Sunday, July 2, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, June. 26-2

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. What was easily the slowest week of the year for loosies turns right around and gives us a collection of high-quality material. 

Ever since Who Told You To Think​?​?​!​!​?​!​?​!​?​! (that's the actual title) was announced, few artists have eclipsed Milo as my most anticipated of the year. Back in 2014, A Toothpaste Suburb captured my imagination and proved that there was still a bubbling underground scene imbued with the talents and styles of Busdriver. Then came So The Flies Don't Come, which took another mature advancement on Milo's behalf, resulting in one of 2015's best albums. Worry only set in whilst listening to Milo's alter ego Scallops Hotel, as the lost ideas and scatterbrained thoughts of a snotty intellectual spilled far too much to the forefront. There's only so much impenetrably dense language I can take without being gifted with the reasoning for its existence. Unfortunately, while 'magician (suture)' finds Milo rapping as demanding and upfront as he ever has before, the lyrics become a bit too disorganized and straying for their own good. A topic of leaving home for the sake of doing so, a philosophical notion, quickly causes Milo to return to his meditative non-sequiturs. Thankfully, the production of 'magician' is, apologies in advance, magical. Equal parts gloomy and fervid, inert and busy, the two-halved track exists in a bipolar state where being isn't as solid or concrete. 

Tyler, The Creator - Who Dat Boy / 911

There's always a certain spectacle surrounding new Tyler, The Creator material. Believe it or not, regardless of how far I've distanced myself from him in recent years, Tyler and Odd Future (along with a few other artists, namely Kendrick Lamar) kickstarted my love of analyzing music outside of its sonic construct. He's always been a visual artist, one who understands the importance of image. None of that changes with 'Who Day Boy' and '911,' two singles released in unison as he's prone to do. The music video crazy and hellish as always, the music bumptious and frantic as always. At least that applies to 'Who Dat Boy,' a hype single that returns Tyler to his Hardcore Hip-Hop days of Goblin. A$AP Rocky's featured here, partaking in a back-and-forth at times, feeling right at home. Production, as always, is truly cinematic, with squeaky strings, monumental bass, and various antics.

As far as '911 / Mr. Lonely' is considered, the story is quite different. Melodic and filled with just the right amount of Neo-Soul, '911' resembles Tyler's work on the conflicting Cherry Bomb; namely the lead single 'Fucking Young.' Again, this two-tone vibrancy that Tyler presents in his work has been featured ever since the Wolf days when he began to branch out from Hardcore Hip-Hop while still retaining that edge. '911' is soft and endearing, while 'Who Dat Boy' is hard and off-putting. However, there's a middle ground to be found in 'Mr. Lonely,' which gets attached through '911' by an elaborate beat switch. The pleasantries are present, along with some high tempo rapping from Tyler (and an appearance by Frank Ocean) that finds his lyrics becoming beefier, more intact, and on point. The topic of loneliness isn't anything new in music, but Tyler's viewpoint on analyzing the loneliest as those being the most outspoken is refreshing.  

St. Vincent - New York

Hard to believe its been well over three(!) years since St. Vincent's self-titled LP, but that's the truth. With the breadth of music elsewhere, I can't say I've been particularly keen on following Annie Clark's whereabouts, despite my enjoyment of that aforementioned self-titled. With 'New York' though, maybe I didn't need to check up on where she's been. New York City's the setting, a broken heart the story. 'New York' should, in theory, satisfy both types of St. Vincent fans. First, there's the ones who enjoyed her humble, songwriting origins with Marry Me and Actor, then there's those who prefer the more in-your-face Art Pop of Strange Mercy and St. Vincent. 'New York' is told ipso facto, beginning not unlike your stereotypical ballad; vocals, pianos, and nothing more. If that was the entirety of the track, I'd be disappointed. But thankfully, with an arrangement of pulsating synths, swooning strings, and Clark saying "motherfucker," 'New York' blossoms into something quite provocative. That being said, the chorus may be too cheeky for its own good, feeling more similar to a musical than an actual single.

The National - Guilty Party

I'll be quite blunt here; 'Guilty Party' is a frustratingly good song. You may ask, what the hell is that? Well, it's a phrase I use sparingly for when my bitterness gets in the way. The band I use this phrase on most often is, unquestionably, Radiohead. They're likely the most praised group of the 21st century and yet, despite my disagreement in worshipping at their feet, I can't help but to acknowledge their talent. The National's 'Guilty Party,' unlike the humdrum lead single 'The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness,' actually bears quite a strong resemblance to Radiohead. I saw the praise piling up, wanted to dislike it, but I can't. It's straightforward, a heartbroken ballad of two disinterested mates, but the musical fidelity on display captures a band in total control of their instruments and the minds meant to utilize them. Cautiously pretty, hopelessly detached, and despondently melodramatic, 'Guilty Party' revels in cinematic sadness. I'd make comparisons to the soundtrack to a movie's climatic low, but that feels a bit disrespectful. 'Guilty Party' works on its own merits, like a beacon for all those who've been through this same encounter. Here, the pain, torment, and hurt are put to sound; something that's a rarity in music.

Arcade Fire - Signs Of Life

The controversy surrounding Arcade Fire's return has been monumental. That's not entirely unexpected though, as Reflektor was the first instance of the band branching out and many were caught off-guard with that. Thus far, three tracks have dropped for Everything Now, and while the lyrics, to me, feel right up Win Butler's alley dating all the way back to Neon Bible, the production is essentially a different genre entirely. Alternative Dance and maybe, dare I say, Indie Pop, would be more apt. Whereas 'Everything Now' worked as an anthemic ode to Arcade Fire's new, incoming wave, 'Creature Comfort' dove headfirst into that ultra-cheesy, out-of-touch lunacy. And guess what? I loved it. The fact Arcade Fire, a band once declared by Indie heads as cool and hip a decade ago, have now turned severely square is hilarious to me. 'Signs Of Life' is more proof of that. This time around though, things don't pan out. The instrumentation, namely the convoluted synths, is ugly which, mixed with the standard percussion work, makes for a final product that's both bad and mediocre. That goes without mentioning the lyrics aimed at society's zombie-like state, which could easily put people off, and the vocals that are far too repetitive and boring to engage with. 'Signs Of Life' is, ironically, the first sign of a misstep with Everything Now.

Liars - Cred Woes

Textbook example of image impacting intrigue incoming. Liars' Drum's Not Dead is a fantastic record, and one that once sniffed my top 100 of all-time. However, no other material of theirs had I checked out. That was, until Angus Andrew, lead singer and sole remaining member of Liars, dawned a wedding gown for the band's upcoming LP Theme From Crying Fountain. I mean, just look at how awful that picture is. It's so bad it's good, and Andrew knows that. So of course I had to listen to 'Cred Woes,' the album's lead single. Gotta say, while certainly not as engrossing or embossed as anything off Drum's Not Dead, the mighty synth worship and militaristic two-step is simple and effective enough to work. In a way, it reminds me of a more straightforward Xiu Xiu, at least in regards to the production. While I've yet to understand Andrew's lyrics, there's a few blunt lines about kids attacking him and "minimum wage routines" that show there's enough under the surface if you want to investigate further. In reality, you don't have to though, the direct production is much of 'Cred Woes'' bread and butter. In a way it's quite hypnotic.

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