PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Viva Africa: An Interview with Amadou & Mariam and BLK JKS

Cary Darling
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
Amadou and Mariam

African music, often exiled from the pop mainstream, is making a new incursion in the U.S. Darling speaks to two major African artists, plus highlights the best new releases.

Recent African Releases of Note

BLK JKS

Recent African Releases of Note

Here are some recommended relatively recent releases from African artists who, like Amadou & Mariam and BLK JKS, are worth checking out. Most of these performers don't sing in English, but that doesn't get in the way of enjoying the music:

Vieux Farka Toure, Fondo (Six Degrees)

The late Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure played with a rootsy, bluesy feel, but his son goes for a more spine-snapping, rock-funk approach that is nevertheless very African. To top it off, Toure -- who switches between electric and acoustic guitars -- plays in a warm, fluid style that's immediately appealing.

For fans of: Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Robert Cray, Dave Matthews Band

Download this: "Sarama"

 

Femi Kuti, Day by Day (Mercer Street)

Like his father Fela Kuti, Nigeria's Femi Kuti, who sings in English, blends horn-drenched Afro-funk with socially conscious lyrics. If his approach is not as sweat-soaked and exhausting as his dad's, it's still effective.

For fans of: Bob Marley, Santana

Download this: "Tell Me"

 

Rokia Traore, Tchamantche (Nonesuch)

Mali's Traore sings in a soulfully hushed style set against a spare, moody musical background that sometimes verges on the experimental. Singing in her native Bamanan as well as French and English (including an entrancing version of Billie Holiday's "The Man I Love"), Traore has a unique approach.

For fans of: Nina Simone, St. Vincent

Download this: "Zen"

 

Tinariwen, Aman Iman: Water Is Life (World Village)

Sub-Saharan vocal call-and-response meets Arabic ululation and Western guitar in the hands of Tinariwen, a group of Tuareg tribesmen from the southern Sahara. Their name means "empty places", but singer Ibrahim Ag Alhabib's mournful, call-across-the-desert vocals and the group's panoramic but folky sound is anything but. They also have a new Live in London DVD out.

For fans of: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Dead Can Dance

Download this: "Matadjem Yinmixan"

 

Oumou Sangare, Seya (Nonesuch)

Co-produced by Nick Gold (of Buena Vista Social Club fame), Sangare is Mali's most popular solo female performer. Her latest album, her first in six years, shows off her expressive vocals. Her lyrics often deal with women's issues though, and unless listeners speak Bambara, that's impossible to glean.

For fans of: Rita Marley, Miriam Makeba

Download this: "Iyo Djeli"

 

Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics, Inspiration Information, Vol. 3 (Strut)

Veteran Ethiopian jazz pianist Mulatu Astatke -- whose blend of jazz and African melodies was heard in Jim Jarmusch's film Broken Flowers -- teams with the British musical collective the Heliocentrics for a set of retro-flavored grooves that dance somewhere between jazz, chill-out, funk, and a spy film set in Addis Ababa in the '70s.

For fans of: DJ Shadow

Download this: "Mulatu"

 

Issa Bagayogo, Mali Koura (Six Degrees)

Mali's Bagayogo plays the six-string instrument called kamele n'goni, and it provides the base for his creamy smooth Afro-pop.

For fans of: Ry Cooder

Download this: "M'ba Fodi"

 

Various Artists, The Rough Guide to African Blues (Rough Guide)

Featuring Oumou Sangare, Rokia Traore and many others, this compilation is a good starting point to explore the genre.

For fans of: American blues

Download this: Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck's "Bibbe Ledy"

Prev Page

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.