Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Deep Cuts: May '17

Welcome to the first installment of Deep Cuts, a new monthly segment highlighting standout tracks that weren't given a spotlight to blossom. All songs listed below have been released in the month of May on albums where they weren't previously released as a single. The only condition I've imposed upon myself is that no artist can have more than one song. 

The I.L.Y.'s - The Treatment
Bodyguard | Noise Pop

While they, for some strange reason, decided to overshadow themselves by releasing Death Grips' Steroids mere days after Bodyguard dropped, The I.L.Y's (composed just of Zach Hill and Andy Morin) deserve your attention. While 'I Love You Man' was the moment the band's premise clicked for me, sending me into an addictive euphoria, it doesn't loom over the rest of Bodyguard as hidden gems litter the landscape. The most prominent of which supersedes 'I Love You Man.' Entitled 'The Treatment,' the fast-paced Noise Rock jam embodies the late 90's nostalgia of cliched boyhood teen flicks. You know, ones where words like dude, cool, killer, gnarly, and eXtreme made their way into the script. 'The Treatment,' along with a few other select songs from The I.L.Y's discography ('Peace & Quiet off Scum With Boundaries being a great example), abide by this almost Surf Rock mentality. It's as if it was created by slackers after they had downed some energy drinks. I'm inclined to label 'The Treatment' as a song created by talented musicians who, deep down, couldn't get enough of the Blink-182 and Sum-41 era.

Slowdive - Slomo
Slowdive | Dream Pop

Slowdive's self-titled return was a conflicting record for me, maybe more so than any other nearly halfway through 2017. It wasn't entirely for ordinary reasons either because while yes, there's a clear love/hate relationship with many of the tracks, the consistency at which that dissolves is highly unusual. It's almost as if they're purposely structured in such a way that goes from best to worst, with 'Slomo,' the album's opener being right up there with 'Star Roving,' the second track and lead single, as Slowdive's most memorable work. Almost immediately the feels are caught in a web of spinning euphoria, as if the band hadn't lost a single step in the 20+ years of their absence. Dream Pop-oriented strings lingered hazily over fickle percussion and reverb-heavy acoustics, all the while these faded puffs of voices reconstituting themselves weaves in and out of the fabric. It's Dream Pop in the most basic, honest, wholesome sense, progressing with a modern sensibility that proved Slowdive has kept up with changes in the genre, rather than sticking themselves in early 90's limbo. A lovely piece of harmony that proves understanding lyrics comes secondary to understanding the feelings behind the voices speaking them. 

Son Lux - Remedy
Remedy | Art Pop

What a pleasant surprise this title track was. After announcing the four-track EP, Son Lux went on to release three of those songs before release, all of which either left me disappointed or indifferent. Things were not looking good, and while 'Remedy' didn't, or couldn't, rectify the missteps of those efforts, it certainly rose to the occasion and retroactively reminded me why I fell in love with Son Lux's uncanny world in the first place. Part of that is due to the individuality. Lanterns, one of my favorite post-2010 releases period, featured sprawling creativity track-to-track, all housed, however, under one single aesthetic and vision. That's what I loved about Lanterns and, in some sense, Bones. It was Ryan Lott coming up with a single idea that then manifested under the engrossing collection of detail. One aesthetic, a litany of perspectives. And while 'Remedy' wasn't that to Remedy, because Remedy wasn't that to begin with, 'Remedy' still found Son Lux returning to that cherished land, brimming with creativity and sound innovation. The unusual percussion, stuck in a continuous loop of torment, felt entirely perpendicular to the tropical acoustics toying with its foreverness. All the while a choir of 300(!) people helps Lott to sway in the wind, something that's certainly not for everyone, but everything and more for me. 

Molly Nilsson - About Somebody
Single | Synthpop

Yes, this came out in late April. Yes, it's not even on an album. No, I do not care. I'm putting Molly Nilsson's 'About Somebody' on here because ever since I heard it a weeks ago my skull can't seem to shake it. Hats off to Apple Music for recommending this to me during a late night browsing session, because 'About Somebody's' quirky Synthpop immediately reminded me of that forlorn era in the early 2010's where nostalgic Synthpop made an unexpected resurgence. Nilsson's captivating work here bears resemblance to Desire's 'Under Your Spell,' College's 'A Real Hero,' and Chromatics' 'Kill For Love.' In other words, it basically would've fit perfectly on the Drive soundtrack. I'm grateful to be adding another track to that list, and while 'About Somebody' prances about with a more gleeful attitude, there's a sinister undertone looming underneath. You can appreciate it from either angle. The simplicity, not just in production but also Nilsson's lyrics, make 'About Somebody' immediately memorable and addictive. The clandestine synths and giddy trumpets create an enchanting atmosphere that wouldn't have been out of place at the finale of a feel good 80's coming of age Rom-com.   

Perfume Genius - Wreath
No Shape | Art Pop

No Shape reveled in Mike Hadreas' acceptance of himself, even if there were moments of sincere negative reflection. However, while the music that accompanied many of those reflective tracks paced themselves slowly, there was an equal amount that leapt to the ceiling, danced without a care, and burned the roof down while they were at it. 'Wreath' was one of those, excitedly utilizing Perfume Genius' Art half and Pop half to create arguably No Shape's best work. It's what I always seek most in music, creativity with an ultimate pop sensibility. And if the epic, cataclysmic finale to 'Wreath,' which finds Hadreas chanting damn near close to someone's yodeling, doesn't immediately get your heart racing, your chest pounding, and your toes tapping, then I don't know what to tell you. More than that, 'Wreath' also invites first time comparisons for Perfume Genius to Vampire Weekend, both in the production and Hadreas' vocals which certainly bear resemblance to Ezra Koenig. It's the instrumentation however, using a seemingly unlimited amount of synths, percussion, and backing vocals, that draws influence on Vampire Weekend's modern day antiquation. Things feel very victorian, as if drapes of red velvet adorned a room coated in gold. 

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