It took me quite a while to get into Daft Punk’s new single Get Lucky. At first I didn’t think it was that interesting, but after some time it made me realize that the new Daft Punk album didn’t need to be revolutionary to be fun to listen to. I was curious about the album, but as I’m not a diehard DP-fan, the extensive promotion for ‘Random Acces Memories’ didn’t do much for me. It became a massive hype though, the expectations were high. And as the album was forced to launch on iTunes yesterday, I didn’t hesitate a moment to give it a listen.
It all starts off well. A funky epic Get Lucky-ish opening followed by a more calm, laid-back and vocoder-voice track and the interesting speech on Giorgio on Moroder. After that, the box of ideas seemed to be empty. The tracks became repetitive and the album reached a bottom-low, with only Nile Rodger’s guitar-work, single Get Lucky and the Panda Bear-collaboration Doin’ it Right as the only good tracks on a generally disappointing album. Get Lucky did give the wrong impression of the total work, but the big promotion can’t be an excuse, ‘Random Access Memories’ fails to impress at every facet.
‘Acid Rap’ opens with the words “Even better than I was the last time” and not a single letter in that sentence is lied. Though as jaunty and juvenile as always, Chance The Rapper really manages to impress with his second mixtape. Ever since the sun found his way to Amsterdam (only a few days ago) I’m pumping his tracks through my speakers and it brings me the same joy as some early Outkast albums did.
That comparison isn’t completely air made, as Chance seems to be digging from the same sources. The funk and jazz influences are omnipresent in his uplifting tracks and especially Good Ass Intro gives the wonderful ‘Speakerboxxx’ feeling. At the same time, this comparison may not do justice to Chance, as he is quite unique in his way of doing. He succeeds on the almost always unfruitful path of combining rap and singing, and playfully flutters around the toyish sounding beats. Features of among others Childish Gambino, Action Bronson and Twista make the mixtape even more enjoyable and provide some variety. Which is good, because that seems to be Chance’s biggest pitfall: After listening such a joyful tape, it’s almost like I ate too much candy.
The producer duo TNGHT has been one of the big successes of 2012. Their self-titled EP was well received and played in clubs all over the world. The two members, Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, achieved great fame, performed at the biggest venues and HudMo even produced a Kanye West track. But there isn’t any time to sit back and relax, 2013 has hardly begun and we can already listen to a new TNGHT production: Acrylics.
Acrylics provides us with all the TNGHT ingredients we’re used to: unique samples, clear-cut beats and great build-ups that lead to the most impressive drops. It’s the combination of electronics and hip hop-influences that results in huge energy every time their tracks are played. But Acrylics is perhaps TNGHT’s ‘dirtiest’ tracks so far. The horror bells from the intro are sinister heralds of the overwhelmingly dirty rave-synths that are about to wreck the club. It’s not a track I would play when I’m on my own, and to be honest, it’s not even a track I liked at first, but I’m undoubtedly positive that this is another TNGHT track that will get the crowd to go wild, the moment the bells start playing.
Jamie Cullum’s third album ‘Catching Tales’ was one of the few CDs I owned when I was twelve. Consequently I played it countless times and even now I can recite songs from beginning to end. Everything Cullum did after ‘Catching Tales’, couldn’t quite catch me though. Whether it’s a result of personal nostalgia or not, to me, that one album remained his best in that genre, and I was waiting for him to do something completely new. Given that context, I can’t really figure out why I didn’t notice his latest track, Love For $ale, featuring the great Roots Manuva.
The cover of Cole Porter’s 1930 song started with Jamie Cullum ripping a classical Manuva bass-line and jamming over it with recognizable jazz chords. First, the powerful but dreamy vibe that’s created by this collision was only smeared with Cullum’s vocals, but, as Roots Manuva accepted Cullum’s invitation to write a verse to it, the track shows a different side of itself. Also, Jamie Cullum signed to Island Records for his fifth album Momentum. And although Love For $ale still isn’t on Catching Tales-level, it does give me the feeling that Jamie’s up for something new.
I still don’t know what to think of Justin Timberlake’s musical comeback, ‘The 20/20 Experience’. Nevertheless, I have listened to the album so many times by now, that I can call it a work that deserves some serious attention.
In discussions on the length of the tracks on ‘20/20’ people often oversee the fact that JT also featured long tracks on his previous albums. It seems to be the work of producer Timbaland, who, with this length, finally bothers to show his skills again. He makes tracks like Suit & Tie and Mirrors move through different perspectives, but, less scientifically, he provides some pretty slick, recognizable beats again.
Check out this video to see what JT is all about. Also make sure to check the 5 parts of history of rap he did on Jimmy Fallon.
‘Smooth’ seems to be the best word to describe ‘The 20/20 Experience’. No matter the difference between songs like the calm Blue Ocean Floor or the more danceable Body Count, the focus remains on JT’s smooth singing voice, embedded in beautiful harmonies. The lyrics are smooth as well, but don’t have much to offer, though considered all the aforementioned I’ll take that for granted. Right now Dress On is my favorite track, but as my preference has shifted so many times I think I’m still not done with ‘20/20’.