Friday, February 5, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Jan 30-5

Welcome to the fourth Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. We got official singles abound, from Drake to Animal Collective to Flatbush Zombies, all releasing albums in the upcoming months.

It's a nice throwaway, but as the successor to 'Hotline Bling' as singles leading up to Views From The 6 it's a bit disappointing. Many know me as being not too much a fan of Drake, but with time and creativity his music has come a long way since his wretchedly boring origins that made him popular. 'Hotline Bling' was sensational and so were a few tracks off What a Time to Be Alive, namely its biggest single 'Jumpman.' With 'Summer Sixteen' Drake continues his slide of making in-the-moment music that's pivotal to our culture and his own, but does it really make sense to put on an official album? It's proclaiming this upcoming summer to be Drake's, like we don't already know that. And then some will return to this song saying "damn he was right, he really killed it this summer." No shit.

While I think the first beat is fine, using alright reversed synths and wobbly bass, the second one is definitely worth wading around in the waters of the first half for. The switch is expected, as it is in right now, but is still well executed. At least better than most who've come to slapdash a first and second half together with no semblance whatsoever. Both the bass and drums pounce and rattle throughout the second half, making this a certified banger. The beat slaps, there's no doubt about that. By the time Views releases in April though, I can see many being off-put by the first half existing when they just want the second.

Now speaking about Drake himself. He's a walking meme. Thankfully more people have spoken on this, especially since the 'Hotline Bling' video made it abundantly clear that's what he was going for. Is that a bad thing? What it is is something new, achieving popularity through new age Internet means as opposed to your typical paparazzi shenanigans. Apart from the fact that the song is on the nose in regards to Drake, the year, and the incoming storm his album will surely bring, his does call out Kanye West in particular for having a pool(?). Now I must be in some kinda strange world where everyone is taking this literally, and hell Drake might be too, but I took this immediately as the pool of talent he has at his disposal. It's well known that Ye can grab virtually any artist in music today, hell just look at that signing list for Waves. So it wouldn't be absurd for Drake to boast about having a bigger one. But can they really just be talking about pool sizes? Really? 

To cap things off though, we have DJ Khaled appearing to do what he always does; virtually nothing. Adding in his catchphrases from his spotlight as star of Snapchat (that's so sad to say), he essentially confirms what Drake's after all along; the meme-spreading that'll make any mediocre song more listenable and easier to talk about on social media. It'll be interesting to see if the entirety of Views is like this, as What A Time To Be Alive was, and how the masses will respond to it. Regardless, 'Summer Sixteen' itself is fine. It's nothing to ride home about, disappointing as a whole, but by Drake standards, of which there's really little but it is rising, it's alright. 

Flatbush Zombies - Bounce

Officially the first lead single to their debut album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey, 'Bounce' sees the Flatbush ZOMBiES stomping back into the limelight. They gave off slight indications with their new sound, which really is just a refined version of their older Cloud Rap, with loosies like 'Glorious Thugs' released a couple weeks ago. With 'Bounce' the crew comes straight back into what they do best, profiting off solid flows, intricate internal rhymes and a production aesthetic that's comparable to the best in the game as of right now.

Meechy Darko starts the track off really strong, twiddling his lips through a fiery verse, making a clear improvement over his earlier amateurism work. Not that it was bad, it wasn't, just a little mealy-mouthed, stumbling every so often. Now his words slickly intertwine, mixing punctuation with slurs effortlessly. Then Juice comes in, who I've always entertained less, and that sloppiness continues, moving too fast for his own good. The lyrics coming from both are adequate, albeit a bit stale, but the bread and butter here is their style and vibrancy.

Much of that is due to the production from Erick Arc Elliott, which is excellent, as per usual. I love his style, he takes Cloud Rap and adds some much needed details to it. It's densely constructed, arranged beautifully, and interworks a low end bass with drums to provide for, ironically, a bounce. Within the verses though Elliott flips the script and ramps up the intensity with an internal beat switch that plays off each rapper's thumping proclamations. Allowing the beat to play out at the end was a great decision, giving 'Bounce' the breath it needs to make for a solid introductory single. 

Yung Lean - Afs1

Not the side of Yung Lean that I like, but it'll do. I can't really say it's the Swedish rapper who's improving, as this is one of the weakest I've heard him, but his style certainly is. While he's already a niche, his version of Cloud Rap is quickly becoming one where you'd immediately recognize it as a Lean track the second it kicks in. His cast of producers behind him, namely Yung Gud who obliterates Lean's banger side, rounds out his sadboys and his aesthetic (or as their legion of fans like to say, a e s t h e t i c) complementarily. Here we have work from Yung Sherman, and while 'Af1s' isn't bad sonically speaking it isn't really remarkable. A straight forward Trap beat is at its heart, but where it pushes the boundaries lies in the details and that Lean style.

A massive bass engulfs Ecco2k's verse, maybe as a way to drown out his lack of impression or as a way to flip the song on its axis. It succeeds in both. A synth pulsation, that you can clearly hear as the track winds down, helps bring in that cold Sweden chic during Lean's verses. Other than that, the production doesn't hit me nearly as well as some of Lean's more well known tracks, like 'Kyoto' or 'Hoover.' Overall, it's actually kinda forgettable, doesn't even feature the looming comedic factor Lean had in his earlier works. Sure, some of the lines are ridiculous, but the overall content seen during the chorus and his demeanor throughout tends to lean to the side that he's actually trying to be skilled, instead of using his awfulness as an attractor to the meme aesthetic. 

Animal Collective - Lying In The Grass

Has Animal Collective's quest for creativity reached nauseating limits? What is with those vocal edits. It seems so forced, so non-musical, so jarring. A bit of a shame too, because the rest of this song is actually pretty great and showing that Animal Collective hasn't lost all their uniqueness and is able to curate new, fascinating revelations. Maybe it's personal preference but the band is way better when they aren't trying to outdo themselves with the same reminial effects they (namely Panda Bear) use on all their songs post-Merriweather Post Pavilion. In this regard, I strongly feel Strawberry Jam is their best record. It made sense, utilizing structure and progression wonderfully to create memorable pieces of music with stellar content, idiomatic singing, and provocative lyrics.

Like I said, almost everything else besides that repetitious, annoying, overdone vocal warping is great here. The oddly placed flute that sounds half melted is cooky enough to work, the fluidity is well-oiled, and Avey Tare's singing is good when not distracted immensely by over-production. Thankfully the chorus is where this song thrives, pulling away from its problem areas, and throwing the colors all over the wall to make a dazzling portrait that shows the group still has nonconformity amongst their litany of growing issues. On Panda Bear's Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper I appreciated the quieter moments, despite it being typically the opposite with AnCo's earlier works. This was largely due to the Tomboy-effect, an album made of such one-dimensional sound that it can't help but be irritating more than one listen through. Let's hope Painting With... has at least some of the diversity the group showed on their much-touted earlier works, back before they streamlined their approach resulting in a handful of muddled messes.

Mac DeMarco - Missing The Old Me

Hey, I like it! Considering my ultimate dissatisfaction with Mac DeMarco's slowly degrading into pointlessness music, this old, unreleased demo is a welcome change of pace. Now 'Missing The Old Me' does nothing to sway my opinion on DeMarco now, as this was recorded between 2 and Salad Days, the latter of which is the only one I listened to and it wasn't half that bad. The more off-kilter tracks from there, ones that usually featured fuzzy synths and a louder sound, like 'Salad Days' or 'Passing Out Pieces,' are where he shined the most. When he retreated into the ease of simplistic Jangle Pop, that makes the content of an ordinary song in the genre sound revolutionary, is when he sputtered to his now paltry plateau.

'Missing The Old Me' thankfully has more going on than his prototypical love struck lyrics and happy-go-lucky acoustic guitar. It's tough to hear, because of the track being unmastered which, if I'm being honest, adds a layer of intrigue not typically found in DeMarco's more pristine works, but the musicianship found within actually seems to contain some semblance of talent. A bass guitar works over his formal one, as keyboards balance on tip toes with synths soothingly playing around in the chorus. It sounds pleasant, much like the bulk of his catalogue, but this time around its done discreetly instead of obtusely.

The content and lyrics are, dare I say, good. He latches onto his crutch of playing beach anthems whilst singing of downtrodden regret, but this time it's about himself rather than a voiceless love. Creates a nice change of pace from what I'm used to, where he reflects on the times of yore by wishing he didn't feel as if he was in another man's skin. Ironic in that that's exactly how I feel of him, despite having not heard of his time before 2. Forcing what the people want to hear while losing his sense of identity, that's what I get from him, especially on his latest album Another One which, from the title, kind of implicates that sentiment. On 'Missing The Old Me' we see him witnessing that transitional period, worried for the eventual outcome.

Future - In Abundance

Now this is some dank shit. I'm not a fan of Future, the sheer mass of his releases and his aura kinda puts me off. Not music for me, but music I can appreciate for a certain scene and crowd. In theory, it's essential. That being said, if this is what some of his 'slow' songs sound like, I've been missing out. Now of course, it's not actually slow, like a crooner or anything, but it's not Trap, falling back on his Southern Hip-Hop roots with a groovy chorus and a synth-focused beat. 'In Abundance' obviously isn't a miracle lyrically, as it contains Future's most stereotypical topics. Drugs, girl troubles, fame, etc. You know the ordeal. 

Where artists such as Future, or other New Age rappers, thrive and prosper is in their flow, style and accentuations. I honestly enjoy this chorus a great deal, it's something simple and instantly integral, using a stop-go flow much like A$AP Rocky to hop along the murmuring beat. Metro Boomin, a long time producer of Future's, takes reigns of the beat here, choosing to work in the confines of an alleyway than out on the club floor. It shows a hope of diversity in his typically one-dimensional sound (just see What a Time to Be Alive, which was entirely produced by him). Of course the bass is demeaning, but it has a distant atmosphere that gives it an eery vibe. The translucent synth flashes sound like two things; a lean-enduced state of slurring and ambience from just outside the strip club door. Works perfectly together and makes this an excellent track, even by Future's constant throwaway standards.

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