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FIRSTIMPRESSIONS_JUNE20

First Impressions 30 June

FIRSTIMPRESSIONS_JUNE20

Lust at first sight is all the rage in this week’s First Impressions. This week features a steamy collection of songs moving from the club to the bedroom. We move from The Weeknd‘s bedroom, to Shabazz Palace‘s kitchen and to the club with Jamie xx. This week we play the fly on the wall.

Jhene Aiko- To Love & Die

Sam: It’s difficult to be straight-up impressed with this one because Aiko’s charm is so effortless. Major throwbacks to Ashanti and I’m completely ok with that given that I’ve spent the last decade clinging onto Murder Inc.’s back catalogue. The bridge before the third chorus delivers straight-up attitude. 4

Hannah: Doing Rihanna better than RiRi herself and brimming with a serious injection early 2000 RnB, this is a sound I’m totally ok with. 3.5

Lizzie: Ooft just like slicing hot butter, this song melts me. I’d like to slip into something more comfortable, pour myself a bath and be serenaded by Aiko’s sweet tones. 3.5

Bianca: A silky-smooth RnB gem that’s bringing flashbacks of a much simpler time when hair was accessorised with butterflies and couches were made of poppable plastic. My head bounce increased ten-fold at the fervent 56-second mark. 3.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/jumpoffhiphop/jhene-aiko-to-love-die-feat-cocaine-80s[/soundcloud]

Jamie xx- All Under One Roof Raving

Sam: It’s winter in England, everyone’s checked their coats at the cloakroom and is now surviving off each other’s body heat in a club in East London. It’s also 4am. Jamie xx just gets this one so right. It’s such a vivid homage to rave culture in London with nuanced additions like those British vocal samples. The beat? Sparse brilliance. Hannah, if you don’t like this, I’ll eat my hat, literally. 4.5

Hannah: As much as I’d like to see you eat your snapback Samos, Jamie xx and steel drums? Just 5. Just 5. 5 Hannah’s Pick

Lizzie: Very interesting. 4.5 from Sam & a 5 from Hannah? I was almost ready to pack it in and give up on this track but then the 4 minute mark crept up and made much more sense. Thank god – I didn’t want to ever hate him. 3.5

Bianca: Jamie xx has just transported me to an underground, tin-walled club in London. Between the hectic cockney-accented vocal samples and the always-welcome steel drums, I am in love. TUNEEEEEE. 5 Bianca’s Pick

FKA Twigs- Two Weeks

Sam: How can I put it more eloquently than Twigs herself? I can’t but I’ll try given it’s the nature of First Impressions. Two Weeks is such a dignified take on something that is often delivered in such a trashy way: sex. Her voice builds intensity and then lets it all go with a detour into her higher register. All the while, the beat just shudders in the background with the bass working the track into a steamy climax. Absolute, experimental perfection. Show me something more impressive than this, this year. 5 Sam’s Pick

Hannah: This is quivering perfection. A score of pure staccato moments vibrate and bounce below FKA Twigs insane vocals. At once Aaliyah and Mariah at her best, this song knows exactly what it wants, and how to tease and toy with you until it gets it. I have a feeling FKA Twigs has even more to give, but she ain’t gonna give it up easily. 4

Lizzie: What a cheeky lady – the moment I thought I could pass this song on to my Mum for some light listening, she brings out “motherfucker” in the most majestically elegant way. I am hypnotised by her tomfoolery. 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick

Bianca: Had this been released just a week earlier than it did, I’d have no doubt it would feature in the top 10 section of our Top 20 Songs of 2014. The way she so eloquently slips in a few ‘fucks’ and ‘mother fuckers’ into this piece of art makes me think this song could slide its way onto commercial radio without the ACMA blinking an eye. 4

The Weeknd- Often

Sam: And if Twigs deals with it in a dignified manner, then The Weeknd does the opposite. The Weeknd has gone from being one of the pioneers of modern RnB to being sleazier than R.Kelly. “Make that pussy pop and do it how I want it?” Really? The track is slick but he’s just too much for me. 2

Lizzie: “I can make your pussy rain often?” What would your mother say!? I feel like I want to give him a slap on the wrist and send him to his bedroom without ice-cream. Such a beautiful voice but such a dirty mind. 3

Hannah: If the last couple of weeks have been all about disco fever, this week is about thumping, pulsing, quivering, teasing and down right sexy slow jams. I’m totally ok to be used and abused by this latest offering from The Weeknd. 3

Bianca: Umbrella sales have just gone down dramatically. 1

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/theweekndxo/the-weeknd-often[/soundcloud]

Shabazz Palace- #CAKE

Sam: In Shabazz Palace’s world you can have the cake and eat it too. It’s such a psychedelic, woozy take on the hip-hop genre that almost skews your immediate view for four minutes. I love the middle-eastern influences and the melodic change-ups that waterfall back into that M.I.A-like beat. 4

Lizzie: I hate it. But I do crave cake for some reason. 0.5

Hannah:I don’t think this cake is gluten-free. I’m out. 1.5

Bianca: This cake did not rise. 0.5

Calvin Harris- C.U.B.A

Sam: Let it be known, I find Calvin Harris more unbearable than a world without cronuts, but I’m going to challenge myself to be positive about this. I like that he’s detoured from slick, pop-based EDM, to deliver what is a banging big room-track. It builds well with assaulting if not slightly-predictable synths and it drops like a mutha-f***ker. My only issue? I hate it. 2

Lizzie:

Simple Recipe for an EDM song:

3 parts equal serving Heavy bass and crash

3 parts unrecognizable twangy sound

1 part moment which makes you nostalgic about those fun times in Summer

300 minutes of build up to the drop

2 parts “Drop”

1 part realising that this song is like every other EDM song

C’mon Calvin I love you man, but it’s an Invention Test and your recipe is just so pedestrian. 2

Hannah: Picture this. The sun is setting over Coachella 2014, Calvin Harris has just walked on stage to a 45,000-strong crowd and just as that first jarring note reigns out over a sea of sweaty EDM heads, you realise Little Dragon is also walking out on a stage somewhere else and would have been a far better option. Through the sea of meat, there is no escape and for the next hour not only will you be subjected to aural torture but you will forever have to live with the knowledge you, for whatever brain-fart of a reason, chose Calvin over Little Dragon. I just can’t even go there. 0.5

Bianca: I feel like I have to dance otherwise someone is going to shoot me. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/calvinharris/calvin-harris-cuba[/soundcloud]

 

Firstimpressions_22June_2

First Impressions 23 June

FirstImpressions_22June

Truth be told, this week we were feeling a little confused after First Impressions. We heard Alt-J sample Miley, Riff Raff team with Childish Gambino and we gave tough love to everything apart from Tough Love. It may raise more questions than answers but such is the appeal of a first impression: the mystery.

Jessie Ware- Tough Love

Sam: I was wondering what Jessie was going to do following Devotion, sound-wise and this is a perfect answer. The upper-echelons of Ware’s vocals are crystalline and Benny Blanco’s production is sleek and sophisticated. That strobing synth off the back of the second chorus is a more than welcome punch through to the song’s third quarter. Stunning. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Bianca: I had this strange feeling of knowing this song at very first listen. The soft sweeps and subtle backbeats are homely and comforting and Jessie’s stirring vocal-layered crescendo at 2:48 makes me just melt. 4.5 Bianca’s Pick

Lizzie: “You have me crying out, crying out for more.” Um yes, her words exactly. You know what is real tough love, the fact that her album is not here yet. This song is elegant, slick and effortlessly bouncy. Tick, tick, tick! 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick

Hannah: This song has been on repeat since theinterns shared it early last week. It’s a perfectly restrained combination of poppy bouncy beat, synth and can’t-help-but-sing-a-long lyrics. Said before and will say it again, ain’t nothing tough about listening to this one. 4

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/jessieware/tough-love[/soundcloud]

Alt-J- Hunger of the Pines

Sam: Miley and Alt-J, these are a few of my favourite things…but for some strange reason Hunger of the Pines is not. There’s no huge change in sound from An Awesome Wave and it sounds odd for odd’s sake. The Miley sample is beyond clumsy. 2

Bianca: This song sounded like it was about to go somewhere and then Miley came in with her big wrecking ball and ruined any chance of that happening. The cutting of her sample at 3:37 seems very odd to me. Points for the strings & sax though, and the return of Alt-J onto the scene. 3

Lizzie: The strings, the sax, it sounds like an orchestra warming up for a concert. Instruments are a little all over the place, but I am at peace with that. I am so glad Alt-J is back in my life, and…what the heck, I’m gonna go ahead and say that I’m a-OK with the Miley sample. #sorrynotsorry 3.5

Hannah: Having Miley Cyrus sing “I’m a female rebel,” really? Good one Alt-j, you’re so meta. With that said, I am never opposed to a Miley appearance, I love the slow climb crescendo and I do love where this song goes from 3:07. Welcome back Alt-j. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/alt-j/hunger-of-the-pine[/soundcloud]

Riff Raff- Lava Glaciers (Feat. Childish Gambino)

Sam: I can’t help but think this song would be more of a success with James Franco rapping. Riff Raff’s rapping goes down like a poor person at the Opera, while the hook is just, ugh…I kind of like it, it’s frustrating. Luckily Childish Gambino comes in and guides the song through the storm. It’s the first time I’ve felt relaxed with Troy Barnes at the helm. 3

Bianca: “It’s pointless like the use of Emojis.” Umm…how else would I let my friends know I feel like eating a dragon head from a plate while wearing my finest red ball gown? Despite that minor misdemeanor, and Raff’s overuse of similes, this song is surprisingly inoffensive. 2

Lizzie: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. No. Just no. I have no idea what I just heard. 1

Hannah:  2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/riffraff/lavaglaciers[/soundcloud]

Duke Dumont- Won’t Look Back

Sam: It’s a bit more of the same for Duke Dumont. ‘90s rave keys, a deep house beat and a soulful female vocal sample. It’s enjoyable but very safe, a bit like a glass of water- it’s hard to dislike, but it ain’t gonna get you drunk is it? 2.5

Bianca: Won’t Look Back is like the poor man’s Ride on Time (see, Riff Raff? I can do similes too!). The raspy vocals, purposeful keys and ‘90s groove are all the right ingredients for a dancefloor anthem but unfortunately the ingredients used here are Home Brand. 2

Lizzie: I am massively underwhelmed by this track. Duke Dumont, why did you go back to your 90s safe place? You were nailing it with I Got U and Need U – I feel you have gone back 20 steps (…or 20 years). 2

Hannah: Well this all sounds very familiar doesn’t it? 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/dukedumont/wont-look-back[/soundcloud]

BROODS- Mother and Father

Sam: BROODS’ debut EP was just so solid, it was hard to imagine how they’d top it. But they have. Mother and Father is their most abrasive pop moment yet. It packs an emotional punch and is just so damn hard to dislike. 2Dayfm will pick it up, Triple J will pick it up, heck, it may even be the Royals of 2014. 4

Bianca: Ooo, well isn’t this lovely? The defiant drum beat and gushing lyrics are definitely bringing back the memories and emotions of leaving home. brb, going to call my Mum. 4  

Lizzie: Am I “wowed” by this track? No. Would I run and tell my friends about it? Probably not. But in saying that, Broods have delivered a sweet musical gem that blends very well into my uni study playlist. 3.5

Hannah: I am having a solid BROODS’ moment right now. Mother & Father bridges the gap perfectly between what was and what is to come. 4.2 Hannah’s Pick

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/broods/broods-mother-father[/soundcloud]

Chloe Howl- Disappointed

Sam: Howl was part of the BBC’s Sound of 2014 and unfortunately the title of this song is a good indication of her career since. Ironically, this song may be the one to turn her fate around. Her vocals in the verses are buttery and the melody has a straight-up, Katy Perry-esque likeability. Surely this will find her a home in the British charts, it’s as if Adele has had a firecracker stuck up her arse. 3

Bianca: Sam, Mother and Father has no place in between Sophie & Jules on 2Dayfm. Disappointed, however, does. Ugh. 0.5  

Sam: Bianca, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but Broods have been added to 2Dayfm’s playlist.

Bianca: I still stand by my statement.

Lizzie: I am not angry or annoyed, I am just disappointed. 0.5

Hannah: Did she just say “You think I’m stupid-o?” I’m not even going to check that lyric. I like my version better already. 0.5

Don’t forget to cast your First Impressions vote in our poll on the right! (Not available for mobile users) 

FNLI_HTDW2

Friday Lock-in: How To Dress Well – What Is This Heart?

FridayNightLockin_HTDW

We’ve locked ourselves in with a box of tissues for an emotional Friday Lock-in. This week’s record up for review is the third album by Tom Krell (aka. How To Dress Well) titled What Is This Heart? Listen along with us (by streaming here) as we discuss Celine Dion, tears and the many pleasures of a marching band.

2 Years On (Shame Dream)

Bianca: It takes me back to Christmas time as a child. It sounds like a Christmas carol.

Lizzie: I found myself tearing up a little bit.

Sam: Actually?

Lizzie: Yeah, a little bit. I got emotional.

Sam: First song and we need the tissues already. I’m really torn, I love his voice but what an odd start to an album.

Lizzie: Yeah, it’s like at a One Direction concert where they sing their songs and then bring out the acoustic set.

Hannah: I love that his voice holds you there. I do question putting that as the first song though.

What You Wanted

Sam: I fricken love it.

Hannah: I adore it.

Lizzie: It’s JT, but just with so much more talent. At the start I thought it was going to go a bit slow but he just built it up and built it up and brought you into the song effortlessly.

Sam: Now the first song makes sense to me. It’s so layered.

Bianca: Ohhhh, once the synths come in I was so gone. That was sooooo good.

Hannah: I love how the vocals bounce between Destiny’s Child and TLC. They bounce, they cascade down. And then it has this dirty grimes bass with a twinkle above it.

Bianca: It’s a bit poetic isn’t it?

Face Again

Sam: I feel like I can sing along early on. It’s got a pop quality but it’s also weird.

Lizzie: This one’s a bit darker than the other ones. The back sounds get broody but he’s still true to himself.

Bianca: it’s like BANKS‘ Drowning, where it has this demonic voice that’s behind the other voice.

Hannah: There’s this desperation that finishes off the end of his verses. The end of each sentence is throat, gut wrenching desperation.

Sam: It teeters on this edge where I feel like it’s going to fall off at any second.

Lizzie: It would be cool to see in the recording studio how into it he is.

Sam: He says things that I imagine I would say and they would sound really lame. I have to say I’m very happy to be third song in and still interested. Last week (Love Frequency Lock-in) I was already gone.

Hannah: Last week was dire. This one makes everyone drop about 5 inches.

Bianca: In a good way, of course.

See You Fall

Bianca: Speaking of getting low, that voice just drops.

Sam: When he says “fall” and there’s that deep voice under it. MWAH!

Lizzie: The strings is another thing you just don’t expect. He could ride a pretty good wave with his voice, it’s incredible. But he brings in new components to every song.

Hannah: Each one of his songs demonstrates an intricate knowledge of a lot of music genres. He’s really happy going between all of them. This is springy and poppy and happy but then when it starts talking about strange faces, there’s RnB/Hip-Hop.

Sam: When that throbbing bass comes in I’m just like “aww shit”. Love it. Lizzie this wouldn’t be something you’d generally listen to would it?

Lizzie: No. But it creates little experiences in your head that you don’t even think about. I wouldn’t usually listen to this but it makes me wanna have a happy time. Cry a bit more.

Sam: Disclaimer- Lizzie’s had a hard week.

Repeat Pleasure

Hannah: Still love it, still love it, still love it

Bianca: It’s nice to go to an album and hear a song you already know. It brings you back down to earth, you’re familiar with it and you can just…

Sam: …groove

Bianca: We finish each other’s…

Sam: …sandwiches.  

Lizzie: It’s a good wake up in the morning and get-your-head-together song.

Hannah: I love that he cites Celine Dion. I love that he goes there.

Sam: It’s all these potentially tacky references, and he makes them fresh.

Hannah: Love that he goes there.

Words I Don’t Remember

Lizzie: This is not my favourite

Sam: Me neither

Lizzie: I don’t like that synth sound…It’s a great song and a 3am, sexy song but…

Sam: It’s not as rising as the other songs.

Lizzie: Yeah, it’s familiar electronic sounds but just nothing new.

Bianca: It makes the album a little tiring for me. 6 songs in and I’m feeling weary.

Bianca: Oh wait, it kinda got good at the end.

Pour Cyril

Sam: That one is literally almost making me tear up.

Lizzie: Welcome to the club, honey.

Bianca: My orchestra days are all coming back to me

Sam: Ahhhh the strings. And then his voice introduces this perfect melody.

Lizzie: It deserves its own movie. A movie needs to be made around this song. I feel like I wanna go chase my lover that I don’t have…before he boards the plane.

Bianca: Can we really underline the fact Lizzie’s had a bad week.

Precious Love

Sam: I love it. It’s so everything I love in a song. His is my music in an MP3. I love my white-boy RnB.

Lizzie: It’s not your typical RnB though. You kind of have to think. It’s a new modern, but slightly old and familiar.

Sam: There’s an 80s jingle behind it.

Bianca: I really like the kick-drum, the claps. The clap is infectious. 😉

Sam: This is the most mainstream in a way. It’s good to have the beat back to. Everything on the album is ever so slightly different.

Lizzie: It’s like a good fashion collection everything’s a little different but it all comes together.

Sam: Like ya classic LBD. Everybody needs a LBD.

Bianca: ‘How to dress well…’

Childhood Faith In Love (Everything Must Change)

Sam: This one’s all about the throb.

Lizzie: Yeah, I think I can go and do good things with my life now. I feel like it’s turned me.

Bianca: This album has just been a roller coaster of emotions.

Sam: I feel genuinely excited about this album.

Bianca: You know what? This isn’t my favourite of the album.

Sam: it’s not my favourite but I feel it’s necessary. I feel like every album needs ones that don’t pack a huge punch.

Lizzie: He loses his beautiful voice in this.

Sam: No, I like the reverb in it.

A Power

Sam: Again, I love that beat.

Lizzie: This whole album I could not listen to by myself. I find it too broody and emotive. It’s brilliant but this is an album I’d recommend. I want people to listen to it. But don’t get me alone with this album because I’ll break-down.

Sam: It’s interesting to watch how everybody reacts to it and it’s made it so much better for me.

Bianca: I’d have to be in the complete right mood for it.

Sam: It’s not a bus record.

Bianca: No. And it’s not a getting ready record either. Even though it is How To Dress Well. If I got dressed to this I would not dress well. Darkest clothes and think I really need to throw my whole wardrobe out.

Sam: The way this album builds. I’m dead…it’s the best reaction I’ve had to an album all year. I think it’s amazing.

Very Best Friend

Sam: This one doesn’t pack a punch for me.

Lizzie: in the last song we were in our comfort zone and we needed something to push us to the end. At the start, the Flume-y skip gave us something.

Sam: I love the vocal break-down though.

Bianca: Nup.

Lizzie: You realise the corniness of the lyrics.

Sam: There’s too much space.

Bianca: I prefer Foster The People‘s Best Friend.

House Inside (Future Is Older than the Past)

Bianca: Such a good climax.

Lizzie: He’s done what every artist should do on an album. It was cyclical. He closed it off well. Althouht here was a bit of a clusterfuck with instruments after the start. The ending is beautiful.

Bianca: The marching band brought it home.

Sam: I felt like we’d reached the top of the mountain and we were all holding hands and hugging. You guys had mascara dripping down your face. That slow song that didn’t make sense at the start suddenly makes total sense. What an album.

Lizzie: I’m going to give it 8.5

Bianca: Agree. 8.5

Sam: I’m going to give it 9.5. I think it’s the best album of the year so far.

Hannah: I’m with you, Samos. 9.5. Touchdown!

touchdown

 

Stream the album at whatisthisheart.com 

FirstImpressions_16June_2

First Impressions 16 June

FirstImpressions_16June

For this week’s First Impressions, theinterns travel to East Africa with Bag Raiders and find some Love in High Places with Kimbra before being seriously weirded out by a Trippy Turtle Theme Tune. It’s OK though because we’ve brought Bianca’s mum Trish along for the ride and she’s grooving to Anna Lunoe!

Bag Raiders- Nairobi

Trish: Too processed. Sounds like stomach gurgling and teeth chattering. I think I’d only enjoy it if i were in Brazil, celebrating the World Cup (with a few Mojitos under my belt). 2

Sam: Agree with Trish. Unless I’m swilling a mojito round in my hand, this song does very little for me on a cold winter day. That marimba almost had me. Almost. 2.5

Lizzie: Is everyone ready for Mardi Gras, cause this song sure makes you want to don a giant sequin feather head piece. I had high hopes for this song and I was smacked right in the face with a conga line. Just a bit much, but I will try and give it another chance in a couple of days. 3

Hannah: I lost interest the second I heard that horrible old car horn sample. Not even steal drums can redeem this colourful collision. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/modularpeople/bag-raiders-nairobi-1[/soundcloud]

Kiesza- Giant In My Heart

Trish: I don’t mind her. Nice new sound. (Male vocals come in) Oh. I don’t like him. The male vocals spoil it. She’s got a nice singing voice and a lot of potential but the song doesn’t do her justice. 3

Sam: Kiesza is the next Roisin Murphy in my opinion. That voice hits giddy heights and provides a great juxtaposition over a deep, massaging beat. There’s more in here. This is a little generic. Hopefully an album will give her some space to explore, less trodden territory. 3

Lizzie: I cannot decide whether I like the roughness in her voice, or I am utterly pained by it. It’s got a very 90s/early 2000s vibe. Yep, I’ve decided I like it. The male vocals just make me laugh though. 3.5

Hannah: WOW I was just getting into it when that I’m-not-quite-a-Scat-Man male vocal came in. Despite that, the beat’s pumpy, the desperation in Kiesza’s voice during the chorus is truly addictive and the melodic samples are perfect placed. There’s a lot of fun to be had here. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/seanxcx/kiesza-giant-in-my-heart-radio-rip[/soundcloud]

Kimbra- Love In High Places

Trish: I really like her. There’s a lot of variety in her voice. The vocals, the percussion, they all fit together nicely like a jigsaw puzzle, to make for a complete listening experience. 5 Trish’s Pick

Sam: Oooh the vocals at the start of this just melt with every syllable. I love that construction-wise it’s quite a textbook soul track, yet she adds subtle oddities that make it so much better like the little synth-breaks. The people saying this album is a desperate attempt to draw attention back after Somebody I Used To Know need to pull their heads out of the sand. What she’s doing right now is supreme. 4 Sam’s Pick

Lizzie: Oh thank god Kimbra, I really didn’t want to be as harsh as I was with 90s Music a couple of weeks ago (that was horrible). She’s slowed it down in this one, swollowed a chill pill and taken us on a 5:17 minute journey, a real Flight Facilities Claire de Lune style lengthy journey. Such an improvement!! 3.5

Hannah: Guys, guys, guys. It’s finally happened. I actually like, NAY love a Kimbra song! The verses in particular really have me swimming in a pool of smooth 90s RnB-flavoured nostalgia (Hey Kimbra, here’s your 90s Music). I say quit forcing your usual “oh I’m a quirky female artist and I have a quirky female artist sound” and stick with this new buttery-soft goodness. 

Trippy Turtle- Trippy’s Theme

Trish: Very disjointed. It’d be really good if you were tripping. But I’m afraid that’s not my cup of tea. 1

Sam: At first I was a little disappointed that this one wasn’t more like Schnappi das Kleine Krokodil but I’ve moved past that now and am utterly confused. It sounds like Boyz II Men remixed by Cashmere Cat. I really don’t know. The tune is half decent but the whole Trippy Turtle thing…am I late to the party? What on earth is it? A jamster mobile creation? 3

Lizzie: This song starts so well, so smooth, almost J.T like. Then, I am not sure what happens – a squeeky bed appears? The song is called called Trippy Turtle so I should not have been surprised! In all its nonsensical-ness, I can have fun with song. 3.5

Hannah: Trippy Turtle? More like Awkward Turtle. I totally agree with Sam. I’m pretty sure this IS just a Cashmere Cat song in poor disguise and now I feel weirded out by the additional turtle-themed vocals. I just don’t know… 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/maddecent/trippy-turtle-trippys-theme-jeff075[/soundcloud]

Anna Lunoe- Bass Drum Dealer

Trish: Oh no, not more of this stuff. *puts head in hand* It delivers like yesterday’s sour bottle of milk 0.5 (sorry)

Sam: I love that an Aussie girl has delivered this beefed-up EDM track that cracks most of the male big-room names over the head. It uses a lot of cliche sounds but that deep bass wins me over every time. Aussie gal does good. Bravo. 3.5

Lizzie: The lyrics put it perfectly. “And I always deliver.” She delivers alright. Flying the Aussie flag for dance music and female producers, this song has a Swedish House Mafia style pull but with her own distinct breakdown. You are not teased into a drop like most big-room EDM songs (thank god), and she brings this modern electro jungle vibe. Go girl. 4 Lizzie’s pick

Hannah: This is just a great dance track. It’s not particularly preoccupied with forging new ground but hey, is new ground always necessary? Lunoe’s just happily captislising on some seriously great sounds we already know and love. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/nesthq/anna-lunoe-bdd-nest031?in=nesthq/sets/anna-lunoe-bass-drum-dealer-nest031[/soundcloud]

Fractures- Won’t Win

Trish: Very easy listening. I just arrived in cold Sydney and his voice makes me feel like I’m sitting in front of a fire, all warm and comfortable. His voice is husky like a good cognac and seems to have a lot of soul to it. I enjoyed the vocals and change in tempo at 2:30 in particular. 4

Sam: I too enjoy the change of tempo but this is just all very pleasant. It’s good and his voice is wistful in a great way but it plants its foot too far in James Blake territory to carve his own identity. Lyrics like  “You won’t win, I’ll rid myself of this war you started” are so loaded yet the music is so placid. Me a little confused. 3

Lizzie: This song has a Matt Corby pensiveness to it. Beautiful sound to come out of Melbourne, I’ve never heard them before. I really loved the thick breakdown of instruments towards the close of the song, a nice touch to finish. 4

Hannah: I really should like this song shouldn’t I? It hits all the Seekae come James Blake, electronica meets wistful, longing vocals that usually appeal to me, but truth be told, I’m just a little bored. 2.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/fractures-music/wontwin[/soundcloud]

FLI_KLAXONS

Friday Lock-in: Klaxons- Love Frequency

FLI_KLAXONSFriday night lock-in is all about the record. We lock ourselves away with no phones and no way to escape (apart from fire exits of course. OH&S). It’s a way to dissect a new album in a roundtable format as well as completely disregard other’s ideas and talk loudly as you assert your own opinion.

The first LP we are taking on is the Klaxons’ new one, Love Frequency. Love Frequency is the third album from the British band. It sees them take a more electronic-route with production touches from people like LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Gorgon City. We’ve got our dancing shoes poised ready to take to Love Frequency.

New Reality

Hannah: It feels like the song your high school band would cover at your graduation ceremony or something. Like at a high school talent show.

Sam: I liked it. I thought it was nice and really overtly melodic.

Lizzie: It reminded me of what I used to like and that was all wrong. His voice is screechy.

Sam: Screechy?

Lizzie: Yeah it’s just kind of like, whiny. It was just a little bit off.

Bianca: Purposely off. But I think it was a good intro to the album.

Sam: I agree. Good intro. With a nice little twinkly synth bit.

There Is No Other Time

Hannah: Chromeo, Chromeo, Chromeo

Bianca: This is the first song I heard from the album and it made me really excited for it. I think it’s classic Klaxons with a twist.

Sam: I don’t think it’s classic Klaxons at all.

Bianca: I know it’s a new style but it is still THEM.

Sam: I think the only thing left is the voice. It’s like what is the rest of the band doing? But it’s a classic. I feel like a Klaxons fan would wait for that in a set.

Bianca: I goes intro, verse, chorus, verse etc. Very textbook but it’s really good. My favourite part was when the breakdown and the final chorus combined. It builds in a really nice way. But the thud really grates my ears. It’s just a constant big thud that runs though the chorus and the verses.

Hannah: I dunno. I quite like it.

Bianca: Maybe it’s just my shit speakers.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/klaxons/there-is-no-other-time[/soundcloud]

Show me a Miracle

Bianca: I like it. It’s really catchy. My favourite bits are the chorus and the breakdown.

Sam: The vocal samples are cool.

Lizzie: It sounds like Fragma’s “Toca’s miracle,” so every time he started singing I couldn’t concentrate on it because I had another dance song in my head (classic Lizzie).

Sam: I think his voice is familiar. It’s comforting. But at the same time it sounds like Yeasayer four years ago. Which is weird because they’re trying to be so new.

Bianca: Yeah I’m feeling a bit of nostalgia.

Hannah: To say they consider this album their debut album, they’re not heading in any new direction or breaking any ground.

Bianca: Maybe they’re even moving backwards?

Sam: They’ve struggled since their first album.

Bianca: Their first album was much less predictable

Lizzie: There are some cool things happening here, but like you said, there’s a familiarity…which isn’t a Klaxons familiarity, it’s from other established artists.

Hannah: It’s a bit of a teaser song. It hints at some really great moments but never fully goes there.

Sam: But at the same time… I kind of feel like… Indie Pop Rock is kind of… dead

Girls: OOOOOHHHHHHHH, big declaration!

Sam: It’s not around in the same way it would have been if Friendly Fires came back when they released that 8 minute song two months ago. I just don’t feel like there’s a place for it anymore.

Hannah: I think we’re just a little Klaxoned out.

Out of the Dark

Lizzie: Favourite song of the album.

Bianca: I think someone really needs to give him a light to go home to his wife Keira.

Hannah: Go home and stay home.

Sam: I find the lyrics, “If you believe in love, I believe in you,” inexcusable.

Lizzie: … Bit vomit worthy.

Hannah: …Offensive.

Sam: Unnecessary.

Sam: You know what? I prefer that Kylie Minogue song “ IIIIII believe…” to this.

Lizzie: I think this song made sense. You know, there was rhythm, the voice was ok…. everything was ok, it wasn’t great.

Bianca: I think there were some nice little moments. The bridge in particular.

Hannah: Definitely the most… cohesive of all the songs on the album. It’s very catchy, it doesn’t overpower you. People will like it and will listen to it again.

Sam: I think they’re gone in with the attitude ‘Ps get degrees’ and if that’s the case then… you’ve got an album.

Children of the Sun

Bianca: Hate it. He’s so purposely off tune it’s offensive. I find with all of their songs, I’m able to sing along to after the first verse and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing…it’s the same formula over and over again.

Hannah: Yeah, really, really, predictable with their song formula and they really, really like to recycle the song title throughout the song.

Sam: I don’t think this song even deserves us talking about it. It just sounds like an awful cover of Kasabian.

Hannah: Can we just skip it?

Lizzie: Yep. No time for it.

Invisible Forces

Hannah: So far on this album the Klaxons have proved they’re really good at a first impression, that first four bars, and then it just goes into their predictable formula and you tire of it quickly.

Sam: It’s like they have all these little notes saying, “Yeah we’re going to do that,” and then they just bulldoze over it with what they’ve already done.

Lizzie: They give you so much potential, plateau and then bring it back at the end.

Hannah: Yeah, great intros, a bit of a break down and some serious crap in between.

Sam: I feel like it’s when you come back from a long exchange and you have all these ideas that you’re going to be changed. Be nice to your mum, be nice to your friends, when really you’re just the same person you were with little intermittent changes.

Hannah: Yeah, maybe you vacuum a little more now?

Bianca: Hey! I drink cider now!

Lizzie: I just can’t get over the corniness of their lyrics.

Bianca: They’ve always had corny lyrics.

Sam: I don’t mind the corny lyrics.

Bianca: Agreed. I’m more of a tune gal than a lyric gal.

Rhythm of Life

Bianca: Soooo they need a lesson in minimalism.

Lizzie: Yeah, it’s just noise. So much noise. There’s no clarity.

Sam: Someone just needs to come in and slash away the shit.

Lizzie: And get some rhythm.

Hannah: They have a lot of potentially good ideas…and then they just don’t know how to cull.

Sam: I feel like, where is James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem in all of this? They’re the kings of just keeping it really simple and letting it build.

Lizzie: I don’t like muffled guitar. It’s not sexy. There’s nothing sexy about this, I feel like British guitar solos can be so much sexier than this cloudy bullshit they’re giving us.

Sam: Yeah, like Arctic Monkeys for example.

Lizzie: Yeah. Clean and clear.

Hannah: Sometimes it’s really good to be smacked in the face by a song… but with these ones it’s just… not.

Bianca: Yeah! Their old album used to smack you in your face but in a good way!

Hannah: Yeah! This isn’t a loving smack.

Sam: That’s because their old album was really driven by those drums, whereas they’ve replaced the drums in this one with a beat and then gone “wer, wer, wer,” with a guitar. Can we have sound FX in the article?

*All break into sound FX*

Liquid Light

Bianca: It was nice.

Sam: It was pleasant.

Lizzie: I liked…. that he wasn’t singing.

Bianca: C’mon, you said you like his voice.

Lizzie: Yeah… but in this circumstance I like that is wasn’t there?

Hannah: I like it… in its absence. It perhaps went on a verse too long?

Bianca: It probably would have served well as an interlude rather than a stand-alone song. I would have liked them to take on more of this sound in their other songs. Change it up a bit.

All together: Yeaahhhhh.

Hannah: I like it. We like it

The Dreamers

Hannah: I think this is the most inoffensive song, and it’s also the most forgettable song we’ve heard so far.

Sam: I think it’s more subtle than the rest and I like that. I think the melodic harmonies are more subtle and that’s really nice.

Bianca: I wouldn’t listen to this song on its own, but it’s a nice addition to the album

Sam: See, I would listen to it on its own and I think it’d like it even more. Here it’s after 8 songs and I’m a bit over this song now.

Lizzie: It’s like a relief.

Bianca: It gives me a chance to mop up the blood from my ears from the first series of ear-fucks.

Sam: It is necessary though.

Bianca: Chance to gather our thoughts.

Hannah: Yeah, it allows time for reflection… I just feel like you didn’t need to sing “La, la, la, la, la…” to give people this reflection.

Sam: True. But then I feel like it wouldn’t sound right on the album if they weren’t singing “ la, la, la, la…”

Hannah: You mean if they didn’t have lame lyrics?

Atom to Atom

Hannah: Well, that’s a surprise.

Sam:…I don’t know, I just don’t know….

Hannah: I’m exhausted by this album.

Sam: That drop was absolutely ridiculous. I feel like someone was speeding around me on a motorbike and hitting a tin can.

Lizzie: No words for this album.

Hannah: It’s like a woodpecker pecking the side of your head

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/klaxons/atom-to-atom[/soundcloud]

Love Frequency

Bianca: I waited THAT WHOLE TIME, and it was so close but it never climaxed.

Lizzie: Left. Hanging.

Hannah: It was never great to begin with.

Sam: Really?

Bianca: I had really high expectations for that.

Sam: I liked it and I actually liked that it didn’t drop. None of the music I listen to have a drop, so I don’t know why I got so excited for one but I’m actually feeling quite anxious and panty.

Bianca: Well, all the other songs follow the same method.. this one is kind of a little different in a good way.

LIzzie: True. That was my favourite, weirdly. I don’t know why. I hated it but I loved it.

Sam: That’s because there was a chance of a drop and you were like, “Oh Fuck yeah!”

Hannah: It’s just like when you first start having sex… It’s not all that great it begin with, it’s a little all over the place and then there’s promise of something great at the end… that just never really happens either.

Sam: Wait. That was only when you first started having sex?

*Laughter*

firstimpressions10june2

First Impressions 10 June

firstimpressions10june

Here are six songs that we kept in our company over the long weekend. While some were pleasant, others came armed with expletives and harsh beats. We reviewed them at the end of the weekend, taking particular note of their willingness to please the ears and their likeness to snozberries.

AG Cook- Beautiful

Sam: PC Music just sounds so futuristic and inhuman that it’s hard to attach yourself with. I think I’ve finally come around to it. Beautiful is so kitsch yet so melodic and lolly-like. It’s something new and I’m loving it. 4

Hannah: This is what happens when some seriously great production goes full throttle towards those shimmery, euphoric, highs we came to know and love during the happy house wave. It really hits its stride around the 1:20 mark, and from there on in it’s all rainbow coloured streets and snozberries that ACTUALLY taste like snozberries. #PLUR 3.5

Bianca:

 2.5

Lizzie: I feel like I just stepped out of an episode of Rugrats. When the song thickens at 1:20 seconds, it’s really hard not to bounce along. However, I’m still not sold on the whole Hello Kitty sound – its a very very new sound to my ears. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/beautiful[/soundcloud]

Caribou- Can’t Do Without You

Sam: I’m still not really over Odessa so it’s hard to accept that something new has come along. In saying that Can’t Do Without You is a grower and that climax at the end is well worth the wait. The vocal sample is also a total winner too. 4

Hannah: This is what I like to call a ninja song. See, you think you’ve heard all there is to hear and then all of a sudden some new crystalline layer creeps in so perfectly you begin to wonder if it wasn’t there all along. The climax is epic. The fade out is insane. The vocal sample is too too smooth. Caribou I’m glad you’re back. Ninja’d. Hannah’s pick

Bianca: I was so ready for another Odessa-style poppy track from Dan Snaith but certainly was not disappointed in its more relaxed successor. Can’t Do Without You is a slow-burner with a satisfying climax, topped off by a lovely vocal surprise at the end. Snaith’s Album Our Love is due out in three long months’ time so I guess I’ll just have to listen to this on repeat until then. 4 Bianca’s pick

Lizzie: Please excuse me while I just go eargasm. The climax of this song is unnervingly good. I’m left a little hot and flustered. 4 Lizzie’s pick

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/caribouband/cant-do-without-you[/soundcloud]

Drake- O to 100

Sam: Drake says it best when he raps “Fuck being on that chill shit”. He’s become a bit melancholic lately and it’s good to hear him rapping hell for leather again. And then he flips to The Catch Up and we get lush synths and a melodic Drake that proves he can swap between the two effortlessly. Kanye and Future are really the only other two rappers that can do that. 3.5

Hannah: Drake, I’mma let you finish but, James fucking Blake. 3.5

Bianca: Something, something n***a. Something, something bitches. Hold up, James Blake? This song really went from 0-100 real quick. Real fucking quick. 4

Lizzie: Could not stand to listen past the first 30 seconds of this track, but I obliged. I should probably get some medal or something. This song is painful. 1

SBTRKT- Temporary View

Sam: I do like this but my problem lies with the fact that it’s just so similar to his debut. It’s three years on and yet we’re back to Sampha and a wash of synths and sporadic beats. It’s a formula that works but one I’m going to soon tire of. 3

Hannah: SBTRKT really pushed some boundaries with this one… 3

Bianca: It’s a harmless, glittery number that doesn’t really go anywhere. 2.5

Lizzie: The synth sounds like its have a seizure in the background. Completely missed the mark. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/sbtrkt/sbtrkt-temporary-view-ft-sampha[/soundcloud]

Fishing- Your Mouth

Sam: Well this is a bit of fun isn’t it? It’s full of tropical keys and a nice leaping beats. It’s really quite cruel to drop this in the midst of winter. It’s quite different to any Australian music right now. That’s refreshing to hear. 3

Hannah: Fishing have been on my “Welll… if there’s no one else playing at this time,” festival list for a good 3 years now. If I ever do get to see them, I will be suitably clad in an hawaiian-shirt and drinking from a pineapple. 2.5

Bianca: There’s a little bit too much going on for me to fully sink into this song. 2.5

Lizzie: Just another song to add to the “Made in Chelsea” soundtrack. Upbeat and a little smarmy but nothing to rave home about. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/fishing/your-mouth[/soundcloud]

Starchild- All My Lovers

Sam: Blood Orange and Solange have done such a good thing re-designing this sleek, brand of NYC RnB. Starchild hangs in that click and it shows. All My Lovers is all about subtlety. It grows ever so slowly, he sings like a male-Aaliyah and there’s this smoke-machine like haze that runs through it. I’m so excited by Starchild. Quite frankly, this is the most promising debut I’ve heard all year. 5 Sam’s Pick

Hannah: I just can’t get on board with this one. It’s too slow and too derivative and just doesn’t hold its own against all other producers with a similar sound floating around at the moment. 2.5

Bianca: Saving this one for a purple rainy day. 3

Lizzie: Toured with Solange, collaborated with Blood Orange – what could go wrong with this artist? For all its beauty (damn there is a lot of talent within this 19 year old), I struggle to digest a song this slow. It’s just sooooooo slow. 3

Sam: You’re all crazy.

firstimpressionshomepage

First Impressions 2 June

firstimpressions

For this week’s reviews we’re delving into all things pop. Whether it’s straight up, glitter-pop or left-of-centre pop, we’re dipping our toes in all things melodic. It takes us to some unsettling EDM territory, vintage Hollywood and the ’80s. Those things combined have to mean a good time…right?

La Roux– Uptight Downtown

Sam: I did love Let Me Down Gently but this is what I expected from La Roux. Elly Jackson is an exquisite pop creator and this sort of reminds me of Bowie’s Let’s Dance . Mandating everyone to ‘move, move move’ is always a good idea. I’ve probably played this in excess of 20 times this week. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Lizzie: Can I really understand what she’s saying? No not really. Do I care? No a cent. I’m mesmerised too much by her boppy poppy beat. La Roux delivers again and again. My vote for consistently giving me chills! Lizzie’s Pick

Hannah: This song reminds me of a long lost old friend that suddenly walks back into your life. It’s familiar, it’s comfortable and it’s damn good to see them again. Now move, move, move. 3.5

Bianca: So good to have Elly back in my ears. Does my vote still count if this listen was about my 30th impression? 4.5 Bianca’s Pick

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/la-roux-official/la-roux-uptight-downtown[/soundcloud]

Kylie Minogue- Crystallize

Sam: Damn Dev Hynes is such a brilliant pop-producer. There’s a glistening charm to this, which he’s done, without much help from Kylie I’m sure. It’s for a good cause but my goodness the video is a stinker. Truth be told, I really don’t mind the song though. #TeamKylie. 3

Lizzie: NOTE:  DO NOT WATCH THE VIDEO CLIP. It is god awful. The song on the other hand, follows yet another perfect recipe for pop catchiness. Produced by Blood Orange (say what!?), I feel I’ve been transported back to a 90’s Blue Light Disco…may have even caught myself singing this in the shower this morning. Miss Minogue you’ve done it to me again. 3.5

Hannah: ….but… but… it just doesn’t go anywhere? 2

Bianca: I want to hate this video clip so bad but it takes me back to my hairbrush-singing-in-the-mirror days that I can’t help but feel nostalgic. That’s probably where my affection ends though. To put it bluntly, I certainly wouldn’t be turning my chair around for this one. 2

The Preatures– Two Tone Melody

Sam: Isabella Manfredi’s vocals are pure sex. I feel like they hark back to Chrissy Amphlett in the way of that really gritty, smokey tone. I’m so glad they’ve gone for a slow tempo and understated melody so that Manfredi can take the spotlight. 4

Lizzie: Well hello Ministry of Sound Chill Out album 2014. It kinda makes me want to move to Byron Bay for some reason. I feel that’s a good thing…The vocals by Manfredi, really own this song. Simple, majestic and fluid. 4

Hannah: Manfredi, I’m yours, I’m yours I’m yours. Simultaneously melancholic, whimsical and strangely hopeful, this song is destined for “soundtrack to your life” type lists everywhere. Excuse me while I go back to staring dreamily out of my rain strewn window. 3

Bianca: It’s an emotionally genuine, honest song but it wouldn’t feature on the soundtrack of my life. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/thepreatures/two-tone-melody-album-version[/soundcloud]

Wife- Tongue

Sam: Haxan Cloak’s production on this is the beginning is minimal brilliance but it’s all about 2:13 when it takes flight. The rollicking beat really smacks you in the stomach. It’s a very bold move for Wife to introduce himself this way, but it captures your attention. It’s all about the ebbs and flows. 3.5

Lizzie: This song does nothing for me. It’s too slow, harsh for the ears and general vibe is too intense for me. Just not my cup of tea sorry. 2

Hannah: The perfectly practised, totally atmospheric restraint of the first half of this track, coupled with the dark seduction and bone shattering anger of the climactic second has me hooked. Big, big, big fan. 4 Hannah’s Pick

Bianca: Probably not the best song for a hungover Monday morning but I can appreciate the raw emotions of the track. Hot tip: Do not search ‘wife + tongue’ on Youtube. Unless you’re into that kinda thing. 2.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/tri_angle_records/wife-tongue[/soundcloud]

Lana Del Rey- Shades of Cool

Sam: This is Lana’s second album and I still feel like we’re as far away from knowing who she actually is as ever. It’s still very vintage Hollywood. I like that she’s roughed it up a bit for Ultraviolence but it sounds like something I’d do at Karaoke at 4am in the morning, swaying, slightly off pitch and thinking I’m seducing everyone around. 2.5

Lizzie: Bond… James Bond. Is anyone else feeling that vibe – Daniel Craig shooting his gun into the distance in his newest franchise with this track echoing in the distance? I have utterly succumbed to the sexy broodiness of this song. 4 Lizzie’s very close second

Hannah: This week we’ve got the work of two major songstresses featured on First Impressions. First Kylie and now Ms Del Rey and yet I really feel neither of them delivers a track that goes anywhere I’m willing to go. Kylie’s chugs along a predictable pop princess route and Del Rey’s just crumbles into a sepia-toned car crash of messy guitar and percussion. It probably doesn’t help I hate Lana Del Rey at her best. 1.5

Bianca: If you’re a Lana Del Rey fan, you’ll no doubt be singing her praises for her latest track. If you’re not a fan, don’t worry, nothing’s changed. She’s the same Lana you know and don’t love. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/north-bound-beats/lana-del-rey-shades-of-cool[/soundcloud]

 

Deadmau5- Seeya (Feat. Colleen D’Agostino)

Sam: Frankly, it’s a cheap rip-off of Daft Punk and the disco flavoured-EDM sound that has followed. The vocalist is devoid of any type of human-appeal and the instrumental is so bland I’d rather be eating wet wipes. If Deadmau5 took me for a ride in his car and made me endure this, I’d open the door and roll-out. Seeya! 0.5

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Lizzie: He said he had this track lying around for a while, waiting to be released. He should have released it way back when…now it just sounds like a shitty electro attempt to cover the current funk disco vibe doing its rounds atm. (deadmau2.5)

Hannah: Yes Colleen D’Agostino you can move my body… away from the speakers pronto. And my mind is already well and truly asleep. Mission accomplished. Total yawn. 0.5

Bianca: Colleen’s voice makes me want to put a giant mouse on her head just so I don’t have to hear that screech. The track certainly has amiable disco vibes about it but fails to take me to funky town. Points for effort, I guess. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/mau5trap/deadmau5-featuring-colleen-dagostino-seeya[/soundcloud]

 

RAM_2

Random Access Memories: A Year On

RAM

As of this month, a year has passed since the release of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. The hype has somewhat dissipated, the dust has settled. Now it’s time to ask: Did RAM live up to the hype? Is it a Daft Punk classic? What does Daft Punk’s journey into disco past mean for our music present and future? (for the TL;DR version of the answers, scroll to the end)

Few artists in the history of time have had the enigmatic effect on the music industry quite like Daft Punk. It takes someone or something special to cause such a whirlwind of rumours and myths to circulate constantly over two decades’ time, ranging from surprise appearances to the actual identity of the persons in question, Thomas Bangalter & Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. In the 12 year time gap between their last album and RAM, (excluding the Tron soundtrack) the rumour mill was still well-oiled and running, with people predicting release dates of the next album, asking the questions “is there even going to be a next album?”, “when are they touring again?” or, as one internet punter asked an online Daft Punk FAQ, ‘are they dead?’

daftpunk_dead

I personally found this ‘partially’ helpful.

In February last year, Daft Punk finally came out of the shadows with a solitary image of the iconic split-helmet posted on both their website and Facebook. This first contact from the pair, in what felt like decades, sent the online world into a frenzy, with Facebook, Twitter, music blogs and forums alike going into overdrive. Even their manager, Paul Hahn, was staggered by the internet’s reaction, commenting that his favourite tweet was, ‘Daft Punk posts jpeg, crashes internet.” The incredible fact was that nothing about a new album was mentioned, though everyone was taking from that simple image the same message:

Daft Punk were back (and were definitely alive).

helmet2 copy

Rudy Mechekoff (above) makes a good point 

With tongues wagging and fingertips furiously a-typin’, Columbia Records slowly rolled out the  remainder of the Random Access Memories campaign to the bated breath of fans worldwide. But there was something different about this promotion. The helmet image posted onto the internet was typical of an album release but it was one of only a few engagements in the digital sphere. Instead, as hinted in a blog announcement by Chic guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers, it seemed that Daft Punk (with Rodgers as a suspected collaborator) were opting for a campaign encompassing all things retro. This was the first clue that Daft Punk was taking a new, funky direction.

billboard
Billboards began to pop up along Sunset Boulevard, replacing ads for “fat-reduction pills and local car-insurance companies,” imparting a “physical, visceral quality” and creating “something of permeance,” according to Paul Hahn. A 15-second teaser advertisement also bookmarked a Saturday Night Live episode (overshadowing Macklemore’s appearance on the show), both giving a nod to “pre-MTV era of marketing”, as Paul Hahn put it, with the latter subsequently crashing the Daft Punk website within 4 seconds of its appearance. It was a delightful mix of eras, with the clever use of varied media elements thought to be antiquated in the music realm.

Columbia Records still had more surprises up its sleeve; slowly giving away more and more pieces of the puzzle that was Random Access Memories. These consisted of a retro-futuristic web series, a multi-part YouTube documentary revealing some of the collaborators, more billboards (this time at prime positions of SXSW & Ultra Music Festival) and another SNL advertisement. This was all topped off with an extended 60-second teaser projected to the audience at Coachella, revealing Pharrell as a collaborator and stirring rumours that Daft Punk would be doing a surprise set (little did they know that the two men they craved so much were actually watching the teaser from the crowd amongst them. Truly Gods amongst mere mortals).

Kermit Cintron vs Walter MathysseThe campaign continued to stir up hype and demand attention, certainly a contrast to the two Frenchmen who have insisted on keeping their identities hidden underneath robot heads since the ‘90s. It exuded a promise of something great, with Columbia’s Chief Executive, Rob Stringer, likening it to when record companies used to have the “confidence that they had a big, big record.” There was no question they had the confidence. At this point it was bordering on cockiness.

Finally, the time had come for their 4th studio album to be released and in classic Daft Punk style, the launch was to be held in where else but ‘Wee Where..?’, only adding to the mystery and intrigue of the saga.

The time came, the time has passed, and now we’re left to ponder the question:

Did the machines live up to the hype?

Now that the dust has settled, the rumours have calmed (for now) and everyone has a copy of RAM in their once-hot little hands, I beg the question: did the album live up to its hype as the most anticipated album of last year/decade/century/millennia?

Obtaining the status of most critically successful album with a score of 87/100 on Metacritic, winning numerous Grammy Award wins, including Album of the Year, Best Dance/Electronica Album and Record of the Year, and debuting at number one in twenty countries, I’d be stupid to say no. I’d also be lying.

They gave life back to music.

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As the introductory song to RAM states, Guy and Thomas-Manuel aimed to revive the magic of albums apparently lost in the riff-heavy EDM haze. Professing to be bored with the electronic music style they so happened to help create, the pair chose to shy away from samples and other immediately-gratifying features of electronic music. Instead, they opted to bask in the styles and techniques of the disco era, turning back the clock to the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. In an age where so many songs are conceived so quickly and proficiently on computers, Daft Punk’s reintroduction of disco is refreshing, with The Scissor Sisters’ frontman, Jake Shears, comparing it to a “giant, fresh glass of water that so many people have been thirsty for for so long.” This style is evident in their use of multi-layered vocals, accompanied with a slew of instruments and expert instrument implementation (dem guitar licks), adding to the intricate level of detail and musical thought rendered throughout the album.

They spared no expense to accomplish this; rounding up the best musicians, recording in the finest studios around the world and incorporating orchestras and choirs at will. With this, they’ve managed to create a new sonic-age while still maintaining their classic Daft Punk . Many would prefer for them to simply stick to what made them what they are, but at some point, purely programmed music would become tiresome. As Giorgio Moroder said, “they had to do something which is different – still dance, still electronic – but give that human touch back.” And it’s that simple idea of personifying electronic music again which has so influenced the disco/funk trend so evident today.

RAM was an Instant Crush, but was it an Instant Classic?

crushRandom Access Memories‘ cinematic nature makes it an album that needs to be heard in full, a style which doesn’t make it a classic in the way that its predecessors are. Of course discluding popular Get Lucky and Lose Yourself to Dance, you wouldn’t expect to hear many of their tracks, such as the musings in Giorgio by Moroder or the cinematic story of Touch in any old club. This is where Daft Punk’s style in RAM is noticeably different from their past works. It seems they have created this to be more of an event, more of a journey from start to finish, not dissimilar to the records of the past. This in turn requires a lot more effort from the listener, proving difficult for some, who would prefer the immediate gratification from one of their more electronic numbers such as Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Although this way of approaching the album may be labour-intensive, it is greatly rewarding. RAM manages to surprise you with something new every listen, whether it be the instantly funking guitar lick on Lose Yourself to Dance, the steady beat of Doin’ It Right or the Broadway production that is Touch. It’s the complete disregard for trend that makes RAM stand out as an innovator, jam-packed with music of an older-age for a future generation.

Disco is Alive and Stayin’ Alive.

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Although many artists have quietly been making disco-influenced music, it seems that all we required was the Daft Punk effect to really start the trend. Sonically, it’s re-introduced the idea of human-sounding music into the dance genre. Ironic, considering it came from a pair of robots. Nile Rodgers, one of the main collaborators on the album and the ‘Mozart of disco’, has attributed this renewed affection for his beloved disco to its “complex simplicity” and absolute “bliss of grooves.”

nilerodgersIt has the ability to encourage people to get up and dance, rather than “people standing there” and “nodding their heads”, as stated by Dec Lennon, the head of a dubstep/grime radio station, comparing the new disco wave to the dubstep era.

Mixmag’s Duncan Dick positioned RAM as a “game-changer for dance music,” getting out of the EDM comfort zone that so many artists are stuck in. “It’s as if they’re trying to turn the clock back to a time not only before EDM but before even acid house,” he wrote. “This isn’t Daft Punk trying to get back to the warehouse or the rave but back to the discothèque.” Dec Lennon has also attributed it to people “opening up, getting loose, having a drink and a dance.” Hugo Gruzman of Flight Facilities has also chimed in on the subject, comparing EDM to electronic disco, stating “it’s the difference between a quick shag and an all-night love-making session”.

It seems everyone has the fever, with artists adopting the disco trend at a critical mass. This past year, we’ve already seen artists such as Jungle, Chromeo, Chris Malinchak, Juce, Flight Facilities, Todd Terje, Blood Orange and La Roux (just to name a few) creating ‘70s/’80s-inspired tunes. Not to mention the slew of artists like Clean Bandit and Avicii who have found huge commercial success with their disco-flavoured numbers.

Pharrell Got Lucky.

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No, not in that way! Well, probably also in that way. 

Another artist who has greatly benefited from the success of Random Access Memories is none other than former N.E.R.D pioneer, Pharrell Williams. Although quietly producing tracks with a host of other artists, it seemed he’d been hiding in the shadows for the past few years, appearing his best days were behind him. Pharrell himself confessed that his first solo album, In My Mind, was a “dreadful experience”, making him think that his “days as an artist were over.”

It wasn’t until he met with Guy and Thomas-Manuel and pleaded to their manager for a chance at collaborating, saying “anything you want me to do, I’ll do. I’ll play tambourine on your next album,” that his luck began to change. He stated that he was “happy guesting” or “producing work” but the French dance stars asked much more of Pharrell,  inviting him to sing on their hit single Get Lucky and further collaborate with them for the entire album.

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This turn of events has him convinced that Daft Punk brought his solo career back from the brink of nonexistence.”Working with Daft Punk has been a huge part of the journey to where I am today… I was appreciative when I did it and I’m still appreciative of the chance I was given,” he has commented. Daft Punk, with their album Random Access Memories, helped shine the spotlight back on Pharrell, breathing life back to his career and revealing the producer for the amazing talent he is, helping him re-emerge into the music world as, what The Guardian describes him, a ‘one-man disco revival.’

TL;DR: Random Access Memories was great, Daft Punk revived the disco era, they inspired other artists to emulate electro-disco, they kick-started Pharrell Williams’ solo career and, basically, boogie is back and it’s, hopefully, here to stay (at least until Daft Punk’s next album).

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FIRSTIMPRESS

First Impressions 26 May

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It seems new music is caught in a funk. In the best possible way. This week everything has been struck by the rhythm stick, with funky guitars, wobbling synths and MJ-esque vocals permeating the collection. Get out your favourite Disco Stu boots and let’s boogie through this week’s collection.

Juce – (H)ours

Sam: Juce are tomorrow’s big news. I’m getting flashbacks to All Saints, Jamiroquai and Macy Gray. I can understand how that combination sounds awful but I mean it in the best way. This is a modern, disco classic. 4

Bianca: I’m really enjoying the girl band revival that’s going on right now. Juce’s sound is kind of a disco and ‘90s hybrid which makes for a delightful funk when teamed with lead singer Chalin’s raspy vocals. Juce are certain to be the next big thing, with their unique groove, a touch of sass and a whole lotta girl power. 4

Lizzie: 

This track really warms up after about 40 secs, so hang in there. It’s a real flare-pant-wearing, hustle-inducing, head bopper. 4

Hannah: To be honest, I was really hesitant to get involved in this week’s First Impressions, mainly because it would mean putting down Chromeo’s White Woman album for the first time in a long time. Having done so, I think we can safely say disco is having a very happy revival and I’m loving it. 4

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/annie-mac-presents/fmm-juce-hours[/soundcloud]

BANKS- Drowning

Sam: I’m struggling to keep finding different words of praise for BANKS. That bellowing voice, those ball-crushing lyrics, that skittering beat- it’s all perfect. This album needs to be in my ears stat. And I swear, if people start adding this to ‘chill’ playlists, I’ll burst a blood vessel.  4.5  Sam’s Pick

Bianca: The sultry vocals accompanied with the ratchety backbeat certainly paint a picture of Banks’ entrapment in a bad relationship, further hammered into us by the ghostly echo of her lyrics. Her style is verging slightly on Lana Del Rey territory but thankfully is unique in her right. 4.5

Lizzie: This is a darkly seductive track. A Lana Del Rey on steroids, Banks just oozes raw talent. You find yourself just melting into a song like this, I’m literally itching in excitement for the release of her debut album. 4 Lizzie’s Pick

Hannah: BANKS does Lana Del Ray better than Lana Del Rey. Let’s just go ahead and replace her on the Gatsby soundtrack and forget that god awful Young and Beautiful blip ever happened, Ok? Every hair on my body stands up as that bass drops heralding the chorus. Quite simply put, I’m hooked. 4.5 Hannah’s Pick

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/banksbanksbanks/banks-drowning[/soundcloud]

Chris Malinchak (Feat. Mikky Ekko)- Stranger

Sam: First things first, this will be a massive hit, no doubt. Secondly, it deserves to be. It’s got an effortless disco groove that’s only bettered by Ekko’s crystalline vocal. Malinchak and Ekko do MJ better than posthumous MJ does MJ. 3.5

Bianca: Digging the on-trend shimmering disco vibe of this track. Ekko’s going to find it hard to Xscape from Michael Jackson comparisons and, admittedly, his vocals are almost too ‘a-hee hee!’ for my liking but he’s definitely got something special going on. 3

Lizzie: What’s with the funk, disco vibe going around at the moment? It’s everywhere! It’s going to take every ounce of effort not say this song sounds like Michael Jackson. This is a glittery performance by the up and coming DJ/producer. It doesn’t shine as much as So Good To Me did for me last year, but I am still excited to see what else this guy offers up in 2014. 4

Hannah: Lizzie, apparently I don’t have the same restraint as you. This is a Jackson sound. This is a Daft Punk meets Pharrell sound. This is a Chromeo sound. This is a GREAT sound that makes you want to break out your brightest Lycra and throw on a Jane Fonda workout video or two but this is by no means a new sound. I like it because well, how can you not? Now where are my sweat bands? 3.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/chrismalinchak/stranger[/soundcloud]

Nicki Minaj- Pills and Potions

Sam: Minaj is a great rapper. It took Starships for people to forget her insane verse on Monster, but this one may regain her some cred. Its barebone production makes it hard to get overly excited but she’s heading in the right direction. 3

Bianca: This is somewhat different from Minaj’s other work. Good for her for trying something new, I guess. 1.5

Lizzie: Well, this is different. A big departure from her usual sassy geddup. This raw, stripped back track, is well…meh. Hats off for her trying something different, I just can’t see her fitting into the whole cookie-cutter vibe. 3

Hannah: When Rihanna momentarily steps down from her pop princess pedestal, she produces raw, stripped back, KILLER tracks like Stay that remind you why she’s held in such high esteem to begin with. When Minaj tries to do the same thing, you find yourself imploring her to jump back on her throne (slash Starship) and stick to what she knows. Who needs creative diversity anyway? I do like the bass though. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/hits-only/nicki-minaj-pills-and-potions[/soundcloud]

Zeds Dead and Twin Shadow- Lost You

Sam: It’s very last-year-Disclosure, but as an imitation it does a good job. Twin Shadow’s vocal is wonderfully soulful and the chorus he musters is hands-in-the-air stuff but Zeds Dead’s production just feels a little bland. But I suppose who cares when you’re getting down at 4am. 2.5

Bianca: The Disclosure-esque syncopated percussion could get me dancingbut can’t see this getting stuck in my head any time soon. 2.5  

Lizzie: I totally agree with Sam on this one, it sounds like some un-released (shitty) Disclosure stuff.

Why it works? Great catchy vocals.

Why it doesn’t work? The backbeat runs too light and too fast fast for me – it doesn’t really pack a punch. 3

Hannah: Sam, we live in Sydney. Ain’t nobody getting at 4am these days. Why bother with imitation when the real thing is just so darn good at any time of the day or night? 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/zedsdead/zeds-dead-twin-shadow-lost-you-feat-dangelo-lacy/[/soundcloud]

Jungle- Time

Sam: Tune after tune after tune, Jungle are funking me over. I feel like the whole cast of Saturday Night Fever is marching fervently towards me to the beat, backing me into a dark corner. It’s awesome. 4

Bianca: Jungle win me over time and time again with their modern day Bee Gees vibe. 4.5 Bianca’S Pick

Lizzie: This is groovy track with some damn sexy vocals. I just want to break down and boogie! 4

Hannah: Something, something, disco. Something, something, funk. 3.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pierre-della-monica/jungle-time[/soundcloud]

 

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

First Impressions 19 May

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

A song is all about the first impression. That first 30 seconds, that first 808, that first velvety melody. All the while, your hand hovers eagerly over the ‘next’ button ready to take on another unassuming song. First Impressions captures that very essence as we take on tracks from the week past. Only we don’t press skip. This week our ears have been led to Kimbra’s experimental newbie, M.I.A’s feisty remix and La Roux’s long awaited/forgotten return amongst others.

M.I.A- Baddygirl 2

Sam: Everything M.I.A touches is gold to me. In this, she calls out “surfboard bitches”, “flawless bitches” and “Beyonce” and then segues into Beyonce’s Diva. In other words, I’m sold. 3.5

Lizzie: Talk about timing. Dropping this track the week of that elevator incident. I’m pretty sure the Knowles camp weren’t looking for any extra press, especially not a fierce remix of ‘Flawless’. M.I.A does what she wants, when she wants and I am totally happy to oblige. 4

Bianca: The Bey-kdown was a refreshing break from the M.I.A part of the song. 2

Hannah: I’m torn. M.I.A is telling me I’m more than just a butts and titties girl and more than just a slutty girl, meanwhile the beat is urging me to grab the nearest surfboard and grind up on dat wood. Such is life for a 21st century feminist. 4 Hannah’s Pick 

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/miauk/baddygirl-2-mia-party-squad-beyonce-flawless-remix[/soundcloud]

Kimbra- ‘90s Music

Sam: Big props to Kimbra for delivering up something so left-centre. It’s boundary pushing, Bjork-esque and has a big sugary-chorus for good measure. A lot of people will hate this but I think that’s brilliant. Maybe it’s time people stepped out from their Coldplay-laiden comfort zone. 4

Lizzie: No no no. There’s experimental and then there’s this. I feel she’s just pulled a variety of samples out of a hat and vomited them onto this track. 1.5

Bianca: I think Kimbra’s a little confused…I don’t remember the ‘90s sounding anything like this. This needs to be laid to rest along with scrunchies. 2

Hannah: This song really excited me… until Kimbra opened her mouth. I’m probably still in an M.I.A flavoured haze, but I can’t help thinking if only it was M.I.A’s vocals on this track it’d be a killer. As it stands, I find myself straining to hear a track of musical gold (I don’t even mind Bellamy’s guitar) through the sound of some very unhappy cats. Meow. 2.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/kimbramusic/kimbra-90s-music[/soundcloud]

La Roux- Let Me Down Gently

Sam: La Roux, you drop one of the most addictive pop albums of the decade and then leave us out in the cold for five years. It’s bordering on torture but this new one has you easily forgiven. This is a pop TUNE if i’ve ever heard one. And I’ve heard a few of them in my time. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Lizzie: The queen of synth-pop is back, thank god! We needed someone to step back in and show us how its done, and “Let Me Down Gently” is a blissful dream. Massive fan of the sax breakdown. Not a big fan of the fact we had to wait 5 years for this track surface. 4

Bianca: Such suspense at 2:35! That pause is so pregnant, it’s carrying triplets. 4.5 Bianca’s Pick

Hannah: Phil Collins of the best kind. 3.5

Gorilla-Drumming

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/la-roux-official/let-me-down-gently?in=interscope/sets/la-roux-let-me-down-gently[/soundcloud]

Mariah Carey- Thirsty

Sam: Based solely on the album title (Me. I am Mariah), I’d be happy to call this album of the year right now. This song is everything I’ve come to expect from Mariah- full of unintentional LOLs. Attach this to a Pepsi commerical and it will reach its utmost potential. 2.5

Lizzie: This song is offensive to my ears. 1

Bianca: Someone, please, get Mariah a drink. 1

Hannah: Like trying to rehydrate with a big old glass of milk, this song ain’t going to leave you with nuttin’ but a belly ache.

Andy Bull- Talk Too Much

Sam: Eh, I really want to love this because I’ve been such a fan of his previous two singles but this one’s just too middle of the road. It starts to climb the mountain of melodic brilliance but it never quite reaches the top, leaving me with an unsolved sweet tooth. 3

Lizzie: He’s got a really unique sound – upbeat but not too in-your-face. The lyrics are a winner for me, offering up a message to just shut up, stop bitching and live a little. 4  

Bianca: Keep talking to me, Andy. This poppy little number blooms more with every listen.

Hannah:It says a lot that we found this song on indieshuffle. It’s cute, it’s poppy, it’d be right at home alongside Phantom Planet on The OC Soundtrack. It’s just another one to add to the pile. Shuffle on. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/andybullmusic/talk-too-much[/soundcloud]

Rhodes- Morning

Sam: So many Jeff Buckley vibes which I’m completely OK with. I’m going to forego all masculinity here and say this is damn beautiful. It goes to show that so little needs to be done when you’ve got a fine voice and brooding melody. 4

Lizzie: Excuse me for a second, while I just compose myself….Phew! Thats what I call a moving song. So minimal, yet effortlessly packs a punch. This guy has a got a gift 4 Lizzie’s Pick

Bianca: Zzzzzzz. But in a soothing, bedtime audiobook kinda way 2.5

Hannah:  Well that was nice.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/rhodesmusic/rhodes-morning[/soundcloud]

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