Singles Club: Danny Brown gets nasty, The Avalanches make amends, Disclosure and more

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

This week, Danny Brown returns in style, The Avalanches recover from ‘Frankie Sinatra’, Disclosure pilfer classic soul, Aristophanes reps Taiwan on the mic and much more.

Danny Brown – ‘When It Rain’

Chris Kelly: In a world of clones and clowns, Danny Brown is one of the few rappers with a voice and sound completely his own – that urgent, vital squawk is what makes him so exciting. So why did Paul White try to out-weird Danny Brown with this overloaded, no-white-space beat, from which Brown can barely break through? Next time take cues from the producers Brown shouts out, who prove you can be minimal and nasty as fuck at the same damn time. (5)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: DB waves off the weird smell that ‘Frankie Sinatra’ left with some menacing bass-hop that would have fit into the discombobulating second half of his XXX record: nasty, technically impressive, snappily spat syllables trickling into your cortex with hidden melodies. (7)

Tayyab Amin: I spent a lot of my first play anticipating the inevitable explosion, but the track just bubbles and boils away with no upper limit. We’ve been treated to a lot of good hip-hop for a minute now, and I never thought I’d say this about Brown but listening to ‘When It Rain’ really drives home what we’ve been missing. It’s about to be Danny Brown season, and this is the sound of the storm brewing. (9)

Haley Potiker: This is one of the best rap videos I’ve seen in a while. ‘When It Rain’ sounds tailored for 1am DJ slots the way the back half of Old was college-aged rave-by-design. It’s grimy and technical and a pretty succinct reminder that he’s one of our best working rappers. (9)

Tom Fenwick: “They don’t do it like this no more / You ain’t heard like this before.” Much like that lyric, the song is contradiction, one half telling you to break your neck and the other painting a stark portrait of Brown’s childhood. It distils his ramshackle genius into an three minute scuffle of scattershot EDM and fire flows and is utterly, utterly fantastic. (9)

Son Raw: Old‘s sole flaw was the turn-up track’s day-glo EDM production, and this solves the issue in one fell swoop. It’d be all too easy for Danny Brown to drop a grime track, or a ghettotech homage, or a footwork banger, or even a trap anthem aiming at mainstream radio, but this synthesizes those forms into a mongrel all the more captivating and vicious. If signing to Warp means a label that supports Danny at his darkest and weirdest, we could have the album of the year on our hands. Hyper than Cleganebowl. (10)


The Avalanches – ‘Colours’

Son Raw: The Free Design-style folk psychedelia trumps backpack oompah rap every time, and this is the best possible direction for Avalanches. So why aren’t we more excited? I’d posit that in the world of infinite YouTube rips, the band’s collage and pastiche approach just doesn’t carry the same rush as it did in the era of scarcity, so what used to be mindfuck is now just pretty good psych. (6)

Tom Fenwick: ‘Colours’ isn’t a massive improvement, but with a solid dose of floaty psychedelic samples layered over Jonathan Donahue’s vocals, things are looking up. It doesn’t go quite far enough to justify the wait, but it’s a step in the right direction. (4)

Tayyab Amin: This is lovely and I am getting delirious. It’s an irrepressible barrage of twee-hop. I feel like I’m being smothered. It’s so overly pleasant that dictators could use it to keep their populations in check. It’s not song of the summer, it’s not even going for that – it’s song of the wistfully reminiscent summer montage. (7)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The low-key cartoon chirpsiness goes down easier than the obnoxiousness that was ‘Frankie Sinatra’, yet this dusty ‘90s beat-twiddling never stays in the memory longer than a few bars at a time. (5)

Haley Potiker: This sounds like it should be soundtracking an avant-garde cartoon that you’ve “heard good things about” but are realistically never going to watch. It’s somehow both boring and chaotic at the same time. (5)

Chris Kelly: Not to give The Avalanches too much credit, but how savvy would it have been if ‘Frankie Sinatra’ was the result of them intentionally lowering expectations for their comeback? Either way, ‘Colours’ is better by default, even if this just sounds like “psychedelic” lounge music in the comedown room. (4)


Disclosure & Al Green – ‘Feel Like I Do’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Oft-forgotten in the conversation regarding Disclosure’s music is their skill with sampling, particularly when it comes to reassembling familiar material into something trippier and damaged, like on 2013’s Kelis flip ‘Second Chance’. ‘Feel Like I Do’ doesn’t go for anything as daring, instead building boutique-hotel ornamentation around one of the great crooners. It’s sleek listening, and while quite simple in construction, shows off the duo’s understanding of what they sample. Sometimes you don’t need to tear a heart out to make a beat. (6)

Haley Potiker: A few years ago I went with my mom to see an Al Green concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. His daughter performs background vocals during his live show. Al Green called his daughter’s boyfriend onto the stage. The boyfriend proposed. The daughter said yes. Everyone sang ‘Let’s Stay Together’. Al Green doesn’t need a Disclosure remix. (5)

Chris Kelly: You know what’s a perfect song that didn’t need to be remixed by two twenty-something twerps who think they know what soul music is? Al Green’s ‘I’m Still In Love With You’. There’s nothing lazier than dropping a shuffling house beat over a beloved classic. (1)

Tayyab Amin: Disclosure must be Ghostbusters the way they’ve drained all the soul out of an Al Green tune. (4)

Tom Fenwick: The Reigate middle-schoolers might trade on the goodwill of a Rev. Green sample, but overuse can’t disguise this for what it is: anaemic dross. Go listen to Green’s original instead. (1)

Son Raw: Can I give that Al Green loop a 10 and Disclosure’s sample butchery a 0? As a bootleg/DJ tool it’s hard to get mad at a shuffling soul jack, but calling this a Disclosure tune and selling it to a fan base that doesn’t know or care about the multiple generations of soul music getting pilfered here is a bit gross. #Im14andIjustdiscoveredsampling. (5)


Mozzy feat. Rich Homie Quan, Iamsu! & Lil Blood – ‘Round and Round’

Haley Potiker: Somehow when Rich Homie Quan says “I want to see you in your best outfit, girl, gon’ take it off,” it sounds inspired and sensual. It’s so good that you forget it’s just a dressed up “nice pants, bet they’d look better on my floor.” I would never throw a drink at Rich Homie Quan, except maybe if he told me that Rich Gang: The Tour Pt. 2 was definitely, for sure, 100% never going to happen. And probably not even then. (9)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Let’s talk about how under-rated and great Iamsu! is on pretty much every song: as evidenced by his recent KILT 3 tape, he’s an artist that’s never anything less than entertaining, especially when he’s in club mode or puppy-dog romance zone. His hosts occupy this nocturnal grinder to the best of their abilities, but with his melodic coos and bouyant play with syllables, it’s a cakewalk for Six Speed Suzy. Again. (6)

Chris Kelly: How’s this for love and hip-hop? Over some gorgeous chords form JuneOnnaBeat, Mozzy and friends lay down pitch-perfect verses. The third one (by Lil Blood, I believe) wins the day, contrasting the sweetness of “I get butterflies in my stomach” with the raunchiness of “Ain’t no pulling out, feel like heaven when I’m fucking you.” (7)

Tayyab Amin: I love this, it’s getting endlessly rinsed in the hypothetical whip. But even after all of these listens the song never starts for me until Mozzy’s verse is finished, which isn’t a good sign if it’s your record. It’s good enough that all’s forgiven, of course – the beat’s knockin’, the flows are luscious, what more could you want? (8)

Son Raw: Tough week to drop West Coast gangsta rap if you’re not YG, but this is suitably laid-back and effortless, and enough to convince me that Mozzy’s tape is worth checking out even if it feels a bit like a genre piece. (7)


Aristophanes – ‘3001: A Space Disco’

Tom Fenwick: I don’t know what Aristophanes is rapping about, but with a beat this sexy, who needs translations? Cosmic-future-retro-disco-funk-rap – count me in. (7)

Haley Potiker: Okay, so if I have the story straight, we care about this song because Grimes says we should care about it and because Will Butler from Arcade Fire produced it. So why does it say 3001 and not 2012? (6)

Chris Kelly: I didn’t think there’s anything I want to listen to less than Will Butler doing DFA dance-punk, but adding Aristophanes – who seems interesting but does absolutely nothing for me (sorry, Grimes) – did the trick. (4)

Tayyab Amin: Character selection screen music. This beat is frivolous to the point of being goofy. I like that Aristophanes tries out a couple of different flows on it – I’m not really into her stream of consciousness-type delivery, but she never sounds out of place and that’s pretty cool. (4)

Son Raw: Nope. Fuck cutesy Arcade Fire produced electro rap and anyone who endorses it. A room full of people who like this shit would literally be the worst place on Earth. (1)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Blog house-rap lives! (6)


Preoccupations – ‘Anxiety’

Haley Potiker: Preoccupations is the band formerly known as Viet Cong. The members changed their name because people hated it, and they had the nerve to say, “We apologize to those who were adversely affected by our former band name. This was never anticipated.” If you’re going to try to be all provocative at least own up to it. Anyway, this song is… not enjoyable. It’s called ‘Anxiety’ but it might more accurately be called “a panic attack narrated by a scary man with a husky voice.” Like, Crash-Test-Dummies-level husky, but without any of the optimism of the Jean Chretien years. (3)

Tom Fenwick: ‘Anxiety’ is all doom-laden bass and gloomy atmospherics poured over swirling post-goth punk, and when the twinkling synths arrive, they don’t cut through the intensity of Matt Flegel’s atonal vocals, they only add to the unease. (8)

Tayyab Amin: This one really plods along, but that’s worked out in its favour as it won me over before the end of my first play. Flegel’s monotone isn’t all that interesting at first, and the twinkling keyboard melody feels naive, but then there’s the bridge and the searing distortions that follow, and everything comes together quite nicely without you even realising it. It’s a tentative step ahead. (6)

Chris Kelly: Which is more offensive, their old band name (“All you need is a rice paddy hat and it would be so Viet Cong” – nice!) or the never-ending grave-robbing of post-punk? (2)

Son Raw: Sounds like old Iggy Pop, which is probably as good as post-punk gets in 2016. (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Aptly enough, I was preoccupied with watching wrestling and shopping for gifts when I heard this; on second listen, there’s not much beyond audio fog to get lost in. (4)


Final scores:

Danny Brown – ‘When It Rain’ (8.2)
Mozzy feat. Rich Homie Quan, Iamsu! & Lil Blood – ‘Round and Round’ (7.4)
The Avalanches – ‘Colours’ (5.2)
Preoccupations – ‘Anxiety’ (4.8)
Aristophanes – ‘3001: A Space Disco’ (4.7)
Disclosure & Al Green – ‘Feel Like I Do’ (3.7)



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