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CD of the week archives
KOOS KOMBUIS AND VALIANT SWART - ''n JAAR IN DIE SON' [RHYTHM/BOWLINE]
8 December 2003 Two rockers talking with guitar and voice, sometimes Valiant in the Namib desert, then again Koos at an old harbour in the quiet night. Together they take you on this road that never ends.
"Langs Die Goue Rivier", where they've left their mark, and where they want to come back, untie their shoes and sip a cold one. "Dis die stories in die rook, en die wyn in die kitaar, dis die hoofstraat op die vlaktes en die engele in die bar, dis die lyne in die water en die whisky op die jet, dis die paartie in die teater, en die movies in die bed."
You can see Valiant grinning with the first pluck of the strings, and just like that, you walk next to him. "Dis die padkaart op die dashboard en die maan op die matras, dis die weerlig op die wipers en die t-shirts in my tas." See how love - the kind that doesn't give up after the first sign of trouble - shows herself through Valiant's hands and guitar. "Ja, dis hoe dit vir my is met my ysters in die vuur, ek tackle maar die slotsom op my eie manier, en as dit als verby is, en jy is nog hier, gaan bly ons op daai plaas langs die goue rivier."
And now they show you Hillbrow, the litres of Tassenberg for the rocker's throat, the hungry poets, the old tackies, scuzzy bar owners, wild angry girls, heated hearts and the rebellion in the roots of rock. Koos says he knows he was quite the twerp in previous relationships - "Ek wens ek kon jou troos, ek weet ek was 'n doos." Ayup, he knows some people still hate his guts, but with "'n Kaartjie van Koos" he manages to balance that duh-yeah-I-was-a-doos with " ... maar jy ken die ander Koos." All in a catchy lil' reggae tune. Schweet, Bru.
But wait, now you get to open the door. "'n Jaar In Die Son" takes you to the sidewalks in Sunnyside, the communes, the road trips. Listen for the whisper of the sand from the West Coast lisping at your back door. The hunger for equilibrium, the grasping for peace in a world where sometimes you had to ask for money to phone home. "Ek het gehuil op die skouers van vreemdelinge, ek het gelag in die gesig van gevaar, gebewe in die ysige wastelands en gesweet vir my nuwe kitaar."
OK, so even if you don't know anything about guitar chords, the weirdly claustrophobic vibe of a commune, or the skanky old sheets of some hotel in a godforsaken little town, you will want what the rocker wants. "Ek soek net een wolklose winter, ek soek net een windstil seisoen, geen sopnat en snerpende koue, gee my 'n jaar in die son."
It gets deep and quiet in "Salaam" written by Koos and Valiant's "Kleinmond Koebaai". The notes and thoughts will revisit you in the quiet times. Koos tells you about "'n Hawe waar die mossels klou", about the "berg wat soos 'n tafel lyk ... waar wolke soos gordyne wapper by die oggendson verby..." and the old times where the harbour's company comprised elegant coaches, royalty and sailors suffering from eternal horny loins and scurvy. "As die swart Suidoos om Valsbaai woel en drome waai in Langstraat rond, weet ek die duiwel rook sy pyp, met Van Hunks al halflyf teen die grond".
You can taste an exotic sense of desperation in "...drie eeue, drie tale, drie kringe in my naam ..." and the horses are just behind you with "dis 'n gekabbel oor keistene tussen perdepote deur". Then - close your eyes and listen to the quiet climax in "... drie woorde vir Salaam, ek was eers bang dat ek alleen is, maar eintlik, eintlik is ons SAAM ..." The strength of this song is in the simple but evocative way Koos keeps you close. "En ek onthou nog hoe jy myne was in die tyd van sout en sand, toe jy so op die grondpad my naam kon uitspel met jou hand."
Valiant's song for Johannes Kerkorrel is a timeless gesture from deep within, taken out of an old suitcase where many stories linger. Stanislav Anguelov's accordion is soft and sad. "Wie wou jy naby aan jou hê, by wie wou jy vir oulaas lê, by wie gooi jy jou laaste draai, Kleinmond koebaai." Quite easy to start crying right here. Even if you never knew the man behind the piano, his Hillbrow or his poems. "En toe verloor jy ons deur die krake in die pad, toe jou engele jou op ander paaie vat, en toe verloor ons jou op die lange duur, nou mis ons jou en wens jy was hier."
Here's a kick right in the gut for George Bush. "Who Do You Sue?" asks it straight, without hesitation. "You left your footprints on the moon and your rubble in Iraq, your sportsmen are on steroids and your children are on crack, you're the leader of the free world, especially in Afghanistan."
Koos talks with the tongue of many fathers. "You believe in family values and you trust in God above, yet it's a crime to pray in school and you need Ecstasy to love." The drums are cold and rigid. Koos continues. "What's it to you when the only enemy that's left to kill is you? What do you do? Who do you sue?"
The anger goes on in his "Liedjie Vir Marleen" where he sings for his daughter. "Die ou mans wat die oorlog maak dink nooit aan jou, Marleen" and more so in "... soveel kinders wat daar ween, die stede woes en leeg onder Satan se hakskeen." And of course he has to promise: "Vir jou maak ek die wêreld reg, vir jou besteel ek keisers rot en kaal, vir jou haal ek die laaste trein voordat die vrede van ons planeet verdwyn, vir jou leer ek my mooiste, mooiste taal."
Now. The blues takes you by the short an' curlies, shakes you like a baby rattle and throws you out in the street with the vrot old barfly. First there's the slow sensuous slide guitar, and gooseflesh erupts. "Ek is die spook van die murasie, die herder van die veld, tussen troppe wilde diere en dae sonder geld."
This is raw blues, with torn pants, dirty feet, weed in your hair and the virus of the guitar in your blood. Just let loose, your body will go nuts anyway. "Die meeue krys soos deure sonder olie in die nag," and your spine feels like a garden hose, slithering to a town with no name - "... nou los hy my in die reën, stokalleen, met my stukkende kitaar."
"'n Jaar In Die Son" is real, makes you grin, doesn't make excuses, kicks your butt, makes you dance like a voodoo priest and makes you sad.
A keeper, I scheme.
READ LISTEN BUY http://www.rhythmrecords.co.za
OLD MOL - 'ROCK THE BEDSPRINGS' [LEGEND]
17 November 2003 Old Mol are a new Johannesburg rock band who have been electrifying Gauteng audiences for the past year with their powerful live show. Two of the band's songs, the instant rock classic, 'Sobriety Friend', and the slightly-unhinged 'Cyril 1' (with its famous line: "I don't know what rhymes with Hasselhoff") will be immediately familiar to 5fm listeners, with both long-time airplay staples.
The young band's debut album, 'Rock The Bedsprings', has a generous share of smart, catchy rock songs that run the gamut from melodic punk rock to mature modern rock, and some that even take a lighthearted stab at the rap/rock crossover genre.
Some pundits feel that Old Mol have taken on and beaten Tweak at their own game, delivering a more consistent album, and redefining the far broader parameters available to emerging rock bands in SA. 'Rock The Bedsprings' is a clear, refreshing and optimistic signpost to just how relevant and entertaining these young South Africa rock bands can be.
Throughout the diverse mix of songs on offer here, the quality remains high, and there are plenty of new singles jostling in the wings. Among them are 'Arthur Radley', 'Over Now', 'All Over Me', and 'Turtle Power', which is a cheeky version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme ... perfect for Summer radio.
'Rock The Bedsprings' reveals a young SA rock band who are confident in their skill and diverse songwriting abilities, and quite willing to experiment with the genre, injecting it with a healthy dose of humour and irreverence and plenty of fresh song ideas. Definitely one of the best SA rock albums of 2003! [DS]
VARIOUS - 'BREATHE SUNSHINE' [AMABALA]
3 November 2003 This new 'Breathe Sunshine' compilation on the Amabala Label is subtitled "Chilled Electronic Beats from Cape Town and Johannesburg". 'Breathe Sunshine' is a brightly-packaged double-CD that was launched in London in September and is now available at One World.
The CD sleeve explains the concept behind the 'Breathe Sunshine' release: "For many years South Africa was seen as a source of more traditional sounds that usually fall into the "world music" genre. Since the lid of Apartheid was lifted in the early '90's, many musicians and artists have been hard at work trying to change this perception by fusing western influences with an African flavour. This CD showcases these artists".
Amabala Records is a company based in London, Johannesburg and Cape Town. It was started a few years back by Trenton Birch with the intention of bringing SA artists, and their music, to broader international attention. Amabala has arranged music festivals and has now released this compilation of fresh new sounds from artists like Felix Laband, Egyptian Nursery, African Rhythm Travellers, Gringo Bros, KB, Ben Amato, Kalahari Surfers, Weasilboy, Omitsu, and Dino Sofos with the title track.
Jack Foley, writing for the IndieLondon.com website, posted the following review:
One of the undisputed perks of carrying an alternative/independent sounding name and attitude, is that you get to hear stuff that you might otherwise never listen to, or realise even exists. There is the crap, of course, as with any line of reviewing, but when a new 'find' comes along, it is genuinely worth getting excited about - as much as, say, the new album from The Strokes, DJ Shadow or Coldplay or U2.
In the short time that IndieLondon has been going, we've had music sent to us direct from the US and Australia (not bad, for a London-based site!), and have now heard from South Africa.
'Breathe Sunshine', like its long title suggests, is a compilation of chilled electronic beats from Cape Town and Johannesburg, that was kindly sent to us by the good people at Amabala Records. And it is a frequently surprising collection of records, all of which incorporate African rhythms, instruments and lyrics, into a broad spectrum of chill-out influences.
Better suited to the late-night, down-tempo chilled crowd, of Radio 1's Blue Room fame, or Cafe Del Mar, this is a frequently mesmerising collection of tracks which mostly hit the target as effortlessly as a cool breeze on a hot Summer's day. And while the African influence is prevalent on several tracks, it never threatens to take over, with plenty of tracks worthy of consideration on any of the Ibiza-based chillout compilations, or evoking memories of some of the beats and samples that Nitin Sawhney incorporates into much of his work (see Human).
The highlights include Beifus' funky 'Chemical Fire', which retains its African roots, while also sounding a little like early Chemical Brothers mixed with a little Beloved; or Felix Laband's upbeat, breezy, 'Run Alive Run', which possesses an orchestral feel more akin to The Avalanches, and a beat and guitar loop that really makes you want to get up and dance.
Dino Sofos' hopelessly chilled out opening track, 'Breathe Sunshine', featuring the laidback vocals of Delenta, sets things going in fine style, with its breathy vocals, dream-like soundscapes and neatly observed piano, while the Kalahari Surfers' 'Kicked By The Ball', evokes memories of an early morning sunrise over the ocean, or the type of Mali music that Damon Albarn has helped to bring to a wider listener base.
The album features some better-known artists, such as Craigie Dodds (well known as the Sugababes producer here in the UK), as well as the lesser-known likes of Dino Sofos and the African Rhythm Travellers.
But while not every track captures the imagination all of the time, and certain others take a while to fully get into, this compilation is an excellent introduction to a new area of chillout which succeeds in achieving exactly what it set out to - ie, act as an ambassador. One can only look forward to volume two with relish.
Full article at: http://www.indielondon.co.uk/music/cd_breathe_sunshine.html
'Breathe Sunshine' track listing:
Dino Sofos, feat. Delenta ('Breathe Sunshine'), Egyptian Nursery ('Still'), Weasilboy ('Loungy Bastardos'), Felix Laband ('Run Alive Run'), Kalahari Surfers ('Kicked By The Ball'), Ben Amato ('Kumnandi'), Gringo Bros. ('L'aube'), KB ('O A Lla'), Cafe Settee ('Sunset Cabriolet'), Gringo Bros ('Leader'), African Rhythm Travellers ('No More War'), Beifus ('Chemical Fire'), Omitsu ('Afro Snap'), Beat Pharmacy ('Happy Daze')
'Breathe Sunshine' is available at
JO DAY - 'THE TRUTH'
20 October 2003 Jo Day rocks, big time. Her 4th album 'The Truth' has just been released and is an amalgam of recent tracks, brand new songs and some re-recordings. Jo has taken some of the best songs off her 2 previous releases, 'Icon' (2002) and 'No Warning' (2003) and included them here. Her big radio hit 'Remember' appears in it's original rock form as well as an unplugged version. 'Porn' also gets the unplugged treatment.
Jo Day rocks hard and fast and is ably supported by Toxic Shame's Jon Buckley (guitars and production), Darren Drawbridge (guitars), Martin Labuschagne (bass) and Herman Kruger (drums). Together they are known as the B.A.N.D. ('Bad-Ass Nocturnal Dudes', it says here!). The closing track on 'The Truth' is a kick-ass live version of 'Icon''s 'Down And Dirty'. Jo's voice roars and the guitar soars. This is rock and roll, no question.
But wait, there's more... there's a hidden bonus track too, except this one is on the Internet, not on the CD! Inside the CD cover you'll find a special website address where you can go and download an mp3, which is not available anywhere else, titled 'Nothin''. And it rocks.
And speaking about websites, Jo has a great one. She really cares about her fans and www.joday.com really reflects that. Designed by zaZone's Tony de Buys, the site is quick and easy and full of info. It works straight away too, and the flash animations enhance the experience, rather than delaying it.
Jo Day communicates with her fanbase regularly through her website and e-mail newsletters, so she deserves your support. As they say in the X-Files; "The Truth is out there". Well, go find it!
AMANDA STRYDOM - 'VERSPREIDE DONDERBUIE / SCATTERED THUNDER' (JNS)
6 October 2003 Amanda Strydom is a lady of many styles and genres. She's a diva, a folk-singer, a torch-singer and a rock 'n rollin' bitch. Amanda's album has a biligual title, and has 2 completely different title tracks, not just the same song sung with alternative lyrics. Amanda writes and sings in both English and Afrikaans and there are even a few Zulu phrases thrown in to give an African feel.
'Verspreide Donderbuie' (the opening song of the album) documents a road trip from Joburg to Cape Town with amazingly evocative images. "Die pad verander stadig / in 'n gladde silwer slang". Musical references to The Doors 'Riders On The Storm' abound, with stunning piano from arranger and co-composer Janine Neethling. And Juan (Floors) Oosthuizen roars out with short jabs of highway star guitar. Vinnie Henrico's drums pound into your head and Graham Currie's bass captures the heart. And this is just the first song. Play it again, it's that good.
'Doekvoet' is a very angry song which moves to a marching beat with backing vocals by Cutt Glas. "Hit the woman, rape the child/ Niemand word gestraf"... and there's that guitar again. Awesome.
Miss Strydom is also very upset with Johannes Kerkorrel. "Jy was selfsugtig, jy was wreed, jy sê: Miss Mandy, sny die brood". Her song for Ralph Rabie, 'Ek Het Gedroom' will tear your heart out if you are not careful. She also does a cover of JK's 'Hoe Ek Voel'.
There a few other cover versions on this CD; a lovely version of Leonard Cohen's 'Take This Waltz', 'Sondag In Soweto' by Stef Bos and a truly excellent jazz-blues version of Rodriguez's 'Rich Folk Hoax'. Graham Currie played bass on the Sugarman's 1998 SA tour and his love for the man and his songs overflows in his bass-playing on this new version.
The rock and roll bitch comment in the opening paragraph might have got you confused, but one listen to 'Engel Met 'n Angel' (Angel with a Sting) will have you convinced. "Verslaaf aan rock 'n roll en aan nicotien... Sy ry te vinnig vir my". Amanda rocks, ok!
The closing track 'Ndiyakholelwa / Ek Glo' features the voices of the Afrika Mamas and lyrics that Roger Waters would be proud of, if he could write in Afrikaans: "Ek glo in Rock and Roll en skaapjops... ek glo in God en al haar wonders".
This is an angry album, a sad album, a happy album, but most of all this is album by a woman who knows herself and her craft and is not afraid to let us into her world. She loves her man, her country and her music... and it shows.
THE BUCKFEVER UNDERGROUND - ''TEACHING AFRIKAANS AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE' (Bastard Revolution Speeches, 2002)
22 September 2003 (Ed's Note: Buckfever Underground's 'Teaching Afrikaans as a Foreign Language' album has become somewhat of a minor cult item in a mostly cult-free SA rock scene (not forgetting though, Sharkbrother's 'Taj Mahala' which still draws plenty requests). Ian Risjdijk has been falling for its low-fi poetic charms and wrote this for a recent edition of the UCT 'Varsity' publication)
Surely one of the most original South African albums in years, The Buckfever Underground elicit more interest in one song than a room full of Idols and Stars. No bullshit retreading of flabby R&B tunes, stale-piss house beatz, or cud-chewing emo rock angst - this is an original South African album.
Buckfever came to attention five years ago with their specific brand of musical drollery and, with their song 'The Highveld (is a shit place to be in winter)' finding a wider audience, released their debut album, 'Jou Medemens is Dood'. This second release finds them in similarly sardonic mood, though with a fuller musical backing, the jagged piano riffs and drum rhythms offsetting Toast Coetzer's monotone delivery.
Essentially the songs are bilingual stream-of-consciousness poems accompanied by drums, bass, and piano, and they reflect a South Africa rarely dealt with by commercial radio stations obsessed with marketing gimmicks and ex TV presenters. 'Who Cares', the opener, catalogues the drudgery of getting up and going to work, the borderline psychosis of the words complemented by a jangly discordant piano, and laid over a rolling bassline.
'Sonsverdusitering' comes across like a hangover, backed only by a dreamy echoing guitar, while 'Die Bure' is funny in the most worrying way, its violent imagery accompanied by a lazy bass and drum rhythm, and meandering chimes. Pick of the album is 'Love In A Time Of Visas', as descriptive of one aspect of South African identity as any song released in the last ten years.
"Who are those people? Do they really bank at Nedbank?" They are The Buckfever Underground, and you should listen.
Re-published by courtesy UCT 'Varsity'
ZEN ARCADE - 'RELEASE' (INDIE)
8 September 2003 You have to understand that Zen Arcade is a band who make and take their music very seriously. How seriously you may ask? Well, who but this four-piece Johannesburg rock outfit could be described on their press release (for their recent unplugged Bassline farewell set) as "a band that has become renowned for its intense, impassioned unplugged sets - and this one promises to be a scorcher". An unplugged "scorcher"? That sounds more like something from our favourite US heavy metal acoustic duo, Tenacious D. But Zen Arcade are a serious bunch, and work hard to sound the way they do, and the songs on their second full album 'Release' clearly reflect this.
As with all the songs on 'Snowflake' (the band's seven-song debut album), here the compositions on 'Release' are all simply credited to Zen Arcade, which indicates a strong band democracy, but which is not always a good thing. The stronger songs on 'Release' like 'All The World', 'Queen Of Make Do', 'Bend', and 'Summer Sun' combine the band's tight rock flair with punchy tunes. But elsewhere, as on 'Steady', 'Simple Things', and 'Tease', the band's sheer emotion and effort isn't enough to make these plain songs more attractive.
Vocalist Iain McKenzie dives in head first from the opening track, 'Rest Day', and growls, breathes, sweats, and groans all the way to the closing title track. The band stays with him, as taut and steady as we have come to know them. For 'Beat Grinder', Alistair Mathie (bass) and Andrew Cleland (drums) cook up a mid-album Zeppelin-esque SA blues stomp, with James Donaldson's guitar histrionics doing a "Page" to Mckenzie's Plant-like vocals.
The album's main cover pic (of an angler holding up his catch ... very ironic!), was the one chosen from the many submitted in a competition for the band's more creative fans. The best of the other entries are all used in the fold-out sleeve as backdrops to the album's lyrics, giving 'Release' a collaborative and very eclectic feel.
Not all the songs on 'Release' stand up on their own, and the inclusion of two closing bonus tracks (the band's two previous singles, 'Letter To Friend' and 'Crazy Over You') seems unneccesary. But overall 'Release' builds on 'Snowflake''s strengths, and clearly illustrates that this important SA rock band is just getting better. (SS)
tAIT- 'BACK SEAT DRIVER' [FRESH]
18 August 2003 Chris Tait has been on the fringes of the SA rock scene for some years now, firstly as a member of The Shooflys and later with Social Piranha. But the affable rock star nevertheless felt that his contribution to those groups was diluted by too much band democracy, and too many "back seat drivers". So he undertook to set up his own band, with him as the captain, so that he could produce his own songs in his own way.
So Chris Tait is now the vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for tAIT alongside loyal bassist Alun Curtis - who has played alongside him in both those previous bands - guitarist Quinton Jansen, and drummer Charl Brewer. All the songs on 'Back Seat Driver' were written and produced by Chris Tait, apart from 'When She's Gone' which was written by Jansen.
The 13-track album was recorded at Street Level Studios in Cape Town and mixed by Chris Tait and Richard Black, who also played some extra guitar on the album. Other guest artists were James Stewart (that distinctive piano on 'In My Arms') and drummer Peter Cohen.
tAIT's first single, '(I Think I Can) Relate', caught the attention of Benjy Mudie's son Declan (an A&R man in training) during 2002, and the band were soon signed to the normally very selective Fresh Music label. 'Relate' ploughed a successful radio playlisting furrow for 'In My Arms', the band's first big hit which was recorded on 16-track tape (for its noticeably fresh sound!), and is currently a staple SA radio smash.
This first full debut album from the band took two years to complete and takes those two songs' hooks and yearning vocals as a starting point for an album that offers further optimism for the current SA pop-rock landscape. Nothing beats a good song and 'Back Seat Driver' is full of them. 'Back Seat Driver' arrives with just the right blend of swagger and sensitivity and 12 original songs that never stray too far from Chris Tait's consistently hooky "soft intro/big rock chorus" format.
The album kicks off with the cautious optimism of 'The Best Days Of My Life', and heads straight into the next single, 'Classroom Blues', which, despite its seemingly naive tone, masks a chilling pre-Columbine attitude ("So open your eyes, look at the trees, consider this your last day").
By now everyone and their granny should be able and keen to sing along to 'In My Arms', as sure a radio pop hit as we have ever had in SA. 'In My Arms' is alternatively known as "Tracy's Song", due to the fact that Chris Tait wrote it for his (then) ex-girlfriend after treating her very badly. So the song is a genuinely moving plea for reconciliation which happily worked as Tracy gets a loving and grateful credit on the sleeve.
Elsewhere there's the very perky title track, the sweet and sentimental 'Don't Let Me Go', and a song called 'Yesterday' that is similar to 'In My Arms' but with not as catchy a chorus. 'When She's Gone' and 'Tea For 2' both feature jazzier openings with crunchy rock fillings.
'(I Think I Can) Relate' appears twice on the album, firstly in its original squealing guitar format, and later in its more acoustic version as a bonus track, following the big, strong album closer, 'Stand By Me'.
'Back Street Driver' is a straight-up pop-rock album with no airs, graces or fake attitudes, but with just the right amounts of rough charm and good chewns. Front seat rock!
READ LISTEN BUY http://www.tait.co.za
BOO! - 'TNTLC' [BOOCD005]
August 2003 Possibly the best Boo! album so far. That's not to say their previous works are slouches in the tutu department, but here they sound like they gave their musical direction some thought, met with Brian O'Shea who helped them in some way, went through some changes, and came up with a more polished, but no less Boo!-ful, album.
TNTLC is still Boo! music all the way through. Anyone modestly familiar with their music, as opposed to someone immodestly familiar, will recognise our favorite wacky trio. Chris Chameleon is always in control of his voice, Leon's drumming is varied and creative--not merely skin-slamming to move the dancers, and Ampie Omo adds all the rest: horns, percussion, keyboards, and background vocals.
Some Christian references and allusions appear on this work, apparently sincere ones, too--nor are the references subtle or in passing. Another song even has some clever thoughts on free will, believe it or not. But most of the Boo! songs on TNTLC are good ole love songs, and in Boo! style they are neuter in pronoun, not neutered in dance energy.
Overall: an oh-so-smoothly produced record. The vocals are the tight and controlled style Chris has been working for in all the previous albums. And in referring to their previous work, I slight them not because those previous albums are all fine works I'm glad to own, but...dare I suggest this is a more mature Boo! record? Our Boo! boys are growing up and channeling their vast energy and talent more efficiently, perhaps.
Whatever it is, if you thought you enjoyed any previous Boo! albums, you'll play this one over and over back to front, and if you thought you didn't care for Boo! this may be the start of a new relationship, knowing There's Nothing Love Can't Overcome.
Kurt Shoemaker, Blanco, Texas
KAREN ZOID - 'CHASING THE SUN' [EMI]
7 July 2003 From busking on a Melville pavement to becoming an SA rock icon in two short years is no mean feat. It may have been a bumpy ride at times for Karen Zoid, but with the release of her second album, 'Chasing The Sun', some Levi Strauss-sponsored SA concerts, and a tour to the UK and Europe pending, everything's working out well for this adored new SA rock star.
A Johannesburger, who matriculated at the National School of the Arts, Zoid was a young rebel who lived the drugs and rock 'n roll lifestyle long before she even got near the swing doors of any studio. She ran away from home, and worked in Cape Town as a waitress, while still completing her schooling via correspondence, returned to her family, entered a Johannesburg film school - and, somewhere in between, joined a metal band. That was when she took to the streets with an acoustic guitar.
There she was noticed and heard, and some demos followed, before she was signed by EMI SA, who released her stunning debut, 'Poles Apart', a collection of songs in Afrikaans and English that was a unanimous choice for the SA Rock Digest's Best Album of 2001. Extensive airplay followed, but it was her Afrikaans compositions that really caught the attention of an audience desperate to find their own voice. Volksliedjies like 'Afrikaners Is Plesierig' were suddenly given a whole new relevance.
Zoid spoke on behalf of a new generation and voiced their boredom, their indifference to the past, their hatred of suburbia. They were even dubbed the "Zoid Generation" by Rapport. She was post Koos Kombuis, post Valiant Swart, was suddenly being quoted about issues like the "survival of Afrikaans"!.
Zoid's influence wasn't only due to her honest and powerful lyrics and strong tunes, but also to her riveting live performances. Someone who could work an audience and combine visuals with raw rock power. Leather outfits, Groot Trek dresses and fire eaters. And every now and then she would reveal more than the crowd bargained for....
Round here we call her "Janis Morrison" for an assortment of reasons! (Stay away from places called Florida if you're going to expose yourself on stage!)
'Chasing The Sun' is her new, second album and once again it explores life in South Africa, suburbia, and post Gen-X boredom. The 14 tracks are a mixture of Afrikaans and English songs and also includes a moving, aggressive tribute to Johannes Kerkorrel's legacy, with the searing lyrics "Ons helde hang aan bome en die media steel my drome en die meaning gaan verlore..." ('Foto Teen Die Muur')
The influence of Don Reynecke, her right-hand man and guitarist, is obvious in the arrangements and fuller, wider sound. He fills the gaps, answers her vocals with melody, or rocks hard if needs be.
But most of Zoid's initial anger and frustrations seem to have been left behind on a concert stage somewhere. The lyrics are now more focused and introspective. Zoid sings about the labels she has to wear (Levis?), the adoration and media attention she has to endure, the life of a rock star on the road in South Africa, and of course love, that most enduring theme of all, is also well covered here ('All My Love', 'Beautiful'). But, then again, so are 'Dinosaurs', so, amongst all the personal growth and maturity going on, Karen Zoid has not lost her sense of humour or perspective. (Staff Reporter)
VARIOUS INDIE SA ARTISTS - 'WICKED DEMOS: ENTER THE MIND OF ROCK' [WICKED ROCK]
23 June 2003 This 18-song independent release was self-financed by the artists appearing and has been described as "SA rock 'n roll's calling to be heard". It's an interesting reflection of the quality of indie rock being produced by emerging artists and bands in SA (apart from the two contributions from Seven 14, the Boston-based band who recently toured SA).
Although many of the bands on this album are relatively unknown, it is surely just a matter of time before some of these names begin to break through. Many of the current SA sub-genres are represented here by tracks like Pyramid Tongue's 'Incision' (pop rock), Track 4's 'Drop 'n Roll' (hip-hop hard rock with a twist), What Now?'s 'Drive In' (punk), Springcan's 'Ugly' (grunge), Happy 420's 'Awakening' (alternate ragga) and Sutherland's 'Friars' (metal). Metallica and Cypress Hill influences shine through on songs like 'Modest' by Soil 7t7 and 'Bitter Endings' by Sacrifist. There are also worthy contributions from The AK Massive ('Bob'), the moody LILO's 'Perfect 10', Lance Goldman and Reptile's 'Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time', Idle Minds' ('Fragile'), and Arcana XXII with 'Breathing In Me'.
Special mention for Forest Moon's 'Dinosaur', Joe Public's frantic version of The Beatles' 'Day Tripper', and SAmp3.com cult favourite, Janie Jones, doing 'GFY', (described by her manager as "a 16-year-old punk chick beating the sh*t out of a distortion-heavy Fender Strat while telling some poor sap to go f*ck himself and forget about being in a band with her"). Just about sums up the spirit of this brave release.
'Wicked Demos' is available (initially) as a limited edition CD.
If you would like to order a copy of the 'Wicked Demos' CD (and at the same time become eligible to win a copy in our 'Wicked Demos' give-away), then please email: mailto:email@example.com?subject=wickeddemos
Thanks to the Wicked Rock label who made some copies available to the Digest as prizes.
LISTEN A number of the tracks mentioned above can be downloaded at http://www.SAmp3.com/wickedrock.html
PIET BOTHA - 'DIE MAMBA' (RHYTHM)
16 June 2003 As with Van Morrison (...relax), Piet Botha is an acquired taste, either his songs sound like the same chords and tune over and over again, or he's simply a musical genius, cut after cut. If you want to decide for yourself, then 'Die Mamba', Piet's new album of (almost) all originals is regarded by his devotees as one of his best, alongside his classic '`n Suitcase Vol Winter'.
For these 14 songs Piet Botha worked with a more progressive producer, Lani van der Walt (Not My Dog), at Wolmer Studios. He was looking to give this new set of songs, and the whole album, an edgier feel to match some of his most harrowing lyrics in ages. As a result, 'Die Mamba' is an intense and intelligent piece of work, mixing sparks and flashes of South African imagery, border war memories, and love stories, into that acoustic ballad Jack Hammer style. All that is supplemented by saxophones, some cello, mandolin and even some banjo, adding to the deep emotion in all these songs. (SS)
'n Suitcase Vol Winter (1997)*****
Jan Skopgraaf (1999)****
Bootleg (live) (2001)****
Die Hits (2001)****
Die Mamba (2003)*****
READ, LISTEN & BUY http://www.PietBotha.com
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