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FI_19Nov2

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

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

 

FI_12Nov2

First Impressions: Klo., Tourist, Ryan Hemsworth + More

FI_12Nov

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. Today we pick apart tracks by Klo., Tourist, Little Simz, Joseph Marinetti, Royal + Ryan Hemsworth. 

Klo.- Under Lie

Sam: I have really liked everything that Klo. have put out but I’ve been waiting for something to smack me in the face. This is most definitely that, thank goodness. Chloe Kaul (vocalist) just sounds smokey and seductive with an extra confidence we haven’t heard before. It’s just like a big warm hug this, with its steamy drums and lush synths. 4

Hannah: Chloe Kaul. I mean seriously. Can I just listen to her forever? I disagree with Sam though. While Kaul really stands out for me here it’s almost to the detriment of the rest of the song. This is a seriously big fish in a seriously small pond. Jump out and play with the big kids Chloe, you’ve got big things waiting for you. 3.5

Bianca: Klo. have always churned out deliciously minimalist melodies but this is the first time I’ve heard something with a bit of ‘oomph’ coming out of the cousin duo. Chloe’s husky voice shines over the delicate percussion, which marries beautifully into the dreamy synths. The only thing lacking here is more of a crescendoing climax. 3.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/klomusic/underlie[/soundcloud]

Tourist- Illuminate (Feat. Years & Years)

Sam: I think Tourist could be onto a chart winner with this one, in the UK at least. It follows that style-of-the-moment with a flickering dance beat and a soulful vocalist to drive it along. Years & Years’ vocals are almost on par with Sam Smith for me and really help this song revel as a shimmering, after-dark number. It’s not the most revolutionary thing I’ve ever heard but it’s pretty hard to pick a reason why I don’t like it. 3.5

Hannah: There’s a hangover from that time when top 40-ites tried to do electro Dub swirling in layered beats of Tourist’s latest offering. Which, while not necessarily a bad thing, does mean that, like most of the chart-inclined it’s just a little bit… vanilla. The “soulful” vocals are more blah than ballad, the glitches aren’t quite glitchy enough, and the running pulse is headed straight for a flatline. I actually really don’t like this at all. 1

Bianca: I don’t hate it but I don’t love it. This one lies straight down the middle for me. 3

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/touristmusic/illuminate[/soundcloud]

Little Simz- Time Capsule

Sam: I usually really hate these retrospective rap songs. They’re very Eminem circa 2000 and always sound a little whiny, but I’m very much on board with Time Capsule. It’s probably because Little Simz and Jakwob go so hard from the second verse that it’s more a tale or rising up rather than being beaten down. Simz sounds like what Angel Haze should’ve on her whole debut. Fierce, impassioned and confident. 4

Hannah: Well here’s a lesson in indecision. I’m sure if each line of this track were fleshed out into its own song, the three would have a complex and interesting album on their hands, as it is though, there’s just too much going on in the brief 3 minutes and 34 seconds to really grab a hold of any of it. 2

Bianca: This is a bit of a confusing one. Little Simz’s spit of the tongue commands your entire attention, with little else making way in between her grittiness. By the time 1:19 rolled around, though, I was enveloped in track’s rawness and trap undertones, which reminded me slightly of Robyn’s Monument. If only it continued down this path. I’m not really taking to the soulful breakdown courtesy of Caitlyn Scarlett; it completely throws me off my groove. More of 1:19-1:53, please, and a bit less of everything else. 2.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/littlesimz/little-simz-jakwob-time-capsule-ft-caitlyn-scarlett[/soundcloud]

Joseph Marinetti- Ms Telesales

Sam: What’s going on now with this whole PC Music take on electronica is almost incomprehensible. Everything about this is completely bizarre, from the slow-motion video to the carnevale synths and rave beat. It’s lucky I’m completely on board with this style, it’s exciting, bright and boundary-pushing. I don’t think it’s appeal ends there though, the vocal sample just melts in your ears. 4

Hannah: It’s becoming apparent that by the time I have children, these will be the samples featured on their Fisher Price light up xylophone…. It’s a good thing that’s at least 5 years of mental preparation away. 2

Bianca: I like to think of Hey QT as the Rosetta Stone of PC Music; it allowed me to finally understand the hype of the curiously kitsch phenomena and I can actually enjoy the melodies made of bleeps and bloops and inhuman vocals reminiscent of Siri through a chipmunk voice changer. Don’t take that as me completely understanding the purpose of the movement though. Whether it be revolutionary or a complete inside joke that has the PC Music creators taking us for a ride, I’m happy just sitting here and enjoying it for whatever it is. Ms Telesales, with its cutesy vocals and plonky computer synths, is no different. It’s a boppy, vibrant number with its obscure video clip acting as the cherry on top for me. 3.75

Royal- Round Two (Feat. Desktop)

Sam: I love this marriage that’s happened between hip-hop and electronic music a la Four Tet and Rome Fortune. This is cool. Desktop’s verses are quite composed and standard, which is beautifully juxtaposed by the perky beat that Royal lays down. Erring very close to Drake, but it’s fine. We’ll let them off just this one time. 3

Hannah: I wish this sounded more like Drake. 2.5

Bianca: This sounds like it should belong on a soundtrack to a GTA and Mario Kart hybrid game. Which is a very good thing in my books, by the way. While I wait for Rockstar Games and Nintendo to get started on my dream, I’m just going to go back to Soundcloud and partake in Round Two of this track. 3.5  

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/royalmakesmusic/round-two-feat-desktop[/soundcloud]

Ryan Hemsworth- Walk Me Home

Sam: BRB, I’m just going to go and get my third tissue box. Hemsworth’s use of actually live instrumentation here works perfectly. When the orchestral section kicks in, it’s literally as if somebody grabs your heart. It’s so minimal and seemingly unwavering but those sharp waves of emotion just make the ride so much more interesting. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Hannah: Ryan Hemsworth is the Patron Saint of all I do so it’s not surprising that this slow burn, lofty offering is one of perfection as far as I’m concerned. Please, show me a better example of synthy punctated vulnerability colliding with brute strength bass or a more perfect marriage of Japanese tinkerings and orchestral samples. That slight crescendo rising just below Hemsworth’s repetition of never leave me alone, pure chills. 4 Hannah’s Pick

Bianca: Ryan Hemsworth has this knack for making delicate melodies that sound like they have come straight out of a music box. The glittering synths wash beautifully throughout the string samples, with the plucking strings mirror the tugging of my heart strings, which gives Walk Me Home an almost epic movie-like quality. I could turn the key to this music box all night long. 4 Bianca’s Pick

firstimpressionsNov15_2

First Impressions: K Stewart, Giraffage, Shamir + more

FI_NOV15

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. Today we pick apart tracks by Giraffage, Shamir, Baauer, K Stewart, TĀLĀ & BenZel. 

Giraffage- Tell Me

Sam: Giraffage is such a lush, understated producer. He really doesn’t go straight for immediate appeal rather drawing you in slowly. Tell Me is full of crystalline sounds and a calming vocal sample. I love when he really lays it on in the fourth quarter with that dense, hearty synth. 4

Bianca: Giraffage always has the knack of creating these delightfully minimal, delicious slices of synth pop. Tell Me isn’t overly dense but, like a lemon meringue pie, it is fluffy and light, with just the right balance of sweet and tart. 4

Lizzie: This one took a couple of goes to wrap my head around. Not because of its complexity, because it is so simple and soft, I may have tuned out the first time (sorry). That may sound incredibly insulting, but I think maybe I just felt incredibly comfortable and at ease that I just melted away. It’s a solid 3.5

Hannah: 1:18 is perfection. There’s just so much space to indulge in a Giraffage track. He’s a producer gives every sample, every vocal, every bounce and every poppy synth equal parts loving affection and quality attention and makes for a truly harmonious ear party. 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/foolsgoldrecs/giraffage-tell-me[/soundcloud]

Shamir- On The Regular

Sam: The first time I heard Azealia Banks’ 212 I listened to it like 10 times in a row and thought she was the coolest person on the planet. On The Regular has that bratty, careless flow that 212 had. Shamir just beams with personality. XL Records have made a damn good decision- as far as I’m concerned this is on repeat for the whole summer. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Bianca: If Shamir could go ahead and just be my friend right now, that’d be great. So much sass, so much confidence, so little time! If this is Shamir on the regular, sign me up now. 4

Lizzie: Wow I did not expect this. I don’t even know what just happened but I think I may be a bit too sober to understand it. In saying that, this track is not about understanding, it is all about letting your guard down and totally just wiggling, bopping and dancing like a crazy person. Let loose! 4

Hannah: Well, say hello to the If-you-don’t-know-now-you-know-Mother-Fucker track of the summer! Shamir brings sass and cheek in a sugary sweet in a way that only a 5’10 skinny boy getting about in rainbow tie dye is capable of. It’s strength lies in its hypnotic bounce and studiously self-aware, yet totally rappable lyrics. This is on repeat, on the regular. 4.5 Hannah’s Pick

Baauer- One Touch

Sam: Hmm. I know this is First Impressions but I’ve had to listen to this song just under 10 times to really be able to understand what the hell is going on. One listen I don’t think Aluna works with Rae Sremmurd and then the next I do, so god knows what’s going on in my mind. One thing’s for sure, Aluna sounds slinky and sultry, really shining above the minimal beat like she so often does. 3

Bianca: I’m actually really enjoying the amalgamation of styles. Baauer’s bass is just heavy enough and Aluna vocals float on top ever so ethereally. Rae Sremmurd’s rhymes are rough and verging on angsty but, as long as I don’t listen to the actual lyrics, they surprisingly don’t irk me. An unlikely combination that happens to make a lot of sense. 4

Lizzie: Rae, you sound like a whiny croaky teenager whose voice is teetering on breaking. I am in such a love/hate relationship with One Touch, I wish they had just left Aluna alone to do her awesome thing (as always)! 3

Hannah: Rae Sremmurd is the rap equivalent of a yappy chihuahua. If you just ignore the yappy, bitey, over zealous – I’d say furball but really, what Chihuaha has anything worth considering as fur – thing running about your ankles while Alunageorge and Baauer bring it, you’d have a good song. 2.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/baauer/one-touch[/soundcloud]

K Stewart- Close Enough

Sam: I’m such a sucker for airy, Aaliyah-esque RnB vocals so naturally I’m instantly in love with this one. There’s something really cool about artists that feel that they don’t need to bust their arse on the chorus. The chorus of Close Enough is free flowing, flirty and delicious. K Stewart is three for three right now in terms of solo singles. 3.5

Bianca: It’s boppy, it’s fresh, it’s girly and oh so Summery. K’s dreamy vocals are the perfect addition to the grooving melody that manages to be noticed but isn’t completely grabbing for your full attention. 3

Lizzie: Close Enough could easily slip into your Summer DJ mix. It’s nothing out-of-this world, but perfect for a chic outdoor get-together to get them in the mood for the season. Why do I get this feeling that Zhu could remix the shiz out of this and add a bit more depth to it? 3.75

Hannah: You know what, while I adore this song and its smooth groove, I really think K Stewart’s vocals get totally lost to production. Amp up those Aaliyah sounds. Close, but not close enough. 3.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kstewartmusic/kstewart-close-enough-1[/soundcloud]

TĀLĀ- Everybody’s Free

Sam: I absolutely love TĀLĀ and I can’t wait to hear how this one sounds in the context of the album. She’s gone with using one of the most recognisable vocal samples and transformed it into the glorious, euphoric number that ebbs and flows in waves of happiness. It’s almost worth doing another remake of Romeo + Juliet just to include this. Crowdfunding anyone? 4.5

Bianca: Don’t listen to what Sam says, Romeo + Juliet. You are perfect as you are so don’t go changin’. In saying that, TĀLĀ has somehow managed to improve on an already flawless song with her touches being oh so deliciously minimal. She has maintained the celestial feeling of the original, amplifying it to seventh heaven with undulating synths and a ricocheting beat. 4.5 Bianca’s Pick

Lizzie: Despite the initial corniness of the first 5 seconds (you will understand when you hear it), this is a gorgeously twist on an old favourite. It is perfectly tickled with a bit of electronica, R&B and well-crafted samples – and hold out to the the last 30 seconds, that’s where I am found myself utterly smitten. 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick

Hannah: Sam, where do I sign up? TĀLĀ is doing for this track what Luhrmann did for Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet in the first place. While the lofty vocals and original lyrics give it an undeniably uplifting character, TĀLĀ grounds her rendition in the dirt, grit and grime of street culture. With heavy bass, quivering percussion and wait, was that a motorcycle I heard, TĀLĀ’s vein of feel good is a seductively dark one. 4

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/talaofficial/everybodysfree[/soundcloud]

BenZel (Feat. Juicy J & Cashmere Cat)- Four

Sam: I’m not sure how I feel about BenZel as hip-hop producers. Their work with soulful vocalists has been so impressive that it’s quite different to hear them in this aesthetic. What I do love is that they make the chorus so tantalisingly melodic, just by taking the vocal down in pitch and laying down in soulful guitars. The rushing end is also great but it’s all not really enough to save Juicy J’s uninspiring verses. 3

Bianca: Like someone pouring a shit load of unnecessary ketchup on hot chips, this track has had a whole lot of uninspiring vocals laid over its deliciously steamy production. The ending is where things really start to pick up for me but unfortunately it’s all too little too late by then. Then again, I’m sitting in a cafe with Maroon 5 seeping through my headphones so my opinion could possibly be unfairly swayed. 3

Lizzie: Yawn. 1

Hannah: This is what happens when someone seasoned in tantric sex jumps into bed with a 16 year old gangly virgin. Juicy J just lacks the oozy sex of someone like Jeremih to rap this slow about hoes and fucking. Juicy gettin’ bored? Yeah me too. That said, if BenZel and Cashmere Cat just took their production elsewhere (cough Jeremih), we might have had a winner here. 2

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/officialbenzel/four[/soundcloud]

FI_29Oct

First Impressions: Drake, CHVRCHES, Iggy Azalea + more

FI_29Oct

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. Today we pick apart tracks by Drake, Iggy Azalea, MØ, CHVRCHES, Yeo, Les Sins & The Black Hearts Club. 

Drake – How Bout Now

Sam: It doesn’t really do much in terms of furthering Drake’s sound but it’s solid. The murmuring vocal samples underneath the track give it a nice texture and the way the beat swings in and out of clarity is nice too. I think the only thing that really lets it down is it’s hookless. I dunno though. It still kind of does it for me, so where I sit on this one I’m not sure. Sorry I couldn’t be much more help. 3.5

Lizzie: How ‘bout now, how ‘bout now? No matter how many times he asks, I’m not going to tell him I like the song. How bout now? NO! Take your slowwwww jams elsewhere please, except leave the JT style backup singers with me. 2

Bianca: It just seems like there’s nothing going on in this track. I’m happy with the backing track being minimal as long as there’s something being delivered on the vocals, and vice versa. But that doesn’t seem to be the circumstance. Instead, what I first thought was a case of having my treble too low was in fact just a case of a boring song. And you know I’m all about that treble. 2
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/octobersveryown/drake-how-bout-now[/soundcloud]

Iggy Azalea + MØ – Beg For It

Lizzie: I can just see this going off at Schoolies *sigh*. Underage kids, UDLs and Iggy – the perfect combination for a Summer hit. In saying this, I have had it on repeat for the last hour and I am #sorrynotsorry. 3

Sam: Wait, is this Fancy? Everything from the minimal beats on the verse to the chanty chorus sound scarily similar to her breakout hit but I suppose if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I absolutely love that MØ is on this one. Her album is one of the best pop records of the year and she deserves all the success she gets but this song just lacks anything special. She sounds sick on it, but Iggy is becoming a little tiring. 2.5

Bianca: I feel that MØ’s really wasted on this track 🙁 And not in a drunk in the back of the cab a là One More video clip kind of wasted. It seems that Iggy is using the same old recipe and frankly I’m bored. I guess anything’s better than Booty, right? Right?? 1.5  

CHVRCHES – Get Away

Lizzie: Yes, yes, 1000 times yes. I instantly feel at home when I hear Lauren’s voice, and the pace is perfect for the Drive soundtrack revival. I was a massive fan of that album, so hats off to them for birthing a track which fits in seamlessly. 4

Sam: Quite a bizarre concept that Radio 1 have going here but if they can pull in people with CHVRCHES I’m more than happy for them to carry on. CHVRCHES suit the dim-lit synth-pop vibe of Drive down to the ground so it makes total sense to get them involved. So many of the songs on their debut were aggressive so it’s nice to hear them here a little more sweet. The chorus is beautifully subtle and I love that they take it right to the dancefloor for the final one. 4

Bianca: Just when you thought the Drive soundtrack couldn’t be topped, CHVRCHES have delivered with a track of the perfect haziness and nostalgia that could sidle in unnoticed alongside the original tracklist. Nightcall and A Real Hero will forever be my favourite Drive numbers but Get Away comes in at a very close third place. Beautiful. 4.5 Bianca’s pick
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/chvrches/chvrches-get-away[/soundcloud]

Yeo – Secret Powers

Lizzie: These guys should have made it onto the Drive soundtrack as well!! No seriously, I can see myself driving in my Cadillac into the sunset, it’s so cinematic.. Musically, this is a beautifully layered track, something I could easily get lost in (its dreamy eyes…). Definitely an act to watch. 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick

Sam: Oh, I love how Yeo is so unashamed to deliver a straight-up, huge pop chorus. So many artists try to disguise it under many things but Yeo just goes for it, like a massive ‘80s power ballad. The whole atmosphere of this is perfect, from the way the synths twinkle gently to the way Yule Post saunders in with her smokey vocal. Can we also pop this on the re-work of the Drive soundtrack? 4 Sam’s Pick

Bianca: I don’t know what secret power Yeo has got but boy has it got a hold on me. I feel that he has really grown up on this track, with the melancholic synths and Yeo’s doleful voice creating a sombre affair, further accentuated by Yule Post’s entry in the second verse. The combination of both their voices later down the track is spellbinding with the mournful sax really taking it home. 4.5
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/snackswithyeo/secretpowers[/soundcloud]

Les Sins – Talk About

Lizzie: The voice samples mixed with the typewriter tap in the background, remind me a little of Jamie xx’s “All Under One Roof Raving” – minus the tropical drums. Just when I thought this track was all over, the 2.30 min mark happens…where the song becomes a thicker and interesting. It’s that style of music which can babysit you for hours. 4

Sam: Toro Y Moi’s dance project is actually grabbing me a lot more than his work as Toro. This one reminds me of that moment when there are only a handful of people left in the club – the bass has dropped very low and the vocal samples just swirl around your brain. Talk About is woozy, acid house that subtly climaxes with a forceful synth. Put this on and I’ll happily be the last man standing in the club. 3.5

Bianca: I’m not entirely sure of what the vocal is saying but it sounds a lot like ‘shakshuka’. I really like shakshuka though and, coincidentally, also this song. Like the heavenly middle eastern breakfast of Gods, Talk About is a steamy, hearty morsel that will spice up your life in all the right ways. Give this to me with a side of chorizo and I’m all yours. 3.75
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/company-record-label/les-sins-talk-about[/soundcloud]

The Black Hearts Club – Girl

Lizzie: Despite the Sesame Street style saxophone at the start, this a jazzy jam of a track. The combination of the looping and the euphoric chimes are a treat – definitely something to click your heels together with joy on a sunny day. 3.5

Sam: This is literally the start of like Frasier or something right? It’s almost as if these guys have taken the cream from Pharrell’s Girl and left the over-the-top crap. It doesn’t take itself serious and I have a massive smile on my face just listening to them singing over the horns. It’s easy to get caught up in the novelty of it all but the whole instrumental is actually really impressive. They effortlessly blend from those horns into a day-dreamy chorus and back into stomping verses. Please give me what they’ve got. They sound like happy chaps. 4

Bianca: I am so into this. Bordering on slightly comical, the jazzy horns are the star of the show as the grooving bass struts along, perfectly accompanied by Well$’s initial verse and Lucho’s falsetto, Pharrell-style hook. I’m also totally je t’aime-ing Lomani’s French spoken-word breakdown at the 1:53 mark which is the cherry on top to making Girl the perfect recipe to make anyone happy…and if that’s not the point of music, what is? (Deep.) 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/immaculate-taste/girl-tell-me-something[/soundcloud]

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8 Alternative Album Titles for Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’

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Well, she’s done it. Our country queen has made the full transition to pop princess. We’ve had to sit through four album and copious amounts of banjos, but we’ve finally been delivered a dirty, melody-obsessed record of sweet, sugary pop.

As huge as the album will be, we feel there is one thing holding it back – its title. It’s destined to be the highest selling album of the year but to have an album of the year in 2014 titled 1989 is far too numeric and frankly a little confusing. T.Swizzle, leave those kind of details for your birth certificate and allow us to retitle your album.groundhog

1. Groundhog Day

Every great pop song has a fair dose of repetition, it’s what starts it spinning in your brain and keeps it firmly lodged in your memory but Tay Tay really takes it to a new level on 1989. She sings the word “woods” in Out Of The Woods 41 times which actually pales in comparison to Shake It Off in which she sings “shake” 79 times. “Are we out of the woods?” is an infuriatingly metaphorical question to ask someone repetitively also which makes us feel slightly sorry for Harry Styles or Ed Sheeran or Lorde or whoever it was she badgered.

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2. 25

Earlier this year it was announced that Adele’s third album would be called 25. Arguably, Swifty and Adele are the two highest-selling female artists on the planet. Adele’s 21 has sold 30 million copies while all of Tay’s past four albums have sold over five million copies. With Suzuki Swift turning 25 at the end of the year, it would have made perfect sense for her to cut Adele’s grass and name her album 25, before Adele could get her act together. That said, Adele probably could’ve just waited until she turned 26 if she was really set on the age thing.

Taylor_noitsbecky3. no its becky

The “hackers known as 4chan” uncovered that www.taylorswift.com was herself lurking on the mysterious, notoriously malicious, underground network under an anonymous moniker of jumbled numbers. This was further confirmed when T.S took to the streets with a shirt emblazoned with a prominent reference.jpg to a post in a /b/ thread that had her caught up in a horrible case of identity theft when she was falsely ‘suspected’ to be Becky, a girl who purportedly died from snorting an entire marijuana.

If Sasha Fierce was Beyonce’s alter-ego, then Becky is most certainly Tayluh’s. 1989 sees Mrs. Styles as a completely new girl. She’s embraced the world of pop and left behind any hint of country. On Red she was still flirting with the genre but now she’s completely committed and is reaping the rewards. Piste 5 is a ridiculously delectable hit, while I Wish You Would is an ‘80s-inspired marvel. All of it combines to deliver what will undoubtedly be the biggest pop album of the year.

Taylor_ANOTHERDIRECTION4. Another Direction

There’s plenty of songs about love on the album (roughly 10) but it actually feels like her least whiney album to date. She takes to a lovelorn song on 1989 just like Gwen Stefani once would’ve. On Shake It Off she moving straight on, right past the haters, even putting her feelings into a rap. On Style, she’s even speaking positively about love, aptly singing “we never go out of style”. It’s an odd quote given she goes through boys faster than a box of Kleenex but it’s nice to hear Selena Gomez’s friend happy. And just to think she once thought there was only one direction.

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5. Pink

Red had Alison angry, very angry. I Knew You Were Trouble was her most aggressive track together while We Are Never Getting Back Together had a wonderful air of Mean Girl-brattiness to it. It seems, however, on 1989 we’re greeted by an artist who’s exploring different shades. From the illuminated glossiness of Welcome To New York to the rebellious RnB stylings of Blank Space, 1989 is an uplifting album that makes us feel that there may just be the right boy out there who makes us feel special and worthwhile <3

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6. Days Are Gone

We never thought we would say this, but 1989 actually takes a lot of stylistic cues from HAIM’s Days Are Gone. While it’s not anywhere near as badass the Californian trio’s album, it’s pop, driven by a thumping drum-beat and peppered with delicious melodies. Out Of The Woods is the biggest testament to this. It has the same kind of pulsating energy as something like The Wire while Bad Blood has that same kind of drum-induced spite as My Song 5. I don’t think they’d notice if she stole their title.

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7. So Fresh Songs of 2014

Shake It Off, Out Of The Woods, Welcome To New York, Bad Blood, Style, Piste 5, I Wish You Would…let’s be honest she has like 33 #1 songs on this album and most of them are better than everything else that’s risen to the top this year.

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8. Me. I am Taylor (The Elusive Chanteuse)

Mariah Carey named her album this with the kind of cockiness that said “I’m still the queen”. Unfortunately she may have to give that crown over to Ms. Bleachers. There hasn’t been a female artist who’s ruled the charts for this long, probably since Mariah and she probably deserves it. With each album, she’s served up something different and 1989 truly feels like a great pop album. It’s all killer, no filler and has songs that our kids will dance to in the way we still go batshit for Whitney Houston’s, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. All props to Swizzle, she may be a meme machine but you have to put yourself out there to gain #haterz and she happily does that.

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Jessie Ware’s ‘Tough Love’ reviewed through chocolates

jessieware_coverJessie Ware

Forrest Gump once said, “life is like a box of chocolates”, and while there’s little sense in that, if you sit a while with the new Jessie Ware album you could actually begin to believe it. If her debut, Devotion, was Ware giving a 100% then the follow-up, Tough Love is her giving it 200%. Backed by the fine finesse of producers like BenZel, Dev Hynes and Julio Bashmore, we’re introduced to a far more courageous Ware. Vocally, she’s extending herself in ways we’ve never heard before giving us a more commercial but just a sophisticated sound. Like a good box of chocolates we’ve let Tough Love sit with us for a while now but we’re finally ready to delve in a little deeper.

Consider our review through chocolates a wedding present to Jessie Ware and her new husband.

coconutJessie Ware’s Devotion was so channelled onto one sound, perfected expertly, that she was always going to have to come back with something that shocked on first listen and Tough Love does just that Just like a coconut rough, Tough Love looks simple on first inspection, delve a little bit deeper, however, and it reveals itself to be amalgamation of both smooth and rough textures. The song is different type of love song. One where Ware is clearly in love, but at the same time giving a dose of tough love. She’s confident, in control and in a vocal range that we haven’t heard her explore before. BenZel’s production is also supreme – soft and fluid.

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This is probably the most commercially viable song on the album. Its verses are melodically delectable and straight-forward with a chorus that takes flight. At its heart, it’s a classic love song – one where she wants her boyfriend (now husband) all to herself, as sickly sweet as it may be. Just like eating a strawberry creme, before and after may not be perfect, but in that sweet, gooey moment, it feels like eternity is achievable. toastedalmondFor the most part of Tough Love, Ware is head over heels but some of her best moments are those where things aren’t so great. Cruel was produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, who’s managed to craft an icy yet seductive track that perfectly shows that moment where things are going very wrong. Love may look like a round ball of chocolate but bite a little harder and you’ll feel the crunch. Ware’s vocal on this is perfect. She sounds completely exhausted yet with a hint of anger.

honeyfudgeSay You Love Me was penned with Ed Sheeran but thanks to Ware, she’s managed to pull it back from being an over-the-top ballad, turning it into the heart-tugger of the album. Devotion was an impressive display of restraint, but here she goes for it vocally, giving more force than ever. There’s so many moments (i.e. the choir call and response) where Ware is completely glutenous, showing absolutely no restraint but it’s also great to see her completely let go. It’s gooey, soft and rich. What else could you want in a love song?

turkishOnce again here, she is pulling it back in, giving us that Aaliyah-esque vocal alongside a funky, minimal instrumental. We go through all the motions of love on Tough Love, but on Sweetest Song she brings the roses, falling head over heels. Just like a Turkish Delight, it may be a little too sweet for some, but those who enjoy a bit of sugar will fall in love with Ware’s sexy, dim-lit delivery.

chochilliMiguel has become the king of seductive RnB over the past year, so it makes sense that he turns up as a writer on Tough Love and what the pair of them crafted together is pretty spectacular. It seems to borrow its melodic flow from nursery rhymes in the verse, with the whole instrumental gently undulating for side-to-side. In terms of subject matter, Ware’s not really sure where she’s at here. It’s both hot and sweet, with sexiness being swapped back and forth with loved-up expressions. Her vocal has a particular bite to it in this one, particularly when she goes for those high notes.

dark choc mintDark chocolate is the classy mature chocolate. It’s the type you eat when you don’t want to eat too much and as such it has a certain sophistication to it. Want Your Feeling is the most sophisitcated track on the album with Ware and Dev Hynes creating this twilight number that twinkles. It’s a song of desperation but one that deals with the feeling in such a beautiful, sleek way. “Lights still shining in the room, you left me here” creates the most perfect imagery on the whole album. Meanwhile, Hynes’s touch of funky guitars and chirpy keys is just irresistible.

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It feels like Say You Love Me was pitched to be the heartbreaking ballad of the record but this one just takes it that little bit further. Ware’s voice still oozes like syrup but it’s a different type of smoothness. In the verses she sounds completely shattered before striking with an acidic, blasting chorus. Look, obviously we chose the orange slice because of the obvious reference to pieces but don’t let that get in the way of understanding that this is one of her most powerful tracks to date – a confident, heart-wrenching moment.
gooeyJessie Ware makes a lot of smart choices in terms of the producers she works with. One partnership that just works is the one between herself and Julio Bashmore. On Devotion, they crafted the slinky 110% and here they are back together for this effortlessly flowing number. Keep On Lying’s subject matter is one of masking emotion which is pretty devastating really, yet behind it is this oozing melody that plods with Ware weaving her vocals through one of the most instantly likeable tracks on the album.

champagnetruffleTough Love is not really the type of record you’d expect from a woman who was just about to get married, but that’s kind of the joy about it. It tracks the ups and downs of a relationship so pertinently, never exploring the beige emotions usually explored in love songs. However, on Champagne Kisses she finally gives us that big, euphoric love song. It’s girly, giddy and with that heighty chorus hitting you like too many bubblies on a balmy afternoon. She takes her voice to heights not heard since the opening title-track, giving us light at the end of the tunnel.

whiskeyOnce again, we have Ware in crazy, stupid love but exploring it in a much different way than the last track. It’s dim-lit, sophisticated and sensual with her notes elongated and the instrumental hovering like a frozen moment in time. It’s a perfectly gentle ending to the album that encapsulates everything we love about Ware. She’s subtle, classy and always 100% present.

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First Impressions: Chance The Rapper, Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris + more

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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. Today we pick apart tracks by Taylor Swift, Tkay Maidza, Chance The Rapper, Calvin Harris, Marina And The Diamonds & Marion Hill. 

Taylor Swift- Out of the Woods

Lizzie: We can’t say Taylor doesn’t mix it up a bit. This carries very much a Broods ‘Mother and Father’ sound for me – the running track style. I am a massive fan of her voice in this, and while it is yet another Taylor Swift break-up heartache track, I wouldn’t be totally embarrassed to blast this song from my car… in public. 3.5

Bianca: The first verse was actually quite easy on my ears, which is quite a departure from my usual feelings towards Tay Tay. And then…the chorus came. Like a yapping chihuahua that keeps nipping at your ankles, begging for attention, so is the effect of the continuous repetition of the mind-numbing lyrics. In saying that, overall, this song was as mildly enjoyable as reading its accompanying YouTube comments debating whether or not this was written about Harry Styles. 2.75

Sam: Goddamit. It was a big step for me to admit I was a fan of Shake It Off but two tracks in a row is ludicrous. This is good isn’t it? I think it is. It’s like a HAIM-inspired, slightly left-of-centre track that’s like nothing she’s really done before. The final bridge is a little bit over the top, but for all its repetition, the chorus is golden. Maybe I’m out of the woods. Maybe it’s finally time to admit I’m a Tay Tay fan :/ 3.5

Hannah: I am a big, BIG closet Taylor Swift fan. Think Narnia big. But I love her for all her poppy, catchy, pretween, sappy tendencies. This is just a little… Well it’s a little too grown up for the pigeon hole I’ve put dear Taylor in. Yes it sounds like Broods. Yes it sounds like Haim. Yes it sounds like all those slightly left of field female artists making it big in the mainstream at the moment. Off the back of Shake it Off though, what’s wrong with just sounding like Taylor? 3

Tkay Maidza- Switch Lanes

Lizzie: Tkay continues to shine her versatile young talent to the world! I love the flow/switch lanes in and out of singing and rapping -an almighty talent in itself. But I what I really like is the stripped-back style and noticeably tight production (by Paces), very unlike her usual hard bass-heavy beat. 4

Bianca: Aaaaand, Tkay has done it again. What a delightfully minimal track with just enough  sass and badassery to keep things interesting. The contrast between her trilling vocals and quick-witted roll of the tongue is a perfect marriage, creating a multi-faceted layer over Paces’ minimal, plonky, yet polished, production. 

Sam: I feel like a broken record gushing over Tkay but she’s really yet to put a step wrong. Switch Lanes gives us more of that bratty, attitude over a wonderfully spacious beat courtesy of Paces. I love how effortlessly she flips between singing and rapping. It makes me think she’s got the potential to have a crossover hit like Nicki Minaj did with Superbass.  4

Hannah: As far as interns darlings go, Tkay takes the cake.I have to admit however, I’ve never quite been as ready to board the Tkay train bound for stardom as the rest of the interns. Switch Lanes is changing that though. It’s skillful and perfectly isolates between the sweet sounds of a new comer and bratty spits handled like a pro. All aboard! 3

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tkaymaidza/switch-lanes[/soundcloud]

Chance The Rapper- No Better Blues

Lizzie: So Chance apparently hates a lot of things, we get it. From the opening of the track I thought this was going to be a bit more of an optimistic track, but no “it don’t get no better, it just don’t get no better.” I am feeling a little bit blue too now (sigh). 2

Bianca: Nothing like a bit of negativity to get me interested. After all of Pharrell’s Happy-ness and Taylor’s shaking off of the haters, finally Chance tells it like it is and lets loose with his take on the realities of life. Much like life, though, this track plods along but, unlike life, it doesn’t bear any exciting twists or turns. 2.5

Sam: Along with the Arthur cover, Chance has been getting pretty emotional lately and it works for him. For a song that starts every line with the same few words, it’s pretty profound. The beat never really alters but somehow Chance injects an infectious personality in with his spoken-word. He may hate everything, but I am very much a fan of this. 4

Hannah: Does anyone else find this song incredibly relaxing to listen to? Chance’s spoken word is so melodic and perfectly paired with the intimate piano and bass-heavy backing track. I find myself kind of being lulled by this out pouring of hate. And hey, at least he hates hate, right? 4

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/chancetherapper/chance-the-rapper-the-social-experiment-know-betta-blues[/soundcloud]

 Calvin Harris- Slow Acid

Lizzie: I may have to eat my words on this one. I have spent to year slamming Calvin Harris for his lack of originality and experimentation with any of his tracks of recent. Slow Acid is a definite departure from his usual stadium hit recipe. Something you would find at the end of a Bourne film – the slower pace, less bass heavy and noticeable lack of Florence and the Machine/ Rihanna is refreshing and hopeful for his LP release next month. Phew! 4

Bianca:  Well, this is certainly a new sound from ol’ Calvin. It’s a hectic, grungey track with a similarly-sounding name. I guess it’s a nice change of pace from the regular, textbook method of song structure and irritating guest vocalists that Calvin usually follows but I can’t help but find the entire package- the ‘rough’ video clip, the contrived name, the ‘90s trance-esque “Woo!” vocal sample- a little bit, for lack of a better word, lame. It just feels it was made for the purpose of soundtracking an anti-piracy commercial. “You Wouldn’t Steal A Car”… and I definitely won’t be stealing this song. 1.75  

Sam: I’m the first one to rat on a Calvo song, but I’m in two minds over this one. I do hate it, but that’s more of a personal taste. I do applaud that he’s finally doing something different that’s not so explicitly made so that more dollar signs rain on him. But then again, I don’t praise every album for having a second track that sounds different to the first so I’m just gonna go right ahead and place this here: 2

Hannah: In terms of the typical Calvin sound, sure let’s call this track experimental and ok, we can even bandy around the phrase underground. In terms of the rest of the EDM catalogue or history of dark beat dance tracks, let’s just say YAWN! Calvin’s experimental track sounds remarkably like The Matrix soundtrack. 2

Marina and the Diamonds- Froot

Lizzie: Oh my word this is a long track. I am eerily attracted to Marina’s voice, but I thought I was listening to Eurovision for a second there! I do not really see the reason to push past the 5-minute mark. ‘Froot’ is a bit of a marathon if you ask me. 3.5

Bianca: Marina really makes us work for the chorus (which doesn’t come in until around the 1:20 mark) but the fructose-laden result is certainly worth it. Her gooey, honey-like voice drawls in the most positive of ways over the groovin’ bassline and jazzy melody. This one’s going straight to the fruit bowl. Bianca’s Pick 

Sam: If nothing else, I’ve always been a fan of Marina’s chorus’. She doesn’t go in all guns-blazing ever, rather subtly weaving in melodies with that drawling voice. On Froot, we really have to work to get the chorus. It feels like 17 verses before it finally arrives, but my goodness is it worth it. Those funky guitars roll-in and she just climbs up that vocal ladder, ever so slightly. Props for the title too. Too often is the power of ironic spelling ignored. 4.5 Sam’s Pick 

Hannah: Hey Chance, how do you feel about adding the line “I hate Marina and The Diamonds and ironic pronunciations of 5 letter words,” to your list of grievances? 1

Marian Hill- Got It

Lizzie: This performance offers up a little taster-plate of swagger, hip-hop sass, quirky production and raw vocal talent. I haven’t heard something like this smooth in a long time – oh and the sax is perfectly placed, that’s my favourite! 4 Lizzie’s Pick

Bianca: Samantha’s gossamer voice is the winner here, truly shining when paired with jangly cymbals and a pulsating backdrop. Once the trilling brass comes in, I’m immediately transported into a smokey club in the ’40s. Getting plenty of sultry Jessica Rabbit vibes from this. 3.5 

Sam: Love the almost-tinny, throbbing bass on this one. It would be nothing though if it wasn’t for the vocal personality of Samantha Gongol. The heights she reaches at some points is pretty breathtaking. That weird instrumental break helps it sound like a far more tasteful version of Jason Derulo’s Wiggle which is nice. I have been asking for that this year. 3.5

Hannah: This is as irresistible as a promising bowl of the richest chocolate cake mix and equally as seductive. Just try to say no. I love the bounce, the clap, the vocal acrobatics, the instrumental break and the bass. This ticks so many of the right boxes. 4 Hannah’s Pick 

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/marianhill/got-it[/soundcloud]

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First Impressions: Charli XCX, A$AP Rocky, Tei Shei + more

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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. Today we pick apart tracks by Tei Shei, Nina Las Vegas, Swick, Cold Clinical Love, Charli XCX, BC Kingdom & A$AP Rocky. 

Tei Shi- Bassically

Sam: This is unbelievably smooth. I feel like Tei Shi has been doing cool things but this is her absolute standout moment. The moment when people actually look up from what they’re doing. It’s a thundering, late-night pop track with Shi slinkily winding her voice around the instrumentation like some sort of velvet scarf. 4 Sam’s Tied Pick

Hannah: I love the running, pulsating, synth laden bass line that quivers effortlessly below Tei Shi’s simultaneously sickly sweet yet totally seductive vocals. If this doesn’t get you in the mood for all kinds of debauchery, I don’t know what will. 4

Lizzie: This utterly seductive track does not need all the bells and whistles to capture my attention. It is soft and sensitive, yet punchy and interesting, plus there’s a healthy amount of bass and synth – all at the same time. Basically, what I am trying to say is that this is 100% my kinda jam. 4 Lizzie’s Pick

Bianca: This is so immediately affecting. Launching straight into a throbbing bass, further intensified with the help of Tei Shei’s dreamy vocals, it had me in a state of reverie that made me not realise that perhaps my speakers were up a little too loud for my neighbours’ liking. One extra point for the pun in the song title. 4  

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tei-shi/bassically[/soundcloud]

Nina Las Vegas/Swick- Don’t Send

Sam: Oh lord. That PC Music-esque vocal sample on this just kills me every time. And then those string-like synths follow. And then the beat marches towards you. And I die. Ignore what Nina & Swick say! Send. Send to everyone you know. 4 Sam’s Pick

Hannah: I love everything about this collision. It’s drum, bass, *insert requisite PC music mention here,* jungle music, house music and all out synthy, bangers perfection. Perfect party starter, perfect party finisher. Wait, no. If this song is on, it’s all party, all of the time. Nina for da win. 4

Lizzie: Nina brings that same relatable PC sound which Porter Robinson does on his Worlds album – I cannot get enough of it. At the 1:50min mark I am truly booty hypnotised if that is even a thing. Wait, it’s called twerking. Killer track by Nina.

Bianca: Don’t Send has everything: throbbing bass, strings, dreamy, computerised vocals, drum n bass-inspired beat and, most importantly, horns. My word, those horns! Oscillating carelessly between the internet depths of PC Music territory and a full-on club-thumping beat, this track ebbs and flows with confidence. I was hooked at first listen but hearing this banger played at Nina’s own NLV: Presents show on the weekend further sealed the deal for me. Bianca’s Pick

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/nesthq/nina-las-vegas-swick-dont-send[/soundcloud]

Cold Clinical Love- Bullet Youth

Sam: Some super impressive, melodramatic production on this. It feels very cold and isolated but at the same time his delicately auto-tuned voice is quite warm. The good/bad thing about Soundcloud is you can see exactly when the drop is coming and I was expecting a big one for this. I wasn’t disappointed, it detours into this CHVRCHES-esque state of euphoria. 3.5

Hannah: This is a mixed bag of goodies and like any pick’n’mix, and their promise of overindulgence, I’m just left with a sugar headache and sore teeth. While individually pieces of this production work, as a whole I feel Cold Clinical Love have cast their net too wide and tried to appeal everyone without really appealing to anyone. Less is more. 3

Lizzie: While it only clocks in at around 2 ½ minutes, there is a lot of layers crammed in to create this universally appealing track. The confident warm vocals and pluck of the guitar are effortlessly indie-cool. If you haven’t already had CCL on your radar, after listening to Bullet Youth you will sure to have your ears pricked with curiosity – as this is the only their 2nd release. 4

Bianca: Unexpected twists and turns make this track continuously intriguing. The doleful, yet beguiling vocals in the beginning tricked me into expecting a very different point B but I was overall pleased with the end destination. There is nostalgia aplenty with the gradual build-up of glittery synths, brooding guitar and a thumping backbeat spicing up its life. Looking forward to hearing more from Cold Clinical Love. 3.75  

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/coldclinicallove/bullet-youth/[/soundcloud]

Charli XCX- London Queen

Sam: I love that Charli finally finds mainstream success and then she rolls out two singles inspired by Scandinavian punk. She’s in her own world and it’s probably going to give her much more longevity than her peers. This one just bundles through like a runaway train. It’s Charli XCX down to the ground. 3.5

Hannah: I skipped through a lot of this song. Charlie XCX never really did it for me and as much as I want to like this song purely because at times I feel like I am a London queen myself, she’s continued to not do it for me. I find it all horribly derivative and well… Boring. 2

Lizzie: Definitely a “wake up in the morning, got lots of things to do” kinda song. I also feel like this track was produced in your neighbour’s back garage. This is not suggesting it is an ameteur prodution, it is just exudes ’90s Clueless youthfulness – with its fast beat, claps and “ois”. I feel like I need to get a perm to fully appreciate the track. 3

Bianca: Isn’t this song in the bar scene from 10 Things I Hate About You when Heath Ledger *sigh* meets up with Julia Stiles? Whilst I’m more than happy to watch that ’90s classic over and over again, London Queen is a bit too ’90s alternative rock for my liking and I won’t be re-listening to this one in a hurry. Now where’s my local Blockbuster… 1.5 

BC Kingdom- Colours

Sam: This one is such a creeper. It really didn’t smack me in the face during the first verse but throughout the five minutes it really took grey. The chorus sounds pretty iconic in a very unaggressive way. Tucked in between tracks on an album, I think this song will really get its moment. Particularly with that preaching outro. A track with this much presence is too good to be by a fleeting hype-artist. 3.5

Hannah: Proving once again men are slightly colourblind, I’m pretty sure grey is technically a shade not a colour… Other than that I don’t really have an issue with this song but I don’t really like it either. He clearly has some stand out vocal moments that the misbehaving hairs on the back of my neck can’t help but raise to, and I do find it difficult to speak ill of anything featuring steel drums, or Moby for that matter, so I’m just going to evoke the age old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say….” 2

Lizzie: I am ok with this song, the nice little Moby insert at around 3 minute mark was a weirdly welcome surprise. However, the robotic style siren that pops in every 3 seconds is just way too familiar – it’s the same sound they use on the Magic Mike soundtrack and that makes me think of all the wrong inappropriate things when really I should appreciating the track. It’s distracting. 3

Bianca: This is brooding, soulful and smooth; it’s like a box of chocolate all wrapped up with a tidy, velvet bow. The confident backbeat and feathering of steel drums are the heroes this track deserves, and also the ones it needs. Also, dat Moby sample and gospel sermon outro…Preach! 3.75 

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/bckingdom/colours[/soundcloud]

A$AP Rocky- Multiply

Sam: I love this video so much that I almost forgot to listen to the song. It feels like the real A$AP is back on this one. It felt like his debut album was very much made to appease a wider audience and this ones back to the mixtape Rocky we loved. The hook may not be as melodic as, say his Santigold track Hell, but I feel like it has more of a long-lasting effect. Exciting stuff. 4

Hannah: Sam, be honest… You like the video clip so much because he dances just like to you. You can’t help but like A$AP Rocky. His songs are infinitely rappable and come laden with hefty serve of get low. Guarantee everyone will be preaching along to “when the really niggas die, fake niggas going to multiple,” while they sip on their vodka, fresh lime, sodas come the weekend. 3

Lizzie: This song falls incredibly flat for me. I find myself cruising in slowwwww motion so much that I almost fall asleep. Especially around the 1 minute mark, as the sound falls that bit lower I struggle to keep the motion going. 2.5

Bianca: The first half kinda treks along but 2:37 is really where this track gets going for me. The dramatic switch-up to the menacing, pulsating backbeat, introduced by the high-pitched siren, was enough to give me chills. It’s heavy and I like it. 4 

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FI_7Oct

First Impressions: AlunaGeorge, Avicii, Röyksopp + more

FI_7Oct3

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. Today we pick apart tracks by AlunaGeorge, Les Sins, Maluca, Avicii, Röyksopp + Tinashe. 

AlunaGeorge- Supernatural

Bianca: The vocoder sampling and club-driven beat make this latest track a bit more mysterious than what I’m used to hearing from the duo. The subtle Summery, tropical-inspired percussion gives it a dancey feel with Aluna’s vocals floating effortlessly over the synths. 4 

Sam: AlunaGeorge are becoming a very reliable group. George’s instrumentals are delectably minimal and Aluna’s vocals are sweeping and melodic. Supernatural sees the duo embrace more of a dance-beat than we’ve heard previously and it’s a perfect fit for them. Let’s hope album no.2 comes very soon. 3.5

Lizzie: I’ve fallen hard for AlunaGeorge, really hard. This duo has gone from strength to strength with their effortlessly cool pop beats, and Aluna’s voice taking a commanding lead. Supernatural is not overwhelming like other tracks I’ve heard, but still holds it own as a gorgeous tropical dance-floor treat, just in time for the Summery months. 3.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/alunageorge/supernatural[/soundcloud]

Les Sins- Why

Bianca: This is funky in every kind of way. Really enjoy the shimmying vocals which make for the perfect accompaniment to the disco-inspired guitar licks and shoulder-swaying bass. Would have liked to hear it reach a bit more of a climax but other than that it’s a great addition to my ever-growing Summer playlist. 4  Bianca’s Pick 

Sam: I’m loving everything coming from Les Sins at the moment. Why takes on that disco-funk style that is very much in vogue at the moment and does so brilliantly as if Nile Rodgers fingerprints are on the track. It’s actually reminding me of Deadmau5′ Seeya with a whole lot more soul and human touch. A little genuine love in a song goes a long way. 4

Lizzie: If you are not really a fan of the disco-jam, I have a gut feeling you will find a soft spot for Les Sin’s newest track Why. The strong back beat grabs you and doesn’t let go for the entire duration of the song, and the synths and vocals offer an inviting soft dancefloor vibe, not too different to Daft Punk’s releases in 2013. 4

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/company-record-label/les-sins-why-ft-nate-salman-1[/soundcloud]

Maluca- Trigger

Bianca: This is some serious ghetto booty-shakin’ stuff. Maluca’s Dominican background and American/New York upbringing have collided brilliantly to create a unique sound of Latin-esque, tribal hip-hop. Her voice shines in the chorus in particular, as she really lets loose on top of a thumping bass. 3.5

Sam: Ooh, there’s nothing I love more than a muffled synth that exposes itself in the chorus as it does here. There’s EDM, dancehall and RnB undertones in this song, all colliding to form a rhythmic, vibrant track. Why doesn’t radio latch onto this kind of stuff. It’s so goddamn catchy that it’d be a crying shame to file it next to Robyn as songs that should’ve been number one but never made the top 100. 4 Sam’s Pick

Lizzie: This oozes a very Major Lazer party vibe, with the layered build to the chorus, then a nice bouncy drop to get you up dancing on the table. Around the 2 min the song climaxes beautifully, only to be finished with these off-putting police siren cuts – they could have gone without them! 3.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/maluca-mala/trigger_single[/soundcloud]

Avicii- The Days (Feat. Robbie Williams)

Bianca: The pensive guitar, uninspired melody and the try-hard anthemic lyrics, all topped off with a screeching finale, make for one of the worst collaborations I’ve heard since Bang Bang. Between this and his God-awful alliance with Coldplay earlier in the year, why does Avicii continue to choose artists who aren’t doing anything revolutionary anymore and are just past their use-by date? 1

Sam: The concept of this is just so bizarre. It’s got these youthful, “we’re in our prime” lyrics sung by Robbie Williams, who is, no offence, far past his prime. Surely Avicii has a huge array of artists he can pick from? Not that it would’ve saved the song. I feel like it’s been made for a water-park commercial. Lame even by Avicii’s standards. 2

Lizzie: Huh? I’m confused. I thought a) Robbie Williams had retired & b) Avicii was in hospital, not touring and sick as sick could be??? If only this was true, but alas this song exists. Avicii continues to stamp his signature hillbilly style on every track without fail, and Robbie seems to think that this track will completely revive his career. Despite the chorus being somewhat catching, this still remains an incredibly odd mix. 2

Röyksopp- Skulls

Bianca: This is honestly a bit of an uneventful one from Royksopp. I love the brooding synths and overall tension of the track but the robot voice seems a bit tired and I can’t help but feel that they could have pushed this one a bit further. Perhaps an addition of a certain someone beginning with ‘R’? 

Sam: The songs on the EP with Robyn had such a strong, unforgettable presence that it’s quite hard to really get into this one. It’s certainly more demure and much more intricate which gives off a totally different vibe. In saying that it does grow expertly into a climatic, robot-built track. Definitely one that will talk a few listens unlike Do It Again which smacked you in the face from the get-go. 3

Lizzie: Well this is an almighty head-bopper. The levels of bass and sound are little all over the place, but that’s not what sits weirdly with me. I am not a fan of the warped voice at all, I didn’t sign up for the next installment of the Tron legacy! 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW1_IIn3W6s

Tinashe- Bet (Feat. Dev Hynes)

Bianca: This has great R&B undertones and Tinashe’s voice is smooth as per usual but I’ve unfortunately never been able to get into her style for some reason. Beautiful production at the hands of Hynes with the guitar ending providing a peculiar surprise but I’m afraid I’m just going to appreciate this one from afar. 2.5 

Sam: Not what I was expecting from a Dev Hynes-produced song but I’m loving it nonetheless. It’s the most contemporary sounding track that we’ve heard from him, sounding right in Tinashe’s lane. I love that all Tinashe’s tracks so far haven’t been immediately loveable. They just subtly grow on you, giving long-lasting value rather than a short-lived shot of ecstasy. That guitar solo at the end is brilliantly unexpected and would have to be a Hynes edition. 4

Lizzie: This could easily fit perfectly into the slow dance moment which always happens in every Step Up movie. HOWEVER, the production behind Tinashe’s beautifully moving voice plucks her right out of any chick flick and right into my radar as one of my favourite artist of the year. The guitar at the end is completely surprising, but heck, why not! I am instantly more relaxed and carefree when I listen to her voice and I love this! 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick

FI_20Sept2

First Impressions: Kendrick Lamar, Azealia Banks, Ryan Hemsworth + more

FI_30SeptFirst 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. 

Jeremih- Nobody But U

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/europeangelique/jeremih-nobody-but-u[/soundcloud]

Lizzie: I am little bit flustered after this. I feel I have been seduced by some stranger, an artist I have never heard before – whispering sweet nothings in my ear. There is an effortless flow, and I can actually understand the words what he is singing unlike others of his kind! 4

Bianca: If a slow grind were to be translated into a song, this would be it. Even Jeremih on cruise control is so much smoother than your average Joe making a move in a club, as he flicks out lines with the ease and suaveness of a true pro. 

Sam: No other artists moves between the mainstream and alternative RnB than Jeremih. Here he’s back in mainstream mode preparing for the release of his next album, but it’s still an interesting, tongue-twister of a tune. When the music drops out and Jeremih spits effortlessly, it’s like there’s no better thing in the world. 3.5

Hudson Mohawke- Brainwave

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/hudsonmohawke/brainwave[/soundcloud]

Lizzie: The start is very cinematic – that Dolby surround sound feeling you get at the cinema. THEN, it just stops! This rather short track has definitely captured my attention, and struck a weirdly cool wavelength that I seem to be on today also. Any other day I may have hated it I feel, but today you’ve got my vote! 3.5

Bianca: I feel like I’ve literally stepped inside Hudson Mohawke’s brain, watching his neurons transmit electrical and chemical signals hack and forth. Judging by the wobbling synths and frantic melody, it would be a pretty intense, mysterious expedition but I’m happy enough to venture in to take a look. 3

Sam: I liked Chimes when I first heard it but to be honest it hasn’t really stuck with me. This one’s totally different- less bass, less anarchy and more atmospheric tinkles. It really doesn’t go anywhere rather sounding like a pleasant interlude. That said it’s a pretty stunning piece of synth work. 3

Ryan Hemsworth- Snow in Newark

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/ryanhemsworth/snow[/soundcloud]

Lizzie: “You are a million miles away.” This is a real departure from what I am used to hearing from the Canadian, which takes you to a pensive place far far away. The song is stripped-back, and delicate and the vocals by Dawn Golden really seals the deal for me. But why am surprised? Hemsworth always delivers! 4

Bianca: Snow in Newark transports me right to a bus window, pensively watching the snow falling gently on the ground after packing my bags and leaving my old life behind. A classic sadboy tune with a touch of emo, without all the pimples and angsty screaming. 3.5 

Sam: The same week Hemsworth drops a perky collection of bubblegum electronic he drops the moody first single from his next album. It couldn’t be more of a juxtaposition, but I’ve always admired Hemsworth’s ability to traverse genres. One of my favourite songs of last year was his track One For Me with Tinashe and this is in the same vein. He doesn’t overdo it, rather subtly laying down twinkles and organic percussion. Dawn Golden is the perfect addition for a track that proves less is more. So restrained and so brilliant. 4

18+- All The Time

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/houndstoothlbl/18-all-the-time[/soundcloud]

Lizzie: Her “talking” singing voice is utterly obnoxious but if it wasn’t for the chorus you would have lost me halfway through this track. The production is actually quite beautiful, but I just cannot get her out of my head, and not in a good way! 2

Bianca: The combination of her drawly talking voice in the verses and slightly creepy, floaty vocals in the chorus manages to make me a little bit unsettled. Both ominous and alluring at the same time, I’m kind of getting horror movie vibes from this. In saying that, it’s a nicely made track with the twinkling synths and steady RnB beat managing to pull everything together quite nicely.

Sam: The production on this is seamless- a wave of floating synths and metallic beats but the chorus lets it down. I actually like the talking verses. They’re seductive and interesting but the chorus is just a bit of a wet blanket. There’s not really any dynamic to it. Maybe It’ll grow with me in time and I hope it does because I think this duo has great promise. 3

Kendrick Lamar- I

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/topdawgent/i-1[/soundcloud]

Lizzie: This song is the healthy injection of narcissism we all need in our day! Kendrick has produced a jazzed up Santana vibe, which gives you the same uplifting vibes as Pharrell’s Happy – but way cooler. 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick

Bianca: Kendrick loves himself, and rightly so. His rapid fire roll of the tongue is hella admirable, while the megaphone vocal samples are a gritty juxtaposition to the almost too positive nature of the track. The grooving bass finale makes for a perfect ending. Hot tip: Don’t listen to while driving if you’re easily susceptible to believing that car beeping samples are happening in real life.

Sam: I can’t imagine any artist that is under more pressure for his next release to be brilliant than Kenrick Lamar. The most brilliant thing about i is that it shows no sign of desperation for another hit. The breezy, Isley Brothers sample is refreshingly self-assured and Kendrick sounds completely relaxed. While the rest of the world is dabbling in crisp, streamlined RnB, Kendrick goes for a completely different throwback vibe. It may just be the best hip-hop track of the year. 4.5

Azealia Banks- Chasing Time

[soundcloud width=”750″ heigh=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/yung-rapunxel/chasing-time[/soundcloud]

Lizzie: Just as I thought she was going to 212 herself out of the music industry, this song is undeniably brilliant. Yes, I know it’s Azealia singing, but she has done such a 180 degree turnaround that I could barely believe it was her. A soft, yet poppy tone is the perfect comeback, and it’s (for once) not in your face and annoying. Welcome back Miss Banks! 4.5

Bianca: This is such a fun comeback for Azealia. It’s a refreshing change of pace, with her more melodic mode of vocal transport and the Disclosure-esque syncopation bopping the track along nicely. I do, however, find the change of pace between verses, choruses & bridge slightly off-putting and unnecessary. It feels like she puts on the breaks right before launching into a too-short chorus. Despite this, she’s certainly got my attention, and all without using the ‘c’ word! 4 Bianca’s Pick  

Sam: Is it slightly ridiculous that Azealia Banks is making a comeback this early in her career. Her whole path since 212 has been pretty disastrous and has put her in this position where she pretty much has to start from the bottom. Luckily, this has completely restored my faith in Banks. It’s not a 212 copy- it’s a perfect pop tune that effortlessly blends together her New York raps and cool-as vocals. It may be a tune about someone wasting her time but for the first time she actually sounds at ease. I guess this means I’m back on the Azealia Banks train, let’s just hope for no more trackwork. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

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