Sunday, August 6, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, July. 31-6

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 wide range of genres this week, with a well-rounded level of quality. There's sure to be something you enjoy. 

Brockhampton - Gummy

It seems that with Brockhampton, more than half of any critic's discussion is centered around their curious story rather than the music itself. I am not excused from that group. Curious is a great word to describe them, because, apart from the relatively popular Kevin Abstract, no member of the group had a foothold in Hip-Hop, and yet they're gaining tremendous traction with formidable bangers that feel formed by veterans rather than rookies. 'Gummy' is no exception. They've wasted no time pouncing on their attention, using it to maximum effect. Much like 'Star,' 'Gold,' or 'Heat,' three of Saturation's Rap-first singles, 'Gummy' aims to wow with bars and not overly elaborate artistic genre-bending. The result is solid, their foundation foolproof, but there's no denying the imminent worry of repetition. Those aforementioned singles and 'Gummy' are so similar in execution that the shtick will run dry soon. However, as long as their deep cuts continue to switch things up, I'm fine with loop-friendly bangers drawing in the attention.

Open Mike Eagle - 95 Radios

You can always rely on Open Mike Eagle to come up with great album covers for great album titles. Last year it was the medieval sparring of Hella Personal Film Festival, which cultivated a strong aesthetic that made the Paul White-produced LP one of my favorites of the year. This time around it's Brick Body Kids Still Daydream and the larger-than-life street philosophers. The album's announcement coincided with the drop of '95 Radios' and its accompanying music video, a heartfelt ode to OPE's long gone youth. Here, things aren't as fantastical as Hella Personal, or as comical as Dark Comedy, rather, choosing to find a mature mixture of each. As a lead single it may be weak, but '95 Radios' thrives as a dependable embodiment of 2000's Conscious Hip-Hop, a la Blackalicious, Atmosphere, and Blu. It doesn't dare to be artistic, but it revels in the beauty and simplicity of the streets. Ultra peaceful grooves, airy production, and a charming hook means that, in all likelihood, '95 Radios' will have some mighty strong legs to stand on in the longterm.

Four Tet - Planet

Like many successful Electronic musicians, Four Tet has created a sound that can be recognized from a mile away. This is both his savior and crutch. On one end, those who adore the nimble Microhouse, rife with plucking string arrangements and subtle synth adulation, can always find solace in his work. On the other, it leads to an emphasis on career-wide repetition. Four Tet has remained interesting in recent years however, especially with the structurally-rich Morning/Evening that found two, 20-minute pieces representing the 24-hour cycle. This year we received 'Two Thousand And Seventeen,' and now, the seven-minute 'Planet.' Both have me weary for Four Tet's next eventual release, as the moments captured within feel far too similar to what made him famous in the first place. 'Planet' projects itself as a Dance-oriented groove, one that starts immediately and doesn't let go until sweat begins to pour. In this sense, it's successful, with finely-tuned instrumentation slithering in and out of the general flow. 'Planet' is appealing in nearly aspect, the problem lies in the fact that I feel I've heard it before. Electronic musicians especially should be branching out rather than condensing within. They are, after all, the benchmarks for where popular music will go next.

Kelela - LMK

I know Kelela for two things; the breathtaking cover of her 2015 EP Hallucinogen or her various feature spots on albums like Humanz, 32 Levels, and Atrocity Exhibition. With this style in mind, it's clear, despite her rather approachable Alternative R&B shtick, that Kelela tiptoes that artsy wire to appease both mainstream crowds and unorthodox ones. 'LMK' is the first single off her upcoming debut album Take Me Apart, and the result is quite promising, albeit fairly embedded in the genres weird corners. Think FKA Twigs-style production with vocals that don't sound unlike Aaliyah. Even the Glitch-centricism of acts like Arca feel prominent here, giving off an aura of industrial romance imbued with cold, sleek edges. With all that being said, 'LMK' is undeniably a radio friendly hit, and not just for the simplistic lyrics. An entire album of such material may be questionable, and repetitive, but for the moment the glorious peaks of 'LMK's' vocal-layering provides a promising first look.

I'm beginning to question whether never visiting another Liars album apart from Drum's Not Dead was a sound idea. That album shook me to my core, but most agreed the aesthetic didn't bleed into their other works. And while that may be true, if 'Cred Woes,' TFCF's lead single, and now the dual secondary singles of 'Coins In My Caged Fist' and 'The Grand Delusional' are any indication, their quality and knack of structural ingenuity seems forever intact. 'Cred Woes' was simple, gushing Art Pop akin to Xiu Xiu. An entire album would've been problematic, but with these two singles that's proven to not be the case. 'The Grand Delusional' in particular, which starts off haunting with a Western feel, stunningly dissolves (evolves?) into this Experimental Rock magnet that's at least partially inspired by Radiohead. The beat that emerges is eery, guttural, and primal.

On the other hand, 'Coins In My Caged Fist' is more upbeat, but still finds the pleasures of aggressive synth worship. Honestly, another Radiohead comparison isn't out of question here, just with less finessing and more upfront urge. The percussion is simplistic but daunting, moving frantically behind Angus Andrew's vocals. Another beat switch occurs here, if only for the inverse chorus, which welcomes a droning synth to the bunch, pushing 'Coins' to the brink with an instrumental send-off. The one cause for concern is Andrew's vocals, which don't feel all that inspired or varied. On multiple occasions I looked beyond them, and maybe that's a testament to the strength of the production, but that doesn't change the fact he hasn't stood out once.

Lil Ugly Mane - Loser Alert

Lil Ugly Mane never aims to be something he's not. Every time he speaks with fans it's with brutal honesty. Ironically, the cult-like status surrounding him is mostly due to this callous expression of emotion, something the vast majority shield from the public. So when Travis Miller says he has a song that's been sitting on his hard drive that he wants to release, there's no hidden messages to pick up on, despite the fan-driven mystery of the LUM persona. 'Loser Alert' is that song. Hilariously enough, I find more interest in Miller's description on Youtube than the song itself, one that finds a man typing lucidly as his "shitty Internet" fails to upload the song. Concluding the message with "c u soon :)," it's clear how bare Miller's emotions are. Most musicians rely on one, or a few, but with 'Loser Alert' we get the lows of a ridicule-riddled self-conscious in the song, and the highs of an artist who just came back from tour in the description. I know I didn't talk whatsoever about the song itself, so sorry for that. The synths are nice, the brooding bass is as well, but the corny and childish reading of "loser alert" has me already seeing the end of the tunnel when it comes to the song's replayability.

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