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Songhoy Blues: Resistance is futile

New music from Songhoy Blues, Fleet Foxes and more . . 

SERvin’ Up! – w/c June 19, 2017

Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
Ride – Weather Diaries
Songhoy Blues – Resistance
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
Young Fathers – Tape One/Tape Two
Cookin’ On 3 Burners – Lab Experiments Volume 1: Mixin’
Kevin Morby – City Music
Larkin Grimm – Chasin’ An Illusion
Mark Mulcahy – The Possum In The Driveway
Various Artists – Pop Makossa: The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976 -1984
Various Artists – Function Underground: The Black & Brown American Rock Sound 1969 – 1974

Hello,

It was with heavy hearts that the members of Songhoy Blues left their native Northern Mali in 2012. Jihadists took control of the region and the area once vibrant with street musicians changed soon after, with serious punishment for anyone playing music, even on their mobile phone. And so it was that the various players in Songhoy Blues convened in the south, forming in the city of Bamako to play Northern Mali music for everyone there living in exile. It should then be of no surprise that the band have called their latest album Resistance, and with it they have taken their heat-struck desert blues further with excursions into raw rock, jumped-up brassy funk and reggae tints where the overwhelming joy and sense of abandon in their playing is the glorious mainstay throughout this eclectic set. The presence of Iggy Pop, UK grime MC Elf Kid and a children’s choir might seem contrived and mawkish anywhere else but here it’s Songhoy Blues’ party all the way.

New Yorker Larkin Grimm has been on a self-described quest to ‘create utopia through sound’, following on from her early albums exploring rural-style folk stretched over into experimental territories. Those works contributed to a redefining of the term ‘rustic’ in what became known as the ‘freak-folk’ movement. In more recent times she has pursued a more widescreen and theatrical sound to match the scope of her vision and found some kindred spirits to collaborate with to that end. One is long-term David Bowie producer Tony Visconti and Visconti is one of many taking part on Grimm’s new album Chasing An Illusion, mining a fantastical soundtrack spanning orchestra-folk and astral-jazz. In pursuit of pure soul, Grimm lays herself open to the idea of whether you can be both perfectly balanced in life as well as out there on a total limb. Finding both power and grace, Grimm gives it one strikingly beautiful hell of a shake.

Every time I’ve put the new Fleet Foxes album Crack Up on in earshot of someone else, inevitably you hear ‘who’s this? Sounds like Fleet Foxes’. After disappearing following 2011’s Helplessness Blues, up came a crop of copycats who mostly never sounded anything more than mere pastiche and instead of heading for greatness, made chiming acoustic guitars and airy harmonies the stuff of a cloyingly bland mainstream and fast-food ads. The truth is, no one really sounds like Fleet Foxes. That’s due to bandleader Robin Pecknold, who loads his songs with impressionistic symbolism and very little clues, only an opportunity to find your own way in and relate something of them back to yourself. Crack Up is even more weighty and epic than the previous albums, but I suspect in time its dense layers and winding passages will become more richly rewarding in their curious emotional surge.

Also, new tunes from Julia Jacklin, Ariel Pink, Noire, The Stevens, Iron & Wine and Oneohtrix Point Never with Iggy Pop.

Enjoy it all on 2SER,

Andrew

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