Sunday, April 16, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, Apr. 10-16

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. Lots of good stuff throughout the week, broken up by Linkin Park, a shoe-in awful track for the lol's. 

DangerDOOM - Mad Nice

Ah, how refreshing it is to hear this. Now of course, with MF DOOM there's always a catch. You know this, you've grown accustomed to it. The main catch; it's not new. In fact, 'Mad Nice' is used primarily as an incentive to get DOOM followers to snatch up the reissue of his 2005 work with Danger Mouse. With DOOM's hefty collection currently being re-siphoned by the man himself - it seems like reissues are dropping bi-yearly - it's easily to overlook these singles are mere merchandising fodder. Can't blame DOOM for cashing in on his work now that his fame's reaching an end, but 'Mad Nice' deserves more attention than it's getting. It deserved it back in 2005 when it was created too, somehow lost in the vault only to emerge now. How a collaboration with Black Thought was left off The Mouse And The Mask was beyond me. Not only because of the notoriety he, DOOM, and Danger Mouse possessed at the time, but the fact that 'Mad Nice' is really, really good.

Truth be told, throw 'Mad Nice' on that LP right now and it's a top five work. If we're ranking DOOM's discography Mouse & The Mask actually falls towards the bottom, an LP I appreciated, respected, and admired for its creativity, but one that failed to engage me beyond a couple of cheesy sonic jokes. Compared to that record, 'Mad Nice' is deathly serious, even if the production, with maniacal laughs that predate Captain Murphy by almost a decade, is as cartoonish as anything else there. All the pieces are so just, level-headed, and real. Black Thought's verse is magnificent, and fits the vibe of the track wonderfully. The same can be said for DOOM of course, but it's nice to hear a conscious street rapper flowing over something more vibrant. The Roots rapper even out raps DOOM here, and might've been a reason for the track's absence from Mouse & The Mask. Who knows. Suffice to say, I'm glad to hear this now, even if it were 12 years too late. 'Mad Nice' is a juicy recollection of one of Hip-Hop's greatest, artist-led eras.

Clarence Clarity - Fold Em'

Hard to believe two years have passed since Clarence Clarity's debut LP No Now. The off-kilter barrage of synth-laden Glitch Pop startled many, including myself, by admiring the calamity that is our Internet-obsessed culture. While this new era of maximalist production styles clashing together to symbolize the Internet's all-consuming ways isn't original, there was something about No Now that truly captured the spastic, nonsensical, highly-commodified nature of the beast we all worship. Since then, Clarity's been on a multi-year streak of singles, all sporting the same general aesthetics he brought about on No Now, with a focus on the Internet's own fleetingness. There was 'Vapid Feels Are Vapid' and the five-track EP 'Same,' accepting of the memes that they so unashamedly fall under, and then there was 'Splitting Hairs' and today's 'Fold Em,' which branch the Glitch Pop out into Glitch Hop.

The result of the latter is excellent, and may be Clarity's best song since the peak's of No Now. That's really good news, considering the fact that 'Fold Em's' set to appear on his forthcoming LP Leave Earth. The unorthodox nature of 'Fold Em' makes itself known immediately, and yes, that's even by Clarity's own strange standards. With a pitch-shifted "fold em" acting as the simple, tongue-in-cheek hook, bouncing percussion playing out like a children's toy, and screeching synths that wouldn't have been out of place on Death Grips' Bottomless Pit, it's clearly Clarity's reaching into some highly-refined territory here. To me, this is the direction Wonky should've taken itself had the genre's leaders not been so serious about reflecting their style in Pop music. All this goes without mentioning the rap verse, yes, rap verse, that emerges out of the back-half. Shadi does an excellent job matching 'Fold Em's' tone, complete with silly bars and accentuated vocals. Bonus points for concluding with an Ambient-like array of technological compromises too. Leave Earth's starting to look really hopeful, if 'Fold Em's' indicative of what we'll soon hear.

Kamasi Washington - Truth

While technically an EP, 'Truth' is a single song (a vast, expansive one, but one nonetheless), and thus I'll review it here. Kamasi Washington returns here for what feels like an extended epilogue of The Epic's sound conclusion. Interestingly enough, I find myself more attracted to 'Truth' than any of the ten-plus minute songs on The Epic, if only for the fact that it exists in a land separated, allowing it to stand out more. For more, I felt the two-plus hours of The Epic were a bit too heavy-handed, totally typical for a Jazz epic mind you, but one that severely limited my replay value of said album. Basically, I returned to 'The Rhythm Changes,' cause that song is flawless, but the rest of the LP laid dormant as the time, a precious commodity nowadays, just never acted like still water enough to allow The Epic to seep in once again. That's where 'Truth' comes in, as it simultaneously revisits the frantic Jazz instrumentation of The Epic while existing in its own, 'bite-sized' bubble for me to consume.

What should also be noted is that the cover art matches swimmingly, and feels heavily comparable to the non-descriptive chaos of Jazz's past, where abstract art and abstract music became one and the same. Nothing stands out, as each vibrant section vies for your attention. That's how 'Truth' feels, as the 13-plus minutes bend and weave around a plethora of instrumentation, as if the entire kitchen sink of the rich genre is thrown all in at once. Seriously, I don't know how or why Kamasi Washington commissioned this piece, but it may hold the title of most elaborate, over-the-top, and impressive loosie known to this weekly editorial. The enormity of 'Truth,' the brazen downtrodden tone throughout, feels awfully resolute for something that's expected to come and go. Like I said, an epilogue to The Epic feels apt, but given the sprawling nature, 'Truth' still works flawlessly on its own. I just don't know the lens Washington's looking through whilst creating it.  

Lil Yachty - Harley / Peek A Boo

C'mon now Yachty. As many of you know, I love the Lil Boat. The mixtape, that was easily the most surprising musical revelation of 2016, took Trap out of the shadows and into a different light. It was creative, perplexing, and downright lovable. The divisive nature of Yachty as a whole is representative of his necessity in Hip-Hop. I'll take one Yachty over ten bland street rappers condemning Mumble Rap any day of the week. But this? 'Peek A Boo' and 'Harley,' two singles released Friday, is exactly what the naysayers use as evidence for Yachty's embarrassing tactics. Thankfully Kendrick Lamar dominated the day, which allowed these two singles to fade into the recess where they belong. It's difficult to say how dear Yachty holds 'Harley' and 'Peek A Boo,' as the artistic (and hilarious) cover of the former and the Migos collaboration of the latter, feel as if these singles are more important than their quality lends off. Let's hope not, as the problems that riddle these tracks could easily fill a Powerpoint dissertation on badness of Yachty.

In regards to 'Peek A Boo,' multiple things appear immediately that signal the single's demise. There's three missteps in particular. One, a generic Trap beat, something he's never been known for. Two, a sloppy flow that is evidently off beat, more than Yachty's usual because of aforementioned generic beat. And three, a chorus that is both run-of-the-mill and excruciatingly bad. This was not the song to waste a Migos affiliation on, given the fact that anything they touch right now is getting attention. Then there's 'Harley,' which is certainly more typical by Yachty's Bubblegum Trap standards, but again, an abject failure due to overbearing annoyance. This wouldn't have been that surprising on Summer Songs 2, despite the fact that it still would've been the worst cut there, which is saying something since 'Life Goes On' and 'Yeah Yeah' exist. Truthfully, 'Harley's' one of Yachty's most immature tracks thus far, both in the production and the ignorant lyrics. Really hoping this isn't indicative of his next release, as I'm banking on Yachty resurrecting the stale nature of Trap.

Mac DeMarco - On Your Level

How interesting things can be when another artist, entirely unaffiliated with one you already have a negative bias towards, one-ups said musician in harboring the bulk of your distaste to the point where the first artist becomes a likable character again. That's what has happened with Mac DeMarco, someone I forever scoffed at for living an immensely blasé lifestyle that affected his musicianship. There were reasons for my general dislike, and while they're still there, I suppose there's now a limit to the hate I'm able to release in regards to musicians under specific genres. What I'm getting at is, Mac DeMarco, you should be thanking Father John Misty for getting me to care about your upcoming album again. Pure Comedy was pure rubbish, and the persona of Josh Tillman goes so far off the deep end that Mac DeMarco's stereotypical nature seems passive by nature.

With 'On The Level' now in tow, This Old Dog not only seems timely in my re-welcoming of Mac DeMarco, but also inherently artistic, something that was nearly void on Another One. Each of the three singles released thus far have brought with it a distinctive style, all under the umbrella of DeMarco's influence. 'My Old Man' was Folk, 'This Old Dog' Singer/Songwriter, 'On The Level' Synthpop. If you swap the latter two, that's the order of my appreciation as well. 'On The Level' isn't as inviting and refreshing as 'My Old Man,' but it's not as ordinary as 'This Old Dog.' I'm able to forgive instances of the latter on the upcoming LP, if the range of influences hold true throughout. 'On The Level' immediately makes its presence known, with those clandestine synths found occasionally on Salad Days. And while DeMarco's vocals or lyrics aren't above his typical nonchalance, the pacing found throughout is engaging, with enough calming dips and hills in the valley to appreciate.

Linkin Park - Good Goodbye

Okay, this was a joke. I'm sorry to those who come to my loosies segment in hopes of finding good new music, but Linkin Park's 'Good Goodbye' is not only not that, but was specifically selected because of how bad it is. Oh, that and the fact that Pusha T and Stormzy, two aggressive Gangsta Rap artists, are featured on it. Truthfully, that's the only reason I even heard of this, as I've been long removed from the Linkin Park days, days which I was barely apart of in the early 2000's. No, I can't name a song of theirs off the top of my head, but you best believe I've heard a few of them, as my 10-year-old self was quite the connoisseur of terrible 2000's radio music. Up until three days ago, I didn't even know the band still existed, and with their seventh studio LP, One More Light, set to drop in May, they've proven that they're still somewhat thriving. A dedicated fanbase will do that. Other things dedicated fanbase's do? Sludge through the mud, no matter how unpleasant it may become.

Apart from 'Good Goodbye,' Linkin Park has released two other singles for One More Light and their crucial in understanding the gravity of how bad this whole mess is. Why? Because 'Heavy' and 'Battle Symphony' attempt the genre-clashing popularity of Twenty One Pilots, which is likely the most embarrassing sound existing in music right now. 'Good Goodbye' is Pop Rap with relatively trendy names, which leads me to believe One More Light is a byproduct of a greedy corporation, pandering to those who will eat up anything that's in-the-moment, regardless of quality. Linkin Park abides, as  do Pusha T and Stormy, all revoking whatever artistic prestige they had left for the opportunity for a quick, easy buck. There's no effort here, that much is evident. The lyrics could've easily been written by an adolescent whose livid at his parents for taking away his videos games ("I've been here killing it, longer than you've been alive, you idiot"). Pusha's verse isn't any better, starting things off with the genius line; "Goodbye, good riddance, a period is after every sentence." Ain't that the truth?

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