Happy Friday! Congratulations, you’ve gotten through, or are just about to get through another working week. Whether you’ve been relaxing from home, working from your makeshift bedroom office or it’s back to business as usual for you, we’re all happy that you’re here, and we hope that you’re healthy. Anyway, to move on swiftly, in the sixth edition of the Grab Bag, we have recommendations from iKON, Simon Dominic, JINBO the SuperFreak and more. We hope you enjoy.
Jinu, Mino – ‘Call Anytime’
Opening with a low-key melodic guitar riff punctuated by colourful whistles, you’d be forgiven for thinking that “Call Anytime” could tread a line of becoming something tempered and, well, boring. However, despite the fact almost everything stays sonically restrained throughout the 3-minute runtime, it is safe in composition, and the most noteworthy aspect of the track is its catchy hook, this is still a release full of subtle vividness.
Whether it’s the strong retro vibe, smoothness of Jinwoo’s vocals or Mino’s spirited addition to the song, there’s something magnetic about the WINNER member’s first solo effort which will you have listening to it time and time again.
Crush, Joy – ‘Mayday’
Since signing to P Nation last year, Crush has settled comfortably into favouring personality-filled releases, blending his knack for R&B bangers with warm humour and relatable lyrics.
His most recent effort, “Mayday,” is a strong emphasis of this. Moulded around bubbling synths, thinly scattered percussion and trap beats, both Crush and Joy deliver energy-adjacent parts, but still manage to pack a punch with them. The chemistry is slightly off-kilter, and can feel jarring, but on the whole the skeletal, non-invasive nature of the track helps earn it some well-deserved stars.
CAPYAC, JINBO the SuperFreak – ‘Gold Rush’
Linking up with French house duo CAPYAC, prolific producer/artist JINBO the SuperFreak delivered a smooth, dance-tinged number with “Gold Rush.”
A re-working of the original version of the track, JINBO lends his sleek, soulful vocals to the disco borrowing effort, helping to mould an engaging electro-pop offering with plenty of groove. Inherently catchy as it borrows from genres across the musical spectrum, you’ll be dancing to this one in no time.
HYUKOH – 24: How To Find True Love and Happiness
A strong bookmark in between the switch from digital to analog production styles for the band, 2018’s 24 shed some intriguing light on where HYUKOH may be going with their career.
Although the foursome have always had a thing for interesting sonics, this EP seemed to borrow from a broader range of soundscapes, blending them together to create something quintessentially HYUKOH.
“Graduation,” which breezes through pace-changes, uplifting guitar riffs and sharp diffusions, opens the release, swarming the listener with an offering all about how overwhelming love can become. Elsewhere, “LOVE YA,” a straightforward jam which settles for a simple declaration of feelings, provides breathing room, whilst “Citizen Kane” soars in fast-paced percussion and urgent guitar notes.
Although still firmly definable as indie rock, 24 saw HYUKOH shift between sub-genres and techniques to guarantee a release with sonic diversity. Because of this, the six-track release never feels stale, each song bringing something fresh to the table.
Giriboy – ‘Just Kidding’
Produced by Zion.T, Giriboy ditched his monotonous rap style in favour of soft, vulnerable singing on “Just Kidding.” Helped along by a soft, full piano melody, acoustic guitar and plodding percussion, there’s a sincere feel to the song which fails to waver. A refreshing easy-listen, the 29-year-old hip-hop star may just surprise people here with how good he sounds.
Simon Dominic – ₩ & ONLY
A far cry from the flashy sarcasm and vivacious jazz influences heard on 2011’s snl league begins, Won & Only marked a defining moment in Simon Dominic’s career. Suddenly bolder, more confident and with a bit less youthful innocence about him, the AOMG star’s first short form release showed glimpses at an evident shift in styles.
Opener, the titular “Won & Only,” is a shining example of this, glistening with a sleek melody, sharp R&B beats, succinct samples and an irresistible Jay Park hook. More braggadocios in his lyrics, Dominic delivers sharp verses on posers, money and women. And, despite the title of the track clearly being a pun, a lot of the carefree quips audiences had grown accustomed to are absent from the EP, replaced instead with confident one-liners and scathing declarations.
But, despite the fact that on the surface the release may sound reasonably self-serving, there is some weighted substance to be found. For example, “Simon Dominic” creates some dissonance between the preceding track, claiming instead of doing it for women that he’s going to “only live for music.” Straight to the point and open, the rapper chants and rhymes over a light, percussive beat throughout the offering, never giving in to create some added bells and whistles.
Overall, it’s a strong release, one which also sees carefully executed re-workings of “Money Don’t Lie” and “Lonely Night,” and something that helped audiences see Simon Dominic in a new, more assured light.
iKON – RETURN
It’s not an unfair statement to say that nobody quite predicted that iKON would become the breakout stars of 2018. It’s not to say that everybody had written them off, but their previous output had failed to really captivate mainstream audiences.
So, when “Love Scenario,” the lead-single for the group’s second full-length album, was released, it came as a hefty surprise to see it catapult the outfit right to the top of the industry. But, unlike a lot of their earlier material, this album had something to it which separated them from their peers. Packed with charm and idiosyncrasy, iKON crafted an album with RETURN which they have yet to top, and perhaps never will.
The aforementioned “Love Scenario” begins the LP with tangible synergy, expertly utilising the talent of each member as they deliver their respective parts over minimalistic instrumentation (mostly a piano melody, some trap beats and, surprisingly, a cowbell). Most of the appeal here does come from an unshakeable chorus, but when it’s that good, does anyone really mind?
From there, “Beautiful,” a groove-driven number with tinges of tropical flavour, adds a bit more pace and energy to the release. Bass-heavy in its verses before adding some tropical house to its catchy refrain, it’s a fairly simplistic offering to get your head around, but one which again shows off the tremendous chemistry the group has.
Similarly, “Love Me,” a track introduced towards the tail-end of the album, mixes poppy vocals and harmonies with heavy, thumping percussion expertly. Driven by an unrelentingly camp, colourful chorus, this uptempo ditty is a singalong anthem, one hard to deny has a transcendent sonic pull.
That’s not to say it’s all fun though. There are still other facets to the group on show throughout the 12 track offering. Whether it’s the pop ballad “Just Go,” or B.I solo effort “One and Only,” a brash, heelish track which sees ballsy, fast-paced verses delivered over jarring cowbells and trap beats, there’s a tremendous versatility to RETURN.
It may have seen iKON embrace their lighter sensibilities for a lot of its content, but this album is layered, intricate and simply sublime. If you’re ever stuck for 45 minutes during your time at home, why not treat yourself and give this a spin?