Afous D’Afous

Afous D’Afous: Because there’s more to Tuareg rock than Tinariwen

Afous D'Afous

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The latest Sahelsounds release is a collection of songs by Tuareg rock band Afous D’Afous, one of the Sahara’s best guitar bands and a leading group of what we know as “desert blues” in the West. Based in Tamanrasset in southern Algeria, Afous D’Afous’ music is more upbeat and pop-sounding compared to the serious and heady grooves of Tinariwen, who are probably the most famous Tuareg rock group outside Africa.

From Bandcamp:

“In the past decade, there has been an explosion of ethnically Tuareg rock bands on the world music stage. Built around the electric guitar, the genre ranges from stripped down minimalist nostalgia filled ballads to distortion heavy tracks for dancing. Known collectively in the West as “desert blues” for its pentatonic scales and finger styles that recall Americana, in the Sahara it’s simply known as “guitar.” The style has emerged as contemporary pop music back home and today there are hundreds of bands, playing locally in weddings and public celebrations. The effect of the world music industry is not lost on the Sahara however, and the Western music market still maintains dominance over the Tuareg guitar scene. For the majority of Tuareg “guitar” bands, success still comes via the West. Artists travel abroad to record albums, and there are no shortage of indie-rock heavyweights anxious to jump into the role of producer.

An exception to the rule is Kader Tarhanine’s group “Afous D’Afous.” This six person rock outfit from Tamanrasset in southern Algeria is by all accounts unknown in world music circles. However, at home in the Tuareg community, they are without a doubt the most celebrated, famous, and in demand group, second only to Tinariwen. Kader Tarhanine rose to popularity in 2010, with his recording of a song “Tarhanine Tegla” (My Love is Gone). The track, a low-fi love ballad, recorded with a crunchy electric guitar over a pacing drum machine, went on to become an anthem throughout the diaspora (earning Kader the nickname “Kader Tarhanine”). In 2015, Kader formed his group “Afous D’Afous” and traveled to Algiers to record the full length debut “Tenere.” The 9 track album was released on CD in a limited run in-country, accompanied by a huge press rollout. The band appeared on Algerian national television, quickly becoming a country favorite and representative of the Tuareg ethnic minority. The album quickly disseminated throughout the diaspora, traded on cellphones in the conflicted Azawad, beamed through private WhatsApp pirate networks, and soundtracking smuggler’s routes, blasting from Land Cruisers at high speeds through the border zones of the open desert.

“Tenere” is a departure from the rest of the contemporary Tuareg rock albums. Of the myriad of Tuareg releases that have caught the ear of the West, only a tiny few are produced at home, sans Western producers. “Tenere” offers some of the most complex compositions in the genre to date, tightly arranged and polished. There is something sonically throwback, though Afous D’Afous crawled out of 70s rock studio album. It is long cited that Tuareg rock styles are largely inspired from heavyweights Dire Straits. This may be the most true to form rock album to date, and there is certainly a few riffs that recall Mark Knopfler. The electric guitar, front and center, drives the tracks with uptempo rhythms, all led by the soulful voice of Kader, measured and balanced with the chorus call and response. In addition to this classic rock aesthetic, the production adds some unlikely elements, reflective of contemporary globalism – layering pitch bending North African synthesizer, reverb saturated dub, and even Indian tabla and sitar!

While Tuareg guitar has become a commodity in the world music industry, Afous D’Afous has continued to in relative obscurity, all while remaining one of the most popular guitar outfits amongst Tuareg fans. They tour constantly throughout the Sahara to sold out crowds in Bamako, Niamey, and Agadez. They have yet to tour abroad. The irony is not lost on the band, and we’re excited for the opportunity to partner with them to correct this glaring oversight.

The remastered Sahel Sounds release of “Tenere” pulls together the complete recordings from their debut album, available for the first time outside of the diaspora. The vinyl edition of 1000 features old school 3-color offset printed jackets.”

Afous D’Afous: Website Facebook Twitter

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Memória de Peixe

Memória de Peixe: Lisbon duo blows up the math rock formula by adding jazz and an excellent use of looping

Memória de Peixe

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I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like Memória de Peixe, the Lisbon duo (Miguel Nicolau on guitar and Marco Franco on drums) that manages to sound like five bands together making glitchy, jittery math-rock without any of the pretention and with so much joy and wonder. If you’ve heard another band like this, I’m sure they don’t sound nearly as fun.

From Bandcamp:

“It’s a world of fantasy, adventures, final bosses, super-heroes, lonely comets, space odysseys and angry quarks falling in love with dead pixels.

Scientifically, “Himiko Cloud is a nebular gas cloud that is thought to be a protogalaxy, caught in the act of formation”. “Himiko” is also the name of our anti-gravity fish, that aggregates stories. Andy Singleton, an artist based in UK, created a sculpture of our friend “Himiko”, incorporated with amazing maglev technology.

Our Artwork was created by Carlos Gaspar, paintings representing a map to our songs. Also, the songs were made based on stories created by our own”

Memória de Peixe: Facebook Twitter Bandcamp

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Wild Animals

Wild Animals: Spanish pop punk enriched by DIY ethics and politics.

wild animals

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One of the worst things that has happened to pop punk in the past twenty years was how the genre distanced itself from the DIY ethics it was born with. Strengthened by the catchiness of their vocals harmonies, by the approachability of their riffs and by the appealing image of an arguable rebellion, a lot of bands laid emphasis solely on the pop side of the genre, forgetting where it all came from.

It’s in this context that a band like Wild Animals, a three-piece from Madrid, is truly important. First off, their songwriting is excellent. They could have easily been released by Epitaph or Fat Wreck Chords in 1999. Their last record, Basements: Music To Fight Hypocrisy is comprised of ten melodic punk rock gems with ’90s emo nuances that hint to early Saves The Day and Jawbreaker. The play fast songs with unforgettable hooks, reaching the highest peaks when the vocals of lead singer and guitar player Jamie and of drummer Paula meet, like on their anthem “Avocado”.

The lyrics are flawless, as the band is not ashamed to sincerely share their personal stories. Like on “Heavy Metal Saved My Life”, where they recount how each of the band’s members got into punk and extreme music: Youth Of Today for Paula, heavy metal for Jamie, and Rancid and Propagandhi for bass player Fon, who also runs one of the most active DIY labels in Spain, La Agonia De Vivir.

And here’s where another fundamental aspect of the band comes into play. Rather than aiming to be released by major labels or try to tour with big American pop punk bands, Wild Animals have their roots in the hardcore and DIY scene. They sing about politics, play in squats, book their own tours, release their records with the help of self-managed labels from the whole world. By doing so, they bring the genre back to where it was born, and regenerate it with enviable freshness.

Wild Animals: Facebook Bandcamp

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Low Dream

Low Dream: Brazilian shoegaze greats finally comes to streaming

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Low Dream, one of the best Brazilian shoegaze bands you’ve probably never heard of, is finally on streaming services. My personal favorite is their second record, ‘Reaching for Balloons,’ which best captures the band’s love of Jaguar guitars, lust, and the Velvet Underground.

From Midsummer Madness:

“The two albums, the first demo and a compilation of extras [are] re-released for streaming platforms. Available in digital format here in mmrecords since 2001, ‘Dreamland’ (the demo), ‘Between My Dreams & the Real Things’ (1st album), ‘Reaching for Balloons’ (2nd album) and the compilation ‘Soundscapes'”

Low Dream / Midsummer Madness: Website Facebook Twitter

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The White Tulips

The White Tulips: Chinese noise-pop band’s self-released debut gets a reissue via Qiii Snacks

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Qiii Snacks, one of my favorite labels, is reissuing the White Tulips’ 2015 self-released debut ‘Fondle’, which you can now stream. The White Tulips are from Amoy (also known as Xiamen) and sound like your favorite indie noise-pop band.

The White Tulips/Qiii Snacks: Website Facebook Twitter

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El Mató a un Policía Motorizado

El Mató a un Policía Motorizado: “think Dinosaur Jr. showing you their sensitive side.”

El Mató a un Policía Motorizado

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For over 14 years, El Mató a un Policía Motorizado has been one of Argentina’s most beloved indie bands. If you care at all about indie rock, the band’s guitar-leaning DIY sound fits right at home here with all the other guitar bands in Brooklyn (this is a compliment, too!). According to Dance To The Radio, the band will release a new album soon, and you can hear the new single below.

Last year, Bandcamp Daily did a profile on the La Plata band – Evy Duskey’s description “think Dinosaur Jr. showing you their sensitive side” is spot on.

El Mató a un Policía Motorizado: Website Facebook Twitter Bandcamp

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Cambodian Soul Sounds

Cambodian Soul Sounds: tracks, stories, and compilations highlighting Cambodian psychedelic rock & soul from the ’50s to the ’70s.

cambodian soul sounds

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Cambodian Soul Sounds is a Stockholm, Sweden-based label that shares compilations highlighting songs and stories from Cambodia’s thriving psychedelic rock and soul scene from the ’50s to the ’70s. The compilations, curated by Richard Rossa, raises funds to support organizations that are trying to preserve and rebuild Cambodia’s cultural life. My personal favorite is Vol. II, which includes what might be my favorite cover of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

From Richard Rossa via Facebook:

“The music scene in Cambodia during the 50s to the mid-70s was swinging hard! Khmer musicians of the era were influenced by western rhythm & blues, rock n’ roll, and music from Latin America. Musicians like Sinn Sisamouth studied these musical styles when traveling abroad, many Cambodians also tuned in these songs on US Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War and got influenced by the western sound.

The combination of styles and culture created a truly unique touch to the vivid rock music of Cambodia.

But…It all ended on April 17, 1975, the day the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh. With many others – the artists were executed or sent away to prison camps to die. Cambodia fell into darkness.

During these years pretty much every original recording and master tape were destroyed. Listening to this music would have got you killed. But thanks to vinyl collectors who risked their lives concealing or smuggle their records out of the country there is still a bunch of them out there ready to be restored and archived for future generations to enjoy.

Cambodian Soul Sounds vol 1 is a compilation of old songs I managed to pick up myself when traveling in Cambodia. Even if the recordings presents a charming distorted sound, songs were also really low, but with a lot of high frequencies cutting through, making it somehow unpleasant at loud volumes. As a DJ and producer, I took matters into my own hands and reworked the recordings to give them a warmer and more suitable sound for your earphones or the DJ to blast at maximum volume at the local psychedelic soul party. Just as I do.

I am doing this because I know this music deserves a place in the context I am working in – as a Dj. It will help to find new listeners, promote and raise awareness of Cambodia as a whole. However, with its tragic history, this legacy needs to be treated with respect. I am doing this work to raise funds for project in Cambodia such as the work for music preservation and also to help disadvantaged children. The project is 100% non-profitable and every revenue from these track sales or streaming are going straight into these projects.

With this work, the lost musicians of Cambodia can continue to give aid back to their country long after they passed.”

Cambodian Soul Sounds: Facebook SoundCloud

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Centavrvs

Centavrvs: “the (Mexican) salsa movement of the ’70s, but as if mixed in the future”.

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Mexico’s highly popular group Centavrvs mixes the past salsa sounds of the ’70s with modern rock and pop instrumentation.

From Beehype:

“[Centavrvs] explored the idea of combining traditional and modern local sounds. With the celebrations of the centenary of the Mexican Revolution as their pretext, Centavrvs started their own story with this mix of past, present and future…If you want to know how modern Mexican music sounds, Centavrvs is definitively the right choice.”

Centavrvs: Website Facebook Twitter SoundCloud

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Midnight Peacocks

Midnight Peacocks: Israeli stoner metal that embraces its Arabic roots

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I don’t often hear violins in stoner metal, so Midnight Peacocks quickly grabbed my attention from “Tzar Bomba” and kept it throughout their entire new LP, ‘Katastroffa,’ which is out now.

From Bandcamp bio:

“The Midnight Peacocks are:
Eitan Radoshinski: Vocals & bass
Guy Shemi: Guitar & Backing Vocals
Yoav Zohar: Drums
Yoni Silver: Violin, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Keyboards & Piano
Hezi Shohet: Poetry”

Midnight Peacocks: Facebook

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No Party For Cao Dong

No Party For Cao Dong: Taiwanese post-rock for fans of The National, Interpol, and other nighttime guitar rock

no party for cao dong

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As we wait hopefully for new music by post-rock greats No Party For Cao Dong, there’s plenty of great tracks to get acquainted with. Also head over to Beehype for a look at the video for “Shanhai” (山海), one of the more creative music videos I’ve seen in a while.

From Bandcamp bio:

“Beats bouncing between Disco and Grunge, [we’re] often recognized as a indie/post-rock band with rough and sharp tone fusing with softness and gentleness.

Whispering in despair and screaming in hopeless is the vocal, leading melodies and rhythms to unexpected arrangements.

Aside from music, their exotic, passive but romantic lyrics engraves emotions deeply into your hearts.”

No Party For Cao Dong: Bandcamp Website Facebook

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