Sunday, June 11, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, June. 5-11

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 massive week of singles, so much so that only half of what I would've reviewed made it to this list of eight tracks. 

Oneohtrix Point Never - The Pure & The Damned

Good Time is a Crime Thriller that's getting rave reviews left and right. The creator of its soundtrack is none other than Oneohtrix Point Never, acclaimed modern day Progressive Electronic artist. Daniel Lopatin is no stranger to experimentation, having essentially created the genre Vaporwave and all, but with this soundtrack he's branching out into paths yet traversed. In fact, with 'The Pure & The Damned,' a despondent, piano-led collaboration with Iggy Pop, OPN seems to be following in Aphex Twin's footsteps of providing overwhelming douses of Electronica, only to stunt all expectation with something entirely left field. Remember Avril 14th? 'The Pure & The Damned' adds to that longing piano with Iggy Pop, aging Glam Rock megastar who wallows in his own cracked voice. The lyrics, especially the spoken word section, are clearly meant to be interpreted through the movie itself, but the strength of the musicianship here doesn't diminish the quality for others to appreciate. 

Jay Electronica - Letter To Falon

Ah, it's that time of year again. Our single sip from the proverbial mug that is Jay Electronica's career. No preparation, no marketing ploy, no formal announcement, no intent on releasing an album anytime soon. Hope has officially dwindled to zero, something that not even a new single can circumvent. And you know what's frustrating? 'Letter To Falon' is pretty sick. Jay Electronica is a masterful lyricist, one whose talent is being wasted by a personality constantly on the fritz, either from lack of grit or fear of failure. Within the songs themselves, Electronica works wonders, unraveling tales using intricate rhyme schemes and advanced verb usage, something that's been absent in recent years. Think a combination of Nas and MF DOOM. 'Letter To Falon' showcases that, with some mightily aggressive vibrations offset by flashes of hope (children cheers in the hook, horns in the verses). In some ways, 'Letter To Falon' is ironic in that Electronica spends the bulk of the single talking about ways to reach a new height and achieve your dreams, all while seemingly failing to do so in his own career.

Vince Staples - Rain Come Down

When 'Big Fish' dropped a few weeks back not only was I surprised at my disappointment, I was also surprised at everyone else's pleasing response. The pseudo-title track felt impressively lackluster by Vince Staples' standards, and did not set a good precedent for Big Fish Theory. Hell, it would've hardly been memorable on the unmemorable Prima Donna, yet alone a competitive track on Summertime '06. While that belief still rings true, 'Rain Come Down' aims to quell my worries. Here, Staples backs off the G-Funk obsession for something a little more experimental, using one hell of a gritty, stripped back, Industrial beat to spin webs over. The two-punch combo of Staples' flows and the beat's imposing atmosphere are killer, immediately making 'Rain Come Down' something worth sitting in awe over. One half 'Norf Nori's' banger intangibility, one half 'Surf's' dogged percussion perusing, 'Rain Come Down' breaths new life in Staples' near-trademarked production style. However, the hook leaves a fair bit to be desired. Not as derivative and delusional as 'Big Fish,' the autotune-centric crooning feels a bit too similar to the Alternative R&B/Dancehall trend that's been happening in recent years.

Japanese Breakfast - Boyish

Michele Zauner is quickly turning into a new age Indie miracle. Last year's Psychopomp featured a flurry of minimal Indie Pop dandies that shifted from sub-genre to sub-genre, remaining infectiously intangible throughout. With that in tow, I guess 'Machinist' should've been expected. A sudden Synthpop shift that left her adoring fans shook. The execution wasn't all that appealing given Zauner's template, but the promise of normality on Soft Sounds From Another Planet quelled those fears. And on 'Boyish' we see how. Two lovable losers fighting through their last remaining days together is the general vibe of 'Boyish,' but it's the execution this time around that proves vital. The hefty toll the production slowly boils into contributes to the immense tension between the two lovers, with one eyeing the hostess' tender lips, the other feeling inadequate with her ugly ones. Zauner's lighthearted, sexual self-depreciation finds a new home here, twisting the overused line "I can't get you off of my mind" to "I can't get you off in general." Needless to say, there's a lot to love in 'Boyish.' If those Soft Sounds From Another Planet are anything as grandiose and pleasurable as 'Boyish's'', then we're in for a treat.

Big Boi - In The South

Sigh. This isn't looking good. At all. Lets take a trip down memory lane, because we all know there's not much to say about 'In The South.' Outkast is my favorite group of all-time. They are what prompted my interest in music. To say Big Boi played anything less than a critical role in that would be false. Their whole discography has a special place in my heart, as does 2010's Sir Lucious Left Foot. Hell, when 2012 came around and Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors disappointed most, I was still on board. Cautious, but pleased with Big Boi risking credibility with unexpected collaborators. 2015's Big Grams didn't change that either. But this? After 'Mic Jack,' 'Kill Jill,' and 'In The South,' it seems Big Boi has finally toppled over that plateau of being creatively-endowed. The well has run dry, and not only has he resorted to his old tricks ('Mic Jack' and the R&B cuts of Sir Lucious, the other two and the southern anthems on Got Purp Vol. 2), these recent releases have all been substantially worse than anything he's released thus far. 'In The South' might be my least favorite yet, with a terrible verse from Gucci Mane (not surprising), uninspired production, and topical content that borders on unintended parody.

Gorillaz - Sleeping Powder

Last month's Humanz caused a lot of controversy for simply failing to live up to expectations. Despite having a handful of excellent tracks that felt imbued with the Gorillaz shtick, there was no denying the poorly utilized guest spots, the sheer abundance of them, and the wishy-washy political message floating throughout. The best tracks, even some on the deluxe edition, were those that strayed from the politics and reverted to good ol' Gorillaz fun ('Momentz,' 'Charger,' 'Ascension'). Considering it's exclusion from Humanz, and the fact it's strictly 2D, 'Sleeping Powder' has a chance to be pleasing. For the most part, it is. Musically creative, purposely jarring the tempo with interspersed elements of edited cuts, with a danceable vibe that never takes itself too seriously, there's a definite sense of harmlessness with 'Sleeping Powder.' The lyrics are quite sparse, repeating much of the same lines over and over, but they don't hurt the overall vibe. Quite an enjoyable throwaway that's unquestionably better than half of Humanz.

Waxahatchee - Never Been Wrong

Worry has begun to set in for Waxahatchee's Out In The Storm. Not for any particular reason other than the fact that the two lead singles have been painfully unremarkable. So unremarkable that I'm struggling to recall anything about 'Silver.' See, in 2015 I was desperate to appreciate super simplistic Indie Rock. In comes Waxahatchee's 'Air,' which bridged the gap between today's Indie and the Pixies' utter dominance over super simplistic Alternative Rock. Unfortunately, with simplicity and a lack of creativity comes stagnation, and that seems to be the case for Waxahatchee. Two singles, both from the same mindset, both punky, guitar-oriented romantic spooners. The language is the same as its always been, as are the vocals. Nothing on 'Never Been Wrong' feels as if it wants to be known. That was a problem for the lackluster moments on Ivy Tripp, an album that safely succeeded in having a few varying avenues to take. We'll see if Out In The Storm has some tricks up its sleeve, because there's only so much room-filling guitar rocking I can take before that cliched final riff out-cue drives me up the walls.

Shabazz Palaces - Julian's Dream

It's not the first, second, or third thing you think of when listening to Shabazz Palaces, but believe it or not, when Ishmael Butler gets romantic, or even sexual, the duo has a strong case for being some of the best sensualists in Hip-Hop right now. Putting them alongside Drake might be one of the weirder comparisons yet, but with tracks like 'Julian's Dream,' it seems obvious. The creative musical expression is there. The bumpy, finger-snapping, toe-tapping vibe is too. And above that, Butler's lyrics when eyeing up a potential love interest has always been fascinating; full of detail, intrigue, and scandalous metaphors. 'Julian's Dream' is a great case of this, if only for the bridge midway through where Butler rummages through various fruits and the way their look, taste, or texture remind him of a fine female. This isn't including the beat, which provides a tactful mix of spacious experimentalism and down-to-earth groove starters. The bloopy synths that guide the piece work in more ways than one, and finds Shabazz Palaces reveling in their multi-faceted approach.

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