EYES LIKE OCEANS
* * *
Miles Atkins’ second release is a record so idiosyncratic, frequently unsettling, often ridiculous, and utterly human it’s almost impossible not to have some sort of extreme reaction while listening. On June, Atkins embellishes the lo-fi emo pop found on his debut, last year’s This City In Lights, with electronic textures and Americana influences. The forays into electronic music range from fantastic (“For What It’s Worth”) to abysmal (his embarrassing experiments with Auto-Tune and Apple loops). Atkins is at best during his quieter songs, particularly the sprawling “Chocolate Ice Cream & Sixteen Candles” and standout “Petronius Arbiter.” Yet the album’s most noticeable trait is its sheer intensity. Even when Atkins sounds as if he’s trying wayyy too hard (“An Evening Alone”), he still sounds like a human heat-seeking missile which follows you throughout the album before it hits the target during the grand finale on the self-titled closing track.
A New Kind Of Sexy
* * * *
After his death, Gil Scott-Heron left us with countless classic songs and poems and a influence that spanned many genres and reached many musicians. The one thing he never accomplished was writing a song about running into a celebrity while naked at a men’s spa. Good thing San Francisco poet-rapper George Watsky took care of that on “Pauly Shore Saw My Penis,” a surprisingly touching, aptly named ballad from his new A New Kind Of Sexy mixtape. Sexy is filled with weird little moments like that, including (but not limited to) remixes of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.;” a ’99-Eminem throwback in the form of an argument with a pot-smoking English nobleman; and some particularly weird white-Jewish-MC boasts on an epic spoken-word closer titled only with an asterisk. In contrast to the multi-faceted songs on his self-titled 2009 debut, A New Kind of Sexy finds Watsky using his self-deprecating sense of humor for purely comedic use. While this makes for a thoroughly fun and enjoyable listen, songs like “Pauly Shore” and “Amazing Grace” suggest that Watsky is at his best when he’s using his humor to explore his own emotions.
“Grove St. Party (feat. Lil B)”/“Gucci Gucci”
* * * / * * *
OK, Lil Wayne isn’t from around here, but on his new mixtape, Sorry 4 the Wait, he pays tribute to the Bay Area on two songs: a collaboration with Berkeley’s own Lil B oand a remake of Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci.” Wayne sounds great on both tracks, devouring them with lip-smacking relish. The former, a remake of a Waka Flocka Flame songs features a semi-comprehensible rant from the BasedGod that’s as freewheeling and rambling as anything he’s done. “Gucci Gucci” is a decent and completely, um, logical remake--of course Lil Wayne will replace the word “Gucci” with “Tunechi,” and what better to rhyme it with than “Lady Gaga?”