Sunday, March 19, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, Mar. 13-19

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 rather slow week without any declarative singles. 

Flatbush Zombies - Babel

For many, last year's 3001 A Laced Odyssey was a disappointment. Or, at the very least, a forgettable album that came and went after a few weeks in the spotlight. Which is a shame because the talents of all three artists shone brightly on their preceding effort, 2013's BetterOffDead. In my eyes, that should've been the debut LP, as the polish was certainly there. 3001, continuing that lineage, sounded more like a sophomore slump. Even though I had given it a fair score at the time of its release, I'd be lying if I said I returned to it often. Even my favorite tracks, like 'A Spike Lee Joint' or 'Ascension,' failed to return much replay value, especially within the context of the forgettable tracks surrounding them. Really it was only 'Bounce' that felt tangible enough to enjoy both within the confines of 3001, and outside it. Since then, a handful of singles have dropped from the trio that aimed to create as much force as that aforementioned single. None succeeded. This including the Meechy Darko single 'Gotta,' which was just bad.

That's why you can consider me surprised to hear the resounding quality of 'Babel.' Releasing this as a Soundcloud scrap does immeasurable disservice, as I could easily see 'Babel' competing for crowd favorite amongst a handful of deep cuts. It seems to go against the grain of what a Soundcloud drop should represent, in that it's properly flush and not instantly trying to grab attention as the latest, 15-minutes of fame craze. Erick Arc Elliott's production is still top notch, further proving why he's one of the best in the game right now. The aquatic drums, soothing piano, and swaying synths are incredibly well-oiled, and don't feel bothered by the presence of Darko's verse that's highly scathed in vocal modifications. In fact, his appearance towards the end is actually bolstered by an excellent beat switch that, once again, doesn't aim to shock listeners but rather soothe them into submission. When's the last time a piano drew Soundcloud crowds from triple AAA groups? Elliott's production alone should warrant a listen. Just ashamed this likely won't appear elsewhere.

Clark - Hoova

I first took interest in Clark with his 2014 self-titled LP, a Glitch Hop record that gave his music a fresh, new audience, myself included. And while I wasn't particularly fond of the album as a whole, a byproduct of my continuing apathy towards the genre he represents, bits and pieces certainly plucked my interest. 'Snowbird,' 'Unfurla,' and the unquestionable standout 'There's A Distance In You,' were all excellent material that gave life to the mechanical beings he was puppeteering. Last year, Clark kept busy with The Last Panthers, a soundtrack for a television show of the same name. Again, considering my indifference towards purposeful background music, The Last Panthers failed to grip me, merely meandering along to action I wasn't aware of, having not seen the show.

 On April 7, Clark will return with new material of his though. This time the LP's entitled Death Peak, and if what we've heard so far is any indication, that title seems especially apt. Both lead single 'Peak Magnetic' and this week's release 'Hoova' fall under the same umbrella, interweaving crunchy instrumentation around haunting vocals that brings immediate similarities to the work of Tim Hecker. While 'Peak Magnetic' masterfully unifies the two opposing sides, creating something truly pretty, 'Hoova' feels less than stellar. It creates an immediate impact for sure, but there's not much depth to be had, nor anything inventive that we haven't heard from Clark before. The synths, which account for the bulk of the progression, is rather straightforward and uninspired. There is a nice switch-up midway through that, that thankfully warrants the five-minute runtime. I'm not won over yet, but Clark's slowly getting me there.

Lemon Demon - One Weird Tip

Lemon Demon, known to some by his human name Neil Cicierega, has been making music under both nom de plume's since the Internet became a full-fledged thing in our existence. And I saw that with purpose, not just a random point of time. Cicierega lives and breathes inside the Internet. His whole being, from the music, to the filmmaking, animation to the comedy, centers itself around the Internet, and the meme-consumed land it occupies. Hell, even his Wikipedia page declares Cicierega an 'Internet Artist' before anything else. And if there's one artist who can properly define what that description means, it's him. While Cicierega's music under his main name consists primarily of nostalgia-busting mash-ups, Lemon Demon aims to formulate actual original songs, written and composed by the man himself with, you guessed it, the Internet being the primary foundation. Last year, he released Spirit Phone, which was Lemon Demon's first album in eight years, coinciding with his name finally receiving recognition through his "Mouth" projects.

This week, as he's prone to do, Lemon Demon blessed fans with an unreleased track, and one that's, frankly, quite hilarious. Certainly the humor arising from 'One Weird Tip' is nothing original, and quite overused in our day and age, but there's something about the execution and how it matches the brain-busting, ad-consumed Internet era we currently live in. The first two minutes center around this idea, riddling off actualized cliches of choice encounters with spam. It's endless, jumping from one to another, and the mechanical building Cicierega uses helps to force 'One Weird Tip' into the echo box it lives in. Thankfully however, that is not the entire six minutes, as his intense vocal modifications would be nauseating rather quickly. 'One Weird Tip' transitions abruptly midway through, substituting a malformed beast with tranquility of synths and bells. That too only lasts for a moment, before Lemon Demon takes those small fixtures and turns them into musical splendor. There's no lyrics spoken here, but the final half of 'One Weird Tip' truly feels like a complete SynthPop world.

Ty Segall - Pan / Black Magick

It's Ty Segall. He's champions Garage Rock right now. It wouldn't make sense for the man to recede into the cobwebs after releasing his second self-titled release not more than two months ago. If Ty Segall taught you anything, it's that the man couldn't care less what comes before or after, all that matters to him is the present, with guitars, drums, and feedback in tow. And while I typically like more ambition in my releases, yearly drops rarely itch that nerve for me, Ty Segall certainly had its moments. If anything, it's successes were primarily dished out by the man's own talents. Like that album, Sentimental Goblin, a two-track EP to please fanfare, finds Segall's two best assets complimenting each other to a reluctantly blasé affair. Now, expecting anything grand from two leftovers would be foolish. Even the staunchest of stans should admit to that. This is merely a case of a giving musician who doesn't want his vault to even exist.

As mentioned before, the two tracks here, 'Pan' and 'Black Magick,' represent Ty Segall's two distinct halves. In this case; 'Pan' is your Garage Rock, 'Black Magick' is your Psychedelic Rock. Obviously, they bear similarities that go beyond just the same man making them. They are Rock at heart, abiding by simple structures was expected. On both efforts, Segall's melody and tone are regurgitated from the self-titled record, an LP that even had regurgitations within itself. The primary side effect of taking a quantity over quality approach, combinations like 'Pan' and 'Break A Guitar,' or 'Black Magick'  and 'Take Care,' show limitations that could've been ignored had all selections not been released. But alas, with the drop of Sentimental Goblin, small nuances of Segall's craft reveal themselves, as both tracks here actually start off rather unique before eventually dissolving to the middle ground of their respective aesthetics. Personal preference has me leaning towards 'Black Magick,' which finds hints of David Bowie inspiration littered amongst the chorus, but one could just as easily appreciate 'Pan' as well. Like, appreciate, good; simple words to describe simple songs.

Arca - Reverie

One of a handful of Glitch Hop leaders I've failed to be impressed by, Arca's 2015 LP Mutant really failed to strike a nerve with me. A shame too, because if artistic integrity is anything to go by, the album had that in spades. As with anything experimental, the reasons many found value in Mutant, or his equally as lauded 2014 Xen, were the reasons I looked away. Disorderly, inconsistent, and far too single-minded, Arca's work felt promising but entirely misguided. In many ways, the eccentric landscape he harbors draws similarities to Ambient music. Just replace the past or present with an apocalyptic future, and that's the result. And much like Ambient, the enjoyment arises from the listener's perception of its worth. Mutant, to me, didn't have a foundation in which I could draw inspiration from. So it sat there, brimming with ideas, but lacking an overall purpose.

The first single to his soon-to-be released self-titled affair, 'Piel,' seemed to change that. Even though it might not have been my favorite work of his, it was different, and at this stage in his career, that was essential. The Ambient Pop venture pulled Arca's Spanish-sung vocals out of the catacombs, directly placing them in the forefront, limiting instrumentation altogether. Not formal beat, no jagged synths, no guttural drums. Bodily drones pressed onwards behind him until they too came to their fruitful end. It was more than enough to get me interested. And while second single 'Anoche' existed in a relatively similar vein, 'Reverie' mares his Glitch Hop work with that of his tender vocals. Long term it remains to be seen if I'll attach this Arca more than in the past, as the instrumentation that swarmed Mutant now has a proper foothold behind the man himself. It's expertly produced, but something's still lacking. Possibly the sterile production that bares any emotion from entering being played under vocals that beg to be welcomed. But again, some may find that appealing. It's art, after all.

You know it's a slow week when I'm checking out a Weezer single. Not even an album single, mind you, just a random loosie that takes direct aim at radio charts across the world. If that short description, the band's often shaky notoriety, and the song's title give you any indication, 'Feels Like Summer' is bad. It's also the first Weezer track I've heard since 'Beverley Hills,' which I loved when I was 12 if that tells you the kind of quality we're experiencing here. Right around the same time I bought Baha Men's Move It Like This on CD. Yup. Time's were different, but you know what? I'd rather listen to the Baha Men, or even 'Beverley Hills,' than this garbage. Thankfully, I don't judge artists off a single or two, as I know Weezer had greatness in them long ago, and even, apparently, rekindled that somewhat in recent memory. But like a vicious cycle, with peaks comes valleys, and after the success of last year's White Album, 'Feels Like Summer' was bound to happen. I've heard the horror stories of 2009's Raditude, and I'd have to usher a guess to say this slope is similar. 

Power Pop is the anthem. Coming from a group of men nearing 50(!), that's about as sad and out of touch as one can imagine. Weezer's still living in their early 2000's heyday, and the music on 'Feels Like Summer' breathes through that. However, much of its failure can be relayed to the fact that it sees those days through rose-tinted glasses, only choosing to pick out the fluff and sugar, leaving any details that could redeem matters in the past. Also, experiencing this in mid-March New England, where 30's and two feet of snow is the current norm, hearing someone sing so gleefully that it 'Feels Like Summer' is mildly infuriating, and puts me in a worse mood than any accumulation of snow could hope to achieve. The sounds are so grating, so tactless, so cherrypicked. There's beat drops heading into the choruses, wailing echoes that embody the insipid stadium rock scene, vocal scratches in the background for a reason I couldn't begin to describe, and lyrics that match Beck's 'Wow.' There is nothing good about 'Feels Like Summer.' We should bury it and pretend it never existed.

No comments:

Post a Comment