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cdcover 'PICTURE PERFECT' - PEREZ [SOVEREIGN]

15 April 2002 A quick update: These four band members - Nic Olson (guitars, vocals), Matt Wilkenson (guitars, vocals), Adam Connor (bass, vocals) and Mike Goodard (drums, vocals) - split from other groups, formed Perez, and made their live debut at Splashy Fen 2001, almost a year ago. 'Wasted Out' became an early anthem before 5FM and the Powerzone website picked up on the band, beginning an extended period of gigs, airplay and chart success. The band played a special Durban hometown concert, followed by acclaimed appearances at the Grahamstown Festival and OppiKoppi, a short coastal tour, and a slot on the 5FM Birthday Bash bill. To top it off, Perez then ended the year headlining the 5FM Summer Tour. Both the band's first two singles, 'Wasted Out' and 'Picture Perfect' reached number 1 on 5FM's 'High Five At 5' charts.

So Perez have gained themselves a reputation as a very striking live band, all bursting energy and rock moves, but that's not an easy quality to capture on a studio album. Ex-Squeal man David Birch got the production nod and we now have 'Picture Perfect', the resulting debut album on the Sovereign label. The advance word is that Perez are the next big SA rock thing so we need to separate the hype from the hip as we check out this 11-track offering.

Thankfully, 'Picture Perfect' is an extremely likeable and impressive piece of work, and Perez have an attractive rock sound with two main vocalists, lots of stirring guitar, and a rock-solid rhythm section. The two opening tracks, 'Blow Me' and 'Come Down' are clear signals of Perez's muscular intent and songwriting skills. 'Blow Me', which is built around a speeded-up 'Baba O'Reilly' riff, illustrates how well this band have forged their own rock sound and it confidently hits all the right opening buttons. 'Picture Perfect', the band's big album-launching single, again sounds like a classic rock track, but lets itself down with an overuse of the title hook.

'Yellow Lie' and 'Wasted Out' add strength and substance to the middle of the album, and 'Picture Perfect' closes with another great double header of 'Dreams and Troubles' and 'Breathe Me Down'. The latter, an effective use of a contrasting soft acoustic verse with a loud chorus, is listed as a bonus track, but still manages to show up similar-styled but weaker tracks like 'Detour', 'Marina', and 'Don't Wait For Darkness'.

First albums are not easy to make (or review!), but this debut effort from Perez is a high-quality rock album that stands up confidently to any debut released in South Africa over the past decade. Perez have (to quote certain "judges") the songs, the sound, the look, and are therefore (with the "benefit of the doubt") strong contenders for the title of SA's newest 'Rock Idols'. (SS)

Perez
http://www.rock.co.za/legends/2000plus/perez.html

 

cdcover 'NEW WORLD INSIDE' - NEW WORLD INSIDE [Indie]

8 April 2002 We're going to have a special anniversary this year, when the Pistol's 'God Save The Queen' single gets re-released to commemorate 25 years since it invisibly topped the British singles charts during the Queen's Jubilee week. This year sees Queen Elizabeth celebrating 50 years on the throne, and Johnny and the lads will be there to share the moment, again. Since those days, punk rock has never really gone away. It keeps resurfacing wherever young, bored and edgy kids need some hard and fast (and short) songs to soundtrack their lives, and something dangerous and cool to move to. You'll also hear these punk songs playing over 'Jackass' stunts, and on skating and surf videos, giving this vital rock genre continued credibility and new fans.

New World Inside are a tight "emotional" punk quartet from Cape Town who have just released their debut 7-track EP on the back of a year of gigging and some strong advance publicity and press. They recently won the University of Stellenbosch 'Battle of the Bands' competition, and are currently chewing up all their opposition on the local thrash/bash/Clash circuit. This self-titled EP gets the punk formula down pat - rushing drums, churning bass, twin-squealing guitars, explosion, sudden stop, speedy tune with sneery voice singing about life and girls and then, two minutes and 22 seconds later, that's it. And all with a touch of humour, reminicent of NOFX, Green Day, the bands on the Fat Wreck label, and Scabby Annie, the wild SA trio from a few years back.

The band is Hunter Kennedy (v.g), Francois Badenhorst (v.b), Raffael Rueckert (v.g), and Gerald van Wyk (d) and credit to them for a decent opening shot. None of the earlier songs really stick out, besides 'Forget About Me', 'Let's Skip Class', and 'Song In A'. But hidden away towards the end is a little punk-pop gem called 'Since I Met You', which signposts something beyond the status quo with its bursts of energy and classic lyrics ("No more lonely nights, no more prison fights, no more prostitutes, no more destitute, things are much better since I met you"). A tight and tough debut, indicating a lot of potential and plenty of confidence. (SS)

New World Inside
http://www.rock.co.za/legends/2000plus/new_world_inside.html

 

cdcover 'KOMBUIS MUSIEK' - VARIOUS ARTISTS [Fresh]

25 March 2002 Isn't it much nicer these days that artists can get to hear their own tribute albums? (the three remaining members of the Doors even played on theirs!). Here the only contribution to this album by the tributee is a few snatches of dialogue and guitar samples from his previous work. But this collection of Koos Kombuis songs, as interpreted by other SA artists, had the KK seal of approval before Gary Herselman and Matthew van der Want began this project. It was originally planned as a series of hip hop interpretations of some of Koos' songs and the two believed that Koos wasn't taking them seriously, but he gave his blessing anyway, "pleased that at least we f**ken asked him". And the "Baard van Gordon's Baai" likes the results too - "...dis a collectors item wat ek trots sal wees om in my huis te h", he confirms on the sleeve.

Gary Herselman's association with Koos goes back to their co-involvement on the 'Velvry' tour, when Koos was then opening all those shows as Andre le Toit, just before he "gemorphed" into his new Koos Kombuis identity. As 'Piet Pers', Herselman played bass for the Gereformeerde Blues Band, and as 'Bokkie Buys' contributed bass to the 'Niemandsland' album. A conversation between Herselman and Matthew van der Want (also a longtime Kombuis devotee) eventually became a reality as the two produced, engineered and played all the instruments on almost all these tracks, with a stream of SA artists lining up to add vocals and ideas to the diverse arrangements.

The bulk of these 12 songs are drawn from the two epic albums 'Niemandsland' and 'Elke Boemelaar Se Droom', both released on CD in 1994. Frank Opperman's opening version of the usually rocking 'Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie' gets deep into the soul of the song with his sensitive vocal over a restrained drum & bass beat. Michael Simpson gives 'Paranoia' a full kwaito make-over, Tonia Selley sings a straight-forward, soundtracky and utterly-gorgeous version of the classic 'Onder In My Whiskeyglas', and Liela Groenewald sings Koos' ode to his long-missed domestic servant 'Kytie' with a dour tone over a beaty Mbaqanga backing. Q-Zoo then tackle 'Lisa se Klavier' and, although it's a sweet and decent enough version, it somehow fails to catch the emotion in this often-covered song.

The rest of the songs are from other KK albums and sources - 'Jive Baby Jive' by Barbora Tellinger is a reworking of an old KK demo, 'Imagine Ek En Jy' was located on a rare KK home tape/bootleg by Paul Riekert and given some special treatment. Herselman and Van der Want (here credited as 'Streak and Tweak') also put together the dancey house opus, 'Diep Huis Kombuis'. Afrikaans "geraas-masters", Not My Dog tear 'Verslaaf' to pieces in the grand old "Ek is veslaaaaaaf op rok en rol" tradition. On 'Autobank Vastrap', Gary Herselman uses a 'Da Da Da' Casio beat to close the album off on a typically weird note.

The really great tribute albums are rarer than a Randall Abraham compliment, and 'Kombuis Musiek', as with most tribute albums, lands up being a respectful and appropriate but quite strange mixture that is recommended mostly to all Koos Kombuis fans. But if you want to find out what all the fuss is about, then start with those two albums from 1994 or buy yourself 'Mona Lisa'. (SS)

Koos Kombuis CDs and books are available from One World
http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321

Editor's note: Koos Kombuis has pointed out that 'Kombuis Musiek' is the fourth consecutive compilation album to be released following the two 'best of' collections ('Mona Lisa: Die Mooiste Love Songs Van Koos Kombuis' and 'Koos Kombuis Greatest Hits') and the 'Blou Kombuis' live album, and is concerned that "...people might start wondering if I ever write new stuff" But he assured the Digest that "...you can let them know there's a big surprise coming later this year!"

Koos Kombuis
http://www.rock.co.za/legends/kooskombuis

 

cdcover 'GLORY GLORY' - DOLLY ROCKERS [Huh? Records)

11 March 2002 Taking their name from an obscure Syd Barrett song from 1970, The Dolly Rockers new release 'Glory Glory', doesn't really sound like Syd (or Pink Floyd), but that spirit of experimentation is echoed (pun intended) here.

Best described as Dark-Pop, this CD is growing on me after each listen. Lead singer Greg Donnelly has a distinctive and pleasant voice, which is perfectly suited to this style of music (or maybe the music chose him?). This album, released 7 years after their debut (which included 'The Book I Write'), features mainly slowly picked electric guitars (not a riff in sight), gentle drums, subtle bass and intriguing lyrics - so it's true then; quiet is the new loud.

Favourite tracks so far (and I'm sure there will be more): 'Sleepytown', 'Race past the sun' and 'Change The World'. (BC)

Dolly Rockers

Available at http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321

 

cdcover 'THE FOUNTAIN' - THE AWAKENING [Intervention Arts]

25 February 2002 I first heard the song 'Martyr' on Barney Simon's show one night on 5FM, and I thought to myself "nice new David Bowie song". When I found out it was actually Ashton Nyte's alter-ego band The Awakening, I thought "hmmm, Bowie but better..."

'Martyr' is an uptempo and bouncy song (or as bouncy as a Goth song can be), with wonderful piano and a catchy chorus ("perfect martyr for me, perfect martyr for you..."). Ashton's deep and dark voice even manages to soar in places. I was hooked and soon had my hands on 'The Fountain' 7-track CD.

I'm not a great Goth fan (its the clothes, I think), but besides the superb 'Martyr', this CD also has some other great moments. 'The New Renaissance', the slow and powerful 'Asrya' and the Depravity Remix of the title track, with its Mike Garson-type manic piano, are all outstanding. There is also a live piano version of 'Amethyst' which was a track on the 'The Fourth Seal Of Zeen' CD released about a year ago. If your taste runs towards The Mission, No Friends Of Harry, Sisters Of Mercy and David Bowie (his voice, more than his music) then The Awakening is definitely for you. Ashton implores us to "fly the flag of the new Renaissance" and we have no reason to doubt his sincerity. (BC)

The Awakening

'The Fountain' is available from One World http://www.oneworld.co.za

 

cdcover 'HYPNOTISM' - FOUR OUNCE FREEDOM [Intervention Arts]

18 February 2002 The use of some old guys' droning voices (off a scratchy vinyl) at the beginning and end of this album, gives 'Hypnotism' a quasi-concept feel, like you're being hypnotised at the beginning of the album, and woken up at the end (feeling terrific, of course!). But the hard-edged rap-metal on 'Hypnotism' would rouse anyone from a mesmerised stupor pretty quickly, and those spoken bookends eventually detract from an otherwise impressive debut {thank goodness for the CD skip function, hey? - ed}.

Four Ounce Freedom are a Pretoria band who sound comfortable and confident with their broad grasp of contemporary metal rock, yet these original songs all have a specific FOF sound. Credit for that to Dino Giovanni's big, brazen vocals, Illimar Neitz's flashing guitar and a bone-crunching backing from Janard Booijse (bass) and Wouter Kirstein (drums).

The opening monologue eventually gives way to the thundering 'Shift', which leads immediately into the maelstrom that is 'Walk Away' (and you may be tempted to at this point). But 'Today' is a coiled spring of a blues-rock ballad that briefly shows the band's "softer" side before crashing songs like 'Scream', 'Blame', and the closing, wired, groans-enhanced 'Are You Sex', bring us hurtling back to the calming voice of that elderly hypnotist. 'Hypnotism' proves that SA rock bands can rock with the best without sounding like the rest. Nod your head to this. (SS)

Available from One World
http://www.oneworld.co.za

 

cdcover 'COMMUNATE' - STARSKII [Indie]

28 January 2002 "Quiet is the new loud" was one of the catch phrases that filtered through from the UK last year. It is the title of an album by the Kings Of Convenience, one of the highly touted exponents of this evolving gentle, almost deliberately twee, musical style. That Norwegian duo found a local ally in the UK duo Turin Brakes, whose 'The Optimist LP' took this "sweetly-sung folk-rock with an edge" to new heights. To that exclusive little list we could now add the name Starskii.

With 'Communate', this new SA duo seem to have taken that catch phrase to heart, combined the best bits of those two excellent albums as a starting point, and produced a fresh, original and quite excellent debut.

'Communate' is only 48 minutes long, but crams enough unfolding ideas, diverse melodies, perceptive lyrics and sheer invention into its 12 songs to make it almost feel timeless, like an afternoon nap. The seven songs that make up 'Part 1' of 'Communate', are a musical commentary on a day in the life of these ex-Amershamers (Adam Lomas and Nathan Waywell).

It starts with the woozy bass, detached vocals and seagulls of 'Monday Madness', which is followed by the meandering and wordy 'Too Much', a delicate ballad that begins with a description of a road rage incident but smoothly relaxes after that, with its soothing "There's too-oo much tension" chorus.

If you've never heard drum 'n bass folk songs before, then Starskii will update and impress you with the songs 'Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam' (boasting one of the many gorgeous piano pieces on this album), the waltzy 'An Evening With Absalom', and 'The Battle Of Bethlehem'. 'The Beautiful Thing', which ends 'Part 1', ups the general tempo by using a typical Depeche Mode synth crunchiness to surround the vocals.

The five songs of 'Part 2' take us into after-hours territory, beginning with the breathy, ambient instrumental 'First Term', which leads straight into 'Ecstacy', the band's speedier percussion-driven chill-out anthem. Then there's the upliftingly happy folk song called 'The Boy Who Flew Too High', and 'Temporarily Unbelievable', which melds a simple guitar strum with a fuzzy bass hum as a backdrop to the existential "why?" of its lyrics. The album's closer, and first single, is 'Did You See It Coming?', which is as close as this album gets to a conventional song with its chanted title and grinding guitars.

Credit to "visual director" Brandon Barnard for the album's classy reddish cardboard sleeve, and all-round design, that adds much to the album's overall feel. 'Communate' is a head album, and ahead of its time in many ways; and it will wrap itself around you like a warm duvet, if you let it. (8) (SS)

Buy this CD from One World http://www.oneworld.co.za/

 

cdcover 'DRAADLOOS VOLUME 1' - VARI-OUS [EMI]

21 January 2002 "Draadloos" could mean either "unplugged" or "wireless" (what my grandfather used to call a radio). However, this compilation rocks way too hard to be termed "unplugged" and I'd be very surprised if many of these tracks have ever been played on national radio. Judging by the "Kyknet" logo on the cover, I believe "Draadloos" in this instance refers to the TV programme on DSTV.

This CD, compiled by Johan Scott, covers a wide spectrum of styles and years. It covers similar ground to the 2 'Alternatief Op Sy Beste' compilations, and though many of the same artists are featured, there are no tracks that are repeated from those 2 excellent compilations.

'Draadloos' has humour, songs about lost love, songs about love that won't get lost, funky songs, industrial rock, rap, blues, punk, bushrock, folk, and gospel. Whew!

The humour comes in the form of the tongue-in-cheek tribute to the early days of rock and roll with 1982's 'Budgie and the Jets' by David Kramer. Slightly more subtle humour can be found in Piet Botha's uptempo blues boogie work-out 'Blues Vir Louise' from 'Jan Skopgraaf', also on his recent 'Die Hits' compilation. "Vir jou is ek bang, banger as 'n pofadder, Louise".

'Lisa se Klavier' is one of Koos Kombuis' most well-known songs, and the version here features the superb violin playing of Koos's cousin. The song originally appeared on the 'Elke Boemelaar se Droom' CD in 1994, but Koos says he can't remember the violinist's first name. "I know his surname, though." says Koos. "He is a Vermaak. His older brother, who is better known to me, is Chris, who later became producer of my CD 'Madiba Bay'. A very talented family."

Theuns Jordaan has a deep emotive voice and this comes strongly to the fore on 'Hakieshart', a funky little rock tune. Other tracks include Valiant Swart's 'Die Mystic Boer', Johannes Kerkorrel's rocking 'Daar Is Geen', the bushrock reggae sounds of Anton Goosen's 'Dancer' (sung in English, ekshually), Brasse Vannie Kaap's 'Potjiekos' (not sure how to describe their sound! BoereRap, maybe?) and Battery 9's industrial 'Blaas Hom'. There are also songs from Karen Zoid, Akkedis & Spinnekop.

Right at the end of this CD we find 2 great, though completely different, tracks. Wouter van de Venter rocks with the sexually-charged 'Meneer Geweer' with its raw guitar solo. "Gee my jou geweer, meneer". And the last track is 'Ryg My Lippe Toe' from a new name to me, Reana. Atmospheric sounds and floating vocals from this newcomer (she shared the Geraas "best newcomer" award with Karen Zoid last year and her self-titled album won the Geraas Award for Best Gospel album).

'Draadloos' is boldly sub-titled "Volume 1"... does that mean there will be more CDs like this? Yes, please! (BC)

Draadloos

Buy this CD from One World http://www.oneworld.co.za

 

cdcover 'HERO OF HEROES' - BRIAN FINCH [3eM]

14 January 2002 Its been a long, long, (and possibly lonely) time since Brian Finch's first solo album 'Bringing Back The Good Times' in 1974. Since then Brian has appeared on many albums, most notably with Kenny (aka Ken E) Henson as Finch & Henson, a musical duo who were so much more than just SA's answer to Loggins & Messina.

'Hero For Heroes' is the first new album of 2002 that I've heard and is already a candidate for album of the year. Brian's rich, deep voice wraps itself around your soul as he sings songs about living, leaving & loving.

The title track opens the album with a soaring folk-rock song about heroes; "hero of heroes ride high, hero of heroes never die".

'Orang Otang', a new reworking of the Ramsay Mackay-penned classic recorded by Hawk, Margaret Singana, Harambee and others, features the nDloko (Castrol oil can violin) of John Gcaba. Mary-Ellen Blackman's harmony vocals also add a wonderful dimension to this song.

'I'll Remember You' finds Brian Finch in a JJ Cale mood and his guitar-picking is stunning as he sings 'I'll remember you till the day that I die". Alan Judd's organ floats and flows in the background.

Brian encourages us to dance in the bouncy afropop sounds of 'Dance' and he tells us about his love for his daughter in the beautiful (but not soppy) 'Tansy' and then he's off to see his brother (Graham) in 'South Carolina'. 'So Much Younger' has a Dire Straits sort-of-feel while 'Tell Me' is a pleasant little country pop rock song (and the country in this case seems to be Mexico).

'Got To Be Strong' is an aching love song not at all political nor religious, but it reminds me strongly of Roger Lucey and Don Francisco. Stunning piano work from Alan Judd and Brian's vocals are really imploring as he sings "we've got to be strong".

'Freedom/ Motherless Child' is the song which Richie Havens performed at the original 'Woodstock' in 1969 (remember that tapping sandal in the beginning of the movie?). Dan Chiorboli hits a variety of percussive thingies on this track as Brian's voice and guitar drive it along. Powerful.

Brian's tongue is planted firmly in his cheek in the live-in-the-studio 'Positively No Bob Dylan'. "I'll play anything from Creedence and Led Zeppelin, but please don't ask me to play any Bob Dylan". A groupie ("not as freaky as the rest") eventually convinces him to break down and sing a Bob song.

'Hero of Heroes' is an album about moving... it moves from "his open sea & sky SAfrican roots to his American influenced country rock boots"... and it moves the feet, the heart, the mind and the soul. Fly on Brian, fly on... (BC)

Brian Finch
http://www.rock.co.za/files/finch_henson.html

 
 
This and any other SA CD can be ordered online at One World, the best SA CD store on the pla-Net.

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Lots of SA CDs to buy online at One World.

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