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FirstImpressions15Sept_2

First Impressions: SBTRKT, Kiesza, Flight Facilities + more

FI_15Sept

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

SBTRKT- Voices In My Head (Feat. A$AP Ferg and Warpaint)

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/sbtrkt/sbtrkt-voices-in-my-head-ft-asap-ferg[/soundcloud]

Sam: I was really worried when I heard Temporary View that SBTRKT was going to be offering up the same ol’ thing but how wrong I was. Everything since that track has been out-of-the-box, bordering on bizarre. A$AP’s rap over SBTRKT’s jazz-infused beat sits somewhere between Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar. It shouldn’t work, but my goodness, does it. 4

Lizzie: This track is very muddled and maddening – a real departure from what I am used to hearing from my beloved SBTRKT. Yes, it does emulate the “voices in my head” weirdly well, but it just doesn’t gel together well for me. A$AP is the only thing that cures my insanity when listening to this. 2

Bianca: Everything that SBTRKT has offered us from his new album has been so diverse and challenging to the norm. Once again, he has enlisted more talented counterparts to create something multi-faceted and weirdly wonderful. Elements of jazzy brass, combined with A$AP’s infectious spit of words and the piano solo finale create a jilted atmosphere, oscillating between confusion and calm. In essence, the environment of someone who actually is suffering from voices in their head. So so excited for Wonder Where We Land to land. 3.75 

Kiesza- No Enemies

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kiesza/kiesza-no-enemiesz[/soundcloud]

Sam: Lay on the bass, reference ‘90s rave and throw down a killer melody and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker. This track is all about the powerhouse verses with Kiesza shredding with the vocals. It’s all very of the moment and throwback at the same time isn’t it? 3

Lizzie: I could definitely see myself dragging my friends onto the dancefloor with No Enemies. The ’90s beats and killer vocals are a fresh sound, and the breakdown at the end provide an easy and effective recipe for you to let your hair down and party on into the night. 3.5

Bianca: Every now and then, I question whether certain songs from the past would be successful if they were released in this day and age. No Enemies, with its thumping bass, power keys and Kiesza belting it out on the vocals, is the perfect case of a ’90s track subbing quite nicely into modernity. The ’90s is currently the new ’80s and this gal is so on-trend right about now. 

Arca- Thievery

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/arca1000000/arca-thievery/[/soundcloud]

Sam: This guy’s already produced for Kanye West and FKA Twigs so he’s got some serious cred and you can tell why on this first offering from his debut, Xen. The dense tones of this one really anchor in your brain, with the only relief being those flighty synths that permeate the track. The ebbs and flows, where he layers on the intensity and then pairs it back is what makes Thievery as captivating as it is. 4

Lizzie: Thievery has a soul, not quite sure why or how but it exudes an electricity which gets right to the core. I am still undecided whether I actually like the song, but it had definitely caught my attention, and opened my eyes to a new artist, which is not usually my style or taste. 3.5

Bianca: While some parts of the track bring back memories of my initial, screechy violin lessons back in primary school, there are some really nice sonic elements to this. Mind-bending and totally manic, Thievery ignites a kind of angsty emotion but I’m not sure I’m ready for just yet. 2.5 

Flight Facilities- Two Bodies

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/flightfacilities/two-bodies-feat-emma-louise-extended-version[/soundcloud]

Sam: Flight Facilities have made a name for themselves making music that’s suited to a boutique hotel lobby, but a little more melodic and interesting. Two Bodies has that same low-key vibe to it but Emma Louise hops on to give this sensual, personal vocal that saves the track from mediocrity. 3

Lizzie: Claire de Lune proved to the world that Flight Facilities are the great at creating ethereal, floaty, ‘Chill Out Album’ tracks with a killer female vocalist. Two Bodies is yet another example of this trend that the Sydney duo seem to be keeping. Sadly, this just misses the mark a bit for me – pushing the ‘minimal’ envelope too far, creating a boring vibe more than anything else. 3

Bianca: Flight Facilities are electronic masters and always seem to create the perfect vibe for drinks on a balmy Summer’s afternoon. Two Bodies paints the same kind of picture for me although it feels as if I’ve had a few too many beers in this situation. Love the steady synth and Emma Louise’s saccharine vocals but it’s verging on too dreamy for me that I almost want to nod off to sleep. 

Kid Ink- Body Language (Feat. Usher & Tinashe)

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kidinkofficial/kid-ink-body-language-ft-usher-tinashe[/soundcloud]

Sam: This is just a straight up hip-pop record with Usher delivering a silky vocal hook to give it some sort of commercial-sensibility. It’s got the same sort of beat we heard earlier this year on Chris Brown’s Loyal and will most likely have the clubs going up, with alcohol-fuelled punters convincing themselves they can rap (I include myself in this). I wish Tinashe’s part was more prominent. Even by just harmonising in the background she steals the show. 3.5

Lizzie: This threesome works in complete harmony, proving three is definitely not a crowd. Body Language is little hip-hop gem which is not too in your face, very infectious and sure to be a hit on Kiis FM. I am glad I got to hear it before it becomes tainted by the dreaded radio overplay. 3.5

Bianca: It’s bouncy, it’s radio-ready and it’s honestly a bit boring for my liking. The melody leaves a lot to be desired and Usher doesn’t bring as much to the table as I would’ve expected. If this were to come on in a club, my body language would read that I was in desperate need of another drink. 

Sam Tiba- Deguisement

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/bromancerecords/bromance17-sam-tiba-deguisement[/soundcloud]

Sam: This is so off-centring that you’re almost made to stick around until the end just so you can make sense of it all. It wafts in and out of pulsating beats, crescendoing strings and stirring keys, traversing between the mellow and the club-ready. At every moment, there’s something delicious for the ears whether it be the perky vocal sample or the fluctuating levels of intensity. A surprise winner for me this week. Flawless. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Lizzie: The start just grabs you instantly! It’s so jumpy and playful in all the right ways and weirdly, unlike Sam it made complete sense to me right off the bat. Tiba has struck gold here, producing a track which could be played almost anywhere and at anytime and provide the exact mood pick-me-up you need. 4 Lizzie’s Pick

Bianca: What a wonderful array of thumping beats, hand claps, synths and strings. There’s an element of Nintendo game in here, but it’s been squashed and stretched, muddled and mushed into an energetic, driving force that immediately hits you smack bang in the face. In a good way, of course. 4 Variety is the spice of life but unfortunately that’s not the case this week. Deguisement is also Bianca’s Pick 

 

 

bigsound_wrapup2

BIGSOUND day 2 wrap-up

Brisbane has once again been transformed into a new music haven with BIGSOUND rolling into town. With it, the annual music conference has brought some of the most hype-worthy names in music to play over a number of venues in Fortitude Valley.

It says something about the state of new Australian music that despite it being a lineup of many fresh faces, it stands up against many major festivals. In the past year, DMA’s have become NME darlings, Oscar Key Sung has become one of the internet’s most buzzed names and Tkay Maidza has attracted the attention of International producers Ryan Hemsworth and Bok Bok. The talent at BIGSOUND 2014 lineup doesn’t just stack up locally, the artists playing are garnering international attention as well with many of them likely to pop up on the SXSW roster next year.

The head may have been a little bit sorer than day one, but our new music caps were still firmly on for day two of BIGSOUND. It was a night that moved from dulcet electronica to rambunctious hip-hop, once again proving the sheer quality of Australian music right now.

Click on the tabs to move through the artists.

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bigsound2

BIGSOUND day 1 wrap-up

Brisbane has once again been transformed into a new music haven with BIGSOUND rolling into town. With it, the annual music conference has brought some of the most hype-worthy names in music to play over a number of venues in Fortitude Valley.

It says something about the state of new Australian music that despite it being a lineup of many fresh faces, it stands up against many major festivals. In the past year, DMA’s have become NME darlings, Oscar Key Sung has become one of the internet’s most buzzed names and Tkay Maidza has attracted the attention of International producers Ryan Hemsworth and Bok Bok. The talent at BIGSOUND 2014 lineup doesn’t just stack up locally, the artists playing are garnering international attention as well with many of them likely to pop up on the SXSW roster next year.

Last night we took a trip deep into the Valley to discover and celebrate the state of Australian music right now. And yes, we can confirm that it’s healthier than ever. Spanning countless venues, we donned our runners and zig-zagged around the Valley to check out the best new talent and for your convenience, we overcame our lack of sleep to make a cheat-sheet of BIGSOUND’s highlights from night one.

Click on the tabs to move through the artists.

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fi_9sept_2

First Impressions: Aphex Twin, Calvin Harris, Mary J Blige + more

FI_9Sep

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

Aphex Twin- minipop 67 [source field mix]

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/warp-records/aphex-twin-minipops-67-1202source-field-mix[/soundcloud]

Sam: I was nine when Aphex Twin’s last album, Drukqs, was released so excuse me for not being overly excited about his return. Coming at this with fresh ears though, it’s an introverted, intelligent tune that bubbles along, working itself further and further down the rabbit hole. This is jam-packed full of sounds and melodies, but it sounds completely removed from dance music today. It’s weird, unexpected and yet totally captivating. 4

Bianca: This is a weirdly wonderful assortment of sounds that don’t even hint at a 13-year hiatus. I feel like a ‘How It’s Made’ episode could be made for minipop 67 [source field mix] to unravel the mystery behind the mash-up of analog and digital which have somehow been smooshed together to create a strange, yet, perfectly functioning piece of music. 4

Lizzie: This is very cyborg, I feel like I should be hurtling into another galaxy with Dr Who. I am really sorry to say but the last 30secs made me actually giggle out loud, just not my cup of tea! 1.5

Kindness- This Is Not About Us

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kindness/this-is-not-about-us[/soundcloud]

Sam: I’m loving Kindness’ whole aesthetic for this new album. It has the immaculate tailoring of ‘80s MJ, the smoothness of Sade and the effortless cool of Dev Hynes. I’m not sure if this is the most exciting thing we’ve heard from him but it helps to formulate that image and sound that I imagine will all make sense on the album. There’s plenty of bells and whistles looping under Kindness’ most soulful vocal yet. In the words of the wonderful Britney Spears, “gimme more”. 3

Bianca: Came for the swinging vocals, stayed for the cowbells. The percussion and Kindness’ croon are honestly a bit too minimalist for my liking but the funky bass line manages to keep it from falling too flat. 2

Lizzie: The “sssssss” in his vocals are unshakeably distracting. Take him out of the equation, its actual are really nice mellow track. Great for running errands and what not, and who can say no to a cowbell! 2.5

Swick & Lewis Cancut- Wishes (Feat. Tkay Maidza)

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/shhsecretsongs/swick-lewis-cancut-wishes-ft-tkay-maidza[/soundcloud]

Sam: This is just a melting pot of a few of my favourite things really. Ryan Hemsworth is releasing this cut on his Secret Songs compilation and it just so happens that the first release is an all Aussie affair. Swick & Lewis Cancut’s beat is popping bubblegum born from the PC Music era while Tkay just kills ‘em all, singing rather than rapping for the first time. I know we’ve seen a lot of Aussies do well overseas recently but, my goodness, if this girl doesn’t beat them all, somebody strip me of any music credentials. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Bianca: Tkay is just like Vegemite in the way that she goes with everything. Whether she’s laying down R&B rap or singing stylised, sugary-sweet tunes over a glitchy 8-bit beat, this girl is multi-faceted and is about to be Australia’s hottest export. And, unlike Vegemite, I feel the US is going to develop a taste for Tkay instantaneously. 4

Lizzie: This is such a pleasant surprise! It’s not my usual style but this is a great example of how to make a lollipop PC track and not drive anyone crazy (i.e me)! The two minute mark is a glittery treat, and something fresh and more feminine from Tkay. 4

Calvin Harris- Blame (Feat. John Newman)

Sam: My biggest tip here would be don’t look at the lyrics. It was only when I looked at them that I realised just how repetitive this is. Until then, I was content listening to Newman’s gravelly tones. In terms of Calvin’s beat it’s more of the same, isn’t it? It’s the same breakdown we’ve been hearing since Rihanna’s We Found Love. Then, it was a rush of blood to the head, now it’s a rush of nausea to my stomach. This guys the highest paid DJ in the world and he’s practically doing it in his sleep. Definitely a hit, but a personal triumph? I don’t think so. 1.5

Bianca: It’s just the same tried and tested formula from Calvin. Last year, he claimed he was “doing more dance music that probably won’t get into the charts” but it feels he’s slipped right back into over-familiar territory and mass-producing hits suffering from a serious case of same shit, different day. Where is the old Calvin we used to know and love??? 1.5

Lizzie: O oh spagettio, he’s got me again. As much as I want to resist his dance floor charm, Calvin has got me under his EDM spell with ‘Blame’. And the worst thing it’s totally not his best hit by FAR! John Newman delivers yet another whiny heartfelt overlay which is tolerable, Calvin brings his classic Calvin geddup…and sadly I can just see myself shamelessly dancing to this all Summer.  3.5

Theophilus London- Tribe (Feat. Jesse Biykins III)

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/theophilusl/tribe[/soundcloud]

Sam: Theophilus is relatively unknown but he has some damn cool friends including Solange, Big Boi and Karl Lagerfeld who shot the album cover for his forthcoming record. I played this out loud the other night and lost my shit. It’s got an effortless flow that’s both groovy and hard-hitting. This is a party-tune that would sound best to popping champagne corks and the trickle of spirits hitting ice. Smooth and so, so trendy. 3.5

Bianca: There is such an effortless groove to Theophilus’ vocals which have been deliciously contrasted by Brodinski’s eccentric, accelerated production. So many good vibes from this track with my only issue being that it ends too prematurely. 4 Bianca’s Pick

Lizzie: I feel instantly so much cooler for listening to this song. I am in love with the beat, the swagger and the CHORUS – oh the chorus. I have not heard a track like this in forever, it’s brilliantly layered and keeps you on your toes the entire time 4.6 Lizzie’s Pick

Mary J. Blige- Right Now (Prod. by Disclosure)

Sam: Disclosure are no strangers to working with Mary J. Blige, so where her guest spot on F For You felt a little intrusive, here she sounds completely at ease. Blige is 43 right now and constantly changing up her sound yet always keeping her gut-wrenching soul. Disclosure have toned it down on a notch on this one, as to not let their own exuberance flood Blige’s vocal and the give and take does them good. I can just see Blige strutting across the stage to this, glaring through people’s souls. Take not Swifty, Blige is the original queen of breakup songs. 3.5

Bianca: Disclosure’s trademark syncopated rhythms and poppy synths are all over this track with the duo laying down a flawless beat for Mary J to work with. These guys are just the right people to breathe life and ‘cool’ back into her music career. 3

Lizzie: I had such high expectations for this combo – Mary J and Disclosure – what could go wrong? The thing is nothing is really wrong with it, I am just not digging Mary J’s vibe, she just flatlines for me. Hats off of to Disclosure however, their backing production is a lovely tickle to the ears. 3

fi_1sept

First Impressions: TOKiMONSTA, The Preatures, Eminem + more

fi_1sept

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.

TOKiMONSTA- Steal My Attention

Bianca: Awash with shimmering synths and layer upon layer of electronic goodness, TOKiMONSTA’s latest melancholic offering spins around and paces back and forth. She is apparently “going through some tough shit right now” and you can sense some kind of underlying sorrow in there. The marching drums and male chants really bring this one home for me. 4

Sam: I really dug TOKiMONSTA’s Realla and this one proves she’s on a bit of a roll right now. The high-pitched vocal sample just cuddles your ears along with the mellow synths. It may be a rehash of what’s doing the rounds right now stylistically but she does a damn good job of it. 3.5

Lizzie: The back beat really strikes straight to the heart. I love the squiggle horn beats – I know that only make sense to me but that’s how it sounds in my head. That, mixed with the high pitched-voice, is just gorgeous. 4 Lizzie’s really close second

Hannah: I’m a sucker for a great vocal sample and this is filled with them. I love the juxtaposition of the high-pitched Furby vocals layered with an almost ominous beat and deep house synth. It’s a perfect demonstration of how to maintain melodic integrity while citing some of those Japanese pop-culture influences we’re loving at the moment. 4 Hannah’s Pick

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tokimonsta/steal-my-attention-off-the-upcoming-desiderium-album[/soundcloud]

The Preatures- Somebody’s Talking

Bianca: Look, it’s not you, The Preatures, it’s me. You have so much to offer and will make someone very happy one day but I’m afraid that person’s not me. 2.5

Sam: The Preatures are going to be that band that I’m still listening to when I’m a Dad (heaven help us) and my kids will think it’s really dorky. They’ve got a certain quality of longevity to them and it feels as if they’ll go down as a classic Aussie band. Somebody’s Talking helps that legacy. It’s funky, effortlessly delectable and Manfredi, once again, is a growling, charismatic frontwoman. 4

Lizzie: Great tune. Great tune. It’s got the energy to get everyone up and dancing – coordinated or not. Sam I totally agree with you! I feel I’m going to be dragging my kids onto the dance floor at a wedding with this gem. 4 Lizzie’s Pick

Hannah: Yep, that sounds like The Preatures talking alright. 2

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/thepreatures/somebodys-talking[/soundcloud]

QT- Hey QT

Bianca: Admittedly, when I was first introduced to PC Music, I was not sold. So purposefully kitsch and jam-packed full of ‘90s cultural references in the most obvious of ways, I wasn’t about to be tricked into enjoying it. SOPHIE’s Lemonade made no sense whatsoever, neither lyrically nor structurally, while A.G.Cook’s Beautiful  just sounded like a song from Dance Dance Revolution. Now the two producers have teamed up and it seems that two wrongs have somehow made a right. Upon my very first listen to Hey QT when dropped in SOPHIE’s Boiler Room set, I was immediately addicted to the so-called “Energy Elixir” and everything PC Music-related started to make so much sense. Trapped in my head like a gummy earworm and played in excess as a result, I can’t get enough of the candy goodness and matter-of-fact lyrics, the latter being curiously on point with the line: “I’ve got this new song and it’s the only one I want to play.” Maybe I’ve been converted, or perhaps I’m just on a sugar high, but this track is like a delicious pick ‘n’ mix that just keeps on giving and giving. 4.75 Bianca’s Pick

Sam: I have personally been a fan of all releases by A.G. Cook and SOPHIE, seperately, but I admit that they aren’t the most objectively likeable songs. I knew, however, that they were only moments away from a breakaway hit that would suddenly see people come around to PC Music. Well, this is it. What needs to be said about this song that it doesn’t already say. “They played your new song, it’s like nothing I heard before”, sings the character in Hey QT and surely she is talking about this song. Its melody is impossibly irresistible, the beats sound like bursting bubblegum and it unlocks ‘90s nostalgia aplenty. Something new and yet something so familiar. Unequivocally brilliant. 5 Sam’s Pick

Lizzie: It sounds like I am about to break into a cheer-leading routine. A chipmunk cheer-leading routine. However, in saying that I did find myself joyfully bopping along to the chorus. This is a lot me palatable than the other PC songs I have been regrettably exposed to. 3

Hannah: In every great pursuit, there’s an initial phase of innovation brought on by a forward thinker’s desire to push the boundaries of the box ever onward. That is what PC Music has been about until now. Now, however, comes the phase where people begin to understand that innovation. When unique concepts, or in this case unique music, become attainable and more importantly accessible. This retains the PC Music we’ve come to know, but does it in a manner aimed straight at the jugular of popular appeal. 3

Eminem Feat. Sia- Guts Over Fear

Bianca: I feel I’ve heard this one before, although this time with a constant, reverberating siren distracting me from what’s going on. Probably for the best. Sia’s voice is perfect as usual but the chorus renders it into tired, mainstream territory. Maybe I’m just not angry enough to relate so the impact is lost on me. 2.5

Sam: More inspirational rapping from Eminem with quips about the media and what everybody says about him. It really does feel like more of the same with Sia delivering her second hook for Eminem. She sounds floaty and melancholic but nothing could save Em from dishing up this wet cloth of a song. Also Eminem in general, ugh. 2

Lizzie: When I heard Eminem and Sia, I set the expectation bar so high…and *sigh* what a disappointment. Eminem is on a comeback and Sia is at the top of her game, why is there no chemistry? 2

Hannah: Eminem says “I just want to play my part,” and that’s exactly what he’s doing here. Still running that old poor-little-white-boy-rapper act he’s become known for, only this time he’s doing it with Sia not Rhi Rhi. Eminem peaked with Superman. 2

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/igapromotion/eminem-guts-over-fear-feat-sia[/soundcloud]

Redihno- Get You Off My Mind

Bianca: Just a little bit too much funk in the trunk for my liking. 2

Sam: Redinho describes this song as having a “cheeky kinda optimism” to it and he’s right. The instrumentation is perky with bouncing beats and sunshine-filled synths. Brendan Reilly’s vocal harks back to ‘90s soul and does a perfect job of working up lustful butterflies. However, just like summer love it feels like this song could be forgotten once the sun weakens. 3

Lizzie: It’s very Disco Stu peppered with a bit of R&B cool. With the turn of the season, I think it a great tune to bring that little spring in the step! 3.5

Hannah: The first 30 seconds of this failed to captivate me so I didn’t listen to the rest. I don’t think I missed much. 2.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/nmbrs/redinho-get-you-off-my-mind[/soundcloud]

Kero Kero Bonito- Sick Beat

Bianca: I Shazamed this bad boy a couple of days ago so surely that’s a pretty definitive sign that it made a good first impression on me. The flurry of in-your-face nostalgic references and washes of synths and glitchy pops are enough to have me hooked. Surely trumps Taylor Swift’s ‘sick beat’, anyway. 3.5

Sam: This has the same kind of feel as Japanese producer Tofubeats. It oscillates between j-pop, indie-pop and electronica with a bubblegum instrumental alongside kawaii vocals. Like the perfect dessert, it never goes overboard with the sugar pulling the instrumentation right back at times leaving the lead-vocal spraying off, what sounds like, Japanese. Such a fan. 4

Lizzie: Of all the Japanese style songs I’ve heard (except Porter Robinson), this one actually sits ok with me. It’s definitely the chorus which grabs me and keeps me. How does one dance to this though? 3.5

Hannah: Oh no, it’s a Eurasian M.I.A. Make her stop.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kerokerobonito/sick-beat[/soundcloud]

Rustie_2

Rusty the dog reviews Rustie’s album, ‘Green Language’

RustieRustie‘s latest album, Green Language, is, as expected, an amalgamation of sound. Never forgiving, it’s a wild world through hip-hop and techno stylings. He’s created an 8-bit video-game world from bouncing, strobing and glitchy synths alongside tempos that spiral out of control. At time it’s beautiful, at times it’s anarchic but it’s always interesting and boundary-pushing. To review the album we pulled in a canine fan of Rustie, also conveniently named Rusty and let him react to the plethora of weird and wonderful sounds that Green Language has to offer.

1. Workship

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This sprawling, atmospheric beginning is barely enough to pique Rusty’s interests, but the ears are ready and he seems to feel the impending doom that is to come.

2. A Glimpse

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This is the first time on the album we get a hard delivery of bass. That coupled with twinkling synths and big cannons of sound have Rusty up and ready to hear what the Scottish producer will deliver next.

3. Raptor

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That next song is Raptor, the first single which offers up manic, strobing synths and a beat that shoots straight to the chest. Just like Rustie has become known for, this track is an onslaught of sound, borrowing trap-influences for a little variation. Rusty’s bored demeanour show that he too feels that Rustie has given us a bit of the same here.

4. Paradise Stone

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Now we’re talking. Those tropical synths have Rusty feeling playful. He’s been able to recline, pop the ear up and relax taking in this warm, mellow instrumental.

5. Up Down [ft. D Double E]

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This is the first time we get to hear vocals on the album and Rusty is obliging with the direction nodding his head up and down. As a hip-hop track, it’s flavoursome, dense and rhythmic while it also works well as dance track, if you have two feet firmly planted and the knees bent.

6. Attak [ft. Danny Brown]

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/rustie/attak-feat-danny-brown[/soundcloud]

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As soon as that opening alarm sounds Rusty is ready to go hard. He’s off the chair for the first time and running around the room like Danny Brown in the video. It’s the most anarchic moment of the album with Brown barely pausing for a breath and as such, it’s impossible not to notice. A perfect centrepiece for an album by a producer who’s never been soft.

7. Tempest

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Once again Rustie follows-up a pacing track with a slower, dazzler. After the heart-raiser that was Attak, Rusty is more than happy to return to his throne and gaze out the window. Surely the world is turning into a video-game for him inspired by the 8-bit feel of this track.

8. He Hate Me [ft. Gorgeous Children]

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This is the most outright hip-hop moment on the album. A cascading beat is basically the only thing backing up Gorgeous Children, on the sparse, He Hate Me. Rusty seems to have developed a penchant for Rustie’s dance-heavy side and sees this track as an opportunity to sleep.

9. Velcro

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The abrasive synths are back and Rusty is interrupted from his slumber. The song grows into gun-shot beats and perhaps, one of the grooviest bass-lines yet. Rusty cowers in his chair before realising this song is best digested standing up.

10. Lost [ft. Redinho]

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Vocal manipulation pops up for the first time on Lost and it’s a sound that barely registers for Rusty. Instead he gets lost in the leopard print throw he’s made his own. Nothing to see here.

11. Dream On

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This track is built upon a hazy, dreamscape and future RnB vocals that bring the tempo right down for a rare moment. Rusty has decided to take a kip but his ears are twitching every so often. This one’s a sleeper, but it’s probably best listened to in a slight daydream. Melodically, it slides over you like velvet.

12. Let’s Spiral

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Probably realising we’re close to the end of the album, Rusty has decided to enjoy this one on his feet. The triumphant, strobing synths are joined by loud clashes and it’s got Rusty doing a spiral of his own.

13. Green Language

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It’s a pleasant fade out, that allows the album to twinkle away. As has Rusty who has left his throne to grab some water and leave work for the day.

 

fi_25Aug2

First Impressions: Taylor Swift, The Drums, Les Sins + 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 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 
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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]
Operation_ariana

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.

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