Thursday, June 2, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, May 27-2

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 huge, huge week, so much so that I wasn't able to fit half of what could've possibly been on this. Oh yeah, and The Avalanches! 

The Avalanches - Frankie Sinatra

It's going to be a weird feeling when an artist I've loved from the get-go drops off the face of the earth only to return 16 years later. Recently, a seeming craze has swept over music where darlings return in grand (Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine) and not so grand (Pixies, Modest Mouse) fashion, even some who leave the game rather unchanged despite the album being okay (Dr. Dre). The thing these five have in common? Not a single one I listened to seriously before 2012. Their lavish return meant nothing to me, as I wasn't around for the struggle of nothingness. Now you can add The Avalanches to that list. It's been 16 years since Since I Left You came out, two years since I first heard it. The release of 'Frankie Sinatra,' and successive details on Wildflower coming out July 8th, should mean nothing to me as I haven't endured, but they kinda do. This is a special moment.

What unquestionably does is Danny Brown and MF DOOM's features on the lead single, the former one of my favorite current rappers, the latter one of my favorite of all-time. The single answers the age-old question of what would happen had an emcee spit over their unusual beats, as 'Frankie Sinatra' sports the trademark characteristics of the group (now only a duo however), with sample-heavy production dating back to an era before technology even warranted the creation of said song. Borrowing heavily from Calypso and Electro Swing, 'Frankie Sinatra' plays out like a demented carnival, the cast of kooky characters yelping over it, and the ones featured in its unhinged music video, only goes to confirm this.

The key thing that would stop many from falling in love with The Avalanches once again is the appearance of the two emcees, and rightfully so. Ever so slightly, with 'Frankie Sinatra' The Avalanches have gone from DJ's always flaunting in the foreground to ones taking a step back to accommodate others (think Disclosure, Flume, even Daft Punk's Random Access Memories). With their peculiar style of beat-making though they can't help but draw attention to themselves. Take it as a pro or con in this case, both Danny Brown and MF DOOM, taken out of context and placed back in their respective production, wouldn't sound much different, their flows are both ordinary by their standards. This makes 'Frankie Sinatra' a classic case of single material, with a clear, linear structure. The bridge though, sampling The Sound of Music's 'My Favorite Things,' is phenomenally well-done, as is most other elements of this track.

Filthy. Many know my feelings towards Street Rap and its tendency to be redundant, but that only applies to artists not pushing hard enough. Pusha T pushes hard enough that it's both dated and modern, a perfect mix to maintain intrigue while catering to the old heads of yore. The second DJ Dahi's beat drips all over 'Drug Dealers Anonymous' you know it's a classic Push track, going as hard as one of Pusha's most sneering tracks, 'Nosetalgia,' which features Kendrick Lamar. Not surprisingly, and similar in scope to that one, 'Drug Dealers Anonymous' snags another lyrical legend to compete with Push, this time Jay Z. Almost any other emcee I can think of, putting high-quality rappers on your projects means notoriety, for Pusha I feel he takes it personally, a challenge to him, and a proving point for others, to see that he can compete with the best of them.

Being that Jay-Z's aged rather ungracefully, you'd expect Pusha to beat him, and while he does, it's not as obvious as you'd expect. Jay-Z's verse runs the gamut, harping back to his days dealing and where he's come from there, however he loses steam each bar he prolongs the verse, ending in a complete dud, albeit slightly clever, Damnnnnnn Daniel meme line. That line would never work for anyone. The addendum still holds true, it's not hip to talk about memes aloud, it's far too embarrassing, especially for a 46-year old dad. Regardless, 'Drug Dealers Anonymous' is a dope track overall, fiending on the primal urges of King Push and Jay to relive their days in the streets. Slight hiccups from Jay won't stop a thunderous verse from Push and an even more savage beat crafted by DJ Dahi.

Death Grips - More Than The Fairy

I don't need to do the whole spiel. It's Death Grips, randomly features Les Claypool (of Primus fame), came out of the blue, and the cover is that of a banana on a wire. What else would you expect? I've grown a bit tiresome of their repeated antics over the past few months, essentially doing the odd so often it becomes the norm, but nevertheless the music's still good so I don't mind. 'More Than The Fairy' bears similarities to the irregularities of Bottomless Pit's lead single 'Hot Head,' and the bulk of the arrhythmic Government Plates, despite being able to hold it's own in terms of noticeability.

That's largely thanks to Claypool's appearance on bass, which is unique in unison with Zach Hill's drumming, and Ride's repeated use of the chorus. Typically, Death Grips hooks don't last too long, are tight-packed, and if they're repetitious it's only for so long. On 'More Than The Fairy,' Ride is content in prolonging the title's wretched undertones, swapping out "go make that face" when necessary. Rapping wise, Ride's final verse is fairly interesting, admittedly nothing compared to 'On GP's' self-awareness, but it is a step above the bulk of Bottomless Pit's lyrics. Also, Ride saying "ain't thought about shit for a minute, man" is the closest he's ever come to being a normal emcee, even his enunciation is monotone, like that of Earl Sweatshirt.

I gotta say, there is no other band I have encountered that has me as perplexed over my own tastes than Swans. Little of this has to do with their actual music, more so a gathering storm of serious changes in my outlook on music, where each Swans release I've heard has been in the eye of that storming shift. First there was blind ignorance with To Be Kind, then a long bout of mixed disdain and maturity, before diving deep into Soundtracks for the Blind and loving it, now returning to the current where everything set to drop out of The Glowing Man has intrigued me. It's made accurately judging their music damn near impossible, so I'm just going with the flow.

Now that the full version of 'When Will I Return' has released I can succinctly say I find it more enjoyable than anything on To Be Kind. Previously, the snippet originally released was the back half, leaving the front isolated and mysterious. We've now learned that Michael Gira's wife, Jennifer, has contributed vocals that apparently relive a traumatizing experience she had previously. Lyrically you can sense it. "His hands are on my throat" being the opening line startles you into position, with "I still kill him in my sleep" solidifying this torment. It's a wonderfully dark piece that becomes even more so when the abrasive second half kicks in, with Jennifer yelling "I'm alive!" All around good stuff, and compact enough to not drudge onwards to boredom.

De La Soul - Pain

On the day their long-awaited return was set to drop De La Soul chose instead to release For Your Pain & Suffering, a small, 12-minute EP that featured more than half its time focused on unrelated skits. Needless to say, it wasn't what many fans were expecting, and the album art, of a mob chasing down a man now proclaiming the date as August 26th, solidified that. One song off that EP, 'Trainwreck,' the best one, will make it on to And the Anonymous Nobody, as will this new single, 'Pain,' featuring the one and only Snoop Dogg. It's a solid track that features polished elements of De La's old sound, focusing on a fresh, new Funk approach.

From the get-go it's clear this thing is a chill cruiser, a Sunday afternoon walk in the park, with a minimal choir guiding the chorus. Thematically and lyrically, 'Pain' isn't all that special, speaking on behalf of emotional problems and pushing that those limitations. It's not bad though, all three verses, from Posdnuos to Snoop to Trugoy are worthy, especially Snoop's surprisingly, with the smooth production fitting his flows nicely. As with 'Trainwreck,' 'Pain' continues to progress as the track goes on, beginning small and quaint, ending with some synths, strings, and background vocals. Enjoyable track from one of Hip-Hop's most enjoyable groups.

Clams Casino - Witness

The infamous duo teams up again. Shocking as it may be, Clams Casino struck gold when he teamed up with The Based God Lil B right when the iron was hot, effectively pushing him and his unique brand of Cloud Rap into the spotlight. 2011's 'I'm God' could have very well been the launching point for where it was acceptable to blast poor rappers over beats well beyond their talents, yet here we are with dozens following this approach. In the meantime, Casino has worked with more formidable emcees like Danny Brown and Vince Staples, while branching out to different genres, getting spots on FKA twigs' LP1 and Jhené Aiko's Souled Out.

Now he's ready for his debut album, 32 Levels, and if lead single 'Blast' and follow-up 'Witness' are anything to go by, Casino is back and more refined than ever. Many will rightfully discount 'Witness' simply for the fact that Lil B, a bad rapper, is rapping over it. Fair. The enjoyment comes from laughing alongside him but still being able to nod along to a well-crafted beat, sounding part exotic and part aquatic. It's not as legendary or game-changing as 'I'm God,' and in many respects it's one of Casino's least ear-grabbing beats, but the overall appeal is still there. It's a duo that shouldn't work, typically doesn't, but still has you coming back for more for some inexplicable reason.

Joey Bada$$ - Devastated

A bit of a shift from our Pro Era, Boom Bap-centric Joey Bada$$. Last time we saw Joey in the full was B4.DA.$$, his debut, where he even surprised me, someone who's typically against up-and-coming rappers attempting to rectify a dead sub-genre. He sported solid bars, a passion to strive for greatness, and came equip with beats from certified legends. Before this moment though, Badass was seen as a one-trick pony, someone who lived and breathed 90's without a lick of what's going on in the current era. 'Devastated' isn't particularly good, but it does show the Brooklyn emcee is willing to venture out of his comfort zone, something that'll hopefully extend his life pulse.

'Devastated' borrows from the serious brand of Pop Rap that aims to inspire through large means. I won't go so far as to call it Trap, it's not, but this track bears similarities to Denzel Curry, Kid Cudi's earlier works, and even Travi$ Scott. Strange company for Badass to be in for sure. The beat isn't anything to ride home about, influenced by Cloud Rap by flipping minimal textures in the verse with sweeping sounds in the chorus, but it does compliment Badass' sound well. Lyrically, of course, 'Devastated' isn't anything special either, glorifying Badass' achievements in the game, as he's on his way to greatness. Pretty boring stuff but it's better than the flipside, so I respect it.

But Wait There's More!

Donnie Trumpet - The First Time
BadBadNotGood - Confessions Pt.II
Hodgy Beats - Kobain
Lance Skiiiwalker - Could It Be
Clarence Clarity - Splitting Hairs
Young Thug - Gangster Shit

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