Sunday, September 10, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, Sept. 4-10

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. 

St. Vincent - Los Ageless

Perhaps this'll be a systematic pattern, for waves of Indie newcomers to eventually, given fame, notoriety, and applause, morph themselves into something their original identity had no indication of revealing. The innocent Annie Clark the next in an ever-growing line to branch out from her heartfelt austerity into full-blown Pop, something 'Los Ageless' revels in. Sure, her 2014 LP, one that should be noted was self-titled, gave clear implication that this was the direction she would head, but the charm, the detail, the technicalities are nowhere to be seen. To those unaware of Clark's past, 'Los Ageless' plays like a futile plea for radio play. That's not to say it's bad, it's just abusively Pop. Clark's commanding presence is blunt, direct, and confrontational, something that fits the tone of her love loss, but one that conforms to the loud and busy instrumentation around her. It's not dissonant, but it's awfully close, and reminds me of the blown-out Electropop scattered across Everything Now.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - To Follow & Lead

Last year saw the release of EARS, Kaitlyn Aurealia Smith's welcome party. Much like Kelly Lee Owens did this year, Smith filled a hole in the Indie scene whilst leaving an unobstructed path to progress. Merging the styles of Animal Collective, Dan Deacon, and many in the Indietronica scene, Smith charted an aquatic course that heightened the sense of atmosphere, something AnCo has lost in recent years. In October, we're set to receive The Kid, and if the cover and two lead singles tell us anything, the confines of a shrouded swamp are no match for the universe. Couple that with the curious song titles dotting the LP, and Smith's omnipresence on the cover, and The Kid looks to be a concept album looking inwards while expanding outwards. Lead single 'An Intention' gave us a taste of this expansion, and 'To Follow & Lead' does the same. Her goofy, almost childlike use of synths are on full display here, something that's accentuated at the end by Smith's own garbled lingo and giddy tone. Like EARS, her atmosphere setting works on two levels; evocation of a place unknown, and jubilation that our brain can't resist. 'To Follow & Lead' is fun-loving, preoccupying, and potentially down the road, addictive. The Kid's only cause for concern are the vocal manipulations, something present on 'An Intention' and much of EARS' tracks. For 13 tracks, some branching out is necessary.

Injury Reserve - North Pole

Poor Injury Reserve. Right as the Hip-Hop group was gaining traction, releasing the surprisingly solid Floss last December, in comes Brockhampton to steal any momentum they once had. Bigger, stronger, but not necessarily better, the two groups have a laundry list of similarities. Maybe Injury Reserve recognized that too, choosing to release 'North Pole,' a song that'll appear on their upcoming EP Drive It Like It's Stolen, and one that goes against their preconceived grain. 'North Pole' is reflective R&B, utilizing Hip-Hop only as a means to rhyme and convey a failing relationship. Not something you'd typically see as a single, especially from these guys, the minimalism of 'North Pole's' instrumentation falls in line with Singer/Songwriter interventions or Art Pop eulogies. There's no grand payoff, which is a tremendous relief considering the rarity in today's age. Here, the artist's are given a quaint outlet to be the primary conveyors, the backdrop nothing more than a serene waterfall cascading down.

Edit: Well, what do you know? 'North Pole's' music video utilizes a waterfall in much a similar way to what I just described.

Weyes Blood - A Certain Kind

I know Weyes Blood from one thing, and one thing only. That being her short, four-track EP with Ariel Pink earlier this year entitled Myths 002. At that time I hadn't even dove deep into Pink's discography, but in recent weeks Pom Pom, Worn Copy, and his upcoming Dedicated To Bobby Jameson have been in heavy rotation. Couple that with Myths 002's decency, including its highlight, the lead single 'Tears On Fire,' and there was no doubt I'd at least take a passing interest in Weyes Blood. 'A Certain Kind' confirms my suspicion, that she's a retrofitted rectifier. The days of Psychedelic Folk seem to be her passion, and for our age, it's quite refreshing. The pleasantries are tangible, her vocals serene, and the lovely 'summer' instrumentation flowing behind her accentuate the aura she's conjuring. Much like how Lana Del Rey embodies the torch-lit singing of a noir burlesque bar, Weyes Blood seems to be echoing the era of fanciful folktales during a medieval renaissance. 'A Certain Kind' does linger a tad too long, but the use of organs and subtle percussion work near the end help to keep the engine rolling when Blood's presence isn't felt.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Anthem For No State, Pt. III

Despite my admiration of music, I've always felt it could be so much more. Why's that? Well, if we look towards other pieces of art, namely books or movies, what would the reaction be if instead of releasing an excerpt or a trailer we gave fans the first chapter and the last? Outrage. To many, they'd question what the point of reading or watching onwards if the ending was already known. Yet with music that's rarely an issue, as musicians, like Godspeed You! Black Emperor in this case, release the final track as a single all the time. In Luciferian Towers' case, we've now received the first and last, giving a bookended view of the album whilst losing the finale's impact along the way. Much like the single released last week, 'Anthem For No State Pt. III' points at a distinct emotion, one that's filled with angst, power, and hope. In other words, it's similar to almost every GY!BE uprising anthem that came before. Yes, it's good. These are good musicians after all. But where's the heart, the creativity, the ideas? They've resorted to formulas, rather than challenging listeners as they did in the past. 'Anthem For No State' is continued fan service. Pretty and aesthetically-pleasing, but not all that provoking.

Ski Mask The Slump God - No Tilt

It's no surprise to those who follow me; I do not like our current Trap era. The plethora of newcomers insist on quantity over quality, something carried over from the old Trap era with trend-abiding acts like Gucci Mane or Future. Difference being this time around, originality plays a significant role. Rappers like Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, or Xxxtentacion undoubtedly have distinct personas that fall under the love/hate barometer. But the quality's still not there. Why try when the main concern of your legion of fans are the memes your celebrity produces? Still, the genre, and arguably every artist in it, has its moments. Ski Mask The Slump God has had two. First there was 'Catch Me Outside,' a track that caught me off-guard thanks to Ski Mask's unusually charismatic flow. Now there's 'No Tilt,' a loosie that brings in Lil Yachty, A$AP Ferg, and TM88 on the boards. The latter, crafting a beat that sounds as if it's beaconing every ATLien, compliments Ski Mask well. His flow just as syrupy and effortless as I remember, although this time around severely hampered by a swarm of needless ad-libs. At this point in Trap they're second nature, I question what 'No Tilt' would sound like with them removed. Lil Yachty plays second fiddle while talking about diamonds from the perspective of his more aggressive side, while A$AP Ferg brings up the caboose with a verse. Nothing special.

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