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Add of the Week: Yannis scores with new project’s lead single, ‘Walk Through Fire’

Every Monday, Add of the Week unveils all the new songs going into the 88Nine on-air playlist, with one hand-picked selection put in the spotlight by music director Erin Wolf.

In Milwaukee, say the name “Yannis” out loud, and instant associations roll in. Not among them? Singer, music, England.

Lead vocalist and founding member of English indie rock band Foals, Yannis Barnabas Emanuel Philippakis has taken that first name and made a fresh, distinctive mark in his particular field, leading him to pedestal placement — not unlike his fellow Greek “John” from Milwaukee’s NBA franchise.

Recently, the musical Yannis announced his new project under the name of Yannis & The Yaw. On it, he joins with late Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who passed away in 2020, showing just how long this particular project has lovingly been in the works. Allen, best known for his work with Fela Kuti — as well as smaller scale indie projects like The Good, The Bad & The Queen and a little outfit known as Gorillaz — pumps his natural ebullience and musical effervescence into lead single “Walk Through Fire,” tempering it as Philippakis really lets loose.

The song definitively sends out a signal and a call; who hears it and heeds it is the question. There’s a frenetic, crunchy, passionate sense of immediacy that makes good use of Philippakis’ expressive voice blasted with reverb and equally soaked in the spirit of gospel and punk, equally. A message churns as he struggles through myriad challenges:

You walk through wind and you break through bones
Look for a place that you call your own
You once were king, but now you’re beat
Long past the time to concede defeat

This is one collab that feels sonically special, both for its ties to a legendary musician and its explosively searching qualities; it should have Foals (and Tony Allen) fans plenty eager to hear more.

Look for “Walk Through Fire” on Yannis & The Yaw’s debut EP, Lagos Paris London, out Aug. 30 on Transgressive Records. Of course, you can listen to it right now on this page and catch it as part of the 88Nine playlist on the air, as well as streaming on our website and mobile app.

This week’s other adds

88Nine Music Director / On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee