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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.

durex

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.

pharrellhelmet

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).

applause

FIRSTIMPRESS

First Impressions 26 May

firstimpressions29may

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]

singlesclub_week6_2

Musical Speed Dating 9 May

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

If you clicked on this article purely for Usher’s abs then you’re in luck. Scroll further down and there’s an entire video. For the remaining few of you who clicked on this for the music, you’re also in luck. We’re delving into tracks from the ever-impressive Antlers, Aussie wonder-DJ Alison Wonderland and Xtina revival queen K Stewart. This week it’s all about the king and queen of the dance floor with Alison Wonderland and new kid on the block, Shamir, proving to be favourites with polar opposite versions of booty-shaking tracks. Keep scrolling for more puns and Usher pick-up lines.

Antlers- Hotel

Sam: There’s something about the chord progression on this that just melts me from the outset. My only problem is that there’s not a lot of dynamic to the song which means it becomes slightly stale towards the end 3

Lizzie: This is a floaty, smooth track which really makes you drift away to a different place. The vibe is moody and slow – I can almost feel my face mushed against a window on a rainy day, staring pensively into the distance..“In the hotel, I can’t remember how the past felt.” 3

Hannah: Go into your living room, put on a track by The Editors, or maybe even The Cold War Kids, leave the room and listen to the now toned down, slightly muted track from the other side of the door. This is what’s happening here. Same, same but different. I do love the plucky guitar outro though. 3

Bianca: Peter Silberman’s lilting vocals seem to be heavily influenced by Jeff Buckley’s ‘Mojo Pin’. I’d request a late checkout from this Hotel 3.5 Bianca’s Pick 

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/antirecords/the-antlers-hotel[/soundcloud]

Usher- Good Kisser

Sam: Dat falsetto, am I right? I am unnaturally obsessed with the verses and bridge of this song and then completely underwhelmed by the chorus. 3.5

Lizzie: Why does Usher always write songs about me, it’s embarrassing. I kid, I kid…

But what I am not kidding about is how pumped I am to see Usher back in full force in 2014. The cowbell is fresh and funky – really makes this song for me. Only problem, stick to singing your lyrics Usher, ‘saying’ them just sounds plain weird. 3.5

Hannah: Basically you had me at Usher. Good Kisser is doing for Usher what Sexy Back did for Mr Timberlake after his hiatus: Pair it back, throw a bit of funk in there and remind the world you have some sweet dance moves and BOOM! Nobody will even care you left them for awhile. 3.5

Bianca: My confession Part I: ‘Good Kisser’ doesn’t do it for me. You’re not wrong about dat falsetto, Sam, but other than that, the song never makes it past first base.

Basement Jaxx- Unicorn

Sam: I’m not sure if I like this song or I’m just nostalgic for Marky Mark’s Good Vibrations. Either way that thumping bass and acid-synth line is giving me damn good feels. Basement Jaxx always succeed in updating their sound but keeping true to their style. 3.5

Lizzie: It’s got all the elements that should make you want jump up and dance. A quick pulsing beat, the lyrics want us to get us up “jumping”, but am I just not feeling it at all. Sadly, I only have room for one British electronic dance duo in my playlist, and that’s saved for Disclosure. 2.5

Hannah: This is a car crash of synth and bass and off-tune samples beneath a whingey vocal. Put bluntly, it does not want to make me get my body jumping. 1

Bianca: Sounds a little too aerobics dance class for me- more Jumping Jaxx than Basement Jaxx. Unfortunately these guys have taken a few Box Steps backwards from their previous album. 2

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/basement-jaxx/unicorn[/soundcloud]

Alison Wonderland- I Want U

Sam: A little bit of trap, a little bit of Flume and a little bit of Crystal Castles and you have a song that sounds very similar to everything else right now. Alison Wonderland is super cool and I love the warehouse tour idea but this doesn’t really dish up anything new. 2.5

Lizzie: Love love this track. Everything fits for me – the vocals are echoey and haunting, but with the layering of samples, crashes and all sorts of sounds, it all makes sense. No wonder why she was snapped up by Diplo & Friends. 4.5 Lizzie’s Pick 

Hannah: Remember when TNGHT gave us Higher Ground? Yeah, well so does Alison Wonderland… only now it’s called I Want U. 3.5

Bianca: A smorgasbord of everything hot right now which has regrettably left me with a touch of heartburn. 2

Shamir- I Know It’s A Good Thing

Sam: It’s two from two for newcomer Shamir. This is another slice of disco-heaven delivered by a buttery melody and throwback vocals. It’s time to restart Studio 54. 4 Sam’s Pick 

Lizzie: What a voice, that heavenly voice. And the heavy thump of the piano. It’s not gospel, it’s not electronica, it’s not disco as we know it. Its Shamir. A new and bewitching sound and I love it, and this is only his second release! 4

Hannah: This kid was born in the wrong decade. He shows some skill, easily playing with disco, Rnb, house and a whole lotta soul here. I Know It’s A Good Thing is such a good thing. 4 Hannah’s Pick 

Bianca: Shamir’s androgynous voice provides a melodious juxtaposition to the heavy-handed piano strokes. 3.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/godmodeinternet/shamir-i-know-its-a-good-thing[/soundcloud]

KStewart- Tell Me ‘Bout That

Sam: Xtina is alive and well in this one. And there’s no problem with that. The chorus is just A+ RnB and the song as a whole is a testament to the strength of RnB music at the moment. More and more great stuff continues to come out of the woodwork. I would love for something like this to make it to radio. 4

Lizzie: I feel like I’m hosting a very suave party in an elevator, somewhere stuck on the level between Christina Aguilera circa 2000s and some fresh new RnB pop/electronica. What may seem confusing to the ears at first, but it actually turns out to be a little gem of a song after 2-3 listens. Shame she shares the unfortunate name with some bitchy–faced Twilight vampire. 3.5

Hannah: So I listened to KStewart do her thang… and now I’m in the middle of a Christina revival. Did someone say derivative? 3

Bianca: The bubble sound effects, in addition to a melody reminiscent of The Sims ‘Buy Mode’, give this song a playful groove. Something tells me this girl will be bringing in the §§§s in due time. 3.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/kstewartmusic/tell-me-bout-that-produced-by-karma-kid-1[/soundcloud]

xscape4

The Definitive track-by-track guide to Michael Jackson’s Xscape

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

We seem to have an obsession with reviving stars from the dead. 2Pac appeared as a hologram at Coachella, 12 posthumous Jimi Hendrix albums have been released and a Drake-lead Aaliyah album is rumoured to be in the works. There’s been a lot of talk around whether Jackson’s second studio album since 2009 will tarnish his reputation. After one listen, it’s unlikely. Does anybody remember Michael from 2010? You’ve all probably tried to erase it from the memory, mostly because it featured Akon.

Thankfully this one isn’t half as much of a rush job as Michael. Xscape sounds polished and true to Jackson’s style. Executive producer of the record, Jimmy Iovine said that the intention was to make it sound like a record Jackson would’ve made – and it does. The only problem is whether or not that’s a style people want to hear in 2014.

With that considered, let’s take a journey and escape to Xscape.

Love Never Felt So Good

Dim the lights, pour the champagne and start spinning the circular bed. This one is classic MJ, harking further back to his Jackson 5 days than any other era. It’s a disco-flavoured affair, with a guest spot from Justin Timberlake but it still feels so old fashioned. Everyone’s aware that funk is back thanks to Pharrell but this feels dusty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pulling out the daggy Mum moves and loving every second.

Chicago

Opened by deep synths, we’re immediately out of disco-Jackson and into 2000s-Jackson. Apparently this one was originally recorded for his 2001 album, Invincible, and it shows. Timbaland has waved his magic over it and it’s moderately successful. If anything, it’s good to hear that classic MJ grunt again as he sings “Lie to you, Lie to me”.

Loving You

Lets jump backwards again, because now we’re firmly in the motown era. Timbaland and J-Rocc have brought this track into 2014 but I can’t help but wonder whether it would’ve been better left untouched. Or am I just thinking about the whole Jackson legacy in general? Either way, this one’s about as memorable as the last season of the Biggest Loser.

Edit: I’ve just listened to the original version and my earlier thoughts have been confirmed. It would’ve been better left alone.

A Place with No Name

Rihanna’s producers, Stargate fiddled with this one and it’s probably the most successful so far. It maintains a funky baseline but peppers it will a deep pulsating beat. Jackson’s vocals on this are so on point, it’s hard not to enjoy this track. His licks, runs and grunts are all there in abundance and he feels more present than 2Pac’s Coachella hologram. Unlike the previous song, the original version doesn’t hold a candle to the 2014 update.

Slave to the Rhythm

Timbaland’s back on this one and you can tell. It sounds similar to Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience with a shuffling beat and futuristic synths. This is apparently about a house-wife who’s caught in a mundane life but would rather be dancing. Pretty emotional stuff. The track doesn’t really pull through until the euphoric fourth quarter when Timbaland pairs it all back in favor of a glistening synth.

Do You Know Where Your Children Are

This one’s a difficult listen given Jackson’s history with alleged sexual abuse. The industrial percussion and ‘80s synths are there in glorious abundance but it’s hard to just focus on that and not give all your attention to lyrics like “She wrote that she is tired of stepdaddy using her”.

Blue Gangsta

The opening verse of this is Timbaland’s finest moment on the album. The brooding start makes me imagine Jackson emerging onto stage in a smoke machine-induced haze and it’s all sorts of magic. He’s then joined by a brass-heavy beat and everything goes awry. The original of this is so uncomplicated but Timbaland seems to have added and added to it until it’s almost unbearable to listen to. I’m a huge fan of anything brass-related but apparently you can have too much of a good thing.

Xscape

Nothing says contemporary like a misspelt title track. It’s so will.i.am, so Gen-Y, so 2014. Unfortunately that’s where the contemporary aspect of this track ends. Like a large portion of this album, they’ve tried to keep it true to Jackson’s style and still bring it in to 2014. In the end it sounds confused and irrelevant.

 Xscape is out in Australia on 13 May.

musicalspeeddating2

Musical Speed Dating 25 April

musicalspeeddating4

Another week, another bunch of unsolicited attacks on unsuspecting musicians in the form of the Musical Speed Date. The selection this week is a hot and sweaty mix of RnB, electronica and rock spiced up with some hands-in-the-air 80’s nostalgia. Sit back and we’ll take you on a cosmic journey through the week’s best (and worst)- just remember to scroll.

Jamie xx- Girl

Sam: The vocal sample is super nice but I feel like the rest just plods along unambitiously…until the end when the drums kick in. I like that. A lot. 3.5

Bianca: More like Jamie XXX. Dayuuumm Girl, that was smooth. 4

Lizzie: Bit too slow for me. The start grabs you but then I feel it slipped away very quickly. Vocals are echoey and cool but not his best. 3

Hannah: The walking bass runs through this track at that perfect, effortlessly cool tempo. It’s a deeper, darker, offering from the DJ and in many ways more concise, dare I say even more predictable than what we’re used to receiving from him.  With its big brass samples and tongue-in-cheek play with soulful blues rhythms it has me even more excited to hear what’s in store from his forthcoming release. 4   HANNAH’S PICK

Movement- Ivory

Sam: Movement are just the most exciting thing in Australia right now. Not only is the voice unbelievable, but the music is also dark, creeping and alluring. When the piano kicks in and the vocals take it up a notch, I get a little bit clammy. And then that guitar. Someone get me water. 4.5   SAM’S PICK

Bianca: Haunting and breathy vocals transport me to the dark, tattooed alleys of NYC. In a good, non-rapey kind of way. The guitar riff is an interesting touch to the finale. 4  BIANCA’S PICK

Lizzie: Great pace in this song. Simple, beautiful voice, and love the rocky guitar solo! 4.5   LIZZIE’s PICK

Hannah: It’s 3am and the throbbing bass is the highway that stretches infinitely in front of you while the world around you changes, throwing up new towns and strange characters. The only speed bump is that god awful guitar solo, but other than that it’s smooth sailing to dawn. 3.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/modularpeople/movement-ivory-2[/soundcloud]

Twin Shadow- To The Top

Sam: It’s so explicitly ‘80s that it falls into Simply Red territory and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. When he pulls it back a bit in the verses I follow, but the chorus is OTT. Add black cat, wind and a smoke machine for full effect. 3

Bianca: The chorus is too John Farnham on his fifth (and final) comeback tour. He’s the voice and I’m trying to understand it. 1.5

Lizzie: Errgggh. Not my style at all. Go back to the ‘90s Baywatch film set. 2

Hannah: This just in: Twin Shadow announces John Farnham collaboration. 2.5

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/twin-shadow/to-the-top[/soundcloud]

TALA- Serbia

Sam: A tribal expedition through R&B, TÃLàpulls all the tricks on this one. The percussion hits hard, the vocal manipulation tugs at the ears and the brassy synths rattle the bones. It’s a melting pot of all the right sounds. 4

Bianca: The intro gets straight into it and sets the scene for good things to come. Energetic drums and poppy vocals ensure that dance, tribal and R&B lines are blurred harder than Robin Thicke. 4

Lizzie: I like the layering in this song – not too much to irritate the ears, just enough to keep you bopping. I like the male/female dynamic in the vocals, really works for this track. 4

Hannah: I don’t know what this is? Vaguely drum and bass, electronica, indie? I initially thought it was going in Lykke Li direction before it took what was the first of many turns and left me stumped again. Whatever it is, I like what TÃLÃ Is doing here. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/talaofficial/serbia[/soundcloud]

Chromeo- Ezra’s interlude

Sam: There’s a lot to be said for a simple piano and vocal line. Ezra’s falsetto is like honey and is complimented beautifully by Chromeo’s subtle guitar stabs. My only problem: I want more. It’s like buying anything under a king-sized Cadbury bar. You’re always gonna want the extra inch. 4

Bianca: From the get-go, Ezra’s voice melts in my ears. Chromeo adds a groovy touch to his chocolatey falsetto. Short & sweet. 4

Lizzie: A little too corny for me. Yeah, ok, his voice is sweet. Sickeningly sweet. 3

Hannah: Chromeo do Chromeo so well their obsession with the sweet sound of the ‘80s can be forgiven. Happy memories from Coachella may have me a little biased. 3

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/chromeo/ezras-interlude[/soundcloud]

The Black Keys- Turn Blue

Sam: It’s nice and polite. My problem is the Black Keys are seemingly on the Kings of Leon path to rock n roll beige. RIP. 2

Bianca: Would probably press ‘next’ on iTunes Shuffle. 2

Lizzie: Not what I am used to from the Black Keys, but I am pleasantly surprised. This belongs in a smokey downtown Jazz club, but not something to go and rave about. 3.5

Hannah: Psychedelic surf rock. Been there done that. 2

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