Thursday, June 30, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, June 24-30

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. A handful of burgeoning Indie artists for me to try out, with varying success. This along with a constant Hip-Hop presence. 

Blood Orange - Augustine

Another semi-big name in the Indie scene that I've failed to check out. I've heard the name Blood Orange, know the very general attitude of Devonté Hynes, but never anything more. 'Augustine' drops, along with his third LP, Freetown Sound, so why not dip our toes in the Synth Funk-drenched waters. Instant waves of Grimes' 'Oblivion' wash over me the second the pulsating synth lines and lucid guitar solo weaves in and out of the rhythmic percussion. At the same time, I'm getting seriously nostalgia of the early 90's super sexual R&B days, and yes, the music video helps to elicit this quite a bit. Those hand movements, the constant lust, the crop top shirts, the slight haze of mist going through each shot, it's all there.

Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure how much I enjoy 'Augustine,' but I can tell it's semi-important. Interestingly enough, there's times, especially when Hynes hits the high notes, that I'm reminded of the worst of M83, yet I'm still intrigued by the song itself. The pumping percussion is just something that can't be ignored, and when Hynes pushes his voice breathlessly over the production there's a certain atmosphere that's given that's really relieving. Not sure what else I can say, it's good, could be really good given time. What I can say with certainty, expect this near the very top of Pitchfork's best tracks of 2016 when they get around to it. It's prime material.

Atmosphere - Ringo

Hope can be restored, at least a bit and for a moment. After a slew of throwaway's disguised as official singles, Atmosphere finally debuts the first sound to their upcoming LP Fishing Blues. None of those tracks, which included 'Windows' and 'Salma Hayek,' will appear on the album, and thank god too, cause I was not remotely a fan. And while 'Ringo' isn't spectacular, it is respectable and more of what I expect from the duo. 'Ringo' is a well-oiled machine, and while it does feature a sort of kitschy beat, it doesn't feature eye-rolling moments the other faux singles were prone to do.

Both Ant on the boards and Slug on the mic do an adequate job at impersonating their old style. This does make 'Ringo' a bit underwhelming, as it continues a trend Atmosphere has fallen incredibly comfortable with. But at least it's well-rounded, none of the edges taper off, and it sports some key Rhymesayers aesthetics which were sorely missed on the handful of songs before it. Slug's rapping though, while competent and not wholly bland like he was on 'Salma Hayek,' misses what made him and Atmosphere most memorable. Simple storytelling told with evasive maneuvers that always kept the listener on edge. That's been lacking lately, likely for a lack of ideas, but it's missed and 'Ringo's' topical content, which is fairly run-of-the-mill, sticks out like a sore thumb because of it.

Mick Jenkins - Sunkissed

As we anxiously await Mick Jenkins next project, whether that be his debut or not, the string of loosies continues with 'Sunkissed,' featuring one of his main collab partners theMIND. More than anything else, 'Sunkissed' showcases Jenkins' superb rhyme schemes and inventive flows, flipping vernacular on a dime, hopping off the beat only to get back on it with ease. Lofty comparisons, of which I only mean to collate his flow, Jenkins comes off similar to André 3000 in that regard, the sheer versatility on a song-by-song basis unparalleled to almost anyone in the game today. 'Sunkissed,' especially it's first verse which holds to this standard incredibly well, might be one of Jenkins' best flows to date. He comes off both weighty, with his gravely voice and intricate lyrics, and weightless, with the ease in which he accomplishes it.

Unfortunately, and a constant worry for Jenkins, is everything else. As a rapper he's near top-tier, with a solid debut solidifying his spot amongst the best up-and-coming rappers for good. But while his hooks, topics, and beats are okay, they aren't groundbreaking, and 'Sunkissed' is the same. He essentially boxed himself into a corner with the overbearing water metaphors parading through damn near every song he makes. This goes beyond the lyrics too, as many beats he chooses to associate with bring that aquatic edge, 'Sunkissed' being no different. I'd usher him into abandoning it, but with two mixtapes and a supposed LP centered around the topic that might prove tough. We'll see how successful he can be adhering to these previously set principles, but for now I'm beginning to get the sense Jenkins, and his copious amounts of potential, may be wasted, slightly.

I was quite impressed with Wildheart when I first heard it last year, actually turning into a key contributor to my rising interests in Alternative R&B. And while Miguel's third LP hasn't exactly stayed spinning in my catalogue, I respect it as a one of my favorites from last year, mixing sensual lingo with earnest feelings that doesn't feel cheeky or cringey. Unfortunately, his latest one-off track, which seems to be a stop-gap to maintain relevancy, isn't all that great, fitting the bill of throwaway quite convincingly. 'Come Through & Chill,' as expected from its namesake, doesn't offer up indulgent topics of interest past what any heartthrob on the top 40 charts is doing as we speak.

Sonically speaking, 'Come Through & Chill,' produced by Salaam Remi, breezes through a summer vacation as a relaxing afternoon turns to excitement with the arrival of a stranger. While Miguel certainly drives his own lane here, providing vocals that match up with the dexterity and seductiveness of his best tracks, the production feels similar in atmospheric setting to some of Frank Ocean's work. To be expected considering all these Alt R&B crooners borrow and take from each other, Ocean was likely inspired by Miguel who came back around to do the same. It's not as lust-filled as Ocean, or as adolescently-inclined, sporting a more mature outlook, but the beat and mid-hook crooner bears strong resemblance to the OFWGKTA member.

Kid Cudi - Goodbye

Keep this in mind people. Just because Kid Cudi may be returning to his more formal Rap roots, that does not make the song good. His expectations could not be lower following Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven, an album which set the bar so low almost anything could best it. 'Goodbye,' unsurprisingly, bests it, largely thanks to its failure of being inexplicably bad. Gaining notoriety as a rapper, it's nice to see Cudi still be able to manage a flow over a beat, even if said beat is rather ordinary and simple. Every piece of the beat is on a thumping loop, making it easy to line up with, and even easier to ignore.

But at least there's no acoustics, that's pleasant enough. Having never heard the song, a middle and late sample of Pink Floyd's 'Goodbye Cruel World' might be my favorite part here, but then I'd just be complimenting another artist. Although, truth be told, it fits 'Goodbye' quite nicely, splitting up verses and rounding off the edges elegantly. What's tough to ignore, as was painfully obvious on the bulk of Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven, is Cudi's adolescent anger and rage. Possibly a way to attract his audience, or maybe a regression following an onslaught of negativity, Cudi continues this pseudo-superiority many of his followers showcase in Youtube comments. What's worse is that his two most critically-acclaimed albums, Man on the Moon: The End of Day and Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, featured almost nothing of the sort, the battering ram of faux enlightenment a recent fad that, despite the music improving slightly, doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.

Angel Olsen - Shut Up Kiss Me

Heard a lot about this girl so finally decided to check her out. Not gonna pretend to know Angel Olsen's background and come up in the Indie scene, but I will state I've ignorantly brushed her off thanks to my perceptions about what her music might sound like. That lone singer/songwriter mentality, it's only something I can take in spades, and when I like it it's rare (like Waxahatchee). And while 'Shut Up Kiss Me' certainly wasn't anything I was expecting, I can't say I'm too impressed. Can't put my finger on what exactly is leaving me feeling meh, besides the fact that the song itself is dangerously ordinary by Indie Rock standards.

She's got swagger, vicariously displayed in the music video, and an allure that immediately attracts, but nothing seems unique about 'Shut Up Kiss Me.' Her voice is nasally, and not in a good way. The ferocious melding of drums and guitars is nice, but also fairly standard for post-2000's Rock ballads. And the lyrics are per typical Glam Rock punk girl, with in your face confidence. But what do I know? This girl's foreign to me, and the music tends to be as well. Don't think I'll be returning unless something drastic happens.

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