“Plods along at snail’s pace” – roundtable reviews of new music from the week past.
“Plods along at snail’s pace” – roundtable reviews of new music from the week past.
This week Australia had Bieber fever and we were way too busy figuring out the best way to respectfully ask him for a photo to focus on new music. Luckily we got sick of him by the time he got to hand out with Kochie and our attention was easily pulled to British producer SOPHIE releasing a butt plug. As Biebs would say, “what do you mean?” Read below and find out friends.
Player (Feat. Chris Brown)
Tinashe promised us big hits on her forthcoming second record Player and it seems like she’s delivering. Player is her most immediate, radio friendly track to date with a beat straight from the dancefloor Chris Brown’s inclusion is probably just to amp up the songs’ starpower which is fine if it jumps straight to the top of the charts. 2015 Tinahse is here for world domination and she might just achieve it with this one.
We’ve seen our fair share of weird promotional stunts in our time but selling a butt plug alongside a singles collection is new. That’s exactly what enigmatic British producer SOPHIE did this week and then right when he had everyone’s attention he dropped MSMSMSM. It’s a HudMo-flavoured instrumental track with a little less sugar than his previous outputs but it’s no less enjoyable and will probably sound better than any of his tracks in the clubs.
World Record (Feat. Lido)
Wave Racer is gearing up to release his Flash Drive EP on 16th October and World Record is the second taste of it. The Lido-featuring track is classic Wavey, creating a hyper reality which is only briefly interrupted by Lido’s glitchy drops. The pair of them work seamlessly together, creating one very cute track.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/futureclassic/wave-racer-world-record-feat-lido[/soundcloud]
DJ Dodger Stadium
In The Flames
DJDS are back with one of their darkest tracks yet. In The Flames was released this week alongside DJDS candles which is lovely and it also happens to be an after-dark banger. It’s a little more subtle than anything from their debut album Friend Of Mine taking a slight deep house route but it’s no less mind-bending. It’s also centred around a chopped and screwed vocal that actually manages to sound pretty heartbreaking. Stellar stuff once again from Samo Sound Boy and Jerome LOL.
Well Melbourne duo GL became Australia’s greatest popstars over night this week. Their latest tune Number One is a certified ear worm borrowing its nostalgic sound from ’80s pop masters. We loved it so much that we popped it straight into our September Recap Mix after one listen. It’s a breezy, sleek pop song that will take GL’s status to another level – mark our words.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/plasticworld/gl-number-one[/soundcloud]
Kiwi music is on heat right now. Seriously, though what is going on over there? MAALA is the latest Kiwi to drop a huge song and this is said song. Unbound is dark and brooding with a swelling chorus built with heighty vocals and damning drums. One Soundcloud user commented “Oh good Lord…heavenly,” and we really couldn’t put it better ourselves. Beautiful stuff.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/maalamusic/unbound[/soundcloud]
DMA’s have just spent the year casually playing some of the biggest festivals around the world but they’re going to be sharing the love with Australia early next year at Laneway Festival. Lay Down is their latest track and it’s been a staple of their live sets for a while. We heard it back at BIGSOUND in 2014 and we’re immediately blown away. It’s got a huge chorus of thrashing drums and stirring acoustic guitar, designed for mass sing-alongs. HUGE.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/dmasmusic/lay-down[/soundcloud]
I’m Not Sorry
If you’re a regular reader of theinterns you’ll know that we think Banoffee is perfect and we make no apologies for saying that. Banoffe is also not sorry on her latest track I’m Not Sorry plucked from her EP Do I Make You Nervous? which dropped today. The track continues her foray into a more dance-focussed sound, spending its duration building up to a club-ready finale. Her voice sounds delicate but soulful while the production is top notch, complete with chopped and manipulated vocal samples. She gets better every time we hear from her and deserves all the congratulations she’s receiving for this EP.
I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (Skepta Remix)
Just when you thought this song couldn’t get any better it does. Jamie xx’s Good Times is 2015’s song that just keeps giving. We’ve had a Dre Skull remix with Assasin, Konshens and Kranium on the track, a brilliant video this week and now a version with Skepta on it. The beat is switched up on this version as Skepta throws down a few flawless verses. With Jamie xx’s In Colour pulling so many influences from the British garage scene it only seems right that he eventually got to work with Skepta.
Robyn & Metronomy
The Hardest Thing To Do
Robyn and Metronomy have tried to pull the wool over our eyes releasing The Hardest Thing To Do under the monikers of Tony Primo and Nixxie. And they have actually been scarily successful. Despite the obviously distinctive vocal styles, the song has been floating around since early May and no one noticed. Until this week. It was done for a film called Partisan which came out in late May and is a lo-fi, VHS-inspired tune that actually sounds exactly as you’d expect a Robyn and Metronomy song to sound. Shame on us, we’ve failed as detectives.
Every rose has its thorn (tip for young players: the rose is Tinashe).
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 CHVRCHES, Tinashe, Lana Del Rey, Yeo, Kylie and Raury.
Zanda Wilson: The latest single from CHVRCHES‘ forthcoming sophomore album is another gorgeous exploration in pop-synth from the Scottish group. ‘Clearest Blue’ is easily the most up-beat of what we’ve heard from ‘Every Open Eye’ so far. The concluding minute or so has to be the absolute highlight, built on what is a fairly simple synth riff, but building in a way that explores the intricacies musical layering with Lauren Mayberry’s stunning and bordering-on-iconic vocals mirroring this building progression. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick
What can I say about CHVRCHES… I never really used to be a fan of them to be honest but the more and more I’ve listened to them the more I’ve grown to like them. This is why it’s great that they’ve been teasing our taste buds with the release of a few singles off their soon to be released album Every Eye Open. The latest single Clearest Blue is more of a fast pace track to what we’re used to hearing from these guys. This synthpop number just keeps building and building towards the last minute where it just pops and explodes into one catchy tune. 3.5
Sam Murphy: Everything so far off this new CHVRCHES record has been good but this really smashes through. I feel as if it’s a combination of my two favourite tracks from The Bones Of What You Believe, We Sink and Tether. It has the sprawling, heavy-beated instrumental of We Sink and then it bursts into that spectacular climax just like Tether. Of course, the whole time you spend waiting out for the climax but the start of it is utterly captivating as well in a sort of tense, edge-of-your-seat way. 4.5 Sam’s Pick
Party Favors (Feat. Young Thug)
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tinashenow/tinashe-party-favors-ft-young-thug[/soundcloud]
Zanda: Set up by a dope combination of bass and beats, ‘Party Favours’ sets up an instrumental accompaniment that complements Tinashe’s vocals really well. From the very beginning the track feels like it’s ready to take-off but unfortunately there isn’t a whole heap of progression either rhythmically or instrumentally. I don’t feel like Yong Thug’s vocals add much either, in so far as I think the track would be supplemented better by someone not so heavily reliant on auto-tune. 3
Alistair: Right off the bat you get the feeling that this is is going to be a dirty and dark track. The heavy bass and slow singing really gives you that impression which excited me at that point. Skip forward a couple minutes and I’m pretty over it. Party Favors just doesn’t seem to amount to much. To be honest I was pretty sick of constantly hearing “party favors for you.” 2
Sam: Tinashe has nailed something that not many R&B singer are usually able to do. She treads a thin line between the mainstream and the alternative, singing over beats that light up radio and also contribute to a greater body of work like her brilliant debut Aquarius. Party Favors does exactly the same thing. That woozy, drunk synthline is really interesting but deliciously melodic and then she appeases the mainstream fans with that flawless hook. The tempo basically moves at snail’s pace but her voice is so sexy, it grips you from the beginning. Young Thug gives the best Tinashe-feature verse we’ve heard so far too. 4
Lana Del Rey
Music To Watch Boys To
Zanda: Lana Del Rey’s voice just doesn’t take a step back, and this latest track is further proof of her status as the queen of summery, shimmering vocals. However that’s about where my interest in this track ends. The production seems kind of purposeless when it starts so sparse and doesn’t really build to much. Whatever the echo effect being used on both her vocals and that background drum effect, it is being flogged way to hard. The result is a track that seems to drift aimlessly, which is unfortunately because there’s no doubting the potential that is unlocked in the opening phrases. I’m falling asleep. 2.5
Lana Del Rey has just hit the ground running over the last few months with song release after song release. I get the feeling that you either like Lana Del Rey or you don’t. She is one musically talented person who writes really heartwarming tracks that you can tell mean so much to her personally. With Music To Watch Boys To I’m once again left wondering and seeking for more. The track doesn’t seem to go anywhere yet her vocals are what makes this track an alright song for me. 2.5
Sam: This year for Lana Del Rey has been really interesting. Everyone’s gone from really hating her and questioning her identity to either not caring or loving her. I’m in the latter category and while I have been from the start, this material from Honeymoon is the best I’ve heard from her yet. It perplexes me how I could be so enthralled by her Marilyn Monroe vocals that almost sound lazy but they have a certain allure to them – maybe it’s in the way she gently slurs. Music To Watch Boys To captures the very essence of that. It’s slow moving and subtly orchestral, setting a stage for Lana to be the absolute star. I don’t usually see Lana as being sexy but this is sexy in a vintage, film noir way. 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/snackswithyeo/icarus-1[/soundcloud]
Zanda: Many of us got our first taste of Yeo on Hermitude’s latest album ‘Dark Night Sweet Light’ where he features on a couple of banging tracks. Proving he’s got what it takes to smash out songs on his own, ‘Icarus’ is a fun track with plenty to like. Playing around with effects, guitar licks and other sounds, Yeo has created a song here that is easy to enjoy and is equally melodically pleasing. There could be a little more depth to the rhythm and bass, but that’s probably not the effect he’s trying to achieve here. 3.5
Alistair: Icarus is finally allowing Yeo to step out of Hermitude’s shadow. We are now seeing what this tastemaker is capable of. Yeo’s melodies are just simply outstanding. There’s so much going on instrument wise with this song that it takes you a couple of listens to appreciate it for all it’s worth. This fun track makes me wanna have a little jive and a shimmy. 4 Alistair’s Pick
Sam: I just love that Yeo is finally getting his time in the sun. He constantly churns out banging pop melodies that were just crying out to be heard by more people and now it sounds as if Icarus will. The first listen actually went straight over my head but on repeat listens that funk, ‘80s-tinged chorus really stuck – so subtle yet so smooth and there’s something about it that just makes me swoon. Yeo fan boy since the start and I ain’t goin’ anywhere. 4
Black And White (Feat. Shaggy)
Zanda: Kylie and Shaggy! Oh my stars and stripes. It’s a weirdly fun track and Kylie’s vocals are lovely as always. And wow I didn’t realise how much I needed Shaggy back in my life until now. The only thing I don’t understand is why they’ve decided to leave the peak distortion on the EQ levels for the chorus sections, because surely that’s intentional? A good bit of fun. 3.5
Alistair: Not even a minute in and this already has everything that we know and love about our gal Kylie. The catchy upbeat tune screams the Kylie of old. Then the song decides to hit you with Shaggy, another 90s hero. I love that these two have teamed up together. The last 30 seconds really turns into a bit of a dance number and I love that. I can’t say I’ve ever been a massive Kylie or Shaggy fan but for what this song’s worth it’s a good combination. 3.5
Sam: It’s a bit of a shame that everyone snoozes over a surprise Kylie drop because she does still have the pop goods. Her last album Kiss Me Once was like a seven out of 10 which is A+ in the pop world and this tune is actually really great. I like hearing her over production that’s less manicured, she’s got a really sweet tone and it’s often strained when she goes for those big pop bangers. How Shaggy turned up there I’m not really sure but I haven’t see a “feat. Shaggy” since circa 2000 so I suppose it feels a little like an old friend turning up at your door stop after a prison stint. It’s surprisingly comforting. 3.5
Friends (Feat. Tom Morello)
Zanda: Some real summery, chiller vibes here. The production strikes me immediately as being extremely well balanced and just aptly put together. It plods along in a fairly satisfying way, and the multi-layered choral vocals are really nice to just chill out to. As the video-clip suggests, this is some for-real road-tripping music. 3.5
Alistair: Now I’m sure we are all familiar Raury due to God’s Whisper which has been remixed many a time and has become a staple at music festivals for DJs. He has teamed up with Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello for this tidy little number. It’s got such a summer vibe to it and it does what Raury does best and that’s tell a story lyrically. It’s a good song, it’s not a great, but it’s good. 3.5
Sam: Raury has so much talent and he’s capable of delivering so much fire but he just keeps giving us stuff like this. It’s so boring that I could feel myself slumping further and further down my chair until I was just in a heap on the floor dreaming of Tom Morello at the Big Day Out. I just want so badly for him to give us something iconic but this feels like the kind of song that would turn up on that awful album Johnny Depp just did with Alice Cooper. 1.5
Now time for your vote:
NYFW is in full-swing right now and those representing for music are beating the fashion peeps at their own game.
It’s been less than a year since Tinashe gave us her brilliant debut album Aquarius but she’s already back and ready for round two. She’s announced her sophomore LP Joyride and today she’s kicked things off with first single Party Favors. She’s enlisted rapper Young Thug for the track and together they’ve churned out an undeniable banger, driven by a woozy, arcade-like synth.
We still don’t have a release date for Joyride but we know that Dev Hynes, Max Martin, Dr. Luke and Hit-Boy have worked on it which means it’s probably going to be full of absolute pearlers. It sounds like Tinashe doesn’t want to be an underground Queen anymore she wants to be a Queen full stop. Judging by this track it sounds like she might just do it.
Watch: Tinashe Joyride Album Trailer
This is for all those who were too busy listening to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly to listen to any more new music. Take some time out and hear the best songs of the week past which actually includes Kendrick too.
It was a big week for Kendrick this week. We were all waiting until next week for the release of To Pimp A Butterfly but alas it fluttered into our ears early. King Kunta is the most immediately likeable track on the album. It’s Lamar does funk complete with female backup singers and a groovy instrumental. The whole of the LP is politically and socially charged so it’s not surprising that while the instrumental may suggest otherwise, the lyrics tackle everything from ghost writers in rap to race.
M.O. are the freshest girl group around right now and yet they haven’t completely caught their break. No doubt they’ll be hoping for that to change with this feel good anthem Preach. With typically throwback ‘90s vocals, the girls’ harmonies are tight and their solo sections are super smooth. The instrumental is pretty casual so it’s completely up to them to light the flame and they do so effortlessly.
Years & Years
These British lads have finally announced their debut album Communion off the back of their UK number one single King. This track Worship, from the LP, takes it straight to church in a club with a vocally-layered chorus bound for the heavens. Olly sounds silky as per usual while the beat tackles a future bass aesthetic. These guys have served out ace pop tune after ace pop tune and it’s no different here. Another knockout.
RnB’s rising star Tinahse dropped a seven-track EP this week as a thank you to fans. For what I’m not sure given that she’s doing all the work but we’ll take it anyway. AMETHYST was recorded in her bedroom in between tour breaks and sees her serve up more warm tones over some of the tightest production in the game. Ryan Hemsworth takes the reigns on this one and offers a typically skeletal instrumental with a dab of auto-tune on some of Tinashe’s vocals. I get the feeling these two could knock together a collaboration album in two seconds. Make. It. Happen.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tinashenow/02-wrong[/soundcloud]
Rappers are having some bad luck with album releases this year. First came Kendrick’s foiled attempt to release the biggest album of the year on its proper date and now iTunes has leaked details of Sweatshirt’s album before it was meant to. He’s pissed but the good news is now we know we’re going to get new Earl next week. Grief is the first taste and it’s a dark, distressed number with an industrial beat driving the heavy tones that loom over it. Given the title of the album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, and the general feel of this track It’s easy to assume that Sweatshirt is not a happy man right now.
Waiting For Her
We have our fair share of Aussie females killing it with electro-pop right now but somehow each one brings something different to the next. Lupa J is making perhaps the darkest music we’ve heard yet with a brooding vocal accompanied by icy instrumentals made for 5am cityscapes. Her latest Waiting For Her is a haunting track; the type that lingers over you the whole time never quite allowing you to feel settled. There’s an anxiety to it that makes it utterly captivating. It helps that the production is top notch too.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/lupajmusic/waiting-for-her[/soundcloud]
living room flow
Aiko’s slow-burning debut LP is still flourishing in front of me, but she’s already onto making new music gifting us living room flow this week. The song seems to be a one-off release and it easily stands on its own two feet. She’s one of the most sultry singer around and she uses every bit of that to her advantage here, slinking around the beats with impossible ease. “Whatever turns you on, just let me know,” she sings making us all feel as if dating Jhene Aiko would be the pinnacle of life.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/jhene-aiko-1/living-room-flow[/soundcloud]
White Dress (Feat. Deutsche Duke)
We’re already big fans of Deutsche Duke and now we’re also big fans of Sydney production duo Set Mo based off this track. White Dress is a crisply-produced piece of deep house centring around the smooth vocals of Deutsche Duke. The keys married with the throbbing beat is absolute perfection going hand-in-hand with Duke’s imagery of a the girl standing in a white dress. Australia has dabbled with this kind of music commercially but traditionally it’s far more popular in the UK. This could be a top ten there.
[soundcloud wdith=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/setmomusic/set-mo-white-dress-ft-deutsch-duke[/soundcloud]
In the latets instalment of Scandinavians do everything better than most, here is a thumping house track from Norwegian producer Boska. We’ve got a deep appreciation for club tracks that really dig their feet in and go hard and Saviour is one of them. The bass may be abrasive but it’s complemented by warm undertones and vocal samples which up the temperature just a tad. It spends the majority of its 6 minute plus duration working its way into your head and swirling with a delectable repetitiveness which is broken up by brief moments of solace. Saviour will be released via Norwegian label Bolsa Wood and is part of his Cascades EP due for release on 22nd May.
As Real As You And Me
Rihanna is seven albums deep in her career and yet she still hasn’t had a truly classic record. It looks like she’s trying for it on album number eight saying this week that she wanted it to be “timeless”. As Real As You And Me may be for the Home soundtrack but it’s definitely got that classic vibe to it. It’s a piano-led ballad featuring Rihanna’s vocals in all their raspy glory. This is RiRi at her most haunting, gloriously drifting through the keys in a sleek fashion. We’re sure she’s hiding some serious gold nuggest for #R8 but we’ll take this for the moment.
Tinashe‘s 2 On has only just been recognised here in Australia a year after it’s release so we’ve set this post to be published again in a years time – maybe you will all be ready for it then. For those of you who don’t want to wait, here is Tinashe’s latest mixtape AMETHYST. The 7-track release follows her 2014 debut album Aquarius and features production by Ryan Hemsworth, DJ Dahi and Iamsu!. Also it was recorded in her bedroom. We’ve also recorded things in our bedroom that sound NOTHING like this.
When you turn on the radio and the first thing you hear is “Dear future husband…”, it’s pretty easy to get down on the state of music. The truth is that the commercial world of music is full of injustice. They play a song about “finding a cheerleader” but they don’t play FKA twigs and they’d rather play a song called All About That Bass than anything that actually has bass like say, Run The Jewels.
The fact is any successful business knows their audience and they play these songs because they’re popular or they want to make them popular. It’s a stubborn, unchangeable business but that’s why it’s all the more joyful when something really memorable seeps through. For those who have lost hope with mainstream music here are nine reasons why we should hold our heads up about what’s popular at the moment:
The trajectory of this song has been very interesting to watch. When the song dropped out of the blue earlier this month it was almost to a collective “what the fuck”. Nobody knew if it was Rihanna or Kanye’s song or what on earth Paul McCartney was doing with two of the biggest stars in urban music. After being performed at the Grammys, the song has risen to number one on the ARIA Charts and is on high rotation on commercial radio.
It only took about three different instruments to make FourFiveSeconds and yet it’s easily one of the most captivating songs of the year. Kanye is obviously going through a spout of minimalism at the moment and it’s worked wonders for Rihanna. She sounds the most raspy and powerful she has in years. She’s an artist who’s always looked for new things to do and it’s almost comical that it took her to strip a song to the bone to create one of the highlights of her career. This is a game-changer. You can expect more and more songs to sound like this in the year ahead.
Who would’ve thought that such a straight-out pop album would’ve become one of the more divisive of last year (for triple j listeners at least)? The reason 1989 was so divisive is because people outside the mainstream started to show appreciation for what was a brilliantly conceived pop album. The naysayers were left wondering why they were suddenly left alone when every jumped to team Tay Tay.
Style is by far one of the highlights of 1989. It’s a slinky, immaculate pop tune with a throbbing bass-line. The song was written by Taylor Swift with Max Martin who’s made some of the biggest pop tunes of all time (Since U Been Gone, I Kissed A Girl, Shake It Off). What makes it so interesting is it actually sounds like nothing else on the charts right now. The melody is straight out of the how-to-make-a-pop-song book but the instrumental is dim-lit and brooding with the percussion taking cues from the ‘80s.
This may be hovering just past the top ten on iTunes’ around the world but it’s a pretty spectacular feat for a song that’s so angsty and raw. Florence has crossed over into the mainstream many time before but that was with the help of Calvin Harris or a cover, never with a song like this. A lot of its success comes from the fact that people are happy to have Florence back but this is a testing song. Her voice wails amongst growling guitars and thrashing percussion while all the while she taunts “What kind of man loves like this?”
Florence Welch has done a brilliant job over the last five years of bringing interesting, challenging ideas to a wider audience and it seems she’ll be stretching that ever more on her next album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The best thing is, as soon as you hear one of her songs it couldn’t be anybody else in the world singing it. That’s a quality that many songs on the charts miss.
More than a year after its release and Australian audiences are starting to catch onto this tune by US RnB singer Tinashe. It’s already been a hit in the US but radio has just put this on high rotation which is odd for such a bare urban track. You’d have to go as far back as Ashanti to find a song as minimal as this climbing up the charts.
It works because Tinashe’s melodies in the verses are so tight and she struts vocally with gusto. She’s confident and immediately gives us a whiff of her personality on 2 On. It’s obvious she’s young, it’s clear she’s cool and best of all it sounds like she’s a self-made artist. This type of song doesn’t usually seep through on the Australia charts but it could open a door for many more.
Commercial radio have shyed away from many Future Classic artists in the past. They only started playing Flume’s Holdin’ On once it was a certified alternative hit and Chet Faker can owe most of his success to triple j’s build-up. It seems, however, that one artist in particular has caught their attention of late. That man is Hayden James who is currently sitting at number 24 on the Radio Airplay Chart with Something About You.
The track which appeared on Future Classic’s Teen Idols compilation and has since become a budding commercial hit. It’s warm synths and deep-house-esque beats have struck a chord with Australian audiences (he may have Chet Faker to thank for warming them up). It’s actually quite rare to find a track like this finding favour on the charts. Even mainstream Australian audiences passed on much of Disclosure’s efforts despite their obvious pop notions.
It may be driving most insane now but don’t forget the first time you the blaring horns of Uptown Funk coupled with that infectious beat. Uptown Funk reached sales in excess of one million this week in the UK and in Australia it’s been certified platinum five times but sonically it stands by itself on the charts. Ronson was very clever in pulling Bruno Mars into this song because not only does he do a brilliant job vocally, he also brings a certain likeability for audiences that may not be so familiar with Ronson’s work.
Uptown Funk is the kind of song that demands you listen the first time you hear it. It’s almost obnoxious how in-your-face it is. It does so on its own terms though. It’s not following a mainstream trend, there’s no EDM-flavours, almost none of that typical Max Martin-sheen and no lyrics regarding forbidden love.
Charli XCX is one of the first popstars of this millenium that’s done it completely on her own terms. Nowadays jumping on an Iggy Azalea track is a planned career move but we’ve got to remember that when Charli featured on Fancy Iggy was yet to achieve any mainstream success. Charli then took her newfound fame and released a record inspired by obscure Swedish punk music. It’s an odd route to take but it’s one that have made the charts far more interesting.
Doing It sees Charli team up with Rita Ora for an unlikely pop anthem about “doin it like we’re doin it”. The video sees her dressed as a glamourised cowboy. It’s not pretty, neither of them look like models but it’s cool because it’s sets her apart from any other popstar. Even Beyonce and Lady Gaga’s Telephone (a video similar to Doing It) made them look like sex symbols. This does nothing of the sort but it makes pop videos look like shit loads of fun which is what they should be.
By the time you get to the drop every Calvin Harris song is exactly the same by LA singers HAIM bring something different to a classic Harris song. They build-up the track with a gospel-inspired grunt that makes you actually live for the drop. It sounds like they’re levitating towards the heavens as they sing “I pray to God I just don’t know anymore”. HAIM go EDM was such an unlikely headline but here they make it work purely because their own artistic identity is so strong.
It’s been a while since Calvin Harris has sounded inventive but HAIM’s super tight melodies and unbreakable chemistry means that the song sounds sleek and cool rather than being simply your run-of-the-mill EDM song with a guest vocalist plopped on for good measure. This is HAIM featuring Calvin Harris because they completely own it.
So often political and cultural statements that end up on commercial radio are “heal the world” mantras dreamt up by some big-wig in a large record company who’s decided that compassion sells. Kendrick Lamar is a rapper who knows how powerful his voice can be and when he’s at his best no message could be more clear.
The Blacker The Berry features some of the most powerful lines by a major label rapper for a long time and he’s completely committed to selling the cause. “My hair is nappy, my dick is big, my nose is round and wide/You hate me don’t you?”, he raps with a grittiness to his voice. He calls out stereotypes and re-writes people’s thoughts in one of the most powerful moments of his career and yet he does so in a way that is managing to climb up the charts.
Australia doesn’t seem like the most likely place for a DIY RnB singer to make a splash but it seems US singer Tinashe has struck a chord here. 2 On, the first single from her debut album Aquarius is burning up radio here now almost a full year after its initial release and last night she played to a sold out Metro Theatre. It’s one thing to be sold out but it’s another thing to induce hysteria when you enter the stage. As she strutted on behind a puff of smoke the crowd erupted as a sea of iPhones revealed themselves as if Beyonce had suddenly appeared in a busy Westfield.
Tinashe is an interesting case. She’s been compared to Aaliyah, Ashanti and Janet Jackson yet she differs to them. While Aquarius was undoubtedly an RnB album she’s worked with everybody from Calvin Harris to Ryan Hemsworth and Dev Hynes proving just how expansive the genre in which she operates has become. On stage she has the same slinky stage presence as FKA twigs with the hard hitting dance moves of Ciara and the vocal prowess of Jessie Ware. With just a drum to the side of the stage and four back-up dances, the petite Tinashe fills the stage effortlessly.
She began with Vulnerable from her mixtape Black Water immediately hitting with her caramel vocals and sultry walk. “Don’t stop looking at me”, she sings as her voice hits full flight, slicing the air and creating gasps in the process. Her dance moves are immediately impressive but they’re never feel over-rehearsed. There’s a certain rawness to Tinashe that makes her far more endearing. Even when the back-up dancers joined her it always felt as if they were five friends improvising rather than counting every single beat.
The Dev Hynes-produced Bet was the first song of the set where we really got to hear her vocals in full force. Bet is extraordinarily atmospheric thanks to Hynes’ expert layering and it complements the bursts of smoke covering Tinashe. All of the songs from her debut album are binded by a sense that there’s a wave washing over and this was the first time that we really get to feel that texture.
The set bounced between mixtape and album tracks and even threw in a few popular RnB tracks to hype a crowd which was already at fever point. The hard hitting Watch Me Work was complemented beautifully by the tender How Many Times. She moves between the energetic and the slow effortlessly never sucking the energy out of the crowd, even in the dimmest moments of the night. A portion of Kid Ink’s Body Language was served while Tinashe composed herself for her Calvin Harris-feature, Dollar Signs. A thumping bass-line and glassy percussion sent the crowd wild while Tinashe fist-pumped like she was owning the stage at Tomorrowland. It’s far from her best song but live it was a chance to let loose some pent up energy.
She followed that by sitting on a stool to give us the only ballad of the night, Bated Breath. It was pretty special to see her sitting still and just showing off her crystalline voice. She belted it out with reckless abandon as she slowly stood on the stool and looked over the crowd. No doubt her view was awash with the glow of smartphones. It seemed everything she did was worthy as being captured as not one punter kept their phones away for the entirety of the set. Instead of letting it annoy her Tinashe accepted it, at one point grabbing a phone from someone and filming herself. She’s 22 and she gets that this is what people do now. For the first time it felt like the mass of smartphones didn’t take away from the show. Instead it felt like a sign of appreciation.
As we got to the final moments of the set Tinashe churned out hit after hit. The drummer thrashed away at Turn Down For What while she and her dancers went hard to a recording of Rae Sremmund’s No Type. The biggest revelation of the night was just how perfect All Hands On Deck. The track is set to be the third single from Aquarius and last night it revealed itself as the most effortlessly delectable of the set.
Pretend and 2 On were always going to be the champions of the night and they were. A beefed-up Pretend saw Tinashe offer one of the more tender moments of the night with the dim-lit vibe of the song suiting the smokey atmosphere. As she directed the crowd to put two fingers in the air, the screams could’ve been heard from far down George St. Despite the tracks minimalistic instrumental, the melody is just so smooth with enough pop to direct the crowd to get down low. Tinashe spent the later part of the song hanging over the crowd lapping up all the love that was there for her in abundance.
As she left the stage she smiled and offered some words of advice about following your dreams. She’s a self-made star in every sense and she seemed to be taken aback by her transformation from making mixtapes in her bedroom to playing to a sold out room on the other side of the world.
Tinashe at The Metro Theatre: Gallery