Chic – I’ll Be There (2015)

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Frontman Nile Rodgers unveiled the track today (March 20) on BBC Radio 2 during vernal equinox this morning, which he labeled on Instagram a “CHIClipse”.

I’ll Be There, which Rodgers recently revealed is a re-working of a previously lost demo rediscovered in 2010, is dedicated to Chic founder Bernard Edwards, who passed away in 1996.

Chic’s 9th studio album It’s About Time will follow in June this year. Rumoured collaborations on the record include Miley Cyrus, Sir Elton John and Janelle Monae.

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba – Siran Fen (2015)

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Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba’s fourth album Ba Power (and his first for Glitterbeat Records) is a striking, career defining record marked by mesmerizing songs, razor-sharp riffs and full-throttle emotions. Following two years of worldwide touring for the much heralded Jama Ko album, Bassekou’s band, Ngoni Ba, has turned up the volume and dynamics significantly and Bassekou’s masterful ngoni playing has achieved a new level of intensity that can only be called: afro-rock. Distortion and wah wah and propulsive rhythms are now the defining backbone of his songs and the heat lightning vocals of his wife Amy Sacko, more than ever serve as the passionate and perfect foil. This is not the same Ngoni Ba. This is indeed: Ba Power.

When asked what Ba Power means to him, Bassekou told us:
“Ba”, in Bambara means “strong” or “great” and it also means “group.” I called the album Ba Power because I think the messages on it are very important and strong, and it is also definitely the album with the toughest sound I’ve ever made. I want these songs to grab as many people as possible.”

Without question Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba has revolutionized the sound and narrative possibilities of the ngoni, the lute-like instrument that is essential to Mali’s Griot culture. Griots are esteemed musician/storytellers whose lineage stretches back centuries. Bassekou was born into this resonant tradition but his relationship to it has been anything but static. From the beginning of his career, through his invention of a previously unheard repertoire built around the melodies and rhythms of four interlocking (and at times electric) ngonis, Bassekou has demonstrated his respect for the past by radically pulling it into the future.

The new album Ba Power is arguably the most inspired and fearless step in this process. It is clearly Bassekou’s most outward looking album, an album where he sharpens his view beyond the eclectic sounds of his Malian homeland and directly engages on his own terms with elements of Rock & Roll (“Siran Fen”), Blues (“Bassekouni”), Jazz (“Ayé Sira Bla”) and other West African musics like Afrobeat (check out the riff on “Waati”).

And where the themes of the songs on Jama Ko often dealt with the internal political crisis in Mali, like the music itself, many of the lyrics on Ba Power focus on the universal and the transformative:

Ba Power was recorded in November of 2014 at MBK Studios in Bamako, a studio just down the road from the Kouyaté family home in the hills at the edge of the city. Produced by Chris Eckman (Tamikrest, Aziza Brahim) the album began with Ngoni Ba playing together live in a relaxed, intimate space. The band consists entirely of sons, brothers, nephews and spouses and these family connections and the extensive concert schedule of the past years have given the band an uncanny depth of musical communication. The original sessions were quick, raw and joyful.

But Bassekou didn’t stop there. He made it clear from the beginning of the process that he was eager for the music on the album to intersect with musicians outside of Ngoni Ba, both in Mali and beyond. He specifically sought out instrumental textures he had either never or rarely used, such as trumpet, electric guitar and a drum kit.

Ba Power contains all the swagger, precision and wide-eyed excitement that the title implies. It is the album where Bassekou’s music engages with the world in ways he could have only imagined 10 years before. It is the album where he confirms his status amongst the 21st centuries most relevant musical artists.

I think African music and culture deserve to be spread to the broadest audience possible.

That is what I want to accomplish with Ba Power.

–Bassekou Kouyaté

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Riverman (2015)

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Noel Gallagher’s latest solo album begins with a brutal edit into lo-fi studio ambience, and then a count-in: exactly the way “Taxman,” the first track from the Beatles’ Revolver, begins. So, in case you were wondering, Gallagher demonstrates straight away that he hasn’t moved on one centimetre in the past 20 years. This is the first track of the disastrous Chasing Yesterday Tomorrow, and “Riverman” is the name of the song. It is, of course, being a Noel “song,” not an original title/idea/thought. Nick Drake had the title originally; it’s a song from his 1969 debut album Five Leaves Left. But Drake’s “River Man” is built on unusual time signatures, subtle orchestration and a mantric, mystical, spare lyric. It is a masterpiece, whereas, with its “Wonderwall” chords and “baggy” shuffle beat (or what Steve Albini refers to quite excellently as “The Little British Drumbeat”), Noel’s “Riverman” falls mightily short of being a masterpiece. This ain’t no ballad. It’s a bollard. As if all this weren’t bad enough, Noel has felt duty-bound to “write” some lyrics over his rotten stew and duly invokes the first line of George Harrison’s “Something” to get the old Gallagher blunderbuss lyric method a-rolling. Somehow, Noel manages to come up with 11 lines of hard-won doggerel, concluding with “I waited in the rain, my feet too wet to stand in… but somewhere in the crowd she heard me jingle-jangling.” Noel Gallagher is 47, far too old to be “jingle-jangling” in the crowd. Indeed, whilst taking up the challenge to actually sit through Yesterday’s Chase for Tomorrow I am reduced to letting out audible groans, whimpers of “Jesus Christ” and “Noel, you poor sod” after something called “The Girl With X-Ray Eyes.” (Sample lyric: “Going nowhere down the hill is hard to swallow like the pill/that was twisted on your tongue by the sea that was standing still.”) [Source]

Alexander Geist – Malediction (2015)

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After a series of successful European shows throughout 2014, including opening the David Bowie exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin and supporting The Irrepressibles in London, Alexander Geist returns with his third single. An emotive and immediate track, “Malediction” continues the dandyish lineage of provocative pop, compounding on Sparks, The Smiths and Fosca. A dreamy and conflicted love song with a wry lyrical outlook, the Italo-tinged ballad showcases a new poignancy in Geist’s arch vocabulary. Following the tune’s popularity in the live shows, bandmates Joey Hansom and Ben Jackson produced the song in Berlin this winter, providing an icy aura that almost captures the condensation of Alexander’s breath as he sings.

After the 7″ vinyl of “Bad Language” and the artwork poster of “A Woman’s Right to Choose”, the physical release for “Malediction” arrives as a handwritten love letter from Alexander Geist himself, mailed out to fans across the world, with an enclosed photo shot in collaboration with photographer Adrian Lourie. The image was inspired by discarded and rediscovered family snapshots, imagining scenes from the song played out for the camera.
lyrics
We meet in Treptow late at night
We go shoplifting in the snow
We walk for hours, we don’t go home
And we can really talk for miles
Of the great, the good of old film noir
From Crawford to Raymond Chandler

And you have all the charm in the world
Your body’s Apollonian
A night with you’s utopian
It’s just the junk that makes me sick
But tell me, who on earth am I to judge?
You thrill me when you’re not on drugs

But when you are
But when you are
But when you are
Oh, we make love

I have the greatest nights with you
No, I never want to leave this room
The walls could fall, and I would be entombed
I guess we squander too much time
All those wasted hours I can’t begrudge
Oh how you thrill me when you’re not on drugs

But when you are
But when you are
But when you are
Oh, we make love
credits
released 09 March 2015
Written by JJ Bibby & Joey Hansom
Produced by Ben Jackson & Joey Hansom
Saxophone by Matthias Mann
Recorded at Stroller Studios by Snax
Mixed by Justin Merdsoy

David Bowie – Fashion (1980)

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David Mallet shot a music video for the single “Fashion” in a famous nightclub owned by his friend Robert Boykin called Hurrah. The opening shot of the clip features David Bowie on the HURRAH stage which was draped in khaki canvas for this shoot. The faceted mirror walls surrounding the dance floor can be seen in the background of various shots, and all the band scenes are shot in this club setting. Other locations around Manhattan are intercut throughout the clip. Amid a series of facial contortions and other gestures, Bowie made use of a move he had employed in the “Ashes to Ashes” video: slowly crouching and bringing his arm down to the ground in a slow vertical arc. Record Mirror readers voted “Fashion” and “Ashes to Ashes” the best music videos of 1980. The video features Carlos Alomar, G.E. Smith (Hall & Oates), Khandi Alexander, the guitarist Steve Love who plays drums in the video, John Kay, May Pang (who was John Lennon’s girlfriend from 1973–1975 and who later married Tony Visconti) and Alan Hunter, who became one of the first MTV VJs and also the first VJ to appear in the music video.