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2014/08/21

Overdue Music Reviews: August Singles, Part Two


Overdue Music Reviews: August Singles, Part Two

Okay, here we go, as we work our way through my list of August singles.  And guess what?  I am really, really excited about a song – and kicking myself that I didn’t check it out and review it sooner.

Childish Gambino

I love you so much, I want to go to prom with you.

I knew you were smart.  I knew you were talented.  I knew you were cute as the dickens.

But, damn.

The man has got it going on.

Oh, yeah… and, another surprise. 

I sort of like a Chris Brown song.  Well, at least the part that belongs to Chris. 

Umm… yeah. 

Hell just froze over.

Amnesia
5 Seconds Of Summer

Hmmm.  Only one of the members of this band is no longer a teen, and he is only twenty years old. 

So, exactly when did they “spend all these summers getting wasted”? 

And that is what is at the heart of what is wrong with ‘Amnesia’.  It suffers from the same thing that has plagued a couple of One Direction’s releases; the groups are too young for the song.  It sounds ludicrous coming out of the mouth of these mere babes. 

I realize that will play into their favor when they mount that inevitable ‘Reunion’ tour twenty years from now, but at this time in their career, I’m a bit embarrassed for them, what with their lack of experience, knowledge of the human condition, and credibility.

‘Amnesia’ finds 5SOS in sweet heartbroken dude form; a plucked / strummed acoustic guitar, heavy intrusive strings, explosive heart-on-sleeve chorus.  This cookie has been cut many times before.  We, the audience, have heard it before.  We don’t suffer from amnesia.

But ‘Amnesia’? 

Utterly forgettable.

V. 3005
Childish Gambino

This man is brilliant.  The way his mind works astounds me.  This is nano-worthy.

He is so over-the-top talented.  He is the artist Kanye West can only dream about becoming.

Childish Gambino is the future of rap.  He is an absolute original, in tune with a world that only he knows and we are so lucky that he lets us in for even the slightest glimpse.

Love the incredible mix of musical ideas.  There are dance synths, and hip hop beats, and crap rap, and some kind of Marvin Gaye R&B vibe going, along with his own idiosyncratic flow.  As a stylist, this is the man to watch and listen to.

This is one of the best of the year, folks. 

And I love the video.

I can’t help but think that teddy bear is Gambino’s way of sticking it to Kanye.

Well played, Mr. Gambino.

Bartender
Lady Antebellum

This is the same pop/country territory that Miley Cyrus used to flirt with back in the days when she was still shaking Hannah Montana off her big girl boots.   

Lady Antebellum came up in the ranks along with a slew of like-minded acts (Little Big Town, Sugarland, The Band Perry, et al).  In a way, they are all indistinguishable from one another, offering female vocalists who have enough of a twang to their voices to qualify as country and slick production which add just enough touches to keep Nashville in mind.

Radio programmers love this kind of stuff because it is faceless, harmless, and goes down like a vanilla shake. 

‘Bartender’ finds this trio adding hip hop touches and rhyme schemes while dropping slang American teenagers in the know ‘get’.  Lady Antebellum takes no risks, other than endorsing excessive drinking as a means of coping with heartbreak, sort of a tradition in country music.

I shrug my shoulders at this kind of stuff and can’t wait until country music gets back some roots rawness.  Nashville is not, and should not, try to be L.A.  There’s already enough plastic fantasies in the world and big sales do not equal great music.  Personally, I think it’s high time country music reclaims itself.

New Flame
Chris Brown Featuring Usher & Rick Ross

“Who says you can’t fine love in the club?”

And who says I can’t actually enjoy and like – yes! – like a song by Chris Brown, unrepentant woman beater / serial misogynist  that he is.

‘New Flame’ coasts on by cushioned on a smooth groove with a scatter beat that hits me right where I live.  Light that fire.  Dim those lights.  Break out the wine.   It’s sweet and so are the lyrics and melody.  Chris is in Romeo mode and I am thinking he has every chance at success, getting the object of his affections and future new love to come home with him and get between the sheets.

At about the 1:30 minute mark, Usher enters the picture, keeping things on target while adding a bit more syncopation and energy.  And… I’m still liking it!  Usher is a bit more strident with his vocals, and I sorta wish Mr. Brown had continued on his own, but, hey… Chris has an image problem and needs all the help he can muster in order to get songs into the Top 40, so, I understand.  And, no, their voices do not mesh (it gets a tad screechy), but that’s okay, too.  The part where they try to out-sing one another is relatively brief.

But then, at just before the 3:00 minute mark, in comes fraud / poser Rick Ross, who proceeds to spout off exactly what’s expected of him.  It’s no longer about love; it’s about “sliding in”.  It’s about designer goods and bling.  It’s about dropping the N-Word and name-dropping, as opposed to actually coming up with something interesting to say.  It’s also about dropping that girl the moment she shows any interest in a relationship… you know, after you’ve already done the dirty deed.

This is exactly what destroyed Jeremih’s ‘Don’t Tell ‘Em’, another sweet little seduction song derailed by Rap 101 dullness, so, boo, Mr. Ross.  Your phoned in crap rap wrecks this for me.  This was about ‘finding love in the club’.  Next time, do your damn homework and come up with something that befits the song.

Add caption
Lifestyle
Rich Gang Featuring Young Thug & Rich Homie Quan

This is culturally repulsive. 

This is culturally repressive.

It’s also incredibly shrill, with voices pitched for maximum annoyance.  Something tells me this all has little to do with reality and all to do with packaging.  It certainly has nothing to with advancing the art of rap, bringing something new to the table, or music.

Enjoy your ‘Lifestyle’ now, Rich Gang, because it is not going to last.

BTW: Have you seen the net vid advertisement for NFL Madden 15?  Yeah, nails it.

Blah, blah, blah, indeed.

PAINKILLR (Victor Dinaire Remix)
Erika Jayne

I love Erika Jayne.  I don’t know exactly what it is about her that causes her to rise above the slew of dance floor queens, but she always does.  I think it’s because she tends to bring more substance to her beats. 

‘PAINKLLR’, as remixed by Victor Dinaire, comes off as smoky and mysterious, delivering some delightful tension.

Ms. Jayne’s voice is also rich, and given the pitch of her voice, that is saying a lot.  She’s not merely airy and breathy.  Nor does she bellow, over emote, or go all shrill. 

She’s in the same league as Kristine W, bringing great chops and interesting perspectives to clubland.

Leave The Night On
Sam Hunt

Sam is a cutie.  Unfortunately, his music sounds like today’s standard issue country pop, a la Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, et al.  

‘Leave’ goes exactly where you think it will, doing exactly what you expect it to when you expect it to. 

Which leaves all the responsibility for getting this song on the radio riding on the charm of Mr. Hunt.   

He has a great face.  So why is his music so damn faceless?

Bo$$
Fifth Harmony

The girls of Fifth Harmony want “a Kanye, not a Reggie”.

Yeah, well I want some En Vogue.  And I’m pretty sure that’s what is being served up here, thanks to Mr. Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid.  These ‘X-Factor’ alums are pretty to look at, have tons of style, and I just can’t wait for the ‘breaking up’ rumors and backstage squabbles to leak. 

As an homage, it works fine, but other than brat rap sass, these ladies don’t add all that much new to the mix.  The song reminds me a lot of Xtina’s ‘Show Me How You Burlesque’, only, not as interesting or bombastic. 

Too bad: a little bombast might have helped, because, as is, I’m not sure ‘Bo$$’ has what it takes to make the bigger leap onto radio.   

Basement Jaxx feat. ETML
Never Say Never

You never know what you’re going to get with Basement Jaxx, except that it will be well done, worthy of a listen or two, and of interest. 

‘Never Say Never’ finds them in softer mode, featuring a lovely, rounded, fully-realized male vocal which is eventually joined by a complimentary female vox.  Chorded piano surrounded by plenty of atmospherics create the perfect launching pad for an explosive dance mix.  The original plays it subtle, but you know there are flanks and flanks of synths out there begging to take this one through the ceiling.

The video creeps me out a little, though I don’t know why.  Robots and sex don’t mix well in my head space, I guess.

Oh, yeah, and…

Twerkbot.  (Roll eyes here.)

Studio
ScHoolboy Q Featuring BJ The Chicago Kid

Seems BJ The Chicago Kid is stuck in the studio, listening to a track that is so dope, he has to smoke some.  But, if you his girl, no worries, because he’d much rather be blazing you.  But, no, no… he gonna sit and listen to the playback and do a little toke. 

Okay.  We get it.

The backing track is great, providing incredible atmosphere, capturing that other worldly vibe that takes place when you are stuck in a little black box for hours and hours, removed from the rest of the world. 

Sadly, that’s as good as it gets. 

Don’t get me wrong, ScHoolboy Q has a really fascinating syncopation going on.  It’s obvious he’s bringing something different, but he also seems to be stuck in juvenile mode when it comes to how he thinks about women – and that is his downfall, here. 

He likes saying the word ‘pussy’, and he doesn’t beat around the bush (ooh, that pun), cuz all he wants to do is get his dick up inside there.

Yes, he gets straight to the point. 

Maybe next time out he could try making a different kind of point.

Last Call
Bello Boys Feat. Kat DeLuna

The Bello Boys are in typical form on ‘Last Call’ bringing their special brand of Tejano to the dance floor.  At least I think I have that pegged right – they mix in so much that is familiar (including what I refer to as ‘The Swami song’) it ends up its own stew. 

Kat is in fine form.  It seems like forever since we’ve heard anything new from her.  Here, she’s subbing for Crystal Waters, and doing a bang up job of it, too.

‘Last Call’ is cute.  And as catchy as it is a bit annoying.  As is, I can’t picture myself ever rushing to the dance floor when played, but I do appreciate the diversification and energy it brings to the Club Play chart.

0 To 100 / The Catch Up
Drake

Drake is angry.

Let’s see… N-word (repeated as needed), bitches, shawty… yep.  It’s all there.

But Drake is mad.

Don’t put Drake down.

Drake don’t like that.

Drake actually makes reference to ‘Forrest Gump’s “Run, Forrest, run!” 

Because that is what Drake does when he is angry; make reference to old white man films.

It’s all his Dad’s fault. Daddy didn’t come pick up Drake when he said he would.

Damn, Daddy.

So, Drake is angry.  And unable to ask for help.

“Oh, lord, who else soundin’ like this?”


Nearly every rapper, Drake.  






































1 comment:

whkattk said...

I've been SO out of touch with the music thang lately...but, I can still do without Rap, along with most Hip-hop. Am I getting old?