Monday, August 18th, 2014

Slam Dunk’d ft. Chromeo & Al-P – No Price

Like Janet and Luther told you…


[Video][Website]
[6.93]

Edward Okulicz: I enjoyed the speculation about who this act was when it was billed as Disco Mystery, mostly from people whose favourite disco song is probably “Get Lucky,” though a couple of bloggers picked Arthur Baker early on. The trick’s as old as the material, but the execution is excellent; the new vocal line from Dave 1 meshes perfectly melodically as well as lyrically with the sample and the strings sweep but don’t overwhelm. “No Price” doesn’t hit you with 20 hooks at once, but it threads them one after the other and doesn’t let up. It’s a bit repetitive (hence the high but not ultra-high score) but I still can’t wait to hear the twelve-inch.
[8]

Alex Ostroff: I’ve been handwringing for forty minutes about whether I’m inclined to overrate “No Price” because I know it’s a lost Arthur Baker track resurrected from the archives. But I’ve also been dancing in a café ignoring my laundry for forty minutes. So.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Slam Dunk’d is Arthur Baker, who put this track on ice during the Reagan administration. Thawed and garnished with modern stutters and filters, it’s ready to serve to an audience used to tastier Daft Punk retronuevo exercises.
[4]

Patrick St. Michel: Even without the backstory spurred by the current disco revival’s ability to put dollar signs in people’s eyes, “No Price” is a solid dance number that seems like it would have sounded fine back in the late ’70s too. I wasn’t alive then, but this doesn’t sound like Disney Presents The Hall Of Disco — this seems like a song to lose yourself to for a little over three minutes. 
[7]

Josh Love: If Larry Levan could have dropped this into a mix at the Paradise Garage I’m sure there would’ve been zero complaints, but as pop music in 2014 it’s a bridge too far. I was never a “Get Lucky” stan, but I could at least appreciate the effort to cross-pollinate eras and sensibilities, rather than just ransacking a museum.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: It’s a bit like when J.K. Rowling throws a thousand words of Harry Potter trivia up on the internets and the press goes wild about the first all-new glimpse at the life of Hogwarts alum since Deathly Hallows. There might be a couple revelatory ideas, but no one should seriously pretend a lot of filler hasn’t gone into bulking it up to newsworthy status.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: I like Chromeo Dave’s disco self-insert fic. I know I keep saying I’m retiring from music writing, but this time I fucking mean it.
[7]

Hazel Robinson: This is so fucking cheap, in terms of it being the sound of hitting the “PARTY MEGAMIX” button that I assume exists on any decent DJ decks. Thing is, though, I fucking love Jive Bunny.
[7]

Dan MacRae: Those disco strings! (Are they tacky? They’re good tacky, right?) “No Price” is roller rink twirl done right and you could certainly do worse than having Dave 1 as your agreeable host. I might consider consulting with a financial planner before taking the song’s advice to heart, of course.
[8]

Will Adams: Disco is such an easy draw; that there’s almost nothing done with it beyond looping is plain lazy. At least other nostalgia-bait knew to filter during the verses.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: Filter house is a gift to producers as much as everyone else because the endless source material speaks for itself, so it’s a shame that in this instance it’s unavailable. There isn’t much need for Dave from Chromeo continuing to sound like a bloke called Dave, yet he’s there; maybe as “In The Heat Of A Disco Night” to “I Think I Like It,” this could be even better in its originally desired form.
[7]

Josh Winters: What makes classic disco so inviting to me is the natural warmth that eases out of every track. It’s transportive in that way; it’s the quintessential sound of bright lights, bodies in motion, and community through music. As an aural snapshot of a time long ago, “No Price” feels like a triumphant victory lap for the genre, showcasing many of its beloved signifiers without ever losing its spirit. The rhythm is relentless, the strings ring out with sheer vibrancy, and the energy remains as high and palpable as ever. Dave 1′s debonair presence is an extra treat, just like the sweetest cherry on top of a delicious sundae.
[8]

Brad Shoup: Canny or no, it’s nice to get more disco signifiers than the rhythm guitar, even this was thawed wholesale from a time capsule. I can’t say that’s cheating though, because I’m not sure you can cheat in pop. I feel like I’m being seduced by an ancient Buick commercial, and I gotta say: it feels good.
[7]

Anthony Easton: This just races up that mountain, with ambition taking over any subtlety to become a pure banger, with little room to breathe. Perfect pleasure for pleasure’s sake. 
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Holy shit this is like the lost disco jam of Dimitri from Paris’s dreams — which also means, from mine too. I would never have guessed that Arthur Baker ’79 + half of MSTRKRFT + half of Chromeo would = this 3:29 of perfection, but OHmysweetdiscodeities, “No Price” is glitter-dipped gloriousness. This is right up there with the best things Baker’s ever laid his hands on, and easily surpasses anything I’ve ever heard by either MSTRKRFT or Chromeo. It’s also easily one of 2014′s best singles. 
[10]

Monday, August 18th, 2014

RAC ft. Matthew Koma – Cheap Sunglasses

The stunna shades backlash finally hits…


[Video]
[4.62]

Hazel Robinson: Oh joy, a diss song about a girl who’s made of plastic from some young men aiming for that envious market position of post-Owl-City-Perez-Hilton-neg-pop. I’ve finished re-hinging my jaw after the enormous yawn I just unleashed and yet this song is still going on, which has knocked it down several more points.
[1]

Anthony Easton: I find the message so odious, and so boring, that I feel guilty for enjoying the chorus as much as I do. All of that contempt bubbles and overflows — like swamp gas in a tar pit. 
[5]

W.B. Swygart: Yes, it’s the EDM “Mr Writer” you always knew you didn’t need!
[1]

Dan MacRae: Things get a touch MC Miker G & DJ Sven in parts, eh? “Cheap Sunglasses” smacks me as something you’d find in the foam of a Foster The People jingle crafting session.
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: Soda-store electronics and ah. Only ah. 
[2]

Alfred Soto: That “ah” appended to the ends of verses pissed me off; it supports my suspicion that from the “you’re so radical” line to the synth strings swelling in the wrong places this is an example of mannered, fussed-over, would-be pop.
[5]

David Sheffieck: The production’s light enough to float away, which wouldn’t be a problem if Koma’s vocal could ground it in anything approaching relatable emotion. The most interesting thing here is that while the titular metaphor seems a bit labored, the metonomy in the song’s repeated use of “ah” works perfectly. It’s the only time I feel like I know what Koma’s talking about, so it’s lucky that it makes up approximately half of the poor man’s “Rich Girl” lyric.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: In 2016 there will be songs repurposing every component of a college girl’s wardrobe to call her fake. This would be somewhat rich coming from anyone, but Matthew Koma? In the hypothetical blue book of vocalists’ market value, Mike Posner is cheap sunglasses. Matthew Koma is like dangling a six-pack ring off your eyes.
[4]

Ashley Ellerson: “You’re tacky and I hate you” — that’s what I got out of this song, in addition to karma making its rounds. Such a catchy song to poke fun at someone’s (deserved) misfortune. The lyrics are cliché, but calling someone “cheap sunglasses” is a new insult that I’m not against using. I’m a little irritated with the fact that “ah” is a legit line-ender in this song, but maybe we should pretend this is a way to censor harsher words that could be said? In the end, Koma’s voice and attractiveness make the insults of “Cheap Sunglasses” more than forgivable.
[8]

Jonathan Bradley: Over a chintzy burble about as tropical as a plastic flamingo, Matthew Koma chirrups sour thoughts about someone whose shit is way hotter than his own. Haters need anthems too, and this one is thankfully more peppy than it is petulant. The sparkling rush of schadenfreude in “your limousines get stuck in traffic” — rush hour, the great leveller! — distracts from the conceptually shaky title. “Your cheap sunglasses” — is the thought left unfinished? “You’re cheap sunglasses” — is it an awkwardly truncated metaphor, and if so, can’t even the most expensive sunglasses be seen through?
[8]

Brad Shoup: I never got off the throne of skulls I timeshare with Pitbull long enough to suggest we cover Tiësto/Koma’s “Wasted” — it’s too late and just as well, since my cultural pleasures tend to be silly and solitary. Koma distinguished himself by becoming a multitude, a bunch of hysteric voices bobbing over the bosh. Faced with what sounds like a rejected Van She remix, he can’t be bothered to get off his stool.
[4]

Will Adams: After spending years as a remixer-for-hire, RAC began releasing original songs that featured past collaborators providing their familiar vocals with his signature sound. The sonic consistency was there: mid-tempo pop songs that sparkled with clean drum kits and simple guitar riffs. But what of thematic consistency? It’s there, too, it turns out. “Cheap Sunglasses” sounds like the sequel of “Hollywood,” which saw Penguin Prison calling out an antagonist who’d submitted to the superficiality of that city. Now, we’ve got Matthew Koma’s sandpaper voice, placing his own antagonist as the title metaphor. It easily recalls my embittered youth, when it seemed that all I saw around me was fake, and that only I maintained some authenticity. For a producer who relies so much on other musicians for vocals and lyrics, Andre Allen Anjos has been able to carve out his own artistic voice, all the while creating some of the catchiest summer tunes on the market.
[9]

Alex Ostroff: How on earth did Matthew Koma co-write half of 2012′s best pop album? I can hear touches of “This Kiss” and “I Know You Have a Girlfriend” here, but it’s so anemic and (sorry) cheap in comparison to Carly’s full sonics and disco bounce. It doesn’t help that while CRJ’s delivery manages to imbue with sweetness even songs where she’s straight-up stealing someone else’s boyfriend, this guy just drips contempt that can barely be disguised through even the peppiest bits of this shlock. The affected obnoxious “ah“s and sharp intakes of breath grate too. We see right through you, bro.
[3]

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Block B – Her

Best dye job in a music video since Matt Bellamy, tbh…


[Video][Website]
[6.75]

Alfred Soto: Serious riffage around, under, and over the verses. Vocalists trying to keep up. A musical simulation of what it’s like to realize you’re in love.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: If Macklemore didn’t come off as the RAP GAME CHRIS MARTIN’S LOW RESPECT FOR HUMANITY, this is what I actually imagine his brand of pop-rap might sound like. And distressingly enough, I’m head over heels for it. There’s a weird fidgety quality in the high-energy antics, giving it a sort of neurotic hysteria, but it’s all held together so tightly, that it reminds me of… Squeeze of all things! Forget Mike Watt, is someone showing Miles Copeland K-Pop?!?
[8]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Her” is a pretty fun mishmash of upbeat nostalgia: an aping of Northern Soul dancefloor standards, surfer rock soundtracks, and a little bit of the jazz-influenced filtered-Americana that Tokyo Jihen were so good at. But let’s put all that to the side to talk about the God MC, ZICO ON THE BLOCK, the only rapper in the game with the lack of sense/foolish pride/Zicosity to release a song called “Cocks”, who still hasn’t gotten a reply from Kendrick Lamar after jumping on the “Control” beat. You scared of these lyrical miracles, K Dot?!?! HUH?! (Zico’s speed-rapped first verse is pretty awful. GOD STATUS.)
[6]

Brad Shoup: Busy bass, but it’s so basic. Not so Block B, who get balled up into *NSYNC yowls and explode for a double-time rap break. That break is Zico’s, and it’s slotted in the heart of the order. But the impatience is palpable, and the trebly guitar and the cod-gospel and the awesome emetic chorus are all running together in my head. And whoa, what is up with bringing Jesus into this?
[6]

Madeleine Lee: “Her” glides from genre to genre with ease and style, drawing gospel and surf-punk and minimal house with the same continuous line. The melodies highlight the group’s fresh vocal tones, which don’t sound like anyone else in K-pop right now; I’ve heard criticism from fans that the uneven line distribution has more to do with producer-leader Zico’s ego than individual suitability, but everyone’s voice sounds like it’s right where it should be to me. Since 2012, Block B’s singles have been all about how great they are, to varying degrees of success in the execution; in a classic case of showing beating telling, “Her” is a song about how great someone else is (the titular Olivia Hussey-like her who makes you go “heol“) that makes them sound just as good.
[8]

Jessica Doyle: I actually went and looked up a fanchant guide, something I don’t usually do, since I couldn’t figure out where there’s enough of a break in the action for the fans to get a word in. (By contrast, see SHINee’s “Everybody,” where spaces that seemed too long in the recorded version were filled in during live performances.) Which makes sense for a song in which “I can’t talk” is immediately followed by Zico’s rap. For all the praise being heaped upon the love object, “Her” is more a celebration of the giddy energy of initial love, regardless of the recipient. It’s too self-absorbed to work as a real love song, but it’s fun to bounce to for a bit.
[6]

Iain Mew: Living up to the showmanship of the intro — oversized harmonies providing a most wide-eyed curtain raiser — sets them an impossible task. Hearing them attempt it via surf-guitar, squeezed “uh-oh”s and a hundred rapid changes of direction is still quite fun.
[6]

Patrick St. Michel: A stage-ready musical number that refuses to acknowledge the concept of “holding something back.” There are all sorts of little details buried across “Her” that could mutate into something great all their own — that squiggly little synth early on being my favorite — but Block B are too busy darting all over to build on them. Then again, with a zippy chorus like that, I’d be in a rush too.
[7]

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Weezer – Back to the Shack

Rivers is all about that bass.


[Video]
[2.78]

Dan MacRae: Weezer are a tricky proposition in 2014. What do we want from these guys and would we know it if we got it? “Back to the Shack” plunks Weezer in that weird zone between self-effacing and self-parody where they’re trying to go the triumphant “WE’RE BACK AND READY TO BE A GOOD ATTENTIVE ROCK DAD AGAIN!” anthem route but with less than sexy results. Like, I don’t need dignity to radiate out of Rivers & Co. but maybe a lumbering nostalgia dry hump isn’t the way to go. Shit, at that stage you instantly morph into Chubby Checker decked out in denim for a budget casino brunch performance of “The Twist.”
[4]

Edward Okulicz: Rivers Cuomo has written a slashing, hook-ridden ode to better times, younger times, less jaded times, and sung it with conviction and inspired you to punch the air and also think of the years when you were younger, firmer and rockin’ out big-time and makes you really feel 1994, man. Oh wait, I’m thinking of “The Good Life.”
[3]

Patrick St. Michel: The narrative goes that Weezer have been a steadily sinking ship since 2000, but that doesn’t really capture how out-there Rivers Cuomo has become. He developed a twisted confidence…starting with The Red Album…that has resulted in some of the most baffling music of the past decade. Just listen to this shit. “Back to the Shack” is Rivers cracking open a cold one, staring at his band’s last decade-plus of work and then officially embracing lame-dad status. This is part alternative Weezer creation myth, Rivers imagining Weezer…Weezer!…as a band that was ever capable of “raising hell,” and part half-assed apology for all the bad music that promises the band playing “like ’94,” but just sounds like “Beverly Hills.” He takes a shot at, like, American Idol while he’s here because why not? Weezer promises a return to ’90s form, but “Back to the Shack” is Weezer Weezering on into middle age. 
[2]

Alfred Soto: Approaching forty, Rivers Cuomo gets ruminative over power chords, remembering 1994 when “stupid singing shows” didn’t exist. More and more he resembles Tom Petty, that boomer rockist Ronald Reagan, articulating reactionary ideas with rhetorical precision and metaphorical wigginess (I don’t get his radio line, like, at all). If “back to the shack” is a sex metaphor he ain’t telling but he’ll let his buzzing guitar suggest it. Wouldn’t you know it — Petty released a similarly themed tune in 1994.
[6]

Katherine St Asaph: If you were that anti-2014 you wouldn’t enjamb “let’s turn up / the radio.” Nor would you claim that pandering to a fanbase so large and fervent they line-edit your lyrics is a path to obscurity, rather than a Palmer-proven business model. It’s not so much that these are bad choices; it’s that as stupid as those singing shows assume their viewers are, it’s not nearly as stupid as Weezer assumes their listeners are to swallow this. Also, judging by the intro Cuomo’d be better off going back to the drunk tank.
[3]

Anthony Easton: God, remember when Rivers Cuomo had a pop sensibility and was not contemptuous about everything and anything? At least disco is smarter and more fecund in how it plows the fields of its own nostalgia. At least the singing shows have given us Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. More than what 1994 gave us. 
[0]

Josh Winters: As tedious and torturous as being forced by your friends to watch their band practice.
[1]

Brad Shoup: Rivers Cuomo mealymouthing hip-hop phrasing is his own personal Tourette’s at this point. He can’t help it, not even in a song that pays lip service to the idea that Weezer (which = Cuomo, clearly and explicitly) just wanted to be Crüe all along. The boy can’t help himself. He’s always played decent lead, written terrible lyrics, and except for one glorious Green Period, devised jagged hooks when they were even there. Excepting the intro, this is essentially “Beverly Hills” with Ocasek leaning (blessedly) on a synth. It’s the one thing that marks any kind of return, even if it’s just Return of the Rentals.
[5]

Megan Harrington: Maybe rockism isn’t dead. Maybe once named it can never die. But if your brand’s loudest voice is an aging dweeb whining “I forgot that disco sucks” then you’re definitely in the sort of fallow period when politicians want your vote and everyone else forgets you’re still alive. 
[1]

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Lumidee ft. Bodega Bamz – Mars

Don’t call it a comeback.


[Video]
[5.10]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Lumidee hasn’t truly been attention grabbing since the 00s, when she babyishly won hearts on “Never Leave You”. So what does one do when they want to remind people that people liked her? Not much, just put in a Clipse “Grindin” homage, and have Bodega Bamz show-pony and prance while bragging about using the 50 Cent flow (more like a clinical and unmemorable French Montana rehash). Unfortunately, that’s not sarcasm, because I’ve rarely heard a singer so afraid of departing from her hook, barely offering up a remainder of a song. You have to wonder, does she even want to be here?
[2]

Alfred Soto: In 2003 she benefited from the novelty of hearing diwali on an R&B record not produced by Missy Elliott and Timbaland. Forced to project anony-lust over firecracker effects and a sequencer that has served new house records to better effect, she sounds wan.
[5]

Will Adams: “I feel like I’m on some other planet-type shit/’Cause you got me on another planet” — the dead-eyed stupidity of this line encapsulates how unnecessary and unsuccessful the whole song is. But it made me laugh, so I can’t fully hate this.
[4]

David Sheffieck: If you’re gonna sample “Grindin’” best to bring enough personality to it that you’re not drawing unfavorable comparisons. But that’s exactly the mistake made here, with Lumidee stripped of her sensual, electric croon and Bodega Bamz a nonentity taking up far too much space.
[3]

Luisa Lopez: The best kind of seduction is made up of odd duets, hesitancy, and a good beat. Guest vocals only seem worth it if they complicate the narrative in some way, you know? If we’re going to allow someone else into this song, they need to shake it up. Of course I’m partial to a woman helming the conversation; who isn’t? (Lots of people; that doesn’t matter.) Here, from that initial discordance to brash reappearance, these two gel together in an unexpected way, making fairly familiar tropes — how little our attraction fits into standard schematics! we must be lustful aliens — sexy, sudden, new.
[8]

Dan MacRae: Do Lumidee and Bodega Bamz like Puerto Rico? The music video is a bit unclear. (I’d give that gaggle of adorable flag wrapped dogs in the promo power of attorney if I could.) Maybe I’m a soft touch for the Clipse sample, but “Mars” certainly has its charms. It stomps and glides along in a welcome enough fashion. It’s a shame this cut possesses all the grip of cotton candy. “Mars” sorta disintegrated into my headphones every time I played it. After each listen (about 12 by my count) I tried to sort out if “Mars” was something I was particularly fond of or if it was just a fog of pre-established Lumidee + Clipse goodwill that was clouding my brain. The answer’s somewhere in the middle, I think.
[6]

Brad Shoup: Fluff and theft. 
[4]

Megan Harrington: Both Lumidee and Bodega Bamz wander on and off key giving “Mars” a weirdly unfinished, demo quality. Whenever I get that sense my first impulse to play a game of armchair A&R, and in this case I can’t think of much to recommend signing, aside from the fact that these two seem to have managed double the Mustard at half the price. 
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: Samples “Grindin’,” shouts out “Wishing on a Star,” and doesn’t get much further than that juxtaposition; but as juxtapositions go you can get far worse.
[5]

Andy Hutchins: The thunder of the “Grindin” drums is the Contra code of rap. But blending that with chilled Mustard-lite synths, as Mike Street does for the spacey, irresistible “Mars” soundscape, is an unexpected marriage of aural chocolate and peanut butter. Lumidee’s comeback isn’t going to be a thing, alas, not if she keeps singing lyrics as bad as “I feel like I’m on some other planet time shit,” but she’s plenty capable of floating over this, and the more unknown Bamz stands out, thanks to a flip of “Return of the Mack,” brazen, explicit larceny of an old 50 Cent flow, and swaggering delivery of absolutely nothing. A summer smash arriving a month too late to be the summer smash of 2014 is more than fine by me, given its competition.
[9]

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Lilly Wood & the Prick – Prayer in C (Robin Schulz remix)

Is the vocal in C?


[Video][Website]
[4.80]

Scott Mildenhall: Going by just Lilly Wood in the UK, which is for the best, post-Wankelmut. Like Wankelmut, Robin Schulz is clearly a doyen of what no-one seems to be calling “Waves”-wave, and by its very nature that can strike as dull, if a fine balance isn’t hit. Where Mr. Probz sounded legitimately, compellingly broken, Nili Hadida is hammier than the London Borough of Newham, and not even in a “WHAT ABOUT ELEPHANTS?” way. It’s all a bit too soporific.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: More like lullaby in ZzZzZzZ….
[1]

Katherine St Asaph: More adventures in escaping the PR/blogs/hype/filter-algorithm recommendation matrix via quasi-legal Google hacks! For some reason, searching for mp3 indexes likes to return French directories, and as loath as I was to download something sound unheard with both “wood” and “prick” in its name, Lilly Wood & The Prick turned out to be pretty good! The problem with this method is that all its resultant bands basically do not exist outside my mp3 folder, which makes it quite the shock when one of them hits No. 1 basically everywhere in Europe thanks to the au courant remix sound du monde. The house drums are like sugar over Lilly’s pill, and I’m into it, almost as much as this twisted solipsistic underdog story.
[7]

Alfred Soto: That gravely Kim Carnes-esque voices hops and skips over a melody plucked over a guitar. The romantic sentiments are nice but a special eyebrow raise goes to the bit about children starving — I mean, what?
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: You got defeatist mumblecore in my pensive acoustic-electro! Please stay away from me.
[1]

Anthony Easton: The gravitas of the lyrics, and the delivery of that gravitas fail to rise over a generic house-ish production, made even weirder by the self-aggrandizing shift from the personal to the global.
[3]

Luisa Lopez: Loss comes in a lot of different forms and there is a song for each one. Most of us are outraged at the end of love and this is the kind that often seems most deserving of a symphony, as though we were meant to be big enough, our hearts meant to be strong enough, to warrant a choir. Resignation is significantly less sexy. Carrying the burden of rage long after it is pretty is a good bass line, at best. But here, wonderfully, emerges a withering candle postscript that sounds like the end of the world, the way the lyrics meant it to, the way the shock of love retracted can feel like a wave descended upon our city and our home, like a letter that never came. Hey, when seas will cover lands / And when men will be no more / Don’t think you can forgive you.
[10]

Iain Mew: Robin Schulz goes right back to the Wankelmut approach of gnomic folk-rock wedged into the service of giving a feeling of deep meaning to a dance track. It works better not through any great craft on his part, but because the original was already well designed as gnomic and he leaves a lot of it well alone. He even lets some of the woodwind bits seep through at the edges, although I only noticed that pretty detail on comparing the two.
[6]

Megan Harrington: Whenever I need to put my life in perspective, I look up the weather on the other side of the world. I’m up in the Northern hemisphere, so Sydney is my go-to city for sending my brain to opposite-world. Today we are sharing the exact same weather and it’s perfect for “Prayer in C.” The end of their mild winter is the end of my mild summer, it’s pleasant but tempered. A little melancholy guitar meets a beat you don’t have to dance to and Lilly Wood sings about breaking up or staying together; it all depends on which side of the world you’re on. 
[7]

Brad Shoup: I’ve already cast my vote against this light dance/guitar-cradled-on-the-knee thing, so I don’t care if Nili Hadida sounds like Suzanne Vega after a screaming match. This putters like a mixer on low: I understand a lot of people pray in the kitchen, but then they dig into a meal.
[3]

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

2face Idibia ft. Bridget Kelly – Let Somebody Love You

All about that goopy, gloopy, mucky bass…


[Video][Website]
[6.00]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Someone took that little sub-lick out of the muck and mire of a ruptured oil spill, and you can’t tell me otherwise. Elsewhere the skittish sound of the meek percussion and the needling of the plucking melody embedded deep in the chorus seem to play around the song. It’s downright sweet! I can’t tell if this is supposed to be the soundtrack of a lover’s jam or the soundtrack of children chasing after butterflies due to how tentative and fleeting the moments emerge and scurry off. The singers who inherited this playground are really just not aware of what they have to work with, and don’t take full advantage, too locked up into their own trips.
[4]

Patrick St. Michel: 2face Idibia and Bridget Kelly would have delivered a velvety R&B number by themselves… but, whoa, that bass gurgle! It adds a layer of unnerving goop to an otherwise pretty song, and makes this just a touch better. 
[7]

Will Adams: The ’00s-era Neptunes-lite production buffs up what is otherwise a stale message with a competent duo. But God, that morphing bass is a thing of beauty.
[7]

Brad Shoup: The claps are shovels, and my brain is that bassy gloop. The sex becomes a panacea, a woozy pastime, a treatment for a headcold. 2face references Toni Braxton, and I can totally imagine this as an ambiguous bonus track on Love, Marriage & Divorce.
[7]

Iain Mew: The bit at the end after 2face has intensely built up his sexual plans where he ends with a grinning “I ain’t fronting but you’ll have time-outs for relaxing” is great — sweet and clever and conveying more confidence than anything else in the song. It redeems what is a bit of a dull experience to that point.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Pleasant, perfunctory fare that needs a rewrite: an extra verse, a bridge.
[5]

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

SleeQ ft. Joe Flizzow – Tepi Sikit

Malaysia’s first appearance on the Jukebox!


[Video][Website]
[4.67]

Madeleine Lee: “Tepi Sikit” is almost a great song. Technically, it gets everything right: both rappers and singer have a smooth, rhythmically varied flow, and the instrumental is well-built and thoughtfully mixed, with the kind of string and bass lines that should make your heart stir. But for the most part, it’s too timid, too careful to stay tasteful. Then, at the bridge, the beat drops away for a verse before coming back with every instrumental sample in its arsenal all at once. This too is a rote move, down to the timing of the crescendo, but it’s the first time that the track dares to take up some space beyond what’s polite, and the first time it passes merely pleasant to hint at its heart-stirring, breathtaking potential.
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: Glad overwrought rap-ballads are a global force now.
[3]

Brad Shoup: A Malay hip-hop lullaby, a chart-rap clone. Unlike, say, Flizzow’s work in Too Phat, we’re drenched in this super-professional stuff. At least Eminem would throw us a guitar.
[3]

Megan Harrington: The Kanye strings tell me “Tepi Sikit” is a story about a girl and the sacrifices SleeQ (and Joe Flizzow, who echoes their sentiments) just couldn’t make to save their love. Those strings speak a universal language — impatient tears, ambivalent regret — and SleeQ’s sensitive R&B coupled with Flizzow’s clever bars (the Picasso/Escobar line is as universal as the strings) makes for a compelling retelling of a stock story. 
[7]

Edward Okulicz: Anyone can do slick, but not everyone can do friction, and “Tepi Sikit” is enough of the former to sound competent, but not enough of the latter to be actually memorable once it’s over. Not to say that it doesn’t have some cool sounds –  the ratatat beats and the way the strings cascade and intermittently drop out is a delicately placed touch, and nothing in the vocals beats it for that kind of change-up or tension. The chorus is a bit of an aimless wail too.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Such a transparent reproduction of “Live Your Life” illustrates how difficult it is to get this stadium inspo-rap right; Joe Flizzow is no slouch as a rapper and his contribution to “Tepi Sikit” is both precise and conversational. But he lacks the marvellous control of syntax and syllables possessed by T.I., and he can’t transform this song’s watery strings and snare taps into something gravity-defying.
[5]

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

2 Chainz – Freebase

Our nineteenth time covering him (third if you don’t count features…)!


[Video][Website]
[6.00]

Will Adams: 2 Chainz gets his own rage aria, bouncing around lyrical themes as his voice is warped to alienesque proportions. The sputtering beat would drag it down, but it’s so beside the point; all you can do is listen to 2 Chainz rattle off his resume, venture into scatology, and, finally and unexpectedly, reveal a troubled home life.
[6]

Patrick St. Michel: Now that 2 Chainz can safely be slid into the “underrated” category, it’s a little easier to appreciate the bizarre details of his rapping. Part of his charm lies in his clunkers such as “doggin’ these hoes like a shih tzu,” and on “Freebase” he hints at a fecal obsession (a shit tape, huh?). But he’s also a pro at insane little details, some of them bordering on the unnecessary. Here he inadvertently disses Papoose, reveals he doesn’t want to fill his watch with envy and namedrops several gas stations, all before ending the song on a bit of an emotional gut punch about his childhood.
[7]

Alfred Soto: OK on other people’s records, stentorian and hectoring on his own. He bellows persuasively but without wit on this C Note track, although “I’ve done a song by everybody from Jermaine Dupri down to Papoose” almost worked if a pregnant pause didn’t follow; the equivalent of an elbow in the ribs.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: I don’t think he’s ever managed to be this boring, but he used to have a pretty good ear for beats. Shame.
[2]

David Sheffieck: The beat’s nothing special, but 2 Chainz, halfway between anguished and angry, elevates the song in his focus on how much it took to reach his current status: “Work hard, play hard/Work hard again” is the key here, a statement that could seem like hyperbole coming from anyone else but from him is legitimately a #humblebrag.
[7]

Brad Shoup: You think he’s going for the easy joke by putting Pryor up top, until the ending, anyway. The verses fold down the middle: there’s the struggle, building to constant feature work and the confidence to threaten Flex, tapering to more memories of the struggle. I think about Diamond Shamrock becoming Valero all the time. The jokes land, all of ‘em, from the TEC-9 imagery to the vaudevillian wine joke. Don’t know if 2 Chainz has Yeezus in mind, but the pitched-down vocals and the astringent synths are light-years ahead of “Crack” or “Dope Peddler” off TRU.
[9]

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Melissa Steel ft. Popcaan – Kisses For Breakfast

I smell a Hershey’s tie-in…


[Video]
[4.57]

Scott Mildenhall: Something about this feels very anachronistic. It could be the sound of it — lightweight, sweet and straightforward, like it could be from 2006, an unthreatening reaction to Music Of The Sun. That would be a couple of years before the British pop industry seemed to get really organised — slicker, smaller, entry more tightly controlled. In a time where a stretch in guest vocal purgatory seems mandatory before a chart career, Steel has walked in to the top 10 with little visible groundwork. In more ways than one, it’s very easy to miss.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: If sundrops actually functioned like rain to baptize the day and bestow a sense of relief and hope in the world, they’d sound like this riddim. Melissa is a gentle breezer of a hostess, her vocals all swaying sundress and giddy winks. Meanwhile, Popcaan, a dancehall artist I’ve always felt hesitant to embrace because of an eternal teenage quality in his voice, works wonders here to express a simple joy and romp along with Melissa. My heart melts a little, and I hope and pray there’s more of this to come before the summer comes to a close.
[7]

Anthony Easton: Dumb and unoriginal, but with a voice that rests softly ontop of a production that is angular and minimal enough to ensure that like does not attract like. The toasting is a bit anemic, though. 
[4]

Luisa Lopez: Now where’s a melody bred, in the heart or in the head? This one’s all over the place, sliding up hills and rattling down stairs, sounding like a cluster of frazzled bells. It doesn’t really go anywhere, which is not a bad quality if it is the only flaw in an otherwise great or even decent song, but here the message is three days old, stale, and kisses for breakfast sounds like a particularly syrupy children’s cartoon. I would turn it off every time it came on TV, and I’ll do the same for this song on the radio, unless I come across it during Popcaan’s verse, which suddenly has the cleverness to include the line “she give me pon de bed, pon de floor,” which is so smart that it elicited a little joyful burst from me that made the sun shine down on all those Autotuned riffs.
[3]

Will Adams: For those who like their poolside cocktails with an extra shot or four of grenadine.
[4]

Brad Shoup: Clearly it’s not as heavy a breakfast as recommended, but that’s fine. Like a morning sunbeam, she’s insistent and bright and more than a little much for my level of alertness. Still, I can’t lie: she puts a lot of feel into “pour, pour“, so maybe there’s more power in the demand than I was thinking. That piano is starving, though.
[5]

Alfred Soto: From Dusty Springfield in 1969 (“Breakfast in Bed,” scamps) to Beyoncé last year, breakfast sex has served as a tasty amuse-bouche or espresso after the meal. Melissa Steel’s gormless performance doesn’t convince me she’s experienced either, and the hook is as self-satisfied as Popcaan expendable.
[4]