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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. In 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) took control of the north of Mali. In turn, they were pushed out by Ansar Dine, a jihadist group which banned cigarettes, alcohol and music. Garba Touré, a guitarist from Diré, near Timbuktu, was forced to leave, and moved to Bamako, the country's capital, in the south. Together with Aliou Touré and Oumar Touré, they formed a band "... to recreate that lost ambience of the north and make all the refugees relive those northern songs." The three of them, unrelated despite having the same surname, are Songhoy people. The name of the band comes from their ethnicity and the genre of music they play, 'desert blues'.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.34

Votes

10422
Genres
World
Rock
Blues

Reviews

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Thu Feb 24 2022
4

You know this is the shit I’m here for

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Mon Feb 07 2022
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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Tue Oct 25 2022
5

Something about African rock always excites me—these distant cousins just sound right together. This record really succeeds in incorporating western influences in a natural way, on top of the Malian Blues that’s already an exciting hybrid. There is also a lot of variety here, from the rock focused Soubor to the Ali Farka Toure influenced Wayei to the acoustic Petit Metier. Musicianship is great, vocals are great. Plus the record is an act of defiance against repression and religious fundamentalism, so what more could you ask for?

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Tue Feb 08 2022
4

vibrant music from Mali, swinging and righteous

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Thu Feb 24 2022
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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Mon Jan 24 2022
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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Tue Feb 22 2022
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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Fri Nov 25 2022
5

This is an absolutely stellar album. A while back on this list, I get Savane by Ali Farka Touré, and this album reminded me a lot of that, which makes sense as they were influenced by him. It's really cool to see people from all over the world pick up American Blues Rock and make it their own. The guitar work on the album is incredible, both intricate and filled with emotion. I've been lamenting recently that I've been getting a lot of albums that are cool and significant, but aren't worthy of 5 stars on first listen. This album cured that. I loved the sound of it from the beginning of the first song, and every song after that was great, and then the album ended and I was sad 5/5

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Tue Jun 28 2022
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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Thu Mar 17 2022
5

Only need to hear the first 2 songs to see that I was going to enjoy this album. Amazing discovery!!!

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Thu Dec 22 2022
5

This is something I would never have been aware of but for this project. The mix of “desert blues” and rock is remarkable, I absolutely love it! I was drawn to this immediately and each listen opens up more of this to me. The guitars are amazing. Reading the backstory of the group it is amazing how joyful music about dislocation and trauma can be. So glad to have encountered this!

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Sat Jan 28 2023
5

This is by far the best non-English language album I’ve gotten on this list so far. It’s exactly my type of blues rock and every song is a banger from start to finish but especially soubour and petit metier. Even if I can’t understand I can feel the political message through the music and that’s just the icing on the cake for a great album; would kill to hear it live. Also, this has been a great run of albums the past week or two

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Mon Feb 28 2022
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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Sat Feb 12 2022
3

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

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Mon Sep 05 2022
2

An early example of the safe bet desert blues a sizeable swathe of music crit publications still have an appetite for. Distinctly Saharan sans any especially peculiar instruments or tones, and, crucially, containing nothing to threaten sacred ideas of what constitutes rock and pop. Not knocking the group, just the framework for sticking them in the pantheon. This is nice. Try the Dakhla Sahara Session from Cheveu and Group Doueh from roughly the same time for a more incendiary and politically-charged example of the same kind of music.

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Tue Jan 25 2022
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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Sat Feb 12 2022
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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Mon Mar 21 2022
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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Sat Apr 02 2022
5

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

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Sat Feb 19 2022
4

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

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Thu Mar 03 2022
4

Another hidden gem, this was great.

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Tue Feb 22 2022
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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Tue Feb 22 2022
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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Thu May 19 2022
5

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

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Wed Jun 29 2022
5

Rhythms, Tones, Layering. Expertly done.

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Thu Jul 14 2022
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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Wed Jul 20 2022
5

This entire album was a breath of fresh air. The music is fantastic and vibrant, and their voices are so soothing. African rhythms skillfully mixed with traditional blues.

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Sat Jul 23 2022
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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Thu Aug 04 2022
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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Sat Aug 13 2022
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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Fri Aug 19 2022
5

Blues muy bueno que no pierde su esencia africana. Combina el blues clásico con ritmos de muchas percusiones y pese a no haber buscado el significado de las letras lo disfruté mucho. Imprescindible leer la historia del grupo.

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Tue Aug 30 2022
5

Really loved this album. I have no idea what they’re singing about but the grooves and players are so sick and the arranging is great. The drums and guitar really remind me of early chess blues and junior kimbrough. Al Hasidic terei - cool triple groove Sekou oumarou- sweet guitars Ai tchere bele- reaaally sick guitar grooves

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Sat Sep 10 2022
5

This was rad. Tribal blues rock, yes please. I thoroughly enjoyed this when it came out and glad I was reminded of its awesomeness.

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Tue Sep 20 2022
5

Old School rock'n roll met Malinese zang. Top!

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Sat Dec 10 2022
5

Amazing African Blues album.

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Thu Dec 22 2022
5

If not for this listening project, would I have ever been introduced to this album...I suspect not. So glad that I didn't miss this opportunity!! I will admit that it kind of got repetitive sounding to me, but not enough to mark it down.

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Mon Jan 02 2023
5

You know what, I had to restart the record like 3 times because I wanted to listen in one session . I didn’t get sick of it. In fact, I very much enjoyed it. I feel very charitable and this album deserves it with this prime demonstration of the blues combines with African musical influences. 5/5

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Tue Jan 24 2023
5

Amazing, so original, I haven't heard something that intrigues me like this in a very long time.

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Tue Jan 24 2023
5

Zalig album. De blues, de samenzang, traditionele Afrikaanse sound. Toffe ontdekking

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Wed Feb 01 2023
5

This was good company today, perfect for walking about and well deserving of decent headphones. The record quality and tone of the instruments is superb. Beautiful.

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Thu Feb 09 2023
5

Didn't know what to expect. Pleasantly surprised. Was good to work to.

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Sun Feb 12 2023
5

Loved it. Ambience. Blues. Guitar. No matter what language.

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Sun Feb 26 2023
5

40 minutes of some damn good grooves. Best track: Soubour

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Sun Mar 05 2023
5

This album begins with straight electric blues and shifts over the course of the album to for Malinese influenced music. In a very real way, this album represents a full circle moment; here we see an African influenced American genre turn into something new in the hands of Africans. It truly revitalizes the blues in a way that is very difficult to do. The result is astounding. The title of the album alludes to the fact that Songhoy Blues is a band in exile, and may be making some of the truest blues music out there.

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Tue Mar 14 2023
5

How have I never heard this album before?! This was incredible from start to finish; I actually listened to the entire album twice in a row because I loved it so much. While listening the second time, I also looked up the story behind the album and the translated lyrics, and that made me fall even more in love with it. Amazing album, one I know will be in my regular rotation from here on out. I will definitely be checking out the rest of Songhoy Blues' albums. Standout Tracks: "Soubour," "Irganda," "Sekou Oumarou," "Jolie"

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Sat Mar 18 2023
5

best thing julian casablancas ever did

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Sat Mar 18 2023
5

Is desert blues the best music genre I never knew existed????? Banger after banger. Great songs, not a bad track in there. Really groovy, I’ve saved the whole thing to my Spotify. No-skip album. Fav tracks: Soubour, Wayei, Irganda, Al Hassidi Terei, basically all of them ngl Least fav: Mali (but it’s still good)

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Mon Apr 10 2023
5

This is why I go through with this album-a-day rigamarole. This is an absolute gem I'd have never found otherwise. Very grateful to add this album to my rotation!

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Wed Apr 19 2023
5

What a surprise here! Delicia de escuchar y bailar. Llamado Desert Blues o Afro Blues por razones bien obvias pero sus sonidos tienen también algo espiritual y tropical. Puedo sentir a Colombia a través de estos sonidos que vienen de Mali. Es una fiesta completa este álbum.

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Mon Jun 05 2023
5

This was an unexpected pleasure and the kind of album that makes participating in this 1001 albums project worthwhile. Great musicians playing in a combination of styles I haven't heard before, helping expand my musical horizons - rather than the 53rd half-assed britpop outfit.

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Sat Jul 01 2023
5

I may have over rated this album just a smidge, but I am overwhelmed and impressed nonetheless. I feel like Songhoy Blues has something that needs to be said (all without understanding a lick of what's being sung) compared to many of the other ventures on this list. This is pure passion and pure blues.

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Mon Jul 10 2023
5

Awesome! Totally punk rock in a completely novel way

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Tue Aug 01 2023
5

This is the kind of discovery I’m looking for by doing the 1001 albums. This is a great story for blues music. Black music from America influencing African musicians. Not as flashy or focused on lead guitar solos but uses the blues structure and electric blues tones in a Malinese groove.

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Tue Aug 22 2023
5

A really sold bluesy album with a lot of emotions behind the lyrics, even if I don't understand them

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Wed Aug 23 2023
5

Yes, thank you. This is why I'm here.

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Fri Sep 08 2023
5

Never heard of these guys before, this kicks ass though. Listened to it 3 times through without getting bored, so I'm pretty sure it justifies the rating.

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Sat Sep 30 2023
5

Amazing stuff. Turns out I love desert rock! And these guys could rock with some of the best. I was wondering if the list would have albums from outside NA or EU. Happy to see that it does, happy to see that these men from Mali are not an obscure group, and happy that they have finally reached me. This band has a cohesive overall sound while the album features slower songs, faster songs, upbeat songs and more melancholic songs. They show experience and versatility. First album that's going into my library. I can see myself listening to this band more often in the future.

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Mon Oct 02 2023
5

Много готини блусари!

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Tue Oct 10 2023
5

This is a GROOVE. Absolutely love it. Great rhythms and guitar tones and just a cool sounding album.

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Tue Oct 17 2023
5

Listened to this while drawing. Really enjoy the album.

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Fri Oct 20 2023
5

Thoroughly enjoyed, never heard of the before though

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Tue Oct 24 2023
5

Lively and solid throughout. But unlike some albums from Saharan Africa, the songs have variety and flow. This was a great discovery

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Sun Nov 05 2023
5

Amazing desert blues rock record with hypnotic and groovy rhythm. Totally surprised me with the great quality of the record. Truly deserving to be on the list.

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Thu Nov 09 2023
5

My first exposure to desert rock is Mdou Moctar. There's just something so metal about desert rebels wielding an electric guitar. And Moctar's music is certainly what one would expect: epic, electrifying, and explosive. "Music in Exile", however is different. Instead of erupting in mind-blowing electric guitar driven fire, they instead took it easy and just created the grooviest brand of blues I have ever heard. The guitars are amazing in their own way, and the tunes are spot-on. Instead of powerful rebels making stormy statements in the middle of the desert, they created an image of a community channeling their emotions into danceable grooves, letting the energy build up and take them somewhere spiritually uplifting. A down-to-earth masterpiece of the genre.

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Fri Nov 17 2023
5

Loved this. No clue what they are saying in any of the songs, but had great sounds and would be great background noise.

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Fri Nov 17 2023
5

Yes! Uplifting rhythms, fun to listen to. Absolutely will get back to it in the future.

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Sat Nov 25 2023
5

What a pleasure this album was

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Sat Nov 25 2023
5

so it starts out sounding like some southern type of blues but when the vocals hit it changes completely. really good album, proves that good music can transcend language barriers. also the story behind it is really interesting too.

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Tue Nov 28 2023
5

Unexpected 5*, loved seeing something different.

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Fri Dec 01 2023
5

This is incredible. On one hand, it sounds like blues-inspired African music. But then the blues was inspired from African music. So far, this is my favorite new discovery from this list. I've never heard anything quite like this, and I want to hear more! (And maybe figure out what they're saying...)

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Wed Dec 06 2023
5

I'm digging this album! Every track is smooth, bluesey, and engaging. Great recording quality, too!

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Wed Dec 06 2023
5

Ok, I didn't understand a word and frankly I don't care. This album grabbed me from the first note and I will definitely be revisiting it.

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Mon Dec 11 2023
5

4.5 stars. Opening riff shreds and from there on its just a great blues rock album. Fun and different that it's not in English, but the guitars from this Mali-based group just carry the listener on an enjoyable ride. Standouts are "Soubour" and "Al Hassidi Terei".

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Thu Dec 14 2023
5

A superb album, an absolute joy to listen to. This is the kind of music I came to this list to discover.

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Wed Dec 20 2023
5

It seems to excel in the blues, you need to have actually felt the blues. These guys have had that, and despite the language barrier you can feel it in this music. The mixture of instruments and rhythms create an amazingly distinct genre of music.

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Sun Dec 31 2023
5

Absolutely fantastic desert rock. Deep, groovy riffs overlaid with furious virtuoso notes and a near-perfect backbeat that sets the tempo and expectation of excitement (or whatever the mood may be) while still leaving enough sonic space for the vocals and guitar to shine.

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Sat Jan 06 2024
5

I liked this one a lot. The sound was very clear. The guitar parts reminded me of gitkin a bit. Very nice music. No clue what the lyrics are though. Liked the first half more than the second.

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Mon Jan 08 2024
5

This was such a cool album!!! I have never heard anything like it.

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Thu Jan 11 2024
5

Very nice beat, easy to listen and melodies stick withyou.

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