Thursday, November 24, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Nov. 18-24

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. Another exciting Childish Gambino release, two more from The Weeknd, and a failed Western execution from none other than Animal Collective. 

Animal Collective - Mountain Game

I've got to question the intentions of not only Animal Collective but Rockstar, the video game developers as well. Why, you ask? Because the infamous Indie group released a single last week that was supposedly created in 2010 for the Western-themed epic Red Dead Redemption. Thankfully it was unused, not from lack of quality, the single is more than decent, but from pure unrelation. Animal Collective and authentic Western do not go together, and really, apart from the first minute of Ambient noise, the only thing 'Mountain Game' has in common with Red Dead Redemption is the fact that there's mountains around, and it's a game.

However, musically 'Mountain Game' provides another interesting perspective in that it hints towards Animal Collective's next half decade while in the middle of their most successful year yet. 2010 was Merriweather Post Pavilion, but with 'Mountain Game' the music sounds more like Centipede Hz with its eccentric mechanical instrumentation, swerving away from their older material's more nuanced approach. 'Mountain Game' still relies on fluid movements within multiple sections like AnCo did in their past, succeeding on that front in regards to their recent material. It's a unique piece of history though, even if it's potential inclusion in Red Dead Redemption seemed bizarre.

Days before releasing the highly-anticipated Starboy, The Weeknd has dropped what shall presumably be his final two pre-album singles. The title track set the tone, 'False Alarm' wrecked havoc on it, and now we have 'Party Monster' and 'I Feel It Coming' to cool things down. The former, obviously from not just the name but the appearance of Lana Del Rey, is a more radio-centric cut that eschews bright, bubbly tones with a dark, mystifying allure, even if the topics at hand are rather dull. With synths, bass, and some scattered hi-hats, 'Party Monster' borrows from the Trap scene, one that's currently head first in dingy atmosphere. It's not an immediate success like 'Starboy,' feeling more comparable, at least in quality, to the rowdy 'False Alarm.'

Really though, where 'Party Monster' will continue to satisfy Weeknd's mainstream crowd, the Indie side still peering through from his early days should, rightfully, gravitate towards 'I Feel It Coming.' Succinctly rounding out the album, coming full circle with another Daft Punk feature, the final track feels unusually resolute. It's certainly unlike any single that's come before it, filling with it not ominous sensations but calming effervescence. Thanks to Daft Punk's talents, the track brings with it a chipper, Disco-like tonality, simultaneously proving both their and The Weeknd's diverse scope with how contrasting the song is to 'Starboy.' Really curious to see how well it does on the charts, if at all, because the hook is absolutely addictive. Right now positive cuts, namely whatever Bruno Mars is doing, is dominating because of over-saturation. 'I Feel It Coming' distills what he has into a respectable, and believable, feeling.

Childish Gambino - Redbone

Two weeks ago, Childish Gambino released the first single to his mysterious LP, Awaken, My Love! 'Me And Your Mama,' judging by its title, seemed all too neatly fit in Gambino's lore. That is, until the track started, continued, and finished, as Soul, Funk, and Psychedelic Rock clashed four decades past their prime. 'Me And Your Mama' found Bino confident in not just songwriting but also a strong, borderline surprising, vocal performance. The next single, 'Redbone,' doesn't do anything to detract from the oozing confidence displayed previously, further allowing listeners to learn of this new, strange world Gambino now fosters.

What sets 'Redbone' apart from the lead single can be seen in its album placement. 'Me And Your Mama' efficiently works as an opener, you can tell by the progression, while 'Redbone' feels nestled deep within the lore. The beat is funky, made more so by Gambino's pitch-shifted vocals. The influences here are obvious. While 'Me And Your Mama' was inspired by an overarching genre, 'Redbone' very clearly takes from Prince, D'Angelo, Andre 3000, and even Frank Ocean in regards to the voice. It remains to be seen, can Gambino really make this album? We'll know soon, but as of right now he's two for two.

Serengeti & Sicker Man - Doctor My Own Patience

Serengeti, to me, is a fascinating artist. He's so self-assuming, by nature, but holds valuable stories, hypothesis', and beliefs. His voice is constantly in a reflective state, soft-spoken yet entirely personal. His music, of which there's a treasure trove, feel as if you're peering in to some constantly evolving existential crisis. While Testarossa, his earlier 2016 project with Yoni Wolf, was a concept album about a musician and the family he left behind, it's clear even that came from shreds of truth to be found in his own life. One of his most confounding, and revealing if looking intently, releases to date was 2013's Saal, a collaboration with German producer Sicker Man. With sparse instrumentation that felt more organic than any Hip-Hop album around it, Saal forced Serengeti to, once again, revisit himself and his artistry.

That came in the form of spoken word monologues and Indie Folk singing, something he'd pair nicely with on 2014's Sisyphus, thanks to Son Lux and Sufjan Stevens joining him. On December 9th, Serengeti will attempt all this again on Doctor My Own Patience, an album's which title track released this week. In it, Serengeti delves further into the Indie world, almost abandoning his Hip-Hop roots entirely. Unlike Saal, which felt despondent in all facets, 'Doctor My Own Patience' is more uppity, bubbly, and inviting. Serengeti doesn't change up his approach though, still reflecting on missed opportunities and current mental issues, which makes the Indie Pop production from Sicker Man devilish in intent. For a many that seems to value quantity over quality, I mean he did just release a cassette-only LP called Kaleidoscope, Serengeti hasn't seen the latter dip whatsoever.

Lupe Fiasco - Made In The USA

The life and career of Lupe Fiasco has certainly been a strange one. Don't expect a full debriefing from me here, I can't be bothered, but the short, recent, and sweet is that Fiasco, after promising three albums for 2016, promptly released zero. In fact, the biggest point of interest for Lupe fans was 'Pick Up The Phone,' which just so happened to be one of the worst songs of 2016, even making Lasers seem more than competent. Other than that, Lupe's year has been filled with loosies that remain unsure as to if they'll be on official albums or be thrown away.

'Made In The USA' is yet another to add to that list, dropping on Soundcloud with a style that's entirely misrepresentative of Lupe's recent output. While I didn't fully enjoy Tetsuo & Youth, you could sense the cohesive quality. It felt like an album made from an artist who lived in a like-minded headspace. 'Made In The USA,' when compared to his other loosies, just seems jarring and unfamiliar. However, it's clearly better than 'Pick Up The Phone,' with a trendy bass and Trap sound that finds Lupe fiery and aggressive. If you dig that, you can't go wrong, as the nuisance is lost the second the 'USA' starts, leaving a banger from someone who's typically lyrical.

The Cool Kids - Connect Four

Another Cool Kids single, another passé response from the Hip-Hop community. Even without their return, it was clear the Bay area Hyphy scene died a long time ago, evident by Lil B's quick recession from the limelight. It was a spark that didn't have enough diversity, or, more importantly, enough important artists. Even The Cool Kids are guilty of contributing to this, making a handful of important songs for the genre, but failing to elaborate in any noticeable sense. This summer they released 'Running Man,' a single which mixed their inherent interests with the trendy Trap scene in Atlanta. The result wasn't mystifying, nor was it horrible. So maybe, just maybe, the communities nonchalance towards their return is warranted?

Selectivity is a fickle beast though, as other forgotten artists have returned with much worse material only to get commended for their appearance. On 'Connect Four,' their next single, the duo of Chuck Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks, drift off the coast of the Bay area, fully focused on their influence. The beat is bouncy, driven, and constantly tipping in a shifted space, never remaining stagnant. However, just like their past, 'Connect Four' falters thanks to some dry, humorless, and generic lyrics. The flows aren't creative enough, like, let's say, Black Hippy's 'Vice City,' to warrant the cliche topics. You can tell 'Connect Four' hangs on its chorus, which is small but hungry, because the verses, unfortunately, don't have all that much to say.

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