Thursday, November 17, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Nov. 11-17

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. The biggest single from this past week was from a Hip-Hop artist making a song that has (almost) nothing to do with Hip-Hop. 

Childish Gambino - Me And Your Mama

On December 3rd, Childish Gambino is set to release his highly anticipated LP Awaken, My Love! Gambino, as I'm sure you know, is the alter ego of Donald Glover and to say he's been a busy man would be an understatement. It's honestly mind-boggling how he's capable of writing, directing, and starring in his own sitcom entitled Atlanta, while not only continuing to make music, but push it, all whilst anticipating a major role in the next Star Wars film. But then you remember, before his career as Childish Gambino exploded with Because The Internet, that he simultaneously wrote for SNL, starred in Community, and performed various stand-up specials across the world. It's almost inhuman, and 'Me And Your Mama,' the first single to his next LP, sets to prove that, taking his career trajectory on a crash course to the unexpected.

'Me And Your Mama' is not the only thing Gambino has been proven to know; Hip-Hop. Alternatively, the alarming single lies in the Psychedelic Rock of the 60's and P-Funk of the 70's. There's nothing current or trendy about it. And while the grand scheme of Awaken, My Love! still remains to be seen, remember Because The Internet came equip with an entire movie script so learn to expect ambition with Gambino, one would be right in comparing the sounds of 'Me And Your Mama' with Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly. Their style is obvious different but they both take from the same sources, Gambino's just decided to stay truer to the heart and not attempt a companionship with Hip-Hop. If you hadn't known the man, or didn't pick up on the immense quality presented here, you'd be forgiven for assuming the song's four decades old. Take that as a positive or negative, what's known for sure is that it's unquestionable impressive.

Xiu Xiu - Wondering

My knowledge of Xiu Xiu is pretty bare. For one, the only project I know in bulk, released this year, was a collection of re-worked covers taken from the Twin Peaks soundtrack, aptly titled Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks. Thanks in part to that fascinating album, and thanks in part to the Netflix series Stranger Things, I decided to check out Twin Peaks and have been hooked every since the first episode set the tone. Apart from their largely great 2016 LP, my only other contact with the strange Experimental Rock group is a cover of a naked Asian man that makes me uncomfortable every time I see it, and the fact that they made an album purely composed of vibrating dildos clashing against one another. So yeah, safe to say they're a pretentious group. Which, by the way, I'm totally fine with if the music can back it up. 'Wondering,' their lead single to 2017's Forget, can back it up.

Each new bit of information I gather from these guys forces me to become more and more intrigued, and 'Wondering,' a sterile Art Rock track that still manages to be oft-kilter, does nothing but fascinate me. The influences are as tough to narrow down as they are obvious. At times, 'Wondering' feels different and distant, at others though you're reminded of MGMT's heyday where large, grandiose synths clash against one another as a frightened collection of vocals bounce off them with ease. If it weren't for the somewhat jarring screeches, seemingly thrown in to remind you that, yes, this is Xiu Xiu, I could easily see 'Wondering' fall on MGMT's synth-worshiping debut Oracular Spectacular. Think 'Kids' or 'Time To Pretend' and the comparisons will become clear. As far as 2016 goes, there's few songs I can think of that compare to 'Wondering's' effortless combination of weird and ordinary, the joint experimentation and Pop is fascinating.

Flaming Lips - How??

Through and through, everything surrounding 'How??' is about as prototypical as one can imagine from a Flaming Lips song. The title's immediately reminiscent of 'Do You Realize??' and its multiple question marks, along with its surreal music video which fits snugly in Wayne Coyne's absurdist world, featuring latex-clad women, bright colors, and another lavish fur suit. However, expectations soon go out the window when 'How??' begins with a slow churn rather than an immediate spark. The Flaming Lips rarely dabble in tedium, especially to build up tension, but that's exactly what 'How??' does, with its small, insincere synths and fluttering ambient noises. On previous efforts, The Flaming Lips have left their detours on their own, usually leaving ordinary song structures for the album centerfolds as nondescript interludes work in between the creases.

On 'How??,' the group manages to intertwine both while also, somehow, side-stepping their entire mission in the process. You see, 'How??' is almost entirely ruined by Coyne here, a risk you've got to be willing to take with him. Not refraining from in-your-face swears, hollering "motherfucker" whilst talking about Hip-Hop killing Rock N' Roll (I'm not kidding), Coyne's presence is one that scars the otherwise beautiful landscape made from the instrumentation. There is one facet missing though and that's guitars, you know, the instrument that makes every Rock group. As they fall further and further into the strange, The Flaming Lips have forced, or maintained, that illusion of weirdness they've been presenting for over a decade now. So for their long-time fans, 'How??' might not be all that pleasant. That is, of course, without mentioning the magnificent bridge/hook that occurs around 3:30. It's a damn shame this part only happens once, cause it's by far the prettiest thing here.

Rapsody - Fire

I'll do my best to refrain from going off on a tangent about how disrespected female rappers are in this, or any, day and age. Rapsody's a great example of that, having garnered the attention of Kendrick Lamar for one of To Pimp A Butterfly's rare guest verses (hint: she was the only one other than Snoop Dogg), Rapsody's career, despite such a wide-reaching verse, hasn't been affected one way or the other. Now, sure, she hasn't actually released a project since then, failing to capitalize one might say, but the continued under appreciation of her 2012 debut, which also featured, might I add, Ab-Soul, Mac Miller, and other well-known names, goes to show the Rap communities overall lack of interest.

Yesterday she finally broke free of the silence and released Crown, a small five-track EP. But before that, in the wake of the presidential election, Rapsody dropped 'Fire,' a response to the country's decision to elect Donald Trump as president. On 'Fire,' she's as fearful as she is confident, failing to back down when faced with such adversity, turning to the black community and saying "we gon' still be alright." Musically, she borrows from Drake's 'Views,' unfortunately, which I think makes the track a bit dull, simply unfolding a story with no twists and turns, dips or flows. However, there's one line found in the thick that shows the power of political refute Rapsody has. In reference to Donald Trump's slogan "make America great again," Rapsody tells it like it is: "We need progress and they still talking past tense."

King Gizzard - Rattlesnake

Like many, my only contact with King Gizzard came on their breakout release earlier this year, Nonagon Infinity. It's not as if they came out of the blue though, as for every year since their inception in 2011 (excluding 2012), they've released at least two projects. This will, presumably, change in 2017 as the group announced, alongside the new single 'Rattlesnake,' five albums in the span of 365 days. Yes, five. It's with this notion, and the fact that 'Rattlesnake,' both sonically and conceptually, bare strong connections to their work on Nonagon Infinity that I believe King Gizzard are grade A quantity over quality believers. 'Rattlesnake' isn't bad per say, but if you're looking to extend your career, simply replicating works you've already done isn't going to get you far.

Regardless of quality, I do appreciate the group's endless passion for music creation. That's something that, success ignored, I'll always appreciate. However, the writing's on the wall, or rather, in the song, as the same progressions, structures, tone, and lyrical content found on Nonagon Infinity dominate 'Rattlesnake' too. Thankfully, while the first half is a bore with nothing new to report, the second half invites from middle eastern influence into the mix, along with slight change-ups, just enough to keep things interesting. But there's still no denying that ideas are running thin, as Stu Mackenzie tirelessly repeating "rattlesnake" in the chorus is reason enough to believe King Gizzard doesn't use any content control.

Ty Segall - Orange Color Queen

Well now, can't say I expected this kind of stylistic switch-up from the one Ty Segall. Now admittedly my experience with him doesn't run deep, not even beyond this year and his latest LP Emotional Mugger, but nonetheless, I found no traces of 'Orange Color Queen' in that aggressive, yet sometimes silly Garage Rock album. In the first couple moments of 'Orange Color Queen' I was grinning, knowing at any moment Segall would erupt and the acoustics present would turn unfathomably crunchy. Yet, he kept playing along, as all singer/songwriter's do, using the power of his voice and words to carry the song. For Segall's standards, I'm quite impressed, but overall I'm left feeling a tad bit indifferent, especially considering this is the lead single to his next LP.

As far as influences go, there's one obvious one. Wilco, notorious Alternative Rock band known for making some of the best albums in the genre, are that one. Not their most popular and highly acclaimed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot mind you, but more their laid back acoustic jams found either earlier in their career, on Summerteeth, or later, on 2016's Schmilco. Before that influence takes over for the majority of the song, Segall actually, surprisingly, supports a Folk Rock David Bowie on his shoulder, even shifting his voice slightly to appear more unorthodox. And while the lyrics stay fully inside Bowie's early career world, the collection of safe guitars and drums immediately bring Wilco into the fold, Jeff Tweedy by way of Segall who does not sound far removed from the aforementioned lead singer.

No comments:

Post a Comment