Malian band Tinariwen are famous in their own Saharan country as much for their rocking desert blues as for their role in the '80s as Tuareg rebel fighters for Gadaffi. Despite their critically acclaimed musical talent, it would be hard to separate the band from politics and, as NPR points out, the new album Emmaar is a reflection of their native region's turmoil. The band was forced to record the forthcoming album stateside due to Islamic extremists' ban on music in Mali, and the LP is lacking band member Intidao due to his kidnapping. It does however, feature Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and musician Fats Kaplin, who only enhance the cult-loved Tinariwen sound.
Phantogram: Bill Murray
Like a genuine siren song, Phantogram's new track "Bill Murray" is exactly as the name implies: a musical tribute to the brilliant actor. The New York-based twosome hopes Murray will guest star in the song's future video, but with or without him, the track—from their forthcoming sophomore album, Voices—is still a major success with its dreamy shoegaze vocal stylings, which are backed by gentle strikes on a glockenspiel and smooth moves on the slide guitar. Still, we can't help but hope the uniquely hilarious Bill Murray comes through for them (read: us).
Jan Hammer Group: Don’t You Know
This week's #PrivateJam is selected by the man behind London-based music blog, Amateurism, who regularly delivers obscure tracks in the form of "daily vibes." Of Jan Hammer Group's "Don’t You Know," Leo Walton explains, "First of all, take three minutes out of your life to listen to this record right now (preferably loud and undisturbed). I know, it’s very special, right?! Now take into account that this was released in 1977, from a group led by a white Czech composer (albeit a very talented one), and then listen back again to appreciate just how amazing (and soothing) this song really is. Backed up by what could be described as jazz-fusion-techno-soul, the combination of sounds and the programming of where they all fit in, with the moody (very modern sounding) tech synth at either end just blows me away every time. This isn’t just ahead of its time, it’s still ahead of the time we currently reside in. One of the all-time sunrise/morning records for me—you try and not skip when you step after starting your day with this one."
Bob Marley Birthday Tribute
Thursday marked what would have been legendary reggae singer, Rastafarian and star soccer player Bob Marley's 69th birthday. His extensive discography is so well-known and loved around the world, choosing one to pay homage can be a difficult task (although we're partial to "Chances Are"). Instead, throw on your own personal favorite and sit back with Clash's list of 10 things you likely never knew about Jamaican legend Nesta Robert Marley, from his early ability to read palms to his main pick-up line, which reportedly was as simple as, “Yuh wan have ma baby?”
J Dilla: Last Donut of the Night
This week marks the eight year anniversary of James Dewitt Yancey's untimely death, and his birthday. Yancey—better known as J Dilla—was arguably the most influential hip-hop producer ever and his legacy is still evident; so strong, in fact that each year on the late producer's birthday, fans around the world celebrate Dilla Day on 7 February. This year we couldn't stop listening to "Last Donut of the Night" from his opus album Donuts, which was released just days before Yancey's death from a rare blood disease. The track exemplifies his masterful production skills and ability to pair unlikely samples over subtle break beats and key changes. For a full education in Dilla's work, listen to Donuts front to back.
ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that takes a deeper look at the music we tweeted throughout the week. Often we'll include a musician or notable fan's personal favorite in a song or album dubbed #PrivateJam.