Shortstraw - Those Meddling Kids - OneSight Acoustics

Interview: Shortstraw on OneSight Acoustics, and Those Meddling Kids

Shortstraw has never been shy about using their status as popular indie rock band to give back. This coming weekend they’re playing at OneSight Acoustics – joining Hugh Masekela, New Academics, and Akio Kawahito in the first in a series of concerts that aim to raise funds for OneSight: a global public nonprofit organisation which provides sustainable access to quality vision care and eye wear to those who cannot afford it or do not have access to it. We caught up with Shortstraw guitarist Tom Revington about the concert, the band’s charitable nature, and what they’ve been up to lately.

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

ISO Polydimension - Photo by Sean Brand

Polydimension – ISO is making prog rock great again

It’s been a while since we’ve really heard from ISO, and it’s understandable why. The four members of the band had grown up, changed things, moved, gotten married, and started side project bands. But somehow, through all this, they’ve managed to get another album together: Polydimension. I spoke to ISO’s frontman, Richard Brokensha, about everything behind the scenes of ISO.

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

Alternatief Is Groot CD Cover

Alternatief is Groot, en wil jou die kys vra

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 ArtistsSupra 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.

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

Twin Atlantic - GLA

Twin Atlantic has a Good Looking Ass on GLA

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 AnythingTaking Back SundayThe Gaslight Anthem and My Chemical Romance. Now, they decided to bring us 2016’s release, another full-length album called GLA.

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

Medicine Boy - Kinda like Electricity. Photo by Stuart Scott.

Medicine Boy – somewhere between chaos and control with Kinda Like Electricity

Andre Leo poses a casual challenge: “Listen to Spiritualized’s Think I’m in Love when you’re feeling good, and when you’re feeling bad. Totally different.”

That’s part of the answer you get when you ask him whether Medicine Boy, his dream noise duo with Lucy Kruger, and specifically their latest album Kinda Like Electricity, is meant to be healing to listeners.

If they need healing, sure. Songs can mean different things to the same person, depending on how they feel. We hope our songs can be like that.”

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

Staring at the Sun, and how We Are Charlie fight demons

Note: This is part two of my interview with We Are Charlie. Completists should probably read part 1 first.

I’ve been sitting down with two members of We Are Charlie at Pop Filter Studios in Pretoria. I’m intrigued by what they tell me about their recording process. Beyond their straight-cut lyrics, they even strive for honesty and reality in the music itself.

“This time around,” lead vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist Dylan Christie says, “we really put in the effort. We said, you know what, we’re not going to go into the studio unless we’ve really put in the effort, listened to the songs, tried them out on stage, feel the song, and then we’re like ‘Okay, this one, we’re still not over it, let’s record it.'”

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

Graeme Watkins Project Love in Abundance

The Graeme Watkins Project – In Abundance

Love is a wonderful thing. It brightens up even the sorriest of existences, leaving the lovestruck victim radiating a vast array of colour to the world around him/her. A hormone on fire, lighting your way around the dark world. This feeling can be found personified in the new Graeme Watkins Project video for ‘Love in Abundance’. Colour jumps off every frame as the frontman, Graeme Watkins himself, states “We’ve got love in abundance’. Indeed.

Less Wes Anderson, more Wes Craven.

We Are Charlie - Let's Stare at the Sun. Picture by Lourens Smit

Staring at the Sun, and how We Are Charlie write honest songs

I met Dylan Christie and Wesley Reinecke on an ice-cold night at Pop Filter Studios in Pretoria. It’s right behind Menlyn. The third member (and bassist) of We Are Charlie, Rowan van Eeden, was away on a trip to Germany. But between Dylan & Wesley, they had more than enough to say.

“I think Pop Filter Studios is a great place,” Wesley, the drummer, raves. “I think many people don’t realise what a great place it is or actually haven’t heard of it. As for the facilities, the acoustics are flippin’ awesome. There’s not just one live room or one iso booth, or some guy’s home made studio. It’s international standard studios and spaces. And the gear here is phenomenal.”

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

Akkedis - Onder Ou Tafelberg

Onder Ou Tafelberg: Akkedis kyk terug na 20 jaar

Akkedis bestaan uit die bebaarde langhaar tweelingbroers van Somerset-Wes, Rudolph en Arthur Dennis, met AJ Graham as derde lid. Hulle musiek het ‘n element van klassieke eenvoud, ten spyte van hulle voorkoms. Dis ‘n soort pseudo-folk blues-rock met ‘n groot fokus op lirieke, en sterk Afrika- invloede. Hulle sing hoofsaaklik in Afrikaans, met bietjie Engels en ander tale bygevoeg vir afwisseling. Portugees kom spesifiek op een liedjie op hulle nuutste album, Onder Ou Tafelberg, voor: Nos Amamos Mozambique is ‘n ode aan Mosambiek en Ponta Malongane, en daarmee saam waarskynlik STRAB, die jaarlikse musiekfees wat dáár plaasvind.

Floris Groenewald

Floris sometimes writes things when he’s not watching movies or playing video games or editing videos or folk-rock singing/songwriting.

blink-182 California

Blink-182 pens an ode to California

Blink-182 has released a new album called California

This album is the Blink-182‘s first release since their poorly received Neighbourhoods (that’s how we spell it in South African English) in 2011, which saw the band members to scatter to the four corners of the Earth. Well, three corners.

Before I delve into California, I think I should clarify where I stand on Blink-182. See, I am, apparently, a millennial. When Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket was released, I was in high school, and the perfect age to enjoy the finely crafted dick and balls jokes that were so expertly delivered by Tom, Mark, and Travis. I was also into guitars and playing music, so I learned a bunch of their songs, as they were easy and fun to play. In the process I took in the raw and relatively unprocessed Cheshire Cat and Dude Ranch as well. Then, a couple of years later, Blink-182 released their eponymous album, which I still believe is their best work. It brought a darker, more serious sound, and showed that the three Californians were capable of more than just bubblegum punk. In fact, the 2003 release showed that they could take what they had learned thus far, and craft it into something incredibly beautiful and haunting while still displaying the barely contained anger of their punk roots. I still listen to that album from time to time. 2011’s Neighbourhoods disappointed me, so if you liked it, I won’t be hurt if you disregard this article’s opinion completely.

blink-182 California

The band members had several side projects. Mark and Travis started +44 in reaction to Blink-182’s initial hiatus in 2005. Similarly, Tom formed Angels and Airwaves. I was never much of a fan of either band, feeling that the pop rock they delivered was weak and somewhat soulless compared to the 2003 Blink-182 album, as well as the first side project, Box Car Racer‘s only release, Box Car Racer in 2002; Tom and Travis wrote one of my all time favourite albums as Box Car Racer.

I think it’s clear from all this history that I hold the band’s earlier work in very high regard.

On to California. Apparently Blink-182 has been trying to release a new album since 2013, but Tom deLonge wouldn’t commit to picking up the guitar to write and record. Eventually, in 2015, Mark Hoppus (bass and vocals) and Travis Barker (drums) got tired of waiting and had a festival date to play. They asked Matt Skiba, vocalist and guitarist of Alkaline Trio, to fill in for Tom, and he soon became a full time replacement. It seems like the new trio gelled quickly and wrote a bunch of songs at a lightning pace, because about a year after joining forces, they released an album together.

The album, California, has its ups and downs

It starts off with a handful of songs (including the lead single Bored To Death) that still carry a strong influence of the older Blink-182 sound, even in the guitar playing. I got flashbacks to Take Of Your Pants and Jacket while listening to it. The sharp hooks of these songs immediately pull you in, and promise to earworm for the next month at least. The vocal harmonies immediately jumps out at you; it’s clear that Skiba knows how to sing and harmonize. His own style of guitar playing also shines through in interesting and highly unorthodox (for Blink-182) counterpoints using chords that they previously wouldn’t have dreamt of knowing.

The album then skips for the first time

The track Los Angeles starts off dark and driven, and stays dark throughout. Much darker than the first tracks, anyway. It’s a good song, with its sombre tone emphasised by the contrast of the bright and hopeful, highly melodic bridge. It is followed, however, by Sober, which is a generic pop rock song with nothing really special to offer, and Sober especially doesn’t fit into the tone of the album. It’s not a poor song, but I’m sure that Blink could’ve written something more tonally suitable for the album, as its inclusion is jarring.

The album really hits its stride following a brief joke track (that really might as well have gone on the cutting room floor too. At 30, I’m over the dick and ball jokes, and I can’t imagine the Blink guys really finding it all that funny anymore. Skiba cries “Is that really it?” when Mark finishes the songs, and I feel the same.) The song No Future has clear influences from the Take Off Your Pants era, and while there is a slight attempt at recapturing the feeling of being mad at all adults in the chorus, the harmonies are excellent, the guitar playing is layered beautifully, and Matt Skiba’s vocals really shine. The next track, Home Is Such A Lonely Place, again feels somewhat out of place as a ballad on a rock album, but the rest of the album is a combination of smooth vocal harmonies, good guitar work, Travis’ trademark energetic impossible drumming, seriously impressive vocal harmonies, high tempo songs with a good mixture of Blink and Alkaline Trio influences, and I can’t emphasize how well the vocal harmonies work on this album.


California has its shortcomings. The title track is another ballad-y pop song, which is not suited to the general tone of the album and the final song is called Brohemian Rhapsody… (I was steeling myself for the absolute worst, but it turned out that it is another joke track. Seems that the only way to make me thankful for a joke track is to instill fear of something much, much worse.)

In general, though, California is good, and if the evolutionary trajectory from high-school-Blink-182 to dark-and-serious-and-get-Robert-Smith-from-The-Cure-to-sing-with-you-Blink-182 continues to this Blink-182-with-Matt-Skiba, we can expect some more great albums from Blink-182 in the near future.

Blink-182 is an American rock band started in San Diego, California, in 1992. Their new record, California, released on 1 July 2016, and is available all over the place; I listened to it on Google Play Music. You can buy it on iTunes, or check out the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube.

Nardus Groenewald

Nardus Groenewald is a geek for music, computer games, tech, gadgets, and those chocolate eggs with jelly in them that Woolies sells at the tills. In his spare time he grows a decent beard and holds down a full time job.