Category Archives: World

Mbongwana Star – Nganshe (2015)

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Time for a sundance for the weekend. The seven-piece Mbongwana Star are from Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2015, they released their aptly named LP From Kinshasa, which includes the ‘Nganshe’. The track is built around a pulsating bass and a strange cuíca-like squeaking sound. Over the top, voices chatter, guitars flurry and hypnosis quickly ensues.

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Wilmoth Houdini – Black But Sweet (1931)

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The Songs of Trinidad was a collection of calypso classics sung by Wilmoth Houdini, originally recorded by Brunswick in 1931 with Gerald Clark’s Night Owls as Houdini’s accompanying band. The song ‘Black But Sweet’ was brilliantly rediscovered and sampled in 1994 by Andy Weatherhall’s Sabres Of Paradise for the cult fave ‘Wilmot’. Have a great week.

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Jacques Dutronc – Il Est Cinq Heures, Paris S’Éveille (1968)

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This gentleman is the epitome of cool. In the 1960s, the cigar-chomping Jacques Dutronc was the embodiment of French pop chic. In 1967/1968, he had a string of hits including “It’s five o’clock, Paris is waking”. An early contemporary of Johnny Hallyday, married to Françoise Hardy and a drinking buddy of Serge Gainsbourg… his is a Gallic life lived en plein.

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Yasmine Hamdan – La Ba’den (2017)

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Last year, Beirut-born Yasmine Hamdan released her album Al Jamilat. The singer-songwriter and actress is now based in Paris, but first made her name as one half of electro-pop duo Soap Kills, a cult trip-hop group in Lebanon. Since then, she’s become a flag bearer for modern Arabic music. Al Jamilat is Arabic for The Beautiful Ones. Remarkably progressive to these western ears.

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Letta Mbulu – What’s Wrong With Groovin’ (1967)

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Letta Mbulu was born in Soweto, but left South Africa and Apartheid for the US in 1965. She quickly befriended fellow South African exile Hugh Masekela. In 1967, she recorded Masekela’s anthem ‘What’s Wrong With Groovin’’ on Random Records. Later that same year, producer David Axelrod fell under Letta’s spell, had her signed to Capitol Records and produced her debut album, Letta Mbulu Sings. Have a great weekend.

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La Femme – Où Va Le Monde (2016)

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Clara Luciani, Clémence Quelennec, Marlon Magnée, Noé Delmas, Sacha Got and Sam Lefèvre are La Femme. Last year, they produced a Gallic slice of surf music, ‘Où Va Le Monde’. Their modern take on a French affinity for cold wave, the track would not be out of place on a Tarantino soundtrack. 

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Le Couleur – Femme (2013)

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Canadian band Le Couleur channel a vintage form of electro-pop for the song ‘Femme’ off their 2013 Voyage Love EP. Laurence Giroux-Do, Patrick Gosselin and Steeven Chouinard had approached French producer French Fox to produce a nostalgic, welcome view of glamour and Twiggy. It feels like being in a French discoclub in 1982.

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Alain Bashung – Variations Sur Marilou (2011)

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In 2011, the Paris-based Barclay Disques released an Alain Bashung album posthumously. Bashung’s rendition of the Serge Gainsbourg’s concept album L’Homme À Tête De Chou was an explicit dedication. ‘Variations Sur Marilou’ is a story of a forty-year-old man (perhaps with the head of a cabbage) who falls in love with a shampoo girl in Chez Max hairdresser for men. Full of eroticism, the song is classic Serge Gainsbourg. Bashung was due to tour his version of the project in November 2009, but passed in March of that year. Thank goodness it had already been captured on record. Have a great weekend.

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Françoise Hardy – Comment Te Dire Adieu? (1968)

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Singer-songwriter, fashion icon, muse, Françoise Madeleine Hardy was a leading figure of the French music scene in the 1960s. By the latter part of that decade, she was working with such luminaries as Leonard Cohen and Serge Gainsbourg. ‘Comment Te Dire Adieu?’ is a composition by the latter and features on her untitled 1968 album, which has become also known by the title of the opening song. Smouldering lounge sounds and yé-yé.

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9 of the best – sounds of 2001

A compilation for the weekend. My favourite songs of 2001 and in no particular order:

The Strokes – Hard To Explain

Ian Brown – F. E. A. R.

The Shins – New Slang

Daft Punk – Digital Love

Radiohead – Pyramid Song

Spiritualized – I Didn’t Mean To Hurt You

Lift To Experience – Falling From Cloud 9

Röyksopp ‎- Remind Me

The Strokes – Modern Age

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Honourable mentions also go to: Weezer for ‘Island In The Sun‘; Zero 7 for ‘In The Waiting Line‘; Jay-Z for ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)‘; Golden Boy feat. Miss Kittin for ‘Rippin Kittin‘; Daft Punk for ‘Veridis Quo‘; The Other People Place for ‘Let Me Be Me‘; Peter Yorn for ‘Strange Condition‘; Muse for ‘Bliss‘; Cannibal Ox for ‘Iron Galaxy’; Roger Sanchez for ‘Another Chance’; Radiohead for ‘Knives Out’; and Yann Tiersen for ‘La Valse d’Amélie‘.

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William Onyeabor – Atomic Bomb (1978)

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This week, the mythic William Onyeabor died at home, in Enugu, southeast Nigeria, aged 70. Onyeabor was a pioneering electronic-funk musician who extraordinarily self-released 9 ground-breaking albums between 1977-1985. He composed, recorded, pressed and printed the work at Wilfilms Limited—his personal pressing plant in Enugu. As David Byrne said this week, wherever he’s gone, it’s sure to be a place with a lot of heart and some killer grooves. RIP William. Have a great weekend.

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Cassiano ‎- Onda (1977)

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Heavily sampled on ‘Link Up’ by NxWorries, last year’s collaboration between Anderson.Paak and Knxlwledge, ‘Onda’ is a disco-infused track by Brazilian percussionist Sergio Cassiano. It features on his 1976 album Cuban Soul – 18 Kilates. Enjoy.

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Serge Gainsbourg – Ballade de Melody Nelson (1971)

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22-year old English actress Jane Birkin wafts in and out of this classic song, like a refrain. She whispers “Melody Nelson” to her lover. Serge Gainsbourg listens. ‘Ballade De Melody Nelson’ features on his 1971 album Histoire De Melody Nelson.

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Les Négresses Vertes – Voilà L’été (1988)

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Les Négresses Vertes

I was reminded of the troupe Les Négresses Vertes the other day. All fusion and very 1980s – the accordion, punk, guinguette and flea-market shenanigans. It was rather chic in its own way, but the cabaret was evidently masking something rather sad. In 1993, vocalist and band leader Helno was found dead by overdose in his mother’s Parisian apartment – from whence he came. It was fun while it lasted, peut-être. ‘Voilà L’été!’

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Belle & Sebastian – Olympic Village, 6AM (2016)

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Belle & Sebastian 2016

The Rio Olympics are no more. To mark their love of the event, Belle & Sebastian released ‘Olympic Village, 6AM’ a couple of weeks back. The instrumental is celebratory in its simplicity, like the start of a Divine Comedy number. No Neil Hannon, but a video to provide nostalgia on tap. Trumpets are a nice touch too. Have a great week.

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