Friday, July 8, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, July 1-7

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. An Indie Rock originator tries to catch that spark once again, as a Hip-Hop legend finally drops a hint to his future scientific sound. 

Pixies - Um Chagga Lagga

It was right after Indie Cindy released that I begin to look back at the illustrious career of the Pixies. And what a career that was. Excluding Indie Cindy of course. That is, me being ignorant because I never actually listened to the album or any of its associating singles. But I've heard stories, and don't care to read more. But hey, I'm checking out everything this year with no restraint, a good or bad thing I'm slowly learning. 'Um Chagga Lagga' is the lead single to Head Carrier, and honestly, detaching myself from the fact that it's 2016 and the Pixies are still making music, it isn't that bad.

For me, this bears slight resemblance to Trompe le monde's style of exaggerated aggression. With the hook and its foolish lyrics in mind, 'Um Chagga Lagga' is almost cartoonish. Even the cover has that Dadaism approach, a style that's always reminded me of the Pixies and their nonsensical, sporadic songwriting. 'Um Chagga Lagga' definitely fits the bill, it just doesn't feel very special. Once it wears, it's rather standard and seems to be remaking the Pixies instead of pushing it forward. The lack of evolution is a key thing to me. Modest Mouse's latest dud is a key example of this, years have passed and they're still supporting the same sounds. Pixies latest endeavor is arguably more offensive in this regard, even if the song isn't offensive itself.

Tycho - Division

I've been conflicted with Tycho's music for a long time now. On one end, it's painfully bland and derivative. On the other end, it sounds nice and calming. Who do you side with? The one that never evolves and remains about as simple as insert Pop artist name here, or the one that lets you relax down into your body as that wash of Tycho moves over you. His music, being somewhat evocative, has always been identifiable with that air of mist, that saturated hue that glides on top of damn near every song he creates. 'Division,' the artist's latest single, is exactly what you'd expect, take it or leave it.

If I've got to find variations somewhere, look to the more hardened sounds. The guitars and drums are rudimentary, but there's some off-kilter structuring that detaches Tycho from himself ironically. About midway through, a scaffolding synth line tears through the fabric, similar to something The Chemical Brothers would've done. It signals the next shift in momentum on 'Division,' keeping things interesting, despite not changing much at all. It seems too, that Tycho formulates his songs as if people are singing over them. Not literally, but the structuring follows typical Pop patterns. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, climax, outro. I can't recall his music enough to see if this pattern has shown wear over time, but it's there. Makes for a safe song, like his entire career, but another to add to the list of perfect homework music.

GZA - The Spark

Who woulda thunk? That one, GZA/Genius's Dark Matter may finally be happening, with an official lead single to officially kickstart it from the grave, and two, that no one really seems to care. 'The Spark' came and went without much of a, well, spark. The single tells a larger story about Hip-Hop's past and our serious distancing from it. The majority of Hip-Hop heads in the Internet era don't care too much for old heads, and the old heads, for all accounts and purposes, aren't well accustomed to the new patterns of social media chaos. So alas, the first song from Dark Matter, GZA's concept album centered around space knowledge, has essentially been a flash in the pan.

Half of the song's lack of attention comes from this disparity, the other from it being horribly bland. Within a few bars on 'The Spark' I witnessed how far GZA has regressed. Not so much lyrically, he is adhering to the total science content he promised so that restricts his language quite a bit, but more so the flow, which could not be more simple if you tried. Think late 80's rhyme schemes. In 2016, when rappers are doing much more interesting things, that doesn't hold up. And really, science? Unfortunately, there isn't really a way this maintains interest apart from teaching kids in school who are forced to be there. That's about the most 'The Spark' will achieve, teaching kids who don't really care.

Clams Casino - A Breath Away

Feeling pretty meh about this. Even though you can easily associate Clams Casino with his contemporaries like Flume, Baauer, and Hudson Mohawke, his music has always felt more grounded in Hip-Hop experimentalism than the others. His beats have always been identified from a mile away (similar to Mohawke in this regard, just a different sound), so it's a bit of a shame he goes the route of everyone else to team up with some generic singers. Don't get me wrong, I think Kelela's singing is fine, just isn't anything special. And really, 'A Breath Away's' faults aren't even hers.

Even worse is the beat, which is just lackluster through and through. I could've snuck this into Lantern or Skin and no one would've likely been able to tell the difference. Compare this to 'Blast,' or the Lil B-assisted 'Witness,' because no UK Bass producer would dare work with him, and you can clearly see how normal and unoriginal 'A Breath Away' really is. It's not poorly arranged or totally lackluster mind you, just painfully middle of the road from what we've been hearing from producer-centric releases thus far this year. A slight hiccup in 32 Levels' rollout, worrisome too considering I can see it becoming another forgettable release, but we'll wait for release to make judgments.

Towkio - Tear Drop

Wasn't really feeling Towkio when I first heard his .Wav Theory last year. I still don't particularly like it, as there's other Chicago come-ups I enjoy more, but then Vic Mensa happened with his There's Alot Going On and Towkio looked like a legitimate artist compared to him. They're still similar though, too similar in some aspects. But at least Towkio sports a breath of authenticity and originality, the former more so than the latter. But guess what? His latest drop, 'Tear Drop,' is pretty damn good. I can honestly say I'm surprised, as I wasn't expecting much at all, but with a grounded bounce and some weighty words 'Tear Drop' just works.

Much of my enjoyment, as what always seems to be the case with artists I don't adore, comes from the beat. Produced by Garren, the chirping choir kids looping endlessly bears strong resemblance to, you guessed it, Chance the Rapper. It isn't as hyper and cathartic as 'No Problem,' its closest competitor, but does remain focused on some nice drums and bass that allows Towkio to easily glide across the beat. Now lyrically speaking, I don't wanna come off as a hypocrite and say Towkio's approach to police brutality is any better than Vic Mensa, or any different for that matter, but his appeal seems to shine through better. The chorus for example, seeks to relate and commend the losses earnestly, the verses not so overbearingly bland as Mensa's latest political fodder.

BadBadNotGood - In Your Eyes

In their long roll-out for IV, BADBADNOTGOOD has dropped the tracks that've likely gotten the most attention, as they all tend to feature singers. Previously we've gotten 'Time Moves Slow' featuring Future Islands' own Samuel T. Herring and 'Hyssop Of Love' featuring Mick Jenkins. This time around it's Charlotte Day Wilson taking the reigns. With her soft, soothing voice mixing lushly over the group's simple grooves, 'In Your Eyes' is another strong track that the now-quartet have dropped. Now it isn't spectacular, and showcases the direction BBNG is headed, in that they're receding into the background to allow for singers to come up front, but it's still well-arranged.

'In Your Eyes,' more so than any other track on IV, or in BBNG's entire discography for that matter, takes a more traditional Jazz route. I'm thinking the singing spots on Terrace Martin's Velvet Portraits or Kamasi Washington's The Epic. Really soothing stuff that could've easily dropped in place of 'Think Of You' on the former or 'Henrietta Our Hero' on the latter. Surprisingly, while Wilson handles the focus of our attention, BBNG's ability to take a backseat and nestle themselves in a straight production role is equally as impressive. A group known to draw attention to their wild instrumentation and playing style, 'In Your Eyes' shows that they can also rescind focus, allowing others to take control.

No comments:

Post a Comment