Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Mist – Game Changer

Stopping by Birmingham (UK, not US) for a bit…


[Video][Website]
[6.17]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Since his slow incorporation into the J Hus & MoStack axis of road rap, Mist has spent the last year working alongside producer Steel Banglez into becoming one of the top tier names with a catalog of dense hits and solid guest spots sporting a boxer-like weave to his flow. Anyone coming to discover this off something like “Game Changer” shouldn’t be surprised as Karla comes in with a casual tone and effortless dancing through the clusters of 8-bit noises and sprinkling pianos. More of a calm roller than his other tunes (and nowhere near the threat to people’s livelihoods that future single “Mosh Pit” threatens to be) but hardly something to scoff at.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: “Game Changer” fires too scattershot to be the witty, congratulatory anthem Mist thinks he made. A sputtering sound that’s actually welcome, though, is the beat’s wobbly arcade buzzer that channels old-school grime.
[6]

Will Rivitz: Utterly unremarkable grime would never have made anyone a “game changer,” especially not the kind of grime Hyperdub was already deconstructing more than a decade ago. Next.
[4]

Iain Mew: Picking up the title with retro video game squiggles but putting aside the opportunity to make any references to go with that shows Mist’s cool and confidence. I just don’t hear much else strong past those qualities in a routine tale told efficiently but without any really clever words or ideas.
[5]

Alfred Soto: “Just give me wealth and health,” he mumbles through murk after two minutes’ worth of garage bass, piano tinkle, and Atari 2600 beeps. Don’t let MIST’s baritone distract from the easy punch of his flow.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: Steel Banglez’ beat is as reminiscent of arcade games, or perhaps slot machines, as Ms Dynamite and Labrinth’s (fantastic, still) “Neva Soft,” with a spritz of a piano line so it’s not so one-gimmick. Mist can’t help but be upstaged, but so would a lot of artists.
[7]

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Jason Aldean – You Make It Easy

MEET ORIGINAL SINGLE SERIES IN YOUR AREA TODAY!


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

John Seroff: The only outstanding thing I noticed about Jason Aldean’s bog-standard honky-tonk sing-song ballad is that it’s presented online as a three-part “Original Single Series,” all three videos add up to about 15 minutes, and the only music for all three videos is “You Make It Easy.” Our hero spends roughly as much time talking to his car as he does his girl. Spoiler: he loses the car.
[3]

Alfred Soto: Lord knows Jason Aldean could use a cold shower, and his performance on “You Make It Easy” suggests he’s dried behind his ears, but as with so many of these recent valentines by country bros, he’s expending an awful lot of energy yelling about why she matters to him instead of loving her for her own sake. 
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Aldean goes hard for Chris Stapleton’s territory here, taking a bit of a turn into country soul. It’s the best vocal I’ve heard from him in years — maybe ever — and the song is a stately waltz. I’m not mad.
[6]

Katherine St Asaph: ATTN: Jason Aldean: The Fifty Shades franchise is complete (thank god), and there is no longer any career reason to bite the tempo and arrangement of “Earned It.” Seems to help your music alright, though. Docked a point for “lovin’ up on you,” another one of those phrases that make it very easy for my internal organs to leapfrog into hell.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: The soul touches sell this but also reveal how thin the composition is; the chorus is begging to continue with “…like Sunday morning.” The story is nice, but Aldean brings nothing the studio band didn’t already. A brief blues guitar solo exemplifies his song’s shortcomings: it’s pleasant, perfunctory, and more dependent on signifiers than any depth of feeling.
[5]

Stephen Eisermann: The bluesy, southern-rock arrangement is interesting and slick, but Aldean’s voice and the pedestrian lyrics weigh the song down. Tinniness and vague affirmations of love just don’t cut it anymore. 
[4]

Edward Okulicz: Against all good taste, when this turns up the rootsy, aw-shucksy hokum it hits the cheesy love song spot. Organ, steady drums, corny solo, hammy vocal performance, and Aldean’s serious about hamming this one up. Close your eyes, and you can see him pumping both his fists in the sky as he sings the chorus.
[6]

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Daniel Caesar ft. Kali Uchis – Get You

Freudian [6]…


[Video][Website]
[6.11]

John Seroff: In a year with a lot of competition (Syd, SZA, Dawn, Gabriel Garzón-Montano,Stokely, Sevyn, et. al.) Freudian was maybe my favorite R&B album of last year. Even so, I’ll cop to “Get You” being a strange choice for a single. It has none of the lush Stevie-ness of “Loose,”, the floaty remember-when-Frank-Ocean-was-good vibes of “Take Me Away,” the naked D’Angelo-style funk of “Neu Roses.” What it does have is a falsetto keen of painful satisfaction and a tantalizingly slow tempo that’s sure to prove an acoustic favorite for the sensitive guys fooling around on the quad.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Boasting the quiet, casual intimacy of Tricky and Martina’s mid nineties duets, “Get You” expands its concentric rings of feeling one harmony at a time. Whew — reputable British R&B.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: I’ve been waiting for Daniel Caesar to sell me on his talents to the level of his passionate fans, but “Get You” isn’t quite the kind of downtempo neo-soul that could do it; he sounds like a less perpetually sharp but equally less lyrically minded John Legend. However, I’d also like a chance to be convinced where he doesn’t come along assisted by as soulless a band of culture vultures as Badbadnotgood and perpetually mediocre a vocalist as Kali Uchis. Maybe in the future.
[3]

Leah Isobel: The album version of “Get You” contains a lush, hushed reverence, making the chorus a sigh of disbelief and pleasure. The single version’s fuller production makes it feel more like a cry of victory, and of possession. It retains some of the original’s sunshine charm, but in these new surroundings, a line like “when we’re making love / your cries, they can be heard from far and wide” is faintly embarrassing. It’s the difference between whispering something secret and saying it a little too loudly in a public place.
[5]

William John: If I could lodge any objection with Daniel Caesar’s debut album Freudian, it would be its lyrics. He’s fond of ungainly rhyming couplets and not shy about the saccharine or histrionic. The arrangements help, but it takes a special voice to transform crude poetry about thighs and noises made during sex into something to be played at the first dance of a wedding. Fortunately, Caesar is possessed of such a voice and knows it, letting his coos float in luxuriant stillness when the chorus hits, and layering his lower and middle registers over each other in a bridge designed to provoke reverie. It’s sugary, but when done right, caramel can be just marvellous.
[8]

Julian Axelrod: A ballad that never breaks eye contact, a tender kiss that leaves marks, four minutes that last an eternity: There’s a physicality to this that most modern R&B lacks. The lyrics aren’t particularly explicit, but they suggest an intimacy only achieved when two bodies occupy the same space. It drips with aching and longing; even the bass and drums feel like two lovers in orbit, drifting just beyond each other’s reach. Most arresting is Caesar’s vulnerability; he sounds like he still can’t quite believe he’s with this incredible woman. He understands how the best romance feels like a dream that could end any second, which makes it all the more rewarding to wake up next to someone you love.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: “Get You” has the making of a good soul song: the biblical imagery cut with straight-to-the-point sex talk; a sweet epiphany as a chorus. But none of it hits its stride. Daniel Caesar’s storm-like love doesn’t sound titanic as the images he chooses. If he’s feeling a little freaky, he should just go for it. And charming as it is, I wish I sensed more of a surprise in the line, “who would’ve thought I’d get you.”
[5]

Will Adams: My enjoyment of this mostly comes down to whether I interpret the title as “understand you” or “obtain you”; one’s sweet, the other not so much. Apart from that, it’s got the pleasant languor of a Miguel slow jam, but realizing this means you also realize that his own collab with Kali Uchis has a lot more life to it.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Woozy late-’90s-callback neo-soul that hits all the right notes on a spacious track with crisp snare hits. Caesar’s a fine singer, nicely emotive with a lovely falsetto which he deploys at just the right times. Uchis drops in at the end to sing just two lines; would’ve liked to hear this as a duet. But the sum of these parts is still solid.
[7]

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Veysel Mutlu – Vay Delikanlı Gönlüm

Checking in on Turkey’s charts…


[Video]
[5.33]

Juana Giaimo: The western world isn’t used to pop songs being almost five minutes long. Listening to “Vay Delikanli Gönlüm,” as well as other mid-eastern singles we covered in the past, I can’t avoid thinking, “this is just too long.” Given the length, the proportions of the song structure change a lot: the intro lasts a minute and a half, and the post chorus instrumental part is half a minute long and then that slow boring intro comes again. But even if this song were shorter, I’d still find Veysel Mutlu’s deep voice quite upsetting.
[4]

Iain Mew: Veysel Mutlu’s full-throated shivers over the stark opening are captivating enough to carry a song alone, so when the beat drops too after a couple of aeons of tension-building it’s a generous treat.
[8]

Maxwell Cavaseno: The floridity of the main parts of the song don’t overflow so much as the long and winding pace manages to fizzle out attentions, and the inevitable rejoinder feels almost a bit too light to explain such a build to get there. All the same, it’s a cute and earnest record that perhaps does what it wants better than I recognize, but doesn’t entice as much as it does its job.
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: Flits between ballad, banger and instrumental flourish; best in the midsection, when it manages all three at once.
[6]

Will Adams: The intro is breathtaking — Veysel Mutlu sings to the heavens as the beat slowly comes into view — but curiously, the eventual chorus fails to keep the momentum. After an extended instrumental break, we’re treated to another weightless verse, but by then the steam has been let out.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Mutlu luxuriates in his delivery, rolling his r’s and stretching out his syllables. It sounds more fun for him than for us: the insistent advance of the pounding rhythm, a gratification too delayed, better sells his strengths.
[5]

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Hop Along – How Simple

Philly-based indie band makes its first Jukebox appearance, successfully avoids snide jokes on the song’s title…


[Video][Website]
[6.43]

Joshua Copperman: I feel like it’s almost a music critic rite-of-passage to describe Frances Quinlan’s voice — it’s usually something like “Janis Joplin and [other artist] thrown into a blender,” but she sounds like the choppy, whirring blender itself. At this point, much like Sam Herring around the time Future Islands broke through, she’s not only established her voice, she’s manipulated it to switch between different modes — Herring has the Tom Jones/Tom Waits dichotomy, and Frances goes between typical scratchiness and a beautiful, rarely-deployed falsetto in the chorus. She’s definitely a focal point of the song, but also farther back in the mix than expected; instead, Mark Quinlan’s steady drums are in the front. It seems like a strange choice, but towards the end, when the band is chanting “We will both find out/just not together,” the focus on rhythm suddenly makes sense. By the time the acoustic guitar comes in during that extended outro, the song reveals itself as the three-and-a-half-minute pop song it’s been the whole time. They snuck a minor masterpiece right under our noses.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: “How Simple” doesn’t come with obvious affects like Francis Quinlan’s signature howl in “The Waitress” to emphasize her show of vulnerability. But it’s there, written in smaller print and more subtle imagery. Quinlan still stammers trying to put together the right set of lines despite the support from a more collected guitar riff, and it serves the song’s narrative that she finally offers a perfect closing word — “don’t worry, we will both find out, just not together” — after many stumbles to get there.
[6]

Alfred Soto: The rhythm changes, sudden oh-oh-ohs, drum solos, and harsh guitar parts cohere into a listening experience that compensates for the boring, amateurish vocal. 
[6]

Julian Axelrod: At this point it’s almost cliché to talk about Hop Along in the context of Frances Quinlan’s inimitable voice. It does a disservice to the band’s innate chemistry, which is in top form here as they leapfrog between gritty gossamer riffs over the pogo churn of an unrelenting rhythm section. It also ignores their sense of dynamics, which is important considering no one in indie rock does anguished crescendoes quite like Hop Along. It even obscures Quinlan’s deadpan lyrics, which tie up a hard-fought past and a hopeless future into the beautifully simple title line. But every time I listen to Hop Along I come back to that voice, because the way it bends and curdles and soars in a single line contains more emotion than any arrangement or turn of phrase could hope to convey.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: A blend of moments that wouldn’t sound out of place from either Rilo Kiley, Pavement or Sebadoh, and proceeds to churn along diligently without being too bold in its progression. Quinlan’s vocal is creaky like a tree branch, but her lyrics are equally tense in ways that fracture under too much pressure. Indie rock that doesn’t offer much of a refresher from what’s proceeded it for the past two decades, but no doubt is a familiar comfort.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: Rilo Kiley-adjacent indie rock I might have been into in college. I always assumed this sort of music would forever be just there, accessible and replicated into perpetuity, never associated with the past. Kind of heartening some’s still around.
[6]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: A lot of slacker indie rock from the ’90s provides a sort of headspace that reminds me of the frustrations I have with all my aspirations being thwarted by my own laziness or lack of ability. It can leave me paralyzed, wavering between embittered anger and complete numbness. “How Simple” fills me with those exact feelings. Even worse, I find many of the song’s parts incongruous and think the whole thing is poorly structured. And yet, hearing Quinlan repeat that one line — “Don’t worry, we will both find out, just not together” — snaps everything into place. More accurately, it leaves everything as is and posits that I needn’t stress out so much. I don’t know if I can, but that line makes me believe it’s possible.
[7]

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Justin Timberlake ft. Chris Stapleton – Say Something

Oh, we do…


[Video][Website]
[4.56]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Last we covered Timberlake, I remarked that his greatest downfall was a purposeless pop virtuosity that, while functional, was undermined by a failure to recognize the changing climate around him and the underlying arrogance of his artistry. In picking Chris Stapleton as a duet partner, there’s something more insidious to Timberlake’s nature of crass manipulation throughout his career. Plenty have discussed how his career highlights did damage to those of female artists like Janet Jackson and Britney Spears; less harmful but equally crass has been using people such as The Neptunes, Timbaland and Jay-Z to provide urban cred qualifiers the awkward nerd has never actually possessed. Hell, his debut album was built out of the ashes of rejected Michael Jackson demos. Even his greatest moments are essentially opportunism afforded his malleability. The bitter irony is that his talents are what always keep him so in-authentic and thereby always able to shock the unsuspecting with grand revelations. So many folks forget the former Mickey Mouse Club alumnus has been trained to appeal to everyone and anyone, and it’s that subtle face-dancery that makes “Say Something” plausible, albeit not genuinely great. I’m sure Stapleton, Patron Saint of Washed Generation X Dads who “just wanna hear real music maaaan,” was as impressed as his audience will be that Timberlake could make a “real song with a guitar and some heart.” Even if the reality is that this is a very dated mix of Lumineers, Stapleton and subtle EDM touches for the sake of seamless incorporation into a dancepop record. Yet again, part of Timberlake’s ability to thrive is his deceptive meekness, betraying both the arrogance of the audience he constantly charms and his own arrogance in knowing that he can succeed where other artists get laughed out of the building, in spite of not doing anywhere close to enough.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: I expected this to be kind of oil-and-water, but it really isn’t; even Timbaland’s generous production meshes well with Stapleton’s country rock and JT’s I’ll-do-whatever-it-takes-to-have-a-hit-ness. 
[6]

Alfred Soto: As I’ve written many times, the better job he does keeping his spittle and stubble from hitting the mike the better Chris Stapleton sounds; the same goes for his erstwhile companion, partly responsible for his breakthrough three years ago. This nuthin’ is yet more sweet. 
[5]

Juana Giaimo: “Say Something” has more YouTube views than “Filthy” or “Supplies,” even though it was the last single to be released from Man of the Woods. Maybe because it’s the most conventional kind of song. But it is still puzzling, because it sounds disjointed, as if Justin Timberlake was trying to make a song out of a two repetitive patterns, like an outro from the first part of The 20/20 Experience — except that unlike those outros, there isn’t any development throughout the four minutes.
[5]

Will Adams: The Man of the Woods marketing strategy thus far has been one of confusion. The pickup truck-commercial of an album trailer suggested ruggedness, whereas the resultant videos suggested future sex and Mad Max dystopia. On “Say Something,” the confusion continues: the future, turns out, was ten years ago, as this is basically “What Goes Around… Comes Around” in its smoothie blend of R&B and folk elements. Meanwhile, Chris Stapleton shows up to lend authenticity but does nothing of note besides providing the song’s nadir: a drawn-out “melody/harmony/you and me” rhyme that manages to be the most head-scratching moment of this album cycle yet.
[4]

Ryo Miyauchi: On one hand, it could be about the creative process. And who else to team up to bring an earnest, real-time document of working through writer’s block and outside noise than back-to-the-roots country man Chris Stapleton? But in this political climate, “sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all” isn’t the easiest piece of wisdom to swallow.
[4]

John Seroff: The stylishly Sisyphean nature of the “Say Something” video — a tightly choreographed Timberlake and Stapleton take a vintage elevator down a fashionably rugged building, then simply walk back up the stairs — nicely encapsulates what’s good and bad about JT4.0: the presentation is pleasant and pretty enough, but what’s the point of so much polish and work to go nowhere? “The greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all” feels less of a koan and more treading water.
[6]

Jibril Yassin: Only JT could write a song about the experience of getting dragged online and make it feel just as embarrassing to listen to. Enrolling Chris Stapleton and going “rootsy” exposes the song’s huge problem: there’s absolutely nothing being said here. While it’s marginally better than “Filthy”‘s “married man who still believes he has game” dirge, hearing JT attempt to evoke ethos just to complain about how awful Twitter is to him is underwhelming.
[2]

Katherine St Asaph: I’ll give him this: it’s definitely the best Adult Hits-bait duet with a former Mouseketeer called “Say Something” in existence. I’m still giving up on him.
[4]

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Maroon 5 – Wait

It doesn’t fit the title, but still: you can keep it…


[Video][Website]
[4.00]

Katie Gill: At least with this song, Maroon 5 have the decency not to force a much more talented guest artist to phone in a verse or chorus. Pity that’s the only thing halfway good about it.
[3]

Alfred Soto: Singing in his lower register is the wisest decision Adam Levine’s made since cutting his hair to align with his chakras. Of course this shrivels him into a serviceable vessel for more Miami-bound club fare, for which a grateful city and county thanks him.
[4]

Maxwell Cavaseno: On the one hand, it’s Maroon 5 providing a pretty competent rehash of Purpose-era Bieber with the freedom of not thinking about Bieber to attract or repel listeners (’cause, like, soon to approach two decades in the industry, are there any actual qualities to Adam Levine people are aware of?). On the other hand, it’s a colorless revision of something someone else has already done and made their sound, making Maroon 5’s usual brand of chameleonism a bit too meager to find value in.
[5]

Stephen Eisermann: In case anyone needs any more proof that Adam Levine is over releasing music with Maroon 5, here it is. I mean, come on, this is disinterest in musical form. 
[2]

Katherine St Asaph: The verses suggest that Adam Levine wants his very own “Passionfruit”; the chorus is more unripe, sharp melon.
[4]

Will Adams: So between “Needed Me,” “Now or Never” and this, that pirouetting, impossible-to-sing melismatic hook is definitely A Thing now, right? (What do we call it? The “millennial scalar run?”) It provides a fantastic center to “Wait” after some “I’m not all that bad” bullshit from Adam Levine; it’s the cathartic moment that puts his sorry’s into plain view, giving the downtempo R&B backdrop some much needed drive. 
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: Lines like “dirty looks from your mother” and “never seen you in a dress that color” have a piquant specificity, and so does the spare and winding riff accompanying it. Adam Levine sounds oily and his vocal is mixed to overwhelm the delicacy of the arrangement, which might not matter: perhaps the unpleasantness is the point? The intrigue lasts all of twenty seconds, at which point a dollar store drum machine interrupts and we’re treated to three minutes of Levine repeating tediously minimal variations of how sorry he is about everything. Me too, Adam; me too.
[3]

Julian Axelrod: The semi-ambient opening feels artificial yet oddly transfixing, like watching the ripples in a puddle after a bus drives through it. Then the chorus devolves into tropical house tedium and the whole thing loses its luster. Still, this is the most I’ve liked a Maroon 5 single in ages. It’s as light and disposable as the Snapchat filters in its video, but it’s nice to see some restraint from a band known for doing the most.
[6]

Alex Clifton: Usually I can listen to a song for thirty seconds, enjoy it, get to the chorus and realize, “Oh no, this is by Maroon 5.” Much as they irritate me, it’s not just Adam Levine’s trademark falsetto that sets them apart — there’s something in their melodies that marks a song as Definitely a Maroon 5 Track. This is a hard swerve into generic soft-electro balladry that truly sounds like everything on the radio, losing their distinctive edge (if you can call it that). I wonder what god has allowed Maroon 5’s career to continue both profitably and without interruption, mostly because I don’t want to believe they have earnt it on their own merits.
[2]

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Russell Dickerson – Yours

No, you can keep it…


[Video][Website]
[3.00]

Alfred Soto: Days after Dierks Bentley reminded us and probably himself that women are beautiful, along comes this gaunt, splendidly coiffed dude with amnesia.
[1]

Ryo Miyauchi: “Yours” scans as country, however loosely, but more like “final scene of a 2000s sappy romance movie.” Said film would most likely not be a YA adaptation, maybe a release from the earlier half of that decade, or at least stick this in its soundtrack, which also features Nickelback and The Fray.
[3]

Jonathan Bradley: I’m reminded of an old gag about Christian rock, which posits that the genre rewrites secular love songs to make the object not a girl, but Jesus. In this case, Dickerson does the reverse: how sweet is this woman who saved a wretch like he. His verses are a succession of worn images, but, befitting a praise song, he dotes on his abjection as evidence of the miracle of his salvation. Yet for all the deeply felt fervor he summons in service of these burned-out stars and boats in bottles, Dickerson gives himself over to a life-changing void. “Yours” is a ballad of devotion devoted to no one; Dickerson wells with deep feeling, but, having summoned so much passion for his past, he has nothing to say about his future: it exists only in terms of what he’s now not. If he doesn’t care, why should we?
[4]

Stephen Eisermann: MOR, barely mid-tempo country, but there’s no objectification of Russell’s girl, so good job?
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: This was boring when Taylor Swift sang it and it was called “Mine.” Encasing it in a hulking ballad arrangement doesn’t make it less boring.
[3]

Anthony Easton: Dickerson’s voice is rich enough, but bland without any real spin or variation. The lyrics refuse specificity, and they don’t build. The narrative doesn’t grow from an arresting initial image. 
[2]

Will Adams: “A boat stuck in a bottle” is a neat summary, actually: a pretty mantlepiece that’s nice to look at for a few seconds, but any longer and you become intensely aware of its uselessness.
[4]

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Bazzi – Mine

OK, you can keep it…


[Video][Website]
[3.78]

Will Rivitz: Bazzi’s annotations of this song on Genius include the following sentence: “I really made the song less about a person but more about wanting to give people a feeling of acceptance in a really sad world right now.” Said annotation accompanies the following lyric: “Hit it from the back and drive you wild.” I don’t know if Bazzi understands that words have meanings.
[1]

Joshua Copperman: This has a weird Star Trek curse-style thing where every odd-numbered line is beautiful and then every even-numbered line is cringey. The first line is the already iconic “fucking precious” line, but “hit it from the back” kills the mood, then the “eyes” revives it, then “you’re mine” should be sweet but kind of creepy when he just met the girl… But then there’s the chorus, the best possible (only good possible?) result of “early-2000s CVScore applied to the trap era.” The amount of reverb would make Swae Lee blush, and the grandly romantic gestures, if flawed in execution, would cause any recipient of the song’s lyrics to blush too. I wish that chorus went on for longer, as the abrupt ending of “I just gotta say…” doesn’t work when the song is already so short as it is. Because without that chorus, it’s just a sparklier-than-average tune by a former Vine star, and with it, “Mine” has a real reason to be a massive hit.
[6]

Stephen Eisermann: If One Direction released their debut single in 2018, it would sound like this. Bazzi sounds cute and even with all the sugary corniness, it never comes across as too much, just too young for my taste.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: The slow-dance tempo and tip-toeing chorus melody are far cuter than Bazzi, who would like to be a poster hung in a bedroom, but is only as exciting as wallpaper.
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: Get you a guy who can be edgy, goofy, sexy, and romantic at the same time — just at the same time, not lurching gracelessly between modes.
[4]

Iain Mew: I guess the abrupt switches of vocal mode are meant to have a similar effect to the pauses and lush swells of the instrumental. The actual result is Bazzi sounding like a worse version of Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, and Owl City, all in one song.
[3]

Maxwell Cavaseno: A charmless wall of gimmicks masquerading as a lover’s come on. Hell, there’s a lot of dating going on that kind of functions like this record, so I shouldn’t be too surprised. All the same, Bazzi’s grating warble is hardly sultry enough to make the moments in between the eye-rolling gags feel worth overcoming.
[1]

Alfred Soto: Finally — a warmer take on The Weeknd’s spacious misanthropy, capped by a vocal that mimics the occasional empathetic sweep of Swae’s falsetto. The stop-start rhythm gets me. Not much of a tune, but it gets me.
[6]

Ryo Miyauchi: “Mine” reminds me of the California dreamin’ crush song of Rex Orange County’s, except instead of a steady diet of Mac DeMarco-adjacent soft rock, Bazzi tuned into the blend of yesterday’s soul and boom-bap featured on Soulection radio. The music channels Los Angeles like it only knew of the city through an Instagram feed. And though he sings it sweet, “Mine” also sounds more like a caricature of how Bazzi imagines young love to feel.
[5]

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Jonghyun – Shinin’

A smiling goodbye from a Kpop star…


[Video][Website]
[7.00]

Alex Clifton: I’ve had the hardest time listening to Jonghyun’s music. It took me more than a month to listen to “White T-Shirt”, my favourite solo song of his, and when it came on shuffle, I began weeping in public immediately even though it’s about how good a girl looks in a shirt. It’s surreal to listen to “Shinin'”, knowing he’s gone while singing a chorus with the line “always be with you.” I would love this song anyway if he were still here–it’s funky, it’s catchy, and Jonghyun’s voice as always is the star of the show–but it’s impossible to divorce the song from its posthumous context for me. At the same time, though, songs like “Shinin'” are how I want to remember Jonghyun. He made upbeat pop music that lifted my spirits, and every song felt like a vow he’d stay by me though he never knew who I was. Specifically, he fought through his own demons to make songs like this, which inspires me to keep fighting against my own depression. Jonghyun shone brightly himself, and I count myself lucky to live in a world where I got to hear his art.
[8]

Tim de Reuse: It’s a little cluttered, a little bloated with unnecessary moving parts, and generally not as tight a package as “She Is,” which I haven’t been able to get out of my head since we covered it eighteen-odd months ago. Still, Jonghyun’s snappy delivery builds momentum as well as it ever did, and his transition into the chorus is too plucky and joyously effortless to get bogged down by particulars of melody and form. The message of “Always be with you” ought to be particularly poignant, but I can’t bring myself to get all that melancholy over such a confident, blue-skied presentation, despite the circumstances of this song’s release — that says a lot about his music, I think.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: The tragedy surrounding Jonghyun’s demise would no doubt cast a shadow over the music that should emerge from he or his group despite any of the better efforts of those who would choose to release it (and judging from this video, perhaps be gambled upon). “Shinin'” is soft-edged bordering on a pillowy dullness, suggesting either perhaps a rush-job to capitalize or just a poorly designed single thanks to a light modernized disco-shuffle that never quite hits the grooves it traces along. The “Always be with you” refrain can only be bittersweet in the wake of Jonghyun’s passing and with this to memorialize him, perhaps his fans will find a sentimental value beyond more than a single could provide.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Jonghyun’s silken finesse doesn’t unduly disturb the stuttering competence of the backing track, which means “Shinin'” is closer to VIP lounge fare than I’d like. But wallpaper looks textured after a couple glasses of prosecco. 
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: Reminds me of one of my favorite neo-disco deep cuts lately; this one’s got about ten times as much going on where it’d be better streamlined to three times as much, but the slink is the same.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: This slightly woozy, upbeat pop record is so good, it makes Jonghyun’s suicide in December sting that much more. He sounds full of life, the percussion snaps and crackles, and the synths woosh back & forth, all combining to create a magical pop record. “Shinin'” is, in fact, sunshine and joy and smiles. Rest in power, Jonghyun.
[9]