Sunday, March 5, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, Feb. 27-5

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 strange week that saw the return of not only Lorde with a Pop mega hit, but Fatboy Slim with something new, but familiarly old. 

Lorde - Green Light

In 2013, Lorde took the Pop world by storm with her minimalistic brand of well-crafted Art Pop that catered to the bubbling scene of adolescence's seeking the need to curb the mainstream. There's obviously been more extreme cases of odd sounds and styles in Pop music, but a bulk of those could be chalked up to one-hit wonders creating something inherently catchy (I haven't forgotten about you Omi). Difference being here, Lorde wasn't a one-hit wonder. Her aesthetic played both sides, the Pop and the Indie. And then she went silent. Four years is a long, long wait for a Pop sensation's sophomore follow-up. At the same time though, it was smart, growing the mystique and biding time to make sure all the dots aligned. That time is now with 'Green Light,' a monumental summer jam that shreds her crafty image in favor of straightforward Pop superstardom. In other words, it's ticked off a lot of her fans who wrongfully assumed the Australian-born singer was against mainstream attention.

We've just reached March and the fight for 2017's summer smash has already begun. While Calvin Harris' 'Slide' could do so strictly off namesake's alone, Lorde is striking her iron with some classic Synthpop that echoes throughout the halls. First things first, the verses suck. Waiting four years just to hear "I do my makeup in somebody else's car, we ordered different drinks at the same bars" is like a punch to the gut of sheer disappointment. However, as with any good Pop song, who cares about the verses right? It's the hook. It's always the hook. Oh, and in recent cases, the pre-hook build-up too. 'Green Light' has both. The frantic piano that acts like a jitterbug beneath Lorde is one thing, her voice eviscerating the chorus is another. She reminds me of prime-Madonna here, or Lady Gaga's recent attempts at strong Arena Pop had they been good. The outcry of her going middle-of-the-road, I feel, will become mute when the album comes out, as there's no way her artsy side just vanished. For now though, be ready for Lorde fandom to rise once again, as 'Green Light' is going nowhere fast.

Fatboy Slim - Where U Iz

What a refreshing surprise. At first sight of a new Fatboy Slim single entitled 'Where U Iz,' I could only expect bad things. Not only was the title leading me in a certain direction, Fatboy Slim himself was too, with a string of singles in recent years that fell behind the curb in an attempt at maintaining relevancy. It was a sad state of affairs that the producing legend who had a large say in the advent of Big Beat would go on to mimic tasteless Dubstep artists with carbon copy, copycat hits made squarely for the festival scene. For Norman Cook, it was his last chance at the spotlight. And while fans of yore, myself included, failed to latch onto certain hits, the crowd scene did and thus he lives. Its been six years since his last LP, Here Lies Love, which was a mishandled collaboration with David Byrne, and 13 years since Palookaville. Being that Fatboy Slim was one of my founding fathers in stemming my interest in Electronic music, it was sad to see him wither.

Now, while 'Where U Iz' isn't anything remarkable or revolutionary, simply hearing the sights, sounds, and overall freshness of a classic Fatboy Slim track in the modern era is worthwhile in and of itself. Repeated vocals, chopped and screwed, is the name of the game. And while the man instigator ("you can't beat that with a baseball bat") is super corny, the vibe lends itself quite well to welcoming in such a cheesy phrase and allowing it to work. With a wonderful hook in Fatboy's back pocket, which cuts up some funky piano ballads and nondescript Soul samples, I had preferred if the baseball bat took a backseat. It gets a tad bit irritably. But hey, it's not like all-time classics 'The Rockafeller Skank' or 'Right Here, Right Now' weren't either. In fact, almost all of Fatboy Slim's classic hits abided by this formula. Being that it's been so long since we've heard something akin to it, 'Where U Iz' succeeds by merely being itself.

Father John Misty - Total Entertainment Forever

Even though he's released three previous singles for the upcoming Pure Comedy, 'Total Entertainment Forever' will be my first taste of the new material. Why did it take so long to come around to checking it out? Well, self-deprecation is not usually something I partake in. In other words, everything I've seen and heard from Father John Misty since releasing I Love You, Honeybear in 2015 has been overwhelmingly conceited and smug. And this, coming from someone who found a majority of his most-acclaimed album intolerable. By all accounts, from the ludicrously long duration of Pure Comedy, to the track titles, to some of the lyrics rummaging about, to his constant attention-seeking ways, Father John Misty took everything I disliked from his last go-round and made them the primary focus. Now, while 'Total Entertainment Forever' does have an overall message that's worth hearing out, the fact he beats you over the head with it, accompanied by the constant theatrics, make the single about exactly what I expected.

And that goes without mentioning the cringeworthy opening line: "Bedding Taylor Swift, every night inside the Oculus Rift." How someone could laugh at his jokes and not the man's insufferable personality quirks is beyond me. If it wasn't obvious by the title or that line, 'Total Entertainment Forever' is about what may happen to our species if virtual reality becomes an omnipresent being in our society. Nothing he says is new, as the song's primary idea comes from Neil Duckman's Amusing Ourselves To Death, but the imagery can be nice, even if his language, more often than not, ruins it ("Not bad for a race of demented monkeys, from a cave to a city to a permanent party"). We shall see the role 'Total Entertainment Forever' plays in the general scope of Pure Comedy, but if I'd have to usher a guess, like how most comedians leap from one topic of interest to another, I can see Father John Misty doing the same. Musically, the track's rather bland and shows little evolution over the sounds present on Honeybear. It's a Piano Rock ballad with a handful of instruments thrown in the muck. Guitar and piano leads the orchestration. What's new? 

Brother Ali - Own Heart

As the years go by and my tastes evolve, underground Hip-Hop has become less and less impressive to me. I'll never know whether it's due to certain acts lacking ambition or my own standards rising beyond the cuff, as the all-powerful sway of childhood nostalgia greatly affects my viewpoint on the genre. I used to love Atmosphere, the Living Legends, and K-os. Now, they bore me to tears, failing to progress in ways left-field Hip-Hop should always be doing. Thankfully other artists have emerged to circumvent that dip, and while it's questionable if underground Hip-Hop really even exists anymore, the artists who'd most likely fall in that category nowadays sure as hell keep things interesting. Brother Ali's latest single does not. As one of those aforementioned rappers dazzling my teenager self, Ali's latest material has felt, to me, as existing to serve a pre-conceived goal and nothing more. With Kendrick Lamar now proving just how far Political Hip-Hop can go, the acts who fail to reach that plateau rarely impress.

On 'Own Light,' Brother Ali continues to preach his brand of positivity through brute activism. On the surface, I don't disagree with any mentality here. But that's purely personal opinion. The bulk of the song focuses on Ali's disdain towards hive mind cop mentality, and how certain politicians promote a fake exterior to appear pleasant to the masses as a whole. Again, the belief's held are succinct, and I'm glad the message is getting out to anyone who's listening. However, if you know Ali's audience, political progressivism is the norm, not a shock. He's not challenging anything, just stating the obvious. The goal of 'Own Light,' to me, is that bad people do bad things. Not really enlightening. And for an artist who thrives on intellectually-stimulating arguments, that's a key point to miss. Production, as is the norm for underground Hip-Hop, isn't remotely memorable and makes no effort in instigating a talking point.

Kanye West - Bed Yeezy Season 5

Talk about the disappointment of attending Yeezy Season 5 in hopes of hearing new material akin to last year's scatterbrained reveal of future Life Of Pablo songs and getting a remixed version of a mid-2000's R&B track with no Kanye presence in return. J. Holiday, the singer of the original 'Bed,' with which The Dream originally wrote back in the day, learned of Kanye using his hit for the runway the same time as everyone else. And as I'm sure, he was just as perplexed as we all are. 'Bed Yeezy Season 5,' as it's officially titled on Soundcloud, is a 17-minute affair that finds harmonic space amongst repeated passages of the single's hook and verses. What caused Kanye to craft this is beyond me. And while it's not amazing by any stretch, and merely an experimental idea of sorts, 'Bed' is quite a pretty scene that answers the question of what Drone music would sound like had it been composed by spotlight-fueled megastars. Kanye's knowledge of music is so unfounded that I couldn't possibly guess if he created 'Bed' because of a recent scourge in Drone and Downtempo music, or he just decided to make something straying from his path cause fuck it, he can.

Surprisingly, I like this more than most. There isn't much depth to be unearthed, and it couldn't have taken that long to construct, but the atmosphere of hearing your standard Contemporary R&B cut stretched out to absurd lengths is something fearlessly creative in our day and age. It's taking one genre (Contemporary R&B) and making it into another (Ambient Pop) by scaling back the common fixtures found in mainstream music. To be honest, if this became a genre, Ambient R&B let's say, I'd totally be on board. Maybe effort a bit more nuance and add some creative lyrics that'll last over the duration so you won't have to repeat the same simplicities, and you've got quite the experimental collage on your hands. Leave it to Kanye to, once again, push the envelope, even if 'Bed' might be nothing more than a throwaway used one night for a fashion show. Sure, the fat could be trimmed as 17-minutes is a bit much, but the aura surrounding the angelic strings, moog bass lines, and autotuned choirs is inviting, to say the least. 

Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott - Go Off

You don't need to listen to this song to know what it'll sound like. I mean, all the pieces are there, all that's needed on your behalf is understanding its existence. Three leaders of the latest Trap era come together to create a song centered around the Fast And Furious franchise for its upcoming soundtrack. It's called 'Go Off.' It's Trap. It's ripe with cheesy bars about cars. And it's bad. Again, all of this was known going in. 'Go Off,' as I can assume many songs on the upcoming soundtrack will be, is entirely one-dimensional and curated for the lowest common denominator. I have some personal bias against Fast And Furious, a franchise whose career trajectory I despise, and one I've been unfortunate enough to partake in having been dragged to the theater for the last two installations. To me, everything about these films is what's wrong with AAA movies today. So, ipso facto, any music associated with it won't be to my liking either.

That was the case with the infamous summer jam 'See You Again.' At the time I rarely listened to the radio, and the awful marketing combo of Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth never failed to find me. This time around things are slightly better. While I'll deflect any instigation of seeing this film, a collaboration between Quavo, Travis Scott, and Lil Uzi Vert piques my interests enough to see what's in store. The song isn't inherently bad because of the rappers guiding it, as at one point or another I've found value in their respective catalogues. Quavo's and Lil Uzi Vert's may have just been select feature spots, but their talents, and in the latter's case, uniqueness, is enough for me to respect. Rather, 'Go Off' stumbles thanks to sheer monotony. It's clear all three are here because they've been paid to do so, and that's reflective in their verses which are about as lackluster as they come. Constant high-octane car references over what's likely the most generic Trap beat I've ever heard? No thanks. 

No comments:

Post a Comment