7 / 10
Being pretentious is often seen as a bad thing in music. After all no one likes a smart arse. It’s all well and good claiming you’re largely influenced by minimalist German techno and obscure Detroit house b-sides but if your record comes out and you sound like Duran Duran then you’ll have a lot of explaining to do. That said, sometimes a little pretension can go a long way. San Fransico’s Mi Ami are proof enough.
Citing influences that include “60s free jazz, dub, minimalism, disco, and African music” you’d half expect some sort of Foals/Vampire Weekend hybrid, where it’s obvious they heard their dad’s copy of Graceland once and decided to steal the bass riff from ‘You Can Call Me Al.’ Thankfully Mi Ami are nothing like the inevitable Calypso punk trend soon to be sweeping the nation. Or is it tropical punk? I can never remember my fake genres. What was I saying? Of course: Mi Ami have a new record out of Touch and Go/Quarterstick records. It’s called Watersports. It is very good. Two of Mi Ami are ex-members of DC band Black Eyes – the album Watersports continues in the vein of previous Black Eyes releases in its eschewing of melody in favour of noise and rhythm. Lots of rhythm.
At first listen, this album doesn’t really strike you as anything worthwhile. The falsetto singing sounds a bit annoying and the lack of immediate hooks or obvious structure might put a casual or first time listener off. But after a while it all slips in to place and begins to make sense. The bass melodies become more pronounce as it pops and trips and weaves around the scattering drum riffs, the guitar noise and falsetto become less overbearing as the grooves subtly appear. Its only when you notice that your fingers hurt from playing drum rolls on your desk for the last twenty minutes that you realise how good a record this is. It’s hard to single out a single song from this album, as it all flows and works as a whole, but ‘New Guitar’ is probably the most straight ahead of the seven tracks (and it’s the one that Touch and Go have put up for download). It opens with some thrashy guitar noise before settling down into a nice hypnotic, dub bassline, with guitar and drums working around it and making short bursts of sound and rythmn. The bass is really the key to this whole album – it acts as a backbone to all the noise, giving the listener something to grab onto before they get assaulted by a mass of drum and guitar noise.
If you’re looking for a record that will satisfy your noise tendencies and make you dance, Watersports is the record for you. Plus it’ll make you sound dead smart and clever when you tell your friends they sound like old African tapes and 60s free jazz.