New artist of the week: Boy Azooga
Plus songs to hear from Foals and Denise Chaila
What: “Cardiff’s answer to William Onyeabor?”
Why: Heavenly Recordings is one of the UK’s longest-standing and relevant labels since its inception, having stood firm with its mantle of championing indie and folk artists like St Etienne, Doves, Ed Harcourt and Beth Orton.
These days, they remain true to their roots of representing outliers with the likes of the Australian woozy psych-rock King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, Baxter Dury (son of Ian) and the Welsh alt-pop artist Gwenno.
Described as “Cardiff’s answer to William Onyeabor, ” Boy Azooga are one of their latest signings and fit right in.
On the surface level, Boy Azooga’s debut album 1,2 Kung Fu! suggests a rock band with Loner Boogie wearing a muscular T-Rex riff like there is no tomorrow. It quickly becomes obvious that Boy Azooga’s vision is polychromatic and inspired by disparate artists like Black Sabbath, Caribou, Ty Segall and the Beastie Boys.
The band’s main man is Davey Newington, a Welsh boy from a family that includes parents from the National Orchestra Of Wales and a grandfather who played jazz drums for the Royal Marines.
The band’s latest track pays tribute to a little known Welsh band The Table who released Do The Standing Still in 1977 and was a minor hit in the country’s nightclubs. Boy Azooga swap the original’s frenetic freak rock for a more barrelling glam-rock stomp.
Newington walks a fine line between genres and any single identifier for too long. The band’s debut single Face Behind Her Cigarette certainly channels the playful melodic synths of the Nigerian funk musician Onyeabor in the guise of an indie pop-esque song. Elsewhere on the album, there’s soft psychedelic rock (Jerry) to rival early Tame Impala and avant electronic synth pop meld resembling Stereolab (Waitin’). Boy Azooga is a magpie project and Newington is capable of finding fresh water from an oft-depleted well.
YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS
Denise Chaila: Copper Bullet
“What’s Irish rap? It’s a sound you can’t predict.” Limerick has really been raising its voices over the last few years buoyed by the success of Rusangano Family. Now the trio’s close cohort has dropped her debut solo EP Duel Citizenship exploring multi-racial identity and the place of female rap. Copper Bullet is the big one of the two songs, with the Zambian-born Limerick-based artist elevating her place in Irish rap with ease by the sheer confidence and substance of her work.
The Oxford band Foals made their name with math-rock but quickly expanded into looser and expansive territory. The band, now a four-piece, will release two connected albums this year with Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 due on March 8th. The cycle’s first release, Exits, is a cross-section from their discography fusing big hooks, stadium guitar music, prog and their early math-rock that feels new for the band with lyrics concerned with escaping a world without privacy. The band play Trinity College Dublin on July 2nd.