Youse guys heard of The Very Best? Pretty presumptuous name, right? In fact, it’s a name that would be open to ridicule and snide comments from cynics and critics if the group didn’t make unique, fascinating, and, frankly, excellent music.
The Very Best is a collective formed by fairly obscure British DJ duo Radioclit, and completely obscure Malawian vocalist Esau Mwamwaya. According to Last.fm, in 1999, Esau moved from Malawi to London, where he opened a second-hand furniture store on the same street as Radioclit’s studio. After buying a bike from Esau, Radioclit invited Esau to a party and there they decided to work together.
And thank goodness for that, because since they’ve begun recording and touring, the only things to come out of this project have been good and fun. So far, the group has released one free mixtape, one official album, and a host of “remixes,” which basically consist of Esau singing over the instrumental cut of the song. As of this writing, The Very Best’s Myspace page has a stream of a song called “Mulomo,” a remix of Yeasayer’s “Ambling Alp.” Other Very Best remixes include M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend.
Speaking of Vampire Weekend, The Very Best’s full-length album, “The Warm Heart of Africa,” features Vampy Week’s lead singer, Ezra Koenig, singing on the title track. This makes sense, given Ezra’s multi-culty Afro-infused influences on both Vampire Weekend albums. The music video for this song is delightfully tacky, replete with deliberately poor green screen backdrops and goofy-ass dancing.
If you get a chance, you must see The Very Best live and in concert. When they came to The Great Scott bar and stage in Allston, Mass., only half of Radioclit was present, but that didn’t prevent the concert from being dancey as hell. Esau’s smooth voice soared over African beats from Radioclit’s production board, as two Fly Girl-style dancers bookended the singer. This concert perfectly encapsulated The Very Best: a sight to behold, and a sound to dance to.
–Adam Lauria, Boston, 2010