"Mr Motivator" by Shanghai HostageReview
Just as the initial curtailment of live gig opportunities saw many of the artists we report on in "Hot Music Live" upskill themselves to be able to live stream performances (using whatever means available to them), we are starting now to see how they are investigating how they can create new material & share it with us in more ways resembling formal record releases.
Again circumstances dictate the possibilities: what equipment is to hand? How can we bring the skills of band members separately confined together? Clearly solo artists with suitable recording machinery & the experience to use it are favoured, as are bands with members holed up together: for example the track "Disrespect" on the ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Three' album by Brass Hip Flask.
However it probably is no surprise to learn that artists capable of making the original & imaginative music we know they do, can adapt & come up with equally smart solutions for situations involving multi-member groups. I reported the other day how Satsangi had created a much more acoustic styled album (‘Shivoham-Lockdown Lullabies') with a pared down lineup reflecting lockdown realities, yet also responding to the circumstances in an artistically valid way.
Similarly, Shanghai Hostage have made a new single in much the same way: not every member could participate in recording (though thankfully all feature in the characteristically amusing video which you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBzI0cMRpos&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR25PySxb95bRMnG-sPwunTg2EPbf13a7Ejden-u9WK5gA9aLOlU8MqLhKI )
and it is a tonic for our mental well being much as Satsangi provided spiritual balm.
As I have often said, Shanghai Hostage don't seem interested in playing by other people's rules nor within their genres. Obviously somewhere in their approach lie self questions like "why not" and philosophies on the lines of "can do".
"Mr Motivator" (to finally name the song in question) is an explicit comment on lockdown and though as witty as its iconoclastic predecessor "The King", in this case the subject is addressed in a much more approving & indeed sympathetic manner. The tension between those responding to the confinement as one of opportunities to do things, to grow & acquire new skills and those who set their aspirations more at a survival level, is explored in a great hearted & humoured way & ultimately I guess suggests that we all have bits of each in us & we oscillate between the two approaches daily.
The music certainly is up to their normal really high standards (they aren't letting the situation impact on that): an interesting alternation between funk/soul & jazzier sections with confident, biting playing & possibly Sophie's most commanding vocal on any track they have so far released...
Well done to Shanghai Hostage & the other acts creating new music in these troubling times: I know many are writing about them but constraints will mean that the results may not get recorded currently: it must be rewarding to feel that you are still doing what you so desperately want to be doing. On behalf of music lovers I say "thank you" as it's great that not only are we getting fresh music to enjoy but it's dealing with the precise situation we are sharing with the artists. It's empathetic & it's therapeutic.