Calvin Harris – Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1

If anyone was going to drop the album of summer ’17, it would be Calvin Harris. With three wavy singles that caught fire immediately, Calvin Harris had listeners feeling the summer before it even arrived. “Slide” and “Feels” are ruling the airwaves while “Rollin” has been more quiet, but still banging. But like all artists who drop a bevy of exceptional singles, does Calvin Harris succeed in dropping the summer album of the year or is it a forgettable record with simply the singles to play over and over?

For me, Calvin Harris succeeds in delivering an exceptional album in Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. The masterful recruitment of all-star features takes the album to another level. However, at the base of the song is the funky electronic production that is top-notch and extremely unique to Calvin Harris’ previous work. I’m more impressed by his ability to make the funk- and disco-flavored EDM work perfectly with each featured artist than the featured artists dominating their respective beats. The album is fresh, cohesive, and truly wavy. The title of the album is no ruse; it’s the real thing.

Calvin Harris succeeded in bringing together all-star talent on a record destined to rule the summer unlike DJ Khaled with his Grateful. DJ Khaled’s album was too drawn out with 23 tracks while Harris’ album was concise with 10 tracks. DJ Khaled’s album ended up being 90 percent filler, while Calvin Harris’ album has bangers throughout. In this case, Calvin Harris’ album felt more thought out and intentional, and as a result it exceeds expectations.

Tracks like “Slide”, “Cash Out”, and “Prayers Up” are phenomenal and stand out the most. “Slide” features Frank Ocean and Migos, and it shouldn’t work but it works extremely well. ScHoolboy Q dominates “Cash Out”, flowing smoothly through the verses like a complete boss. PARTYNEXTDOOR and D.R.A.M. ensure that the song is even more catchy. “Prayers Up” is included in some of my favorites because I didn’t expect Travis Scott to kill the track. The track goes and Travis Scott is a big part in why.

Only two songs fell flat for me. “Skrt On Me” is the dancehall track that features Nicki Minaj drenched in autotune. The song isn’t terrible; in fact, I enjoy it. What I don’t enjoy is Nicki Minaj’s voice being buttered up with autotune. As far as I’m concerned, she cannot sing and simply raps. Therefore, I wish Harris’ had recruited someone else for the verses and chorus and let Nicki Minaj simply handle the rapping on the bridge. Literally anyone who could sing without autotune could have carried that track more than Nicki. The second track that I just don’t like at all is the final track “Hard to Love”. It features Jessie Reyez, who I have never heard of before and will not hear more of in the future. The song itself is forgettable and Reyez doesn’t do anything outstanding for the track which is actually has dull production compared to the rest of the album.

Overall, the record is great and will be the soundtrack of the summer. It’s concise, cohesive, and catchy, and showcases Calvin’s forward approach to EDM and the potential of collaborations being done right. Calvin Harris understands that the only way to move EDM forward is to blend it with other influences such as the 80s and modern rap and pop. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is funky, wavy, bouncy, and will be on repeat throughout the summer.

Top vybes: “Slide”, “Cash Out”, “Rollin”, “Prayers Up”

Not vybes: “Hard to Love”

For those who vybe to: anything on Top 40 radio

 

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Calvin Harris, Pvris, The Plot In You

“Feels” – Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris will have the best album of the summer and the whole year—quote me. The evidence is in his singles off his upcoming release Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, due June 23rd. The latest of these singles “Feels” continues in the same fashion as the other singles. Calvin Harris is combining fantastical collaborations with extra groovy funk-inspired EDM. “Feels” features Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean, each artist adding an extra layer of artistry on this track. The production is phenomenal, truly mixing the funky vibes with modern anthems without being over-the-top. It’s impossible to miss how summery this and the other singles are which only hints more at the fact that Calvin Harris is taking over the summer. My favorite facet of “Feels” is that each artist adds a different flavor on top the stellar, slow-burning production.

“What’s Wrong” – Pvris

As if to prove that Pvris can do no wrong, they drop a new single titled “What’s Wrong”, and in fact there is nothing wrong with this song. Pvris does everything right on this track. To mix brooding lyrics with powerfully, subtle instrumentation for the result of an infectious alt-rock anthem is a showcase of outstanding musicianship. Lynn Gunn continues to deliver amazing vocals, and it is during the bridge where you can truly feel the riveting emotion that she brings. Pvris is a stand-out band for me because they don’t go overboard with their sound. They deliver darkly-tinged atmospheric tracks that don’t sacrifice infectiousness or simplicity. “What’s Wrong” is a testament to that and is further proof that Pvris will drop a phenomenal sophomore album due on August 4th.

“Feel Nothing” – The Plot In You

The Plot In You dropped “Feel Nothing” to announce their signing with the stacked Fearless Records. Despite its title, this track makes you feel everything. From the despondently dark instruments to the emotional, gritty vocals, this track is extremely powerful. This band has been amazing for quite some time, especially after their last record Happiness in Self Destruction, but they continue to display maturity in growth, evident on “Feel Nothing”. It’s polished, mature, and extremely well-structured—ultimately allowing for this song to hit harder than ever. The way the softly crooned verse simmers slowly into the potent chorus is remarkable and unforgettable. One simply cannot listen this song and not feel anything. The Plot In You killed this track, and in turn fans will kill the replay button.

Childish Gambino-Awaken, My Love!

10/10

If you thought Childish Gambino was going to drop bars upon bars on his latest release, you are greatly mistaken. Instead, he transcended the bounds of rap and emerged into something entirely unique. Completely trading in rap and hip-hop for funk and blues, Gambino turns the clock back, pulling in influences from James Brown and Michael Jackson. This may sound disappointing, but it’s quite the opposite. Awaken, My Love! comes through with all the good vibes.

Awaken, My Love! opens up with the mysterious, yet passionate “Me and Your Mama”, which clearly set the tone for the album. From the slick production to the vehement vocals, this track is a journey all the way through. Skipping to “Boogieman”, this track is completely a throwback with funky feels throughout that make your body sway. The whole song is slightly eerie, from the lyrics about police to Bino’s warped vocals. “Zombies” is also full of haunting vibes. Yet the album peaks at the three tremendous track that make this album more than just decent. “Redbone”, another single, is an adventure in itself, taking you through the musical galaxy to the planet of wondrous vibes. On a side note, I think without Bino’s voice being raised a semitone, this song would not hit as hard. This track leads into “California” which is definitely the happiest song on a funky, yet dark album. Childish’s vocal delivery carries this song, making it hella catchy and amusing to listen to. The woodwind instrument throughout the perfectly produced song does wonders. “Terrified” is the last of the three track climax of the album, which follows the mood set in tracks like “Boogieman” and “Zombies”. “Stand Tall” is a solid closer, drawing an end to what honestly is an experience rather than just a simple album.

Awaken, My Love! is different, unique, and not what some Bino fans would expect. Yet this is perhaps his best release yet, showcasing his genius when it comes to anything creative. Gambino is a mastermind, and he continues to keep the vibes coming.

Top vibes: “California”, “Redbone”

For those who vibe to: Prince, St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Check out the official audio for “Redbone” below.

 

“Party Monster” & “I Feel It Coming”-The Weeknd

 

IT’S ALMOST UPON US. The Weeknd’s new album arrives in only a week, and to dissuade us from growing even more impatient, he’s blessed us with not one but two singles. How generous! “Party Monster” and “I Feel It Coming” dropped at midnight, and it’s more than excellent.

“Party Monster” is full of deep, dark vibes focused on his chase for a girl who’s unfortunately already taken. The beat is extremely hazy and dark, which is a sharp contrast from the extremely upbeat and pop-induced “Starboy” and “False Alarm” that preceded this single. I’m going to jump the gun and say that “Party Monster” is the best single thus far, but don’t take my word for it. Fun fact: it has Lana Del Rey mysteriously crooning in the background towards the end of the song.

“I Feel It Coming” features Daft Punk, who appeared on the hit “Starboy”. Apparently any time these two come together, magic happens. “I Feel It Coming” is a soothing flash of The Weeknd’s new influences. Instantly recognizable is the Michael Jackson-esque feel to the song. Any song with those vibes is a good song, but Abel makes it great. If you listen to this song without feeling happiness or without moving your body to the rhythm, you have no soul! Just kidding. But this single is the opposite of “Party Monster”, which is why both were probably paired together to be released simultaneously. They both feel like breaths of fresh air held side by side, an obvious stroke of genius from The Weeknd.

These two singles both hold me off until the album drops next week and make me yearn for the album even more. The things you do to us, Abel.

For those who vibe to: Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino

Spotify link to both tracks below.