. I have to agree with Zanda – the mixing on this track is phenomenal. I love how her voice sits right at the front of the track. It really smacks you right in the face particularly when it first comes in. I’m getting very bored of hearing nice singers over electronic beats but this pushes that one step further and gains my attention. Instrumentally and vocally she lays it all on the line. It’s a risky, daring debut and she even says, “I fucking love it.” Well, I happen to also fucking love this. 4.5
Bianca: The vocals meld beautifully into the instrumental. Her voice doesn’t just sit on top, instead it’s weaved within the complexities of the electronic melody. The beat kicks in just at the right moment, giving it the oomph it needs (and deserves). 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/msmsmsm/sophie-vyzee[/soundcloud]
Zanda: It’s a poppy mix of synths, piercing sound effects and brassy fart noises. But it’s done so fantastically. The choral section towards the back end is so funky as well. I don’t even know what else to say. So good. 4
Sam: Vyzee feels like the ADD sister of Lemonade. Once again the lyrics are centred around fizzy drinks and the instrumental emulates that with perky, bubbling beats. This could be the most pop-infused single SOPHIE has done since Bipp and as annoying as some people will find it, it’s actually really hard to hate. I love the melody change midway through the song – that’s the sort of thing that’ll keep me coming back for repeat listens. 4
Bianca: My internet completely spazzed out right when I clicked play and I was sitting there for a good minute, thinking the glitchy repeating sound was the start of the song. Isn’t it funny that a sound like that could legitimately be confused for a song these days? After I figured out my mistake and gave my computer a quick wifi-off/wifi-on, I was pleasantly surprised to hear something that sounds like the love-child of Lemonade and Bipp. There’s just enough squeaks and squelches to make it a trademark SOPHIE song with a poppy chorus to spice things up a bit. I would’ve liked to hear a bit more of a build-up like at 1:08 but maybe I’m being too greedy. 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/stormzy1/stormzy-standard[/soundcloud]
Zanda: Stormzy is one of the kings of grime, but this song is surprisingly not all that grimey. Standard is a showcase of Stormzy spitting straight fire, and it’s all about those words. The production is nothing special, but that’s not the point. This is all about his lyrics, which by the way are incredible, and the incredible way that he forms lines and raps is something to behold. 4
Sam: Ooooooh, this could be the sequel to Shutdown. The repetition of “standard” has the potential to really make it a classic because as Shutdown proved, people go crazy for that sort of stuff. There are a few garage influences here but for the most part I’m hearing production straight out of A$AP Rocky’s latest record. There’s definitely a US influence here which could play really well in Stormzy’s flavour in terms of crossing into that market – not that he’s calculated at all. Lyrically, it’s another phenomenal energetic and aggressive performance. He’s not the brightest new grime star right now, he’s the best new rapper right now. Period. 4.5 Sam’s Pick
Bianca: Stormzy’s tracks are built to be enjoyed live. I’m finding it impossible to sit here in my computer chair and listen to Standard in my tinny iPhone headphones without jumping up with my hands in the air. Is it inappropriate to initiate a death circle at work? 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/lilmallrat/sunglasses-prod-tigerilla[/soundcloud]
Zanda: A cool tune, that chorus line is pretty damn catchy. Loving the summery, shimmery production as well, but it kind of drags on a little for me. The most interesting part is that bridge line that plays around with the vocals but it’s far too short to be a feature of the track. 2.5
Sam: I lost it for Mallrat’s last song Suicide Blonde and I’m back on board for this one too. I can’t believe she’s so young and yet she’s managed to find a really unique niche that has the potential to break outside of Australia in a heartbeat. Even though she’s beyond her years in terms of talent, Sunglasses sounds young and cool. She sounds bored in the same way that 16 year-old you got bored of your neighbourhood friends. Still, she’s managed to turn that into something really interesting kind of like rap/electronic music’s answer to Courtney Barnett. 4
Bianca: I don’t understand how someone can be so cool at such a young age. If I was given the opportunity to create my own music at 16 I think I would have sung/rapped badly about subject matters such as Sass & Bide jeans or my first Smirnoff Black. My uncool youth aside, Mallrat really pulls off this track purely with her attitude and rhythm. The production is simple but I don’t think it needs to be too over-complicated in this circumstance. Perhaps a bit more of what we hear in the verses and a bit less repetition would have really made Sunglasses shine. 3
Now time for your vote:
ILoveMakonnen’s second official EP establishes him as a weird, off-kilter but consistent artist poised to break from Drake’s shadow.
The best or worst songs of the week depending on your angle – either way, they’re worth a play.
Here at the interns we give our ears and proper workout so we thought we would give our eyes a chance to prove their worth. Trash or treasure gives us a chance to look over the week past’s most eyeball worthy looks and decide if we’re going to copy them or appreciate them from afar.
Beyoncé has bought out a line of temporary tattoos and has announced this with a smouldering black and white photo series featured in CR Fashion Book. Because if you want to make your product launch cool, who else to associate yourself with but Carine Roitfeld. The new festival accessory. Still… Chanel did it first.
You’re not my favourite person right now Frank. He was looking very unimpressed in New York last week, probably because he’s sick of being heckled. I get it, it’s annoying but god dammit Frank, hurry up, just HURRY UP! Ooo is that an Acne bag I see.
Well isn’t this a nice change from those Borat mankini things Miley frequently seems to wear. She should definitely channel this Edie/Twiggy look more often. Whilst the dress screams disco chic, her hair and make-up are the flawless feature of this cover. One of her best looks to date.
Vic Mensa & ASAP Rocky
Lollapalooza attendees were prettyyyyy excited to see these two together on stage. Chilling backstage at the festival posing with some major attitude, this duo has legit street cred in the fashion world (Vic Mensa has his own shoe deal with Puma and well A$AP is the number one pretty boy).
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Dear Lord. She looks like she could easily fit into the Capulet party scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, which has pretty much been my costume goals ever since I saw that movie 17 years ago . So in my eyes, she’s winning. The native was attending the Barbados Crop Over Festival which held annually to celebrate the end of the sugarcane harvest. She wearing a custom made Kadooment Day ZuluIntl Mockingjay costume.
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“I like to wake up with none of my clothes or phones by me and just not know what happened and try to spend the next day figuring it out.” But by the look of his colour coordinated outfit, I still think he has his shit together.
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Music is a huge part of the brand Burberry. If you didn’t know this, just have a look at one of their advertisements and fashion shows frequently featuring new musicians. More so they have dedicated a component of their website to showcasing them. In 2010, Christopher Bailey (Creative Director) established Burberry Acoustic to use the brand as a platform to expose local music talent.
17 year old indie folk singer songwriter Rachel Clark from Cambridge, who plays the guitar, cello and piano was selected for the latest shoot. Judging by her online following she is still very unknown. For now.
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Stealth. The new face of Balenciaga has definitely upped his fashion game since he emerged onto the scene.
An icon photo series shot by icons themselves. Carine Roitfeld and Jean Paul Goude have collaborated for Septembers issue of Harpers Bazaar and Willow Smith was chosen to represent one of Carine’s favourite figures, Hindu goddess Kali of power/empowerment.
Woah… Drop it like it’s hot Lenny. The trending story last week: Lenny’s wardrobe malfunction. This guy really does stay true to his style, accessories are his thing…. His necklace. I was talking about his necklace.
Australia’s boutique touring festival Listen Out is set to return in 2015 after two massive years. In 2013, its inaugural event was headlined by Disclosure and last year they brought Flume back home for his only shows in Australia in 2014. The lineup is set to drop Tuesday 16 June from midday and with no leaks so far it’s going to be a (hopefully) great surprise. Here’s a few acts that we reckon might be heading our way for the festival.
This British duo headlined the festival’s first ever event in 2013 and since then they have been back twice more. Disclosure obviously love Australia and with a new record on the way it seems only natural that they would return to their old stomping grounds. Unfortunately the festival clashes with Austin City Limits at the beginning of October, meaning they would have to do some really tricky manoeuvring in order to play both. But technically they could play the final day of Listen Out in Brisbane and be in the US for the final day of ACL in the nick of time.
HudMo was here at the beginning of the year but way back then we had no idea he was about to drop a full-length album. That record, Lanterns, came out at the end of last week and is just screaming to be played to a festival audience. With an emphasis on interesting but accessible dance music Listen Out seems like the perfect setting for Mohawke to unleash his euphoric, pulsating music. His schedule says yes and so do we, so let’s make it happen. He’s also well acquainted with the festival as he’s played before with Lunice as TNGHT.
EDIT: Well that was short-lived. He’s just confirmed he’s playing Laneway.
Jamie xx was also here at the start of the year for Falls Festival but at that stage, he hadn’t released his brilliant debut album In Colour and Australia deserves the chance to celebrate that release with him. He has a suspicious Listen Out-sized gap between his European and US tour which would give him plenty of time to play a few shows and enjoy the sights for a week or two. The only issue is if he is up for another Australian visit so soon after his last. But, then again, he played Laneway in 2014 and came back at the end of that year.
They’re a little more established than the usual acts that Listen Out books but they fit the genre-mould perfectly. Hot Chip have just released their latest LP Why Make Sense? and are begging for an Australian festival to show it off at. There is a gap in their schedule that says they would be able to come down-under but maybe it’s just the time that most artists take a mini-break. Who knows?
Australia has already had the chance to sing-put ILoveMakonnen‘s mega-hit Tuesday with Drake when he toured with Future Music but we need the chance to tip our hats to the original artist. This US newcomer has been treading a perfect line between straight-up hip-hop and electronic styles so he’d be a perfect fit for Listen Out. The only problem is whether or not there is enough demand for him or not. There’s also no Listen Out events scheduled for a Tuesday so that might pose a problem.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth tour the country. Since he was here last, he’s released his sophomore album Alone For The First Time and churned out gold with his Soundcloud label Secret Sounds. He’s a sure-fire winner for the festival and one that’s very well acquainted with the Australian dance-music fan. His schedule shows he’s got nothing better to do so why not come to us?
This enigmatic British producer was in the country in December last year for a few shows but a major touring festival would be the best place to introduce his brand of saccharine electronica to a wider-audience. Booking SOPHIE would be a really interesting choice for Listen Out and one that shows that they’re willing to push the boundaries a little. SOPHIE is booked to play in France on the first date of Listen Out but surely we could come to some kind of agreement?
Like Chet Faker was when Listen Out booked him last year, George Maple is Future Classic’s big push at the moment. She’s proved herself with a run of stellar dates around the country earlier this year and has more than enough material now to entertain with a classy afternoon set. Australia is in need of a pop queen with a foot in the dance world and Maple is ready to fill that slot. She’s a no brainer if Listen Out are looking for the best Australian talent.
Hermitude look set to be the Aussies that turn up on every festival bill this year. There’s a reason for that too. They are a sure-fire winner when it comes to pleasing crowds and with a new album just released, they’ve got plenty of new material to keep things exciting. They fit the aesthetic of Listen Out to a tee and would easily pack out the mainstage, book-ended by international acts.
If Listen Out are really looking to please us, they will book Timbaland’s latest protégé Tink. Her single Ratchet Commandments has been doing the rounds at triple j and would surely gain more momentum if she had an Australian tour on the horizon. If her Fader Fort set at SXSW showed anything it’s that she’s a fierce, relentless performer and she’d bring it to the stage down-under. Her schedule looks to be pretty free – it just depends if she’s too busy wrapping up that debut album of hers.
Australia fell in love with these Brits when they released their debut album Home in 2013. Rudimental are going to drop their sophomore LP We The Generation in September and Listen Out would be the perfect place to unleash it upon an Australian audience. As I write this they’re tearing up the Bonnaroo stage. There’s no doubt that they know how to work a festival stage and they may even make an appropriate Listen Out headliner.
Only kidding. Mardi Gras 2016 would’ve snapped him up long ago.
…And we’re back into it. 2015 is well and truly here and the new music is rushing once again. It seems, however, that the only musicians not taking an extended break is rappers because they are unleashing music like nothing else. Joey Bada$$ has an album dropping, so does Action Bronson and ILOVEMAKKONEN seems to release new music every 23 minutes. Here are 10 songs you must pass by your ears this week.
Future Brown- Room 302 (Feat. Tink)
Future Brown is an electronica supergroup of sorts and they seemed to have mustered up a nice musical friendship with Tink. She featured on their debut, Wanna Party, and now returns for Room 302, the opening track off their forthcoming record which is out February 23. Room 302, is an after-dark banger that does for Tink what Shlohmo did for Jeremih.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/future-brown/room-302-feat-tink[/soundcloud]
ILoveMakonnen- Super Clean
Super clean probably best describes the style of production on the latest track by iLoveMakonnen. It’s the slickest thing he’s done yet, characterised by an aqua-inspired synth. It actually sounds like the type of thing you would hear on Tinashe’s debut album, which incase you haven’t heard it, is a very good thing. As for iLoveMakonnen he just does his thing. He sounds a little drunk and maybe a little high. It’s all good.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/noisey/ilovemakonnen-super-clean[/soundcloud]
Sam Smith- Leave Your Lover (Motez Remix)
Just about every producer on earth has picked up on the fact that Sam Smith’s voice is very suited to a dance-beat (thanks Disclosure). Motez has taken on Leave Your Lover off Smith’s criminally ignored debut, In The Lonely Hour. He takes the track straight to the clubs, laying down a deep-house beat and chopping and screwing the vocals for some great climaxes.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/motezmusic/sam-smith-leave-your-lover-motez-remix-sutured[/soundcloud]
Action Bronson- Actin Crazy
Action Bronson cancelled his Australian tour for the 401st time this year to concentrate on finishing his album, Mr. Wonderful. While we’re sure many disgruntled Australian fans would disagree with that title, there’s no denying that Actin Crazy is a very good song indeed. Bronson has borrowed Drake’s producer Noah 40 Shebib for a demure, melodic beat that he runs all over with his characteristically aggressive rapping.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/actionbronson/action-bronson-actin-crazy[/soundcloud]
Years & Years- King
We’re still not quite sure why Desire wasn’t a huge hit, but it took everybody about five years to realise Charli XCX was brilliant, so we’ll have patience. King, however, is an absolute banger and if it’s not picked up by radio everywhere then we’re going to have to have words. The vocals are, as always, silky smooth and the instrumental is inspired by the tropics but also planted firmly on ‘90s dance floors. This is the type of song that everyone will forget and then in 15 years it will be played on a golden oldies radio station and commuters will simultaneously lose it.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/yearsandyears/king[/soundcloud]
Susanne Sundfør- Delirious
The last time we heard Norwegian songstress, Susanne Sundfør, she was trilling all over Royksopp’s Running To The Sea. It was a dark, sordid affair, but her latest solo track Delirious is far more effortlessly enjoyable. It starts with dark, brooding vocals and we instantly fear we’re headed back to the sea, but then this strobing bass sets in and she delivers one hell of a chorus. She says she wanted to write a “cinematic” song and she’s done exactly that. It’s an expansive, lush pop song.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/susannesundfor/delirious[/soundcloud]
Dan Shake- Out Of Sight
The dancefloor has become such an intellectual place with all these producers laying down intricate melodies and vocal melodies that are not so much to be enjoyed as they are considered. It’s refreshing to hear a producer go four-to-the-floor and produce an instant classic which is exactly what Dan Shake has down with Out Of Sight. The track meshes together live instrumentation with electronic elements, taking us back to the days when Detroit Techno rained supreme.
The Fader is hogging it, so you’ll have to go here to listen.
Jimmy Napes- Give It Up
You may not know of Jimmy Napes by name but chances are you’ve heard plenty of the songs that he’s written. He’s served up songs for Disclosure, Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige, to name a few, and now he’s stepping out on his own, prepping an EP for March, The Making Of Me. Give It Up is our first taste of the EP and sees him team up with half of Disclosure (we’re not sure if it’s who Azealia Banks would classify as the ugly one or not). The track is a straightforward, RnB-pop tune and shows that he’s got some serious vocal chops.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/jimmynapes/give-it-up[/soundcloud]
Joey Bada$$- Teach Me (Feat. Kiesza)
We saw Joey Bada$$ at Falls Festival over New Years and we’re pretty sure that he doesn’t need Kiesza to teach him how to dance, but she’s giving it a shot anyway. Teach Me is a bonus track on his forthcoming album, B4.DA.$$ and is pretty different from anything he’s done in the past. It sits firmly in the lane of pop and has the potential to be Joey’s biggest hit to date. Is now a good time to contemplate why Kiesza hasn’t had much success since Hideaway? The girl’s on fire.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kanyetothestream-1/joey-badass-ft-kiesza-teach-me[/soundcloud]
Charli XCX- Doing It (Feat. Rita Ora)
Charli XCX’s, Sucker, came out in December for much of the world, but she’s making the UK sweat it out until February (probably because they were one of the only countries not to send Fancy to number one). As a gift for sticking in there, she’s added Rita Ora to one of the highlights of the album, Doing It. The two singers actually sound quite similar so it’s a really difficult spot the difference between the original and this. But if this is what it takes to get her a number one, then so be it. We couldn’t care less if she threw Celine Dion on the track as long as people got to hear XCX. She’s coming to Australian shores in April, head here for all the details.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/charlixcx/charli-xcx-doingit-ft-rita-ora[/soundcloud]
If you can’t be bothered reading, cut straight to the chase below:
iLoveMakonnen and Drake have dropped the music video for their lilting track, Tuesday. Oscillating between shots of both artists getting real in a club and people performing day-to-day activities while singing along with the song’s hook, it’s an accurate representation of what a regular Tuesday looks like, versus what we’d ideally like to be doing on the dreaded ‘February of the week’.