Available languages: EnglishDesert blues band Songhoy Blues grew out of political anger and civil unrest, with themes in their music inspired by their life experiences of being pushed out of their hometowns of North Mali by a jihadist group. The band aims to capture the spirit of northern Mali in their energetic performances and on albums like their 2015 debut Music in Exile. Formed in 2012 at university in Bamako, Mali by Oumar Touré, Aliou Touré, and Garba Touré, Songhoy Blues was born out of the frustration of the unrest that was happening in the north of Mali, which had forced them to seek refuge in the south. Drafting in drummer Nathanael Dembele, the group became a regular fixture on the Bamako live music scene, until their unique brand of traditional and modern songwriting -- a style similar to that led by the likes of countrymen Ali Farka Touré and Baba Salah -- was picked up by French manager Marc-Antoine Moreau on behalf of the label Africa Express. Songhoy Blues' first recorded material appeared on the compilation Maison des Jeunes, after they were invited to record with Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner. A show in support of the album brought them to the U.K. at the end of 2013, and the band returned the following year to play a handful of gigs in London, Glasgow, and at the legendary WOMAD Festival. While in the U.K. the group signed a deal with Transgressive Records and quickly returned to the studio with Zinner in 2014 to record their debut album. Music in Exile was released in February 2015, and featured guitar work by Zinner as well as backing vocals from Blur's Damon Albarn. Their debut was met with widespread acclaim, and following a number of high-profile slots at festivals like Green Man in the U.K., the band headed back into the studio. In 2017, Songhoy Blues released their sophomore effort Resistance. The album was recorded in London with producer Neil Comber (M.I.A., Goldfrapp), and featured guest spots from Iggy Pop and Elf Kid. The band returned in 2019 with the Meet Me in the City EP. The five-song collection included covers of Junior Kimbrough and Fela Kuti tunes as well as a new song co-penned with outsider folk artist Will Oldham. 2020 brought their third LP, Optimisme, which was preceded by the singles "Worry," "Badala" and "Barre" and treaded further into hard rock territory, while still retaining their Malian rhythms.
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Alternative en Indie - Verschenen op 23 oktober 2020 | Transgressive
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Do not be fooled. Don't let the crisp desert sky of the cover photo, the cheerful tenor of the title, or even the name of the band fool you. The third album from Malian group Songhoy Blues is a rollicking, high-volume, in-your-face rock record and not some delicate, café-friendly take on "world fusion." Once again flexing their considerable guitar-bass-drums muscle, the quartet's confrontational and direct sound has now found its most appropriate producer yet with Chavez's Matt Sweeney whose feedback-first approach gives the album a rough grit that is especially welcome, sharpening the group's punk edges into burly aggression. Everything is cranked on Optimisme, from the chunky rhythm section and the fiery guitars to the vocals, which vary from gruffly lyrical to infectious chanting. From the opening fusillade of "Badala" (the shouting chorus of which will remain lodged in your brainpan long after the song is over) and the twisting funk of "Barre" through the cheeky, sweet, and slightly acidic "Pour Toi" and the melancholy "Korfo," Songhoy hits a range of moods and topics here, but the overall texture of the album is direct, unapologetic, and loud. It's an invigorating slash of rage, joy, and, yes, optimism that is more than welcome in this day and age. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz