Thursday, August 4, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, July 29-4

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 emcee with a tremendous track record continues his massive output, while an Art Pop eccentric works with a newly released film. 

Mac Miller - Dang!

There's few other artists out right now with the work ethic of Mac Miller. Just last year he dropped the 17-track GO:OD AM along with Run-On Sentences Volume Two, the odd mixtape under his Larry Fisherman pseudonym. The year before that the 24-track mixtape Faces, and in 2013 he dropped his critical-acknowledging Watching Movies With the Sound Off, along with three mixtapes. Can't say I expected 'Dang!,' and the announcement of his 2016 LP The Divine Feminine, but really, when taken into account his track record, it would've been surprising if we heard nothing. 

On 'Dang!,' Miller is joined by Anderson .Paak, aka Hip-Hop's newest fascination piece ever since he appeared numerous times on Dr. Dre's Compton. The SoCal crooner dropped Malibu earlier this year, and like a bat out of hell, numerous rappers took to recreating the breezy style. Domo Genesis did so on his debut LP Genesis, while ScHoolboy Q found worth out of .Paak on two Blank Face cuts. 

Mac Miller has now joined in following .Paak's footsteps, focusing his lead single on the feel-good, ride around town West Coast vibe. 'Dang!' has a continuous laid back groove, with production that easily mimics Kaytranada. And while it can't be commended for originality, something that lacks in much of Miller's music, the overall quality holds 'Dang!' up. The head-nodding, one hand on the wheel energy is just too cool to ignore. Like a montage sequence of the perfect summer date, Miller and .Paak travel through recounting each pitstop, the former in detail, the latter reflecting on inner-feelings. It's nothing eye-opening, but 'Dang!' captures a trend at the height of its appearance, using that to its benefit.

Massive Attack - The Spoils / Come Near Me

Two more 2016 singles from famous Trip-Hop duo Massive Attack, following their surprisingly solid EP Ritual Spirit. Hopefully this leads to their first album since 2010's Heligoland, but that wait is for another day. The two-sided release features Hope Sandoval on 'The Spoils' and Ghostpoet on 'Come Near Me,' continuing Massive Attack's trend of pushing others on top of their hollowed production. It's a bit of a shame to not hear from 3D or Daddy G, but alas, I'm still reeling from their performance on 'Take It There.' These two songs, unfortunately, don't really compare to the four displayed on Ritual Spirit. 

Coming closest is 'The Spoils,' with a re-appearance from Hope Sandoval, someone whose previously worked with the group on Heligoland's most famous song 'Paradise Circus.' The soothing vocals and weary production fit nicely, while the overall track flows and is pieced together quite well. It does suffer from stagnation however, as, for a Massive Attack cut, it sounds quite like any ordinary Art Pop track that acts as a slow burner, overly cinematic without anything sustainable to draw it in. The same can be applied to 'Come Near Me,' the B-side that struggles to be anything but forgettable. With Ghostpoet's half sung, half rapped output and the generic-as-they-come production that sounds like all lackluster Massive Attack songs combined, 'Come Near Me' doesn't really aspire to be memorable.

Burial x Zomby - Sweetz

It's sad to see Burial lose his passion for success so quickly. After an indescribably dominant quartet of EP's from 2011-2013, he's put out exactly two songs since. Ever the elusive figure, Burial has retreated into the confines of his rainy UK quarters more than ever before. Long gone are the days of Untrue, although if glancing at his discography and witnessing the four-year gap between that and Street Halo is anything to go by, we may see a resurgence in the sometime down the road. Let's just hope it sounds nothing like 'Sweetz,' his sole 2016 output with fellow UK Future Garage artist Zomby. Drawing inspiration from the worst Fatboy Slim era, the bulk of 'Sweetz' annoys more than anything else. 

And yes, that is almost single-handedly due to a "got me fucked up" sample drawn out to ridiculous proportions. Actually even hearing that once in a Burial song would've been bad enough, on a loop though the sample makes 'Sweetz' unappealing and dry. Considering I haven't listened to a lick of Zomby, I'd have to guess the poor, distasteful parts largely come from him and his DJ stage style. Point being, these two do not fit together. Even when Fatboy Slim was doing his absurd repetition of "what the fuck," the production conforming to it actually sense. Here, the Burial ambience is thrown by the wayside the second an irritating teen comes stumbling through the back alleyways failing to zip his lip.

D.R.A.M. - Cute

It should be obvious to many, including D.R.A.M. himself, that his style is incredibly divisive, even for those who enjoy his stuff. I'm saying this because, while I adore 'Brocolli,' and only partly because of Lil Yachty, 'Cute' just isn't cutting it for me, despite the fact that both singles essentially derive from that same source. Cutesy melodies, simple loops, and an overwhelming bass make up both tracks, but for some reason 'Cute' just doesn't have that it factor. There are elements I really like, including the little crescendo ("girl we really need to go out on a date") leading into the chorus that sounds a bit like André 3000 from the Speakerboxxx / The Love Below

But for every moment I enjoy, there's others, including the hook itself, that just take me out of the groove. Never one for being overly complex, D.R.A.M. has possibly hit his lowest of lows here with the lyrical content, reaching to one-line flirt words for his chorus ("I think you're cute"). And then there's "I choose you like a Pokemon," which I'll just leave right there. The production, surprisingly produced by Charlie Heat, is fairly ordinary and can be appreciated in some regards, but still, with 'Brocolli' in mind, its been done before. End of the day, 'Cute' is just a smidge under average.

It's bad. But then again, everything I've seen associated with Suicide Squad has been bad, so it's not unexpected. While she has her moments, of course, Grimes teeters that line between classy and distasteful, with the bulk of Art Angels abiding by this inconsistency. Now I haven't seen Suicide Squad, and don't plan to, but every trailer, concept art, and just the general idea seems as if it's constantly in poor taste. And what better way than to encapsulate that by genre-smashing, a great technique for when you have none to begin with. 

For it to even fit within Suicide Squad the track needs to be aggressive, hence some over-the-top guitars. It needs to be catchy, hence cheap Pop elements. Gotta attract those kids and their trends, so might as well have constant bass drops and hi-hats, effectively making it a Trap beat. Oh, and it needs to be quirky so Grimes and her high-pitched squeals will do just fine. So yes, with the light of Suicide Squad shone on it, 'Medieval Warfare' succeeds in recreating that aesthetic. The problem arises in the fact that the aesthetic itself is so poor that almost nothing associated with it can rise anywhere above mediocre.

P.O.S. - Wearing A Bear

P.O.S's latest material has been quite strange, to say the least. Never Better is one of my favorite albums of all-time, largely because of P.O.S's ability to weave serious tales through complicated metaphors, all while being catchy and grounded. 'Wearing A Bear,' and previous single 'Waves,' have absolutely none of those qualities. They've been hectic, unorganized and unfocused, not a good sign heading into a new album. While 'Wearing A Bear' is pretty than 'Waves,' as it doesn't see P.O.S try his hand in Trap, the chaotic synth-dominated production really dilutes the possibilities for deep thought. 

And of course, being singles, they're supposed to get people hyped. You can hear it in P.O.S's voice as he grunts, hollers, and wears his aggression like a badge of honor. It's something to respect for sure, as he's able to work with what little he has here, but the more popular singles on his previous albums all felt rooted in his style. These last two seem to be evading that for something more immediately enjoyable. 'Wearing A Bear' has that impact, as upon first listen you're thrust into chaos. But by the end I have no desire to investigate more, because, at least concerning the weak production, there isn't anything else there. It's all show, no tell for 'Wearing A Bear.'

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