First Impressions: DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor, Alma And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 03/07/2018

First Impressions are our weekly roundtable reviews sifting through all the fresh new music. Our writers take a listen, slap a score on it and then justify said score. This week Alma, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor, Jack River, Rae Sremmurd and CHVRCHES face the jury.

Alma – Good Vibes (Feat. Tove Styrke)

Nathan Jake: This is a really solid Swedish pop song. It sounds like a song by the other Tove (Lo) but it’s missing a little something special to make it interesting. But hey, it’s from a mixtape so I can’t be too mad. 3.5

Sam Murphy: There’s a really sad warmth to this song which is understand is a completely juxtaposing statement. There’s something final about it but also undertones of euphoria and I’m just getting a warm and fuzzy feeling from it. It’s not by any means the most exceptional song of the year but it’s a really great cut that continues to grow on me. 4

Alma – Dance For Me (Feat. MO)

Bronson: Dig the chiming sound on intro and outro. Very catchy. Nice! 3

Ti Butler: Yeah, see, I agree with what Nathan said about it being from a mixtape, but I do wonder if you set out to make an album and then if you decide maybe it’s not what you dreamed you just say “oh, it’s not an album, it’s a mixtape”. (The exception, obviously, is Charli XCX.) Dance For Me is certainly not awful, it just feels a bit formulaic and underwhelming? It doesn’t make me want to sit up and pay attention like Chasing Highs did. 3

Jack River – Ballroom

Bronson: Very cool, dig the synth and also dynamics of quiet and loud. 4

Nathan: This song asks the question “what would 90s rock sounds like if it was recorded now?” And that’s a question I didn’t need to be answered. 2

Ti: There’s just something special about Jack River. She has this really special way of drawing you into her world. Fool’s Gold was one of my favourite songs of last year, as was Fault Line, so it’s really cool to see she’s got more up her sleeve. “All these people in the room and I just want to be alone” is just one of those lyrics, too, hey? 4

Sam: I honestly thought we were over the days of alternative rock intersecting with pop but thanks to Jack River and Hatchie, it’s back and I’m strangely into it. The vocal Jack River delivers on this is so intoxicating and if you strip back everything, at the very core it’s just an exceptionally written song. With the right instruments it could slot into any genre. Thankfully I’m loving neon-lit, glam-rock vibe. 4

Rae Sremmurd – Powerglide

Bronson: A bit formulaic. Like the dirty south hi hat, beat & orchestral sounds early on. 2

Nathan: That’s a big no from me. All of their voices are so grating. 1

Ti: “Slime green paint, peanut butter inside”? Is your car the Homer? 0.5

Sam: So much hate for this one. This is my pick of the week. It’s the best The Weeknd song that he never wrote and shows us what Starboy could have been if it had a shred of excitement. Swae Lee’s touch for genius hooks is on full display here and ensure than even at five minutes and 30 seconds, I’m never waiting for it to finish. Mike Will is trying new things for him here too and I’m really digging it. 4.5

DJ Khaled – Top Off (Feat. Beyonce, Jay-Z, Future)

Bronson: DJ Khaled, this is not the best music. Queen B, yep. B for BOOOOORIIIIIING. 1

Nathan: A song featuring Jay-Z and Beyonce only made it to the 13th spot on New Music Friday. That really sums up the quality of this song. 1.5

Ti: Why is Future rapping with the same sophisticated tone as Adam Sandler in Billy Madison? 0, unless minus scores are possible, in which case it gets -2.5

Sam: I’ve tried and tried with him but I’ve just gotta come out and say it. DJ Khaled is the most insufferable person in music right now. It all feels so gimmicky and every song is the audible equivalent of movies like Valentines Day where they pack it with A-list stars putting in minimal effort in the hope it will save its terrible storyline. Thank goodness there’s one A-lister in here who can save this mediocre beat. If Beyonce didn’t bring something incredibly special to this song it would be verging on unlistenable. 2 (Those 2 points are exclusively for Beyonce)


Bronson: Very cool classic synth sounds and harmonising, tasty track indeed! 4

Nathan: In the movie universe of Blade Runner 2049 this song would probably be #1. But it’s not 2049, nor do we live in a synthy dystopia so I’m really not into this. Come back to me in about 30 years. 2.5

Ti: This just makes me more and more excited for Love Is Dead. I mean, Get Out is still a stand out, but this isn’t meant to eclipse that. It’s a hype track for an album that comes out at the end of May. 3

Sam: I’m really worried about this next CHVRCHES album now. There’s nothing wrong with this song nor is it incredibly different to anything they’ve done in the past but maybe synth-pop like this just feels very done in 2018. I need something more from them and I’m not getting it. 3

Meghan Trainor – No Excuses

Bronson: It’s stuck in my head already, another catchy tune from Ms Trainor.  3

Nathan: This is short, relatively inoffensive and we spend most of it in that great chorus so….I’m not mad about this! 4

Ti: She knows what works, hey. 3

Sam: Meghan Trainor is the kind of person who would countdown the days ‘til RnB Fridays. She would request Pony at parties and probably still uses ‘AF’ unironically. The little nods towards RnB, soul and hip-hop in this song are corny…AF. 1

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