Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Deep Cuts: January '18

Welcome to the ninth installment of Deep Cuts, a new monthly segment highlighting standout tracks that weren't given a spotlight to blossom. All songs listed below have been released in the month of January on albums where they weren't previously released as a single. The only condition I've imposed upon myself is that no artist can have more than one song. 

SiR - D'Evils
November | Neo-Soul

While November's two best tracks are still its two lead singles, 'Something New' and 'Something Foreign,' SiR proved that there were a few more enticing creations he had hidden under his sleeve. One of which was 'D'Evils,' a track that bridges that gap between Timbaland's version of Hip-Hop and R&B. While SiR cruises assuredly through the drums and strings hazily going in and out of focus through the verses, it's actually the instrumental chorus that shines the brightest. Here, D.K. The Punisher deserves as much credit as SiR, crafting a beat that's both concrete and swift, tuneful and tuneless. The unintelligible chipmunk sample actually comes from the mouth of Billy Boyo, a Jamaican Reggae artist best known for 'One Spliff A Day'(the song 'D'Evils' samples), and the fact that Boyo was a preteen when he reached his musical peak. Even though the vocals are distorted, you can still hear the smooth atmosphere of Reggae lingering under all that fluff. Combined with the Neo-Soul that SiR exercises, 'D'Evils' acts as an ultra-velvety smoking joint, one that's handled with precision and care, not tossed away or taken in abundance.

The Go! Team's entire discography can be surmised by the band members attempting to interpret every possible outlet of contentment. Their obsessed with carrying happiness on their backs, and in today's age there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, on Semicircle, while the band continued to scrape the edges of merriment, the general synopsis was one that began to question the intentions. That's exactly what we got on 'The Answer's No - Now What's The Question?,' a track that boasted The Go! Team's typical marching band aesthetic with a talent show edge in the childish, but oh so lovable vocals. On the surface, 'The Answer's No' is as every Go! Team track before it, existing as a device that you can channel euphoric release through. But the lyrics pose a different front, one that acts as summer's end, with the ecstasy of an adolescent fling falling by the wayside. It's a song that pleas for the love to continue, but one that simultaneously acknowledges that it can't. Plus, it employs, whether purposely or not, a clever hook that, on paper, states "isn't it hard to say the word" while sounding like "save the world." A choose your own adventure of love and peace.

JPEGMAFIA - Rock N Roll Is Dead
Veteran | Glitch Hop

If there's one thing JPEGMAFIA accomplishes on Veteran, it's leaving you confused on his truest of intentions. Almost everything, apart from sheer rapping ability, which he most certainly has, tip-toes along a balance beam of dubious meaning. Is he serious or is he joking? Is he genuine or is he deceptive? Is he sane or is he a lunatic? The same applies to his approach to production as well, going so far as to make ugly sounding Hip-Hop through the most absurd of devices. All of this is on full display with 'Rock N Roll Is Dead,' a track that teeters on a litany of Hip-Hop sub-genres, but more importantly, captures the essence of obscure ones in Noise, Industrial, Glitch, and Sound Collage. Listening to the instrumental of this would most certainly provide a mightily contradistinctive experience, as JPEGMAFIA's hardened braggadocio acts as little more than an ornate placeholder hardly capable of riding this peculiar non-beat. Yet, through charisma, power, and poise, he does just that, commandeering the nonsensical vibes of 'Rock N Roll Is Dead' as his own. No vocal sample, massive glitch spike, or tampering sound reduction can deter his presence.

Days after Tune-Yards dropped I can feel you creep into my private life, opinions pieces sprung up on behalf of the album's smoldering white guilt. The centerpiece of such a thought was found on the musically ambitious and lyrically confrontational 'Colonizer.' In it, Merrill Garbus looks towards her own subconscious discrimination by equating her trip to a third-world country with that of (predominantly white) armies invading said countries and colonizing them. Yeah, I can see where the controversy stemmed from. However, her fearlessness in tackling such a topic, revealing inherent prejudice in us all, and in some respects apologizing for the actions of others is commendable. Revealing the vein face some shield when traveling to third-world countries for their own, self-serving benefit, is something that would, and should, rattle feathers. Beyond the premise, 'Colonizer' also excels by tearing down potential beauties in the production for something more grotesque, turning a standard Alternative Dance record into an Industrial powerhouse, a la Kanye West's 'Blood On The Leaves' or The Knife's 'Full Of Fire.'

Jeff Rosenstock - Let Them Win
POST- | Power Pop

In the past year, musicians have struggled to quantify the festering sociopolitical landscape. Time's spent pontificating, trying to make sense of it all, and not just belting out your suppressed anger from the heart. That's exactly what Jeff Rosenstock does on POST-'s monumental closer 'Let Them Win.' There could have been no better introduction to the year of 2018. In the tiresome Power Pop epic, Rosenstock does little more than to scream, senselessly and filled with rage, "we're not gonna let them win," a rallying cry to all those who feel they've been wronged by the system. He doesn't explain the problems, offer up solutions, or even provide an opinion on the matter. All Rosenstock does is empower the masses to make a move. If 2016's WORRY was an accurate portrayal of America's coming political doomsday, POST-, and especially 'Let Them Win,' is a promising announcement that hope isn't lost if everyone bands together. The lengthy synthesizer drone that carries the track to its somber conclusion, beyond venturing into territory Rosenstock hasn't visited before, invites a certain calming warmth that offsets 'Let Them Win's' rioting with peace.

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