Thursday, October 27, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Oct. 21-28

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 high-profile artists roll-out singles of varying quality here. From Hip-Hop to Psych Rock to whatever Joanna Newsom is. 

Run The Jewels - Talk To Me

Ding ding ding, it's round three! Killer Mike and El-P, better known now as Run The Jewels, are back for their third LP under their 2013-created supergroup. It'll release sometime this year and this past week we got our first taste of it with the short and volatile 'Talk To Me.' And, if I'm being honest, I'm not too impressed. Now don't get me wrong, the track is thunderous, explosive, all the words to categorize these political rebels. But this time, after two go around's before, it's exactly that predictability that causes 'Talk To Me's' downfall. That, and it's just not as good, as loud, as in-your-face as their other singles like 'Banana Clipper' or 'Oh My Darling Don't Cry.'

Is hope lost? Absolutely not. Why? Because to date, Killer Mike and El-P, over the course of both of their ten-plus year careers, have failed to make a bad record. The finale of 'Talk To Me' where Killer Mike pounds his chest in confidence seems to imply that the lead single also acts as the intro to the record, and being that both 'Jeopardy' and 'Run The Jewels' act as lackluster openers to their ensuing insanity, I'm not worried about RTJ3. What holds this single back for me is that lack of thrust, as both the verses seem tame by the group's standards, even though their riddling off politically-charged banter that deserves a stronger presence. Even the beat reeks of generic El-P, sounding like a middle of the road beat without any enticing detractors to help it. Criticisms abound, I don't hate it though.

Flaming Lips - The Castle

Led by the world's wackiest uncle Wayne Coyne, The Flaming Lips have found a path all their own in the overcrowded Psych Rock scene. Incorporating various lush elements, including Coyne's own idiosyncratic voice, the group have maintained critical attention by slightly reinventing themselves with each new piece of work. Many assumed, rightfully so, that the group recently began to tip, from being the cool weird to the embarrassing weird, when they teamed up with Miley Cyrus for her Experimental mess Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. And while I'm not familiar with their 2013 LP The Terror, which was received fairly well, their previous affair, Embryonic, which was received even better, I thought was an excruciating listen that ranks among my least favorite albums.

However, choice cuts like The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi rank highly on my charts, especially the former, so I'd still be enticed to hear what new intangibles they're presenting. 'The Castle,' their first single off Oczy Mlody, infuses melodic Psych Rock, as they're prone to do, with some soothing Dream Pop. Coyne's vocals, and lyrics, are nothing new for the fantastical singer, as he focuses his efforts around a lovely woman and her castle that gets destroyed. 'The Castle' shines not through Coyne however, but the production, which is constantly progressing and becoming further and further entrenched in their refined psychedelics. Sonically, 'The Castle' bears some resemblance to the work found on Yoshimi, which already draws comparisons found in Coyne's lyrics. Overall, it's not outstanding, but 'The Castle' is certainly better than anything I heard on Embryonic and that's good enough for me.

A$AP Mob - Telephone Calls

On Halloween, the A$AP Mob will release the Cozy Tapes Vol. 1, their second mixtape and first since 2012's Lord$ Never Worry. While A$AP Rocky continues to become one of the main faces of Hip-Hop, the other members of the expansive collective have done little else in recent memory to sway opinion. Of course the second name to come to mind is A$AP Ferg, and while I thought Always Strive And Prosper was decent at times, the project certainly didn't help Ferg's case like his previous stunners 'Shabba' and 'Work' did. To Hip-Hop's general consumers, everyone else is pretty much a no-name. With reason mind you, because the Mob's output has been less than satisfactory.

They started the year out strong with 'Yamborghini High' however, even though I wasn't particularly fond of that track. Their momentum should carry, and with a handful of singles already released for the Cozy Tapes, many are intrigued to see where they go next. 'Telephone Calls,' probably the most note-worthy of these recently released singles thanks to its features, doesn't disappoint. It's one soft spot, ironically, is exactly what's causing it to succeed. That being, the obvious comparisons to Black Hippy's stellar 'Vice City.' While Tyler, The Creator's verse speaks for itself, using that same, noticeable flow, Rocky's borrows heavily too, as does the overall beat which uses a repetitive loop to open up outlets for these two, and the others, to dance around unusual measures. It's worthy of a listen, that much is for sure.

Joanna Newsom - Make Hay

Earlier in the week Joanna Newsom released 'Make Hay' with hardly a warning. In the Hip-Hop world, it's common ground. In Newsom's though, structure and order reigns supreme. She's released four albums in 12 years, it's not all that often we get treated with her strange vocal quips so soon following a release. Yet, here we are. Marking the one-year anniversary of Divers, her most popular and straight forward album yet, the singer/songwriter decided now was an apt time to release an outtake from those sessions. 'Make Hay' is the result, and it's exactly what you'd expect. The strange release won't disrupt her uniformity just yet, as the single draws from those same places Newsom feels most comfortable.

The six-minute track dances lightly over a piano-led melody as Newsom's voice, as she's prone to do, cascades across the building instrumentation. And, of course, the lyrics and content is as dense as ever. Unfortunately, for someone like me, jumping in and out of artists, critiquing them whilst going about my daily business, I don't have all the time in the world to dissect her craft. For her fans though, 'Make Hay' surely provides an added point of enjoyment as they dive deep into her peculiar world. Sonically speaking, 'Make Hay' doesn't do all that much to stray from the vision found on the rest of Divers, making its place as an outtake understandable. The limited range of sounds here, hardly moving past your ordinary singer/songwriter, halts what greatness 'Make Hay' could've had, especially considering the dense lyrics protruding out of it.

Justice - Alakazam!

Famous French House duo Justice, if you haven't already known, are returning for their third LP entitled Woman. This follows 2011's somewhat disappointing Audio, Video, Disco. While we still await to see what an entire album's worth of frantic Electro House will sound like, the three lead singles give off a sense of scale. A fair bit of irony was involved in 'Safe And Sound,' the lead single that was, well, safe and sound. Not bad, but nothing to the level of their massive hits. 'Randy' was a step in the wrong direction, their attempt at incorporating vocals, which was just messy and poorly executed. Next up, and likely the last single before release, is 'Alakazam!'

Gotta say, while it initially didn't stick with me, the final minute or so almost makes up for the entire track on its own. What starts as your standard French House track, with an emphasis on funky percussion and layered synths, slowly builds into a magnificent edifice of synths that sounds not unlike SynthPop. The chorus, if you will, is what 'Alakazam!' relies on, and for good reason. The melodies and how all parts intertwine into this reckless barrage of sound really beefs up my intrigue into the rest of Woman. While it's tough to round a song out when the climax is it's best part, 'Alakazam!' could've done a little more to be different. In the long run, I'm not sure how often I'll be listening if my favorite part comes at the end.

Ab-Soul - Braille

Ab-Soul, somehow, someway, needs to convince the Hip-Hop community why paying attention to him years ago, around the time of Control System, was a good decision. Since then his material has been, at times, lackluster, at others, embarrassing. The first single to his as-of-yet unnamed LP, 'Huey Knew,' was decent, not offensive, but otherwise unremarkable. He's trapped in a state of being character-less. Back in 2012, his identity was clear, fitting into the Black Hippy collective as the pseudo-intellectual who also had serious life trauma to back it up. Now, he's a poor man's Schoolboy Q.

'Braille' won't sway that opinion any which way, as the second single sports a topsy-turvy beat and on-point flows but doesn't have that sense of intrigue his earlier material had in tow. Both 'Huey Knew' and 'Braille' seem like grade B singles, but ones that would be more accustomed to being loosies than official singles found on actual albums. If that ends up being the case, I can't see this next LP being any different than These Days.... The feature found here, Bas, takes the spotlight and runs with it though, ousting Ab-Soul on his own flow while presenting some interesting lines and a classic Hip-Hop voice that goes over 'Braille's' beat like butter.

No comments:

Post a Comment