Sunday, April 23, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, Apr. 17-23

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 ton of worthy singles, so much so that I decided to include them all. 

Big Boi - Kill Jill / Mic Jack

Big Boi's one of my favorite rappers of all-time, and yes that almost entirely has to do with the fact that Outkast bred my taste in music all those years ago. While recent years haven't treated Big Boi so kindly, with constant feature-pusher that's out-of-touch and uncharacteristic, there's no denying I'll always check out a work of his. Boomiverse, his soon-to-be released LP, just got a two-single drop. 'Kill Jill,' which features Killer Mike and Jeezy, and 'Mic Jack,' which features Adam Levine of Maroon 5. If those names tell you anything, not much has changed. The combination of both singles, one a Atlanta-based banger, the other a Funk-centric Pop hit, gives a strong indication that Boomiverse may be a compromise of Sir Lucious Left Foot's Southern ode and Vicious Lies' Pop Rap attempts. To be honest, neither song impresses me, as they simply provide more proof that Big Boi's lost his step. 'Kill Jill' has a rather tasteless vocal sample and insipid lyrical topics that make all three artists feel entirely unessential, while 'Mic Jack's' a bit too corny to salute. Interestingly enough though, I prefer the latter, as the hints of Funk make it somewhat worthwhile, even if it would've been one of the worst cuts on Sir Lucious. As for Big Boi though, his flow is as scrumptious as always, which makes it a pleasure to listen to.

Perfume Genius - Go Ahead

'Slip Away' was quite the massive single for Perfume Genius. The writing was on the wall for years that he'd eventually strip away the artsy side for something more Pop, and there it was in plain sight. Considering his character, and our current age, there's no denying Mike Hadreas could reach a large audience if he decided to strip the weirdness. However, for all that 'Slip Away' achieved, an entire album composed of such material would've been a disappointment. Thankfully, 'Go Ahead' disproves that worrisome theory and rockets No Shape's hype train into full gear. Like some of Too Bright's stingy deep cuts, 'Go Ahead' fluctuates uncomfortably in the production, pulsing around dark, industrial instrumentation and foreboding atmosphere. It's an odd comparison, but 'Go Ahead' really reminds me of Xiu Xiu, as Hadreas' vocals here really waver through that falsetto like Jamie Stewart's, all while off-kilter sounds battle for attention behind him.

Waxahatchee - Silver

Two years have passed since Waxahatchee surprised me with Ivy Tripp, a succulent album that sported an incredibly strong lead single; 'Air.' That Pixies-inspired cut remained in my top 20 of the year, and as such, 'Silver,' the first single off Out In The Storm, has some shoes to fill. While it doesn't reach the heights of 'Air's' delicacy, 'Silver' still flourishes with Crutchfield's vocals that sound ripped from a late 90's teenage romcom. Yes, that's an appealing aesthetic if one's in the mood to gush. The lyrics and trepidation in the production certainly helps as well, with a frantic tempo and wholesome Indie Rock atmosphere. At times, and in the long run, 'Silver' feels complacent, especially noticeable towards the end with your prototypical guitar strum that only ever tells me "I've run out of ideas." For an angst-ridden guitar anthem, 'Silver' does an amicable job. The problem will be if Out In The Storm can branch out from that starting point.  

D.R.A.M. - Gilligan

In recent years 4/20 has become every stoner and new weed smoker's favorite pseudo-holiday. While I couldn't care less, the track, in conjunction with Record Store Day on 4/21, have produced a tremendous number of new singles to enjoy. One of the day's tracks came from three Hip-Hop artists who most certainly partake in smoking herb. D.R.A.M., A$AP Rocky, and Juicy J collaborate here, with the former and the latter creating a beat that's a strange, yet undeniably enticing combination of D.R.A.M.'s Bubblegum Trap and Juicy J's Memphis Rap. 'Gilligan' isn't anything overtly special, releasing as a loosie suffices, but the track does boast some enjoyable moments, which includes that production overall, as some classic Chopped N' Screwed vocals and hi-hats control D.R.A.M.'s light-hearted vocals. Elsewhere, A$AP Rocky's verse finds redeemable qualities in his fantastic flowing, something that offsets the forgettable lyrics. 'Gilligan's' a quick, easy track. Nothing more, nothing less.

Lana Del Rey - Lust For Life

This is classic Lana Del Rey. Maybe not quite so in the production, which seems more focused on refining the brooding Pop of today than her sunset strip of the past, but certainly the lyrics and topical content. There's a certain level of attraction, at least for me, in Del Rey's total nonchalance. The bulk of artists, Del Rey included, consider themselves writers, sitting at the pen, thinking of poetic ways to say poetic things. And yet, I can't remember the last time I heard "like" used in the same way 95% of America's population uses it on a daily basis. "And I was like, take off, take off, take off all your clothes" is such a Lana Del Rey hook, The Weeknd's involvement here only more evidence of that. While it's not revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination, 'Lust For Life's' anti-YOLO ideology is quite refreshing in today's Pop, as here, Lana approves of getting high off life, to the point where ending it soon seems foolish. If what we've heard from 'Lust For Life' and 'Love' are any indication, Lana's upcoming LP may be her oddest yet. 

The War On Drugs - Thinking Of A Place

If you had told me I'd be giving Americana not named Wilco a chance I'd have called you crazy. And yet, at the tail end of 2014 I checked out The War On Drugs' Lost In The Dream and came away pleasantly surprised. No, it wasn't an awakening period for a genre I'm wholly ignorant towards, but the weighty LP marred marked highs with concentrated lows, culminating in a project I could latch onto for its artistic merits. To my knowledge, and especially to my ears, nothing came from The War On Drugs until this week with the 11-minute 'Thinking Of A Place.' Interestingly enough, the mighty, Record Store Day single begins in Neo-Psychedelia territory, ending there too. However, the bulk of the track will sufficiently liquidate the foaming mouths of War On Drugs fans, as it goes middle-of-the-road while existing in a rather ambitious state. A potential contradiction in my eyes, the length at which the group goes to seep into the aesthetic they've created, one re-imagined on the cover with a handful of hazy polaroids, makes up handedly for the loss in creativity. It's a truly pleasant listen, and one that doesn't wear thin despite the duration.

DJ Shadow / Nas - Systematic

As seems to be the standard for my loosies segment, here's our weekly unexpected surprise. A new Nas track, released through the TV show Silicon Valley's soundtrack, produced by D.J. Shadow. Yeah, couldn't have guessed typing that sentence out last week. However, being a big fan of Silicon Valley, those talented names appearing there are of no surprise, as they've had quite the collection of Hip-Hop tracks to boast their soundtracks. 'Systematic' is no different, finding Nas rhyming viciously over a bump and a groove. These two styles, Nas' street-slanging and D.J. Shadow's cartoony vibes, normally wouldn't feel applicable but both work quite well over one another. Yes, Shadow's beat is a bit cluttered for Nas, but both sides can be appreciated equally. The Boom Bap beat captures Nas rhyming as if he was a kid again, aggressive, unsympathetic, and antagonistic. Above that, his flows and rhyme styles are just as good as ever, making me quite excited for his upcoming LP. His talents haven't subsided whatsoever, he just needs a concentrated topic and interesting production to work with and he'll be gold once again.

Son Lux - Part Of This

Can't say I was expecting a second single from a four-track EP that still has almost a month before release to drop, but alas, here we are. Two weeks back Son Lux released 'Dangerous,' along with the announcement of Remedy. The excitedly experimental Pop song reflected many of Son Lux's most prominent features; Industrial production that's both majestic and scatterbrained, and vocals and lyrics that feel progressive and political by nature. 'Part Of This' is no different, which makes it somewhat of a disappointment. In recent years, at least since 2015's Bones, Son Lux has fallen quite safely in his aesthetic, without branching out in the interim. The lyrics of 'Part Of This' are quite clearly political, and bear some resemblance to Anohni's recent work on Paradise. As for the production, the semblance's start and stop with the genre header Art Pop. 'Part Of This' feels wicked and energetic, frantically paced around synths going through a spastic attack. The single's fun for a taste, but won't alter engage with listeners who have already turned a blind eye towards Son Lux's music.

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