Vaudou Game | JPEGMAFIA | Donny McCaslin & Sun Kil Moon | Ambrose Akinmusire | Lewis Capaldi
Welcome back, friends! This week I’ve been on the road a little more than usual, which has been lovely because it’s given me the opportunity to really concentrate on a lot of new music. Apart from the musicians mentioned below, I’ve been absorbing new albums from Architects (metal) and the actor Jeff Goldblum (jazz – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!) as well as watching the likes of GoGo Penguin, Andreya Triana, Alpines and a great new band called Sunda Arc live.
The selection this week pulls together such disparate threads as voodoo, songs about dead cats and frothy-knickered girls but which artist made me want to hear their rendition of Baby Shark? Read on if you dare…
1. The ‘Charm Offensive’ | Vaudou Game: Tata Fatiguée
Maybe it’s the strong influence of voodoo in their work, maybe it’s the fact that their frontman looks like your friendly-Shaman-next-door, but Tata Fatiguée from Togo’s Vaudou Game is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.
Sure, there are some jumping off points; I will admit to being an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to picking apart the differences between the musics of neighbouring African countries but, to my very much uneducated ear there are definite hints of Femi Kuti and Oumou Sangare in there.
But where my ear most definitely does not deceive me is in the funk and soul stylings of every Stax musician ever recorded and the ‘Good God” proclamations of James Brown mimicked by singer Peter Solo.
But the combination of the two? That’s some witch-craft right there. And it’s sure as hell cast a spell on me.
2. The ‘Military Coup’ | JPEGMAFIA: Puff Daddy
Not to be mistaken for a fictitious new release called “JPEGMAFIA” by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs (God, could you imagine all those “I’ll be Missing You”-loving, frothy-knickered girls hearing THIS!!), Puff Daddy is the latest track from Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks (JPEGMAFIA or “Peggy’ to his mates). Prodigiously, it comes mere months after the release of his well-received album Veteran (which this isn’t on).
Basically, I love songs that sound like they’re falling apart. In Hendricks’ case, he’s starting to develop a nice little line in tracks which sound like they were originally another song… then that song got crushed like a biscuit under someone’s shoe… and then someone attempted to piece together said biscuit. While drunk.
Kenny Beats’ production is immense. It reminds me of some of SOPHIE’s best work (read my review of Faceshopping) or the magnificent Death Grips while Peggy’s refrain of “Big whips, big guns / No cash, no funds / Hurry up, it’s done / You are all my sons / We don’t claim you bums / This shit’s for the scum” is probably the most punk lyric I’ve heard… well… ever.
3. The ‘Peaceful Protest’ | Donny McCaslin & Sun Kil Moon: The Opener
Mark Kozelek (AKA Sun Kil Moon)’s vocal delivery and storytelling prowess is my new obsession. This week he released the captivating new album This is My Dinner and that not-quite-deadpan but not-super-expressive-either enunciation is so captivating I can’t help but be sucked into his stories; even when he’s writing love-letters to the country of Norway / lamenting the death of his cat (yes, both subjects are covered – nay, intertwined – in one song) or discussing how unhelpful Frankfurters are (that’s people from the German city of Frankfurt, rather than sausages… cos that’d be weird).
But, rather than go with one of those tracks, I wanted to review The Opener – released during my ‘Summer holiday’ as it twins Kozelek with a somewhat more established obsession of mine; the lungs of Donny McCaslin. The veteran jazz saxophonist – who will be known to some as a member of David Bowie’s boundary-busting Blackstar band – released his latest album, Blow (from which The Opener is taken) in October and it’s an equally breath-taking (excuse the pun) piece of art.
On said track, both men’s outstanding individual skills are supplemented by a cool-as-faaack dub-style bass part and a keyboard line that sparkles with a ‘Riders on the Storm’ shine. By the end of its six minute-groove, The Opener will leave you feeling as chill as Kozelek’s two female “companion’s” boyfriends appear to be.
4. ‘Guerilla Warfare’ | Ambrose Akinmusire: Americana / The Garden Waits for You to Match Her Wilderness
The first time I heard “Americana…” I remember thinking, ‘Oh my days, there are two tracks I really like here but I’m not sure how in the hell they relate to each other.”
Track one I’m referring to is the Mivos Quartet-led classical piece which conjures up reminders of Poppy Ackroyd (read my review of The Calm Before) and Penguin Café Orchestra. Yet that wraps itself around a spoken-word diatribe from Das Racist’s colourful vocalist Kool A.D. in which he addresses – amongst other things – the “savage histories, brutal legacies, illusory democracies and feudal tendencies” existing within America right now.
Upon further reading, it turns out this was trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s intention; after all, the one-time Kendrick Lamar collaborator has a history of addressing racial inequality in his homeland way before the Black Lives Matter campaign gathered a head of steam. Through juxtaposing the two completely disparate styles together, the lyrics are brought all the more to the fore, hammering the message home.
5. The ‘Quiet Riot’ | Lewis Capaldi: Someone You Loved
Lewis Capaldi has one of ‘those’ voices. It’s a voice that conveys absolute authenticity and unwavering raw emotion in every syllable; that *almost* makes you want to hear him sing Baby Shark just to see if he could make you cry at that too.
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that it’s underscored with a piano line that seems to be ripped directly from a John Lewis Christmas ad… all of which is my way of trying to mask, through humour and good-old-fashioned British cynicism, the fact that when the Glasgow-born 22-year-old hits the middle eight it hurts the very core of my being.
And so we reach a cease-fire for this week. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. I can’t listen to every new track released each week so all recommendations from like-minded readers are most welcome too.
The silence is broken again next week when I’ll return with five more selections for your consideration. Until then, thank you for reading and go in peace.
– SV –