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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Music in Exile

Songhoy Blues

2015

Music in Exile

Album Summary

Songhoy Blues is a desert blues music group from Timbuktu, Mali. The band was formed in Bamako after being forced to leave their homes during the civil conflict and the imposition of Sharia law. The band released its debut album, Music in Exile, via Transgressive Records on February 23, 2015, while Julian Casablancas' Cult Records partnered with Atlantic Records to release the album in North America in March 2015. The group is one of the principal subjects of the documentary film They Will Have To Kill Us First.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.35

Votes

3555

Genres

  • World
  • Rock
  • Blues
Reviews
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4

You know this is the shit I’m here for

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4

vibrant music from Mali, swinging and righteous

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5

Desert blues, you say? Also known as Tishoumaren, you say? Tishoumaren , which is based on a french word meaning 'Unemployed', you say? EXILES YOU SAY? Five stars, I say.

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3

Musically this was great, and I am sure based on the wiki that this tells a great story, however partly due to the language barrier it wasn't for me

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5

Clearly inspired by the late, great Ali Farka Touré, Songhoy Blues brings the same unstoppable energy to their music that made Ali so influential. "Music in Exile" is powerful and moving in a way that modern American blues so often isn't. The electric tones of Muddy Waters and Albert King find whole new dimensions when they're shaped and guided by the unexpected rhythms and patterns of Malian music. It's a whole vibe and I couldn't be more here for it. I don't understand a word that's being said and I don't care. This is just so damn good.

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5

this is belting. they're all called toure or dembele so they're probably fucking mint at football too. does this mean i'm a world music guy now? man i'm old. what time is giles peterson on?

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5

I used to get a lot of mileage out of "Soubour" in my spinning classes. I like the driving beat and bluesy, guitar-up-front sound, as well as the fact they all sing. The song-writing is good. They stick to their style but the songs vary enough to keep it interesting. I only listened to it once, so I'll assume I would have liked it even more second time round.

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5

Ah, this was brilliant. So laid-back and enjoyable.

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4

Oddly catchy and enjoyable. I liked the album and would listen again.

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4

These guys know how to play! Too often the blues can be boring, but these guys know how to tear it up. The language barrier is detrimental unfortunately. It’s not their fault, but I am the one doing the ranking. So the lack of my understanding the words prevents me from truly understanding the whole package. One thing I did pick up on is that the lyrics were often repetitive. From a not knowing the language point of view, I think the repetition would be more of a negative if I did know the language. One last comment on the fuckers who ran these guys out of their homeland. What kind of asshole do you have to be to not realize what a treasure their music is? This part of their story bumps them up a 1/2 star.

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4

Another hidden gem, this was great.

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3

I didn't hate it you know. A bit like that Chesterfield Middlesbrough Fa Cup semi final in 1997.

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3

After a week of receiving dubious albums this was a nice surprise. I'm a big fan of music from Mali but there's no delicate string sounds of the Kora here, this is predominantly pretty heavy blues infused electric guitar. Wiki shows that they started out covering Ali Farka Toure, but despite having the same surname there isn't any relation. I guess Toure is the Smith of Mali. I shake my head when I read that many folks dismissed this album because they don't understand the lyrics. I guess they're also the same folks that also don't watch foreign flicks with subtitles. Oh well, their loss, they're missing out on some pretty soulful and glorious music.

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3

This was a nice album, reminded me a bit of Power of One. Not sure why it's on this list but glad it is just for the variety and it not being a british rock band.

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5

Incredible music, love this

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5

Yeah, I loved this - could happily listen to Mali's desert blues all day! Super interesting to hear fragments of rock n roll picked up and woven into their own tradition. Fave track - "Soubour" is a great opener. "Wayei" for something on the chiller side...

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5

Rating: 10/10

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5

Not sure how many others could say this and mean it,  but I'm a big fan of the Timbuktu music scene. I'm serious! Ali Farka Touré, an amazing guitar player, is also from the Timbuktu region. He got his university degree in Music from Timbuk U. (OK that's a joke.) It doesn't say if Songhoy Blues guitarist Garba Touré is related to  Ali Farka Touré. He's not related to the other Touré's in the band so perhaps it's a coincidence. I like how the band has refreshed the dessert blues sound that Ali Farka Touré and others introduced outside of Mali. They have modernized the sound but kept the traditional guitar licks and style and also play the n'goni - a stringed instrument that marries so well with the guitar licks.

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5

Great album. It's rare that I fall in love with something on the first listen, but this did it for me!

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5

Brabos

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5

Great African Blues!

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5

Didn't understand the words at all, but sonically, it was cool.

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5

Rhythms, Tones, Layering. Expertly done.

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5

Never heard of this album or, indeed, the band before. I loved it. Track 2 especially (which is now permanently on my MP3 player). Absolutely phenomenal musicians - top class. am currently investigating if they still gig - i'd say when they play live, they'd bring the house down.

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5

Songhoy Blues - refugees from Mali due to religious (Islamic) extremist group Ansar Dine. Interesting album, really enjoyed it. The different styles of blues and rock shined through. Soulful song Mali, I don't know the language but the intent seeps through.

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5

Always a trip to see things I thought of as "obscure" pop up here. I like the West African sound, but when more traditional, it tends to all run together. This album does a great job of marrying the structure and modality (?) with traditional western blues rock.

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5

What a discovery this is. Played this non-stop during a whole working day. Beautiful rhythm, the voices combine perfectly. Happy to be in this 1001 albums adventure

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4

Disco molto piacevole e godibilissimo. Un ottimo ascolto.

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4

Enjoyed it. Cool bluesy music, well made

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4

Desert blues. Muy interesante!

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4

Toutes les accusations de racisme portées à mon encontre sont infondées

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4

Genre: Songhai Music 4/5 Part-tribal, part-Black Keys, Songhoy Blues is an interesting world music fusion that I did not know I needed until I put it on the stereo. While I was first rather impressed at this book including such an album, but upon research you'll soon find that there's a western mind behind the boards, Nick Zinner, guitarist for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He does a great job of getting the best out of these boys, whether it's a ballad or a heavy rocker. The vocals and percussion are all fairly tribal, but the added electric guitar layers prove a worthy addition to the age-old Songhai formula. Some great examples are the rocker, Ai Tchere Bele, where it rides its one chord all the way to the end, with near-experimental arpeggios behind it all. The slow and sweet, acoustic finisher, Mali, does a great job wrapping it all up sonically. Way better than I had anticipated, and will certainly stick around in the rotation. Best blues album I've listened to so far in this exercise!

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4

Pop Afro grooves, energetic and hypnotic. And a fantastic live band too.

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4

I've only been exposed to a little Malian and Tuareg "desert blues," but I've enjoyed the style every time and "Music in Exile" is more of the same great mixture of guitar and African rhythms and percussion. The story behind this group and album is powerful too, fleeing extremists in northern Mali who banned music and keeping their traditional sounds alive first in Bamako and later in the US and the UK, working with Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, and opening for Alabama Shakes and performing at Austin City Limits. I might have to go check out the documentary they are featured in, "They Will Have to Kill Us First."

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4

Good quality music

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4

A very pleasant album with rolling grooves and plenty of nifty guitar work. The songs are a bit repetitive which mostly works but now and again the songs outstay their welcome. As I've said before, one of the problems of non-English singing I have no idea what the songs are about. On the whole though, was a really enjoyable album.

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4

Entretenido, diferente. Tranquilo

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4

Great music but language barrier makes it difficult to listen to easily

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4

gott shit, sofnaði harkalega við hlustun numer 1 og eg set hana kannski aftur i gang braðum við svipaðar aðstæður, liked it a lot

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4

Definitely a unique genre, first time hearing anything from desert blues. Should check out the pioneering artist as well.

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4

Great surprise. First track was a banger.

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4

A great blues album with some great licks

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4

I love desert blues. I love it when it is relatively unpolished, and they are just settling into the groove and bashing ti out. After this played, some more produced later material and remixes appeared, and they did not do it for me. But I can totally lock into the groove of what they are playing here. Dig it!

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4

There’s more authenticity on this single LP than all of last year’s Top 40 releases combined. While not breaking any new ground musically, Songhoy are playing directly from the heart with all the chops needed to back it up. Exceedingly rare to hear music made simply for expressions sake, and though this may be ‘just’ a blues-inspired rock album it’s a damn good listen when all is said and done.

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4

Really enjoyed the beats in this album even if I couldnt understand the lyrics. I wasn't sure how to describe the kind of music until I read the Wikipedia and they called it "desert blues," which really fits. Knowing their story makes the music all the more impactful. Great album.

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4

Nisam očekivo ovo s coverom, super haahahah

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4

Kakav cover, čudo. Ja sjedim, lijevo je Ivan ili desno ili zapravo on sjedi jer nemaju baš kose, a ja sam onaj iza, naslonjen, a ostatak si sami popunite. Rekao bih Tomi i Zvono, ali ono, može i Anita i Jura. ne vjerujte coveru što se tiče glazbe.

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4

Really enjoyed this. I wish I could follow / understand the lyrics, but really enjoyed the mood and energy of this throughout. Will definitely play again.

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4

Mali blues!

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4

dlv

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4

bão

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4

Also highly recommend Mdou Moctar if you like this stuff!

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4

This is really excellent. Great mix of the energetic and the laid back, with some solid guitar work. Loved it. Fave Songs: Sekou Oumarou, Petit Metier, Desert Melodie, Weyei, Jolie, Nick, Soubour

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4

Great work, generator. Not only is this the perfect soundtrack for while I’m in Africa (not Mali, but still); I also listened to it just the other day. I’ll happily listen to it again though. The seductive grooves, guitar riffs and group vocals are a delight. A very enjoyable and evocative listen, even if I can’t understand the words.

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4

vraiment bien aimé. C'est certain qu'il y a une influence Talkin' timbuktu de Ali farka toure et Ry cooder, même si il se dissocie un peu avec le son plus groové blues. 4

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4

Great guitars, interesting back-story, lovely voice. No clue what the lyrics are, but I'm sure they're great too.

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4

Pleasant, light desert blues album with a fascinating story behind it. Music by Songhoy Blues feels pure and has harmonies not affected by Old World's school. A surprise, but a welcome one.

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4

A blues/folk/rock/word music band. I actually like it.

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4

A great listen.

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4

Blues with Mali heritage mixed with 60s rock influences. What a great surprise and listen!

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4

Really good rockin' blues.

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4

Not the album I expected at all. Absolutely superb. The guitar playing is exceptional.

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4

Onaj zadnji je još bolji. Poslušaj

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4

Råtungt

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4

This rocks!

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4

I liked hearing how an American genre of music was translated to another continent and sung in a different language. Though I did not understand the lyrics, the music underneath was unquestionably the blues.

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4

Pretty sure I've heard this before while looking into African music on Spotify. I also recommend Mdou Moctar to anyone who enjoyed this. Language barrier? I don't care! I just like the way their voices and guitars sound. The singer could be hexing my entire family for all I know. Look at that cover. These guys are better than you and they know it. Four outta five.

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4

Really cool album! Not a band I'm familiar with, but I was often reminded of Mdou Moctar's Afrique Victime from a couple years ago. Definitely a similar desert rock vibe, although this one veers into more traditional rock and roll style sometimes, which is interesting. Overall a great project to throw on and lose track of time. I always enjoy getting something on this list that isn't from America or England. Favorite tracks: Al Hassidi Terei, Ai Tchere Bele, Petit Metier. Album art: Just a few guys hanging out, as most bands begin. The text is nice, but it's a very simple cover. 4/5

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4

This was great.

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4

Fantastic! A contemporary album from a Mali-based group with original-sounding guitar-centric bluesy music with its own flavor and style? Hecks, YES. This album is outstanding. I'll definitely listen to it again and I'm off to go explore their other music. Beautiful guitar work, fascinating groove, and I want to know more.

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4

Really awesome African blues. I'm digging it a lot. I'm surprised this is the first I've heard of it.

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4

My review, a breakdown: - music is really cool, unconventional blues-type stuff: 1 point - making it into the 1001 list despite not being from the UK: 1 point - best album I've ever heard from Mali: 1 point - cover looks like a gay porno: 1 point 4/5.

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4

Songhoy enters the legendary Mali music scene and somehow finds themselves at home from the very first strum.

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4

Soubour is a classic, Wayei great desert-trance, Petit Metier beautiful, and great finish with Desert Melodie and Mali <3

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4

Nice

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4

Immediately exiled from the book after one edition! That's harsh, and somehow symbolic. The world doesn't care, but likes to appear that it does, then quietly undo everything when people aren't looking. And so many garbage albums that outlived their relevance years ago remain. Yes, David Grey. Anyway, this is really good. To be fair, there's quite a lot of excellent desert blues and whatnot floating around these days if you listen out for it. Which is a great thing. This is a good example of it.

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4

I've definitely listened to this before and really liked it. I thought it was through doing this list but obviously not! Loved it!

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4

I thought this was so great - really easily listening but totally rad blues. Will look up more about this band!

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4

Really enjoyed this one

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4

Great tunes! Unfortunately, I can't deal with the unknown language.

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3

Bluesy, I liked it.

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3

The rhythms on this thing are awesome. So different and unique, really enjoyed hearing how not only the drums but also a lot of the melodies would shift and feel off kilter before you really find them as they develop. A bit repetitive within the songs for me but still very cool listen.

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3

Great rhythm with a lot of energy. Would love to know what they are singing about as I feel there is a story here that’s quite interesting

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3

Kind of sounded rockabilly...

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3

Makes me wish I could understand the language. It seems really neat, and the instrumentation is so fun.

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3

The Songhoy Bhoys there doing bits. Good.

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3

My favourite African album so far - good guitar hooks and solid playing.

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3

ce fut une écoute agréable

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3

"We can't stay in the traditional aesthetic of our grandparents; that was another time. Besides, we love electric guitars too much." sagt Bandmitglied Gaba Touré, der mit Ali Farka Touré zwar nicht verwandt ist, dessen Vater allerdings Perkussionist bei Ali Farka war. Man hört Songhoy Blues unverkennbar an, dass sie mit dem covern von Ali Farka angefangen haben, Musik zu machen. Da ist kein wirklicher Hit auf der Platte, hat mir aber gefallen.

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3

All the songs were a bit samey and I don't speak their language. It sounded nice, but I didn't know what it was about. Were they pro Mali or dissing it?

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3

3/5 for me, pushing a 4. This is a really cool sound, on my second listen of it now whilst I'm working. I'm not a fan of what's traditionally referred to as 'world music', but this is a really fun fusion of bits of that and rock and roll guitar. Would thoroughly recommend the deluxe edition, which has three extra songs, all covers. The fact they did Should I Stay Or Should I Go? and Kashmir says something about their inspirations (they also do Soul Makossa, which a quick Google tells me is originally by a Cameroonian sax player). I listened to it cold first, and enjoyed it, then had a quick read up on the story behind it (they are Malian, from a region that got taken over by fundamentalist Islam, so they had to flee to the capital). If I could speak the language, I think this would push up to a 4 or maybe even a 5, would be interested to understand what they're actually saying.

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3

Really enjoyable this; went in completely blind but a very nice listen.

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3

new to me, and obviously no idea on the lyrics but the music is very enjoyable

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3

3.5

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3

It’s cool

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3

vibed to it

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3

Aardig plaatje hoor.

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3

Yes, I like It's great with all the special beats and drums, it's really what makes it stand out so much, and still make me groove my head off. 3.4

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3

This started with very good energy. However, soon it became more of the same and ultimately as an album it somewhat bored me.

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3

Not my style

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3

Music in Exile by Songhoy Blues is a great dessert-World Music album. It follows in the footsteps of the genre and while I enjoyed listening to it, I don't believe it would be on the updated list without the backstory of the members. 3.5/5

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3

Malinese blues. Lots of guitars. Lots. Best Tracks: Soubour; Sekou Oumarou; Nick

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3

Rated 3

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3

I'm starting to see the appeal of desert blues. I've no idea what the lyrics are about. They're probably singing about egg mayo sandwiches. But this does sound like an uprising, even if I don't know what I'm uprising against.

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3

I'm always down for some North African guitar music, but my knowledge of the tradition is shallow. There's nothing formal to write home about here, but it's clearly a music informed by different histories than the material I already love. The production makes Music In Exile sound very normal, which is hardly a bad thing but removes some of the distinctive heft.

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3

Those boys can groove and jam, really nailed the style. 3.75 if I could.

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3

Obviously only listened through once, but some great tunes, even if I didn’t understand the lyrics.

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3

It's really hard to know how to rate a foreign language album when it is so lyrically prominent... it's not just about rhythm and mood but the lyrics too that you don't understand. I liked Nick, Petit Metier and Jolie a lot. Good, but hard to appreciate more than a 3.

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3

It's energetic and engaging. Hadn't heard of them before, but it sounds good!

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3

Couldn’t get into it, but not bad.

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3

I did enjoy this album. It was different for me.

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3

Refugees from a war-torn country, the words Music in Exile has never felt more apt here as the talents of Songhoy Blues are on full display, showcasing what they are capable of. Favorites: Soubour, Irganda, Nick, Wayei, Jolie, Mali.

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3

This was fun!

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3

Decent blues album. The African influences are quite cool to hear combined with the classic rock/blues. I just wish I knew what the lyrics were about, but I can’t knock the band for that. Overall pretty cool. 6/10

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3

Nadal nie lubię klimatów bluesowych. Z jednej strony jest to bardzo sympatycznie brzmiące, z drugiej dość nudne muzycznie i powtarzalne. Przeleciało i puścił się jakiś kawałek, który był tak podobny, że nawet nie zauważyłem różnicy. Takie 3.5, ale bliżej 3, bo nigdy nie wrócę.

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3

Może trochę mało bluesa, ale wciąż bardzo przyjemny album. Afrykańskie nuty mają jednak w sobie ten rytm i człowiek, nawet jak nie rozumie o co chodzi w piosence, to się buja do nich.

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3

Decent album, great combination of African Influences and vocals with some western guitar play

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3

Another difficult rating. I didn't hate it, but lyrics were lost on me since I don't speak the language.

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3

Eh, it was all right. The style didn't do a LOT for me but a couple of the tracks were pretty good. Can't say this album felt like it had a lot of interesting texture though, in terms of production. Fave track: "Mali", the closer, is lovely.

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3

Musicianship solid, great guitar riffs. Lost in translation though. From Mali - French?

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3

Overall a pretty interesting record mixing mainstream blues sounds with “world music”. Too bad I couldn’t understand the lyrics. Would like to know what they’re singing about

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3

By far the best Malian recording I have in my collection. It is a universe of one. This was highly touted when it was released and is a solid, but not great debut. The range of styles is impressive, but ultimately it is just good.

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3

Afro-blues-rock. Se me ha hecho un poco pesado... Ni fu ni fa.

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3

Songhoy Blues has a fascinating story about cultural roots and geopolitical issues. Make no mistake, this is not just "world music" or even "African music". It's in the name; Songhoy Blues makes music that is a blend of Songhai music and blues rock. Hailing from Timbuktu, the group takes inspiration from Ali Farka Touré (also from Mali) and his style of Songhai music mixed with blues. Honoring the Songhai traditions while exploring other sounds makes for a wholly unique listen. These guys know what they're doing and they're making damn good music. I'll mention now that this album got some exposure thanks to production from Nick Zinner, best known from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I don't know how much he adds in terms of production but I can safely say that this album is not about him. Songhoy Boys are a great band, with or without a fancy American producer.

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3

Wasn’t sure what to expect, but this rocked. Sort of like an African version of Black Keys. 3 stars.

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3

I wasn't sure what to expect from this album but I was pleasantly surprised. The Songhoy Blues' story is truly inspiring, from having to flee their country where the new regime, among other things, banned music. Although they don't look like your traditional blues band, they certainly play like one. It is the perfect blend of that blues sound we are all familiar with, combined perfectly with Malian groove. Best: Nick Worst: Al Tchere Bele

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3

I really enjoyed this. It sounded happy. I wished I’d had the opportunity to listen throughout the weekend. High 3*

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3

3.6 - African blues rock with some fluttery guitar riffs and lullaby melodies sung soulfully.

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3

Alright

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3

its nice listening to an african album but with modern instrumentals, the melodies are nice and warm and eventhough i can't understand the lyrics, they fit well together to form a harmonious package

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3

I'm not going to be able to approach these without strong bias from my days in West Africa. Even if it is not something that would go into my regular rotation, this is an album that showcases a strong West African sound that fuses enough US/UK elements to be more widely appreciated.

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3

Está bastante bien este disco. Sorprenden sus guitarras. Toda la música tuareg es más de lo que esperas. Soubour, Wayei o Mali de lo mejor que tiene en mi opinión para un disco que merece la pena oír.

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3

Infectious - even better live.

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3

Oh man the guitar playing all over this album is super tasty. Really interesting polyrhythms between guitar and the rhythm section. I particularly enjoyed (actual LOLs) the song where the vocalist pleads "me want a bunny" (Wayei).

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3

muito bom, pena que não entendo essa lingua

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3

Pretty good stuff, prolly come back to this one

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2

I liked it, but couldnt listen for a long time.

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2

Great beats, a little too repetitive for me to get into.

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2

Pas fan.

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2

Okay

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2

Definitely interesting

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2

Kweenie hoor.

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2

Best interessant, maar het repeteert me teveel.

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2

meh.

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2

It was okay, not really my vibe though.

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2

Just OK

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2

didn't hate it. Based on wikipedia seems like they have really interesting history and motives, but due to the language barrier and the fact im not really into blues music thats 2

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2

Hmm. Does not move me

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2

An interesting and fun look into music from Mali.

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1

bruh

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1

Not really into music that isn’t in English so can’t really provide a good review. Music was good but not something I enjoyed to listen to.

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1

The language barrier just ruins this for me 1/5 People say the musicianship is amazing but I think it's meh I've seen much better blues players Sad I can't understand the lyrics God how long is this album

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