THEESatisfaction – Awe Naturale
Sub Pop: 2012
Over my couple of years writing here at Potholes I’ve been pretty clear about my affinity for R&B that is alternative, on that progressive soul, boho booty bump, or rooted to the gut bucket blues. Tight song writing, big hooks, and catchy melodies are low on my preferences for contemporary rhythm-n-blues as the late-50s to early-80s had that game on lock. The truth is in a world where rap, electronic, and indie rule the blogosphere, it’s hard for R&B and Soul music to get heard around the other noise. Luckily, last year, people who really don’t listen to R&B, fell over themselves to speak about the reinvention of the genre due to artist like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, and even James Blake. It was a nice change of pace, but while intention were good, it mostly fell into the “they’re GOOD because it’s not like R&B, really.”
Well, hailing from Seattle, Washington are two women who go by THEESatisfaction that I hope soon will get more attention. Taking the templates Sa-Ra and Georgia Anne Muldrow littered throughout the past half decade, and tying it to the aesthetics of the neo-soul movement, these young ladies breathe as much warm life into the supposed stale genre as any critical darling. Fresh off playing a part in last year’s arguable masterpiece Black Up, Stasia and Catherine channel that energy into their debut Awe Naturale. It’s an album that is rooted to the spirit of the free jazz of the past and the cyber punk energy of the present. Afrocentric, GLBT identified, and non-dogmatic, the album is 30 min of cosmic wanderlust and earthly truthfulness.
Three minutes in, the gloomy effervescence and emotional poignancy of “Earthseed” builds off a stark piano melody that’s surrounded by stuttering drums and siren-like harmonies. That is quickly contrasted by the strutting cyborg-funk of their lead single (and candidate for video of the year) Queens, that is all sex-positive and futurist cool. Yet, the brightest light in the constellation of this long player is “Existinct”. A play on the words exist and extinct with an undulating sample that flows under the wavy vocal arrangements so blissfully one can picture a couple walking on a beach near sunset without a care in the world. Ironically the song itself is about finding comfort when reflecting on loss. Other songs like “Bitch” and “Sweat” are delightful as well. While some songs are more of a challenge rhythmically, or not as prone to fun and play, Awe Naturale is a concise set of songs that gets THEESatisfaction’s ideas out clearly and with originality. So light your vice, sip some yack, and sway to the next level rhythms of these two women.