FI_24June

First Impressions: Robyn, Selena Gomez, Thundercat And More

FI_24June

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 Robyn, Selena Gomez, Thundercat and more.

Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique
Love Is Free

Zanda: This is just dripping funkiness. The bass oozes out over a bunch of fun and funky samples and sound effects in a way that will make you want to boogie. Again, another track from Robyn that has a typical rawness about it, not that there’s anything missing from the production. The rhythms, bass and beat are just raw in such an organic way, it feels natural from start to finish. 4

Sam: Well this is one way to make people dance their sweaty arses off. Robyn has always made killer bangers. She had Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do and We Dance To The Beat and this is in the same kind of vein as that. It’s so dirty and commanding yet the production is so pure and clean. Robyn has literally not made one bad thing for a decade and this is no exception. 4.5 Sam's Pick 

Raury
Devil’s Whisper

Zanda: This feels like it should be part of a Hollywood blockbuster in that mandatory scene where they go and do peyote or shrooms in the desert and one of them has a bad trip. My main gripe with this track lies in that it’s more than half over before that dope bassline kicks in. Up until this point there’s nothing that really makes it stand out for me, but in saying that the rap verse in the second half is, as they say; straight fire. 3

Sam: I don’t know if I’m fully on board with what Raury is doing yet. It’s kind of like Mumford & Sons cross Vic Mensa and that’s not really my thing. I do appreciate that he’s a passionate musician and he’s trying to do something different so props for that. In saying that, the latter half of this track is killer. His raps have this really organic darkness to them and he injects so much rhythm into the song in just those final seconds. More of that please. 3

Miguel
face the sun (Feat. Lenny Kravitz)

Zanda: Miguel is about to be a much bigger name in the near future if he keeps writing stuff like this. Everything he does is just the definition of smooth, and this track really compliments his uber-smooth vocals with its up-beat, almost pop/rock style instrumentation. The intensity builds nicely throughout the track, however I get a bit of a murky vibe towards the end where if anything there are a few too many elements crammed on top of each other. 3

Sam: Cliche alert- Miguel could sing the phonebook and I’d be entertained. His voice is just a cut-above the rest and this kind of song allows it to shine unobtrusively. The Lenny Kravitz feature is pretty unnecessary but other than that it’s a blazer. It’s sensual and yet rough and raw. Miguel slowly builds and builds it until its soaring at the end. It’s not as modern or innovative as Kaleidoscope Dream but it’s the mark of an artist who’s discovered his voice's best pockets and is using them. 4

Selena Gomez
Good For You (Feat. A$AP Rocky)

Zanda: Selena Gomez’s voice is clearly heavily edited on this track, but I actually don’t mind it too much. The production is decent without being anything special, and A$AP Rocky is undeniable in his delivery as always. Definitely listenable. 2.5

Sam: Shit. I hadn’t heard this before now and I thought it would be a bit of a laugh to listen to but goddammit, I think I actually really like it. Gomez hasn’t done anything of significance in her career to this point, but this one actually makes a stamp on her artistry. Everything from her slightly twisted accent to her reluctance to explicitly create a climax shows that she’s actually trying to forge a career as an artist who’s capable of making interesting music. I’m so entranced by Gomez’s verses that by the time Rocky comes in, I’m unphased. Look, if liking a Selena Gomez track is the worst thing that happens to me this week it’s going to be an excellent week. 3.5

Japanese Wallpaper
Arrival

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/japanesewallpaper/arrival[/soundcloud]

Zanda: The first thing that comes to mind when listening to this is, ‘holy crap Dustin Tebbutt’s voice is epic on this’. The Aussie producer/singer is really killing it right now, and suits Japanese Wallpaper’s style of delicate melodic production perfectly. This track contains some glassy smooth melodies and the interplay between layers brings joy to my eargasm. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: Japanese Wallpaper is absolutely creaming it at the moment. He’s reached that point where triple j worships the ground he stands on and tickets fly out the door like free candy. I’m not sure this really sets me alight with excitement but it’s definitely a sweet, nuanced listen. I had to go back and listen to where this sits on the EP to really understand it and in that context it shines. As a standalone though it wafts in and wafts out for me barely even leaving dust in its tracks. 3

Thundercat
Them Changes

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/brainfeeder/thundercat-them-changes[/soundcloud]

Zanda: There’s so much to like in this it’s hard to separate some of it. The interplay between synthetic sounds and organic instrumentation gives it a really real and raw feel, and I love the use of both piano and sax sporadically underneath the dominant guitars and bass. The vocals are complimentary to all of the above as well, allowing each aspect of the complex instrumentation to have its own space and shine on its own. 4

Sam: Thundercat is the go-to guy for funk right now. He was a winning inclusion on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and seems to have a new shot of career-momentum. Teaming up with Flying Lotus is a choice-move as the two operate in the same musical spectrum. It shows on Them Changes as it all seems so damn right. There’s so much of this funk stuff floating around at the moment and so much of it is imitation. The effortless vocal and floating bassline on this show that it’s the real deal - no imitation here. 4

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fi_1april

First Impressions: Rihanna, Jamie xx, FKA twigs + 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. This week we pick apart tracks by Rihanna, Jamie xx, FKA twigs + more. 

Rihanna
Bitch Better Have My Money

Meshell: PRAISE ALMIGHTY QUEEN RIH! The bitch is back, and this piece of juicy trap goodness is getting put on REPEAT. After the sickly sweetness of her new animated film Home and the heart on her sleeve of Fourfiveseconds, we can all finally breathe a collective sigh of relief that our blunt-smokin-titty-showin-not-givin-a-f**k-Rihanna is back stronger than ever. 4.5

Sam: Last week I read that Rihanna was making an album that was "timeless" and then we get this. I ain't mad though. RiRi has always used trends to her benefit and this one sees her at her best bat shit craziest. From the first bet she digs in and goes hard. What she's doing is not singing and it's not rapping, it's simply doing Rihanna. God bless her for putting the word bitch back into the charts. 4.5

Zanda: Definitely a dark side to Rihanna that we’ve seen glimpses of before. Grimey synths and bass suit her slightly altered vocals to a tee, and it’s really quite a captivating track in its simplicity. I don’t really think the outro with the male vocals adds a whole lot and I’m not quite sure why it’s there. Other than that, a cool tune. 3

Jamie xx
Loud Places (Feat. Romy)

Meshell: The opening of this song has an effortless grace and sadness that we have come to know and love from Romy and Jamie. The song almost sounds like it was written for The xx, until we reach an unexpected build-up right before the chorus. As the bubble pops I am both joyous and confused. It’s an interesting arrangement in the choruses, Jamie has used an old Idris Muhammad sample that both lifts the song to a nostalgic place and also draws the song away from being a melancholic xx number. It was not what I was expecting and I think that’s why I love it so much. 4

Sam: "I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with," is such a beautiful beginning to a song and it's made even more heartbreaking by Romy's heartbreaking voice. This is the warmest thing we've ever heard from Jamie xx and it's also his most accessible. The gospel-influences in the chorus elevate the song while Romy brings it back down to earth. This rise and fall makes it such a subtle journey of emotions which is something I feel xx hasn't achieved before in his solo career. Stop saying we can pretend this is a new xx track because it's so much more than that. The xx have never been this uplifting. 5 Sam's Pick

Zanda: There is just so much to love about this track, from the haunting lyrics from Romy to the chilling harmonies when the group vocals are introduced. A master of musical texture, Jamie xx again showcases his ability to build a very specific mood in his music, and to then explore the complexities of that mood through subtle variations in timbre and repetition. It’s hauntingly intense and almost could be interpreted as a teaser for his album, which unfortunately isn’t due to be released til June. 5

FKA twigs
Glass & Patron

Meshell: There’s just not much left to say about this new offering from FKA twigs as it’s already flooded every corner of the internet and I’ve already sung its praises in my coverage of the YTMAs. To re-iterate though, this is the song that has given me my FKA twigs appreciation breakthrough as nothing else she has done had really stuck with me. I think I just love the raw energy at the start of the song and the unusual transition into something that’s…kind of sassy. 4

Sam: I've tried to listen to this without watching the visuals because I didn't want to get caught up in the whole image of it. Luckily the song is just as intriguing on its own. The start is mystifying. I really didn't know where she was going with the whole minimalist almost acapella part but I'm completely digging where she went. Speeding it up makes her sound almost sub-human and sounds like it could've been produced by SOPHIE in parts. It's distinctly FKA twigs but at the same time it offers up something different from her LP. It's exciting that she's clearly got plenty of creativity left in the tank. 4.5

Zanda: There’s no denying FKA twigs is an incredible and unique vocal talent, but personally I find her music a little bit hit and miss. There are sections of this track that are super engaging and pleasing aurally, but other parts that I struggle to make sense of musically. A track that isn’t for everyone, but I can at least appreciate that’s her aim, to polarise an audience. I’m not even going to start on the video because I can’t even. 3

MAS YSA
Look Up
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/masysa/look-up[/soundcloud]
Meshell: This song kind of makes me want to tear at my shirt and run screaming through a rainy street in a London. Y’all feel the same…right? In seriousness though this vocal delivery is devastating…it’s beautiful but it’s so damn sad which is in completely juxtaposition with the very preppy drum-beat and washy synths. I like it…I’m just a bit unsure what I like. 3.5

Sam: You've got to listen to this in headphones. It's so beautifully and intricately textured with crisp, glassy beats and popping vocal samples. I think it could've done with a more defined chorus but it's enthralling nonetheless. I just can't get over the production value of this, it's so rich and measured and that really makes the song for me. I find myself listening for nothing else but those little ear prickers. 3.5

Zanda: Gorgeous production by MAS YSA here. He is part of a growing number of artists bridging the gap between indie instrumental and electronic music. The texture builds nicely throughout, but unfortunately there’s nothing here that really makes it stand out musically. Not a huge fan of whatever the effect is that makes the vocals sound increasingly shaky throughout. 3

Brandon Flowers
Can’t Deny My Love

Meshell: Brandon Flowers has so much to live up to every time he releases a track…a lot of his earlier work with The Killers essentially defines my teenage years. So do I think this lives up to the excellence I expect off him? I think it does, it's got a lovely unique melody that jumps around quite a bit, the percussion drives the song and there is fantastic layering, especially in the chorus. It’s not the best I’ve heard from him but there is a subtle excellence in this song. I feel like Brandon Flowers is akin to a great bottle of scotch, he is getting smoother and easier to sip with age. 4.5

Sam: I feel like Brandon Flowers' opinion of what he's bringing to the music world is much larger than what he is. Nonetheless it's a smart move on his behalf getting Ariel Rechstaid on board. It sounds just as good as any of the alt-pop music going around at the moment. It probably won't be remembered by the end of the year but that euphoric chorus is something to behold for the moment. 3

Zanda: An emotional track that showcases Brandon Flowers’ immense vocal talent. The chorus is incredibly catchy and is built up really well through each verse, and I really enjoy the guitar-synth effect that echoes the vocal chorus line. Not hard to see why his popularity is booming with songs like this. 3.5 

Japanese Wallpaper
Forces (Feat. Airling)
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/japanesewallpaper/forces[/soundcloud]
Meshell: When I saw that Airling had paired with the unfairly talented wonder-child Japanese Wallpaper I knew it was going to be epic before I even listened. Then I saw Andrei Eremin mixed and mastered the track because OF COURSE HE DID HE IS A GENIUS. This song is so easy, everything about it just works together perfectly. I’d be really happy to see this partnership do a few more tracks as they’ve really created some magic here. (Side note, wrote the word “magic” as Airling sung it…totally freaking out). 5 Meshell’s Pick

Sam: I've been pretty nonchalant about Japanese Wallpaper's previous offerings but how good is this? Airling's voice is so crisp and pure and this is the perfect atmosphere for her to show off in. The verses are stronger than the choruses melodically but for a song that sticks on the same waveform for the most part it keeps my attention. It's mindblowing to think about how young these two are but that shouldn't matter. This track would be great whatever age they were. 3.5 

Zanda: I was a massive fan of Between Friends, and although this follow-up has taken a while to be released it’s been well worth the wait. Japanese Wallpaper has an almost unbelievable maturity and polish to his production for someone so young. The production itself is deceptively complex (despite sounding quite simple), with various aspects of melody and effects slowly added and removed throughout, to complement Airling’s ethereal vocals. Airling has been killing it recently by herself, and it’s truly a testament to Japanese Wallpaper’s talent to really feature her in a way that shows off such a huge amount of her ability. 5 Zanda’s Pick

If you feel the need to abuse us for our opinions, you can reach some of this week’s writers below:

Content Director: Sam
Contributor: Zanda

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japanese_wallpaper

Japanese Wallpaper Drops Another Chiller: 'Forces'

japanese_wallpaper
After winning Triple J’s Unearthed High competition last year as a year 11 student, Melbourne’s Gab Strum (better known as Japanese Wallpaper) released the incredibly well-produced track Between Friends {Featuring Jessie Davidson}. The track went to number 97 in the Hottest 100, but sadly we’ve been left with little else to tie our yearning eardrums over in the last six months other than a couple of remixes he’s tinkered with.

Enter Strum’s latest contribution, a typically mellow track called Forces, featuring the aurally pleasing voice of Airling. Typically smooth production meshes sparingly used vocal effects with a mature combination of ethereal melodic harmonies, and of course the soothing sound of bells that so drew us to his last single. It’s just incredible to think that the dude is still in year 12.


[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/japanesewallpaper/forces[/soundcloud]

5forunder50

This Week's 5 Gigs Under $50

5forunder50

The music scene in Sydney is bursting with talent, but between the plethora of international acts and growing number of lesser known artists performing each week, it can be tricky to choose where to spend your time and cash. Here at the interns, we make it our mission to fit in as much music into each week as humanly possible. So check the best of what’s on this week so you can get your fix of live music without breaking the bank.

Gang Of Youths

Wednesday 25th March @ FBi Headquarters

goy2

How Much: FREE

Having burst onto triple j unearthed in 2013, Gang Of Youths have fast established themselves as one of Sydney’s premier live acts. The indie rockers will be hitting up FBi’s new headquarters in Alexandria on Wednesday for a free show. Get down from 5:30pm for some infectiously catchy tunes.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/gangofyouths/poison-drum[/soundcloud]

Giorgio Moroder

Thursday 26th March @ The Metro Theatre

Giorgio Moroder - Portrait

How Much: $49.90

Giorgio Moroder has just about done it all in his career as an Acadamy Award-winning composer, DJ and songwriter. Across multiple decades, he is often attributed with bringing electronic music and sampling to the masses, and more recently featured in Daft Punk’s Creators Project in the lead up to the release of their album Random Access Memories. Now is you chance to catch the legend in full flight, at the Metro this Thursday. Tickets from here.

Japanese Wallpaper

Thursday 26th March @ Newtown Hotel

japanesewallpaper
How Much: FREE

17-year old Melbourne producer Japanese Wallpaper won triple J’s Unearthed High competition in 2014, testament to the incredible maturity of his music for someone so young. As part of Spectrum Now, he’ll be playing at the Newtown Hotel on Thursday, supported by up-and-comer Anatole, kicking off at 8pm. As with all Newtown Hotel events, entry is free!

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/japanesewallpaper/between-friends[/soundcloud]

Northeast Party House

Friday 27th March @ Oxford Art Factory

northeast
How Much: $18.70

Northeast Party House exploded onto radio airwaves in 2014 with their hit single Sick Boy gaining some serious airtime on Triple J. Following the subsequent release of their debut album Any Given Weekend and a set considered by many to be one of the highlights of Falls Festival, the boys are now playing their own headline tour. Tickets available here.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/stopstartmusic/05-sick-boy-1[/soundcloud]

Vance Joy

Friday 27th March @ The Enmore Theatre

vance

How Much: $51

On the back of his unbelievably popular single Riptide, Vance Joy has proved over the last year or so that he’s much more than a one-hit-wonder. Having released his debut album Dance Your Life Away in September, he then embarked on a tour of the UK and Europe, and has recently announced a tour of North America later this year. Although this gig is officially sold out, we’ve been informed that additional ticket releases may still be announced via The Enmore Theatre’s Facebook page here.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/vancejoy/03-play-with-fire[/soundcloud]

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Triple J Unearthed High winner Japanese Wallpaper unveils 'Between Friends'

Between Friends (ft. Jesse Davidson)

Last month, 17 year-old Gab Strum better known as Japanese Wallpaper took out Triple J's Unearthed High and he's carrying on with the momentum of that releasing a new tune, Between Friends. The sprawling, starry-eyed track features the vocals of Adelaide singer, Jesse Davidson who's been releasing some stellar tunes of his own recently. Together the pair prove that age is just a number. Between Friends is a mature, well-constructed track that's emotionally connected as well as intricately produced. Just like Breathe In, this one has some serious potential to further catapult Japanese Wallpaper onto people's radar.

Read here why Japanese Wallpaper is one of the next homegrown artists to make it overseas. 

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/japanesewallpaper/between-friends[/soundcloud]

aussieartists2

The next Australian artists to make it overseas

 

aussieartistsYou only have to look at the overseas festival circuit to know that Australia is a musical hotspot. Glastonbury, Coachella, Primavera, Roskilde and more have seen Flume, The Preatures, Jagwar Ma, Courtney Barnett and Anna Lunoe grace the stage to hundreds of thousands of people this year, showing that Australia is no longer the isolated scene that it used to be.

Many of these artists came from humble beginnings. Courtney Barnett started out as a Triple J Unearthed artists and was still working at a pub in Melbourne only a year ago. Anna Lunoe rose up the Australian club scene ranks with party contingent, HOOPS, with Nina Las Vegas and Bad Ezzy. And Flume, do we really need to go there? Within the blink of an eye, he’d gone from shy schoolboy to friend of Skrillex.

It was only two years ago that Gotye stormed the charts with Somebody That I Used To Know and shined a spotlight on Australia. From there, Tame Impala have become NME and Pitchfork favourites, Noel Gallagher has called Jagwar Ma the “future of the galaxy” and, dare I say, 5 Seconds of Summer have had the highest selling debut in the US of any Australian act.

At the end of 2012, NME called the Australian scene, “easily the most exciting in the world”, but two years later are we still? Below are six artists that we believe are the next to be snatched from this barren land and thrown into obscurity overseas.

Tkay Maidza

This 19 year old firecracker needs little introduction. We’ve already lauded her over a number of times on the interns and we’re not about to stop. Following her explosive single, Brontosaurus, she’s captivated festival audiences with her pop-crossover raps which place her somewhere between Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks with more cool and less tantrum tendencies. Her latest track Uh-Huh is an expertly crafted pop tune with a sheen that beats just about everything at commercial radio right now. Unlike most hip-hop coming out of Australia she is accent-neutral and clearly understands the genres that are shining through internationally at the moment.

What they’re saying overseas:  “Well it’s Friday so let’s crown a SONG OF THE WEEK. It’s Tkay Maidza’s ‘U-Huh’” Popjustice

Collarbones

The duo of Marcus Whale and Travis Cook have been chipping away at it for a while but we feel they’re on the edge of their international break. They’ve been championing the RnB revival far before it was in vogue and their last album Die Young, is by any standards, superb. They’re currently gearing up for the release of their next album, Return, and are embracing a more outright melodic pop sound as demonstrated by the first single, Turning. It’s likely to make them more approachable for an international audience clamoring for anything that sounds remotely like the early 2000s. Last year, The Guardian called them one of ‘The best Australian bands you’ve never heard of’.

What they’re saving overseas: “together they make some rather fine electronica-inflected R&B.” The Guardian

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/collarbones/turning[/soundcloud]

TIAAN

Tiaan was born in Australia but she’s currently residing in LA so she’s already halfway there but it looks like this year may be the year she breaks out. If that is the case, we will, of course, hurry her back to the country for a victory run. We don’t know a whole lot about her apart from the fact that she’s just released two slices of effortless RnB in the way of, Clean and Devil’s Touch. The standout is the latter which combines the restraint of Jessie Ware with the sensuality of RnB contemporaries like Tinashe and Kelela. Its chorus slowly creeps up to you and then works away at your ears with a subtle but addictive melody. There’s a lot of people trying to emulate this sound right now and TIAAN nails it.

What they’re saying overseas: “a super-smart, smartly sparse electronic R&B 'jam' that only a colossal idiot could fail to find completely beautiful.” Popjustice

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/tiaan-official/devils-touch[/soundcloud]

D.D. Dumbo

This central Victorian native has already been making some serious headway overseas this year, but his takeover should be even more extensive once he releases some music. His last release was his self-titled debut EP, released in 2013, which was built upon crunching guitar riffs and industrial percussion. The standout of that was, Tropical Oceans which centred around his heavenly vocal riff. Since that release he’s played SXSW, impressing NME and NPR and he’s signed to 4AD Records which is home to artists like Bon Iver and St. Vincent. He’s set to take on Australia’s version of SXSW, BIGSOUND, next month to further spread his influence.

What they’re saying overseas: “Mystery seems to swirl around D.D. Dumbo...it’s hard to nail down his influences.” NPR

George Maple

We’re going out on a limb with this one given that Maple hasn’t released any formal solo material since last year’s seductive, Fixed but that was enough for us to know Maple is something special. She’s currently living over in London with her heart clearly set on overseas success. Many may not know it but she’s already been casting her spell over an Australian audience with her features on tracks by Flume and Goldroom in the past year. She can be distinguished by smokey low-register and the ability to reach giddy heights when she draws her notes out. Just last week she was back in the country touring with Little Dragon as her first official gig since signing with Future Classic. Given Future Classic have had a hand in crafting the careers of Jagwar Ma and Flume, we think she’s in safe hands.

What they’re saying overseas? ““Fixed”, is an earworm that emphasizes Maple's tender, warm register.” Pitchfork

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/george-maple/george-maple-fixed[/soundcloud]

Japanese Wallpaper

At the tender age of 17 Gab Strum, aka. Japanese Wallpaper has already made a few fans. His track, Breathe In, was chosen to feature in Zach Braff’s film Wish I Was Here alongside tracks by Bon Iver and Cat Power and he’s also been chosen as the winner of Triple J’s Unearthed High. His tracks are atmospheric, lush creations that are comfortable by lulling at a low tempo. Breathe In which features Brisbane vocalist, WAFIA, is an inspiring production. It twinkles with bedroom keys in the middle section and floats into dense instrumentation in the latter part. For a young producer, he has an impressive confidence that allows him to play things at his own pace and in the meantime mesmerize thousands. That kind of charm is likeable far beyond just Australia.

What they’re saying overseas? “There’s something oddly warming in his sound which has managed to grab a good number of ears.” Earmilk

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/japanesewallpaper/breathe-in-ft-wafia[/soundcloud]

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