Tag: Damon Albarn

Throughout this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written about and championed a number of acts from across Northern Africa — in particular, Mali. During that same period of time,  Mali has been split apart by a bloody civil war between several different factions. In 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azaward (MNLA) took control of Northern Mail; but shortly after, they were pushed out of the region by Ansar Dine, a jihadist group, which quickly imposed sharia law: cigarettes, alcohol and music were banned across the region. And as a result a large number of the country’s acclaimed musicians including Songhoy Blues’ founding trio Garba Toure, Aliou Toure and Oumar Toure (no relation, but all Songhoy people) were forced to relocate south to Bamako, the country’s capital.

As the members of Songhoy Blues have said, the band was formed “. . . to recreate that lost ambience of the North, and make all the refugees relive those Northern songs.”  The band recruited Nathanael Dembélé to compete their lineup, and began playing shows across the Bamako club circuit, attracting both Songhoy and Tuareg fans.  Interestingly, by September 2013, Africa Express, a collective of American and European musicians and producers led by Damon Albarn traveled to Bamako to collaborate with local musicians. The members of Songhoy Blues successfully auditioned and were introduced to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Nick Zinner, who produced and recorded “Soubour” (which translates into English as “patience”), which appeared on that year’s African Express compilation Maison Des Jeunes. 

Following the success of “Soubour,” the band returned to the studio with Zinner and co-producer Marc-Antoine Moreau to record their 2015 full-length debut Music in Exile, which was a commercial and critical success, receiving praise from The Guardian, NME and others, and as a result the band received nominations for “Best New Act” at the Q Awards and “Independent Breakthrough Act” at the AIM Awards.  The quartet has opened for Alabama Shakes, Julian Casablancas and Damon Albarn, and have played sets at Glastonbury Festival, Bonnaroo Festival, Latitude Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest, WOMADelaide and The Great Escape Festival.

Building upon a growing international profile, the band’s sophomore album, 2017’s Resistance was released to critical praise, with Rolling Stone naming it one of the best albums of that year. Since then, the act has been busy touring, including a stop at Union Pool‘s Summer Thunder last year — and the writing and recording of their forthcoming EP Meet Me in the City, which is slated for an October 18, 2019 release.

The effort finds the acclaimed Malian act collaborating with Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney, Junior Kimbrough and Femi Kuti. Interestingly, the EP’s first single, the Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney and Songhoy Blues co-written “Time To Go Home” may be the most electronic-leaning they’ve released to date, it still retains some dexterous and trippy guitar work and the hypnotic grooves of the Desert Blues. And interestingly enough, it finds the band ambitiously desiring to pass the messages at the heart of their material to a much larger, international audience. (There are two different version of the track. One mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Blake Mills and one mixed by David Ferguson.)

Songhoy Blues says, “We’re really happy to introduce this new EP and our English-language debut on the song ‘Time To Go Home.’ Please enjoy it and get ready for a heavy new album coming up very soon.”

Matt Sweeney adds, “I think it’s safe to say that the brave poets of Songhoy Blues have a different idea what a ‘bad day’ is than pretty much all other rock bands. Their music and singing are powerful beyond words. Making a new song with them was a humbling honor and an unforgettable joy.”

On PBS’ American Masters, Will Oldham spoke of working with Songhoy Blyes, saying, “They are a Malian band that’s really trying to make sense of what they’ve been witnessing, what they’ve been experiencing, and create or transmit a message to people about what they’re seeing and how they’re trying to understand it and make change…And to think, well I want them to know that I’m trying to listen and trying to understand, and if I can give voice to some of what they’re experiencing, that they might be emboldened by this musical connection.”

Songhoy Blues will be embarking on a month long Stateside tour that includes two NYC area dates — September 22, 2019 at The Great Green Wall at The United Nations and October 24, 2019 at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

09.21 – Franklin, TN – Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival 2019
09.22 – New York, NY – United Nations | Great Green Wall
09.23 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09.24 – Birmingham, AL – Saturn
09.26 – Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
09.27 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
09.28 – Austin, TX – Antone’s
10.01 – El Prado, NM – Taos Mesa Brewing
10.04 – Los Angeles, CA – Moroccan Lounge
10.05 – Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone Berkeley
10.06 – Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre
10.09 – Eugene, OR – WOW Hall
10.10 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
10.11 – Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater
10.12 – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Rickshaw Theatre
10.15 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
10.17 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
10.19 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
10.22 – Toronto, ON, Canada – Great Hall
10.24 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right
10.25 – Easthampton, MA – New City Brewery
10.26 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
10.27 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

New Video: Speed Through the Streets of Kinshasa in Visuals for TSHEGUE’s Thumping “The Wheel”

Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Faty Sy Savanet and her family emigrated to Paris when she was eight. In her early twenties, a mutual friend connected Savanet with Robert Wyatt collaborator Bertrand Burgalat, whose label, Tricatel has been referenced as a major influence of the likes of Air and Daft Punk.

Burgalat encouraged and enabled many of Savanet’s formative musical experiments, including a short-lived voodoo ‘n’ roll band. Interestingly, Savanet’s latest project TSHEGUE, which derives its name from her childhood nickname, a Congolese slang term for the boys who gather on Kinshasa’s streets, can trace its origins to when she met her bandmate, French-Cuban producer Nicolas ‘Dakou’ Dacunha.

Their debut EP, 2017’s Survivor thematically explored the challenges faced by the African Diaspora paired with Dacunha’s forward-hthinking, hypnotic, club-banging productions which features elements of Afropunk, garage rock and electro-clash. Survivor EP was championed by the likes of Mura Masa and Noisey, which led to a growing international profile. And adding to a growing profile, the video for “Munapoto,” which was shot on the Ivory Coast received a UK Music Video Award nomination alongside videos for tUnE-YaRdS and Chaka Khan.

“The Wheel,” the first bit of new material from the duo since the release of Survivor EP, and I’m certain that it’ll further cement TSHEGUE’s growing reputation for crafting swaggering, forward-thinking, genre and style-blurring bangers. Centered around a wildly exuberant, hypnotic and percussive production featuring ricocheting industrial clang and clatter, stuttering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, explosive blasts of bass synth paired with Savanet’s commanding flow, the song bears a resemblance to JOVM mainstays Kokoko! as it sounds as though it comes from a sweaty, post-apocalyptic future where the club and the ghetto are one and the same — but delivered with a decidedly punk aggressiveness.

Directed by Renaud Barret, who was also behind the Africa Express documentary featured Damon Albarn, Peter Hook and Tony Allen, the recently released video for “The Wheel” was filmed in a gorgeously cinematic black and white amidst the chaotic traffic of Savanet’s hometown, follows members of the local, mixed-gender, teenaged skating club, Club Etoile Rollers hitching rides on the backs of speeding busses, cars, motorbikes through the heaving megalopolis’ crowded streets. Speaking about the video Barret says ““An ordinary day in Kinshasa. I’m in a taxi on Lumumba Boulevard, when suddenly I’m in the middle of this gang of kids slaloming between cars. We exchange thumbs up, signs of complicity, rolling side by side for a moment. One of them spots my camera, and comes closer to shout ‘Hey sir! Do you wanna shoot something crazy?’ I couldn’t refuse. This is the magic of a limitless city where each and every day brings incredible spontaneous possibilities. Now as I watch the beaming faces of these kids, thrown at full speed on their crumbling rollers, almost out of control, intoxicated by danger and only protected by their faith in good luck; I can only see a metaphor for the Congo’s situation. But also a middle finger to a society trying to maintain an illusion that everything should be controlled, supervised. These free riders remind us that life must be lived in the present.”

The duo has begun to make a name for themselves with commanding live performances, including sets at Lowlands and The Great Escape Festivals and from what I understand the act will be announcing a series of headlining UK live shows to coincide with the release of more new material.

Live Footage: Up-and-Coming British Psych Pop Act Imperial Daze Performs “Minding the Haze” in Studio

Currently-comprised of Al Ward (vocals, guitar), Felix Rebaud-Sauer (bass, guitar), Facundo Rodriguez (keys, vocals) and Tom Sunney (drums), the London-based psych pop act Imperial Daze is a proudly multi-national band that features an Argentine, a Frenchman and an Englishman. Interestingly, the act which has publicly cited Damon Albarn, Kevin Parker and Soulwax as major influences on their sound and approach can trace their formation to tireless and joyful collaboration in a South London commune.

The London-based psych pop act released their Rupert Jarvis-produced 2017 debut EP Solid Fair and as a result of a national ad campaign that used their music, the band quickly earned a rapidly growing national profile, the members of the band have shared stages with the likes of The Maccabees, Mystery Jets, Nilufer Yanya, All We Are and Matt Maltese. Imperial Daze spent the bulk of last year building their studio from scratch in a giant disused commercial freezer, under a railway arch near London’s Tower Bridge that they’ve dubbed The Electric Eel Recording Studio. (Reportedly, the studio’s name is derived from the fact that the space once used to store eels.)

Slated for a June 7, 2019 release through Tip Top Recordings, the up-and-coming British band’s sophomore EP, Surface Sensibles was co-produced by the members of the band and Rupert Jarvis, and was recorded in two studios — The Maccabees’ studio The Drugstore and the band’s new studio. Surface Sensibles‘ latest single, the atmospheric and wistful “Minding the Haze” is centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, angular guitars, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook — and while bearing a resemblance to Editors and HandsMassive Context EP, the song which has already caught the attention of XFM‘s John Kennedy and BBC Radio 6‘s Amy Lame is as the band’s described “a melancholic picture of a fleeting hazy summer spent as a teenager, engrossed in youthful romance, willful boredom and insouciance. “

New Video: JOVM Mainstay REMI teams up with Black Milk, Razia Biza, and Baro on Upbeat Yet Politically Charged “Runner”

Over the course of late 2016 through last year, I had written quite a bit about the Melbourne, Australia-based emcee REMI, and as you may recall, along with his producer, DJ and longtime collaborator, Sensible J, the duo rose to national prominence with 2014’s critically and commercially successful  effort Raw X Infinity, an album that was named  Triple J‘s Album of the Week and the Independent Hip Hop Album of the Year by the Australian Independent Record Association, and received international attention from OkayAfrica, JUICE, laut.de, NPR’s All Things Considered, and several others. Adding to a growing national and international profile, the Melbourne-based emcee was named “Australian Breakthrough Artist of the Year” and as a result the duo wound up touring nationally and internationally with Danny Brown, Vic Mensa, De La Soul, Joey Bada$$ and Damon Albarn.

2016 saw the release of the duo’s critically applauded full-length Divas and Demons, an album that revealed a supremely talented emcee and adept lyricist and storyteller, whose stories possessed an earnest, soul-baring honesty.  Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about the Melbourne-based emcee; but recently he released a collaborative EP Black Hole Sun that finds him teaming up with Hamilton, New Zealand-based Raiza Biza, Sampha the Great, Black Milk who contributes production, and Sensible J, who mixed and curated the entire affair. The EP’s latest single “Runner” is a collaboration that features the duo teaming up with fellow Melbourne-based emcee Baro — and the track find the trio rhyming over an upbeat production that’s centered around thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, explosive hi-hat and a looped flute sample and an infectious hook; but unlike their previous work, the track finds the collaborators spitting fiery and incisive bars about racism, racist stereotypes and fears; deception and bullshit by teachers and political leaders, while being defiantly and boldly pro-black. 

Directed by Tig Terera, the recently released video is primarily centered around the trio’s exploits breaking into a closed shopping mall and then a closed hair salon and while shot in a way that brings the trio’s friendship to light, it allows each individual artist to shine in a variety of scenes. 

2017 has been a breakthrough year for the Reykjavik, Iceland-based indie rock/post-punk trio  Fufanu.. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this past year, you’d recall that the band, currently comprised of founding members Kaktus Einarsson (vocals, guitar), whose father Einar was a member of The Sugarcaubes and Guðlaugur “Gulli” Einarsson (guitar, programming) (no relation, by the way) along with newest member, Erling Bang (drums) can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo met while at school. And according to the band’s founding duo, Katkus had glanced at Gulli’s iTunes and noticed that they had listened to a lot of the same techno and electronic music. After quickly bonding over mutual interests, the duo went into a studio and began writing and recording electronic music under the name Captain Fufanu. Interestingly, within a month of their formation, Kaktus and Gulli had started playing shows in and around their hometown.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the duo went into the studio to record what would be their full-length debut as Captain Fufanu; but in a strange twist of fate, the studio where Kaktus and Gulli had recorded the album was burgled. Naturally, everyone involved in the process presumed the album was lost. While many bands would be devastated by losing their life’s work in such a shitty fashion, Kaktus and Gulli put a positive spin on the ordeal, viewing it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves and their sound, as they were developing a growing technical and musical prowess. Coincidentally, Kaktus Einarsson had been spending time in London working on Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots and touring with the late and legendary Bobby Womack when he began writing lyrics. Simultaneously, Gulli had started to craft a completely revised sound, which according to Kaktus managed to convey exactly what he had been thinking and feeling at the time. The result was the duo pairing Kaktus’ brooding and ironically detached vocals with an arrangement that featured guitar, bass, drums, synths and other electronics. Armed with a new sound, the duo renamed the project Fufanu.

Fufanu’s first live set as Fufanu, with their new sound and material was at 2014’s Iceland Airwaves and they quickly became one of the most talked about bands of the entire festival. Right after the festival, they went into the studio to record their full-length debut, A Few More Days To Go, which was released to applause both nationally and internationally; in fact, with an even bigger profile, Fufanu toured with The Vaccines and others, and played some of Northern Europe’s and Scandinavia’s largest festivals, including the aforementioned Iceland Airwaves, JaJaJa Festival and others.

Released earlier this year, the band’s sophomore album Sports finds the band going through some significant changes — Kaktus and Gulli recruited Erling “Elli” Bang (drums) to further flesh their sound out, with the newly constituted trio refining their material’s sound and thematic concerns, represented through album title track  “Sports,” which retains the synth-driven sound of their debut while nodding at CanNeu!  Joy Division and early ’80s Peter Gabriel,  the slow-burning and moody  “Liability” and “White Pebbles.”  However, the highly buzzed about Icelandic trio begin the holiday season and close out the year, with “Top Of The Queens,” a track that was recorded during the Sports sessions and didn’t make the cut.

Of course, what makes an the release of a previously unreleased album track intriguing is the fact that they frequently give the listener — if they’re familiar with the album in question — some insight into the complex editorial decisions that comprise the making of an album. In some cases, you can immediately tell why a particular song wasn’t included — it just didn’t fit the tone and vibe of the album. In other cases, it’s not apparent. Sometimes, it’s a matter of a song floating around for a while and the band just is tired of the song or it’s an issue of not having a whole lot of time and something has to get cut — or a variety of other issues. Interestingly enough, “Top Of The Queens” manages to continue in a similar, anthemic hook-laden, synth-based rock vibe but it has a rougher, punk rock band in a dive bar edge to it.

 

 

 

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or even over the past couple of weeks, you’ve likely seen a handful of posts featuring the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based indie trio Stillwave. Currently comprised of founding members Michael van Putten and Marcel Jongejan, along with their friend and long-time roadie Joris Keizer, the Dutch indie rock trio have developed a reputation for uncompromisingly refusing to do what their fellow countrymen have done, instead making the trip to the UK to play some of their first shows in dingy, beer soaked clubs and music venues that their influences  — namely, Radiohead, David Bowie and Slowdive — have played in before they made it. As a result of their dedication, hustle and moxie, the Dutch trio began to receive attention and praise from media outlets across the UK and the States, including Q Magazine, Speak Into My Good Eye and others.

The band had started to achieve some level of success and attention when member van Putten and Jongejan were rocked by the departure of original, founding member Adriaan Hogervost. As the band explained to me through email earlier this month, “When Adriaan quit, it felt as if we had lost a brother. We were risking our last savings for another tour in a cramped ’94 Civic, but we knew we had to continue. Stillwave had become more than just music, it became the bond that held us together. We asked our long-time roadie and childhood friend Joris [Keizer] to join us.” They go on to explain that the band’s newest member, had a deep understanding of their dedication and passion for music, knowing that the band was each individual member’s labor of love, “an almost physical place, which we can create, enter and share with those who listen to it.”

The band’s long-awaited full-length debut Sell Another Soul is slated for a November 3, 2017 release, and as the band says about the recording sessions, “When we decided to start recording our album, we had ceased to care about compromise, polish and overanalysed bullshit, which supposedly celebrates the idea of being young and carefree. We do care. For 3 sleep deprived weeks we toiled in a dilapidated structure that would soon after be swallowed by the attempt of gentrification around it. We did away with vocal comping and held onto the tracks where we fucked up. Every second was a battle, every minute a victory.”  As you may recall, I wrote about “94 Civic” earlier this month, a single that derives it name from the 94 Civic that the band drove around in for tours across Europe, and the song was a slow-burning and dreamy ballad that featured a gorgeous but minimalist arrangement of strummed guitar and gently swirling electronics paired with yearning and contemplative vocals that reminded me quite a bit of  Damon Albarn’s solo work and his work with Gorillaz.

Sell Another Soul‘s latest single “Adelaide” find the band returning a bit to the sound that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere — angular, David Bowie Berlin triology-influenced post-punk with similar, moody atmospherics and a rousing, larger-than-life hook and industrial clang and clatter.

The recently released video continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with former member Adriaan Hogervost. And interestingly enough, the video stars Jop Gorris, as a man, who runs around a race track with a metal ladder strapped around him. And although, the ladder is clearly a hinderance to his movement, and he grows increasingly frustrated with the ladder — until he uses it to climb up an abandoned house.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays NVDES Returns with a Breezy and Hook-Driven New Single

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you’ve likely been made familiar with the Los Angeles-based collective and JOVM mainstays NVDES, and as you may recall the collective, fronted by founding member and primary songwriter Josh Ocean with the release of 2016’s Life’s  With Lobsters received over 10 million streams across all digital platforms, landed on Spotify’s Global Viral Chart, and as a result of rapidly growing buzz, the project’s debut saw praise from The Fader, Nylon and others for glitchy, breezy and anthemic pop.

Building upon the buzz of their full-length debut, the act released the  La NVDITÉ EP earlier this year and from the EP’s first three singles, the breakneck Sound of Silver-era LCD Soundsystem-like “Turning Heads,” the breezy, yet anthemic “Dancer From New York, and the glitchy and angular “Sugar,” Ocean and company have continued to further cement their reputation for crafting off-kitller, genre-defying pop that will remind some listeners of Damon Albarn and Gorillaz.   

“May and June”  La NVDITÉ EP’s fourth and latest single continues in the same vein of its predecessors with the single revealing a carefully crafted, slickly produced and hook-driven song that finds the act drawing from thumping, contemporary pop, funk, Tropicalia and 60s French pop in a mischievously seamless fashion — but underneath the seemingly post-modern irony and scuzzy pop vibes is a swooning and earnest Romanticism.