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First Impressions: Cosmo’s Midnight, RL Grime, Major Lazer + More

Written By Bianca Bosso on 11/19/2014

FI_19Nov

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’re picking apart the new Major Lazer track with Ariana Grande, George Maple’s newie, Mark Ronson’s new Bruno Mars-featuring single + more. 

George Maple- Vacant Space

Sam: Talk Talk literally made George Maple the talk of the Australian music scene but Vacant Space has her well on the way to being one of the best female artists Australia has ever produced. There’s so much tension built up throughout with every throbbing beat and then she releases it with these instrument-free spaces. So finessed and so damn classy. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Hannah M: I could listen to George Maple’s echoey voice all day and I’m obsessed with Talk Talk (my current favourite song). Vacant Space didn’t garner the same instant love reaction. I found the drop into fast-paced clubbing territory a little incongruous and disjointed to listen to – it all gets a bit hectic. Before you call me a bore however, it’s definitely grown on me, significantly. 4

Bianca: This one George Maple track has seriously done it for me. Throbbing bass, undulated synths and that honey-smooth, seductive voice, all thrown into what sounds like the echoey expanse of a cathedral, combine to make a seriously affecting track. Do I dare call her the female Flume? Yeah, I do. But with an insanely incredible voice that Harley could never bring to the table. If there’s one word to describe this song, it would be sex. Excuse me while I go wipe my brow. 4.5 Bianca’s Pick

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/george-maple/vacant-space[/soundcloud]

Wills- Going Through

Sam: I was really championing the RnB revival in the beginning but to be honest I’m getting a little bit over half-arsed, ‘cool’ attempts at the genre. That’s the very reason why I love this one. It’s not being subtle or holding back, it just goes for it both instrumentally and vocally. The drums crunch, shuddering through the melody and the vocal is forthright and confident. The dense production really makes it something special. 4

Hannah M: This chaotic mix of girly singsong vocals, sparkly RnB effects and deep, dub-step style bass had me intrigued. I wanted to keep listening to break it down and work it out. I think once familiar with how it goes, the song grows on you. 4

Bianca: This is a heavy-hitter. It’s good to hear an RnB track that just gets straight to the point with a good melody, a great chorus and some thumping beats. 3.75

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/willsslliw/wills-going-through-it[/soundcloud]

Mark Ronson- Uptown Funk (Feat. Bruno Mars)

Sam: After Mark Ronson started producing for Paul McCartney and the like I thought he’d lost it but the fact that he’s got a bonafide number one right here shows that he’s still got it. It’s taking definite cues from Chic’s Le Freak, but that’s fine because it’s so convincing. I hate to admit it but Mars is the perfect vocalist for it, giving a hearty performance. Meanwhile Ronson’s instrumental is such an acute throwback it’s hard not to get lost in the joy of the whole thing. I don’t want to love it and I’m sure I won’t after I inevitably hear it 600 times over the Summer, but right now it’s great.  4

Hannah M:  I only needed to listen to a few seconds of Uptown Funk to picture white suits, dark sunnies and palm trees in Miami. This whole track is totally cheesy, like Will Smith circa Bad Boys. In fact, this feels destined to be a movie theme song. The sax and the trumpets are fun and soulful though the overall effect is so typically Bruno Mars. Unlike Sam, unfortunately I struggled to hear Mark Ronson’s influence.  3

Bianca: Is it bad that I laughed at first listen to this song? I was almost swayed by the brass and dat funky bassline but the cheesy lyrics delivered by Bruno Mars’ over-enthusiasm are just way too much for me. Excuse me while I go listen to its far more superior predecessor, Walk The Dinosaur (now, that’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.) 2.5

RL Grime- Kingpin (Feat. Big Sean)

Sam: So by now, I think we’re all pretty well acquainted with the fact that RL Grime’s forthcoming record is heavy on the war themes. This again, sounds like a stampede of alarms and brutal percussion. It will be interesting to see whether Grime can keep this soundscape for the entirety of the record without it getting overwhelming. This on its own, with Big Sean’s abrasive rapping is pretty full on. 2.5

Hannah M: The pretense for this entire song is just a little rap cliche for me. The word ‘kingpin’ gets old pretty quickly, much less because Big Sean’s voice isn’t exactly well tuned. In saying that, the actual rhythm isn’t bad. I’m a big fan of bass, and this is the kind of punchy beat that’s nice and easy to cruise to. 3

Bianca: This does absolutely nothing for me. Big Sean’s whingeing is abrasive to my ears and doesn’t allow me to even consider the bassline. Which actually sounds quite enjoyable in every place other than the chorus. 2

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/rlgrime/kingpin[/soundcloud]

Cosmo’s Midnight- Snare (Feat. Wild Eyed Boy)

Sam: This is the sort of song that’s either going to float straight over your head or pull at a heart-string. It’s definitely tugging at something for me and it comes down to the way the vocals are so restrained and relaxed, but also deliver a honey-soaked melody. Cosmo’s Midnight’s brilliance in this is that you barely notice they’re there. Their instrumental is simply a vessel for Wild Eyed Boy to work his vocal magic. 3.5

Hannah M: This was a definite heart-string tugger for me. Love Cosmo’s Midnight, love this track. Wild Eyed Boy’s ethereal voice combines with subtly layered drum and synth beats to create a cozy feel. Major attention to detail has been paid to composition here. 4 Hannah M’s Pick

Bianca: This is definitely a different sound coming from the boys. Wild Eyed Boy’s vocals have encouraged Cosmo’s Midnight to take down the synth-work a touch and it’s really working in their favour. Not that I don’t enjoy the jittery, squeaky beats they usually offer, but in this circumstance, the subtlety really triumphs. The hints of steel drum synths also is perfection. 3.75

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/cosmosmidnight/cosmos-midnight-snare-feat-wild-eyed-boy[/soundcloud]

Major Lazer- All My Love (Feat. Ariana Grande)

Sam: The Hunger Games soundtrack is just the gift that keeps on giving. I can’t help but think that this one was thrown together pretty quickly just because they knew Grande x Major Lazer would be good even if it was an Enya cover. And they were right in thinking that. All My Love is good. Grande delivers her standard trilling and Major Lazer give her a tribal beat to work with. It’s all very hard to dislike but after hearing what she did with Zedd, surely they could’ve aimed a little bigger, particularly for the chorus. 3

Hannah M: This song sounds like Ariana Grande feat. Major Lazer, not the other way around. Her voice totally dominates, and though I’m not a fan of her pop princess persona, there’s no denying that the girl can sing. I love the tribal bass during the verses but am not such a fan of the chorus – plucked straight from the Mockingjay soundtrack, the screechy, high-pitched effect sounds like an annoying bird. 3

Bianca: Ariana’s chirruping voice usually pains me to tears but, in this circumstance, Major Lazer has been her saving grace. The melody does a fine job of matching her usual screech, with the tribal bass line taking it straight to the depths of the jungle. 3.75