Welcome to the fourth volume of Salt Peanuts, a monthly newsletter showcasing the best jazz, funk, soul, afrobeat, and world music! This month we’re featuring Hiatus Kaiyote, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Ibeyi, and many others. Click here for the full Volume 4 Spotify playlist.
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Artist of the Month
(Spotlight on a Salt Peanuts favorite)
Top Albums: Choose Your Weapon | Tawk Tomahawk
Multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster shit. That’s what the first google search result will yield you for searching “Hiatus Kaiyote”. And frankly, it’s probably the most accurate description for this quartet from Melbourne. “Multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster shit” breaks down further to mean futuristic, cerebral neo-soul with complex time signatures and buttery vocals courtesy of lead singer Nai Palm. Their music is so lush and layered, at times it may feel as if you’re wrapped in a warm Hiatus Kaiyote burrito. Attempting to pin a singular genre or sound to HK is a pointless exercise, but let’s try and navigate their music in brief.
“Nakamarra” is a good starting point. By far Hiatus Kaiyote’s best-known tune, it balances a catchy melody with succulent neo-soul keys. With over 3 million views on YouTube, the music video – filmed during nine days in the deserts of Australia – reflects the band’s free spirit when it comes to chord changes, rhythms, and lyrics – always opting for adventure over complacency. “Nakamarra” is probably the most accessible Hiatus Kaiyote gets – their pop song. Whereas Tawk Tomahawk is – as one review puts it – “portioned like an appetizer” and an introduction to their “Afrofuturist electronica”, Choose Your Weapon is an atmospheric album with a fuller sound and production value. The latter of the two ventures further into psychedelic territory, but like the former, is interspersed with playful vignettes and ambient interludes.
It’s pretty hard not to notice Nai Palm’s infinitely soulful vocals, reminiscent of a more acrobatic, yet less smoky Amy Winehouse. “Jekyll” off of Choose Your Weapon may be the be finest example of the band’s flexibility and Nai Palm’s pipes. The song begins with a crooning, bluesy intro by Nai Palm, eventually progressing to a slow R&B-esque jam. Then, it moves to a heavily-syncopated instrumental dance bridge with scattered synth solos. Next comes a hip-hop breakdown, the breakbeat style thanks to drummer Perrin Moss. Finally, Nai Palm finishes with the lyrics sung ballad-style for the denouement. Five disparate grooves covered in one tune. God. Damn. It seems, in their two albums, HK has achieved a full spectrum of musical ambitions.
“The World It Softly Lulls”, “Lace Skull”, “Rainbow Rhodes”, and “Nakamarra” are favorites off Tawk Tomahawk while “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk”, “Fingerprints”, “Jekyll, “The Lung”, and “Molasses” are top choices off the more recent release. Initially, Hiatus Kaiyote can seem like a band with too much talent for its own good, making the music hard to process at times. But with further listens, what’s revealed is a group so broad in its imaginative scope, yet so tight in its groove that no musical feat seems unreachable. Get wrapped in a multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster burrito in the Volume 4 playlist.
(The freshest new singles, EPs, and albums on the scene)
No new albums in the Salt Peanuts-verse for the 2nd straight month (which can only mean a flood of them soon…), but there are more LUSTROUS, SUPPLE singles to indulge in from Kneebody, Vulfpeck, Nick Hakim, and Ibeyi. Click on the pictures below to open in Spotify or check them out the full playlist:
(One-off miscellaneous favorites)
Georgia Anne Muldrow – “Arkansas” and “Great Blacks”
One of the most under-the-radar and under-appreciated artists out there. Two songs here – “Arkansas” for the beat and the flow, “Great Blacks” for the celebration of beautiful black art out there today (see: Moonlight). I’m gonna let Mos Def take this description: “She’s incredible. She’s like Flack, Nina Simone, Ella, she’s something else. She’s like religion. It’s heavy, vibrational music. I’ve never heard a human being sing like this…If people love Amy Winehouse, they’re going to get their minds blown when they hear Georgia Anne Muldrow.”
GoGo Penguin – “Murmuration”
Living up to a band name like GoGo Penguin cannot be easy. Especially when your music has very little to do with accelerating a waddle of flightless Antarctic birds. Luckily, this trio from Manchester perfectly blends jazz, breakbeat, minimalism, electronica, and trip-hop to do its name justice.
Fatoumata Diawara – “Clandestin”
One of the most accomplished artists to come out of Mali (along with Amadou & Mariam, Tinariwen, Ali Farka Touré, and Salif Keita), Fatoumata Diawara’s rising star is on full display on this smoky and sassy track.
Brad Mehldau Trio – “Since I Fell For You”
Prolific pianist Brad Mehldau just gets it right on this extended blues ballad. For your Sunday mornings.
The Short List
(A space for sometimes relevant, sometimes collaborative, and sometimes unrelated content)
The 5 Greatest Brown-Themed Songs 😉
1. D’Angelo – “Brown Sugar”
2. Leon Bridges – “Brown Skin Girl”
3. India.Arie – “Brown Skin”
4. Black Star – “Brown Skin Lady”
5. Buckshot LeFonque – “James Brown (Part 1 & 2)”