"A messy, mixed bag that's hardly designed to be listened to from start to finish."
Kendrick is king once again but there's plenty more gold.
Last year Meg Mac burst onto the scene after being named triple j’s unearthed artist of the year, later scoring three songs in the triple j Hottest 100. Since then it has been a whirlwind year. Mac has just returned to our shores after spending most of 2015 in America where she has been working on her forthcoming album, all whilst completing a North American tour with D’Angelo and The Vanguard.
Sophie Lowe - a talented singer-songwriter, who actually went to school with Meg Mac, got the ball rolling in what was the first time she had ever played at The Metro Theatre. She was joined up on stage by Miles on drums and Neil on Keys. Those that had turned up early weren’t disappointed - two songs in and Lowe already had those on the dance floor swaying and cheering. She played a short and intimate set where she even managed to fit in a cover of Robyn’s With Every Heartbeat, putting a really energetic spin on the Robyn classic that really got the crowd moving. Her best, however, was left till last. She closed with her most well known song UNDERSTAND which was by far the crowd’s favourite.
Shortly after Lowe had graced us with her stunning vocals the night saw Lilt take the stage for what was their first ever East Coast show. Lilt have recently been supporting Meg Mac on the Perth leg of her tour and you can see why she’s brought them to Sydney. The more The Metro started to fill, the better Lilt got; as they fed off the crowd’s energy. The Indie/Electronic outfit managed to provide the crowd with some new and unreleased music, such as Powerless, which proved to be a hit. The shy lead singer didn’t hold back vocally while her fellow band members on rhythmic bass drums and electronic keys got the crowd moving. The set just kept building and building culminating in the last two songs - Can’t Hear and Don’t Tell Me. The latter particularly brought the house down with a couple linking arms and having a dance in the crowd seemingly the perfect visual depiction of their sets heartwarming allure.
A sold out Metro Theatre waited and cheered with anticipation for Meg Mac to step out on stage and as she did, wearing her classic black fedora, the whole place erupted. Mac had them eating out of the palm of her hand right from the start. The stage was lit with dark and sultry lighting that complimented her vocals. She wasn’t alone, however, joined by two band members who she jokingly said she couldn’t see due to the lighting and the sweet backup vocalist Danielle.
Mac worked every bit of the stage as she belted out Before Trouble and the crowd corresponded by throwing their hands in the air and clapping. In between songs the songstress admitted that this was the biggest show she had ever done by far (outside of a festival).
It was Every Lie that really ramped things up a notch which was followed by her cover of Jimmy Ruffin’s What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted. Perth was the first time that she had gotten on the piano and sung at the same time and had she stuffed that up she said she wouldn’t be doing it again. Luckily this wasn’t the case as she jumped on the Piano for OMG. Her slow movements and pauses up on stage really held the whole crowd on edge, using that very technique to build anticipation for Grandma’s Hands and boy did that go off like a bang - the entire crowd was moving and singing as one. The never heard before Cages was up next, followed by Roll Up Your Sleeves and her latest release Never Be.
“Was there an encore?” I hear you ask and of course there was! The crowd wasn’t going anywhere and out stepped Mac once more providing us with her triple j Like A Version cover of Broods’ Bridges. As this performance proved, Mac is arguably one of Australia’s most talented musicians and singers this country has at the moment with an enormous voice that made for a scintillating performance.
- Photos by Brayden Smith (BCS Imaging) for the interns.
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. This week's 5 gigs under $50 shows that spring has sprung with a mighty lineup of diverse Australian talent.
The Smith Street Band
Wednesday 9th September @ Manning Bar
How Much: $34.70
Shortly after finishing up a killer UK tour, The Smith Street Band return to Australia with their unique style of Aussie Rock to kick off a special national tour. The guys are still touring off the back of the success of their acclaimed 2014 album Throw Me In The River which earned them a place in last year’s Hottest 100 and a spot on the line-up for this year’s Splendour. The tour goes all around the country, and they’ll be joined at Manning Bar by a huge support trio of Andrew Jackson Jihad, The Sidekicks and The Sugarcanes. Tickets from Oztix.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/moving-north/the-smith-street-band-young[/soundcloud]
Wed, Thurs, Fri 9th-11th September @ The Factory Theatre
How Much: $20 + BF
Having just recently dropped the huge new single Embracing Me, Canberran fellas SAFIA are currently going around the country on a tour in celebration of their new track. Off the back of their huge set at this year’s Splendour In The Grass, the trio are playing three Sydney shows this week at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville, supported by Boo Seeka. Tickets are currently sold out but more may be released on The Factory Theatre’s Facebook page so to stay in the loop, go here.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/safia-music/safia-embracing-me[/soundcloud]
Tkay Maidza (2nd Show)
Thursday 10th September @ Oxford Art Factory
How Much: $28.70
Tkay Maidza has announced a second show for this week after her Saturday show sold out, which come as no shock after a whirlwind year which has seen her on the lineup of Groovin The Moo, Splendour In The Grass and newly minted festival This That, among a bunch of other shows. With two huge singles Switch Lanes and M.O.B, Maidza does more than just tour, and her live shows are as dynamic as they are catchy. You can catch her with Willow Beats, Porches and L.K. Mckay in support with tickets from moshtix.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/tkaymaidza/mob[/soundcloud]
Friday 11th September @ The Metro Theatre
How Much: $28.85
2014 was a breakout year for Melburnian Meg Mac, but 2015 has seen the solo act has really established herself. After having three tracks featured in last year's Hottest 100, the home-grown talent took her soulful voice to North America and ventured out on a coast-to-coast tour. Last minute tickets for her show this Friday might still be available at Ticketek or here on the event page.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/megmacmusic/meg-mac-never-be-1[/soundcloud]
The Getaway Plan
Friday 11th September @ Oxford Art Factory
How Much: $23.10
After a two year break-up and a significant shake-up in terms of members of the band, The Getaway Plan released their first record in five years in July this year. Now they’re finally touring again off the back of this latest LP, and will be down at Oxford Art Factory this Friday. Tickets available at moshtix.
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 Wave Racer, Disclosure, Tory Lanez, Meg Mac, Kid Cudi and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Flash Drive (Feat. Baby)
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/wave-racer/wave-racer-flash-drive-feat-bby-1[/soundcloud]
Zanda Wilson: Well I should disclose that I’ve been waiting for something new from Wave Racer for a while, and boy has he delivered. Wavey gamer vibes are what has made a name for the Sydney producer, and Flash Drive has all of it in spades. Nothing unexpected, just some great feel-good effects, and dayum that slap bass solo interlude in the middle. Just fantastic. 5 Zanda’s Pick
Alistair Rhodes: Wave Racer's distinct and unique sound definitely shines through with this new song, as soon as you hear it you know it's Wave Racer. The addition of Baby on vocals is just wow! I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more producers use her vocals over the next year or so. That bass guitar in the middle screams 'Seinfeld intro' to me and who doesn't like Seinfeld! 4
Ben Kyi: Over a year since the release of his single Streamers, Wave Racer has returned with the jovial Flash Drive. The track utilises to full extent the sugary, high spirited electronica and video game vibes that we have come to expect from Wave Racer, but with the added bonus of killer vocals from Baby and a fantastically sporadic cut and paste bass solo. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait another year for his next release. 4
Sam Murphy: Yes, I love wavey adding vocals to his tracks. There are definite rays of PC Music in this one but it still has his signature aqua-soaked beats. It’s colourful and playful, exactly how it should be and surprisingly never gets overwhelming. I also like that it’s attached to an EP, which means we’re getting more music from the beat maestro. 3.5
Omen (Feat. Sam Smith)
Zanda: There’s something about Sam Smith’s voice that just suits Disclosure’s style of production. Anyone that loved Latch will dig this one. The British duo are able to feature Smith’s spectacular range whilst still imparting their signature bass vibe on the track. If I had to pick on something I would suggest that Smith’s vocals in the chorus are a bit over-worked and altered, but there’s no doubting the huge value of this tune. 4.5
Alistair: Disclosure really love working with Sam Smith and who wouldn't, he has an amazing voice, but in saying that I'm really not digging this one from the British lads. Omen doesn't seem to go anywhere and stays stagnant throughout the full four minutes of the song. It definitely doesn't get me moving the way that Latch did. 2
Ben: Following on from Latch, there was a lot of understandable hype surrounding the release of the second collaboration between Disclosure and Sam Smith. The pulsating bass, shimmering beats and great production that the two piece are known for, are all present on Omen, and Sam Smith’s vocals are once again impeccable. However, the track doesn’t really build to anything. This isn’t to say it is a bad track. Though instead of accelerating, Omen seems to be content with merely drifting along. 3
Sam: This one’s a tough one because the first time I heard it I thought it was a little lacklustre. It just felt like the chorus was flat. But it’s grown on me since it’s release and I actually remember thinking the chorus to Latch was a bit of a letdown when I first heard it too. Now I’ve gotten used to that fact that Omen isn’t a 120BPM banger I’m starting to enjoy it’s subtle textures. The layered vocals in the chorus suit Sam Smith to a tee and the beats are bouncy and malleable. It’s probably not the earth-shattering hit it could’ve been but it’s good. Ask me in a month I might say it’s great. 3.5
Zanda: With vocals as smooth as Tory Lanez, its hard to go wrong. However good production should always be recognised, and although there some sparse, underworked backings throughout some of the verse sections the overall use of synthetic melody and effects is good. The chorus redeems any other flaws, with free-flowing vocals sitting on top of some gorgeous bass. 3.5
Alistair: Boy oh boy Tory Lanez what a voice. I wonder if he was ever in the church choir as a little boy because those harmonies that he breaks into are truly gospel like. Tory can not only rap but he can sing and I wouldn't be surprised if this catchy R&B number races up the charts. 3
Ben: There is very warm feeling throughout Tory Lanez’s latest cut Say It. Whether it is the low key production, the gospel style backing vocals or the honesty in Lanez’s words, Say It is a mostly solid R&B number. The only drawback is the unnecessary use of auto-tune on Lanez’s vocals. This somewhat kills what would have been a pretty amazing track. 2.5
Sam: Torey Lanez is really holding us down while we wait for Jeremih to get his shit together and release Late Nites. Lanez is a smooth vocalist but it’s the sample of Brownstone’s If You Love Me that really takes this track to the next level. Lanez’s work with WeDidIt earlier this year was brilliant but this seems to tread a really careful line between alternative R&B and the mainstream. I reckon over the course of this year this one’s going to be a real sleeper hit. 4
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/megmacmusic/meg-mac-never-be-1[/soundcloud]
Zanda: Its awesome hearing Meg Mac exploring a darker side to her style here, with dominant and dark piano dominating some gorgeous phrase-ending cadences. ‘Never Be’ also shows another side of her vocal range, really delving into the lower levels of pitch, and putting Mac’s amazing versatility on display. She just keeps going from strength to strength. 4
Alistair: This song kicks off with a BANG as soon as Meg Mac starts singing. She has such a powerful voice which is perfectly accompanied by an equally powerful piano and kick drum. If you close your eyes and listen to Never Be, automatically your foot will start tapping and your fingers will begin clicking. You just want to start screaming out the lyrics with Meg Mac on this one. 5 Alistair's pick
Ben: Arguably one of the most talented musicians kicking around the country at present, Meg Mac is back with Never Be. Mac has a flair for smart and engaging composition full of heart and emotion, and this track is no different. Both the striking piano chords and sharp drum hits are anchored by the superb vocals belted out by Mac. This gal can do no wrong at the moment. Eagerly awaiting the release of her debut album. 4.5 Ben’s Pick
Sam: Meg Mac’s voice is always undeniable but it’s really good to hear her hitting it a bit harder with this one and that’s thanks to M-Phazes formidable production. There are hip-hop, gospel and singer/songwriter vibes in her and it all comes together perfectly tied together by Mac’s smokey, textured vocals. The repetition of “I will never be thank the lord” is also a really choice move. That’s the thing that takes it from being good and makes it really memorable. This is her best to date IMO. 4
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/cudderland/confused[/soundcloud]
Zanda: An interesting track here by Kid Kudi, with that initial guitar riff dominating the entire song showing off a heavier instrumental emphasis than we are used to. Truthfully it gets a little repetitive, and the guitar itself sounds too synthetic for the role it’s playing in establishing the track as almost a rock tune. It doesn’t sound like the equalisation is quite finished either, with layers of sound all competing in the same register. 2.5
Alistair: Is Kid Cudi trying to channel Nirvana here? This song has taken a very different style to what we are used to hearing from Kid Cudi. Rather than being an upbeat dance number which Cudi is renowned for, this has tried to go grunge and it fails miserably. The guitar riff is just as repetitive as the whiny singing and after a minute 30 I'd already had enough. 1
Ben: I understand that Kid Cudi is trying something vastly different with Confused, but to be brutally honest, it really hasn’t worked at all. His vocals are off, the main guitar riff is flat and uninteresting and the mix is all over the place. This track recalls a bad ‘90s cover band, comprised of a group of angsty teenagers, recording a demo on an old cassette player which requires cleaning. Confused left me confused, and slightly infuriated. 1
Sam: I know Kid Cudi has a real cult following and they’re probably up with why he’s trying to be Creed but I really, really don’t get this. Melding hip-hop with rock is very rarely a good idea and that point is proven here. It’s off-tune, unfinished and really self-serving. Raury’s Devil’s Whisperer pulled off a similar aesthetic this year and that was by adding in a fire rap verse at the end. Cudi seems to ditch all his identity here and for what? A real stinker of a single and to quote a user on Soundcloud “wtf is this shit.” 1
Carly Rae Jepsen
Zanda: Carly Rae has jumped on the bandwagon of using song titles to describe types of blood. This is a weird one, I can’t quite get my head around what she’s trying to do with it. With some of the spacing of the bass where the entire sound almost drops out at certain points I feel like Jepsen is trying to show that she’s not just a sweet and cute pop star. If that’s the goal here she unfortunately misses the mark, and it just sounds confused. 2
Alistair: It's clear that Carly Rae Jepsen is trying to break free from the pop star mould that she created for herself with Call Me Maybe. At times throughout this track you can get a sense that she is capable of achieving that, but not with this song. Warm Blood is all over the place, the bass line backing track keeps fading in and out at odd intervals and when at it's loudest Carly Rae's voice isn't powerful nor loud enough to compete with it. The secondary vocals are completely unnecessary. Nine out of 10 for effort for trying not to be a pop star anymore. 1
Ben: In an attempt to stray away from her pop image, Carly Rae Jepsen has concocted Warm Blood; a lacklustre and jumbled foray into electropop which comes across as a watered down version of a CHVRCHES B-side. It makes sense that Jepsen would want to shed her previous image, but this shift doesn’t feel natural in the slightest. 1.5
Sam: I’m really starting to sound like I’m one of whatever Carly Rae Jepsen calls her fans...Jeppers or something like that. Her last album Kiss was really weak but this latest one is probably the best pop album of the year. Warm Blood is a highlight from that. It’s a twisted, liquid banger, produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmangli who like Dev Hynes has been really successful at making interesting pop music. Here he plays with her vocals and adds some really lovely pitched-down samples that make me wanna squeeze this song, it’s that good. Actually, now I think of it, it's the same kind of vocal manipulation they used on Ezra Koenig's voice in California English - just a lightbulb moment, may or may not be relevant. 4.5 Sam’s Pick
[poll id= "49"]
Post-Splendour comedown has been hard. Real hard. Everyone's immune systems are shot and you're probably still finding mud in places you didn't know existed. Luckily we've gathered together 10 songs from the week that are mud-free and only contagious in the way that they'll get stuck in your head. Not in the flu way. Ew.
Meg Mac packed out her tent at Splendour In The Grass and she's capitalised on that momentum by dropping her new track Never Be. Never Be was produced by M-Phazes and is the most up-beat, attitude-filled track she's delivered to date. Those smokey vocals work magic over a full-bodied, throwback beat and the repetition at the backend of the chorus is so addictive.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/megmacmusic/meg-mac-never-be-1[/soundcloud]
Omen (Featuring Sam Smith)
After weeks of teasing their new collaboration with Sam Smith, Disclosure finally dropped it and it was worth the wait. It's definitely more of a slow-grower than Latch but the pair of them working together are always going to make gold. This one is all about those layered, church-inspired vocals that bring the chorus into holy territory.
We weren't privvy to the information that Canada's PARTYNEXTDOOR was having relations with R&B princess Kehlani but this song suggests that it's definitely on. Funnily enough the aptly titled Kehlani's Freestyle sounds like it could've easily fit on Kehlani's record You Should Be Here. The OVO singer is also channelling some serious Drake vibes on this one with that monotonal but somehow alluring vocal.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/partyomo/partynextdoor-kehlanis-freestyle[/soundcloud]
Tink dropped a mixtape Winter's Diary 3 this week and it's full of great tunes but this Timbaland-produced one is a sure-fire winner. Tink fires-off over an uminstakeably Timbaland beat. The best thing about how Tink works with Timbaland is that she genuinely makes him better rather than just moulding to his sound. She flicks between singing and rapping better than anyone in the game and continues to prove that she's got a better feel for melody than most rapper out there at the moment. Below is the full mixtape to listen and download. Win.
Lianne La Havas
Green & Gold
Lianne La Havas finally dropped her sophomore album Blood today and it's a gorgeous set of boundary-pushing soul tunes. The second track on the record Green & Gold is one of the highlights. She caresses a late-night instrumental with her crisp, profound voice and works the verses up to a chorus that ever so subtly takes you over. La Havas' greatest strength has always been subtlety and as such this one could float by without you knowing, but give it one spin with your full attention and you'll be enchanted immediately.
We've been waiting a little while for new material from US R&B duo Abhi//Dijon and now in the space of a week we've been gifted two songs. Jon B is actually a career highlight for them drawing upon strong Channel ORANGE vibes. It plods along with a beat that Janet Jackson would've very happily plucked from them and they take their time working it into a total R&B jam. This is bedroom music.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/abhidijon/jon-b[/soundcloud]
1998 (Feat. BANKS)
Basically someone decided that there was more money to be made off Chet Faker's 1998 and so they got the closest sounding female artist and popped her on it and put it back on sale. That's how BANKS ended up here and whatever the motive is we don't really care because she really brings a severe darkness to it.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/chet-faker/1998-feat-banks[/soundcloud]
Heir To The Throne (Freestyle)
In the Soundcloud description Vic Mensa has described this freestyle as "2001 shit," and he's right. This is 2001 shit. This is Mensa rapping at his finest, going for the rap throne like he's battling against Nas and Jay Z. In the freestyle he addresses the people who think his success has come from his affiliation with Kanye West rapping, "I made u mad before I met dude-ass." No disrespect to Kanye, he clears up.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/vicsavemoney/heir-to-the-throne-freestyle[/soundcloud]
when it does its exactly what you wanted. Wave Racers newie Flash Drive is exactly what we wanted. Its a glitchy, crystalline track that feels like its spewing colourful glitter. Its taken from an EP of the same name which will feature three more tracks and drop on 16th October via Future Classic. You can pre-order it here.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/wave-racer/wave-racer-flash-drive-feat-bby-1[/soundcloud]
Over the past year Meg Mac has become one of Australia's most well-recieved new talents. She's supported D'Angelo overseas and constantly played to huge festival crowds here in Aus. She's finally back with another single Never Be flaunting that big ol' vpice all over the place. It's smokey and sophisticated and here songwriting just continues to get better.
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:
This week's First Impressions has something for everyone. There's EDM, pop, disco, electronica and soul. Unfortunately, sometimes when the best things in life come together it can be catastrophic. We're unable to agree on anything this week, as Ariana Grande's banging anthem fails to please and Bon Iver falls at the mercy of one recurring sound. Meanwhile Flume and Chet Faker's 3481st song together impresses some and leaves a sour taste for others.
Bianca: Ariana has reached Grande heights around the world and I just can’t understand why. Her voice grates me in a way that I can’t describe and the higher she goes, the lower my volume goes. Just as Zedd entered the building at the 3:17 mark and it sounded like the song was peaking to something a little more exciting, it promptly ended. Well, I wasn’t entirely wrong about the exciting bit. 1
Hannah: In need of a drinking game? Shots, shot, shots, every time this song features in a marketing campaign over summer. Plot twist? You’ll spend summer drunk and it’ll be better than remembering hearing this song. 2
Sam: I feel like the whole EDM meets pop thing is such a tired formula. But, Zedd and Ariana just get this one so right and it comes down to two things. The first is Zedd has no ego in this. He forgoes huge drops in favour of stellar verses and never overwhelms with bass. The second is Ariana has a ridiculous voice and this is the first time we’ve heard it in full force. This could be the biggest selling song of the year. 3
Lizzie: I am just going to pretend that this wasn't in First Impressions this week. I actually had to play this on the lowest volume in my room - I just couldn’t let my housemates catch me listening to this. 1.5
Bianca: Goddammit, I’m trying so hard not to dance to this song but my platform shoe-clad feet are thinking otherwise. Do what You Wanna Do is certainly a shameless little bit of fun. 2.5
Hannah: A decade in the making from the man himself, I kind of expected a little more. It’s got all the components of a ready-made disco sensation, electric guitar, catchy rhyming lyrics you can sing to slash guess at while succumbing to disco fever, a creepy voice over here and there, and when all else fails a whistle, but it just never really takes off? 2
Sam: So many warm fuzzies on this one. After five decades Nile Rodgers is still the king of disco. Yeah it’s a little corny but that synth-line puts the fattest smile on my face, so screw it. I can’t give this one a score. Rodgers is a legend, he’s paid his dues. As someone born in the ‘90s, it’s far beyond me to judge the king of disco.
Lizzie: Not my vibes at all. This feel like a dodgy karaoke song playing on a caribbean cruise ship. Please excuse me while I go jump ship. 1
Bianca: A lovely little Sunday School tune. Expect big things from Meg Mac. 3
Hannah: *Tactically side steps comparison to Adele.* It's nice. 3 Hannah's Pick
Sam: Sometimes I feel like artists are trying to be so tricky nowadays that they’ve lost the art of writing a great tune. Roll Up Your Sleeves is a classic example of what can be achieved when you keep it simple. Mac sounds amazing and the song is optimistic and classy. 3.5
Lizzie: She has got these Nora Jones/Duffy soul vibes, but with a youthful kick. What a tune - I’m not usually a ballard gal, but this lady has got a gift. Bring on the next hit! 4
Bianca: Seems a bit same-old same-old for me. It doesn’t seem as if Flume has evolved this song much from the original and feels less like a re-work and more of a repeat. 2
Sam: Another Flume and Chet Faker track. It was something unique at first but now it’s become about as common as going to the bathroom. Flume adds a skittering aesthetic with pulsating bass while Chet croons away over the top. Am I excited? Nup. I just fell asleep and dribbled a little. 2
Lizzie: Flume has once again put his Midas Touch on an already golden track. Chet Faker, you make me weak at the knees. Every song he produces is engulfed with this infectious energy and emotion, and Gold is no different. You may even convert me to beards. 4 Lizzie’s Pick
Bianca: Watching Bend It Like Beckham last night (I regret nothing) and hearing the soundtrack made me miss the old Basement Jaxx. In saying that, the piano chords and grooving synths are enough to get it onto my party playlist. 3 Bianca's Pick
Hannah: Didn’t we already hear this one? 2
Sam: It’s a nice pleasant take on deep house. It sounds like Duke Dumont, Disclosure, Ben Pearce but it’s got no hint of Basement Jaxx’s identity in it. If I heard it in a club I’d love it I’m sure but right now just nothing sticks out to me. Blah. 2.5
Lizzie: Love love love the vocalist. There’s something very smooth about him. It’s definitely a step up from any of the other new tracks they have released this year, but would have loved for them to pushed the boundaries a little more. C’mon, surprise me. 3.5
Bianca: I feel I can’t properly score this song because it seems my speakers are broken. Oh wait, it’s meant to sound like that? All I can say is this song would certainly not be an ideal remedy to a hangover. Thankfully, I didn’t drink last night and can appreciate Vernon’s beautiful-as-ever song amongst the mess of repetitive lulls of noise. 2.5
Hannah: This week. Just go home new music, you’re drunk. This is exactly what happens when Bon Iver sings over your 6th grand band rehearsal. While I love Bon Iver with the deepest crevice of my heart, and in many respects the redeeming feature of this song is indeed Bon Iver himself and his undeniable voice, I can’t help but want more. It feels kind of... lazy. 2.5
Sam: Justin Vernon strikes something for me that no other songwriter at the moment does. He always writes with a hint of sadness yet induces this peering glimmer of sunshine. As a fan, it’s great to hear another track from Bon Iver but also bittersweet knowing that another LP may be a while off. 4 Sam’s Pick
Lizzie:Is the tape recorder stuck? There seems to be a terrible whiney sound on repeat, destroying what could have been a beautiful Bon Iver track! My ears are still ringing. 2