Monday, April 9, 2018

Loosies Of The Week, Apr. 3-9

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. 

Drake - Nice For What

Right now, Drake's arguably at the peak of his career. He's able to secure streaming records with the snap of a finger, as he did on 'God's Plan.' A promotional tour for a new album, this is not. In the early months of 2018, Drake's proving, without much effort, why he's Hip-Hop's most popular artist, dropping loosies that light up social media. The side effect of a megastar cruising around their peak is that they tend to not take any risks. This is not the case with 'Nice For What,' a lovable curiosity that bests anything Drake's done in quite some time. Much of this can be attributed to Murda Beatz and his production, using a Chopped N' Screwed Lauryn Hill sample over some simple 808's. Comparisons can be drawn to N.E.R.D.'s latest album, the Juke-centric No One Ever Really Dies. It'll be interesting to see if the mainstream community latches onto 'Nice For What' to the extent of 'God's Plan,' because if they do, the Bounce-flavored track is prime real estate for song of the summer. What's perhaps most surprising, apart from Murda Beatz's sudden leap in ambition, is Drake's effortless stature atop a beat many would consider out of his league. If this marks the next transition in his career, sign me up.

A$AP Rocky - A$AP Forever

After a series of watered down Trap imitations ('$IVE $TAR$,' 'Above,' 'Bad Company') that had many fearing the worst for A$AP Rocky's aesthetic, 'A$AP Forever' enters to ease concerns and prove that Rocky's mojo hasn't gone out of style just yet. In retrospect, those Soundcloud singles were patently test material, as 'A$AP Forever' presents a cool, crisp, and clear product that, minimally, bears resemblance to his early Cloud Rap days. This is due to the prominent sample; Moby's 'Porcelain,' one of Downtempo's most well-known artists and tracks. For the first half of the track, Rocky flexes his muscles over Moby's oscillating strings, both with his flow and lyrics that acknowledge A$AP's fading relevance (even though he never explicitly implies it). 'A$AP Forever' is bolstered by an incredible music video, one that's inspired by Tyler, The Creator's artistry, Kendrick Lamar's 'HUMBLE,' and various trippy Downtempo music video's at the turn of the century. It improves the appeal of 'A$AP Forever,' one that's unfortunately diminished by the sudden beat switch. That's because it unexpectedly morphs into a cheap 'Porcelain' remix, entirely devoid of Rocky. The decision is odd to say the least, quite literally copy and pasting 'Porcelain' onto the timeline, adding some (admittedly nice) female vocals to the fray.

Beach House - Dark Spring

With their seventh LP, aptly titled 7, Beach House is most assuredly attaining the near-impossible; the captivity of naysayers who once rebuked their one-dimensionality. 12 years into their career as Dream Pop's headlining act and the duo of Victoria LeGrand and Alex Scally continue to prove just how versatile, free, and exquisite their music can become. Unlike 'Lemon Glow,' which found the duo branching out into fierce, Electronica territory, and 'Dive,' which perfected every Beach House-ism at once, 'Dark Spring' dives straight into the Noise-punctured Shoegaze of Candy Claws. As 7's opener, 'Dark Spring' gives the album an immediate punch into the ethereal with a wave of euphoric sound. It's a gorgeous track that exists with no intro or outro, just a brisk three and a half minutes to subject listeners to Beach House's world. However, in 'Dark Spring's' case, that world is awfully similar to Candy Claws, and especially their atmospheric gem Ceres & Calypso In The Deep Times. It's arguably the first time Beach House hasn't sounded like themselves first, like another artist second. 'Fell In Love' and 'New Forest,' two Ceres & Calypso standouts, could conceivably act like the mother and father to 'Dark Spring.' It's a track that's the love child of a world engulfed in beauty.

Denzel Curry - SUMO

Preparations are being made for Denzel Curry's long-awaited, and long-delayed, Taboo. Once a half-hearted fan impressed only by Imperial's stature in the face of generic Trap, Curry recently converted me with 2017's best EP; 13. Those 13 minutes are as visceral as you'll find in Hip-Hop, competing with the likes of Death Grips, Danny Brown, and Lil Ugly Mane. Curry's distinction lies in his acceptance of Trap, Hip-Hop's most popular sub-genre and one currently inundated with flavorless, filler-rich artists. With 'Sumo,' Curry continues to separate himself from the pack, relying on consistent tropes but employing them in a much more captivating and energetic way. His background in Memphis Rap comes out in full force, as Charlie Heat's beat oozes late 90's Three 6 Mafia filth, just with an added flair of Trap. In some ways, 'Sumo' acts as an evolution of Lil Ugly Mane's Mista Thug Isolation, a record Curry was featured on (in 'Twistin'). Whereas the hook on 'Sumo' is clearly intended for simple mass consumption (just think of the wild concert possibilities), Curry's verses dabble more in complexity. Micromanaging deviating flows and fiendish one-liners, all while maintaining the tipping point of energetic combustion, is easily 'Sumo's' greatest appeal. The Lil Jon-like ad-libs do grow old on subsequent listens though.

Grouper - Driving

Few can deny Liz Harris' mastery over the intimate. It's a talent she's honed over the years, accomplishing this feat through Ambient, Folk, Dream Pop, Drone, and more. The latest of which, as we've seen on Grid Of Points' two singles, is Singer/Songwriter. With 'Driving,' much like 'Parking Lot,' Grouper slips as far into the recess of minimalism as she can. Instrumentation is stark and select, this time focused solely on an outworn piano. While I'm typically indifferent towards Singer/Songwriter, in Grouper's case, her past endeavors have proven that she's capable of so much more. In simple terms, accomplishing solidarity and despondence with distant vocals and a solemn piano is easy. Doing so with noise, guitars, synths, and other lo-fi tendencies, as Grouper's done in the past, is not. 'Driving' takes a safe route to our hearts, preying on what we as humans deem grief-stricken. Considering Grouper's absence from the limelight, with the four-year drought since Ruins being the longest of her career, and 2016's Paradise Valley being an impeccable tease to brighter pastures, 'Driving's' sterile sanctuary can only be considered a disappointment. Think of Pop music and how it takes formulaic steps to achieve mass euphoria. Here, Grouper does the same to achieve the inverse.

Gallant - Gentleman

Still to this day, but especially in 2016, Alternative R&B was overwhelmed with artists. Male vocalists followed Drake and his OVO contemporaries - PartyNextDoor, Majid Jordan, Roy Woods, and dvsn - in the hopes of creating fresh, sleek sounds that sent male sensuality to a new threshold. Gallant was just one of those singers, releasing his debut album Ology with relative fanfare, but quickly fading from the spotlight as most around him did. He's been quiet since then, only appearing alongside Sufjan Stevens on his Carrie & Lowell live show to perform 'Hotline Bling,' a statement that can only be followed by: "That happened?" For 2018, Gallant returns with 'Gentlemen,' and instead of acknowledging that a curious personality and commanding lead single acquires attention, he meanders around the constant tropes surrounding modern day R&B. Seeing the cover and knowing the genre is all you'll need to piece together 'Gentlemen's' sound, as Gallant dives into spacious lust and passion, breathing air into the creases between the intermittent drums and blanketing aura. It's a pretty song, no doubt, and Gallant's vocals haven't taken a step back whatsoever. However, with boring romantic lyrics ripe for the picking ("baby you deserve a gentlemen" is the crux of the track), and production that doesn't aim to steal your attention, 'Gentlemen's' yet another Alternative R&B track that'll soon be forgotten.

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