Sunday, November 19, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, Nov. 13-19

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. 

Bjork - Blissing Me

After lead single 'The Gate' and second single 'Blissing Me,' I'm becoming a bit worried over Utopia. Not, mind you, for any artistic reasons. Like always, Bjork's a creative force in a league of her own. The gentle touch of her voice, the shivering production brought on by Arca, they're all afoot on 'Blissing Me.' Bjork warms herself with her own infatuation of love, a reaction, she says, to the current climate of our world today. That much is clear. The problem then merely resides in my tastes, as 'Blissing Me,' along with 'The Gate,' remind me of Bjork's Vespertine era, an album that featured stylized softness that I wasn't too keen on. Comparatively, Vulnicura was rigid, dark, and unnatural. On 'Blissing Me,' Bjork feels comfortable. And while that's good for her wellbeing, I'd argue it's not for the art. Everything feels too safe, too convenient, too ingenuous. Here, Arca provides the bulk of my enjoyment, giving off subtle teasers to a dark presence looming in the far reaches, as seen in the middle of the track. That's where my hope for Utopia lies.

Lophiile - Off Top

As of this writing, Lophiile has no profile on my favorite music aggregate site RateYourMusic. That usually implies the artist's reach isn't that far, and yet, here we are, with Freddie Gibbs standing alongside him for the outrageously bonkers 'Off Top.' Out of the select few modern emcees capable of rapping over any beat - that is Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, and Earl Sweatshirt (as seen on Doris) - Freddie Gibbs seems the most mismanaged. Of course Gangsta Rap's his stomping ground, but with the way he handles Madlib, Paul White, even The Avalanches, Gibbs has potential to do so much more. As we see on 'Off Top,' a daring Wonky track that dazzles with constantly-shifting layers, he does just that. His voice, his flow, they just work over almost anything. You could've slid a prototypical Boom Bap beat under and Gibbs' rhyme scheme would've made sense of it all. But here, Lophiile's production takes the Indiana rapper up another notch. Samples peek in and out like whack-a-mole, keeping things interesting for when Gibbs' braggadocio inevitably wears thin.

Pinkshinyultrablast - Hanging In The Gardens

Around the time of last year's Grandfathered, Shoegaze was all the rage in my library. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to find a band capable of transitioning the noisy wash to the modern era. And yet, apart from opener 'Initial,' the album was an indecisive dud. The beauty, the lust, the mesmerization of Shoegaze was gone, replaced by a mimicker who heard the noise and replicated it without any nuance. Next year, Pinkshinyultrablast intends to release Miserable Miracles, with 'In The Hanging Gardens' acting as the album's second single behind 'Find Your Saint.' With their work here, namely Lyubov's newfound vocal clarity, promise is restored relatively. This is due to one key distinction being made, and it's a minute one. This is Dream Pop, the land they should've conquered first. On 'In The Hanging Gardens,' the instrumentation, and Lyubov, stand out rather than dissipate into noisy nothingness. There's a physical hook with a beaming second half that actually finds Lyubov in an intelligible state, catchy synths darting all over, and a subtle drone with the guitars that entice rather than distract. Pinkshinyultrablast still needs work in the interim periods though, as without the chorus, 'In The Hanging Gardens' would teeter near forgettable.

Miguel - Pineapple Skies

What's the value of happy music in a time of darkness? It's a question I pose rhetorically, considering there's no definitive answer. It was the first thought rummaging through my head as Miguel's 'Pineapple Skies' played, and it's one that had me recalling last year's Wildflower. The Avalanches breathtaking return claimed my top spot of the year partially thanks to the incredibly creative music on display, but more poignantly for the fact that it disobeyed the narratives of the time. Much of 2016's acclaimed projects were so because they defined the year. Wildflower was because it did the opposite. Now, comparing such an ambitious project to a lone single by Miguel isn't fair to either artist, but the sentiment seen on 'Pineapple Skies' comes from the same corner. The typical Contemporary R&B party jam is aggressively unconcerned, as Miguel turns overused cliches ("everything's gonna be alright") into careless and trivial anthems for a night of stress free glee. The production is on point, as is Miguel's singing. On the whole, there's not much to complain about with 'Pineapple Skies,' as the single willfully executes exactly what it set out to do.

D.R.A.M. - Crumbs

Talk about going in one ear and out the other. That seems to be a safe statement to make about any of D.R.A.M's recent singles, as the former identifiable crooner continues to lose sight of what made him unique. With 'Crumbs,' or 'Check Ya Fabrics,' or 'Ill Nana,' or 'The Uber Song,' or 'Gilligan,' all released this year, D.R.A.M. has borrowed from a plethora of trendy sources but his own. 'Crumbs' might be the most egregious example yet, teaming up with flavor-of-the-month Playboi Carti for a pointlessly nondescript Trap song. Unfortunately for D.R.A.M., a large part of that is Carti's presence, which is pitiful to say the least. At least D.R.A.M. attempts to grab your attention with his short and fiery verse, unlike Carti who spends much of his limited resources inserting irritating quips before dropping one of the most vapid verses I've ever heard. Seriously, it's embarrassingly cowardly in terms of how safe Carta plays it. Combine this with 'Crumbs'' low-key chorus, which is tonally paradoxical to the verses, and you're left wondering why a single like this bothered getting released.

Tory Lanez - I Sip

In my head, Tory Lanez's claim to fame is 'Say It' and nothing more. If that song, with it's impressionable Gospel sample that took advantage of a fresh, new R&B pairing, didn't exist, Lanez would be one of the more forgettable R&B artists of all-time. A drop in the puddle of an entirely over-bloated genre. And while 'I Sip' confirms that - it isn't the next 'Say It' if you were wondering - the track's traditional tone isn't enough to oust it altogether. That's quite the surprising statement coming from me, especially considering it's about a song that condones heavy drug and alcohol usage. And yet, there's something about the crisp production that draws me in. Certainly not Lanez's vocals mind you, which have become more trend-bearing than ever, but he does flow quite well over the semi-aquatic percussion. It's those sounds, and the nimble additions throughout the track, especially the simple percussion tapping in the final chorus, that really heighten 'I Say's' appeal. Now, will the song stand the test of time with so much mediocre competition? Likely not. But as a taste-test, a teaser of an ultra-refined style, 'I Say' works quite well.

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