Some bands are talented and make good music, while others have to resort to silly gimmicks in order to get attention. In which category would you guess Satanic Dagga Orgy, the “Acousticore Polk Funk” band from Joburg who loves playing shows in speedos, belong? Their new EP, The Prawn Awakens, prompted an investigation…
Taxi Violence really shouldn’t need an introduction – this Capetonian band has been making music together since 2004, and their first studio album, Untie Yourself, was released more than a decade ago, in 2006. Since then they’ve been touring up and down and played all of the major local festivals. Most recently Taxi Violence had released Tenfold to celebrate the decade of making music together. This album garnered the band’s fourth SAMA nomination, to go along with their three MK Music Awards nominations.
At the beginning of 2017, the band announced plans to release a handful of shorter EP’s throughout the year. The first of these EP’s, Shape and Form I, was released on the 13th of February, and the 3 tracks are classic Taxi Violence.
Josh Kempen sped onto my radar pretty quickly. In the last year or two, I saw him play a solo show, heard he released an EP, saw his name on all sorts of festival line-ups around the country, saw him again and again with a three-piece band, got wind that he’s signed with Warner Music, and now he’s released a debut album, The Morning Show: an intimate blend of electric guitar folk and 50’s rock ‘n roll.
Good old fashioned rock and roll
Stoker released their self-titled album recently, and it’s a good one. This Cape Town band wastes no time in making their intentions clear, as the album opens with a driving riff and catchy chorus. With sounds reminiscent of garage rock bands like the The Strokes (I think the similar names are coincidental), Franz Ferdinand, and Arctic Monkeys, the album establishes a tempo and tone within the first handful of tracks that doesn’t let up.
But, then again, I didn’t want it to, not for one second.
Francois Van Coke se nuwe album, Hierdie is Die Lewe, is intiem maar openbarend. Dis in-your-face, maar staan ook terug sodat jy die groter prentjie kan sien. Dit laat jou wonder of Van Coke dalk sy Converse ingeruil het vir pa tekkies, maar andersins, om dit in een woord op te som: passievol.
Classical composition is a tough topic in contemporary music
It seems antiquated, with composers with hard to pronounce names long gone having written music for instruments that have hard to pronounce names, and there are rarely any lyrics to speak of. On the other hand, Mozart sold more CD’s than Drake and Beyoncé in 2016 and local artist Caroline Leisegang released a new album of her own compositions, called Simple Circles.
Kobus de Kock Jr, the vocalist and frontman of The Black Cat Bones, is very rarely seen on stages where he’s not performing. 7 December 2016, at The Shadowboxer in Greenside, Johannesburg, was an exception. He explained that the band – famous for their over-the-top spirited live performances – had always found it difficult to capture the same energy in the recording studio. And that’s why Waking The Scarecrow – their first live DVD – is such an appropriate and welcome addition to The Black Cat Bones‘ discography.
I was sligthly taken aback when I first heard about MYMYMY. Is that an Afrikaans or English name? They’re a Cape Town based synth-pop duo, and their recently released debut EP title, Ons S’n Is Beter, seems to answer my question. Then I listened to the tracks, and was taken aback all over again.
Op hoërskool, as jy ‘n oulike jong dame in die oog gehad het maar nie seker was hoe om jou gevoelens aan haar te openbaar nie, kon jy altyd ‘n mix CD maak. Dis nou oor ek in die vroeë 2000’s (na die tyd van kasette) op hoërskool was – ek vermoed hulle maak deesdae speellyste op hul gunsteling aanlyn musiekstroomdiens. Bogenoemde CD was dan propvol liefdesliedjies, sodat sy sou seker wees. As CD-maker was dit jou werk om ‘n versameling goeie liedjies te kies, hul in mekaar te laat vloei deur noukeurig die volgorde uit te werk, maar belangrikste van alles: om sonder twyfel jou verliefdheid uit te druk. Nou het die mense agter Coleske Artists, Supra Familias, en Afrikaans is Groot saamgewerk om ‘n mix CD te maak wat vir ‘n wye gehoor van alternatiewe Suid-Afrikaanse musiekliefhebbers: Alternatief is Groot.
When you press play, it knocks politely with somewhat muted tones, before it breaks down the door. After those first few seconds, Twin Atlantic’s latest album, GLA, makes an explosive first impression with its opening track, Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator.
It’s their fifth release since a debut EP in 2008 (A Guidance From Colour), “mini-album” Vivarium, and two acclaimed full-lengthers, Free and Great Divide. They quickly built up a great reputation and within their first four years, had played supporting shows for Smashing Pumpkins, Blink-182, Say Anything, Taking Back Sunday, The Gaslight Anthem and My Chemical Romance. Now, they decided to bring us 2016’s release, another full-length album called GLA.
The first single off the record, No Sleep, features a heavily distorted, insomniac singalong chorus, interspersed with funky, bassy guitar riffs, and infectiously catchy verses. Musically, it’s big, yet intimate – balanced between celebrating and contemplating: I was never absolutely sure whether the song is complaining about not sleeping, or embracing it.
And while that one was somewhat ambiguous, angry/bitter songs like You Are The Devil don’t need much interpretation, right? There’s also a fair amount of anxious frustration on the album in Ex El, for example, which focuses on a promise to change, and a desire for a different future.
My biggest disappointment in the album is a degree of monotony – especially on the first half of the disc. Although every track is different, and dwells on different feelings, there are a lot of tonal similarities between songs. In a certain sense, it helps make GLA feel like a complete whole, independent entity, but there’s also a sense of everything melting into one. It gets broken up somewhat with standout tracks like Whispers, Missing Link, Mothertongue, and the acoustic sad-ballad A Scar To Hide, but those tracks feel very much like an advertisement break to specifically distract you from the 7-track streak that preceded it.
Maybe the only flaw I’m actually noticing is the almost-antiquated album format. If these songs were packaged and judged as individual tracks, they would have scored high by any measure. And for a successful modern band like Twin Atlantic, maybe this is the definite sign that it’s time to focus on singles rather than CDs. It’s not like anyone listens to albums straight-through and in-order anymore, is it?
If you love fuzzy, distorted, bass-rooted guitar riffs, driving, punching beats, and an exciting, lively brand of alternative rock, GLA is probably the album for you. Through it, Twin Atlantic proves that they’re not close to dying out or drying up. They certainly know their own brand of music, and they excel in it.
PS. Urbandictionary.com has several definitions of what GLA might stand for. Though my favourite is Good Looking Ass, official word has it that in this case, GLA is the abbreviation for Glasgow. Or maybe it refers to the one of the playable factions from real-time strategy game Command & Conquer: Generals.
Twin Atlantic is an alternative rock band from Scotland. Their latest album, GLA, is out today.