One of the big tips for "2010". While Fools Gold may forever be associated with the Stone Roses "acid baggy" anthem this new band from Los Angeles may be about to claim definitive use of the name (let us cast into the dustbin of history any mention of the truly awful Kate Hudson film of the same name). I reviewed this album when it first came out in November last year. It has been re-released for 2010 and nicely spruced up with the addition of two great re mixes one being a darker version of ultra catchy "Poseidon" which describes itself, the Sizzla s Judgement Yard Dub Version and the other of the best song on the album "Nadine" (Acid Girls The Vibes Are Free Bromix). If you search the internet there are hundreds more mixes.
Who or what are Fools Gold? Wait for it .......
According to My Space "they are a multi-member "collective" that mix Ethiopian soul music, Touareg music from Mali, Congolese secousse music, Eritrean soul music, tropicalia, and '80s dance hits. Oh by the way they also sing some of their songs in Hewbrew for good measure (Nadine). Pictures of the band show a cast of thousands but the two core members from Los Angeles are Luke Top and and Lewis Pesavoc
Alright I fully accept it sounds like a completely tangled and perverse mess and accusations could abound of jumping on the African bandwagon. You can hear the screams of what about Tinariwen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Farka Toure as I speak and the answer is yes they clearly are huge influences to which the band owe an almighty debt. That said Pesavoc previous band Foreign Born were playing this music when it had no audience and in pure pop terms you could also cite the equal influences of Talking Heads, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and just about anyone else you care to mention not least of all one James Brown. But so what? This is some of the most joyous and exhilarating music you will hear and however unlikely it works brilliantly
All the tracks are great but three key reference points for the interested are the infectious African rhythm monster "Surprise Hotel", the aforementioned "Nadine" and "Ha Dvash". All have already been subject to a variety of mixes on the internet but none are as good at the originals. With the variety of languages used I can't tell you about the lyrics but the music speaks for itself. There are bewildering African rhythms, funky beats, sublime guitar lines, horns and instruments which none of us have ever heard of but that form a concoction so downright danceable that you will need to nail your feet to floor to keep them still. Start with Nadine and those wonderful African rhythms coupled with a brilliant pop vocal. And that is the point as Pitchfork rightly observes of Fools Gold "they don't play American music with an Afropop influence. Rather, it's Afropop with a slight American influence."
Many new American bands at the moment take inspiration from the brilliant Fleet Foxes and that fine. Ragged Wood is a seminal album but diversity must also underpin music. Tinariwen are in my humble opinion as important to African music as Bob Marley and the Wailers were to reggae. It is a joy to see other musicians drawing from this well of music and actually taking it forward. Fools Gold have immersed themselves in African music. I can't wait to see them on stage and sing along to the catchy chorus of "Poseidon" even though I havent got the foggiest idea what it is about. In the age of live concerts their joyous music will captivate and they will never know the inside of a Job Centre Plus.