Friday, February 26, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Feb. 20-26

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. We got appearances from Electronic mainstays, mysterious underground enigmas, and top tier singer songwriters.

Gold Panda - Time Eater

As the lead single to Gold Panda's just announced 2015 LP Good Luck and Do Your Best, 'Time Eater' is about what you'd expect for first impressions. It's a beat builder, adding layers above one another, beginning with Indian bells and keyboards. The style, of which he's partaken in since gaining exposure with Lucky Shiner, bears similarities to Four Tet, both in influence and genre. If 'Time Eater' is any indication, Good Luck And Do Your Best will be another predominately Microhouse barrage of small moving set pieces carried by one looming foundation. Seems to be the way of the world now for more rudimentary Electronic, pulling away the boisterous side for a more calming sensation that still delivers a danceable palate.

It may be a bit too unstructured, unfortunate considering the details are quite delectable, but the progression of 'Time Eater' is still a delight. Tiny synth taps play pitter patter under these swaying bells, with crackling whistles vibrating amongst the rust. Essentially, it's prototypical Gold Panda. If you've liked his earlier works this track is a welcomed addition, but as far as evolution goes it seems mostly nil, relying on his techniques that made him well known amongst the community instead of expanding his reach or experimenting with what he has. Granted this is the lead single, it'll be interesting to see what the other tracks offer, but 'Time Eater' largely plays it safe. If you like this style of music, but wished for a more developed palate, check out Four Tet's Morning / Evening, an album that seeped in Indian culture over two, 20 minute pieces set around opposing atmospheres. 

Atmosphere - Salma Hayek

It's unfortunate but Slug's rhyming has not transitioned to the 2010's well. While some underground emcees changed their style to maintain relevancy (El-PBusdriver) or sound unique enough to outlast many (Aesop Rock), Slug doesn't really have anything going for him. And if anything, judging by 'Salma Hayek' and a handful of other singles in the past couple years, he's regressed lyrically. While I'm not sure if this will appear on anything, seeming like a throwaway, Atmosphere's latest single is, for lack of a better description, not good. Really the only thing holding it together is Slug and Ant's chemistry, which allows for an easy match of bars and beats.

Carried by a prototypical Boom Bap beat that doesn't deviate from its source 'Salma Hayek' gets old quickly. And I mean in the first few seconds when it dawns on you that the chorus of said song is "aye you right/write" repeated over and over. They don't shy away from it either, using it to form structure in between verses, making it a basic track with little variation and one's that has little to offer in way of catchiness. Earlier Atmosphere releases were founded on personal lyricism from Slug, a solid emcee but one who never wowed, and diverse production from Ant, who used samples here and there and found ways to work organic instrumentation into his play set.

'Salma Hayek' has none of that, with bland beats that decompose rapidly thanks to even more one dimensional lyrics. There are some real head-scratchers here, and from a rapper who made 'You' and 'Guarantees,' among two handfuls of other stellar lyrical compositions, hearing "I ain't even have to disrobe, I keep my boxers on and use the dick hole" is just plain disappointing. That's just one, with the entire lack of direction the song has not helping the cause, boring bars like "I'm so fly I'm attracted to fly traps" seep through with ease. These honestly might be the worst lyrics I've heard from Slug, a shame cause I enjoy When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold a great deal, even have it on CD, so to see this type of regression is disappointing, albeit a little bit expected. 

Andrew Bird - Left Handed Kisses

I know nothing of Andrew Bird beyond his name. I know enough about Fiona Apple to know that The Idler Wheel is sensational and I'm an idiot for still not listening to more of her career. The two come together here for a heavenly duet that's to be featured on Bird's latest album Are You Serious. It's a rarity in the Indie world, having features on your projects, but it's one I think the genre desperately needs to maintain relevancy. You can only create so much original pieces on your own before you need to start seeking help elsewhere. This song shows why it's needed, as Apple brings out some of the best of Bird, and helps the song elevate itself far beyond its original origins.

But I digress. I will say though, I'm not a fan of singer/songwriter. I find it juvenile, boring, and lacking any sense of emotion despite pouring about how much it has. That being said, there is some more instrumentation to be found on 'Left Handed Kisses' than just an acoustic guitar, despite that being the leading sound. There is detailed progression to be found here, it isn't just strumming, as swelling strings find their way into the chorus later on in the song. Helps to keep interest without overwhelming the focus of the song; the two leading singers. I know little about the Folk scene, and who came before whom, but I see similarities here to Fleet Foxes's music, even Bird comes off as a more forlornRobin Pecknold here.

So surprisingly, with my disdain towards simpleton music, I enjoy this song, and it's not for the production that isn't as obvious as it makes itself out to be. Where your typical singer/songwriter differs from Bird and Apple is in the poetry, of which the latter two have in spades. The Idler Wheel showed me that Fiona Apple is one of the best poets in music, finding new ways to speak on behalf of old tropes. Not sure about Bird, maybe his quality is on par with his work or maybe Apple brings the best out of him, but either way the two work in tandem flawlessly. And yet, with all that being said, I still can't stop gushing over Fiona's voice and her vocal dexterity. It's just beautifully delicate while also containing deep boastfulness, a cerebral mix. 

Joey Bada$$ - Ready

Joey Bada$$ can make a well rounded song that includes a quality chorus? News to me. I enjoyed B4.DA.$$, don't get me wrong, but that was not in the least due to catchy choruses and a more easily enjoyable beat. His skills directly correlate to quality rhymes and a compact 16 bars to rely on. Now all the sudden he's got vocal dexterity over a chorus, in a way that allows him to stay grounded in New York Hip-Hop while welcoming in a new, trendier approach.

'Ready' sees Joey continue his street-savvy rhymes, working with and against those around him, growing with his counterparts while denouncing his detractors. Overall, lyrically speaking it's nothing he hasn't done before, but the way it works over Statik Selektah's beat allows the two to work flawlessly together. The latter really makes the song, with production that applies to a more laid back sound while also emphasizing drums that pound against the ground to provide contrast. The ending, interpolating the Fugees' 'Ready Or Not,' is a bit necessary as I'd have liked the track to end on the great chorus. Nonetheless, small quips aside, 'Ready' sees Joey take his small sample size and expand it just a bit, allowing him to be more appreciated on the masses.

Mannie Fresh - Hate

What year is it? Seriously, Mannie FreshBirdmanLil Wayne, and Juvenile on one track? It helps that the production sounds just like Cash Money 2000's era. With that being said, I've never liked this sound. The lyrics are stale and out of date, the production is largely simplistic (not in a good way), and the overall style seems rudimentary. You could make a strong argument that is was this era of Cash Money dominance that led to Hip-Hop's worst era; 2004-2009, otherwise known as the Ringtone rap era. You know, where NellySoulja Boy, and a slew of one hit wonders (J-KwonD4LMims) ruled the genre.

But now, with 'Hate,' we can look back on that era with nostalgic vision, reliving a past we know we don't have to experience again. Back then I had virtually no alternative, as it was everywhere, here I can just go back to bumping The Life Of Pablo. With that being said the small grin I had on my face nearly the entire song is relevant in my overall enjoyment. It isn't good, per say, with some lyrics and flows truly awful. Hell Lil Wayne just decides to end his verse by just saying "yeah, yeah..." before someone else takes over.

In terms of bringing everyone back to the 2000's, there's talk of 64 gb iPod's, gold watches, lean and rock with it, and producer shout-outs. "I'm gonna stay connected like the Wi-Fi" snaps you back into reality that, yes, this is a song made in this decade, not the last. I do like the focus of the song though, revealing the 'Hate' popular artists receive in terms of verbal abuse. Might be a little simply-spoken, but what do you expect from these four.

Spark Master Tape - Livin' Lavish

Know nothing about this dude, and guess what, apparently no one else does either cause he's anonymous. There are theories flying about but no one knows for sure. His pitch-shifted vocals mask his real identity, presumably, but also add a great layer to the music akin to Captain Murphy. Honestly, judging off this song alone, his lyrics are nothing to ride home about. While difficult to hear the content seems to ride along the conformity of Chopped N' Screwed Cloud Rap. Nothing wrong with that, it fits the style nicely, but doesn't add much depth in that regard. And unless this is some legendary rapper, or someone rich in another aspect of his life, a serious underground emcee going off about "living lavish" just seems foolish.

That being said the production is excellent. Has a certain Experimental edge, constantly reworking itself, never feeling finished, or started for that matter. Gives it a unnatural feel, one that fits his mood and style well. Glitched vocals play a large part in the background, yelps, doo-wop singers, and 90's R&B all come in at one point or another. Oh and air sirens! Those never get old in their ability to conjure up a feeling, Memphis Rap reincarnated. While a three minute single works well for this shifting sonic space, using samples to bookend the track, an entire project, one that we're expecting in March, would border nauseating levels. Overall though, I enjoy this. It takes something beaten to death and revives it thanks to new, inventive ways to look at it.

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