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Captain Murphy, DOOM, Ryan Hemsworth, Sinjin Hawke and more reviewed in the FACT Singles Club, August 22 2013

Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

With the way individual tracks are now consumed, the idea of what constitutes a single has shifted dramatically in the last half a decade, and its for this reason that the songs reviewed across the next pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. All are treated equally – well, most of the time. This week we have Captain Murphy, Earl Sweatshirt and DOOM, Ryan Hemsworth and Starlito, Sinjin Hawke and more in the line of fire.

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Captain Murphy feat. Earl Sweatshirt, DOOM and Thundercat – ‘Between Villains’

 

Joe Muggs: So it’s really cool that Stones Throw type rap with loads of bass, slithering miasma, densely wrangled syllables and crisp detail is no longer just the preserve of middle aged dorks, right? Those hydro paranoia heartbeat kicks are really good. (7)

Chal Ravens: All the right ingredients for a gem here, but I can’t seem to hear beyond the atrocious distortion that pulls the beat into a murky haze (especially during DOOM’s typically muffled verse) when it should be softly glittering and spooky. Clean out the crevices, polish it to a sheen and have it back on my desk by Friday. (6)

Chris Kelly: When I reviewed Doris, I compared Earl to Dumile; it’s a treat to hear them on the same track. This feels like one of those old posse cuts where competition makes everyone better. Without a hook, though, it doesn’t rise above charming curiosity. (6)

Laurent Fintoni: As far as free rap tracks go, this is up there in terms of line up and quality. Despite some recent sub par appearances, DOOM clearly still has it and holds his own against the new guard. Now what I’d like to see is Earl et al with a Gravediggaz reunion of some sort. Bring back horror-core for 2013. (7)

Brad Rose: Talk about an all-star cast, good lord. Everything about this pretty much rules from FlyLo’s gnarly production to DOOM being, well, DOOM and all that’s in between. I’m becoming more convinced by this whole Captain Murphy thing as we move along (though still not entirely on board, but at FlyLo’s been so good the last four or five years that I’ll continue giving him the benefit of the doubt). DOOM ultimately steals the show, though, and when he’s in top form, there’s few better. Can we get a DoomLotus album or something after Madvillain II is done (ha ha ha)?  Thundercat, who has made two albums I absolutely love, is a mere afterthought on this and that’s impressive. (9)

7.2

Ryan Hemsworth & Starlito – ‘Marley Lion (Mistakes To Make)’

 

Chris Kelly: Rap lullabies, by Ryan Hemsworth and Starlito. I’m curious to hear the results of a more complete collaboration, but this is just a teaser. Bonus points for opening with a punchline that I didn’t see coming, though: “I think I know what I want to name my son / now I just need a baby mom.” (5)

Brad Rose: Starlito’s always been hit or miss for me, but every so often he really nails it. This collaboration seems out of nowhere and totally random and is all the better for it. It’s short and sweet (I mean, it’s actually sweet when you read Hemsworth’s note of explanation for the track), but Hemworth’s production is so engaging that from the opening bars it just immediately grabs you. If Starlito continues to explore the sounds and ideas on this tune, he could really be onto something.  I hope it lasts for more than just a track or two.  (7)

Chal Ravens: More sneezing in the Singles Club please, it’s adorable. This is a frippery, but a strikingly open and uncalculated one. Extra point awarded for this line: “Sip syrup until my kidneys hurt, have mercy on my bladder.” (6)

Laurent Fintoni: This is almost more like an interlude, but I’m really into this not-afraid-to-show emotions vibe that’s been the doing the rounds in rap recently. (6)

Joe Muggs: Oh fuck yes. (9)

6.6

DJ Funk – ‘Three Fine Hoes’ (Sinjin Hawke Remix)

 

Brad Rose: Jeez, where did this come from?  Most remixes aren’t worth their weight in megabytes, but Sinjin’s done something really great here. From the huge kicks and brass blasts to the vocals that skirt some weird line between r&b and new age, it’s a minor miracle that it doesn’t just fall apart. But it does so much more than that – it’s all over the place, purposefully so, and it just gets me every time. This is how you do a remix. (8)

Chal Ravens: This is obviously intended to be fun and colourful and naïve and chaotic, but I find that stomping, brassy build just repellent, like a clumsy Burroughsian cut-up of an unfinished John Barry score. It doesn’t even build up to anything in particular, just an anticlimactic tumble into a pinball machine of jerking snaps and bloops. Are my legs are supposed to be moving? I have no idea. Still, there’s no denying the kid’s production chops – this is as intriguing as it is off-putting. (5)

Laurent Fintoni: I really like the will it/won’t it intro and the rather subtle drop. It works, though I can do without some the pitch-shifting on the ‘Three Fine Hoes’ vox. (6)

Joe Muggs: Oh fuck yes, again. A bunch of idiots tried a while back to claim that the problem with 21st century music was that producers were “glutted” with influences, that there was just too much to choose from which paralysed people in making their creative choices. And if you try to pick apart a track like this, it is indeed pretty baffling, as it’s coming from all over the place geographically and temporally. But the fact is this Hawke fellow has done the filtering so you don’t have to; his choices, even on the micro level, are so completely spot on that influences and trainspotting aside this just bangs. (8)

Chris Kelly: The original is as simple and effective as you’d expect from a grown-up version of ‘Three Blind Mice’. Sinjin Hawke’s take is all widescreen elegance with a sense of drama; even when he goes all Glass Swords he still remembers to make it jack. (8)

7

Ejecta – ‘Jeremiah (The Denier)’

 

Brad Rose: I was pretty excited to hear this because it features Leanne Macomber of Fight Bight on vocals and their last record was hugely underrated. However, while this is decent enough, it’s nothing all that special. Macomber sounds great, but the heavy ’80s vibes are way too reminiscent to the unfortunate Ford & Lopatin record and I am pretty sure nobody was hoping for more of that. Still, Macomber could sing over just about anything and it’d at least pique my interest. (5)

Chal Ravens: Joel Ford delivers more high-gloss naff-pop to Singles Club, following Oneohtrix Point Never’s ‘Problem Areas’ two weeks ago. As with their work together as Ford & Lopatin, this track seems adrift from firm values, at once eye-wateringly sincere and laughably ironicised in its stilted appropriation of 80s synth-pop. I actually find myself unable to enjoy this as anything other than a droll art school experiment, but perhaps its blatant artifice means it really is pop, albeit in an underground, under-heard sort of way. So mystifying. (7)

Joe Muggs: It’s late ’80s New Order / Pet Shop Boys / Electronic but the songwriting’s not so strong. (5)

Chris Kelly: Lush but very danceable synth-pop nostalgia, with Leanne Macomber’s voice hitting all the right (breathy) notes. (6)

5.8

Body/Head – ‘Actress’

 

Brad Rose: Bill Nace has long been one of my favorite guitarists and when he and Kim Gordon started Body/Head, it held immense promise.  I’m not sure they’ve totally delivered on that yet, but ‘Actress’ is the best I’ve heard from the two yet. If their new record is of this quality? Watch the fuck out. This is what today’s blues sounds like and it’s still bleak as fuck. (8)

Chal Ravens: Having seen these guys rip Cafe Oto a new one, so to speak, earlier this year, I’m kinda baffled by the idea of them releasing an album. I just assumed it was all freewheeling improvised noise-poetry; raw expression unsullied by the censorious intrusion of the superego and all that. Thankfully, this track gives the impression that Gordon and Nace simply strolled into the booth and pressed record, with only a rough idea of what they might end up with. (7)

Joe Muggs: Is it OK to completely love the guitars and wish the vocals would bugger off, or is that some sort of act of feminist betrayal? (5)

6.7

Roska feat. Vanya – ‘Desire’

 

Chris Kelly: Woofer-rattling fun, and Vanya nails the diva thing. (5)

Joe Muggs: Well I’ve written before about how grime can be read as part of a history of electro as much as it’s part of any other lineage – and here it all is, with 2-step/electro and a bit of rave/diva/pop action too. Banger. I like the restrained hi-hats. (8)

Brad Rose: Roska rarely surprises anymore and that’s as much a bad thing as it is a good one. ‘Desire’ is good enough, Roska-by-the-numbers. It’s tastefully done and everything hits the right notes, but it’s all become a bit predictable at this point that it’s hard to really care much either way. (6)

6.4

Glasser – ‘Shape’

 

Joe Muggs: Yes it does sound like Björk. It’s pretty good but not nearly as good as I think it thinks it is. (6)

Laurent Fintoni: Well produced piece of modern pop. Love the emotions it draws for in the listener. (7)

Brad Rose: Glasser’s Ring album was pretty good, though not entirely mind-blowing.  If ‘Shape’ is any indication, the follow-up is going to step that up a bunch of notches. The layers of different vocals that runs underneath most of the track and eventually comes to the forefront at spots puts it over the top. The more I listen to this, the more I love it. (7)

Chris Kelly: Like the simple video that accompanied it, this one is always morphing, melting, and swirling about. Beautiful, powerful pop music. (8)

7

Final scores:

Captain Murphy feat Earl, DOOM and Thundercat – ‘Between Villains’ (7.2)
Ryan Hemsworth & Starlito – ‘Mistakes To Make’ (7.2)
DJ Funk – ‘Three Fine Hoes’ (Sinjin Hawke Remix) (7)
Glasser – ‘Shape’ (7)
Ejecta – ‘Jeremiah (The Denier)’ (5.8)
Body/Head – ‘Actress’ (6.7)
Roska feat. Vanya – ‘Desire’ (6.4)

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