dvsn - "think about me" by Zack Free

last year's sept. 5th, the debut release for ovo signees dvsn, was one of the most confident r&b projects to surface in years. comprised of frequent drake collaborator nineteen85 and vocalist daniel daley, dvsn came out of the box fully formed; think along the lines of the weeknd's house of balloonssept. 5th is a naked listening experience, in any sense. it wears its codeine-drenched heart on its sleeve, pairing daley's gut-wrenching falsetto with nineteen85's after-dark production. "think about me," the duo's first release of 2017, follows the same general formula, but ups the hit factor tenfold. for all of their debut's earworms, daley's never quite hit the melodic sweet spot like he does here. nineteen85's production is also characteristically mesmerizing, the sound of cinderblocks hitting a featherbed, and its never been more in vogue than it is now.  "think about me" is bleary-eyed r&b for insomniacs, and its bound to get dvsn the recognition that they deserve B

 

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kamasi washington - "the truth" by Zack Free

my first time at the whitney was only a few weeks ago, and it so happened that i made it in time to experience the 78th installment of their biennial exhibit. the museum's website describes the exhibit as one that addresses the "racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarizing politics" of the times in which we live, and, accordingly, the show was a powerful experience. in the midst of the chilly slabs of reality on the whitney's storied walls, however, was a warm, honeyed stream of jazz that drifted out from a corner. i was immediately drawn to its sonic luminescence, and was thrilled to discover that the saxophone playing coy with my ears was courtesy of no other than kamasi washington. "the truth" is the world's first official taste of the harmony of difference, the ep that, paired with a film directed by a.g. rojas, is currently on exhibit at the whitney. in a technical sense, it preserves the kinetic musicianship that made washington's triple-lp debut the epic so thrilling; among the instruments featured are piano, guitar, bass, drums, vibraphone, brass (including kamasi's saxophone, of course), strings, and synthesizer, all intensified by a monophonic choir part that lifts the song to unbelievable heights. however, the track's thirteen and a half minutes are surprisingly comforting, sonically enveloping to the point that they evoke a certain sense of dissociation from reality. truth be told, it couldn't be any more fitting that "the truth" was premiered at a museum; it's the perfect picture of jazz as an escape, and if it's any indication, the harmony of difference is exactly what the world needs A

 

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lady gaga - "the cure" by Zack Free

lady gaga's fifth studio album was an unprecedented moment of artistic maturation; joanne, released late last year, was arguably the performer's first album to posit her as a human being rather than some kind of kick-ass cyborg. the project largely distanced itself from the overblown, glitched-out dramatics of artpop, opting instead for a much rawer sound, instrumentally, vocally, and in terms of songwriting. it proved a successful transformation; the album hit number 1 on the billboard 200 chart in its first week, and its country-tinged second single, "million reasons" peaked at number 4 on the hot 100. gaga's first post-joanne single, "the cure," is another unexpected turn. it can't really be called a return to form; lady gaga has retouched the expectations of pop music several times, but never has she given in so readily to its current fixations. although produced by frequent gaga collaborator dj white shadow, "the cure" could have been tailored for almost any of your pop divas du jour. sure, gaga's voice is commanding as always, but her whispery delivery here smacks a little too strongly of ariana grande to come across as genuine. additionally, the production is diplo/skrillex-lite, starring a pitched-up vocal riff that sounds a good bit like the one in justin bieber's "sorry", and the writing is inane ("i'll fix you with my love / and if you say you're okay, I'm gonna heal you anyway"). it's a disappointing move for an artist that's always been ahead of the pack D

 

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