Singles Round-up, February 17

Animal Collective | “Kinda Bonkers”
They have to be fucking with us at this point. Seriously, who opens a song with, “Life is so French toast to me/ If you wait too long, it gets black and weak”? And just so we’re clear, the meta self-awareness of the title (or the “What the fuck is happening?” line) doesn’t improve the track’s quality. This song (and The Painters EP it’s on) was written during the Painting With sessions, meaning if you liked that record you’ll enjoy this.

Thundercat | “Friend Zone”
Thundercat continues his winning streak with this space-y gem, which name-checks videogames and references Kendrick Lamar. The bubbly vibe from Mono/Poly’s production is fittingly remniscentof FF7’s Forgotten City theme, while ‘Cat’s basslines pogostick around the track. Keep it up, dude.

Maroon 5 | “Cold”
A breakup song released on Valentine’s Day, because why the fuck not? The hook and dancehall-infused production (thanks, Rihanna) aren’t as sugary as previous M5 outings, so take that how you will. They had Kendrick phone in a verse on their last single, so it only makes sense to have Future do the same here; he’s cringeworthy throughout, but the worst line is probably this: “I just spent a half a mil on a chandelier/ Now you tryna cut me off like a light switch”. Can we have the Maroon 5 that made “This Love” back now?

New Found Glory | “Happy Being Miserable”
High school nostalgia is in full effect with candy-coated 2000’s pop-punk complete with whiny lyrics like, “When you throw me under the bus/ Back it up and run me over”. In other words, NFG haven’t changed at all. But their songwriting has been (and still is) better than most of their peers, so it’s probably for the best. If nothing else they still use power chords, so I’ll take it.

Papa Roach | “Help”
Kudos to Papa Roach for sticking with their own brand of inoffensive radio rock. This new arena ballad has a surprisingly strong melody, but suffers from their typically banal lyricism: “‘Cause I’m cut deep, my heart won’t beat/ Deep down low it’s killing me”. Despite that, it’s a success because it’s easy to drunkenly sing along to.

Immolation | “Fostering The Divide”
They’ve gotten better as they’ve progressed both as musicians and songwriters, the latter of which is quite rare in death metal. Ross Dolan’s gutteral bark hasn’t lost any of its potency after 30 years, either. Majesty and Decay is still their finest effort, but the stutter-stomp of “Fostering” and the bulldozing fury of previous single “Destructive Currents,” both from their upcoming LP Atonement, suggest it could be just as good. As with their best material, this is smart and heavy.

Body Count | “No Lives Matter”
Yeah, that Body Count, the one with Ice-T. Rap metal in 2017 is a fascinating anachronism, but he doesn’t give a shit. Add to that such insightful observations as, “And racism is real as fuck/ Ain’t no way to play that off,” and you’ve got…well, you’ve got a Body Count song.

February Music Round-up

Rihanna | ANTI

Finally, THE singles artist of the decade decides to make a listenable album start to finish. ANTI is as efficient as it is love-drunk in its songwriting. Sure, there aren’t any monsters like “We Found Love” or “Umbrella”, but they wouldn’t fit here, anyway. This is personality as a compositional device – a hypnotic, no-fucks-given endeavor that largely avoids studio filler. Musically, it’s her least-maximal, allowing her vocals to seethe, sway, slink, and swoon around the un-radio-friendly, hazy grime of the production. It’s no accident that her best vocal performance is on her best album.


Mind Enterprises | Idealist

Debut from Italian-born EDM producer who loves the ’80s. Compsitions are surprisingly mature given his young age. 21st Century dance music that’s smart – whoever heard of such a thing?

[You can read my full review here.]


Collision | Satanic Surgery

Standard crossover thrash (leaning towards punk) with Entombed’s guitar tone and edge-of-sanity vocals – nothing special or overly original. That said, this record is a fucking lotta fun. And it’s only 26 minutes, so it’s over before you can hate it. Bonus points for the song titles: “Operation Meatcleaver”, “All You Need is Hate”, “Necromantic Love Affair”, and “Touch Me, Jesus”.


Animal Collective | Painting With

Ever OD’ed on Skittles? Imagine the colorful, most joyous moments of Merriweather Post Pavilion and multiply by a billion – that’s Painting With. AC paints with pinballing colors packed so tightly together that superfluous “Wipeout” and Coke ad samples leaks out. Naturally, there’s little, if any, room for subtlety; without it, these songs are children constantly yelling their parents’ names simply for the the attention.  It’s all ADHD bright colors without requiring any real patience to abosrb the music – which is to say, the perfect album for the Spotify generation.