Jordan Pedersen‘s hope was a rope, and he should have known.
From the years of 2003 to 2007, The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield never left my car. In an era when I thought you couldn’t get better than the parodic self-seriousness of bands like Thursday, Curtis was a falsetto revelation from my one weird friend with taste ahead of his years: “Oh, this is what’s cool. Gotcha.” I think you can chart my disenchantment with music you could describe as “heart on sleeve” directly with the number of times I spun Very Best. Some friends and I had a show on our high school radio station, and a friend once told me she knew it was my radio show if she turned on WHSD and heard “Freddie’s Dead.”
It’s very hard for me, then, to resist a track that shares Curtis DNA. So when I try to describe Sinkane’s shit-hot “How We Be,” I could trace its musical provenance via bandleader Ahmed Gallab. The Sudanese son of college professors, Gallab moved to the United States when he was five, found his voice in the hardcore scene in Columbus, Ohio, and later worked as a multi-instrumentalist for Yeasayer and Caribou. But all I wanna talk about is the irresistible octave jump of the bassline, smuggled right out of “Pusherman,” and the how-is-this-not-corny yaz flute transcribed from, what else, “Freddie’s Dead.”
But Sinkane’s no rote revivalist, so there’s new stuff too: the tossed-gem synths, held barely aloft by the snap of infectious handclaps, are probably my favorite part aside from the Curtisisms. And Gallab’s Sudanese heritage shows in the delicate, Afrobeat lilt of his vocals.
Thanks for showing me the light, Curtis. I really appreciate not having to listen to screamo anymore.
Mean Love is out September 2nd on DFA.