Thursday, June 23, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, June 17-23

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. The Avalanches continue their hype train straight to Wildflower, while language-less oddities Sigur Ros appear once more. 

Sigur Rós - Óveður

Never been a huge fan of Sigur Rós, but have been enough to respect their legacy and what they've done for music. Ever need to convince someone that lyrics aren't the most important thing in music, look no further. But I digress. Having jumped through hoops with Sigur Ros' discography, I catch them here at quite an odd time. There's some works, like Takk... and Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, that I have on my iPod and enjoy. Others, like Ágætis byrjun and ( ), that I think are slightly overrated. And then that rest is an empty sea of mystery. 2016 is the year I jump into anything and everything though, so what do I think of 'Óveður?' 

For the most part, good things. My taste has always led me to more engrossing places, so when an artist has quiet, more subdued works in their discography mixed in with louder, more blunt pieces, tendency has me gravitating towards the latter. With 'Óveður' there's an interesting mix, as the track takes on a different form as it progresses. What starts out as small and quaint later turns derelict and disfigured as Electronic elements are added. This brings me to two strong comparisons, that of Radiohead's recent work, namely some tunes off A Moon Shaped Pool, and, whether they've heard of him or not, the predominant work of Art Pop experimentalist Son Lux. The latter has created music just like this, a key example being 'Enough Of Our Machines,' which turns the mechanical instrumentation ugly as it carries forwards. 'Óveður' has less immediate appeal than that track in my opinion, but overall it's a nice, dark track that features numerous intriguing elements.

Blu & Nottz - Atlantis

For one reason or another, Blu is putting out a ton of music lately, and for some reason I continue to listen. It seems I'm 50/50 when it comes to enjoying these drops, so while lead single 'Coffee' off Crenshaw Jezebel was wonderful, the rest failed to live up to those expectations. The same could be said for his late 2015 collab LP Bad Neighbor. And we'll have to wait and see when Titans in the Flesh drops in July, but history tells us 'Atlantis' is going to be the best track. 

Much of 'Atlantis'' enjoyability comes directly from Nottz's production, which is absolutely sensational. Sampling galore, including a Doo-wop vocal crescendo that guides it, is all that's needed to break the repetitious mold of Boom Bap that the track takes with its percussion. And guess what? With the production intriguing, the sense of appeal heightens Blu's verses too. Very similar to 'Coffee' in that sense. On both verses, Blu steers his words into apocalyptic visions of our society, or at least how he sees it, despite the content being very much set in the now. It's an interesting take, one that reminds me of Kendrick Lamar's 'untitled 1,' just without as much passion and fury. Overall though, excellent track.

The Avalanches - Subways

The stream of singles continue to pour out, 'Subways,' the track hinted at during live shows that quickly created a mysterious aura around it, the third to officially drop. It's tough to compare, but what's easy to say is that 'Subways' is wonderful. The Avalanches work best when not confined, free to explore the ideas and imagination that seemingly run rampant within their music. Out of all the tracks released thus far ('Frankie Sinatra,' 'Colours,' and 'If I Was A Folkstar') it's 'Subways' that sounds most like their work on Since I Left You

With the fluttering synths and light, tropical percussion persisting underneath vocals that aim to take childlike flight, the Psychedelic undertones 'Subways' harbours is something to behold. As was the case with the previous two singles, 'Subways,' and hopefully Wildflower as a whole, succeeds sheerly off the fact that nothing else in 2016 sounds quite like it. It's incredibly refreshing, taking you straight back to the Since I Left You era without sounding dated or contrived. Reason being, The Avalanches have never sounded old despite the music they make sampling tunes decades before their time. The swirling synths, lighthearted vocals, and incredible bass line make 'Subway' a definite standout thus far.

The Avalanches - Colours

The second official single, although a handful of tracks have been leaked, 'Colours' should effectively quell most fears people faced when hearing 'Frankie Sinatra.' Featuring beautiful production that isn't directly in your face, it's reminiscent of The Avalanches most flighty moments on Since I Left You. Even more calming is the fact that this is one of the track's to feature a selected guest, this time Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue. Many Avalanches purists, maybe with some weighty merit, feel the load of guests might hamper the quality, but 'Colours' effectively does the opposite, as it's Donahue's soft, nostalgic vocals that are the best part of the song. 

Well, that or the assortment of flutes, synths, and percussion moving through the background. 'Colours' as a whole is a grand adventure taken in small doses. The only part I can see not standing the test of the time, as should be obvious, is the reversed vocals. It's a risky move as it's rare for reversed vocals to provide quality to a song. Thankfully, The Avalanches incorporated the regular singing as well, I just feel, as time wears, the fact that the reversed vocals are so prominently featured will only cause enjoyment to go down. But really, I'm splitting hairs, this track is senseless fun, and it doesn't even have to go overboard to do that. Another quality joint from Wildflower that only heightens hype.

Logic - Wrist

Honestly, not bad. Not sure if Logic's the type to accommodate others by sacrificing his own sound, but 'Wrist' does exactly that, and it's most likely why I somewhat enjoy it. Why? Well, Pusha T, of all people, is featured on it. What I make of this song has more to do with Pusha than with Logic, for a couple reasons. One, the latter dropped a much more Logic-like track last week entitled 'Flexicution,' which would still draw interest away from this. Two, this song is more a Pusha song than a Logic one, with many street-savvy references and a devilish beat. And three, Pusha's album rollout has seemingly begun with a string of feature spots on a wide array of rappers in need of his assistance. 

Beat-wise, 'Wrist' isn't anything to ride home by. The production, done by 6ix, takes some ordinary Trap hi-hats and works them through chaotic synths, nothing special. Really, the editing of Logic's voice during the chorus, which helps to make it catchy and addictive, is the most impressive part of the production, as his flurry of words clamored together really helps heighten up the dosage of energy he was going for here. Other than that, this is a classic case of a track that fails to hold much depth, and thankfully one that doesn't outstay its welcome, only giving each rapper 16 bars to work with. As expected, Pusha surpasses Logic here, despite the latter doing his best to not get outshined.

Doomtree - Spill Me Up

This starts out as one of the weirdest beats I've ever heard. When the drums join in it gets slightly less so, but whatever that sound is, a synth(?), starts 'Spill Me Up' off strong. Now, as it progresses, the sound gets less and less weird, but simultaneously evolves, so props to Lazerbeak for producing something that can disappoint at the same time it impresses. A loosie from the Doomtree collective, 'Spill Me Up' features Sims, Cecil Otter, and P.O.S pushing verses in that order, interspersed by an okay hook. What the track lacks in catchiness, it makes up for in an overall fun palate to work with, pick apart, and appreciate in small doses. It's also certainly better than P.O.S.' last affair, the oddly Trap 'Wave.' 

Who wins the song? Well, P.O.S. of course. That isn't to say Sims' introductory verse isn't great as well, but it is pushed forward by the beat which changes the most within his set time, and is still fresh at the time to awe in how they all come together. What is clear is the fact that Cecil struggles the most, returning to the same ideas, that aren't even that fleshed out, multiple times in his verse. It's a shame he's in the middle, as what energy 'Spill Me Up' had quickly dissipates as his verse drags. P.O.S. brings it all back though, with a twisty-turvy flow that remains entertaining throughout.

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