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FirstImpressionz

First Impressions: ZAYN, All Saints, Charli XCX And More

FirstImpressionzFirst Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. This week we pick apart tracks by ZAYN, Nao, Charli XCX, Baauer, Tokimonsta and All Saints.

ZAYN
It’s You

Zanda Wilson: If this song was a drink; it would be a non-alcoholic beer, but one that you expected to be alcoholic, and so therefore you are taking on maximum carbs at minimum efficiency. 2 out of 5 

Sam Murphy: I’m glad that we finally get to hear some of the Malay material from ZAYN and it’s definitely a different vibe to Pillowtalk. His voice is near-perfect and it’s great to hear some runs that we weren’t really able to hear on his 1D tracks but I can’t help but think he’s got more to give us. There’s gotta be some real gritty stuff on the album and that’s what I’m hanging out for. Also I can’t help but think this is a slowed-down version of 1D’s Gotta Be You. 3.5 out of 5 

Annie Cooper: I was excited to hear Zayn’s solo stuff initially, but between this and Pillowtalk I can’t help but feel really underwhelmed. I mean, at least with 1D there was that guilty pleasure aspect, but this track is kind of just nothing. His vocals are good and so is the production, but quite frankly I can’t remember what it even sounded like and the track stopped playing about two minutes ago. Hopefully his album will come bearing grittier tracks but I’m not getting my hopes up. 2 out of 5 

Jack Cain: Fuck off,  Zayn. 0 out of 5 

Meshell Webb: Nice to see Zayn being all grown up…leaving behind the childish realm of boybands and instead writing songs for the next Twilight film (they’re still making those…right?) 1 out of 5 

Average score: 1.7/5

Nao
Fool To Love

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/thisnao/nao-fool-to-love-1[/soundcloud]

Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a spiced rum or whisky, think Sailor Jerrys or even Canadian Club Spiced. Smooth as hell but with a slight kick that you probably weren’t expecting. 4

Sam: Nao has nailed that funky-electronica aesthetic. It feels like she’s got the perfect toolkit and she’s sticking to it which means all her stuff is starting to sound really consistent. This is another knockout. It’s effortless but also sounds really modern and fresh. Her voice is interesting but not in your face and it doesn’t seem like she’s forcing anything. So natural and so bloody good.

Annie: This track grabbed me from the start, and it only got better as it progressed. Something about it is giving me early ’00s vibes, which I can’t get enough of- though it’s still undeniably very modern. Annie’s Pick

Jack: Another song like this, how fun. This song takes me back to 2013 when the first lot of producers started bringing this sound back. Not modern. Recycled. Kaytranada and Snakehips made this shit when no one cared. Still kinda cool, but yeah, not mind blowing. 3

Meshell: Will add to my cooking dinner playlist [I like to cook to sexy R&B…what of it?] but I’m with Jack when it comes to the production, it’s incredibly recycled. Luckily, it’s got some solid melodic content going on. 3.5 

Average score: 3.7/5

Charli XCX
Paradise (Feat. Hannah Diamond)

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/vroomvroomrecordings/paradise-2min-edit-charli-xcx-4416[/soundcloud]

Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a European Radler or American hard lemonade. You might be worried about it being overly sweet, but there’s some real substance there. Some may say that they’re not a fan of the style but you might surprise yourself by indulging. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: I’m going to be really biased because I love Charli XCX to death and that love only grows stronger with every batshit crazy thing she does. She’s literally just established herself as a mainstream popstar and then she goes and starts her own label and released sugar-high tunes like this just because she wants to make cool shit. It’s a shame commercial radio only accepts different shades of vanilla because this could be a runaway hit if given the chance. 4.5 Sam’s Pick 

Annie: I don’t know why it took me so long to get into Charli XCX, because this track and everything else she’s released as of late is killer. She’s come a long way since Boom Clap, and i’m very thankful for that. If her future releases follow in this direction, she’ll be making a big fan out of me. 4

Jack: Scooter called, they want their Logical Song back. What is this exactly? Sounds like a bunch of Minions shit into a sampler. 1.5 

Meshell: I would rather listen to the Donald Trump says China REMIX than ever have to listen to this all the way through ever again. 

Average score: 2.9/5 

Baauer
Kung Fu (Feat. Future and Pusha T)

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

Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a decent-quality whisky or bourbon. Think perhaps Monkey’s Shoulder or Maker’s Mark. Something that should probably be enjoyed alone but you might find yourself occasionally adding it to a playlist and mixing coke with. 3.5

Sam: The way I know Baauer is doing a great job at the moment is because I literally forgot that Harlem Shake existed until it popped up on my feed the other day. He’s forged ahead with dope tunes and this is another one of them. Getting Future on the track at the peak of his career is a clever move and it also helps that he suits the Baauer sound down to the ground. Still, Future adds the melody here but it’s Pusha T who raises hell. 3.5 

Annie: Getting Future and Pusha T on this track only proves that Baauer is becoming a huge artist in his own right. With that said, I can’t really get into this track. It’s undeniably catchy and I could definitely hear this being played in clubs, but it’s just not for me. It feels incomplete, as though it was building to something that just never happened. 2.5 

Jack: Big swing, no ding. 

Meshell: Sorry to say that I’m ready to fall asleep right now…but getting Future on your track is a smart move, now every fuckwit in Adidas Superstars and a Thrills t-shirt is going to think you’re a trap god. 

Average score: 2.7/5

Tokimonsta
Giving Up (Feat. Johnny Pierce)

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tokimonsta/giving-up-feat-jonny-pierce[/soundcloud]

Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a long island iced tea. There are a whole lot of elements here that work together so well, but there’s nothing soft about what you’re drinking. Each part is just as important as what together they create. 4

Sam: At different points in my life I’ve wanted to be The Drums and Tokimonsta so this pairing is obviously right up my alley. The Drums were more of a circa 2010 thing for me but Tokimonsta is very much the sound of the future so she’s able to bring Johnny Pierce into 2016. This doesn’t hit as hard as the Anderson Paak-featuring Put It Down but it brings a haunting vibe that circles the ears nicely. 3.5 

Annie: The pairing of Tokimonsta and Johnny Pierce was a great one, their combined talents make this track one of Tokimonsta’s best so far. It’s pretty easy going, never reaching so far as to go over the top, but it really works. As a SoundCloud user stated, ‘this some magical shit’. 3.5

Jack: Hello, it’s me the guy who hates everything. I was wondering if you were all wondering if I’d end up liking something. This is it, this is great, fuck yes. A beat that kicks in and takes you tumbling through your head and into a dancefloor, vocals put in their place nicely and a thought-provoking arrangement. Its 2016, this is living, Barry. 4 Jack’s pick

Meshell: A GOOD SONG! A GOOD SONG! Good to know those are still getting made. This is a clever and unexpected pairing. The piano is gorgeous and the choice of instrumentation in the chorus is charming and everything I love about Tokimonsta. 4 Meshell’s pick 

Average score: 3.8/5 

All Saints
One Strike

Zanda: If this song was a drink; it would be a smooth, dry white wine. Relatively inoffensive on the palate but not a whole lot else to back up the soft exterior taste. 2.5

Sam: For a group that really only have about three songs that I’ve circulated, it’s interesting that I still really care about All Saints. I think I’ll be forever paying them appreciation for adding a minute long monologue to the beginning of a pop song and that’s why I was really excited about them coming back. The best thing is, they’re not reuniting to join some ‘90s tour with 5ive and Bewitched, they’re actually making good tunes that sound like 2016 but also sound like All Saints. The harmonies are on point here, the vibe is Pure Shores and they don’t look a day past twenty.

Annie: I’m pretty sure the last song I heard from All Saints was on a Total Girl CD back when I was 9. I probably appreciated them more back then, this song isn’t really doing anything for me. Kudos to them for making a track that sounds more legitimate than a reprise of their old 90’s sound, but there’s still nothing too memorable here past the point of listening. 2.5 

Jack: I’ll “never ever” be listening to this again. 1

Meshell: I’m glaring at my computer screen cursing a certain somebody I know would have made sure this got a spot on the First Impressions list because it’s 2016 and there is no place for All Saints in my musical spectrum. Frankly I’m offended by the blatant attempt to rebrand as some sort of Haim rip off…and that’s coming from somebody who doesn’t even like Haim. 0.5 

Average score: 2.1/5 

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Fashion_12July

Trash Or Treasure? The Week’s Most Iconic Looks In Music

Fashion_12JulyHere at the interns we give our ears and proper workout so we thought we would give our eyes a chance to prove their worth. Here are the best threads worn this week by people in the music biz.

Solange hosting Kiehl’s Pioneers By Nature Party in London

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Get out. Where is the praised hands emoji on the keyboard when you need it?? Looking pretty as a peach (on the top), pairing a full length bronzed pleated skirt and yellowy green metallic shoes isn’t something most people would even think of assembling. But (I’m sure) without even second guessing it, Solange does. Fashion statement indeed.

Leon Bridges

Stavernfest 2015 Photo by @bomboclatleigh

A post shared by Leon Bridges (@leonbridgesofficial) on

This old-school debonair newcomer is becoming known just as much for his approach to fashion as he is for his music. Admitting he dresses nearly exclusively in vintage, his sound and flair is a throwback to a soulful era. Sharp indeed, there’s still a smoothness and a relaxed attitude evoked in Bridges’ sense of style. I dig his vibe.

Charli XCX 

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Whilst a lot of people will be hating on this, I don’t mind it. Charli XCX can be pretty ballsy with her fashion but this cute overly girly is still something different for her. Attending the Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb 10th Anniversary party she choose to wear a head to toe look from their Spring 2015 Couture Collection. Very few, however, can pull off a look straight from the runway. If she had personalised this with different shoes it could been a lot more impressive. Also she totally should have kept it off the shoulder as they did on the runway.

Tori Amos at Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Anniversary Party

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The art meets fashion, avant garde designer duo Viktor & Rolf are all about the theatrics. So they appropriately choose long time collaborator, Tori Amos, to be the soundtrack of the night. The simple yet dramatic outfit she wore accessorised with bold and quirky glasses, suited the brands aesthetic as well as the spectacular backdrop of the Parisian La Trianon theatre.

A$AP Rocky featured on GQ’s instagram

As he puts it, “fashion is almost like a religion”. Amen. The kid know how to dress and after numerous features, interviews and appearances on their best dressed list it’s not surprising GQ is a HUGE fan. The recent instagram post showcases A$AP’s experimental and varied style. No doubt with with his extensive fashion knowledge and natural sense of style, he had a lot of input in this outfit choice.

Ruby Rose

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Before she was an actress and everyone’s choice for “who I’d turn for”, Ruby Rose was a DJ and recording artist. DJing at Pacha nightclub in New York, her silver vest and shorts combo went perfectly with her colourful tattoos covering her body. Even though she looks amazing in full length dress, I don’t think anyone rocks the masculine tomboy style better than her.

Lauryn Hill Performing at Tory Burch’s Party in Paris

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Apparently it was the biggest party of the year and the main contributor was Lauryn Hill’s performance. The Moroccan themed garden party held in a 17th century mansion’s courtyard was an exquisite setting but it was Lauryn’s appearance that captured everyone’s attention. The “inspiring, brilliant, divine” (as the designer described her) looked just that. Wearing white mini dress, long sleeveless overcoat, and thigh-high gladiator sandals, Hill’s outfit emulated the party’s theme beautifully.

Jay Sharrock, Alex Turner, Miles Kane and Jeff Wootton

Alex-Turner-Taylor-Bagley-glamour_3jul15_GettyImages_b_592x888

If anyone going to make the cut for best-dressed lists, it’s English rockers. Seen at the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party in London looking a little weird but cool because they couldn’t care less.

Lily Allen at Wireless Festival

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She seems happy. This is probably before she got rejected from the VIP area. Looking very trendy in her pink MCM backpack, midriff, sneakers and mirror sunglasses, my eyes were still drawn initially to her chest. I know she’s not wearing a bra…but she should.

10Songs_22May

10 Songs You Need To Hear This Week: Kendrick Lamar, Hudson Mohawke, Florence + The Machine And More

10Songs_22May

If you needed any more proof that 2015 is a massive year for music then this week was just that. We had blockbuster video premieres, huge tracks leak by the dozen and many drop more tracks of some of the year’s most anticipated albums. Here’s another jam-packed 10 Songs You Need To Hear This Week.

Hudson Mohawke
Indian Steps (Feat. Antony Hegarty) & Scud Books

We’re just patiently hanging out for HudMo‘s Lanterns but he’s not making it easier because every time he releases a new track it’s better than the last. Today, we have two new tracks from the producer. The first, Scud Books, is trademark HudMo with brassy synths and crushing bass. Indian Steps, however, is a slightly different sound than we’re used to. It features Antony and the Johnson’s’ Antony Hegarty. It’s a melancholic, emotional track that flourishes into a battlefield of bursting beats and swelling instrumentation.

Jamie xx
I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (Feat. Young Thug and Popcaan)

This was also in 10 Songs last week but this version is the proper album version featuring Popcaan. Instrumentally there’s not a lot of difference but vocally now we have Popcaan interjecting Young Thug on the verses. That sample still sounds as triumphant as last week and the steel drums are euphoric as ever. Jamie xx told Pitchfork this week, “You can make it [the steel drum] sound quite melancholy but at the same time it reminds me of paradise.” That’s certainly the most apt way to describe this song.

Nina Las Vegas & Swick
Birthday

Nina Las Vegas and Swick dropped their second EP Cool Sports this week via Fool’s Gold records. All three songs are excellent but Birthday is the one that has really stuck with us. It bursts colour with through these abrasive, blood-rushing synths that sit alongside candy-coated beats. The vocal sample holds the same kind of monotone excitement that Hannah Diamond has become so known for, using the instrumental to really build its personality. Hold on for the last minute when things really get down and dirty.

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

Kwamie Liv
Higher

We raved a about Danish newcomer Kwamie Liv last year but then she disappeared off the radar. This week, however, she re-emerged with this beautiful cut Higher. It’s built off lushes synths that allow Liv’s vocal to just sink in. “I wanna trust you tonight, I’m sick and tired of running,” she sings with the utmost sincerity, creating this wonderfully warm atmosphere. Hopefully this is a sign of more things to come.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kwamieliv/higher-kwamieliv[/soundcloud]

A$AP Rocky
LSD

We’re just a fortnight away from hearing A$AP Rocky‘s new album A.L.L.A and so far he’s kept us on our toes about what to expect. LSD (Love x Sex x Dreams) is a hazy, spaced-out number that sees A$AP sing more than rap. It’s something completely different from him and proves once again that his versatility is one of his most impressive qualities. It changes tack towards the end and introduces back into A$AP-rap territory, complimenting that woozy, unfamiliar instrumental with something that feels much more familiar.

Antony & Cleopatra
Take Me

You may not have heard of Antony & Cleoptra but you would’ve definitely heard some of the work of Alex Burnett. Burnett has written and collaborated on tracks for George Maple, Hayden James and Flight Facilities but now he’s turning his attention to his own project. Take Me is a stellar track with its feat planted heavily in the British club scene. The vocals of Anita Blay howl through the track with an airy vitality while the instrumental echoes like steel coming together.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/vitalic-noise/antony-cleopatra-take-me-1[/soundcloud]

Florence + The Machine
Delilah

So far all the tracks from How Big How Blue How Beautiful have shown a slightly more reserved side to Florence Welch but now we’ve got Delilah. Delilah is a classic Florence + The Machine track with bluesy undertones and a big, soaring chorus ready-made for Welch’s massive voice. The melodic detour at the end of the track is the cherry on the top, adding an extra bit of sweetness to what could’ve been a slightly overwhelming track. Our bodies are now ready for this album.

Charli XCX
Famous (Brenmar Remix)

Charli XCX‘s Famous is almost six months old now so it’s about time that it go a fresh-coat of paint. Jersey producer Brenmar is the best man for the job as he has a knack at taking already energetic songs and turning them up one more level. Brenmar centres the whole remix around Charli’s infectious hook using it to build the track up to a mighty drop complete with horn-synths. We’re big fans of Charli when she’s operating in the club-world so this remix is understandably up our alley.

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/charlixcx/charli-xcx-famous-brenmar-remix[/soundcloud]

Taylor Swift
Bad Blood (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

We’ve seen Kendrick and Tay Tay go back and forth about how much they love each other and we knew that Kendrick was going to appear in the Bad Blood video but never could’ve we expected two verses on the radio edit. The track benefits from a beefed-up, hip-hop remix and while Kendrick’s verses are super impressive it’s Swift’s final chorus that brings it home with an effortless strength. This is a genius marketing tactic and is sure to breathe some new life into 1989. Somewhere Katy Perry is breaking her teeth on candy-canes working out how to one-up Taylor.

Nick Jonas
Chains (Feat. Stormzy)

If Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift was unexpected then this collaboration is basically unbelievable. Grime newcomer Stormzy has jumped on Nick JonasChains adding some distinctively British verses to the track alongside Jonas’ soulful verse. Speaking to Radio 1 the former Jonas Brother (meaning the band, not the family) said he was inspired by Kanye West’s performance at the Brits where he shared the stage with a number of big grime names. A weird collaboration, yes, but it actually works.

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