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fi_25Aug2

First Impressions: Taylor Swift, The Drums, Les Sins + more

fi_25aug

First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on first (or second) listen. Each week we each review six new songs from the week passed, each giving them a score out of five and awarding one our pick of the week.

Taylor Swift- Shake It Off

Hannah: I was a little M.I.A when this song dropped last week and promptly broke the twittersphere. While I knew that  Earl Sweatshirt put his always relevant 2 cents in and called out a pancake-assed Tay Tay for being “inherently offensive” in her efforts to “exacerbate racial stereotypes,” and I caught glimpses of the video as it made its way around every morning show in this galaxy and the next, I’ve somehow managed to avoid listening to it until now. While I may be a little late to the party, this is a tongue-in-cheek “fuck you” like only Tay Tay could deliver and quite frankly, closet Swift fan I am, I love it. While the message is overt (shake it off was it?), her latest release heralds, in a much more subtle manner, a mature departure from her previous album. The beat is up, the brass is in and the octave a little less squeaky-girl-next-door and a little more I-might-surprise-you-yet. Yeah Taylor! 3.6

Sam: Unlike Hannah, I’m not a Tay Tay fan. Until now, I’ve found her to be alarmingly self-obsessed and overwhelmingly whiney. This, however, is a massive win. She’s not afraid to be dorky or 100% pop and the result of that is she comes off as a far more likeable artist. Max Martin’s inclusion of brass is perfect and the rap, as ridiculous as it is, is perfect. 4

Bianca: I have been in two minds about this little ditty all week. On one hand, this is a pop ballad that is catchy and purposefully kitschy in every single way; it stands as an expert transition from country to pop. However, it is for those same reasons that every fiber of my being is telling me to dislike it: the cheesy lyrics, Tay Tay’s attempts at acting ‘dorky’ in the video, the tired joke of impersonating other musicians, the spoken word/rap…I’m going to have to go ahead with the latter. In short, all aspects of why I object to it outlined here (in a blog aimed at promoting the exact opposite).

Lizzie: This is not the first time I have heard Shake it off, admittedly. Every single ounce of me wants to not like it, not dance to it and not have it stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Alas, this is exactly what happened and this will continue to happen. Well played Taylor, you got me this time! 4

[embed width=”750″ height=”415″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfWlot6h_JM[/embed]

Caribou- Our Love

Hannah: This is yet another example of Caribou’s flawless production. A bass heavy gurgle pulsing endlessly beneath a tapestry of vocal samples that expertly crescendo to a place of synth, snare, strings, rockets, 3am and deep house. I love a slow burn and Caribou’s restraint here delivers exactly that. 4 Hannah’s Pick

Sam: This is very much in the same vein as Can’t Do Without You in terms of song structure. Thankfully I was a huge fan of Can’t Do Without You and I am of this one too. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the latter parts of the song. The bassline melts my ears and the beat injects some much-needed energy into it. 3.5

Bianca: Caribou has once again perfected the art of delicacy. Gently placing subtle layer upon layer of heavenly vocals, defiant drum kicks, string synths and dat throbbing bassline, if completing a Buzzfeed ‘Which French dessert are you?’ quiz, Our Love would be a mille-feuille. 4 Bianca’s Pick 

Lizzie: It’s just so gloriously minimal. Caribou does not have to try hard to produce a track that you instantly fall in love with. The start goes against every EDM banging bone in my body and I’m happy to admit it. Then violins just sneak up on you and tickle your ears – and when you think it’s almost over, 3 mins 22 hits and you are up and at it again. 4

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/caribouband/our-love[/soundcloud]

Shannon Saunders- Sheets

Hannah: Sheets is a melting pot for everything good that’s happening at the collision of pop and electronic music right now. To that avail, it’s a good song but not a great song. It shows Saunders has a great ear for a great sound but hasn’t quite found her sound. When she does, I’m sure it’ll be killer but for now it’s just a little done. 3

Sam: I always love a healthy slice of understated electro-pop which probably explains my feelings towards this song. Saunders doesn’t need to exaggerate vocally in Sheets, rather letting the delectable melody hook you in. I feel like she’s a mini- Ellie Goulding in the making. 3

Bianca: Doughy, cooing female voices have never really sat well with me but in this case, Saunders’ has been diffused well into the synths and bassline which pleasantly prevent this track from verging into dangerous pop territory. 2.5

Lizzie: Right off the bat, you are drawn into her unique girly sound. Then the backbeat comes in as a beautiful compliment. It is exactly the pop song I feel like listening to right now. 4 Lizzie’s Pick

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/shannonsaunders/sheets[/soundcloud]

Run The Jewels- Blockbuster Night P.1

Hannah: Did he just rhyme oodles with noodles? I’m out. 2

Sam: Run The Jewels’ debut cut through in all the right places with aggressive raps and organic yet affecting beats and the same happens here. It feels removed from the current hip-hop climate ditching pop hooks and electronic stylings for something that just goes hard. It’s only a short one but it’s long enough to know that RTJ2 is going to be fierce. 4

Bianca: The grungey guitar, heavy lyrics, and general bloated sound of this track are of a nature that usually would not gel with me. But I’m feeling a bit badass tonight so I’mma just go ahead and leave a 3.5 right here while I go do some badass shit like not wait for my English Breakfast tea bag to infuse for the recommended 3-5 minutes.

Lizzie: I just feel angry after this song. My muscles are tightening and my face is getting wrinkled. Where’s my punching bag!? 2.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/massappealrecs/rtj-blockbuster-night-part-1[/soundcloud]

The Drums- I Can’t Pretend

Hannah: This is light and dreamy and some serious road trip music, but I’m over the whole wasted youth sound and the latest offering from The Drums falls irrevocably into that category. Cheer up. 2

Sam: I liked Magic Mountain when I first heard it but it’s since escaped my mind. Of course, this is once again a First Impression of the song but I have a feeling its fate might be different. I do agree with Hannah regarding the wasted youth sound but I’ve always felt The Drums pushed the envelope a little further. They are a band who have always been very aware of the aesthetic they want to give off and as such never sound lazy. I Can’t Pretend revels in woozy vocals and reverb-soaked instruments and is hopefully a good sign of what is to come on Encyclopedia. 3.5

Bianca: The Drums have personally always treaded on that fine line between being pleasantly whimsical and being tediously whiney; there’s only so much reflection and melancholy I can handle. In I Can’t Pretend, while still staying true to their signature nostalgia, they’ve also experimented into more assertive territory with electric glitches and jangly guitars. Let’s hope their Encyclopedia continues along this focus. 3.5

Lizzie: This just screams youth and summertime nostalgia. I feel like packing my bags and heading down the coast for a mid-week escape. That, or just locking myself away and watching the entire OC box set again. 3

[embed width=”750″ height=”415″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzuobjUuxAQ[/embed]

Les Sins- Bother

Hannah: If Taylor’s appearance in this weeks First Impressions’ is a ‘fuck you,’ then this is Budnick’s ‘fuck off.’ With an album out on November 4th under Les Sins and Toro y Moi continuing to pump out tracks, “don’t bother me, I’m working” is right! This is a house beat with just the right about of hip-hop influence running alongside an infectious vocal sample. While I’m not entirely sold on the detour via the frilly electronic explosion featured on the second half of the track, I’m excited for the rest of the album to drop 3

Sam: This is the track I’ve come back to time and time again this week. It’s a tune for those pumping it through the work day and sweating it out on the dancefloor and perfectly caters to day and nighttime crowds. I’d place myself in the latter category and can happily say this one would make me work for my next drink. The beat pumps the blood, the vocal-sample creates the groove and the final minute is a hands-in-the-air triumph. Damn, damn, damn, I love this. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Bianca: Don’t bother me, I’m twerkin’. 3.5 
twerking

Lizzie: This is a snazzy little jam isn’t it? It really has that I don’t give a fuck vibe, the samples in the background however, are terribly distracting. The close is a psychedelic surprise, an interesting end to an even more interesting song – nothing makes sense, but together it all kinda works. It’s weird how it all comes together nicely. 3.5

[embed width=”750″ height=”415″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyScqu7jEMc[/embed]
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The anatomy of Ariana Grande’s ‘My Everything’

Ariana Grande’s last album, Yours Truly, showed so much promise. The former Nickelodeon star emerged as a woman with stylish RnB undertones and a voice that harks back to Mariah Carey’s glory days. The problem with Yours Truly was that at times it felt a little old-fashioned and slipped into ballad territory too often. On album number two, My Everything, she’s rectified those problems.

Just looking at the production notes of the album is like reading a list of the biggest producers in pop right now. She’s pulled in Max Martin, Zedd, Benny Blanco, Darkchild and newbies like Cashmere Cat and Lido to deliver an album that sounds acutely aware of the current musical climax. First single, Problem, is one of the biggest pop songs of the years thanks to its genius brass hook and her second single Break Free is an EDM banger that showcases Grande’s voice expertly. Together the two tracks tell a tale of what is popular in the charts right now- RnB and dance-pop.

Every song on the album could easily make an indent on the chart but it doesn’t feel like My Everything has been made purely to please the masses. By pulling in rappers like A$AP Ferg and Childish Gambino, she’s embracing a whole new audience, usually snobby to popstars with this status. The album’s biggest risk is pulling in Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat but it pays off in droves. His track, Be My Baby, is an album highlight with Grande’s voice trilling at its giddy heights over a cascading beat.

Some of the most impressive moments come when she treads a careful line between dance-pop and RnB. Love Me Harder is built on a dense bed of synths and throbbing bass with Grande and guest vocalist, The Weeknd adding the soul. One Last Time is also an understated, bass-pumper with a chorus that never completely takes off with Grande choosing melody over vocal-belting. It’s a wise choice.

The album strays into ballad territory twice on the title track and on the Harry Styles-penned, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart and they do very little for the record. Thankfully she follows up the latter with the bizarre, brass-sampling, Hands On Me, which helps things get interesting again. A$AP’s first venture into a pop-feature is a chest-puffed, obnoxious verse which suits the track perfectly.

My Everything is not perfect. At times the ballads get a little self-indulgent and it jumps around genres fervently but it’s a product of a music world where trends are constantly changing. By taking a bass of RnB and building on that, Grande has delivered an album that makes sense as a whole. The songs individually, however, are pearlers. Rarely does a track feel like a filler, rather sounding like she’s pulled out the big guns for every moment. In terms of the big sellers this year, My Everything would have to be one of the best. 7.5/10

See below as we further explore the anatomy of My Everything. 

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fi_18aug

First Impressions: Kindness, Drake, Anna Lunoe + more

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First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on first (or second) listen. Each week we each review six new songs from the week past, each giving them a score out of five and awarding one our pick of the week.

Kindness- World Restart

Hannah: Apparently the world restarting sounds a lot like sax, bass, shaking cow bells and a whole lot of groove. Suddenly the apocalypse doesn’t seem so bad. 3.5

Sam: Just when the whole world is seemingly dabbling in future RnB, Kindness throws it back to a time before throbbing bass while still keeping future RnB queen, Kelela on board. It just lays right back on the beat and cruises by with funky guitars. The whole visual aesthetic of Otherness beside this sound works so well. So well. 4

Bianca: Funky guitar riffs and sexy sax samples are always a sure-fire match made in heaven. Ade’s vocals are smoother than peanut butter but unfortunately I always prefer mine with a bit more crunch. 3

Lizzie: I feel I should be strutting down the streets of Brooklyn with this tune. I love the harmonising, and the snazzy saxaphone – it offers an effortlessly layered style which I wouldn’t usually have on repeat, but Kelela has converted me. Top tune! 4

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kindness/kindness-world-restart-feat-kelela-ade[/soundcloud]

TEED and Anna Lunoe- Feels Like

Hannah: There’s something very familiar in the glitchy samples and rolling crescendos here. I feel as though this is TEED all grown up. He’s ditched the 12am curfew and is out to party all night, bringing with him party gurl-done-good Anna Lunoe. 3.5

Sam: I love that this just goes all out, four-to-the-floor for about four minutes before even introducing the vocal. And once TEED comes in it detours into a hazy post-tropical land, before yanking us straight back out into club-territory. Feels like people are going to go hard for this one (not in that way, get your mind outta the gutter). 3.5

Bianca: I got a little lost and on the verge of disinterested somewhere around the middle but once TEED reared his dreamy head at the 3:55 mark, all the jigsaw puzzle pieces just came into place. 4 Bianca’s Pick

Lizzie: Wow, just wow. Anna is going from strength to strength in 2014. You can’t really go wrong with a TEED remix, EVERYONE loves TEED. I can feel myself getting trapped in a repetitive dance move with this, which is fine, but may lead to some serious cramping on the d-floor. Keep up these thumpers, Miss Lunoe. 4

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/t-e-e-d/totally-enormous-extinct-dinosaurs-x-anna-lunoe-feels-like[/soundcloud]

Collarbones- Turning

Hannah: I love the bass on this track… Such a shame it’s hidden beneath a whole lot of duck quacking samples and those jarring vocals. 2

Sam: It’s always been Collarbones style to disguise pop songs unders a sea of samples and glitchy synths and nothing’s changed in that regard. What has happened is it sounds way more explicitly melodic, with Marcus laying down some crazy pop vocals. I love how they so effortlessly melt together club, pop and RnB styles. 4

Bianca: I’m loving this smorgasbord of flavours and effects. One would think that the vocals and sporadic synths have no place in the same room but Collarbones have proved the exact opposite; a surprising pairing that will live happily ever after. 3.5

Lizzie: I like to call this “Pimp My Pop Song”. The poppy vocals of Marcus have totally been transformed to make this layered, bass thumping, catchy track. The 2 min 40 moment it just a bundle of joy, and sets up for an epic climactic close. 4 Lizzie’s Pick

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/collarbones/turning[/soundcloud]

ILOVEMAKONNEN- Tuesday (Feat. Drake)

Hannah: I love this. It’s a paired back, get low grind, totally appropriate for midweek debauchery. I think Tuesday is my new favourite day. 4 Hannah’s Pick

Sam: I was already digging the original of this but Drake takes it to a whole new drunk-level. In fact the whole thing sounds drunk. Not messy drunk, but hazy drunk with slightly slurred raps and swirling synths. Yes it is true, I do LOVEMAKONNEN. And Drake. 4 Sam’s Pick

Bianca: This track gets extra points from me purely because it has fulfilled the role of my musical companion on this rainy day. The slow grooves and lazy vocals are doing a fine job of replacing my big woollen jumper or cup of hot tea while the rain cascades outside. 3

Lizzie: I knew Sam and Han would choose this baby! I am not going to sucumm to peer pressure. His autotuned voice is agitating and slurry. Do I like it more than Rebecca Black’s Friday? Yes. Would I shout it out on top of a rooftop? No. 3

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/octobersveryown/makonnen-ft-drake-tuesday[/soundcloud]

Ella Henderson- Glow

Hannah: And here we have the title track from the next Twilight-esque film. 2

Sam: I know you’re never really meant to admit it but I do have a bit of a penchant for a pop song with a triumphant chorus. This one’s a little formulaic (think Katy Perry Fireworks) but it achieves what it sets out to do. Ella’s voice is a cracker and speaking of crackers I’m always a fan of a bit of ‘fire’ personification. 3

Bianca: Does she have the X Factor? Yes. But that should not be taken as a compliment. This song is as annoying as those people who think they’re clever for informing you that tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable. 1

Lizzie: And I get all this flack for EDM music!!! This is just a big no, no. It belongs alongside Shakira and Vanessa Amorosi – it just reeks of terrible song releases made exclusively for the World Cup or the Olympics. 1.5

Jessie Ware- Say You Love Me

Hannah: This a much softer Ware than the one we’ve come to know but she still hits all those R&B notes so effortlessly, it’s impossible to deny her talent as one of the best songstresses circulating at the moment. Admittedly though, this is a little too pop, too country and too aimed at popular appeal for my liking but if someone’s going to do it, she does do it well. 3

Sam: This is the first-time Ware has taken on a straightforward love song and she can’t really do anything wrong can she? Her vocals are just so enticing and seductive that she could cover the crazy frog and I’d be happy. I’m hoping the album is more in the lane of Tough Love but if this Ed Sheeran co-write gets her a little bit more exposure, then I’m happy. 3.5

Bianca: Jessie’s voice is perfect and on-point as per usual but the tempo and sappy lyrics are a bit too cringe-worthy for me. I think the root of the problem here is Ed Sheeran- the acoustic guitar plucks need to go. 2

Lizzie: It ain’t no Tough Love, but it is definitely the perfect Chick Flick accompaniment. Time to invest in a pack of Kleenex. 3

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An Infographic Review: Kimbra- The Golden Echo

It’s been three years since Kimbra‘s last record Vows and in that time she’s clearly done a lot of exploration. Kimbra’s first taste off the new album, 90s Music, left many people scratching their heads. Gone were the days of the conventional songster and in its place an artistic innovator and risk-taker had emerged. While 90s Music is the most out-there cut on The Golden Echo as a whole it’s an album that has different surprises at every turn. Whether that be an explosive chorus, vocal manipulation or an orchestral fanfare, The Golden Echo is not a record to act as background music.

For those who were a fan of Kimbra’s well-crafted debut, Vows, there is still plenty to enjoy on this new one. Carolina is a straight-forward soul number with oozing melodies while Miracle is an 80s-tinged funk jam that has seemingly been inspired by Prince. For every conventional moment there is a left-of-centre turn. Teen Heat‘s staccato-driven chorus explodes from mellow instrumentation and Waltz Me To The Grave has the grandiose of a slightly skewed Viennese Waltz. Below we’ve summed up our review of the album in an infographic to make it simpler to dissect some of our many thoughts about this ever-surprising record.

For those who want to play along at home you can stream The Golden Echo here.

Like us on Facebook for more fun and frivolity like this.

kimbrainfographic

FirstImpressions11Aug_2

First Impressions: Nicki Minaj, Dillon Francis, BenZel + more

FirstImpressions11Aug

First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on first (or second) listen. Each week we each review six new songs from the week past, each giving them a score out of five and awarding one our pick of the week.

This week, we’re taking on all things pop with BenZel’s love lorn new single, Say Lou Lou’s collaboration with Lindstrom, Nicki Minaj’s ode to big buns and more. Read below as we clash heads, sync opinions and make our pick.

Say Lou Lou & Lindstrom- Games For Girls

Lizzie: I feel like i’ve gone back in time about 20 years. This is a sweet, poppy gem which make me instantly happy. I kinda want to invest in a Xylophone… 3.5 Lizzie’s Pick

Sam: I like everything apart from the fact that we have to wait until February for the album. Of all the stellar tracks these twins have released, this one sounds the most polished, confident and delectable. It’s also the most different sounding thing they’ve released, probably thanks to Lindstrom’s groove-heavy production. 3.5

Bianca: This has such a great groove to it. I’m really digging the nu-disco vibe that Lindstrom is laying down below the twins’ poppy vocals. Double trouble! 3.5 Bianca’s Pick.

[soundcloud width=”740″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/sayloulou/say-lou-louxlindstrom-games-for-girls[/soundcloud]

BenZel- Wasted Love

Lizzie: Love the chorus breakdown, it’s very textured and evocative – especially her voice it just draws you straight in. I have many many feels after this song. 3.5

Bianca: I’m really getting a Jessie Ware vibe from this track but one that’s been injected with a warm dose of R&B. Stevie Neale’s honey-smooth vocals are an inviting addition to the already super-smooth beat. 3.5

Sam: The fact that BenZel are not two Japanese teenagers makes them no less impressive. Every pop act is surely champing at the bit to work with this duo following Jessie Ware’s Tough Love and now this. It’s a beautiful, understated pop song with a verse that rushes like a hit of sugar to the head. 4

[soundcloud width=”740″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/officialbenzel/wasted-love[/soundcloud]

Nicki Minaj- Anaconda

Lizzie: After I managed to draw my eyes away from her derriere for just a second I was able to listen to hear this song in all its glory. Maybe “glory” was not the right word to use. This track is a royal pain in my tiny (comparatively) arse. 1.5

Bianca: She just butchered a classic fave from my childhood and Sir Mix-a-lot deserves a written apology. Yes, we get it. You’ve got buns, hun. A baker’s dozen worth. 1

Sam: I couldn’t agree less with Bianca. The original is far from a classic. As far as I’m concerned this is more palatable. I’m just going to put the fact that this is completely ridiculous to the side and give Nicki some cred. She’s really the only artist on radio right now churning out stuff with a bit of colour and personality. She’s ditched the dance-pop side of things and is heading for a much more well-rounded third album. 3

Andras & Oscar- Everytime I Go

Lizzie: Has someone put the morning coffee run yet, cause I’m gonna need a strong shot of something to wake me up after this track. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz 2

Bianca: Stop, collaborate and listen! It seems like every song so far has been a joint venture with Andras Fox & Oscar Key Sung leading the pack. It’s soulful and seductive in its own right, with Sung’s vocals grooving effortlessly over the delicate synths and crescendoing melody. 3.5

Sam: Lizzie, you’re killing me. This is such a warm, bassy treat. Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung are two of the finest in Australian electronic music right now and this proves why. This one’s light on the tricks and heavy on the groove with an ever so subtle dance break at the end. 4

[soundcloud width=”740″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/chaptermusic/andras-oscar-everytime-i-go-album-version[/soundcloud]

Dillon Francis- When We Were Young

Lizzie: Not a fan of the vocalist at all. He sounds whiney, gaspy and just plain annoying. I usually rely on my man Dillon to produce a head banger which everyone will enjoy, not something that sounds like David Guetta’s sloppy seconds. 2

Bianca: If being young sounded like this then I would’ve had a very intense childhood. 1.5

Sam: Dillon, why? You only have to see one of his sets to see how much personality this guy has got and yet this is completely devoid of any personality. I could literally compile a list of 102 EDM songs that sound exactly like this. An attempt to break into the commercial market that sounds a little desperate. 2

[soundcloud width=”740″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/dillonfrancis/dillon-francis-sultan-ned-shepard-when-we-were-young-feat-the-chain-gang-of-1974[/soundcloud]

xxyxx- Untitled (Feat. Vanessa Elisha)

Lizzie: I am not one to play games, but this song has you sitting on the edge of your seat gasping for more at the start. The elongated (almost) silence around the 40 second mark is enticing and unpredictable but as the song progresses I am not blown off the edge of my seat if you get my jist, i’m just intrigued. Meh, it was alright. 3

Bianca: My feelings towards this are similarly untitled. At times, I’m hovering over the next button at other times I’m captivated by Vanessa Elisha’s smooth vocal. I think I’ll call the feeling content. This is definitely an interesting tune. 3.5

Sam: There’s so much depth and intricacy to this offering. Vanessa Elisha’s vocal on this is sliced-up and bubbles under the myriad of percussion and mellow synths, lulling you into a subconscious state. When the beats drop out and she comes through, it’s a pretty glorious moment. Everytime I think future RnB is getting a bit old, something like this comes out. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

[soundcloud width=”740″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/xxyyxx/unknown[/soundcloud]

FKAtwigslp1

Review: FKA Twigs- LP1

FKAtwigslp1

Only two years into her recorded career, London artist and producer, Tahliah Barnett, better known as FKA Twigs, is yet to put a foot wrong. From visually breathtaking videos to sporadic, oddball pieces of pop, she’s both divided and captivated audiences with a flair for innovation not seen yet this decade.

There’s a certain fragility to the clown-like, album cover for LP1 and it’s a perfect visual companion for an album which is sexually-loaded and confidently feminine yet also gentle and soft. While some of the lyrics could be considered controversial (“my thighs are apart for when you’re ready to breathe in” from Two Weeks for instance) she washes them in synths and sings in a whimsical tone, almost as to enter your subconscious rather than affect you immediately.

Such is the presence of LP1. There’s a chance that the first listen will wash over you but it hovers with unconventional melodies and vivid soundscapes that are too remarkable to be forgotten. The first tracks, Lights Out, is a choice example of this. On the surface it’s a minimal, one-dimensional track but dig a little deeper and you’re exposed to dripping percussion, soul-rendering double bass and lyrical poignancy. It’s an after-dark tune that traverses issues of sexual self-confidence and intimacy, at that.

The whole album is sexually charged in the most graceful of ways. On Two Weeks she delicately places a microscope on the most intense of sexual attractions while Hours is a frozen snapshot into a passionate embrace, lips on lips. While the lyrics are the most vivid portrayal of that, the instrumental is equally effective in building those moments. In Hours the music rushes with intensity and then backs off, creating gradual climaxes that are quickly dispelled by a glitchy beat.

Away from sexual prowess, she also delivers on autobiographical tunes. Video Girl details her history as a dancer for the likes of Britney Spears, N’Sync and Christina Aguilera. The elongated, wobbling synths and whimsical vocals have the same fluid motion as that of a dancer, with the 808s adding an RnB flavour.

The way that Twigs marries the instrumental with the themes of the album, is one of its greatest triumphs. Pendulum sees a gently undulating beat underneath lyrics like “So lonely trying to be yours/ What a forsaken cause”. It’s both heartbreaking and fascinating listening to the beat teeter on an awkward edge, a pendulum, if you like.  While at times she’s a broken woman, at other times she’s defiant. On Give Up she digs her toes into the sand, singing “I know that sometimes you’d wish I’d go away/ But I’d wish that you’d know that I’m here to stay”.

Time could be given to dissecting her different influences from modern hip-hop to Sade-inspired RnB, but ultimately LP1 is more than that. It’s a pocket of music that has only been explored by Twigs thus far. It’s one of melodic twists and turns, intimately personal lyrics and industrial beats. She perhaps sums the album up best on Closer when she taunts, “closer, I’m here to be closer”. That she is, with LP1 giving a vivid insight into her life. Artists have been honest and personal before, but not with the same effect as Twigs. LP1 doesn’t only live up to the hype, it sets a precedent for music in 2014.

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tomorrowlandshazam2

Why the hell did they Shazam that? We review Tomorrowland’s Top 10 Tracks

tomorrowlandshazamTomorrowland finished up last weekend in Belgium with thousands of EDM fans heading back to their home countries to rest their sore heads and frazzled minds. inthemix has published the Top 10 Most Shazamed Songs throughout the event’s two weekends and the results are unsurprisingly full of EDM bangers. Two of our writers with the least patience towards EDM agreed to review the 10 tracks and give themselves an education in four-to-the-floor, hands-in-the-air EDM.

All jokes aside, there are many reasons why Tomorrowland is one of the best festivals of its kind.

10. R3hab- & Deorro- Flashlight

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/r3hab/r3hab-deorro-flashlight[/soundcloud]

Bianca: Had to take extra care there to include the ‘3’ in R3hab.

Sam: That trumpet synth is giving me a heart-attack. At one point I thought the build-up was never going to end. Oscillates between a trumpet and farting noises. If the farting noise was intentional, I’m in favour of the novelty.

Bianca: This isn’t a case of when will the bass drop, but why. The build up is so fucking intense, I never want it to end. :'(

Sam: Aaaaand a completely different track after 1:40

Bianca: I’m peaking.

9. David Guetta ft. Sam Martin – Lovers on the Sun

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/avicii-music-holland/david-guetta-ft-avicii-sam-martin-lovers-on-the-sun[/soundcloud]

Sam: That voice is almost as offensive as Nickelback.

Bianca: I’ve never heard a song before where the whistling was so completely unwelcome and unnecessary.

Sam: “Surprise motherfucker” one person comments when the twinkling synth comes in. Indeed. The bluegrass thing worked for Avicii but the Western stylings of this one for Guetta are woeful.

Bianca: The real question is…who in their right mind would bother to go through the process of bringing out their phone, unlocking it, opening the Shazam app, pressing the button and holding their hand up to the sky for a good 5 seconds so that they could have a record of this song?

david4

Oh, right. Nobody was in their right mind.

8. Zhu – Faded

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/zhu/faded[/soundcloud]

Bianca: I like this song and would Shazam it too…if Tomorrowland was 3 months ago. How does no one know the name of it by now?

Sam: I suppose it’s one of the better ones here and of course a song about getting wasted is going to appear in this list. There’s just absolutely no dynamics or anything interesting apart from a wistful voice singing he’s wasted. Jessica Mauboy’s Pop A Bottle is more successful than this.

7. Secondcity- I Wanna Feel

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/secondcityuk/secondcity-i-wanna-feel-radio[/soundcloud]

Sam: Deep house penetrates Tomorrowland, could this be the end of EDM? Judging by the rest of list, definitely not. It’s been a massive hit in the UK and is probably heading for Australia. I suppose it’s an inoffensive enough slice of disco-house.

Bianca: At least this one has words. And it’s nice to have a little Toni Braxton influence but I honestly would’ve preferred Unbreak My Heart.

6. Netsky- Running Low

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/netsky/running-low-feat-beth-ditto[/soundcloud]

Bianca: Why do EDM voices always have to be so…heavy and overly soulful? The beat is already intense, there’s no need for the double whammy.

Sam: I really like Beth Ditto’s voice but oh my goodness that drum ‘n’ bass whacks you right in the stomach. How do you dance to this? Please someone send tutorials.

Bianca: Oh, didn’t realise it was Beth Ditto. Probably shouldn’t have used ‘heavy’ as one of my adjectives…

Sam: Once again there’s a lyric about drinking a lot.

5. Ommet Ozcan- Raise Your Hand

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/ummetozcan/ummet-ozcan-raise-your-hands[/soundcloud]

Sam: At least I knew what to do from the title.

Bianca: Am I allowed to raise both? In surrender, I mean.

Sam: I’d be out as soon as those trance synths hit. Take me to the clouds above.

Bianca: Can I get a read-out on what the Soundcloud peeps are saying?

“Sweet”

“Add me”

“Sick”

“No. Just no.”

“Turkey”

“Dirty”

“And 1, 2, 3…Jump!”

Bianca: Probably agree with “No” & “Turkey”.

Sam: This is served to you right on a plate, with directions far easier than an Ikea manual.

Bianca: I think people did what the song intended them to do- to raise their hands- but they accidentally opened up Shazam in the process.

4. Dimitri Vegas & MOGUAI & Like Mike – Mammoth (Original Mix)

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/dimitrivegasandlikemike/dimitri-vegas-moguai-like-mike[/soundcloud]

Sam: I’m really beginning to feel like I’m taking multiple bullets to the head. I can imagine pulling out my phone and shazaming it for lack of knowing what else to possibly do.

Bianca: I think this hairy situation needs to stay in the Ice Age.

Sam: At this point I’m struggling to find different adjectives to describe very similar tracks.

Bianca: Might I suggest, “heavy”?

3. Dimitri Vangelis & Wyman & Steve Angello- Payback

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/sizerecords/payback-original-mix[/soundcloud]

Sam: My hands are still in the air from Ommet Ozcan tune and I’m yet to be directed to put them down. Another screaming EDM banger with a drop that feels like a meteor. I’m guessing Tomorrowland was the only festival where Outkast weren’t on the bill?

Bianca: Look, it might be a bit unfair to be judging these songs from behind my computer screen, with a lemon and ginger tea in my hand on a cold Tuesday afternoon. I guess you can’t truly rate a banger like this when you’re not surrounded by thousands and thousands of your closest friends.

2. Watermat- Bullit

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/spinnin-deep/watermat-bullit-original-mix[/soundcloud]

Sam: Where’s the Titanium of this year’s Tomorrowland? I could do with a bit of Sia at this point.

Bianca: I wish Shazam had the capacity to tell you at what exact point these people Shazammed the tracks and were like “oh, shit! I need to remember this exact moment!” Was it the steady build? The peak? The drop?? So many questions!

Sam: It seems it’s all one in the same in this track. That whistling sound though is really something. Someone has commented on Soundcloud “so chill”. She must have an insanely hectic life.

Bianca: Sounds like an air raid over a Snake Charmer. Could be the second instalment to Outkast’s B.O.B: Bombs over Bombay.

Sam: Could it be the soundtrack to Slumdog Millionaire 2: From Rags to EDM Riches.

Bianca: When you got EDM riches you got bitches.

1. Dimitri Vegas, Martin Garrix and Like Mike- Tremor

[soundcloud width=”700″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/martingarrix/dimitri-vegas-martin-garrix-like-mike-tremor-sensation-2014-anthem-original-mix[/soundcloud]

Sam: I am petrified. Am I ready for this?

Bianca: Number one…Everything in my life has been leading to this very moment.

Sam: Does anyone break ribcages at Tomorrowland? My poor little laptop, I promise I’ll put on some Dido for you to recover afterwards.

Bianca: Really glad they had the countdown there so I knew exactly where the drop was.

Sam: …but in all seriousness this is in every way a #banger

Bianca: So many peaks and troughs I don’t know what to do with myself. I might just have a lie down. Can I get a top up on my lemon & ginger tea?

FirstImpressions_4Aug_2

First Impressions: FKA Twigs, SOPHIE, Kate Boy + more

FirstImpressions_4Aug

Four people holding one rose each and yet there are six songs to choose from. Among them are some of the most eligible artists in the music world* with feisty females like Jessie J, arty types like FKA Twigs and the sentimental kind like Porter Robinson and #1 Dads. While some will be left brokenhearted, two artists in particular win the adoration of the interns.

*We can’t guarantee all these artists are eligible but they sound like they’re up for a good time.

Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj- Bang Bang

Sam: Ugh. I’m all for a big diva anthem but nothing sticks with this one. The hook is like something from a Michael Buble meets the songs of Hairspray album and throughout I hear a lot of screaming cats. Nicki’s verse is fire, of course, but it feels like Ariana knows it’s shit and Jessie is way too into it. 1

Bianca: Jessie, Ariana AND Nicki? As suspected, three wrongs do not make a right. Excuse me while I go bang bang into my head. 0

blam

Lizzie: Although it pains me to say it, this song is going to be a hit. Ergh. 2

Hannah: Remember when Xtina jazzed up her sound in the most appropriate pop-diva way possible and released that killer cover of Car Wash with a verse from Missy Elliot…? Yeah that’s not what’s happening here as much as they wish it was. 0.5 

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/dafrican/jessie-j-bang-bang-ft-ariana-grande-nicki-minaj-2014-world-premier[/soundcloud]

FKA Twigs- Pendulum

Sam: After the above song I feel like I’m back in my happy place. I already decided off Two Weeks that Twigs is my favourite artist of the year so all this is just a bonus. Pendulum undulates with intricacy and Twigs takes all the time she needs with the melody. She’s the queen of subtlety and yet also a master at theatrics. This is supreme. 4.5  Sam‘s Pick  

Bianca: FKA Twigs is easily one of the most interesting artists right now. Pendulum is weirdly beautiful and manages to maintain power and intensity through the most delicate of nuances. It’s her ability to make these contradictions, to gently oscillate between subtle and intense, that keeps me coming back for more. 3.5 

Lizzie: Ain’t no one going to rush FKA Twigs through this one. Not too dissimilar to Two Weeks, the soft pops of her to-die-for angelic voice, blended with the slow pattering back beat make for yet another mesmerising track. I have no idea what she is saying, but I’m ok with that. 4

Hannah: This is a heart melting lullaby sung out in the heart of industry. As the pendulum cranks and croons all around, FKA Twigs’ melody is all centring and all soothing. She is simply undeniable. 4.5  Hannah‘s Pick  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw6H9YsTLek

SOPHIE- Lemonade

Sam: Oh I love dem candy noises. The trickle at the beginning of this track is total ear candy, literally. From there it’s just full of runaway melodies, Eurotrash synths and popping beats. I guess the whole experience is all a bit like eating popping candy. It doesn’t match the expertise of Bipp, but it comes close. 4

Bianca: There just seems to be no substance to this song, apart from way too many colours and preservatives. It’s a sickly-sweet, hands-rubbing-on-balloon headache of a song, although, admittedly, listening to this after I spent all day at a kids’ birthday party probably hasn’t worked in its favour. 

Lizzie: Straight out of Willy Wonka washing machine! Please go back to Oompa Loompa Land, SOPHIE. Not even Veruca Salt wants you. 1

Hannah: This sounds like Alvin and The Chipmunks found on their way to a DDR machine and now can’t decide if they want to battle it to the sounds of drum and bass or J-Pop. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/msmsmsm/sophie-lemonade[/soundcloud]

Kate Boy- Self Control

Sam: I am pretty pissed that I had to wait almost two years after falling in love with Northern Lights for Self Control, but hey, I suppose it’s worse for fans of The Avalanches. That aside, Self Control has absolutely none of what its title suggests. It’s a big, bombastic pop song with a chorus that would make Dr. Luke salivate. From this point onwards pop music should only be made by the Swedish. 3.5 

Bianca: I’m enjoying the tribal beat and poppy synths but the vocal melody, particularly in the chorus, leaves a lot to be desired. 

Lizzie: Love the thump of the start. If only this was an instrumental version I could be left bopping awkwardly by myself for hours. There must be something in the water in Sweden, because they just keep churning out hit after hit! 3.5

Hannah: There really is something in the water over there in Sweden. Want to make a great pop record? Make like Kate Akhurst, hope a flight over and take one long glassy sip from the closest crystalline lake. This is exactly how all pop music should sound. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/kateboy/self-control[/soundcloud]

#1 Dads- So Soldier

Sam: Right off the bat that guitar riff hits me right in the heart, then Ainslie Wills comes in with this Cat Power-esque vocals and continues to just chip away at me. Tom Iansek and Wills sound so perfect together on the chorus. 3.5

Bianca: What a combo! Iansek’s strumming guitar has this essence of familiarity from the get-go, while Wills’ dreamy voice manages to transport me somewhere, far, far away. 3.5 

Lizzie: Definitely a Summer road trip kinda track – pack a picnic and set off! Ainslie’s voice is broody and seductive, but what truly shines in this track is the guitar, it’s just so floaty and nostalgic. 4

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pieater/1-dads-so-soldier-feat-ainslie-wills-about-face-lp-2014[/soundcloud]

Porter Robinson- Flicker

Sam: Finally Porter just goes screw it with subtlety and includes the most explicit representation of his Japanese influences yet. This is a crescendoing, textural, dynamic soundtrack to an anime game that conveniently doubles as a great electronic track. 4

Bianca: ヽ(=´▽`=)ノ ♪♬  ☆*・゜゚・*(^O^)/*・゜゚・*☆ ♪♬ ヾ(。◕ฺ∀◕ฺ)ノ

I’m digging everything this song is throwing at me. It’s so multi-layered and kept me enthralled the entire time, first with the funky, almost disco-inspired guitar riff, punctuated by anime-inspired spoken word, before dramatically reaching its glittery finale. I feel like I’ve just successfully completed the final level of a Sega game.  Bianca’s Pick  

Lizzie: I am a bit torn with this song. Half of it sounds like my Furby keeps turning on and off. The other second half however, in typical Porter style, opens up to be a grand, layered big room sound we I know and love. He drops the bass like no one else around the 2:50 sec mark, but with his Japanese twang – genius. Not my fav on the new Worlds album, but still pretty damn good.   Lizzies Pick  

Hannah: A novice when it comes to the world of EDM and its producers, I’ve been listening to this track all week on Hype Machine (what was that about first impressions?) unsure if admitting to this kind of Porter Robinson over all others would have me vilified by those in the know. That said, as long as Sam likes it, I’m happy to admit I do too. 3.5

FirstImpressions_28July2

First Impressions: SBTRKT, BANKS, Jessie Ware + more

FirstImpressions_28July

In the midst of the Splendour in the Grass weekend bender we found some time to sit down with a few new tracks. Here’s our slightly sleep-deprived reactions to those tunes.

Jessie Ware- Share It All

Bianca: It reminds me of Intro by the xx. It’s really dreamy, it lulls you into a dream state. It could be on repeat and I wouldn’t realise.  4                        

Lizzie: it feels soft and whimsical. I feel I’m floating away on a cloud with it. It’s not too sickly sweet though. 4    

Sam: her voice is extraordinary. It just floats when she holds those notes. Romy’s co-write is also very evident. It has the same sparseness that the xx do and that does wonders for Ware’s voice.  3.5

HannahHer voice. It just floats and lingers. It pitches and ungulates so smoothly over the sparse, can’t hide nothing, melody. It’s got a really welcomed breathy quality complimented by her RnB grid. Admittedly, it errs on the repetitive, slightly predictable side but let’s be honest, if you’re listening to this song you probably have other things on your mind. So sexy. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/jessieware/jessiewareshareit-all[/soundcloud]

SBTRKT- New Dorp. New York (Feat. Ezra Koenig)

Bianca: It’s weirdly wonderful. I love Ezra’s voice and it’s good to hear it accompanied by something so different. It’s a great mixture of chaotic percussion and funky guitar that drives a subtle groove. 4.5 Bianca’s Pick

Lizzie: I don’t love Ezra’s talking voice on this it sounds a little bit like Flight of the Concords. But I love everything else about it. I feel that it would be crazy in a club.  4 Lizzie’s Pick

Sam: I thought Temporary View was way too safe so I am suitably thrilled that this one takes huge risks. That female vocal under Ezra’s voice is so New York chic. It’s very pretentious but done so well that it’s hard not to love. Wildly chaotic yet comfortably familiar.  4.5

Hannah: This is a totally new sound for SBTRKT, and a totally welcomed one at that. The licking bass and subtle, building percussion is irresistibly catchy, while the chorus brims with perfectly selected samples just long enough to remind you that this isn’t all funk. It’s a great way to reintroduce his new album, especially after that blip of a release last month. New York, New York! 4

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/detailsofmylifenet/sbtrkt-new-drop-new-york-feat[/soundcloud]

BANKS – Beggin’ For Thread

Lizzie: With all due respect to BANKS I feel like it fits in a Mandy Moore teen flick. It’s a bit teenie-bopper for me.   3.5  

Bianca: I’m with Lizzie on the 90s vibe but there’s an RnB vibe that’s much cooler than Mandy Moore. The broodiness of Drowning is there but this time it feels like she can breathe a bit better. The creeping quality is sexy. 4

Sam: This is her most forward pop moment yet and it’s brilliant. She’s so dark yet so so alluring. It’s great to hear a sound so consistent but also daring. The man who did BANKS wrong has done us all a favour.  4.5 Sam’s Pick

Hannah: This is a perfect example of how sultry, sexy pop should be done. The lyrics are hard hitting and belted with the type of confidence that comes when you’re being so bad it’s good. The breakdown that crescendos into her final chorus is impeccably placed, securing Banks as one to watch. Hannah’s Pick

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/banksbanksbanks/banks-beggin-for-thread[/soundcloud]

Ryan Hemsworth- Gods (Feat. UV Boi)

Bianca: It’s got nothing particularly distinctive about it other than giving me false hope that I recieved a few messages. In saying that it would be a fun addition to a dj set as a filler song. 2

Lizzie: there’s artists that use real sounds and others that use it in an annoying way. It’s like hearing a siren in a song when you’re driving. I thought it was going to go somewhere but it didn’t for me. 2.5

Sam: From the computer age straight to my heart. It’s got a PC Music quality to it and I love how he uses unconventional sounds to create melody. At this point, Hemsworth is one of electronic music’s most important names. This further proves that. 4

Hannah: Ryan Hemsworth can do no wrong. That effortlessly melodic intro, glitchy samples and surprise drum solo is the perfect introduction to what is a track perhaps ever so slightly less whimsical than what we’ve come to know him for. While playful and full obscure samples, this track has march, pace and guts, at times teetering on the side of too much but pulling right back before it falls. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/ryanhemsworth/gods-with-uv-boi[/soundcloud]

Rustie- Attack (Feat. Danny Brown)

Bianca: I like it. But I couldn’t listen to it on my own. I’d rather hear it in a club. I think I’d get low. But not that low. Medium low.   3.5

Lizzie: I really like this song. I think it would be much better live with a crowd of people. I love Danny Brown’s flow. 4

Sam: I just got smacked in the head with a bat and then thrown in a monster truck. This one goes so hard. Rustie and Danny Brown are a great pairing but I’d need anti-anxiety pills to hear this again.  3

Hannah: This is has the guise of being something you’d happily get low to in a dark club at 3am, before you quickly realise it’s just a cheap imitation and a headache waiting to happen. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/rustie/attak-feat-danny-brown[/soundcloud]

Joe Goddard- Endless Love (Feat. Betsy)

Bianca: Hot Chip can never do anything wrong in my eyes. I liked the slow build and the 90s vocals but it didn’t have much body to it. 3.75

Lizzie: I really liked it. It wasn’t too weird to annoy me and it was interesting enough to keep me occupied. I could get lost on the dance-floor to this. 4

Sam: I found this alarmingly annoying. I like the one part where Betty got to sing a full voice but her chopped and screwed vocals had me clenching my teeth. Surely he could have done something more with that mediocre beat too. Love Joe usually but not today. 2

HannahI really don’t want to say this. But is anyone kind of bored? As far as lounge music goes it’s great and there’s some really crystalline moments, like the flickering “endless love,” vocal and the percussive samples that sneak in underneath that, but otherwise… Snooze. 2.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/greco-roman/joe-goddard-endless-love-feat-betsy[/soundcloud]

 

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