Amadou & Mariam's music means more than their famous friends
You can keep up to date with all the best new music from the past couple of months on our Spotify playlist.
Amadou & Mariam – ‘La Confusion’
Malian duo Amadou & Mariam have brought the music of their homeland to the attention of western audiences because their songs are undeniably brilliant. Their backstory – a husband and wife duo who met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind in the 70s – is beautiful, yes. And their list of famous collaborators – Sanitigold, Jake Sheers, TV On The Radio, Damon Albarn, Nick Zinner to name just a few – is impressive. But, in the end, it all comes down to the music.
‘La Confusion’ thankfully brings the guitar back to the duo’s electro-pop influenced sound. I say that purely because Amadou Bagayoko is one of the planet’s truly great guitarists. His rhythmic and melodic sense hits on the best parts of African and western styles and melds in with the often-exuberant sound of the group’s songs perfectly.
Their new album will be out in a few weeks and we look forward to taking another exciting journey with these absolute masters of modern music.
Brand New – ‘Can't Get It Out’
Emo fans the world over lost their minds when New York band Brand New surprised us all with the release of fifth album Science Fiction a couple of weeks back. Things got even more intense when everyone realised that it was among their finest work yet.
It’s got the enormous guitars and drums that fans of Weezer will get behind, while Jesse Lacey’s deep and personal lyrics leave plenty for the rabid fans to dissect. It’s notably reflective of his band’s recent hiatus and return, as well as the impression that the band offer nothing but gloom in their music.
‘Not just a manic depressive / Toting around my own cloud / I've got a positive message / Sometimes I can't get it out’, he sings.
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – ‘Over Everything’
When two great artists come together, the concern that they won’t quite gel properly is a very real one. Thankfully that is not the case here, judging by our first impressions of Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile’s collab record Lotta Sea Lice.
It’s brilliantly breezy in a musical sense and no more intense lyrically. Vile and Barnett basically trade lines about how they like to hang out and write songs, touching on writers block, tinnitus and time zones. It extends out into a hazy jam, which suggests this must have been heaps of fun to make and will eventually be a whole lot of fun to see live.
ESESE – ‘Far’
The Eastern Seaboard Electric Soul Ensemble, or ESESE to you, are another huge neo-soul collective making brilliant music in Melbourne. There’s something in the water in the Victorian capital, because there’s just an endless parade of these kinds of acts coming out right now. We can only hope it continues.
Geowulf – ‘Drink Too Much’
I’m not sure why anyone would leave Noosa to go and live in London, but it seems to have worked for pop duo Geowulf. ‘Drink Too Much’ is a sweet little gem that’ll appeal to overthinkers and anyone who doesn’t know how to say no on a Friday night. This tune will serve as a perfect antidote the morning after though.
Aldous Harding – ‘Horizon’
Another genius cut from Aldous Harding’s brilliant new record. Her voice is so powerful, her lyrics so intriguing and the starkness of her performance so powerful. It’s proof that great songs and pure talent are best off without much embellishment.
John Butler Trio – ‘Bully’
‘Bully’ is among the heaviest tracks John Butler Trio have ever released. Butler uses the power of big distorted guitars and group vocals (including the voice of the amazing Kira Puru) to back up his impassioned, defiant vocal. It’s a powerful, rallying cry that will undoubtedly resonate with Butler’s massive, largely socially conscious fanbase.
The National – ‘Day I Die’
More expansive indie gold from The National’s new album Sleep Well Beast, which is almost upon us (out this Friday). Matt Berninger’s lyrics are blunt, as he sings about drowning out the voice of inebriated antagonists, fighting when he’s drunk and escaping – physically or mentally – from someone he doesn’t want to be around anymore.
Neil Frances – ‘Back To What I Know’
One of the most exciting new acts in the country, Neil Frances, give us another irrepressible summer jam with ‘Back To What I Know’. You’re best not thinking about it too much, just turn up the volume, and soak up their unique blend of warped pop sounds.
Tennis – ‘No Exit’
Tennis give us a little taste of the 80s with their excellent new song ‘No Exit’. It’s kinda like a more sophisticated Kylie crossed with Hall & Oates on an acid trip. But better than that.