Blisspop Presents: Feedback Friday – 7th December 2018

Here at Blisspop, we aim to show our audience who’s making their mark upon electronic music culture today. We sort through the good and the bad, bringing you the latest sounds. Back at it again with the latest edition of our series, Feedback Friday. This edition is by Kristina Dandridge, Alex Rubenstein, Justin Barini-Rivers, Connor Mc Inerney and Patrick Blinkhorn This week’s music includes tracks by Lucas Spicer, Ali Berger,  PCPETE, and A$@P Rocky.

A$AP Rocky – “Sundress”

Alex Rubenstein – So it seems that Tame Impala is the indie-rock du jour for rappers at the moment. Recently we saw Kevin Parker popping up on Travis Scott’s Astroworld and now we find “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” being interpolated in A$AP Rocky’s newest single, “Sundress.” I have nothing against Tame Impala, A$AP Rocky nor Dangermouse, who co-produced this track, because honestly I think the pairing works really well. There are certainly no bars to be found here, as this song seems to be fall into the vibes-only trend found in a lot of current hip-hop music. The Dangermouse vibes are especially heavy on this one. I could even see a Dangermouse/Rocky album in the future a la MF DOOM’s collab in the form of Dangerdoom. A$AP Mouse? DangerRocky? Who knows…either way, I’m down. (8.2/10)

Kristina Dandridge – Just take a minute to scroll through the youtube comments on this music video. One particular comment resonated with me: “A$APcky my favorite indie rock band.” With that, I get it that – many rappers are super progressive to collab or sample psychedelic rock music. But honestly, where’s the creativity in basically sampling the whole song verbatim? I’d rather listen to the original from Tame Impala’s song, “Why Don’t You Make Up Your Mind?” (1/10)

Connor McInerney – Well, this is the most intricate mannequin challenge I’ve seen in a minute. Yeah, I can dig the generous usage of a Tame Impala sample and Rocky’s delivery on the second verse, but his vocal performance as a singer leaves something to be desired. Overall a funky jam that would’ve probably been my song of the summer had it dropped earlier in 2018. (7/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – I don’t listen to much A$AP though I am a huge fan. I was able to meet him once and he is larger than life. This tune wouldn’t fit the picture that I have for A$AP, but to be honest I think A$AP is the kind of artist who will always continue to develop his sound. The driven guitars are smooth and soothing and overall I am very happy with the levels that this song hits. I feel old A$AP and new A$AP in the same song and it fits nicely. I always know it’s a good song when it ends and I wished it was longer. (7/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn – This track is super catchy. I love the instrumentals, the vocals hit the spot and the drums move the track right along. Good stuff. (8/10)

Ali Berger – “Theme From Hamtraks”

Alex Rubenstein – Somehow this reminds me of a shinier version of the tunes that made up Shinichi Atobe’s latest release, Heat. The lead melody is infectious and the way it’s laid over top of the shuffling groove that is the backbone of this track provides a really great sense of forward momentum. The 7.5 minute runtime goes by very quickly which is feat unto itself. I can see this working really well in a number of DJ’s sets to close out the year. Admittedly, I’ve never heard of Ali Berger or Clave House but after this one, count me in! (8/10)

Kristina Dandridge – I really dig the retro, synth heavy vibes mixed with house influences. I feel like this belongs in an episode of Robo Cop. If there’s another reboot of that series can we make that happen?! (9.5/10)

Connor McInerney – Do I detect the usage of a clave tone matrix on this track? Pentatonic scales awakening feelings of wholesomeness within me that I long thought were dead? Any way you cut it, Ali Berger has brought some seriously positive energy to “Theme for Hamtramck City Hall,” incorporating textures both melodic and industrial, evoking feelings of a verdant train ride out of the city. Feels good, man. (8.8/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – At just over seven minutes, this is a beautiful analog house track that carries so many textures. This tune has a lovely arrangement and really breathes. It forces patience, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. The drums are pristine and the tom that comes in when the melodic elements are low has such a nice round texture. This song sucks you in and then you look down and four minutes have passed. Each individual drum hit has some history on it; you can tell the creator is well versed in house. It’s worth a listen to just know what it feels like to be truly immersed into a house tune. (10/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn – There is a solid build up in this track. I’m not a fan of the glitchy sounding artifacts. The resonant arpeggiated synth makes this track for me. (7/10)

Keepsakes- “Farce”

Jutin Barini-Rivers Almost checked my headphones until I remembered this was Keepsakes. Cue the smoke and the lights because this song is designed for a warehouse party like ROAM. Everything about this track from the sound design to the mixing tells me that people will head-bang to this. After a minute in a now understand how far you can push distortion on a track and still make an awesome tune. Regardless of the distortion the mix is rather clean sliding in elements easily to push the groove around. Keepsakes has created a proper banger. If Blisspop let me I would just leave a bunch of fire emojis and call it a day. (5/10)

Connor McInerney -I am in awe of the size of this bass, absolute unit. “Farce” feels like a real pleasant heart attack, perfected by its more melodic second act and a low frequency flatline that expands into a wild, acid bathed ride. Keepsakes… keeps the bass going through the track’s entire seven minutes, and while there’s not a whole lot of dynamic range, this track embodies the mentality that if it’s not broken you shouldn’t fix it. Except in this case the bass does sound broken. But it certainly doesn’t need fixing. (8/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn –Good God, Keepsakes sure knows how to make a track slam. This one reminds me a lot of a previous track of his we reviewed, “Pick ‘em Till They Bleed.” That kick drum slams like no other, and I fuck with the gritty, distorted goodness throughout the track. Keep bangin’ it out, Keepsakes! (9/10)

Kristina Dandridge - This distorted style of music fascinating! I wonder how they make these acid beats soooo crunchy?!  Do they slam the fuck out of the limiter to get this sound?! It’s like the producer had no fucks given and thought, ““turn the volume knobs to 11/10!” It seems like Keepsakes want to sound wrong, they want to make a scene. It’s so wrong, it’s right… (5/10)

Alex Rubenstein - As soon as I saw we had a new Keepsakes track up for consideration this week, I began preparing myself mentally and physically. I prayed to Satan that he might give me the strength to make it through this experience. As expected, this track is punishing in the best way possible. Also, is that acid I’m hearing in this one? Battery acid, perhaps. I’m not usually one to gripe about distortion, but it does seem to be a bit much at times on this one, especially at over 7 minutes. Right around 4:40 in or so brings us the best part of the track, so keep your seat belts fastened and your arms and legs inside the ride at all time, kids. Your journey into hell may be a bit bumpy.  (6.66/10)

Lucas Spicer – “Father”

Patrick Blinkhorn - I do like the instrumentals and the atmospheric vocal sample in this track. The drum beat really works for me. This track reads “chill Saturday afternoon” – perfect stuff to kick back and relax to. (8.5/10)

Alex Rubenstein – As far as dreamy hip-hop instrumentals go this is right up there with the best of them. It works perfectly on its own as a hazy vignette and at the same time would be an excellent backdrop for a lyricist like Roc Marciano, Westside Gunn or, shit, even Tony Stark himself, Ghostface Killah. (New York vibes is what I’m getting at here if you didn’t piece that together already.) The sampling is on-point, the featherweight drums are airy enough while still anchoring the track and the melody is gorgeous. I feel like I’m gushing over this one, but this is pure heat. Get you some. (9.5/10)

Kristina Dandridge – These lo-fi beats are seriously my favorite thing right now! This track has a smattering of trap hi hats, vocal swells, fender Rhodes-like chords, jazzy instrumentation and minimalistic lo-fi beats. These ingredients blend perfectly and pack a concise punch in less than three minutes. (10/10)

Connor McInerney – “Father” really is a pleasant soundtrack to a lean-induced dream. It’s atmospheric snd moody, but even for its lofi characterization, it’s low energy. Not in terms of the fact, this track is super chill but more so that there were no eyebrow raising moments of distinction, no visceral break to heighten the stakes. It feels unfinished, awaiting some as-of-yet-unknown emcee to rip the mic, a promise of greatness to come. (6.5/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – The sampling in this tune is what really caught my ear. There are some beautiful textures that are being masterfully manipulated. When the vocals enter with the horns at around a minute I am lost in amazing sounds. Before I even realize it’s over the phrase is finished off with a super clean string swell. The attention to detail in this production is what sets it apart in my mind. The level that this is at is something that is hard to find in the industry these days. It’s reminiscent of the old guard producers like Knx and The Alchemist. (8/10)

PCPETEE – “Don’t Wake Daddy”

Alex Rubenstein – From the moment I saw that title of this tune, I was excited to listen to it. I became even more excited once I learned that PCPETE is representing D.C. and happened to make this track on (presumably) his iPhone. With all that being said, I am a bit torn as to how to score this. I am just going to get the fact that I have zero love for these drums out of the way so I can at least compliment the melody. It’s melancholic and actually pretty beautiful, even moreso when I consider this was produced and mixed on an iPhone. If it were not for the drums sounding like they were lifted from a sample pack called “Electronic 101” then it would be all love. Unfortunately, they cause this to kind of implode on itself. Bonus point for the name, though. While it was fun as a child, I am realizing now that Don’t Wake Daddy is inherently one of the creepiest “games” ever made, isn’t it? (5/10)

Kristina Dandridge – Mad props that these tracks were “produced and mixed on an iPhone SE in Fall 2018 in NW DC.” These skills of producing on a phone are mad impressive and clearly he embraces a “less is more” approach. I also like that he experiments with filtering on the hi hats and toms. That being said, the composition falls a bit flat for me. I crave more dynamics and textures when it comes to electronic production and want to hear more of a story-like arc when it comes to arrangement. (4/10)

Connor McInerney – I’m not sure if “microhouse” is a real genre, as I’d been lead to believe a microhouse is that bourgeois phenomenon of city dwellers abandoning sweatbox apartments for mobile domiciles, but if the rest of the genre resembles the cerebral heat of “Don’t Wake (Daddy)” then I’m game. The track’s a bonsai of electronica in the sense that its slightest tweaks help build a minimalist, quiet storm that’s as mysterious as it is hauntingly beautiful. I’m gonna lay down on my carpet now. (8.5/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – The drums are really rolling and dialed into this lovely groove.  They sit perfectly with the slow crescendo that you know will be building to something awesome. I will reiterate that the drums in this tune are properly designed. The lower end comes in on them and I am caught off guard, but it’s a sweet surprise. This song finishes off with some really nice guitars and develops the drums a bit more. The guitars at end are really the icing on the cake to a really polished tune. (8.5/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn – Microhouse? Haven’t heard any before, but I do like this track. This piece features good, chill instrumental sounds and compelling percussion throughout. There’s a small reverb sound on all the elements, hence the name, “microhouse.” This would be perfect either early on in the night or very early in the morning. Good stuff – and glad to see it’s coming from DC’s THIS/SIDE boss ☺ (9.5/10)

The Final Scores

Ali Berger-“Theme for Hamtramck city Hall 8.6/10

Lucas Spicer – “Father” -8.5/10

PCPETEE – “Don’t Wake (Daddy) – 7.1/ 10

Keepsakes – “Farce” – 6.7/10

A$AP – Rocky – “Sundress” -4.9/10