Release Date: Feb 23, 2015
Record label: PIAS
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Songhoy Blues are a young and exuberant Malian band who already have a remarkable history behind them. They fled from their homes in the north when radical Islamists overran the region, and on reaching the safety of Bamako, decided to form a band – at which point their fortunes dramatically changed. They came to the attention of Amadou & Mariam’s manager, Marc-Antoine Moreau, who was looking for musicians who could record with the Africa Express team when they came to town; they also collaborated with Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the AE’s Maison Des Jeunes set.
Just when it seemed “desert blues” had hit a too predictable groove, along comes this young troupe from northern Mali, formed after armed jihadis had forced them into exile. Teenage years glued to Hendrix and John Lee Hooker are as relevant to their sound as the folk songs and chants of the Songhoy (not Tuareg) people. They slide easily between modernism and tradition, raucous on Soubour (their introduction via 2013’s Africa Express), Talking Heads funky on Irganda, growlingly bluesy on Nick, contemplative and hypnotic on Wayei.
When it first gathered recognition outside its roots in Sahara ten or so years ago, Desert Blues provided a tantalisingly alien yet somehow strangely familiar take on the 12-bar business that pretty much any modern music worth listening to has dipped at least its little toe in. For reference, imagine John Lee Hooker’s most intense single-chord boogie vamps slowed down to fit surroundings where water and shade are scarce, with deeply melancholy but defiant lyrics steeped in decades of rebellion, unrest and dislocation. The style's most renowned practitioners have continued to make great records ever since, but deep adherence to traditional song forms has imbued the proceedings with an unavoidable air of predictability.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up seven of the best new album releases from this week: discover ….
Henry Yates on new releases from Melody Gardot, Delta Deep, John J Presley, Songhoy Blues and Reuben James Richards Melody Gardot: Currency Of Man ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads On this, her fourth album, Melody Gardot’s music still has the unique effect of making the listener feel 50 per cent cooler just by association. Slinking along the tightrope between jazz, blues and hip-hop, behind perennial dark glasses, the Philadelphia vocalist delivers each couplet like an exhaled smoke ring and ensures her material is mesmeric without actually, y’know, going anywhere in particular. .