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Released in 2008, Santogold is the debut album by American artist Santigold (formerly Santogold). It charted around the world, including in the UK and US, and received largely positive reviews. It was also featured on many 'Best of 2008' lists.
Praising this album is easy, but defining it certainly isn't. Wikipedia lists it as 'New Wave, Dub, reggae fusion, alternative dance.' Bit confusing, really. There really are numerous styles here, and that's what makes it fantastic. Santigold's aim with this album to show that she wasn't, in her words, "a black woman singing R&B or hip hop", and she has lampooned her critics who call her music rap or hip hop, stating they are racist for doing so. If I personally had to put it into a box, I'd call it alternative. There's ska, electronica, heavy beats - each song is different from the other. The tracks flow together, but that doesn't mean they're all the same. Some are heavy in electronica, some in ska, and some in a genre I can't quite describe.
Some of the songs are more commercial than others, like You'll Find A Way. It's probably my favourite, but oddly not released on single. Santigold's vocals are really featured here, as she near-screeches her way through a rocky chorus. L.E.S Artistes is another catchy number, slightly more sedate but without losing any charm. Creator is probably the most well known in the UK due to its use on a Vo5 advert a few years ago, a bit love it or hate it. Screeching, electronic vocals complement Santigold as she half spits, half sings her way through this bass heavy single. I love it, but some criticised it for the vocals being too annoying.
Some songs are less strong but still worth a listen - the ska heavy Shove It is a bouncy critique of government policy, and My Superman and Starstruck are slow, dub inspired tunes that tend to be on the weaker side.
One thing you can't deny is that her songs aren't catchy - Say Aha being a prime example, with a chorus that is bound to get stuck in your head.
Overall, Santogold is a very strong debut album, and she's sure to go onto big things in the future. She really shines a light for the alternative female singers out there, and I can only see her getting more and more popular as time goes by.
Still my favourite album of the year!
Santogold a.k.a. singer Santi White has impressed with her fierce commitment to innovation, depth of expression and flat-out greatness.
So far Santogold's mostly been billed as MIA without the chip on her shoulder. Yes, she has the same voracious appetite for global pop influences. "Shove It," for example, is a dubby opium dream; "You'll Find a Way" has the flavor of early work from The Police; and the beats of "Creator," one of the best tracks on the album, recall, well, MIA herself. And she works with some of the same producers as MIA, and has MIA's same intense exploration of melody and rhythm.
But Santogold is far from a mini-MIA. She draws more heavily on rock and New Wave, and, unsurprisingly, she's more rooted in the United States. "L.E.S. Artistes," for example, shines a harsh light on New York hipsters, a pinpoint scrutiny against a winding, warped synth line undergirding vocals half rock, half R&B, entirely original. And that's what makes this album such a compelling listen: Its originality and apathy towards the current crop of crooning female 'talent.'
***** Seriously. I do not give this grade out lightly.
I am officially panicking, I have had 5 suggestions agreed in one day by Dooyoo, so here is the first. This has also been posted on Ciao under the same member name.
Someone on a training course recommended this album to me so when I got home I checked it out. Downloaded one track from iTunes, then another, now I have the full album.
Santi White is the lead singer of this outfit. The music kind of defies a genre. It has definite electronic overtones, but they seem to be mixed with a dub bassline sometimes. She was also a lead singer in a ska punk band, and those influences are also present. Anyways, this is her debut album.
1 L.E.S. Artistes.
Opening track starts with a very strong lead guitar that has definite ska/punk roots, then her voice comes in and it is spikey, edgy, and works well over the bassline which now dominates along with the drums. There are echoes of Hazel O'Connor and Martha and the Muffins. really great opener, very different from much of what is around at the moment, catchy pop like chorus too. 9/10.
2 You'll Find A Way.
Real punk/new wave song, just realised she has a voice a bit like Pauline Black from Selecter, and this is very similar in style too, nice and fast. Great stuff 8/10.
3 Shove It.
Huge tune, definite dub/bass background yet still retains a punky influence, brilliant. There is something familiar yet very different about this track. I doubt many people will have heard of a group from the late 80's called Back to The Planet, this is similar, but much more accomplished. There is a sound of almost Japanese dub (yes it exists) about this, then we get an almost hip hop rapping in parts. 9/10.
4 Say Aha.
Oh yes, more punky ska, with a Phil spectre type backing/chorus, very interesting stuff again. 8/10.
5 Creator .
Not sure about this, I like it mainly due to its quirkiness, lots of electronic noises and whistles over a ditinctly dub backing, mmmm, won't be to everyones taste, but experimentally fab. 7/10.
6 My Superman.
I wonder if this is a tribute to Laurie Anderson, it mentions this on iTunes, not sure myself. Much more languid as a song, almost tortuous, I quite like that. 8/10.
7 Lights Out.
I absolutely love this track, without a doubt for me a real winner. Initilly i put in a punk playlist, then moved it to new wave, then to electronic, finally in my 'haapy days' playlist. It absolutely defies any genre. Silky voice with an edge (if that is not a paradox) new wave backing, punky slow guitar, heavy drum n bass. Then in the middle she sings in a completely different way. This for me is the song of the year so far. 10/10.
Another Hazel O'Connor esque offering, full of electronic sounds and broken drums, good stuff, not my favourite though. 7/10.
Oh my gosh, very different again. Bit like Alabama 3 or Audio Bullys, but not quite, very edgy (I know I keep using that word). Some folks will love this, I don't. 6/10.
10 I'm A Lady.
Probably the nearest we will get to a pop song, a la Kate Bush, and yet, again, different. My feeling is that this would get in the charts, just. 7/10.
Bit samey to some of the other tracks, very electronic, weakest link on the album. 5/10.
12 You'll Find A Way.
Great closing track, almost screaming she pushes this number out and her vocals are matched by a strangely hypnotic yet disarmingly loud alarm like backing that goes right through you. Very XRay Spex in my opinion, love it. 9/10.
There are also two additional versions of Les Artistes at the end of the album, the first is definitely aimed at the club market, it's okay, not great. The 2nd is a video version of the main song, which comes with the iTunes download, not sure if it comes on the CD from the store though. It is actually quite a strange but good video, says a lot about her I think.
My final thoughts are that this is probably one of the best albums of the year from a relatively unheard of artist. Why? because it stands out by being different, I love it.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 L.E.S. Artistes
2 You'll Find A Way
3 Shove It
4 Say Aha
6 My Superman
7 Lights Out
10 I'm A Lady
12 You'll Find A Way (remix)