Cocoa Sugar by Young Fathers
Turns out We Were Promised Jetpacks aren’t the only Scottish band in this year’s Top 31. Introducing Young Fathers, a trio of young men out of Edinburgh. Cocoa Sugar is their third album, but the first I’ve heard, and it blends rap, R&B and rock n’ roll into a pastiche of sound that defies convention. Amazingly, this album is apparently the most accessible of them all, according to Pitchfork. It does take a few listens to sink in, but eventually that light bulb turns on and it’s so worth it.
The band’s tonal divergence comes from the diversity of the men in the band. Alloysious Massaquoi is a Liberian who moved to Edinburgh at the age of four; Kayus Bankole was born in Edinburgh, to immigrant parents from Nigeria, and spent many years living in the US and Nigeria in his early years; and Graham "G" Hastings was the only member of the band to have been born, raised, and remained in Edinburgh. The three began performing together as teens. It’s impossible to know who is responsible for what on the record, such is their musical acuity.
Sometimes sounding like TV on the Radio, I think the best way to define the band’s sound is “as if the Red Hot Chili Peppers decided to not make commercial drivel and instead veered into the even more strange after their seminal 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik.” (They both even have “Sugar” in the name!) The video above, for the song “In My View,” is the most traditionally catchy song on the album, so if you don’t like it, you probably won’t like the rest of the album. I had this song stuck in my head for weeks this past summer. You can watch videos for two other album tracks, to get a good sense of how the band shifts gears: “Toy” and “Lord” are both great in their own way.
Give this album a listen — I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. On the fourth or fifth run through, think of RHCP, and tell me if you don’t hear it, too. It’s there, just under the surface, and once it occurred to me I couldn’t not think it. I love how music works in the brain.
12. Loner by Caroline Rose
13. Big Red Machine by Big Red Machine
14. I’ll Be Your Girl by The Decemberists
15. The More I Sleep the Less I Dream by We Were Promised Jetpacks
16. Joy as an Act of Resistance by IDLES
17. Hell-On by Neko Case
18. Superorganism by Superorganism
19. Living in Extraordinary Times by James
20. Thank You for Today by Death Cab for Cutie
21. Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar
22. Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) by Thom Yorke
23. Merrie Land by The Good, the Bad & the Queen
24. Room 25 by Noname
25. WARM by Jeff Tweedy
26. God's Favorite Customer by Father John Misty
27. Vessel by Frankie Cosmos
28. For Ever by Jungle
29. Twerp Verse by Speedy Ortiz
30. Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo
31. This One’s for the Dancer & This One’s for the Dancer’s Bouquet by Moonface