Rapid Fire Reviews: Open Mike Eagle, Washer, Partner
Posted: by The Editor
Open Mike Eagle — Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
During the banner track of Open Mike Eagle’s sixth full-length, he promises he “won’t fit in your descriptions.” It’s one of the few moments of unabashed flexing on Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, and it’s one of the most acute brags a rapper can make in an era where taste is often formed by RIYL tags and “Related Artists” columns. What makes it so effective, though, is that he really is hard to describe. The prolific Chi-Town native avoids nearly every current hip-hop trend on Brick Body—skirting trap altogether, as well as the gospel and emo-rap stylings of Chicago peers Chance and Vic Mensa, respectively—without sounding like an obvious callback to the genre’s forefathers, either. Although production comparisons to Doris-era Earl Sweatshirt and Summertime ’06-era Vince Staples are valid, to call Eagle lo-fi is an insult to the deep, milky bass in tracks like “Hymnal” and “Breezeway Ritual,” and although Vince’s personality outside of the booth is colorful, Eagle’s cleverness is unmatched on recording. (“My supervillain name would be Ultra Hater/I’d act really cool then insult you later”.) Everything about his approach is balanced precisely; smoothly oscillating between his pleasant sing-rap vocals (“Legendary Iron Hood,” “Daydreaming in the Projects”) and an unhinged yawp (“No Selling,” “Tldr”), and quickly switching from carefree humor to articulate political commentary without forcing it. With no regard for fitting into any particular province in modern hip-hop, Eagle founds one of his own on Brick Body Kids Still Daydream; one where he’s proudly sovereign.
Washer — All Aboard
Despite its inconsistencies, Washer’s 2016 debut Here Comes Washer was still one of the more underrated indie-rock releases of last year. There were a handful of songs on there that absolutely ripped, and fortunately, most of their sophomore release, All Aboard, rips even harder. Whereas their debut occasionally overindulged in minimalism, resulting in a handful of forgettable passages that felt disappointingly weak next to standouts like “Mend” and “Porky”, All Aboard is both harsher and catchier—resulting in nary a dull moment. The band’s either hustling forward before diving face-first into yelly breakdowns (“Elbow,” “Lyin’,” “Dog Go Bark”), or massaging a hook until its loose enough to sprawl outward (“Feel It Coming On,” “Bass 2,” “Wet Nails”). The prime example of this is on lead single “Your Guess Is As Bad As Mine,” which is probably Washer’s best song to date; using its nodding rhythm to gently persuade an oozing crescendo out from its sticky, bass-driven melody. It’s one of those songs that builds exactly the way you want it to, and although a single like this risks overpowering the rest of the record, Washer deliver repeatedly on All Aboard, to the point where picking favorites requires more than one hand.
Partner — In Search of Lost Time
For whatever reason, bands mashing muscular indie-rock with vigorous power-pop is particularly hip in 2017. Some of this year’s best rock releases have come from acts like Rozwell Kid, Charly Bliss and Dude York, all of whom are serving platters full of crushing riffs, topped with only the sweetest of hooks and harmonies. Although the world doesn’t necessarily need more music like that, what’s astonishing is that each of these bands keeps one-upping each other, and Partner’s In Search of Lost Time—arriving months after similar records like Precious Art and Guppy—sounds just as, if not more, essential. Songs like “Everybody Knows” and “Comfort Zone” are absolute stoner anthems, but to call Partner slack-rock would be wholly unfair. This band shreds. Like, positively, unequivocally shreds. The guitar solos in “Gross Secret”, “Comfort Zone” and “Ambassador to Ecstasy” rival any piece of fretwork in recent memory, and nearly every chorus on here is single-worthy. Partner are goofy as heck on In Search of Lost Time, inserting seven skits that are sometimes distracting, though mostly hilarious introductions to what could potentially be two of rock music’s most lovable personalities of the coming decade.
Eli Enis | @eli_enis