A very self-explanatory list, really.
A very self-explanatory list, really.
Inspired by Scooter like all great songs should be.
Some weeks not all the songs in this list are good but this week they all are. Promise.
"If The OC was still on air today, this would end up on the official soundtrack CD."
Quick! Add to your playlist and tell all your friends.
A taste of what's to come from Liz's world.
There are two reasons you could be reading this. One because you're not at Splendour In The Grass and the internet is the only interesting thing you've got going for you this weekend (sorry, love you all, but how 'bout dat FOMO?). The second reason is you've somehow found internet at Splendour In The Grass and you're so addicted to tunes that the live music is just not enough, you need more new music. We get it. Don't fret, here's more music for you to devour.
Mountain At My Gate
UK outfit Foals premiered their new single, Mountain At My Gates on Annie Mac's BBC Radio 1 this week. This is the second single Foals have released from their forthcoming album, What Went Down, after releasing the highly-anticipated title track and clip last month. Mountain At My Gates is a more uplifting pop affair than its aggressive predecessor, What Went Down, turning into an all-out rock affair once the outro makes it appearance. The 10-track album is said, according to a press release, to be a "primal, intense, sometimes harrowing album of extremes" verging "upon the depths of madness whilst also exhibiting some of the most beautiful pop songs the band have ever written."
When I Rule The World
Mad Decent's pop princess Liz has always been a lover of all things kitsch and nostalgic so it's no wonder that her and SOPHIE ended up with each other eventually, musically that is. When I Rule The World is their sugar-crazed collaboration which combines bubblegum beats with rushing soda-stream synths. Liz sounds completely in her element here, poised to give PC Music's pop princess Hannah Diamond a run for her money.
Moving Mountains (Feat. Brendan Reilly)
Disclosure have been teasing a collaboration with Sam Smith called Omen for weeks now and what do they do? When anticipation is at its peak, they go and drop and completely different song Moving Mountains. Once the feeling of being let down subsides this track will win you over. It features the soulful vocals of US singer Brendan Reilly. It's a classic Disclosure track with deep house vibes complimented by honey-soaked vocals in the same vein as much of their debut Settle. Caracal is the record it's taken from and that is out at the end of September.
Now, that Sam Smith track next?
Listen to Moving Mountains here at the 1 hour and 30 minute mark.
Vic Mensa & Skrillex
A few weeks ago a clip surfaced of Vic Mensa performing this track No Chill, produced by Skrillex. It sounded huge just from the low-quality recording but now the studio version is here and we can confirm it's MASSIVE. Driven by violent horns, it sees Skrillex enter Mensa's world rather than the other way round. It sounds as if Mensa's U Mad was a 10 and on this one he's turned it up a notch to 11. Granted, Skrillex is very hit and miss but this is a bullseye if ever we've heard one (and we've heard a few in our time).
Major Lazer & MØ
Lean On (Frank Ocean Cover)
Just when everybody is on edge about a new Frank Ocean album, which we still don't have, Major Lazer go and put Franky into the headlines for different reasons by covering Lost. It's a great cover, very much in the lane of Lean On, but for goodness sakes Diplo and co do not stop our hearts with any new music from Frank Ocean unless it's actually by Frank Ocean. Ps. MØ is in the country right now! That's fun, isn't it?
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/majorlazer/major-lazer-lost-feat-mo-frank-ocean-cover[/soundcloud]
Look Over Your Shoulder
If you haven't heard of London electro-soul singer Kwabs yet, nows the time to get your head around him. He has this deep, wise voice that simultaneously melts your heart and makes you groove. Look Over Your Shoulder was produced by SOHN and is a dense, affecting track with a melody that really sticks the boot in. This is one of SOHN's greatest works let alone Kwabs who's absolutely nailed the vocal on this.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/sohn/kwabs-look-over-your-shoulder-produced-by-sohn-1[/soundcloud]
Codeine Crazy (Icarus Story)
Vic Mensa is a fire rapper but he's also got a pretty great crooning voice. We heard it on Kanye West's Wolves and it returns here for a cover of Future's Codeine Crazy. This is Mensa in full on Miguel-mode. He howls over a hip-hop-meets-rock beat and just continues to get more and more intense. If he find a way to effortlessly meld this with his rapping on an original he's going to be one of the greatest rapper of our time. Yep, we said it.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/vicsavemoney/codeine-crazy[/soundcloud]
East Londonder Alxndr London is your newest electro-pop addiction. His latest track DATE X is a soulful, tribal-fused track that showcases his voice in all its seducing-glory. With The Weeknd's Can't Feel My Face finding favour with everybody that has at least one ear, it's obvious the world is craving more of this stuff and London could be just the man to deliver it.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/mxiiixm/datex[/soundcloud]
Said That You Wanted
Melbourne's Queen Magic will hit the Red Bull Music Academy Stage at Splendour In The Grass this weekend and he's coming armed with a new track Said That You Wanted. Australia isn't exactly the most obvious breeding ground for late night R&B jams but Said That You Wanted is exactly that. It's a soulful and smooth track reminiscent of How To Dress Well. His falsetto is on-point and that snare is doing things to us.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/queenmagic/said-that-you-wanted[/soundcloud]
It's been a little while since Empress Of returned to the alt-pop scene with Realize You but she's finally given us a new single in the form of Kitty Kat. Kitty Kat goes bigger than Realize You, powering through with sprawling synth-work and a confident vocal. She shifts between being delicately purring and powerfully roaring as she builds each verse to a stunning climax of a chorus.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/empressof/kittykat[/soundcloud]
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 Vic Mensa, Skrillex, CHVRCHES, Lana Del Rey and more.
Vic Mensa And Skrillex
Sam: There’s definitely more Mensa in this one than Skrillex which is good to hear. With this and U Mad, it’s clear to see that Mensa is forming a good identity built upon big-sounding horns and dark beats. He’s really channeling post-Yeezus vibes and it’s working for him. By getting Skrillex on board though he’s now in an awkward position where the track's not commercial enough for FM radio and Skrill will probably deter underground fans. It’s not easy this music stuff, I tell ya. 3.5
Cosmo’s Midnight (Feat. KUCKA)
Walk With Me
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/cosmosmidnight/cosmos-midnight-walk-with-me-feat-kucka[/soundcloud]
Annie: Everything ties together so beautifully here. The keyboards, uplifting synth and bright keyboard melody sound perfect in conjunction with KUCKAs smooth vocals. There’s an AlunaGeorge-esque kind of vibe here, so it came as no surprise to me that they have collaborated before. The song in essence is incredibly sweet, in a substantial kind of way. Cosmo’s Midnight are definitely an act to look out for in the future. 4
Sam: Most people who take an interest in Australian dance music will be very well-acquainted with Cosmo’s Midnight but they’re still yet to reach the status of, say, Golden Features. That’s because they haven’t had their big-break song yet. Until now. Walk With Me is just so effortless in the way KUCKA delivers the melody and the instrumental plods along. It’s breezy and yet it leaves such a lasting impression on you. Basically, a match made in heaven. 4
Leave A Trace
Annie: I can’t get into CHVRCHES, despite the mass amounts of hype. It’s not that I find them hard to listen to in any way; their songs just never leave any impression on me, negative or positive. This song is mildly enjoyable, it gives me a slight understanding as to why other people sing their praises so highly at least. But as a whole, I probably won’t listen again. 2.5
Sam: Lauren Mayberry is the queen of icy lyrics. “Anything you ever did was strictly by design,” she sings with the sweetest, most delectable tone making you crumble inside but also develop a stern snarl. CHVRCHES are great at juxtaposing the lyrics and the instrumental. They haven’t really changed anything much from their debut but that’s completely okay because that record was basically flawless. This one kicks off round two in stunning form with what is probably their strongest single to date. Also, will that Irish accent ever grow tiring? I think not. 4.5 Sam's Pick
Lana Del Rey
Annie: With Lana’s last release, she was criticised endlessly for her reinvention from New York singer Lizzie Grant to the curated, femme fatale Lana Del Rey. She has been accused by many of inauthenticity, with the kind of vigour that one would expect an exposed cam artist to endure. At this point, however, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Lana is clearly great at what she does, and Honeymoon is a perfect example of this. Soulful doesn’t feel potent enough a word to describe her vocals in this track. Honeymoon sounds like it was ripped directly from an old-time cinema soundtrack, it is truly something lovely. 3.5 Annie's Pick
Sam: Just as it was almost getting tiring to defend LDR, everyone changed their tune when Ultraviolence turned out to be pretty damn good. The great thing is, going into album number three, she really shouldn’t have any concerns. And it shows. Dropping a sparse ballad like this as the first taste is a bold move and also says that LDR doesn’t really give two shits if you like it or not. On Honeymoon she curls her smokey vocals around an instrumental inspired by Hollywood grandeur. It’s elegant, decadent but also a little dark and hollow. It’s probably not the most enthralling thing she’s done, but her vocal is flawless. 3.5
When I Rule The World
Annie: ‘If Aqua was formed in 2015’, is an accurate way to describe this song. The track, which you may recognise from the new Samsung Galaxy commercial, is a fun homage to early 2000’s pop. It’s quality pop music, with the vocals channeling Britney Spears in a way that isn’t grating. It’s wholly enjoyable, but admittedly the track is probably best suited for your guilty pleasures playlist. 3
Sam: Apart from that Madonna track, Sophie has been pretty quiet on the release front. Thank goodness he’s back and he’s chosen the perfect partner in crime. Liz is a nostalgia-sucking, millennium-influenced popstar who has always suited the PC Music aesthetic. This is her first foray into this world and it’s without a doubt her most successful output to date. When I Rule The World pairs together a bubblegum-popping verse with a sickly sweet chorus that’s successful in being powerfully addictive. Sophie is yet to really have a commercial hit given that Bitch, I’m Madonna sunk but this really has a chance if anyone’s brave enough to start spinning it for the masses. 4
Twist My Fingaz
Annie: I’m definitely way, way out of my element with this song, but it reminds me of ‘My Neck, My Back’ by Khia, which I like, although I’m not sure whether that’s entirely a good thing…
There’s something that pushed me to replay it three times however, so I suppose this track may be just as ‘fYAAA’ as the Youtube comments suggest. 2
Sam: One really good thing that Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly left behind is the re-introduction of organic instrumentation in commercial hip-hop. YG is definitely sitting in that lane rapping over a beat that sounds influenced by Thundercat. The beat is the best part about it, funky and personality-filled, but YG doesn’t really bring anything memorable to it unfortunately. The thing that separates it from anything on To Pimp A Butterfly is that it’s pleasant. Nothing on Lamar’s record was pleasant - it all stood in your face and demanded attention. “Do your dance YG,” doesn’t really do that. 3
Commercial radio has always been whinged about. In fact, I’m yet to hear anyone who raves about Commercial radio. Despite the emergence of spotify, iPod inputs in cars and digital music in general, what radio plays continues to translate to sales. And while sales nowadays also put pressure on radio to play high-selling tracks, if radio takes a chance on something, it usually means the public does also.
This week the radio airplay charts are a grim sight. The only Australian act that features is Justice Crew and they’re followed by international artists Nico & Vinz, Mr. Probz (Yeah, us either) and The Madden Brothers. The number one song, Nico & Vinz’s Am I Wrong was spun 898 times just this week. Compare those artists to any of the Best of 2014 lists doing the rounds and you’re likely to find no similarities.
It’s an age old question but why does radio seem so mundane? It comes down to the fact that it doesn’t like to take risks. Trend-wise it follows American radio playlists and, to some extent, British radio, meaning that it rarely gets to dictate what should be played in the way a station like the UK’s BBC Radio 1 can.
I spoke to the Music Editor at News Limited, Kathy McCabe last year who said, “Commercial radio in Australia is pretty much programmed mainly by what’s happening in America. A few British artists sneak through but it still tends to take its cue from whatever Ryan Seacrest is doing.” This hits the nail on the head. Australian radio is suffering from a lack of innovation as it is so far down the cultural food chain.
This may also be the reason that radio shies away from home-grown talent. 12 of the top 40 artists played on radio this week are Australian. While that may seem positive, this includes Iggy Azalea, Sia and Five Seconds of Summer who spend more time away from the country than in it at present. It’s also interesting to note, that all of them bar one (Sheppard) are signed to a major label.
McCabe told me “We still seem to have this bizarre cultural cringe in terms of the support of Australian music that should be far more fundamental particularly on the airwaves.” The cultural cringe is often what prevents Australian artists from reaching commercial radio. Iggy Azelea found it onto Australia radio but not until she was adopted in America with a record that has no Australian fingerprints on it, really.
It’s worthwhile to look at the fact that on the rare occasion a track that sounds less commercial crosses over it ends up doing pretty well. There’s a little song called Somebody That I Used To Know that shot Australian, Wally de Backer to the top of the charts in this country and then all around the world.
In 2007, Gotye won Best Male Artist at the ARIA Awards to a collective “who?” At the time his album had failed to make the top 20, while none of his singles had charted. Heart's A Mess was the album's first single, a song that has now featured on the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
Somebody I Used To Know wasn’t a record made for commercial radio but was one that was swiftly adopted when its video went viral. Without that video, one could speculate that the record never would’ve made it to commercial radio.
A few more examples of songs that have crossed over into the mainstream include Flume’s Holdin’ On, The Black Keys’ Lonely Boy and Lana Del Rey’s Video Games. The three of them sounded completely foreign on commercial radio but with each play a revolution was started. Flume is now the most sought-after electronic artist in the country, the Black Keys have been upgraded to an arena-band and Lana Del Rey has just debuted atop the ARIA charts with her sophomore record, Ultraviolence.
Turns out being different ain’t such a bad thing.
It’s easy to whinge but hard to come up with any solutions to commercial radio’s problems. So, below are a few artists that would find a comfy home on commercial radio while keeping their innovative edge, independent status and creative control.
22 year-old Megan McInerney has only released three tracks but already she’s carving a name for herself on Triple J, having already taken on the infamous Like A Version. Her tracks have a straight-forward simplicity to them with optimistic pop-hooks that would be delectable to commercial radio. If radio were to take a chance on a young Australian artists, my money would be on Mac.
An alternative to: Adele, Sara Bareilles
Most radio-ready track: Roll Up Your Sleeves
Why she’s not on radio: She’s a self-made artist who is neither flashy nor self-gratuitous. Had she been a winner of The Voice, her tracks would be eaten up by radio.
Let it be known that I have nothing against Lorde, but she didn’t exactly make it to the top from nowhere. At 13, she was signed to Universal Music Group which certainly helps with radio airplay. Segue from that to 18 year-old Kiwi artist, Thomston, who’s just released his debut EP Argonaut. His dark, pop tunes could be the perfect antidote to some of the over-thought music coming from male songwriters at the moment. It’s got the sort of electronic undertones that radio is devouring right now.
An alternative to: Lorde, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith
Most radio-ready track: Anaesthetic
Why he’s not on radio: Being a young, unsigned artists from New Zealand doesn’t really bode well for you on radio here.
Girl bands have had a resurgence of late but if you look at the radio charts you wouldn’t know. There isn’t one to be seen in the top 40. M.O. are three girls from London making ‘90s throwback R&B. It’s full of great pop hook, bouncin’ beats and perfect harmonies. Think TLC with a hint of Destiny’s Child.
An alternative to: Little Mix, Neon Jungle
Most radio-ready track: Dance On My Own
Why they’re not on radio: It’s beyond me. The ball is in Britain’s court. Once they catch on, Australia will follow.
This Nashville trio is slightly too enigmatic at this point to make it in the mainstream, but their songs suggest otherwise. With four tracks to their name so far, they’re showing a knack for velvety, synth-pop. It’s melodic enough to stick to radio and also has enough street cred to see it on Triple J’s playlists as well.
An alternative to: Nico & Vinz, Mr. Probz
Most radio-ready track: ILYSB
Why they’re not on radio: They’re far too mysterious right now. Radio doesn’t like that. It wants somebody who’s going to say “This is LANY and you’re listening to the hottest radio station on the planet”.
Liz is the First Lady of Diplo’s label Mad Decent and she’s producing damn fine, millennium RnB. She evokes nostalgia from the golden days of pop/RnB when Britney was queen and Xtina was the dirrrrtiest gal around. Touches of Ryan Hemsworth-esque electronica ensure that Liz sounds contemporary while having a throwback sound. It’s as if she was the sole survivor of the dreaded millennium bug.
An alternative to: Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj
Most radio-ready track: All Them Boys
Why she’s not on radio: She’s channeling an RnB sound that hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet. While the RnB revolution has flooded online blogs, Ariana Grande is perhaps the first artist to bring it to radio. Hold tight Liz-lovers.
Here's the full list of what we would play if we got to take over the radio for a day: