Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tuesday Tunes Tastings


It's Tuesday.

Let's talk some music!


99 Cents [Santigold]


I’ve been holding onto Santigold’s debut album as this benchmark of solidified greatness for so long that I constantly forget that she has not really impressed me once since then.  Sure, she has had her moments, but her debut was so richly consistent and her sophomore album was a letdown and now her third album (one of my most anticipated of the year) falls short of all my expectations.  It isn’t a bad album, but it seems to stay oddly within this safe zone of ‘been there done that’ that feels anticlimactic and almost cheap in many places.  The album’s opener, Can’t Get Enough of Myself is almost too ‘throwbacky’ in that it feels void of any real musical progression.  It sounds like a bad TV theme song.  The albums one real strong moment comes in the form of Walking In A Circle where Santigold channels the goddess VV Brown (who has the progressive career that Santigold SHOULD have) with a slinky, seductive electronica number that feels so animalistic in its musicality.  Sadly, the majority of this album is just…forgettable.

Grade:  
3 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  While it has moments of serious merit, the album as a whole is almost too easy and feels less progressive as I would expect from her.  She needs to step up her game.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Dance/Electronica Song:  Walking In A Circle

America [XYLO]


This EP is all over the place in the best way possible.  I hear Sleigh Bells, I hear Lorde, I hear Lana Del Rey, I hear pop princess radio hits…I hear talent!  Bang Bang opens with a track clearly inspired by Sleigh Bells and on par with anything they released on their debut (and best) album; so exciting and bursting with energy.  Alfterlife and L.A. Love Song are softer glimpses of their breed of electronica pop.  America has such a haunting richness to it, and BLK CLD ups the pop tones with an upbeat and catchy chorus.  Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is such a grounded and beautiful ballad.  All around, this EP shows such great promise for this band.  I can’t wait to see what they do with a full album!

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  Such an organically original introduction to a group that (hopefully) will continue to color outside the lines.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Extended Play of the Year:  America
Best Dance/Electronica Song:  Bang Bang

Night Swim [Josef Salvat]


There are moments during Josef Salvat’s debut album that my heart actually skipped beats.  His breed of endearing pop music reminds me so much of my obsession from last year, Troye Sivan, and so when I was about 30 seconds into the opening track Open Season I was completely sold.  He juggles more influences than Sivan, stretching himself a little further to not always perfect results, but his ambition is truly admirable and his niche is at times truly stunning.  The dark tones of Hustler creep up on you and add such rich complexity within lyrical message.  Punchline sits so beautifully in its pocket until it explodes in the final moments.  He falters a tad when he incorporates more dated influences, like on The Days, which almost sounds like U2-Pop, or Closer which feels a bit like a Savage Garden (remember them) reject.  But then he hits us with the title track, Night Swim, and our breath is literally knocked out of us.  This song seriously gives me the Xavier Dolan goosies.  The slink in each and every beat is so richly worked through the entire song.  It’s just pure sex.  His cover of Rihanna’s Diamonds is also, in a word, breathtaking.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  A touch inconsistent in the delivery of varied tones, but well worth investing another listen into.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Songwriting:  Night Swim
Best New Artist:  Josef Salvat
Best Male Vocal:  Night Swim
Pop Album of the Year:  Night Swim
Best Pop Song:  Night Swim
Best Cover Song:  Diamonds

Perfect Tense [Fallulah]


Where Salvat’s album had a real hold on the more sensually brooding pop, Australian Fallulah’s bouncy pop album is such a fun and diverse album.  Drawing influences from bubblegum pop, rock pop and dance pop, her album covers so many genres and styles.  Perfect Tense opens with a fun little track that could be on any pop princess album, but then the album immediately takes us to the dance inspired I.L.W.A.D. (In Love With A Dream) which has a haunting, dreamy soundscape that feels too experimental for the average pop star.  Social Club is a cheeky minx of a track that feels like something we’d hear from Cher Lloyd and then we get Ghostfriend, which gives me serious Sara Bareilles vibes.  Her more rock inspired tracks, like Bob Dylan, have a garage punk band flow that defies her pop aesthetic.  She travels down so many aural genres I’m impressed that her album comes out feeling even remotely cohesive, but it does.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  It’s a textured and thoroughly enjoyable near-perfect pop album that gets better and better with each listen.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Pop Album of the Year:  Perfect Tense
Best Pop Song:  Ghostfriend

This Unruly Mess I’ve Made [Macklemore & Ryan Lewis]


The hate that is thrust in the face of Macklemore for being a successful white rapper is so…ridiculous.  I’ll say it, The Heist was a GREAT album.  Was it better than Kendrick Lamar’s album?  No.  Was it a worthy Grammy winner?  Hell yes.  It’s sad that Macklemore was put up against Lamar, because what makes BOTH of them great as artists is that they bring real issues to the forefront and thrust responsibility in our faces to actually confront things we don’t want to.  Kendrick is obviously less commercial, and so maybe that’s why Macklemore gets hate for making these issues more acceptable to ‘white people’, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that his flow is slick, his lyricism is sick and Ryan Lewis laces these albums with beats that are exciting, rich and memorable.  So now they’re back with This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.  How does it fare?  I’m not sure yet.  I’ve listened to this a few times now, and I keep trying to get a better grip on my real feelings about it as a whole.  It has moments of absolute brilliance, and then moments of forgettable filler, which I was really hoping not to see here.  Downtown is fun and I kind of love it in all of its ridiculousness because it is so flawlessly constructed and produced, but if you are going to write ridiculous songs, you have to produce them flawlessly…and songs like Brad Pitt’s Cousin and Let’s Eat have notable flaws.  But like I said, there is undeniable brilliance here, like the beautiful Growing Up (with Ed Sheeran) and his takedown of award’s success with Light TunnelsKevin is a heartfelt plea to addiction awareness and Dance Off is just explosively fun (and it has Idris Elba yelling his a** off).  And then there is White Privilege II, which may be the most important song you hear all year long.  Macklemore gets ridiculous hate for being white and singing about black issues, but for me this is such an important song because it really spills the truth about the REAL issue here.  I applaud him for not only raising his voice for such an important cause, but also being honest enough to explore his own doubts, criticize his own success and contemplate his place in it all.  I see nothing but honest, humility and heartfelt concern.  The album as a whole is a little uneven, but I’m not sure that matters.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues 
Why?  There are so many strokes of brilliance here that I feel this grade made change the more I let it sit.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
Favorite Song of the Year:  White Privilege II (feat. Jamila Woods)
Best Songwriting:  White Privilege II (feat. Jamila Woods)
Best Collaborative Vocal:  Growing Up (feat. Ed Sheeran)
Urban Contemporary Album of the Year:  This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
Best Urban Contemporary Song:  White Privilege II (feat. Jamila Woods)

Vroom Vroom [Charli XCX]


I’m finding rather quickly that my love for Boom Clap is a solitary affection for Charli XCX because everything else I hear from her is just so…not impressive.  This EP is so boring and generic and underwhelming and just pointless.  Recycling beats we’ve all heard over lyrics that just sound dumb in her spoken tone (they’d sound stupid in any tone, really), her EP is so anti-progressive and just unappealing.

Grade: 
Two Miley Tongues
Why?  It just feels someone stale.  There could have been something here, but there isn’t much.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
NO

16 comments:

  1. I tend to agree with you Charli XCX is hit or miss. I like a few songs by her, although I don’t ever listen to an entire album. My favorites are Nuclear Seasons, Boomclap, and Fancy by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX(if that counts)
    Haven’t listened to the Macklemore album yet. You're right White Privilege II is a powerful track. Thanks for sharing
    the reviews

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    1. I like her work alongside others, but so far she hasn't been able to helm an album, at least in my eyes.

      White Privilege II is a monumental work.

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  2. I agree when it comes to Charli XCX. I think Boom Clap is ridiculously catchy and a great song, but I'm not crazy about anything else from her.

    I love these posts because I'm apparently very bad at paying attention to what new albums drop every week. I didn't know Macklemore had a new one out. I'm going to give this a listen.

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    1. Thanks, Britt! I'm glad to spread some light on these acts/albums and hopefully get people listening to them.

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  3. I am totally with you on Charli XCX. Haven't really liked much other than Boom Clap and I've been trying for YEARS.

    SO HAPPY to see love for Josef Salvat. Open Season is one of my favorite songs of last year and I have been EAGERLY anticipating the album, although I haven't gotten a chance to listen to it all yet.

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    1. Also: yeah, his voice is just SEX. And the Diamonds cover is GORGEOUS. I might swoon for real if I ever see him live.

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    2. YAY! Love that you're a Salvat fan. What are your thoughts on Sivan? I was infatuated with him last year, and their sound is similar.

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  4. I'm interested in a lot of this week's batch. I'll probably skip Santigold. I will definitely skip Charli XCXXDXEXFXG...ahem...sorry.

    I knew that Macklemore's album was coming out today, but I haven't heard a single song yet. Looking forward to that.

    The hatred Macklemore gets for being a white rapper is ridiculous, I agree, but I understand where it comes from. It is a defense mechanism based on the fear that blacks will be pushed out of the rap game by White Corporate America. This is essentially what happened to jazz and rock. Rap artists and the majority of fans are keenly aware of this fact. Therefore, every successful white rapper feels like the beginning of the end. Even Eminem dealt with it. Two things helped him win people over. First and foremost, he was ushered into the spotlight by Dr. Dre. That's an automatic boost to your street cred that Macklemore simply doesn't have. Next, Em's level of lyricism, his ability to manipulate the English language, is astronomical. Just no denying it. Finally, he addressed it in his music several times. Most famously, he admitted "If I was black, I would've sold half." When he personally owns up to being tremendously successful due to the color of his skin, what else can anyone say?

    It doesn't help Macklemore that some of the issues he raised on the last album were just too progressive for the hip hop community. One of the flaws of hip hop culture is that it is still a very homophobic place. It can certainly be knocked for being misogynistic as well, but with that issue there is a dialogue within the community to address it. There is public debate about it. That doesn't exist in hip hop with regards to sexuality. At least it didn't happen before Macklemore. Even now there's really not much discussion on the matter. It's become sorta acceptable in rap to be a lesbian, but far more so to be bisexual and feed into male fantasies. It is still not acceptable at all to be gay male rapper. Shit will really hit the fan if/when one becomes known.

    Sorry for going on that tangent and hijacking your post. The point is I don't agree with the hatred Macklemore gets, nor the reasons he gets it, but I do understand it.

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    1. BLESS Wendell. I'm glad that you hijacked the post because this is the kinds of discussions I feel we should be having. You raise great points regarding why Macklemore is facing an uphill battle, and also why he'll be remembered. His progressive views are really what makes his music, I feel, important.

      Listen to White Privilege II, because he attacks his privilege, his place and the community as a whole brilliantly.

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    2. I will make it a point to at least listen to that song tonight. Hopefully, I'll get to the rest of the album, too. Cross your fingers.

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  5. I haven't heard the new Charli XCX EP though I did enjoy the Suckers album as she is one of the few pop artists that I can actually enjoy as she's quite silly and not full of herself. As long as she doesn't appear in Pepsi commercials, she'll be fine.

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    1. Hmmmm, interesting way to view her.

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  6. In the words of Schultz from Hogan's Heroes...."I know nothing"....lol

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  7. I want to check out all of these, even the Charli XCX one. Though, I've never actually listened to either of Santigold's previous albums. :/

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