Sunday, October 29, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, Oct. 23-29

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. 

tUnE-yArDs - Look At Your Hands

Finally. Three and a half years have passed since Merrill Garbus, known to most as tUnE-yArDs, dropped Nikki Nack. The goofy, but hotly-political Art Pop project leapt, much like her past projects, especially W H O K I L L, with originality, curiosity, and invention. Which is why her physical absence from music in the recent handful of crushing months felt like a missed opportunity, a time when her ultra-leftist activism was needed. Nevertheless, her return will soon be upon us at the top of 2018 with an album whose title just screams tUnE-yArDs; I can feel you creep into my private life. Political, cultural, likely personal as well.

The lead single, 'Look At Your Hands,' while moving into a more linear Pop direction still honors the aesthetic she's built over the years. Similarities can be drawn to St. Vincent's recent debacle MASSEDUCTION. But whereas Clark's attempts at thrusting a gutless agenda seemed disingenuous, Garbus' is par for the course. Multiple drum beats overlap each other, as Garbus ponders the inequality in regards to the dispersion of wealth in America. However, there's no denying the repetition the verses come straddle with dilute the impact overall. She's putting catchiness first, which is fine, but when she's accomplished both simultaneously before, 'Look At Your Hands,' by comparison, seems rather weak.

Burial - Pre Dawn / Indoors

Another season, another batch of Burial singles. The curious Electronic sensation, never one to fall into expectations, has forced attention his way throughout 2017 despite disappearing for years beforehand. All this without dropping anything remotely close to the heralded EP trio of 2011-2012 (Kindred, Truant / Rough Sleeper, Rival Dealer). However, 'Pre Dawn' and 'Indoors' does something that truly intrigues, for the first time arguably since his return. They, through contorted, dilated House music, reveal Burial's true intentions all along; to test his prepossessing idiosyncrasies across other boundaries not labelled Future Garage. Subtemple and Young Death / Nightmarket tested Ambient, Rodent dabbled in UK Bass. And now Pre Dawn / Indoors travels closer to the nightclub scene, whilst standing outside it.

Collecting all of his material dating back to 2016's pathetic collaboration with Zomby 'Sweetz,' 'Indoors' and 'Pre Dawn' rank number one and two respectively in terms of best new efforts. For the first time in this new era, I'm hyped again for Burial. Hearing both these tracks, the subdued and conniving 'Pre Dawn' and the feverish and maniacal 'Indoors,' with the ability to come out surprised and not disappointed, is wildly refreshing. Like his best works, there's numerous layers to dissect, passages floating in and out of existence, and hypnotic drums to get lost in. However, unlike his Future Garage, which treated the Electronic dance scene as an afterthought at five in the morning on a subway, these two mutations rewind the night by standing right outside a pummeling dance club set in the cyberpunk future. This is how I imagine the underbelly of Blade Runner's world to sound like. Fascinating work, Burial. You've lured me in again.

Brian Eno & Kevin Shields - Only Once Away My Son

Adult Swim, you never fail to give music fanatics what they want. Countless, worthwhile singles spanning a sonic gamut only the ultimate tastemakers would be cognizant of, have come from their weekly releases. Collaborations too, the last of which was Oneohtrix Point Never and Ishmael Butler (of Shabazz Palaces) on '311.' This time around takes the cake though, combining the uncategorizable influence of Ambient connoisseur Brian Eno and Shoegaze legend Kevin Shields (main mastermind between My Bloody Valentine and their emblematic Loveless) for the nine-minute 'Only Once Away My Son.' I'm unsure of the title's meaning, but it must be particularly meaningful to one of these old chaps given the massive weight of overwrought emotion pouring out of the Ambient drone.

Comparisons, rightfully so, can immediately be drawn to Gas' work, namely his recent comeback effort Narkopop. Those privy to my tastes know I largely despise his work as lacking effort, preying on the pretentious Ambient crowd who eye highbrow abstractions that have no practical impact. 'Only Once Away My Son' could, theoretically, reach that same audience, but the power, the enormity, the rattling, of the production welcomes another audience, like myself, who ask for more. Ironic considering Brian Eno's recent affair, Reflection, landed in the previous school of thought. Kevin Shields' presence, therefore, necessary in bringing the most out of Eno. The crossover appeal of Ambient and Shoegaze is strong here, and even though it's only the reverb-heavy guitar from the latter that washes over, the significance is all too fruitful.

Rhye - Taste

I'm always hesitant to gather first impressions of singles from artists I know next to nothing about, in the likely event of sounding misinformed. In Rhye's case, that's quite literal. It's not nothing, their work with Bonobo on 'Break Apart' passed through my ears multiple times this year. But other than that, the sullen, smooth R&B singing duo is elusive to me. Next to nothing. That'll change with 'Taste,' and inevitably, their follow-up to 2013's Woman. That's because 'Taste,' much like 'Break Apart,' is really good. The reasoning why due, in large part, to Milosh's vocals. A rarity in R&B these days, a genre where the production tends to carry the trend.

However, 'Taste' and 'Break Apart' alike, while the production trails behind Milosh, allowing him to give commands, it's certainly no slouch. There is the worry, that could've been prevented had I heard Woman, that their production guidelines, that of building momentum over the duration of the song, will dominate their next LP. Bonobo abided by that consensus on 'Break Apart,' Rhye does too on 'Taste.' But the result is glorious, an evolution if you will of the standard structuring of Contemporary R&B. 'Taste' stays forever transient, gracefully shifting between layers, giving each instrument their due process. This allows the chorus to have an extra punch, for the instrumentation doesn't just appear collectively as would be expected. It slides in from all different angles, like roots receding back into the tree. 

Hodgy - I'll Be Good

Apparently I missed the memo that Hodgy Beats stripped away the latter part of his name, likely in an attempt to appear more mature and even less connected with the now-defunct Odd Future. As the years go by, the who's who of OFWGKTA is quickly turning into the closing scene of Sandlot, where we fast forward to future lives of former friends long since removed from one another. Their past, slightly, predicted their future, and in Hodgy's case, that's certainly accurate. Regarded as the glue that held the branches of Odd Future together, Hodgy's style has always been one that's difficult to define. Not because of certain outlandishness or left field mannerisms, but the fact that he adhered to each and every style, making his own quite unexceptional by comparison. On 'I'll Be Good,' that much is evident.

Once again, we find Hodgy gliding down the middle. He's not as creatively-talented as Tyler, as emotionally-weighty as Earl, as pseudo-conscious as Domo Genesis. However, he does try to be all three at once. This, over a beat that desperately tries to feel relevant with insistent hi-hats. As for Hodgy himself, numerous comparisons can be made to other rappers, from Vic Mensa to Eminem to Lupe Fiasco. All around, the latter's most apparent, as Hodgy's flow, style, content, and approach I can see Lupe attempting as well. That's not a pro or con, Hodgy makes it his own, but at the same time it doesn't feel honest. He's been in the Rap game for years and has never settled on an identity. From the borderline Horrorcore of MellowHype, to the humor of OF Tape Vol. 2, to his shimmering Jazz Rap on Untitled. On 'I'll Be Good,' we're less sure than ever of what Hodgy wants to be.

Migos - Motor Sport

Was this the single that was supposed to break the Internet this past Friday? It was either this or nothing, since nothing else released could've matched the hype given by that Apple Music curator's tweet. Many predicted a new Drake album, or Travis Scott's Astroworld, or, in our wildest dreams, Kanye West's Turbo Grafx 16. One of the safest bets was Migos' next project, and while not even that happened, the likely lead single to said project dropped in 'Motor Sport.' Before even hearing it, the collaboration with Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, gained response from the Trap community calling it bland, uninspired, and not catchy enough for radio play. And if Trap fans are saying that, you best know I, a Migos hater, will surely agree. 

While all those statements for 'Motor Sport' are accurate, the latter being the most damning considering this certainly won't receive any widespread fandom, the appearances by both Nicki Minaj and Cardi B elevate this, just barely, above totally forgettable. The latter in particular, a rapper I'm not familiar with and one who clearly was influenced by Nicki, does a sound job at articulating with tangible aggression, something the lazy swath of Trap big-timers have failed to do recently. That includes, and is mainly directed at Migos. With 'Motor Sport,' that laziness shows. Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff's verses all painfully by-the-books, with some of the most passionless ad-libs ("I wonder how many platinums we gon' sell - 'albums!'") thrown to tape. Beyond that, the production by CuBeatz and Murda Beatz are just as stereotypical, not even attempting to pick itself apart from Migos' narrow sonic branding.


  1. FYI, Rhye is a duo. Milosh is the vocalist, Robin Hannibal is a producer.

    1. Good thing I mentioned how little I know about them huh? Haha. Thanks for the heads-up, I'll fix it!