Monday, May 14, 2018

Loosies Of The Week, May. 8-14

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. 

Childish Gambino - This Is America

A third of the way through 2018 and nothing has captured listeners' attention greater than Childish Gambino's 'This Is America.' Debuting after its initial performance on Saturday Night Live, a broadcast that featured Donald Glover imitating Migos and mocking Kanye, 'This Is America' rightly took America by storm. Social media circles were sent ablaze by the single's stunning music video, with many commenting on Gambino's eccentric dance patterns. Even more think pieces sprouted up in response, analyzing the labyrinthian backdrop, going beyond the initial shock and awe of an execution and mass murder. These two blindsided moments forced a legion of desperate YouTube channels to react accordingly, thus spreading 'This Is America's' attention all over American demographics like wildfire. 

The genius of the music video, with necessary credit given to director Hiro Murai, has been discussed at length, and by now you've heard many of the hidden details. Guns treated with more care than lifeless bodies, riots suppurating as naive children gaze on through their phones, racist imagery of African-American past and present subliminally inserted through Gambino's mannerisms. It's an engulfing work that does not neglect a single detail, thus forcing viewing upon viewing upon viewing.

While many have made arguments that the song itself doesn't compete with the music video, which is true, what 'This Is America' does with mainstream Pop trends is a thing of beauty. Apart from jarring listeners with a crude overlay of Gospel and Trap - something Kanye did with less political overtones on Life Of Pablo - Gambino's charisma-first attitude, deliberately diluting the quality of his lyrics to associate with the nonsense currently imbuing mainstream radio, is extraordinary. Many have used the outrageous dancing as evidence A of Gambino's method of distraction, without realizing the fact that the music, beat switches included, is accomplishing the same feat. SZA's pointless appearance and the trove of ad-lib cameos are as well, because nothing shows the absent-mindedness of the masses than shouting "oh a famous person!" after witnessing what's arguably one of the most impressive artistic statements of this decade.

Death Grips - Streaky

With Year Of The Snitch looming on the horizon, it only made sense for Death Grips to predictably drop their surprise lead single. This time it's 'Streaky,' a high-pace cut that finds Ride abiding by traditional Hip-Hop customs to an extreme. Not only is there a notable bounce to the percussion and Ride's flowing, the rapper's lyrics take a conscious step back towards baseless showboating and topical references. Screaming "don't throw it on the ground" draws direct parallels to the Lonely Island's SNL skit Threw It On The Ground, while Ride draws back his unapproachable curtain by riffling off one-liners like "booty on the outside" that's surrounded by ad-libs. As a whole, 'Streaky' is undeniable catchy. 

But it, and the typical Death Grips mannerisms appended to it, have me worried. Not the fear most fans have in that Year Of The Snitch will be Death Grips' catchiest record mind you, but rather their recent standardization since Bottomless Pit. 'Streaky' as a whole, especially Andy Morin's synths, sound plucked from their 2016 LP, while the usual unexplainable video and online antics continue without variance. Even the covers are similar. Up until Death Grips declared 2.0 at the end of Jenny Death, everything the band did had me on edge. They never followed trends, from outsiders or themselves, and never reused ideas previously implemented. It's a bitter acceptance, but with 'Streaky,' for the first time in their career, Death Grips has sounded complacent.

Kero Kero Bonito - Time Today

Great Pop has an ability to convert you. Whereas most forgettable, cookie-cutter products come and go, those that latch and fester force you never to forget them. They don't let go until you succumb to the stubbornness and begrudgingly say "fine, I love this." That happened earlier in the year with Kero Kero Bonito's 'Only Acting,' a single I drew disdain from initially thanks to the band's meme conductivity. With that behind us, 'Time Today' ahead, Kero Kero Bonito's potential is glistening. While not as captivating in the hook department, 'Time Today' finds the trio further toying with their structural habits, choosing to concentrate all their energy into two, synth and noise-ridden minutes. It feels as if there's no beginning or end and you're joining the band midway through their procession into a dreamy charade. Sarah Bonito's fluttery vocals defy familiarity, as if, in conjunction with the street-stomping Hypnagogic Pop, they're apart of an endearing theme song to an 80's homegrown sitcom.

Interestingly enough, despite there being a plethora of left field emcees in Hip-Hop's underground, few are brazen enough to step outside that avenue with their creativity. This puts Elucid's puzzling Sound Collage work in a position wholly its own. A staunch street rapper by day, as seen on Save Yourself or his various collaborations with Billy Woods, Elucid's foray's into exploratory genres might one day prove valuable in his acclaim. Last year's Valley Of Grace was the first to blend these styles, and with 'Bernadette / Warm Leatherette,' a two-track single, Elucid accomplishes the same feat. 'Bernadette' sulks around quickly evaporating regions, utilizing Wonky-like drums and distant female vocals (including Grouper's 'Disengaged') to conjure some dark and staggered atmosphere. There's even a part, entirely Drone driven, that sounds like The Caretaker's early 2000's brood. As for 'Warm Leatherette,' Elucid's spiky vocals contend with a multitude of sci-fi synths as he repeats the title ad nauseam, diversified only by ominous abstract imagery.

Fennesz - Tom / Silk Road

To me, Fennesz is known for one thing; 2001's Endless Summer. That's about the extent of knowledge I have of him, and I prefer to keep it that way. Not only because I want to preserve his music's aberrant mystique, but also, frankly, because Endless Summer's irritable Glitch never intrigued, nor mustered enough atmosphere for me. Station One, a two-track single, gracefully shows his evolution since then. Still working on the edges of Electronica, shapelessly contorting passive soundscapes without following a linear trajectory, 'Tom' and 'Silk Road' find Fennesz in a more tuneful landscape. In a way, the mostly-Ambient pastures of 'Tom' work as a red herring to 'Silk Road's' unexpected Noise collage. This sudden shift in tone works to Fennesz's benefit, as 'Silk Road' acquires intrigue points with a flurry of impetuous elements whilst enveloping some warm and distant Ambient in the far reaches. Towards the end, the producer even takes to the Burial school of thought, juxtaposing the emotional hogwash with a brash, rave-induced beat. Overall, a solid artistic piece that successfully molds assumptions.

An interesting dialogue unfolded when Kanye West dropped the unexpected, and undeniably hilarious 'Lift Yourself.' Denizens on RateYourMusic leapt aboard Kanye's meme train, ironically (or unironically) praising the song with ludicrously high ratings. Then the mods arrived and proceeded to erase the slate, declaring their appraisals out of line, a dangerous line to cross when dealing with the subjectivity of art. This is all to say, how does one judge a song that's purposely bad for the purpose of humor? This is the case with Mac DeMarco's one-off collaboration entitled Met Gala, a slacker-approved quartet who recorded crude autotune compositions whilst on Met Gala's red carpet. Both 'She's My Sweet' and 'Fuck Toronto Raptors' poke fun at cheap Alternative R&B using Hypnagogic Pop as the facilitator. Apart from the poorly-sung autotune and highly repetitive lyrics, the production is actually quite emanating, resembling Homeshake's work (who's apart of this collaboration). Also, having a song called 'Fuck Toronto Raptors,' even if it's strictly for meme purposes, is hilarious given their annihilation at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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