Song of The Year- Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd
I am very excited to sit back and watch all the critics who buried The Weeknd two years ago do a pirouette into Abel Tesfaye appreciation. Compare him to Michael Jackson or Prince if you want. You should never have given up on him so easily. We all rocked House of Balloons in 2011. It was a mixtape moon landing that changed the game…where did you think that genius went?
Anyway, the task that Beauty Behind The Madness tackles is going pop respectfully. Translating the deep hurt and jarring imagery into something that can play on everyone’s radio. Instead of rap features we get Lana Del Ray and Ed Sheeran (the only guests). I don’t think Can’t Feel My Face is my favorite song on the album but it’s a smash. I think Shameless is a more beautiful and intelligently written song but Can’t Feel My Face achieves a forward momentum that we didn’t know was in Abel’s arsenal. The reason people jumped off the bandwagon originally was that listening to The Weeknd felt like something you only did at your lowest point on a rainy day, otherwise you get lost in depression town with a long work day ahead. Can’t Feel My Face is the best example of polishing scary content until it’s too fun to worry about. Even more than Future’s DS2 and that’s saying something.
It’s exciting that he’s taken back this maudlin drugged up party kid character and updated him…because this is his character. I always felt weird hearing other people borrow from the persona while we acted like that’s ok. Now that he’s back dropping gems again, it’s like he says on Tell Your Friends (my favorite song) “Last year I did all the politicking, this year I’mma focus on the vision.” When The Weeknd is all vision the outcome is always something to behold.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Abel Tesfaye, Can't Feel My Face, Dirty Sprite 2, Ed Sheeran, future, Future DS2, House Of Balloons, Lana Del Ray, Michael Jackson, Prince, sad drug music, song of the year, The Weeknd, Weeknd
My Star Wars Analogy between Miguel and Leon Bridges
Miguel’s new album Wildheart is not short of brilliant. It’s like an intimidating layer cake of sexual pop music that carries Prince’s style with R. Kelly’s nymphomaniacal intention. Leon Bridges Come Home album is on the opposite side of the spectrum but just as exciting. It sounds like Sam Cooke and the Everly Brothers had a baby in Motown’s 1963 Detroit. It’s not simple nostalgia but a hybrid of sounds with his voice as the clear center piece and effective, concise, heartfelt songwriting as its currency.
The two albums released so close together force a weird Star Wars comparison into my mind. Both albums have what music consumers could call “the force” that power to make soul not just earnest but catchy to the point of addiction. Miguel works on the dark side of the force and is the Darth Vader of this comparison. Last album he took the Clockwork Orange R&B of The Weeknd and made it fun(Kaleidoscope Dream), this time he’s even trickier forcing his drugs and sex agenda into a fantastic world of sizzling guitar and sharp drums. Even when he’s admitting that he’s gross the song is so great you don’t even care. He makes sinning seem awesome in the manner that Darth Vader made my generation of kids want to crush necks with our mind.
Example of Miguel’s dark power
When you are done with the Miguel and the cold shower that follows, pull up this youtube in front of your Mom and Grandmother and watch them all love Lisa Sawyer.
Come Home doesn’t just showcase Bridges powerful voice but masterful minimalism. In this situation he is Luke Skywalker on a journey to cut through the densely sexual R&B landscape with a very controlled sound. Ten songs, thirty five minutes and not a note out of place, it’s an album that brings the eloquence of confidently crafted soul music so efficiently that it grips you right at the core of who you are. Of course, in this analogy R. Kelly is the evil emperor.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 2015 albums, Come Home, Darth Vader, Leon Bridges, Luke Skywalker, Miguel, R&B, soul music, Star Wars analogy, the force, Weeknd, Wildheart
Mixtape Review-Till The End of Summer by Villz
The post-Weeknd world of R&B can feel narcissistic and slimy. It’s often the reveling and recollecting of nefarious activities involving drugs, violence, and sex. Even the guilt espoused feels like a bit of brag. ALL THESE WOMEN ALL THIS MONEY; IS THIS LIFE? The weight of the content can crush the fun of the music and maybe this should have been the case with Till The End of Summer but it isn’t.
All eight tracks are soaked in autotune and party/post party confession but it works. The Cycle sets the stage elaborating on the addiction to pursuing a party that never ends. Part of what makes the project so special is how snugly each song fits into the next. Villz never sings to impress with Whitney Houston scale jumping. 420AM starts where The Cycle leaves off with the party in full effect and drunk digressions about women and his relation to them as well as his friends.
The positive side of the Weeknd phenomena is that it allows grungy dog dudes living a grungy dog lifestyle to be honest about it rather than trying to write uplifting love songs from a sexed up drug haze. By Myself feels all the way real and raw with frank emotional discussion about violence “I didn’t shoot you wear you stood….yes compassion makes me weak I look back as you flee, the N’s I came with ain’t me” in a way Villz wouldn’t be able to accomplish if he was trying to do shirt off in the rain R&B. The nonsense voicemail skit at the end of the song can be skipped.
The vibe on Till The End of Summer is intoxicating (see Shooter) which keeps it so listenable. I had to listen to it several times before I could recall lyrics. Villz makes hooks that don’t overpower the lyrics or tapestry of layered sound he spits over. It’s a marvelously unified presentation by someone I had never heard of; which could probably be said for most of my favorite mixtapes this year.
The high point of Till The End of Summer is Break Up Song (Break The Rules is so good though) which really showcases the unique writing style of Villz who is great at saying important things with very blunt phrasing like “We don’t want to play no games. I’m a simple person. F#$% me good and I’ll call you again.” When he croons “she stay trippin’ on some simple sh$t” the emotion is still there in his voice even through the croaking robot effects. He charges the words with the sadness he needs them to have.
Making something short succinct and flawless is a great calling card. Villz seems to have an eye for quality control and a big picture ability to structure his thoughts. Eight songs wouldn’t usually cover this kind of ground; from gun violence to dependency. I hope he keeps the people who helped him make this (William Wolf, Ducko McFli, Syksense, Sage Tune, and Mike Ewing) so he can build on it.
stream or download Till The End of Summer below:
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged datpiff, Ducko McFli, mike ewing, mixtape review, R&B, Sage Tune, Syksense, The End of Summer, Till The End Of Summer, Villz, Weeknd, william wolf