“Without a doubt one of the best local releases of the year:” New music roundtable reviewed.
“Without a doubt one of the best local releases of the year:” New music roundtable reviewed.
M.I.A gifted Apple Music with an exclusive today in the form of a new visual project Matahdatah Scroll 01 Broader Than A Border. The visual, filmed in India and Africa, featured two songs – a new track Swords and Warriors off Matangi. Swords is said to be taken from her forthcoming album Matahdatah. Appropriately featuring the sounds of actual swords, Swords sees M.I.A back to her frantic, cluttered best with plenty of sounds playing out alongside her flawless rap. It’s no Bad Girls but in terms of accessibility it will actually appeal to a lot wider audience than most of her recent material. For diehard fans of M.I.A, like ourselves, this is just the rapper slaying it once again.
Watch the video below and listen to the track on Apple Music.
First 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 part tracks by Kelela, Kanye West, Chromatics, M.I.A + more.
Sam: “If I was your ex…girlfriend” – that line is everything to this song. At first it’s mystifying and haunting but that line grabs you and brings you closer. It’s the most subtle of hooks but Kelela and Arca have done a masterful job of creating an intriguing track that rarely wavers if we’re talking waveforms.
This song trades in silence, with the quick breaks in noise building the intensity and making Kelela’s voice even more powerful. It’s as if Bjork and Janet Jackson reproduced and it’s unbelievably good. 5 Sam’s Pick
Bianca: Take one glance at the Youtube comments surrounding this track and you’ll notice constant comparisons of Kelela to FKA twigs. Whilst she does bear some similarities to the London songstress (produced by Arca, synonymous R&B stylings and their unique explorations of love and sexuality), Kelela is an artist in her own right. While treading a bit slow for my liking, it’s a hauntingly beautiful song with a truly sensational video clip to boot. 3.5
Alex: There’s a quiet intensity to this track which demonstrates a haunting vocal. A Message shows a raw and vulnerable side to Kelela there’s a true sadness and hurt behind the lyrics which really evokes something within me. The video for the track is equally beautiful in comparison to the song with her twitching sharp movements which exaggerate the breaks in the song. 3.5
Sam: To me, this song is like Be My Baby part 2 but the thing that makes it ever so slightly better is Grande loosens up a bit. The hook of this song is absolutely ridiculous. She seems to be just singing anything that comes to mind, but it shows that she’s having a little fun with Cashmere Cat in the studio. We’ve kind of lost the appreciation for vocal runs over the past decade. When Mariah was the queen of RnB you got the sense that she was doing anything she could to shock with her voice. Grande is doing the same thing here and she sounds brilliant. 4.5
Bianca: Meh. Ariana Grande never really strikes a chord with me so it’s no shock that she hasn’t in this circumstance either. Cashmere Cat’s production is crisp and catchy but not enough to detract away from Grande’s voice. 2.5
Alex: I’ve never really been a fan of Ariana Grande and this track isn’t doing anything to help that opinion. I mean if you loved Ariana’s last album then this track will be right up your alley. Stylistically it sounds just like something that many of ended up as a bonus track on the album. That being said if we isolated Ariana’s vocals and just focused on Cashmere Cat’s production on the track it’s clear that there was some potential to the track. I would have just liked to see a bit more oomf. 3
Sam: What more is there left to say about Kanye? He’s spent the last few weeks owning Paris, New York and London with fashion, music and speech with his most impressive promotional campaign of his career. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was such a success because it was a communal effort where Kanye brought out the best in every artist that featured on that record. Then Yeezus was Kanye’s solo chest-puff. On All Day it feels as if he’s adopted that communal atmosphere again, blending together hip-hop, grime, organic whistles and trap in what could be his largest sounding track yet. 4.5
Bianca: Has it only been a week since All Day has been released? I feel like this track has already been amongst West’s repertoire for an age. It manages to mix old Kanye with new Kanye in a beautiful way; it’s a punchy, genre-smorgasbordin’ smackdown that traverses between a manifold of stylings without sounding messy. McCartney’s jovial whistle is a pleasant addition. With its credits expanding to 17 individual artists, it seems that too many cooks doesn’t spoil the broth. 4.5 Bianca’s Pick
Alex: Well, well, well Mr West it seems there is something I like of yours. I’ve always been a hard line no when it comes to Kanye’s music in the past, but I’ve got to admit this track is absolutely killing it.. The pumping bass that runs as the heartbeat to the track cuts straight to your bones and could make even the stiffest person break into a little groove. 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/deutschduke/battleground-1[/soundcloud]
Sam: I love when new Aussie talent release tracks early on in their career that stack up to what’s going on internationally. That’s exactly what Battleground does. The production is crisp yet interesting and the vocals melt around the track. They are buried under so much production and yet they still manage to tug at the heart strings, aided by dense, rushing synths and the beat that falls in and out. Pretty special stuff. 4
Bianca: This is truly mesmerising. Soulful vocals enveloped in a delicious combo of house and funk have me hooked from start to finish. There’s not really more I can say about this except that I love it. 4.5
Alex: Yess now this is more my style. Soul-Funk to the core. Effortlessly cool and electrifying. 4
I Can Never Be Myself When I’m Around You
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”500″]https://soundcloud.com/johnnyjewel/chromatics-i-can-never-be-myself-when-youre-around[/soundcloud]
Sam: So far Chromatics’ forthcoming record is turning out to be a pretty melancholic affair. I suppose that’s always the case but on their previous record they were yearning for love and on this one it seems like they’ve found it but they’re not completely satisfied. On I Can Never Be Myself When I’m Around You, it feels as if the lyrics are given more breathing space than the band have ever offered and it’s because they’re some of the best they’ve ever offered up. The central lyric of “I can never be myself when I’m around you” really cuts to the core as the dense, atmospheric production is halted in the verses to drive home the central message of the song. 4
Bianca: I’m getting nostalgic vibes for the washed-out electro-pop of the late 00’s with this one. The shimmering synths wash over you as Ruth Radelet’s pensive vocals lull you into a dreamstate. It’s a beautifully bittersweet ode to love. 4
Alex: It’s an uptempo affair into indietronic which will wash over you like a wave in the sea. Punching beats, soaring synth work and muted echo-y vocal that has massive potential. I wouldnt be surprised if some DJ out there at the moment is currently remixing this with a deep house or banger feel and getting ready to play this in a club. 4
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/miauk/canseecando[/soundcloud]
Sam: I thought M.I.A.’s last record Matangi was brilliant because it seemed like she’d finally found a way to meld together her pop sensibilities and her penchant for experimentalism. CanSeeCanDo almost does that but it’s let down by a chorus that doesn’t really go anywhere. Bad Girls had a similar vibe but it was bolstered by the various instrumentals behind the track that reinforced its melody. As much attitude as she brings to this one it really feels a little forgettable by the end. Maybe if she’d incorporated the “na, na, na” part at the end as the main hook of the song it may have added something more to it. 3
Bianca: I feel this track had so much potential. I’m really into “CanSeeCanDo” part of the track but unfortunately all parts surrounding that fall flat. Literally. Is she sounding flat to anyone else? 3
Alex: Can anybody say Bad Girls 2.0? It’s M.I.A people. As if you need any more reasons to give this track a listen and then subsequently slut drop it low to the floor. 4.5 Alex’s Pick
If you feel the need to abuse us for our opinions, you can reach this week’s writers below:
Content Director: @sam_interns
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.
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
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
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
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. 2
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. 4
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
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. 3