Monday, March 19, 2018

Loosies Of The Week, Mar. 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. 

Courtney Barnett - Need A Little Time

Begin the worrying process as Courtney Barnett recedes to conventionality. Even if you hadn't heard Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, based on that title alone you know she's not your typical Singer/Songwriter. Since then though, nothing has impressed, including her tandem pairing with Kurt Vile on Lotta Sea Lice. Whereas Sometimes' lead singles, 'Depreston' and 'Pedestrian At Best,' showcased her lyrical wittiness and sonic versatility, Tell Me How You Really Feel's two offerings, 'Nameless Faceless' and 'Need A Little Time,' fail to muster drollery and acuteness. Much like 'Nameless Faceless,' 'Need A Little Time' is instinctively by-the-books. Barnett relies on her parched vocals and Garage Rock guitars to do much of the heavy lifting, leaving no alternatives if those aren't providing substance. Which, in 'Need A Little Time's' case, they do not. That is, ignoring the final minute where both Barnett and her guitars fly wildly off the handle, an energetic event that's too little, too late. Barnett as humanizer, as satirist, as self-ridiculer hasn't been seen yet. Let's hope that changes with the new LP.

Denzel Curry - Uh Huh

Something curious is evolving in Hip-Hop as we speak, and it's moving fast. With the rising popularity of rappers like Xxxtentacion, 6ix9ine, and Lil Xan, all of which I advise you to avoid, not just because of their attention-seeking ways but also their abysmal quality of music, there's become a sudden and stark shift towards hardcore Emo Rap. Quick songs with absurd levels of angst and aggression. User VegetableCombination on Reddit was keen to point out the similarities evolving between this kind of Trap and Punk, which I feel deserves some thoughtful discussion. I bring this up now because Denzel Curry's 'Uh Huh,' a Soundcloud drop as we await Taboo, can likely be added to the bunch. This can undoubtedly be seen as a snide towards Curry, although that's not the intention. Sub-two-minute songs with copious levels of primal aggression have a place in Hip-Hop, it's just currently in the wrong hands. We saw what such tracks can accomplish on Curry's outstanding EP 13, and namely the lunacy of 'Hate Government.' 'Uh Huh' doesn't reach that level, even with a decent verse by IDK sticking towards the end. It is, however, a clear and concise point of view towards where Curry aims to take his music.

Flame 1 - Fog

Flame 1, as the duo so aptly called themselves, is a collaboration between U.K. producers Burial and The Bug. In typical Burial fashion, their one-off release is nothing more than a two-song EP, one of which, 'Fog,' saw the light of day this week. While I'm relatively familiar with The Bug, namely 'Freak Freak' and the once in a lifetime pairing with Death Grips 'Fuck A Bitch,' finding a discernible pairing point with him and Burial proves challenging. Each began in the days before Dubstep went awry, with Burial venturing off into his own Future Garage cocoon, The Bug going the Grime route. Interestingly enough, both have reunited in another land altogether; Ambient. The Bug did so with Earth on last year's Concrete Desert, and Burial's been doing it alone on his various singles and EP's since 2016. 'Fog' is more of that, a lurching Ambient piece that masquerades rave hypnotism with soft percussion, static noise, and eery strings. Unfortunately, each of their respective high points (The Bug's bombast, Burial's sampling) are nowhere to be found, as 'Fog' builds and falls with no eschewing factors. In that sense, it's fairly mundane, albeit a pleasant listen at the dead of night.

Vic Mensa & Valee - Dim Sum

Even back when Vic Mensa was involved in the upbringing (and eventual downfall) of Chicago's Juke scene, something seemed off. His personality never felt genuine, nor was his rapping topics (as seen on There's Alot Going On), even though that changed, slightly, with his much improved, although still unexceptional, debut album Autobiography. Promise leads to disappointment however, and that's what we see with 'Dim Sum,' a blatant Trap knockoff that finds Mensa sporting extravagant attire and expensive accessories (in the flashy music video), despite appearing more humble just a year ago. Alongside Valee, who sings in a confident whisper, the two prance with a swagger awfully similar to Migos, despite both representing Chicago. Braggadocios language that flaunts wealth and fame with snarky quips over eastern-influenced flutes. It's messy and generic at the same time, which is quite impressive. 'Dim Sum' isn't an entire loss though, as Mensa's opening (and only) verse is lyrically intact and flow-capable. It also reveals Mensa's subconscious incapability to go true Trap, spending time crafting a redeemable verse not littered with ad-libs and nonsensical one-liners.

The Voidz - AlieNNatioN

A few months back I listened to The Strokes' Is This It, and immediately fell in love. However, considering the band's trajectory, I never felt the need to listen to more. Then Julian Casablancas appeared on Daft Punk's Random Access Memories for reasons unknown, and now-a-days he's teaming up with The Voidz for accessible Hypnagogic Pop. Suffice to say, that trajectory is erratic at best. I'm four singles behind on Virtue, the band's follow-up to 2014's Tyranny, and only listened to 'AlienNNatioN' because of music's weaknesses elsewhere. Seeing the aging, out-of-touch attire of The Voidz didn't help my perception, although 'AlienNNatioN' doesn't exactly fall into helpless dad rock. For dad's who want to be quirky hipsters, maybe. On 'AlienNNation,' The Voidz are a fair bit clunky, with Casablancas vocals falling into the empty void of excess. There's little subtlety, especially during the song's first half. However, the second half, following a transparent bridge using ballad-based pianos, is much more melodic and appealing. Similarities can be drawn to Unknown Mortal Orchestra's heavy psychedelics. I'd rather spend my time listening to that, including their two singles for Sex & Food, than this.

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