Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Beth Orton – 1973

Seems we cannot agree with Beth about what year it is…


[Video][Website]
[5.56]

Katherine St Asaph: How did something produced by Fuck Buttons come out sounding like “Funkytown” remade on the model of Nina Persson’s glottal stops in “Hanging Around”? It’s heartening to hear Beth Orton’s course — continued on the album — take her again down paths less beige, and selfishly heartening to hear something that sounds like it’s assembled itself out of what’s in my head.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Warbling over polite programmed beats is nothing new to a singer who worked with Ben Watt in the late ’90s. Central Reservation holds up, thanks to her melodic smarts. Orton’s decision to sing at the top of her register over Fuck Buttons’ wheezing electronics takes getting used to, though.
[7]

Joshua Copperman: I mostly know Orton from the lovely “Magpie” and “Stolen Car,” which is probably my favorite song I know where the lyrics remain inscrutable after hundreds of listens. She has a history of electronics, but hearing the folktronica of those songs replaced with something that more resembles “Funkytown,” of all things, is somewhat disappointing. It feels undercooked, refusing to build to anything above pleasant. Also, the titular line reminds me of Scott Mildenhall’s blurb for “What Kind of Man,” if only because Beth was a toddler in that year, and the line might as well be 1983.
[5]

Katie Gill: Why on Earth does a song that repeatedly mentions the 1970s sound a tad bit Gary Numan and exceedingly 1980s? I honestly don’t know if I love or hate it, which extends to my confusion about the song itself.
[4]

David Moore: The referent in the production was nagging me — what song is that? Seemed later than 1973, surely, closer to ’83. Zapp? Atari? Plods when it should bounce, not half as playful as it needs to be. Speed it up a bit, give it a little more attitude and a lot less brain… ah, there it is — Girlicious, “Stupid Shit.”
[6]

Sabina Tang: Wispily pleasant uptempo single off an album that could have been released in 2002 as the de rigueur electro-indie follow-up to Central Reservation without any sense of the artist veering off-brand (“Dawnstar” isn’t exactly far off “Star All Seem To Weep”). But Beth Orton’s voice can be uptempo, or it can be wispily pleasant: both at once come off as mealymouthed.
[6]

Anthony Easton: As much as I appreciate an upbeat Beth Orton, this takes her unique voice and makes a kind of nostalgic, generic pop song about a time that never really existed. I’m disappointed. 
[5]

Brad Shoup: Orton has made a Looper song that finally got its shit together, one that keeps the mellotron tones but loses the cloudgazing lassitude. She sings about electric sky over a fat yet fading bassline, and it’s halcyon psychedelia but for her poise. The palm-muted synth chatters and seizes up; the cymbals are made to sound like they’re coming from a pocket Casio. In fewer words: the track jumps as much as the impatient narrator.
[7]

Patrick St. Michel: This song sounds like it has a fever, but not a fun kind.
[2]

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Usher – Crash

We’ve got a crush on “Crash”…


[Video][Website]
[6.73]

Joshua Copperman: It’s good to have the indie-cool side of Usher show itself again. This is not as intricate as “Climax” and “Good Kisser”, but gets by on the opposite quality — rather than relying on mind-bending production, “Crash” instead goes for effortless bliss. The other two singles have this sense of paranoia and dread permeating them, so it makes the easy charm of this stand out all the more. In a lesser artist’s hands, the shortened length would make this come across like yet another unfinished would-be hit, but Usher performs it simply and directly, as if it were a love song. And that might be part of the point — the lyrics ask “Would you mind if I still loved you?” like Usher is trying to convince himself that things can still work out by making his surrounding instrumental upbeat. Even with this lighter-than-air melody, he can’t resist slipping in a bit of darkness.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Like many aging R&B stars, he sounds most himself on ballads, and this co-write with Carlos St. John treats electronics as Astroglide. The song’s rather conventional; the pleasures are in the tension between his still formidable falsetto projecting desire and the lower register harmonies reminding him that whatever else we still live on Earth.
[7]

Will Rivitz: “Crash” nails only one of the two qualifications inherent in any top-notch Usher song. On one hand, it’s suave as hell, undulating gloriously under a falsetto which still holds up after all these years. On the other, it’s missing the fervent, emotionally crazed bite of his best work, remaining far too static and under control. Since Usher’s best work is unequivocally a [10], this gets exactly half of that.
[5]

Will Adams: Fine falsetto, fine reverb tails, fine electropop throb, all fine fine fine. Not fine: the chorus bassline sinking down to the tonic at the end of the progression instead of the IV that it so clearly wants to do (it does it in the verses and sounds so much better). It would be a nitpick if it didn’t occur on the most crucial part of the song, the title word landing on an unsteady ninth above the bass, derailing the pathos the song had built up.
[5]

Katie Gill: Easily the weakest part of this song is the falsetto, which happens repeatedly, and unfortunately in the chorus. I know Usher can do a good falsetto, but this really isn’t it. We’ve got a great sexy jam, Usher doing peak “songs for bumping uglies” Usher. And then you get Mickey Mouse in the chorus. Buh-bye, sexiness.
[5]

Sabina Tang: “Climax” stripped to its chassis. Usher’s falsetto floats above an astringent electro throb like white diamonds on black velvet — a trick of commercial photography that seems effortless and is notoriously finicky to achieve.
[7]

Ryo Miyauchi: My favorite version of Usher over the past decade or so has been this one, the more subdued Usher. Here, his falsetto leads the show. He reaches for the high notes for his questions like he already knows the disappointing reply, but he asks anyway just so he doesn’t have to suffer wondering “what if?” More than showing off how he’s surrounded by many, Usher’s best when he’s at his loneliest, pleading for his only one.
[7]

Cassy Gress: This really does sound like a late night waiting for someone so that you can apologize, and thinking about what if they forgive you and take you back. That’s the problem, though, is that it’s rarely about the other person; it’s just about making yourself feel better for whatever you did. It would be creepy, to say the least, if I broke up with someone, and a few days later I came home from a long day out and saw my ex’s car in front of my house. Nonetheless, I’ve been in both positions, and “Crash” nails that feeling hard.
[6]

Brad Shoup: There’s definitely an early-morning feel to this: a sleep-deprived emotionalism that can occur when you’ve powered through the night solo. You’re full of feelings, but you gotta keep it down. People are trying to sleep. Usher rides a buzzy synthworm to devotional heights on the chorus… everything else is so much talking. Melodically obsessive, doubled and trebled talking, sure. But it sounds like struck-through lines next to the directness of the hook.
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: About 30 seconds of another good idea, Usher fronting Ladytron, surrounded by nocturnal electrovibes that in 2016 have become standard-issue. But standard-issue doesn’t mean ineffective, especially considering Usher is about 1000% better as a frontman than any of the wannabe Weeknds one could imagine here. Has a better hook, too.
[8]

Peter Ryan: I selfishly wish I were correct in hearing “you’re the only one who texts me back,” but really, who among us in this earthly plane would dare ghost Usher?
[8]

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Jonghyun – She Is

Is “She Is” any good? “She Is” is!


[Video][Website]
[7.20]

Alfred Soto: Of course it sounds like the former SHINee lead singer’s saying “bullshit,” the ideal accompaniment to a stop-start rhythm. Surrounded by breathy harmonies and bits of slapped bass, Jonghyun insists on that hook, over and over.
[7]

Tim de Reuse: The electrohouse parlor tricks on display here are old as hell, but, hey, there’s a reason this stuff has stuck around for so long. Here everything is produced to a ludicrous, glossy mirror shine, chopped into crisp, clever ear-candy edges. Its production succeeds by letting the vocals ride on the skeleton of an engaging chord progression, eschewing dramatic waves of tension and release for a single unbroken groove that just kind of strides confidently all the way through. The make-or-break on this one is whether or not you get tired of that breathy “OH!-she-is” that starts off half the lines in the song. Frankly, I think it’s absolute genius.
[8]

Iain Mew: A slick vehicle for providing the chance to repeatedly exclaim “oh shiz!” but not really. It’s a sign of how well constructed it is that the question of what the point is almost, almost doesn’t overtake it.
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: It has been a good year for K-pop songs taking heavy cues from the sea of SoundCloud, highlighted earlier this year by “Overcome” and “Fly.” Now comes “She Is,” opening with big synth washes, featuring an impressive attention to detail (water drop sounds!) and some very welcome bass. And Jonghyun manages to turn all of these signifiers into a coherent and overall fun song.
[7]

Sabina Tang: Elastic and summery, like sheer color-block nylons, or an “m-flo loves x” single from nigh a decade back (e.g. “Loop In My Heart”).
[7]

Will Rivitz: While it’s impossible to argue this isn’t a nearly note-for-note ripoff of about half of Lido’s catalogue, there’s a reason that producer is one of the most sought-after in the biz today. The video’s food-coloring palate fits the tobogganing organ chords and boomerang bass, roughly equivalent to a giant hunk of cotton candy in its effervescence, weightlessness, and (after a while) sickly stickiness. It’s a lightweight, quick-moving pop song, and all things considered that’s not the worst thing in the world.
[7]

David Moore: Staggering sweep synths settle into to lite funk; smooth, blank male K-pop vocals turn from bug to feature by piling on harmonies. Lurches haltingly before melting into a big smile, like a toddler surprising himself with a bout of hiccups and then bursting into laughter — which is to say my son would approve of this one.
[7]

Leonel Manzanares: Gooey synth-funk that zig-zags the line between laid-back and intense, with jazzy guitars adding class to the syncopation and an even classier Jonghyun going savage with the triplets in the second verse. With all these ingredients incorporated so tightly, why does it still feel like the track’s about to burst into a bigger, funkier groove that never arrives? I wanted that big jump. 
[7]

Juana Giaimo: When I hear “She Is,” I imagine a boy enumerating all the things he likes about a girl he has just met. He knows his words will never be enough to describe her completely, but he can’t avoid singing about her. This sugary tone is contrasted with Jonghyun’s confidence. He casually shifts from a a perfect falsetto to precise rapped lines, building sensual tension to soon relax the atmosphere with a warm melody. Because he also knows that the girl is sighing, “He is”.
[8]

Adaora Ede: For every K-pop song, there is an exact counterpart. The apparition doesn’t have to be a perfect copy of the original song, but there will be the slightest glimmer in your mind of perhaps some KARA b-side from 2009. Even as a track made up entirely of bells-and-whistles, “She Is” stands alone. There’s nothing like it. “She Is” is synthy without sounding stiff; its chorus sounds paeanic but wholly modern. Stylistically, one can easily identify why Jonghyun has been labeled the supreme in the new wave of idols-turned-songwriters because his ideas are sonically stronger than the typical Rachel Platten-lite or nu metal revival we get from most of our self-proclaimed creatives. Nonetheless, this is no sort of perfect pop package; you’re going to have to do a lot of unwrapping. It starts out as such a double creeper-sleeper jam because you will struggle to even remember the tune by the second listen, but then you’ll remember just how surreal it is to be hearing a dance breakdown in the middle of a neo-soul funk jam and hit that damn play button again. But at this point, so much of the lyricism of this song has filtered into my daily life that I will actually excuse the contrived hip hop bridge. And then I realize why it doesn’t sound like anything else: this song is the culmination of nit-picky emulation. You know that.
[9]

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Thalía ft. Maluma – Desde Esa Noche

And we close out our Monday with cumbia…


[Video][Website]
[6.50]

Juana Giaimo: Old-fashioned cumbia songs are underrated. Accordions and mariachi-like trumpets makes “Desde Esa Noche” a fun and warm song.Thalía’s fast-singing benefits her more than the Auto-Tune, while Maluma’s melodious voice joins her well. The music as well as the lyric theme — being afraid of unrequited love — contrasts with the sharp tone of clubs’ music. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I simply missed songs like this on the radio.
[7]

Ryo Miyauchi: Maluma might think this duet is an equally leveled game, but he’s really playing catch up to Thalía, who runs circles around her guest. From her subtle break into Auto-Tune to switch-up to a fuller, more staccato flow, she teases out parts I wish she could dedicate for its own entire section, only for her to instead give the space to Maluma. He gets a verse of his own, but by then I’m just waiting for Thalía to return.
[6]

Edward Okulicz: I’m digging how the sentimental horns have their intent completely mauled by the galloping reggaetón beat. Less to how Maluma basically gets mauled by Thalía. If this is a trend I’ve been heretofore unaware of, I’d like a duet a bit more evenly matched, but it’s still a rousing combination.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: The track is Thalía’s: the horns and accordion trills emanate as if she had breathed them into existence. Maluma wanders, less sure of himself. If he feels something, he doesn’t feel it like Thalía does. This night is hers; she might have well made it.
[6]

Jonathan Bogart: Thalía’s held up better than most of her peers over the past thirty years because she’s essentially hollow, a vehicle for whatever the current trends of the moment are, so she’s never out of fashion even as she’s never been in advance of it. Reggaetón being ready for a Thalía crossover might be the cruelest thing you could say about it in 2016, that it’s completely lost whatever urban edge it might have had in the early 2000s and is as Zumba-bland as any other tropical rhythm. But it’s pretty-boy Maluma who proves the lightweight here; Thalía will outlast him just like she’s outlasted all the other pretty boys she’s dueted with, and left their carcasses in her wake.
[6]

Alfred Soto: To the accompaniment of timbales, accordion, and a yearning trumpet, the couple pledges their troth, and unlike duets in a similar vein they sound like they’re in the same room, eyeing each other across their cocktails, remembering last night, and saying fuck it as they join on the dance floor.
[7]

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Future – Wicked

Wiicked…


[Video][Website]
[4.50]

Taylor Alatorre: Between the Jamie Foxx parody and Desiigner’s XXL Freshman spot, June 2016 has confirmed Future’s transition from forward-thinking upstart to a member of rap’s old guard. Accordingly, his current single is his most conservative of the post-Monster era. Name-checking the Taliban has lost its shock and awe factor, and the slurring of the title feels too deliberate, like an 11-year-old pretending to be drunk. While it may lack for surprises, “Wicked” otherwise succeeds in condensing the appeal of Future into a compact package. His blend of guttural melody and verbal economy is on full display, backed by a droning yet springy Metro/Southside beat which helps his lines land their punches. The nimble delivery of “she want that big big dog status” shows a rapper who is not yet content to rest on his laurels, no matter how ubiquitous his style may become. If only that rapper had showed up more often.
[6]

Katie Gill: Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery. As such, all these tiny little underground rappers that got their sound by copying Future (cough, Desiigner, cough) have soured me on Future himself. Thankfully, he’s slightly more intelligible here than on previous records, with the exception of his inability to pronounce the word “wicked”: a shame considering that’s the damn song title.
[4]

Jonathan Bogart: There’s something strangely comforting about the feeling that creeps over you when you realize that you are now officially too old to get what the youth find thrilling about work that, by the standards you’ve unconsciously adopted all your life, is only half-finished, or less. Like what they say freezing to death is like. Just close your eyes and let it happen.
[4]

Ryo Miyauchi: There’s not much to get from the verses besides being filler so Future’s fading, wiggling flow doesn’t get left behind the cutting room floor. Even then, he’s only half committed to his idea, while tossing backup lines in between as if he realized he has yet to figure out how to fully flesh them out into legit hooks. Purple Reign has weirder, more defined, and more moving moments, so I don’t know why this is the one he’s pushing.
[5]

Tim de Reuse: When you write a verse that ends trying to draw out natural assonance between “asparagus” and “embarrassed,” you should take a step back and be really, really sure that you can pull it off. I don’t think playing it straight was the way to go here; it feels like half of a joke, streamlined to the point of lacking any meat. Maybe if the hook didn’t sound more like “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” than “wicked, wicked, wicked,” I wouldn’t be looking for something else to laugh at.
[3]

Alfred Soto: A year ago he sounded fresh and occasionally chilling; now I have to fight the urge to joke about the title (okay, fine: he should’ve called it “Peeved”). A few more mumbled indifferent rhymes and Metro Slummin’ beats like this and I may stop playing DS2.
[5]

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Maggie Rogers – Alaska

NYU master classes: the last frontier…


[Video][Website]
[5.29]

Joshua Copperman: I did an NYU songwriting workshop of my own in high school — meeting and working with writers from across the nation, even across the world, was a life-changing experience. When someone had a legitimately great song, you could tell; some people would be singing the catchier ones long after the day’s classes ended. While the masterclass is a different program from the one I did, judging from the short clip I saw of that Pharrell video, Maggie Rogers and “Alaska” would fit right in. The structure reminds me a lot of San Fermin’s near-perfect “Emily“; aside from having nearly the same chords in the chorus, both songs quietly build without ever truly exploding, and have hooks stacked throughout without ever calling attention to them. There’s some more obvious influences noticeable here and there, but like the best of the workshop songs, “Alaska” stands on its own, at turns raw and fully formed.
[9]

Katie Gill: That sparse instrumentation was a wonderful choice, showing off Rogers’s voice and bringing it to new heights. She just lilts though those high notes effortlessly and flawlessly. Points taken off for that cheap sounding drum machine in the chorus, but hey, if that’s your main problem then you’re better off than half the songs we feature on here.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Perhaps it’s singular if Pharrell hasn’t spent much time listening to Mitski, Grimes, or even Bill Callahan. Armed with knee taps, found sounds, and a formidable if thin coo, Maggie Rogers is also armed with industry good will. I look forward to the next tune.
[6]

A.J. Cohn: Oh me oh my I thought there wasn’t a folk-dance hybrid I could dislike more than Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” But this entirely over-hyped offering from the metropopolis landfill might just be it.
[1]

Jonathan Bogart: Every generation gets the David Gray they deserve.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: It’s got ’90s-dance-remix-of-a-folkie vibes, that’s for sure. Just wish it had more menace, less chill, and way less I-can-see-Florence-from-my-house.
[5]

Cassy Gress: There’s something like a pan flute floating in the background near the end, and inexplicably, that’s the only part of this that makes me think of Alaska. I’m much more distracted by how in the verses, her voice seems mixed too far forward, and how something sounds a bit out of tune in the harmonies in the choruses — not just dissonant.
[4]

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Round-up, 2016 week 25

Everything we covered this week in score order:

Next week we will be reviewing Future, Usher, Bat For Lashes, Joel Adams, RedOne and lots more…

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Kaytranada ft. Anderson .Paak – Glowed Up

Why so glum, Andy? You’re at a 7!


[Video][Website]
[7.12]

Will Rivitz: I’m a little biased on this one, since I’ve listened to “Glowed Up” approximately fifty times since it came out in April, but this is pretty much everything I want out of a hip-hop record in 2016. Kaytranada’s one of the most exciting new-ish producers out there, and Anderson .Paak is one of the most exciting new-ish rappers out there, and a dream team of a collaboration like this was never not going to work. I dig .Paak’s off-beat flow, I dig that warped bassline, I dig those deep house chords in the chorus. I kind of wish the production took a few more risks – given the excellent rest of 99.9%, Kay’s clearly able to make weirder shit – but I’m confident we’ll see that kind of thing when the new NxWorries record hits shelves.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: A hook with such promise, Anderson .Paak’s “I’m glowed up” lands rather modestly and less vocal than I had hoped. I get Kaytranada’s 99.9% isn’t about ego, and .Paak is no exception to the rule, but “Glowed Up” may have been an instance where the producer actually could’ve rolled up his sleeves to flex. His joyous boom bap instead flattens where it could’ve used some puffing up.
[5]

Alfred Soto: This Canadian producer’s clean, sparse production — a two-note synth line, hip-hop break, snaps — at first sounds no match for Paak’s overacting. Then a rhythm change forces Paak to accompany the melody. The result is a chill out track with sinew. 
[7]

Taylor Alatorre: Since mid-2015, Anderson .Paak has been blessed with the ability to turn every one of his guest appearances into required listens. Part of it has to do with that unmistakable vocal style, but this would be a mere curiosity without his talent for stringing together sinuous, head-spinning lyrical turns. Not sure what’s up with his chowder obsession, but I do know that Daddy Warbucks doesn’t get evoked enough as a wealth signifier. Well-aware of his guest’s versatility, Kaytranada builds him an elaborate sonic playground to muck around in. The beat switch establishes this as a tale of two headspaces: one drunken and defiant, the other wide-eyed and vulnerable. I prefer the latter for its warm tones and skittering drumbeats, though both are essential in allowing .Paak to document the conflicting emotions that come with ascendant fame. 
[8]

Tim de Reuse: A tentative, scratchy, lazy rap delivered twenty yards behind a beat that’s so compressed it’s fighting with itself. The high twinkly synths feel are tickling the roof of my mouth in a way I can’t totally get behind, but hey, at least it commits whole-heartedly to being off-kilter instead of briefly invoking FlyLo and breaking for lunch. It pulls together in the last section, when all the song’s elements actually get a chance to interact with one another, but before that it’s not much more than pretty.
[6]

Claire Biddles: The obvious comparison is Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar’s “Never Catch Me” because of the indefinable, almost supernatural connection between its two halves, and the relationship between rapper and producer. Kaytranada and Anderson .Paak seem to have a subconscious understanding of how to complement and make each other stranger. 
[8]

Jonathan Bogart: Hazy, self-absorbed jubilation where the rhythms slip ever so slightly out of sync; as a fan of professionalism given an amateurish sheen, I couldn’t not rejoice in this.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: Anderson .Paak reads to me as nearly equal parts Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean, but may be a little more interesting than both. You can hear the joy in his musical adventurism, and he’s so nimble, singing and rapping and flitting around from one style to the next. Kaytranada, meanwhile, sounds to my ears like one of the most purely exciting producers/record makers in the game right now, balancing R&B and electronic sounds and blending them in ways that sound new. His work has the electricity of early UK garage but is entirely its own thing. (Check out “At All,” which is even better than “Glowed Up,” if you need some convincing.) 
[8]

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Mike Will Made-It x Rihanna – Nothing is Promised

“A reading from the book of Rihcclesiastes…”


[Video][Website]
[4.62]

Josh Langhoff: A reading from the book of Rihcclesiastes and/or Steve Forbert: “They tell me this great life can always… END.” Here ends the reading. Ri’s (sometimes literally) one-note performance conveys the sentiment with zero quiet exhilaration but all of its weary cruddiness.
[2]

Joshua Copperman: A recent tweet from YouTube critic Todd in the Shadows complained how long it’s been since there’s been an actual song hitting number one. And while it may sound like yelling-at-cloud ranting, he does in fact, have a point – a lot of major music so far this year has felt curiously undercooked whether it’s Kanye, Drake, or Desiigner. As if every celebrity that isn’t Beyonce decided to give up at the exact same moment. And this, which sounded like a Future outtake even before I read the writing credits, is something Todd would likely cite as a prime example. The hook could become yet another iconic phrase for Rihanna, and there’s some meme-able lines here and there, but an “absolute banger” this isn’t. Unless I’m falling out of touch too.
[3]

Katie Gill: Wow, this is a waste of Rihanna. I mean, you get RIHANNA to be on your song and you shove out this half-assed beat? Literally anybody could have been on this song, that’s how generic that vocal line sounds. Rihanna must have owed Mike Will Made It a favor or something because I’m still baffled as to why she’s on this track.
[3]

Ryo Miyauchi: Was this a saved draft Mike Will and Rihanna meant to return to later? There’s a point here Rihanna’s trying to hit — whatever it is. But she can’t quite put her finger on it no matter how many times she repeats the title that perhaps inspired her to start an entry in the first place. For more inspiration, she reaches for Paris, a go-to end point of a rag-to-riches hip-hop story. Again, it’s just there waiting to become something more.
[5]

Taylor Alatorre: It’s hard for me to hear this as anything other than Future karaoke, but it’s the best Future karaoke on the market right now.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Maybe there’s a meme worth tweeting in this nullity. 
[2]

Moses Kim: On any other day, the braggadocio of the track — Rihanna boasting about shopping sprees and vacations in France over a sparse jump-rope trick of a beat — would have registered as silly posturing. On this particular morning, it couldn’t be more timely: the UK has just announced its break from the European Union, and of course we can’t ignore how the underlying rhetoric has been centered on the reinforcement of boundaries, as if a nation responsible for colonizing half of the world and displacing millions of human subjects were ever at risk of losing its sovereignty. The resonance, I guess, is that if even the meager space we carve out for ourselves in this world is constantly threatening to cave in, what’s the power of a little joy? What’s extravagance in a home at whose doorstep violence in all its forms is constantly knocking? Rihanna has been doing songs like this for years now: here her voice sounds as nimble as it does exhausted, grappling for a foothold on the face of a world where nothing is promised.
[7]

Lilly Gray: Rihanna provides the soundtrack to another dusky hold up or murder-minded dame turning away from a man tied to a chair in a burning building. If riri only released Songs To Kill To from here on out, I would be down. 
[8]

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Amine Aminux – #Makayen_Ma

NOT Anime Animals.


[Video][Website]
[6.17]
Alfred Soto: This Moroccan singer has got the moves, baby, and some of the motion, thanks to a yummy falsetto and a production that features popping bubbles. Most of the rest, though, is festival electronica.
[5]

Anthony Easton: I am no longer in a position to connect to the global Francophonie, but this slice of global dance aesthetics layered over traditional Moroccan singing, manages to have a smart, contemporary, and almost lush pleasure. We have moved a long way from “world music” chill out mixes.
[8]

Katie Gill: Aside from autotune so thick that T-Pain goes “damn”, this is really good. It’s a banging dance song with a kickass backing beat, a skillfully put together summer jam. Still, #nomorehashtags
[7]

Patrick St. Michel: Feel almost guilty that the part of this song that leaves me tired is Amine Aminux’s actual voice. But when you surround yourself around all sorts of digital fireworks and manipulated touches, you can’t sound that uninteresting.
[5]

Brad Shoup: Instead of just pitching the vocal up or down in the standard EDM-pop way, they’ve kneaded it into something that could fit in a mizmar. It’s a great effect for a singer who comes off very callow, but also pauses for pops and breaks off some nice rhythms.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: Pop’s vast landscapes are open to all to experiment in, but this feels like a melange of sounds that had their moment in the sun about ten to fifteen years ago pieced together in a fairly uninteresting way. The backing vocals, which may or may not be going “hey,” make me feel like someone’s throwing up in the mix somewhere. Nothing about this is unpleasant but I’m fatigued on the sounds as much as I am of reliving summer right now. I’ll give it an extra point because it’s not cold and overcast everywhere and this is probably an invigorating cocktail for half the population.
[5]