Sunday, June 4, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, May. 29-4

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. This week, laughably huge bands take over the Loosies. From Arcade Fire to King Gizzard to Broken Social Scene, Indie Rock is everywhere now. 

Arcade Fire - Everything Now

Arcade Fire is back, and why should I have ever doubted them. Many did back in 2013 with Reflektor, and maybe for good reason. But I adored that release, with the second disc in particular being one of my favorite things the group has ever achieved. But doubt still set in, largely thanks to 'I Give You Power,' a dud of a political track in the wake of Donald Trump's inauguration. 'Everything Now' corrects their course with a monumental single that seeks to launch Arcade Fire into even broader horizons. This single won't be for everyone. There are strong elements of not just Reflektor, or The Suburbs, but also ABBA and U2. 'Everything Now' brings the Disco and Indie Rock influence they created on Reflektor even closer together, throwing in some strange and sort of gimmicky instrumentation (mainly the flute that sounds straight out of Donkey Kong). However, corniness aside, 'Everything Now' fits nicely in Arcade Fire's anthemic collection for our modern times. First there was 'Wake Up,' then there was 'Sprawl II,' then there was 'Reflektor.' 'Everything Now' takes on our current, consume-all culture, with the album's cover painting a poignant picture of perception versus reality. Hope is restored for an album set to drop in July.

Radiohead - I Promise

In anticipation of Ok Computer's 20-year anniversary, Radiohead is set to release a vast collection of outtakes from that era, and a remastered tracklist from the original LP. I question the latter one as nothing more than a shoe-in, as Radiohead's sound quality has always been impeccable, but the extra material is always welcomed for a record of such stature. 'I Promise' is the first single released from this collection, entitled Ok Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017. Diehard fans of Radiohead have already heard 'I Promise' at live venues, as the unreleased track was something they've teased for quite a while. Lives in the same vein as 'True Love Waits,' another unreleased mystery track that eventually found a home at the end of A Moon Shaped Pool. The good thing with 'I Promise' is that it feels authentic, dated precisely to Ok Computer's era, even though I also understand why the track didn't make the final cut. The answer to that can simply be the almost marching band like percussion that guides the entirety of the track, something that likely would've stuck out like a sore thumb. The orchestration however is excellent, as is Thom Yorke's vocals that feel as fleeting as ever.

King Gizzard - The Lord Of Lightning

King Gizzard, otherwise known as the band that never sleeps, has entered promotional rounds for album number two of 2017. Their promise was five, a hefty statement to say the least. And while they're a tad bit behind schedule, receiving two albums before the midyear is something to admire. With each ensuing record I've begun to consider myself more and more of a King Gizzard fan, and if what I've been hearing about Murder Of The Universe is true, the sheer diversity the group creates on an album-wide basis is means for excitement. 'Lord Of Lightning,' a single they performed on Conan of all places, teases that ever so slightly. The raucous attitude is there, with shape-shifting instrumentation centered around what seems like a mid-apocalyptic meltdown, along with Stu Mackenzie's devilish singing (referencing numerous times Nonagon Infinity, their 2016 breakout release). But beyond that there seems to be a linear story, told by a female presence who speaks using rhyming couplets of spoken word poetry. The result is tantalizing, albeit slightly unfinished with the album likely filling in the gaps.

Lorde - Perfect Places

For her formidable return to the limelight, Lorde has successfully released a string of singles that highlight each and every factor of the upcoming Melodrama. First there was 'Green Light,' a bonafide Pop smash primed for the ensuing summer. Then there was 'Liability,' which failed to be anything more than your prototypical Singer/Songwriter mumbo jumbo. And now we've received 'Perfect Places,' a return to Lorde's relative norm using bright, striking Synthpop. Unfortunately the result isn't anything special, imbued with standard Pop fanfare that highlights the highs and the lows of teenage life. The content centers around teenage escapism in a world where problems are created, not endured. It's primed for the festival crowd, and bears a strong resemblance to the misguided content spewing from your Halsey's of the world ("I'll blow my brains out to the radio" might be Lorde's worst, most contrived lyric yet). Musically there's some fun to be had, as the thumping percussion and organically mastered synth work helps to give 'Perfect Places' some bounce, benefitted by Lorde's charismatic presence. However, the basic tendencies found all over 'Perfect Places,' from the adolescent melodrama to the manufactured Pop, hardly lift Lorde above the poor contemporaries that emerged in her absence.

The War On Drugs - Holding On

Initially a surprising twist for The War On Drugs, 'Holding On' quickly shifts itself back into the perpetual normality of their regressive Heartland Rock impersonations. That immediate shock? A fast-moving tempo and invigorating synth work that almost causes 'Holding On' to act as a Synthpop track, or at least an Indie band intimating some sort of anthem. But the moment Adam Granduciel's vocals appear there's no changing the appearance. His vocals are so etched in stone that any shifts in tone behind him immediately become mute. He bleeds Bob Dylan, and there's apparently no escaping it. It doesn't help that the tone in his voice never changes, nor does his lyrics, which find Granduciel trapped in the 60's era of whimsical hope that he never experienced. To me, this poses a problem for their upcoming LP A Deeper Understanding. 'Thinking Of A Place,' the group's monumental 13-minute record store day release, had the benefit of pace, ambition, and promise on its side, using all facets they excelled in while simultaneously expanding upon them. 'Holding On' retreats back to the center, failing to sound any unlike The War On Drugs doing The War On Drugs doing the past.

SZA - Broken Clocks

SZA's music is tricky for me. On one hand I adore her singing voice, something that is almost always used effectively when she's a feature. However, with most musicians in R&B who pride themselves on their voice, when she's left to her own devices problems can arise. CTRL, set to release next week (if we're to trust TDE), will either prove or disprove that notion. The singles have been about as expected, with moments of interest being about as prevalent as R&B redundancies. 'Broken Clocks' is no different, and cleanly represents SZA's style. Her crystal clear lyrics about scandalous problems that she wish she could evade, along with her parched vocals that find her acting as the female Frank Ocean injects 'Broken Clocks' with some personality. The production isn't bad either, although it does tend to recede into the background with some modern day, Alternative R&B tropes. SZA's success will entirely depend on how far she can step outside the box. Much like Frank Ocean, who merely uses R&B as a genre to then branch out of, SZA needs to do the same. Fitting in will only allow her to be forgotten.

Broken Social Scene - Skyline

Hug Of Thunder's three lead singles have taken me on an unexpectedly bumpy ride. For a band that prided itself on such consistency in the Indie Rock scene, the released material from Hug Of Thunder has been anything but. First there was 'Halfway Home' which you could call the safe road. Well traveled, straight forward, and without any interesting features passing by, 'Halfway Home' was your prototypical Broken Social Scene. Then there was 'Hug Of Thunder,' an excellent single that restored hope for creativity, with exciting turns and riveting moments at every crest. And now we've backed off that high with 'Skyline,' a single that takes the road no one enjoy. Ordinary and filled with rocks, bumps, and potholes, 'Skyline' immediately sets its tone and never elaborates upon the simplicity. Sporting a Country Rock groove, the uninspired instrumentation and repetitious chorus, which says nothing of interest in the first place, sends 'Skyline' into forgettable territory. It's not unexpected for Broken Social Scene, who had a handful of these tracks scattered across 2012's Forgiveness Rock Record. We can only hope some more interesting elements reveal themselves on the rest of Hug Of Thunder.

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