Hello again friends, freaks and fans of new alternative music of the kind that is difficult to hum along to.
This week’s mix features tracks from Africa that don’t sound like “African music”, songs from Guadeloupe that you’d never guess came from the Caribbean and a singer from Nashville who sounds nothing like Dolly Parton – imagine that!
And despite all that, arguably the weirdest tracks this week hail from the far-flung corners of Exeter and Bedford so there you go.
There’s a bit of metal, some soul, a smattering of world and a large dollop of what might be described as Pop were it, in fact, popular.
So what are you waiting for? Crack on…
| The Charm Offensive |
Rosie Lowe: Birdsong
There’s only a certain degree of normal you can really be if you’re raised in a wooden house built by your ‘auld feller’ without a TV. And in Exeter of all places! So, it’s perhaps no surprise Rosie Lowe offers up the kind of off-kilter enhanced, electronic soul/shuffle that is so beloved of the likes of Machinedrum and Kitsuné.
Latest release, Birdsong absolutely fits that canon, littering its sonic landscape with D’Angelo-style harmonies and similarly Soulquarian-sounding bass and drum-lines. But there’s also a darkness of tone that is best revealed by watching its Jovan Todorovic-directed video (below) which sees a bunch of other ‘auld fellers’ down t’pit… presumably wondering where why their budgie’s stopped singing. (Don’t just stand there wondering, lads; get the holy bejeezus out of there!)
Birdsong is the first track to be released from Rosie Lowe’s upcoming second EP, YU due out in May.
| The Millitary Coup |
DON BROCO: HALF MAN, HALF GOD
With his tongue buried somewhere deep in his cheek, DON BROCO frontman Rob Damiani will tell you that HALF MAN HALF GOD is about celebrity in the age of the internet, about how “people don’t just want to admire their idols from afar, they want to know everything about them… We don’t want mystery, we don’t want airbrushing, we want real, we want full access, we want communication, and most importantly we want selfies.”
And it’s that mix of brutal cynicism delivered with a lightness of touch that comes across in this typically rambunctious latest offering from Bedford’s finest. On HALF MAN HALF GOD, DON BROCO further widen their palate, as they’ve increasingly done over their last few records. In fact, so far away are they from their metal roots that this could almost be considered more of a dance track at times.
It’s an exciting departure even from the material on last year’s full-length, Technology and one that definitely means I’ll be avidly following Damiani’s Instagram to see what’s coming next.
| The Peaceful Protest |
Savannah Locke: Jaded
Savannah Locke’s approach to discussing her religion is, shall we say, somewhat atypical. Described in some areas of the internet as a “worship leader based out of Nashville, TN [whose] mission is to help people experience the real, living Jesus”, Jaded is a pretty frank exploration of abuse in the Catholic Church. (Needless to say, it’s a little low on the ‘happy’ and practically devoid of the ‘clappy’ some of you may have been expecting when I told you she was a member of the God Squad.)
However, it’s not just that. These days, conversations around patriarchy, power and abuse cannot be divorced from the wider topics of sexual aggression and gender inequality. And, as a survivor of sexual abuse herself, Locke is aware of the echoes her words will evoke. She chooses her weapons wisely; talking of “baring wounds from the church of celebrity” and a “system held up by silent victims”, for example, in a way that has undeniable similarities to Stella Donnelly’s somewhat more brutal “Old Man”.
Painted against the washed-out dream-pop musical canvas, it makes for a deeply moving piece.
| Guerilla Warfare |
Bokanté feat Metropole Orkest: La Maison en Feu
The World Music super-group that is Bokanté teams up with the Jules Buckley-fronted Metropole Orkest in what is, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a wet dream for me. Truthfully, I can barely think of two more exciting artists making music at this time (long-time readers will recall my review of Metropole Orkest’s collaboration with Jacob Collier last year, indeed).
Like a lovely big bag of licquorice all-sorts there’s tonnes of zany, kooky flavours tickling your tastebuds here. The bluesy guitar line of the opening. The Arabesque strings. Malika Tirolien (pictured)’s meandering Creole vocal lines. The African percussion. The satisfying switch-up between the straight and swung 6/8 time-signature. It’s a lot to take in. But it’s aaaaaall good, I promise.
Released last week, La Maison en Feu is the latest single from the thoroughly awesome album What Heat (released in September last year) and, if you’re not already a fan, it’s a wonderful introduction to what Bokanté are all about.
| The Quiet Riot |
The Great Yawn: Wallflower
The Great Yawn may not have a name that inspires excitement but their music more than makes up for it. Described by lead singer, Danielle Bakkes as aiming “to explore simplicity and complexity, as well as beauty and sorrow through their song writing and instrumentation” the South African four-piece make the sort of music that deserves to be kept, protected in a well-ventilated box only to be released, like a timid woodland creature in a quiet, secluded forest.
The aptly-named Wallflower layers a vocal delivery reminiscent of London Grammar’s Hannah Reid over one of Patrick Watson’s Rabelaisian piano waltzes and drifts through the atmosphere as if learning how to fly.
It is the sort of music that slows the blood, stirs the imagination and awakens the senses.
It comes from the band’s debut full-length ‘Botanica’ which was released last week.
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. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
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 –