FI7SEPT

First Impressions: Miley Cyrus, Kelela, Club Cheval And More

FI7SEPT

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 apart tracks by Kelela, Miley Cyrus, Basenji, Tory Lanez, Club Cheval and Her

Kelela
Rewind

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kelelam/rewind[/soundcloud]

Michelle: What’s with the high-pitched range? Despite Kelela’s soulful vocals, the high pitch of this song has the unfortunate side effect of transforming an otherwise soulful song into something strangely saccharine. The ebbs and flow in tempo keeps the tune interesting and while the bridge stuns, the echoes are somewhat (entirely) excessive. 2

Annie: Kelela has been showing up everywhere lately, and this song is the perfect example of why I don’t mind. Her vocals remind me of a young Janet Jackson, but rather than overpowering, they work with the beats behind them to create the ideal modern R&B track. 3

Sam: Wow, what a production team on this one – Nugget, Kingdom and then bits by Obey City and Girl Unit. Despite the massive team behind it though Kelela still manages to remain front and centre with her distinctive brand of future R&B translating immediately. I love how she’s gone for a bit of a banger with this one, rather than serving out another slow-burner. In some ways it reminds me of like a pared-back I Wanna Dance With Somebody, probably due to the ‘80s-tinged beat and full-bodied chorus. It feels sexy and joyous which is a rare combination for Kelela but it really works. She’s easily one of the best new artists, if not the best, out there right now and deserves every accolade she gets. 4.5

Miley Cyrus
Do It

Michelle: Coyne, we know how much you love the fuzz pedal but Miley’s voice could have done with a lighter touch on the damn thing. The lead single on her experimental / dancing unicorn / psychadelia record comes  from left field but still manages to pay homage to the dance-heavy hip hop vibe of Bangerz. However, this track is hardly representative of the rest of Dead Petz – it’s quite possibly the most energetic of the 23-track LP that’s all mild guitars and whimsical ballads. The lyrics, meanwhile, sound like she’s trying too hard to cement her position as the biggest happy hippie there ever was. 3.5

Annie: Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love Miley Cyrus. Even through the Robin Thicke debacle I defended her, ‘she’s just expressing herself!’ I said, ‘let her explore!’. But no, this is too far. I am so pissed off at this song and the album that came with it. Firstly, I knew that this musical ‘evolution’ was impending (anyone that follows Miley on instagram would), and yet that still doesn’t soften the blow of this god-awful piece of work. Secondly, it’s just shit. Like, really, really shit. The song itself is boring as fuck, and the lyrics are so embarrassing they bring literal tears to my eyes. Am I being too dramatic, too sensitive? Absolutely. But listen to the rest of My Dead Petz, and I assure you, you will come out of that 24 track monstrosity feeling the exact same way. 1.5

Sam: The Miley album surprisingly has some really beautiful moments – mostly the MikeWillMadeIt-produced tracks. Unfortunately Wayne Coyne really hasn’t done anything of value for a while now and he’s just shat all over this track, not that Miley delivers much either. It’s obnoxious, shouty and try-hard and barely delivers any melody. I understand that she wants to do something different and evolve but this was just a shocking end to the VMAs and a really alienating first single – if that’s what it is. Lighter or Fweaky would’ve been a much better introduction to the album and actually much more indicative of what the album is. This just sucks arse, really. 1

Basenji
Can’t Get Enough

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/futureclassic/basenji-cant-get-enough-1[/soundcloud]

Michelle:  The melody works but I don’t know what’s with the preschool vocals. It could have done without the prepubescent singing because the tune is quality on its own – that is, until the breathy, mismatched vocals come in. Luckily, the horns, backed with hints of jazz piano, save an otherwise average brass-influenced track. 2

Annie: I already liked Basenji on a ‘can listen to, but probably won’t download’ level, but this track may have just made a real fan out of me. The vocals add a certain cuteness to the track that makes it sweet enough, but when the horns start to play it brings it up to a whole new platform. I can’t get enough of this song. 4 Annie’s Pick

Sam: Basenji is just absolutely nailing it right now. He’s taken that cutesy, kawaii sound that has been doing the rounds on Soundcloud and really cleaned it up, adding pop sensibilities at the same time. Petals perfected that formula and this one goes even one better. It’s so euphoric and gives off so many warm and fuzzies while also hitting with a really killer brass-driven instrumental. Right now I think Basenji could be Australia’s answer to SOPHIE and could actually work with mainstream pop artists and give them something really interesting. People are going to have problems with this vocal but that’s a shock to no one, it’s meant to be divisive but if it’s your kind of thing it’s like a brilliant sugar-rush. 4

Tory Lanez
Initiation

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/torylanez/initiation[/soundcloud]

Michelle: Above-average hip hop but Initiation isn’t striking. It’s delicate and well-constructed with cadenced melodies yet unlike Lanez’ past releases, it doesn’t have much built into the track. Slow-moving and unremarkable and, having heard his last few releases, I suspect Lanez can do better. 2

Annie: The introduction to Initation gave me high hopes, but they were quashed pretty quickly. It’s not altogether a bad song, it’s just really forgettable. With that said, I definitely don’t have the finest ear for hip-hop, so that may just be my lacking knowledge of the genre. 2.5

Sam: Tory Lanez is kind of like the new Jeremih. He’s good at the mainstream R&B stuff but he’s also been really open to working with different producers like BenZel (like on this one) and the WeDidIt crew. On Initiation, BenZel really build the production around his style coming into Lanez’s world rather than the other way around. I really like BenZel’s much softer approach to urban production and it means Lanez is left to bring a tougher edge with his voice. The hook really doesn’t grab me too much but it’s a cool song, I’m just not going crazy for it like I was with Say It. 3

Club Cheval
Discipline

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/clubcheval/discipline-original-mix[/soundcloud]

Michelle: While not terribly original, Discipline is another solid, heady club beat from the DJ supergroup. What it lacks in originality, however, it makes up for in melody, and despite its repetitive and unoriginal rhythm, it’ll still do brilliantly in most strobe-filled rooms. 1

Annie: To be honest, I’ve never listened to Club Cheval before this, but knowing that they’ve mixed with the likes of both Brodinski and Gesaffelstein, I had relatively high expectations. Discipline met none of them. It’s not a terrible song, if anything it’s standard EDM, but it doesn’t feel like a solid track. It just feels really lazy. I would hate to hear this in a club, but obviously there’s a huge market for tracks like this so undoubtedly it will be successful. 1.5

Sam: I love that DJ Dodger Stadium and Club Cheval are really championing that hard-hitting brand of nostalgic techno. While DJDS use repetition where Club Cheval have used a more conventional verse, there’s still that really thumping beat and alarm-like synth that really smacks hard on the dancefloor. It’s really cool to hear an R&B type verse amongst a track like this but it’s that synth-line in the chorus that is getting me really excited. It feels like so many styles have been combined here and it just works so well. There’s so much trendy electronica floating around at the moment but this feels detached to any kind of movement. I just bloody love this. 4.5

Her
Five Minutes

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/thebandher/five-minutes[/soundcloud]

Michelle:  I love how stripped back Five Minutes is – it maintains a perfect balance between the lyrics and sparse instrumentals. This is the very definition of minimalism because there’s enough to fill the voids but remains empty enough for the listener to cleanly focus on the groove. Shame it doesn’t make it all the way to five minutes. 4 Michelle’s Pick

Annie: Such a good display of minimalism. Through stripping back this song it allows the listener to pay more attention to the beautiful lyrics that come with. The vocals too, are stellar. They’re so strong in a way that fits superbly with this song. 4

Sam: Her’s debut Quite Like made me take an invested interest in this band immediately with only one track to their name and in some ways that’s been justified after hearing song number two Five Minutes. This one’s a little less sexy and sounds more Jungle than alt-j but it’s another really smoothly-produced track that triple j listeners would just eat up if they added it to heavy rotation. I like it and I think it will probably grow on me even more but it doesn’t really blow me away completely – maybe it’s that the chorus doesn’t hit hard enough. It could’ve probably done with a bit of amping up for the final part – some more vocal layering. 3.5

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