By: Sarah Finley, Courtney Miller, and Jessica Whitesel
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“Untitled 03 | 05.28.2013” – Kendrick Lamar
Jessica Whitesel: You know Kendrick is talented when he can drop an unmastered EP and it’s fire. This song didn’t quite do it for me in this semi-unfinished state, according to the date in the title this is an early song, but it clearly became foundational.
Sarah Finley: God bless Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick’s smooth voice enters the song accompanying feminine back up vocals and the plinks of various mallet instruments, rapping about the dichotomy between white men and black men in the music industry. Keep fighting the good fight, Kendrick. We all love you.
Courtney Miller: I feel that songs with lyrics such as “pussy is power” should maybe be rethought and given substance. I don’t disagree, but there are better ways to phrase the sentiment.
“SEPARATE LIVES” – HÆLEOS
JW: I’m not going to lie: after the intro to this song, I wasn’t expecting much of anything, but it did get better. It’s not the best song I’ve ever heard, but it wasn’t as generic as I expected from the intro.
SF: This song is entirely hypnotizing. The British trio utilizes vocal crescendos and instrumentals that edge on feeling eerie to complete the track, leaving the listener feeling wholesome at the end.
CM: It starts off sounding a bit like early Tegan and Sara. I like how the melody improves upon itself as you go through the song.
“People Change Their Minds” – William Fitzsimmons
JW: Normally I love William Fitzsimmons, but this song was a rare miss. It kind of reminds me of Iron and Wine, but not one of their strong songs, also I’m not loving the accompanying female vocalist as much as I feel I should or as much as I want to.
SF: The combination of soft male vocals, gentle guitar picking, slow cello, and a mesmerizing female vocalist counterpart make this track a 10/10 slow track. The lyrics about mothers will likely make you homesick, but no need to fret: it’ll probably make you drift off to sleep in no time anyway.
CM: I really love how guitar-reliant this track is before other instruments come in — piano, cello, maybe a viola or violin at the same time. His voice is soft, yet raspy in a mature way, and movingly emotive.
“For U” – Miike Snow feat. Charli XCX
JW: What is it with songs having bad intros? I almost turned the song off before that disaster was finished. But I persevered and got a sort of okay song I guess. I can see it blowing up and becoming a dance or club favourite, but it’s not either of their best work.
SF: When I saw that Miike Snow and Charli XCX collaborated on a track, I was endlessly excited, but it wasn’t that strong. The combination of their music styles didn’t flow seamlessly, and all I felt was flustered. It’s like when two very different types of food on your plate touch and now both of them are ruined.
CM: Sounds like the chipmunks on acid, remixed as a backing track for the first 45 or so seconds, shifts into something way more palatable, and then moves back to high rodents — this change ping-pongs throughout the song. If I could isolate those blissful moments in between, this would be a solid winner.
“Outta Control” – Sean Paul feat. Yolanda Be Cool and Mayra Veronica
JW: I don’t know where Sean Paul went, but now he is back. And everything about this song is peak 2009 / 10. It feels like an homage to #TBT, which isn’t a bad thing, but is unexpected. Just don’t look to this song for stylistic consistency.
SF: It’s not often that you find a dance pop track that begins with accordion, but that’s exactly what happened here. While the beginning was catchy, the weak attempts at bass drops throughout the song were simply cringey. I would need to have at least three drinks in my system before I could dance along.
CM: No idea what he’s saying, but I could see this as one of those early songs they play at clubs. It’s fun to dance to.
“Get Out” – Frightened Rabbit
JW: I’m a sucker for a more upbeat indie song and this one fit the bill. It was good, but there just really isn’t that much else to say about it.
SF: The song begins smoothly with cute, lovesick, indie vocals, slightly sporadic drum beats, and a repetitive bass line. Out of nowhere, the song transitions to what I can only describe as a hot mess, the lead singer yelling, “Get out of my heart.” Yikes. This repeats throughout the entire track.
CM: This track is mellow, while at the same time the vocals and track are almost disconnected.
“Already Love” – Great Good Fine Ok
JW: I feel like I’ve made a mistake calling this New Music Friday. This song has a very 1999 feel to it. We are just one wind machine and fake tan away from peak forgettable boy band.
SF: Head voice vocals and a solid synthesizer vibe makes the romantic lyrics not just sweet and endearing, but also super catchy. Unlike anything I’ve ever heard from other artists, Great Good Fine Ok somehow made it possible for love to intertwine with soft electronica.
CM: I love this. Super groovy, catchy, and fun. Great musicality.
“Do It, Try It” – M83
JW: I feel like this is song for 35-year olds who can’t really say no to clubbing, but need to have it toned down a couple of notches to enjoy it. It’s not a bad song, but the piano keeps it from being an awesome club banger.
SF: M83 never fails to impress me. Chaotic piano chords take the lead, pulling the listener into the classic M83 sound 30 seconds in. Synthesizers get heavy, vocals get more desperate sounding, and I fall in love again with one of my favorite bands.
CM: Hella Daft Punk style, except not quite as good or as catchy. Still enjoyable though.
“Dissonance” – Hammock
JW: Much like being in an actual hammock this song is relaxing, but there is an undercurrent of impending something. It never actually lulls you into a sense of calm which is really what I wanted. So, I guess the title is accurate.
SF: This is one of those songs where there’s simply too much noise at the beginning. You can’t discern between instruments, and you’re just waiting for some kind of clearing from the audial fog. Spoiler alert: you never get it.
CM: Contrary to the title, this is not dissonant in any form. It has an almost ethereal quality, so it might be really good on a trip.
“Kiss The Sky” – The Knocks feat. Wyclef Jean
JW: It is danceable and singable. This song will either die after a few weeks or it will never leave our collective memories. There will be no in between.
SF: Regular hi-hat percussion make this song immediately catchy. The chorus is much stronger than the verses that nearly change the entire style of music every time they arrive.
CM: This track is fun, but it’s like a single-use kind of fun because it gets irritating if you listen it to it more than once.
“Unbelievable” – All Tvvins
JW: Well this sure is a song. It is like a weird electro / pop-punk / indie fusion we-want-to-be-The 1975-but-we-never-can hot mess. So while technically this is a song, it is trying to be about 6 different ones at the same time. It is unbelievable it got released at all.
SF: This song seems like it was a failed attempt at a banger. The voices are far too autotuned, and the rhythm and trio-bursts of sound every measure aren’t anything that we haven’t heard a million other times.
CM: I don’t mind this, but it is a little homogenous and repetitive. Not bad as chilling or studying music though.
“How Now” – Snowblink
JW: There is something sensual about this song. I think it is the way the lyrics, vocal stylings, and backing track all blend together. It’s almost if like if The Weeknd became a woman, and then ditched the overt sexual overtones, and turned up the sensual boudoir vibe.
SF: I’m a sucker for angelic feminine and masculine vocals meshing together, which is exactly the focal point of this track. The lyrics, while extremely repetitive, are beautifully sung and ethereal.
CM: A slower tune, almost a little sultry near the beginning; this is pretty mellow. My only complaint is that they overuse the repeat feature throughout.