Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Review: Two Door Cinema Club (Beacon)

A review I did of Two Door Cinema Club's second album, Beacon, for Perdeby. 
Published on 17 September 2012. 

When Two Door Cinema Club exploded onto the indie circuit with the release of their debut album, Tourist History, geeks around the globe rejoiced triumphantly. Suddenly, it was cool to be a gawky, pasty-legged teenager donning a woolly jersey. And, better yet, the band’s guitar-laced synth pop became even cooler. Now, after two years of whirlwind touring and securing somewhat of a cult following along the way, the cherub-faced Irish trio have released their highly anticipated second studio album, Beacon.
If it’s Two Door Cinema Club’s addictive sing-along choruses and frenetic guitar riffs that you fell in love with the first time around, then you will be pleased that the band’s sound remains largely unchanged, except of course for U2 producer Jacknife Lee working his magic to deliver a more polished body of work.
Prominent electronics underpin a playful, repetitive guitar riff in “Wake Up”, a song narrating a dream. “Goodnight, daylight / I won’t remember you for long,” sings lead singer Alex Trimble sluggishly, as if to emphasise that we are very much a part of someone’s stray into slumber.
“The World is Watching” is a wispy love song in which English songstress Valentina contributes her pure, delicate voice, while “Sun” is a slower, piano-led number which refreshingly includes a brass section midway through the track. But it is on “Sleep Alone” that all these elements seem to come to a head in an epic battle for your attention. The ear-throbbing cacophony that ensues proves that less sometimes really is more.
Two Door Cinema Club are well aware of the ingredients needed to produce flop-proof, unwittingly catchy tunes, and they are making the most of this tried and tested recipe. By doing little to veer away from it, the songs that make up Beacon risk melting into one indistinguishable track. One area, however, that the band does experiment with, is their lyrical content. The inevitable isolation that arises from constantly being on tour is explored in many of the tracks on the album. “I don’t know where I am going to rest my head tonight,” sings Trimble on “Next Year”, while on “Settle”, he declares, “This isn’t home / This isn’t home / I couldn’t feel more alone.”

While Two Door Cinema Club avoid suffering the fatal second album slump, Beacon is not an album which tells the story of musical progression. The band chooses to stick with what is familiar to them and their audiences, which, while not being incredibly exciting, is not necessarily a bad thing. You can’t help but wonder that only when Two Door Cinema Club finally start taking a gamble, will they hit jackpot and reach their full potential.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The modern day equivalent. Just as in love.

The modern day equivalent? Kissing in front of a graffiti-adorned wall with a drink and cigarette in hand. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Humans of New York

Humans of New York is a project undertaken by Brandon Stanton in 2010. He came up with the idea of creating a photographic census of New York by taking pictures of its wacky and wonderful inhabitants. "Somewhere along the way, Humans of New York began to take on a much different character.  I started collecting quotes and short stories from the people I met, and began including these snippets alongside the photographs," says Stanton on his website. 

I love this idea of chronicling every day, ordinary people. I've always found them and their stories more way fascinating than the celeb news that we are bombarded with daily.  There are so many beautiful street portraits on Humans of New York's website. This is but a pin prick, so go give the rest of them a squiz and make sure that you read the little story under each photo.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Review: Lucy Kruger (Cut Those Strings)

Published in Perdeby on 10 September 2012.

“So dance dance little puppet to the rhythm of their shallow heart beat and remember / It’s catchy phrases that sell,” croons Lucy Kruger soothingly in the chorus of “Catchy Phrases”, the opening song on her debut album Cut Those Strings. “If you could show me how to cut those strings / If you could teach me how to really sing,” she reflects at the end of the track, capturing her struggle to make it in the music industry without selling her soul to the seductive devil of commercialism. And that’s what makes Kruger distinctive. She cuts the stifling strings of convention to produce a refreshing, eleven-track album that boasts collaborations with some of South Africa’s most illustrious musos such as Schalk Joubert, Inge Beckmann and Albert Frost.
The newcomer’s sound can be described as indie folk with a dollop of rock but the task of genre-allocating seems trivial, especially on Cut Those Strings, where the spotlight shines directly on Kruger’s smooth, velvety voice and honest, intensely personal lyrics.
Lark and Beast frontwoman Inge Beckmann contributes her signature hypnotic wail to “I’ll Sing For You”. The sound of the mesmeric sirens joining forces on the track makes it difficult not to picture the two sitting on a rocky coast, luring in their listeners one by one.
“Fired Up” is a more up-tempo and edgy song with Kruger belting and growling the lyrics in a way that echoes KT Tunstall’s organic vocal strength. The track also has a slightly bluesy feel to it, with the inclusion of one of Albert Frost’s spine-tingling guitar twangs.
The chilling acoustic number “Heart of Stone” starts off with the sweet, affable sound of the guitar which quietly becomes more eerie and ominous. “Going along / Singing this song / Banging out the words like a newborn drum,” sings Kruger rhythmically on the track, as if to emulate the drums she is speaking about.
It is quite amazing to conceive what the fledgling musician has achieved in such a short space of time, having only graduated from Rhodes University last year. If Cut Those Strings is anything to go by, Kruger will have no problem in swiftly developing a plumage that many musicians can only yearn for.

RATING: 7/10

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Plastics- Best Pretenders

Retro indie rockers The Plastics have released their second single, 'Best Pretenders', off their second album, Pyramid, which will be released in October. They sure know how to make some damn catchy tunes.

Review: Ashtray Electric (WTF)

Here's my review of the new Ashtray Electric EP, WTF. My only criticism, I think, is that it is too short. Published in Perdeby on 10 September 2012. 

When SAMA-nominated indie rockers Ashtray Electric decided to release their EP, WTF, they followed a rather atypical route. To begin with, the band produced, recorded, engineered and mixed their fourth offering themselves. They then used the increasingly popular method of fan-sourcing to find a designer for the album cover, which features an ill-fated white rodent being drenched in water. Ashtray Electric also encouraged fans to sign up for the album, which they received in their inbox for free as a little digital gift when WTF was released. The result of these unconventional ways is a concise, tightly produced array of intimate tracks which form the B-side to their second full length album, Measured in Falls.
WTF opens with the mournful wail of the distorted guitar on “Lost”, the eerie first song on the album. “I feel lost in the joy / It’s too quick to enjoy,” sings lead singer Andre Pienaar woefully. This sad, otherworldly feeling created in the introduction culminates in what sounds like Pienaar’s voice exploding into an inescapable abyss.
The pace of the album quickens on “One”, a lively, head-bobbing, shoulder-grooving track complete with the sound of a sharp, cracking whip before the chorus. It makes way for “Looper”, the gem amongst the jewels that make up the treasure chest that is WTF. The song is like a piece of performance poetry, with Pienaar reciting the lyrics, thus allowing his natural stutter to take centre stage against a musical backdrop. It starts off with staccato-like drums that echo Pienaar’s erratic flow of speech which follows. The track is a brave, innovative and personal addition to the album.
“DJ” is a stripped-down, minimalistic song which showcases only Pienaar’s voice and the keyboard. With lyrics such as “Walked into the club tonight and I stopped and stared and I worked my way up to your thigh / You are my weakness”, this is the raw and sexy Ashtray Electric fans are familiar with.
The quick pounding of the drums on “Go” introduces the final track on the album. The song is like a predator on the hunt in a threatening jungle, with Pienaar’s vocals inciting the attack.
“I’m gonna go,” he repeatedly pants to build up the climax, a burst of sound which can leave Ashtray Electric licking their lips smugly, knowing that “Go”, like the rest of WTF, has tactically ensnared the listener.

RATING: 9/10

Monday, 10 September 2012

Boots & beads

Themba. He's in my Zulu class. He also buys and sells vintage clothing. And he likes posing. Ha.  

Check out his Facebook page here.

Brown leather & candy stripes

Clement. Again. Think I'm going to make this a weekly thing.

CocoRosie's freak folk

Have you ever heard about freak folk? Nah, me neither. According to good ol' Wikipedia, freak folk  "draws from traditional folk music and uses mainly acoustic instrumentation, but introduces elements of avant-garde music, baroque pop and psychedelic folk, often featuring uncommon sounds, themes, and vocal styles."

Now that we have the weird genre thing sorted out, let me tell you about the even weirder CocoRosie, an experimental freak folk duo from the States. They combine pop, blues, opera, electronica and hip hop to create a sound quite unlike anything I have ever heard before. Admittedly,  I may be slightly addicted. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

If you want to get your hands on more CocoRosie, visit their Myspace page.

Fill the Hole

 I caught up with Inge Beckmann and Sasha Raghini at Oppikoppi for a little chat about Beast, who, by the way, delivered a knock-out performance at the festival on the Thursday night. 

They don't have any music videos out yet, but I've included a live recording of one of their rehearsals at Kill City Blues in Cape Town. 

PHOTO: Henno Kruger

You’ve survived day one of Oppikoppi. What survival tip would you give to festival goers?
Inge: Take a nap.
Sasha: Bring some wet wipes. Your face gets dirty. Sun cream, shorts, a time machine.
Inge: You need a sense of humour in the dust.
Sasha: Oh, a dust mask is very important.

How did the collaboration of Beast come about?
Sasha: Well, there’s two stories in a way. One of them is that Louis and Rian were just chatting, and they were like, “Hey, why don’t we start a band with two basses?” They approached me because we all know each other from Kill City Blues, the rehearsal studio. I started jamming with them and then we were like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get Inge on vocals?” and we were like, “Let’s try, let’s try!” and then she accepted and the rest is history. A very short history.

To what extent is the music you are making as Beast influenced by the other bands you guys are in?
Inge: I don’t think it sounds like any of the other bands we are in.
Sasha: I think the only influence is that we are all musicians so we have our core influences of artists that we respect but it’s not really the same at all.

Why did you decide to use the two bass guitars instead of the standard guitar and bass?
Inge: That was Rian and Louis, really. They both play bass. Rian plays rhythm and Louis plays lead. Louis plays slightly higher ‒ he’s got a bit of a shorter bass which he plays through a guitar amp.

Do you think being in bands that are already quite well-established has made it easier to start off as Beast?
Inge: I think in a sense, definitely. If you are already in the circuit, in a semi-noted project, people follow you and like you, then the chances of them listening to you are higher.
Sasha: Also, being in other bands you get to learn the mistakes that other bands make as well. Like the ones bands make in the beginning, you get to learn quite fast, you know?

Do you guys have any plans to record an album any time soon?
Sasha: Ja, we’re recording in about three weeks. An EP.
Inge: We’re very excited about that.
Sasha: It’s about five or six songs.

Do you have a planned release date?
Sasha: Not yet.
Inge: Well, it will be nice to do it before the end of the year. That would be great.
Sasha: We’re excited to get it out.

What acts are you looking forward to seeing here at Oppikoppi?
Inge: I’m going to miss all the international acts, which sucks, but I’m definitely going to check out P.H.fat tonight and Haezer. Ja, a little bit of dance.
Sasha: Jeremy Loops. Diplo as well.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Honey Badger Bistro. Again.

I had a quinoa burger at Honey Badger Bistro this week. It was so good that it almost (but not quite) made up for how long it took to make. I still recommend going to eat there though. It's delicious. Also, they have this hanging on the wall. I want it.

Bag. Broke.

Die Skim Grot is the worst thing that could happen to my bank account right now. I brought this vintage bag from there on Monday. I couldn't say no to the wings, they were begging to be a part of my wardrobe They have a small, but amazing selection of vintage clothes and handbags (and lots of other cool bits and bobs), if any of you are looking for a vintage shop in P-Town. They are few and far in between. 

You can find Die Skim Grot at 1110 Pretorius Street, right next to my favourite Honey Badger Bistro.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bombay Show Pig- Timewaster (Official Video)

Remember Bombay Show Pig (I previously raved about them here)? Well, today the lovely Dutch duo released their music video for 'Timewaster', and it features footage from their tour to South Africa.

 I've also included the interview I did with Linda and Mathius at Oppikoppi for Perdeby.

Dearest Bombay Show Pig, come visit us again soon, ok?

You guys have played a couple of shows now in South Africa. What has the tour been like so far?
Linda: Awesome. For me it’s the first time in South Africa. [Mathias] has actually been here before – [he has] also played Oppikoppi with another band. So I think it’s kind of a different experience for each of us and also a new one because it’s different for you (Mathias) now, right?
 Mathias: Yeah, yeah, we’re depending on people here a little more. Our budget is, like, really small so we have to ask everybody to help us out and so this way we meet a lot of people over here. It’s like a very personal view of South Africa. So that’s a lot different to the last time I was here. But that’s really good and I like this way a lot better than the other way.
Linda: And Oppikoppi is already a great dessert. We haven’t even played yet and I think it’s going to be awesome, the vibes going to be amazing.

How has the response been to your music over the tour?
Linda: Awesome. We sold so many CDs [that] we have no more CDs left so we had some extra flown in. We’ve been at 5FM and all kinds of radio stations and, yeah, they’re playing our music. So for us it’s been very successful. Even now when we’re walking [through] the festival we’re getting, “Woo! Bombay Show Pig!” and we’re here for the first time so this is insane, it’s awesome.

How does performing in South Africa compare to performing back home in the Netherlands?
Mathias: All the venues here are like a bar first and then a music venue second. Back home you have a lot of music venues, so people come out because they want to see you and over here you still have an element of surprise because people are going there to drink and if the band is nice they’ll stick around. If not, they’ll go away again. It’s a bit more harsh than back home. It keeps you on your toes.

How do you think changing from a trio to a duo has changed your music?
Mathias: I think our music is really pure. We have a lot more energy as a duo than when there were three of us. It feels more focused in a way when you’re playing as a duo.
Linda: And it’s really handy that you just have to call or text one person to get where you’re going.
Mathias: We toured South Africa in a really small car and we fit everything in.

What surprised you about your visit to South Africa?
 Linda: How cold it can get at night. [Laughs] Back home it’s summer right now and here it’s winter, so I was like, “Oh, I’m packing all my short skirts,” and then I was like, “Ah!” But today was nice. But musically we saw a few cool bands we played with and we’re still listening to this CD of this guy we met in Johannesburg.
Mathias: I’ve never been to Cape Town before. So last time I was around Joburg and Pretoria. But this time we went to Cape Town and that’s like a whole different world. So now my whole vision of South Africa has been flipped around again. I liked it before but now I see how diverse it is.

We heard you were making a music video from footage of your South African tour.
Linda: Yeah, actually one of our songs is going to be released when we get back and we’re also going to [release] it here for the radio stations. So we thought it would be fun if we could use all of the gig footage and also this footage (footage of interviews and backstage). Yeah, we’re going to make a video out of it. It’s a cheap and fast way but also like a goodbye.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Black Keys- Little Black Submarines

Man, I love this band. That's all.

ISO: A Piece by Piece transformation

Interview with ISO (previously known as Isochronous) published in Perdeby on 27 August 2012. 

PHOTO: Sean Brand

They’ve gone from Isochronous to ISO, added a splash of electronic influences to their musical palette and are on the verge of releasing their fourth studio album, Piece By Piece, this September.
Perdeby caught up with the Pretoria-based band to talk about the change in their music, lessons learned while touring Germany and their more hands-on approach concerning the production of their latest album.

With your new album, Piece by Piece, you guys have really experimented with new sounds and styles. What made you decide to add electronic elements to your music?
It was merely a case of us taking our production to a new level. The electronic elements add more colour to the record and also, in terms of performance, electronic-based sounds are a lot more versatile when it comes to gigging.

Do you think you are taking a bit of a risk by changing a sound that people are already familiar with?
We don’t think it’s changed so much as it has advanced and become enhanced and enriched by the electronic elements.

Besides the addition of electronic elements, in what other ways does Piece by Piece differ from your previous albums?
The overall sound is a lot more dance- and groove-orientated. The song forms are also more mature and refined. The songs have solid structures and catchy melodies, whilst still incorporating our musicianship.

The recording, editing, mixing and post-production on Piece by Piece was done by Marko and Richard. How do you think this adds to the sound of the album?
Doing everything in-house meant we could get exactly what we wanted when it came to the overall sound. It meant a lot less back and forth between the studio and the band during the mixing stage so we could proceed fairly quickly and execute ideas with relative ease. We learnt a lot from this process and will only get better at it with time. Safe to say, we have never been this proud of a record before.

You recorded 23 brand new songs and then cut them down to ten, while developing a concept based on the selected tracks. Can you tell us a bit more about this concept?
The concept is fairly simple and revolves around taking things step-by-step and focusing on those steps in order to achieve a larger goal. Initially, we began with 23 pieces of a puzzle, but some of the colours didn’t fit in the bigger picture, so we had to discard them. They will be useful colours in another painting though.

What do you plan on doing with the songs that didn’t make it onto the album?
Perhaps we will release the material as B-sides or wait and refine some of the pieces for our next album. That’s the beauty of doing it this way: you have so much material to consider.

You are known for your powerhouse live performances. Do you find it difficult to translate that energy into your recorded material?
In the past we have but with this record, we feel confident that our live energy is translated extremely well.

You released your third album in October 2011. Why did you decide to push yourselves to release Piece by Piece so soon afterwards?
We had been playing the songs on Inscape for a couple of years prior to the release of that album, so once it was out and about we felt like we needed to start focusing on some new material. So although Inscape was a new album, it was old material to our fans. And so we felt a big desire to get something fresh on the table asap!

You recently did a series of DVD launches around the country. What has the response been like?
The response to the DVD launches has been fantastic. We put on four theatre performances with clips from the DVD and old and new material. The shows were incredible and we will definitely be aiming to do some again soon.

Having toured Germany, what lessons have you learned from that experience that you have applied to your music since returning?
There were many professional lessons we learned along the way that apply to many aspects of our brand. From our dress code to the way we move on stage. We also learnt a lot about performance and what we think a crowd enjoys and doesn’t enjoy. Overall, it was the greatest learning experience any band could hope for.

You guys opened for Two Door Cinema Club when they performed in Jo’burg a couple of months ago. What was that like?
Fantastic show! Great crowd and an electric atmosphere.

Are there any music videos in the pipeline for ISO?
We are looking to do a video for “No Fire”, the first single from the new record, and follow that up with at least two more from this album.

You guys have said that you are closing the first chapter of your career and opening a brand new one. What can we expect from Isochronous for the rest of 2012?
Firstly, you can expect to call us ISO as we are abbreviating our name to save every one a bit of time and effort. Also, the rest of the year will see us touring the country and promoting our new record with an incredible live show. We will be playing at a number of festivals later in the year and also plan to tour Europe earlier next year.

Smooth sailing for Goodnight Wembley!

I had a chat with Goodnight Wembey! when they performed at Arcade Empire as part of their Maiden Voyage Tour. This article was published in Perdeby on 3 September 2012.

PHOTO: JP Nathrass

When Taxi Violence frontman George van der Spuy and 7th Son’s Nic Gaud decided to embark on a side project together, they looked no further than what has become Cape Town’s creative hub, Kill City Blues, to carefully handpick the musos that would make up Goodnight Wembley! They added Alex Krause (of Dead Lucky fame), Gideon de Kock (Yes Sir!, Mister Machine and Like Knives) and Jean Labuschagne (Dead Lucky and Bilderberg Hotel) to the already impressive list of band members and Goodnight Wembley! was complete.
The band set sail up north on their Maiden Voyage Tour, where Perdeby sat down to chat with them before they performed at Arcade Empire on the last leg of their journey.
The huge amount of hype surrounding this retro rock and roll outfit since their inception has identified them as a supergroup, a label they aren’t very fond of. “It [creates] an expectation, to some people at least, and that was never our intention. It’s all about the music for us and we don’t really give a f**k about anything else. We’re just trying to make good music. People want to label it, I guess that’s inevitable, but we definitely don’t see ourselves as better than anyone or anything like that. We’re just happy to be playing good music together,” says Gaud.
Goodnight Wembley!’s first single, “Time Machine”, has garnered plenty of air play on radio stations across the country. “If I could go back, find a way to, wouldn’t have to reminisce,” laments Van der Spuy on the track. This nostalgic yearning for the music that Van der Spuy and Gaud grew up on inspired them to create a soundscape that can best be described as a rediscovery of old school grunge and rock and roll. “We felt it would be awesome if that whole movement came back in a way, even if we have to start it ourselves,” explains Van der Spuy.
But make no mistake in thinking that Goodnight Wembley!’s time machine is stuck in the era of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. “Our sound is rooted in that retro stuff but I definitely think we’ve got that sort of contemporary edge,” says bassist De Kock. “There’s definitely three different decades in our music. There’s the 70s Sabbath/Zeppelin influence, there’s the 90s grunge and then there’s the more contemporary element, the ‘now’ element on top of it. I think that’s the perfect way of describing what our music is,” adds Gaud.

PHOTO: JP Nathrass

This mishmash of different artists and musical styles has guaranteed that Goodnight Wembley! creates a larger-than-life stage performance. Their sets are akin to a shot of adrenalin: raw, rapid and thrilling.
“The core of this band is five guys who love playing music and so we really show that on stage. We really enjoy our performances, we enjoy playing our music so if people pick that up, it’s great [because] you feed off the crowd,” says Gaud gratefully.
The band has written ten songs, all of which will appear on the album that they are working on, along with four tracks that they are yet to write. “We’ve tracked the first few singles already and we’re going to release them every six to eight weeks to kind of buy some time. We’ll go into studio in October/November time. So the idea is really to stay on the road until then and get into studio, record the album and then we’ll release it beginning of next year,” says Gaud. Until then, Goodnight Wembley! plans on regularly releasing singles to whet the appetite of their fans. “It just puts an emphasis on our live shows and that’s our core, that’s what we’re about,” says De Kock.

PHOTO: JP Nathrass

With each member of the band being a part of an already well-established and successful act, you would think that making time for Goodnight Wembley! would be difficult. “With all our respective acts, they are all up and running and don’t require that day-to-day nurturing, so we have a lot of time for Goodnight Wembley! The timing was just right for a project like this,” says Gaud. Van der Spuy explains that with their other bands they are a lot more selective about playing big shows rather than small ones because they have done the ground work for each act. “That’s what’s great about this band. We can still build an audience as we go and play in smaller venues. It’s actually a lot of fun,” says Van der Spuy.
Their previous experience in the music industry has given Goodnight Wembley! enough foresight to launch the band successfully. “From day one, when we sat down starting to conceptualise this project, we laid out our first year before we had even written songs. We had our exact plan of attack, of how we are going to market this band, how we’re going to launch it and how we’re going to see out the first 12 months. If I think back to when we started 7th Son, it was just, ‘Let’s take it out of the garage!’ There was nowhere near as much foresight as what’s been put into this,” says Gaud.
This insight, coupled with a sound that is as refreshing as it is rooted in the past, has ensured that Goodnight Wembley!’s maiden voyage has been for the most part smooth sailing. As Gaud explains, “We’ve only been a band for a couple of months, we’ve only played a couple of shows so to be playing the shows that we have and with the people who come out, is f***ing cool.”

Review: December Streets (This Is)

This is a review I did of December Streets debut album, This Is, for Perdeby. It was published on 27 August 2012.

 “I know we are free, where we want to be. I know we are free, living enough to be,” chant indie rockers December Streets collectively in the climax of “Coming Home”, the first song off their debut album. With unabating energy, “Coming Home”, as well as the rest of the songs on This Is, speaks of carefree splendour and uninhibited fun. The album is composed of catchy, feel-good pop tunes that include scatterings of ska, courtesy of the jovial trumpet and saxophone which weave a gold thread through all 15 tracks.
December Streets are masters of creating tunes that radio listeners have no problem gobbling up enthusiastically. Uncomplicated melodies and easly remembered lyrics have ensured that tracks such as “Fire Through The Window” and “My Name” have enjoyed extensive airplay on 5FM as well as TuksFM. These tracks have been re-recorded on This Is along with new material.
The African-inspired “Wazungu” is probably the most experimental song, with December Streets sticking to their tried and tested formula for creating party anthems. “Sing, sing, sing with me,” commands lead singer Tristan Coetzee and despite some resistance, you can’t help but do just that.
The chorus of “Got That Feeling” is reminiscent of retro indie rockers The Plastics. Nico Van Loggerenberg’s lead guitar stands out in this track and is an asset that could have elevated the album’s soundscape substantially if it were used more.
“Who Needs Shoes” starts off with a laidback reggae vibe before the pace quickens with the addition of the trumpet. The song is punctuated by Coetzee’s “whoa-oh’s”, which seem to make a frequent and slightly irksome appearance on the album.
December Streets have just enough ska in them to make you want to groove to their music, and just enough pop in them to make them accessible to commercial audiences. But that’s the thing about the songs on This Is: they are just enough. You will find yourself tapping your fingers on the steering wheel in traffic when they play, but once you get to your destination, they ultimately become forgettable.

RATING: 6/10

Review: Bloc Party (Four)

This is a review I did on Bloc Party's new album, Four, for Perdeby. It was published on 3 September 2012. 

British post-punk indie rockers Bloc Party are back from their four-year hiatus after releasing their rather unimaginatively titled fourth studio album, Four. This time around, it seems as if the quartet has come full circle, with the tracks on the album sounding more like the guitar-driven splendour that made them famous on their debut album, Silent Alarm. Since Silent Alarm’s release in 2005, Bloc Party slowly started moving away from what gave them their distinct sound and started experimenting with electronic elements which culminated in their less-than-desirable third album, Intimacy.
But there is a twist in this resurrection tale. While Four relaunches Bloc Party’s signature sound, it also includes piercing, pulse-pounding metal influences that ooze off the faster tracks on the album.
“Three times three/ First cut first/ Pierce the skin/ It binds us,” whispers lead singer Kele Okereke menacingly on “3×3”, one of the more sinister tracks on the album. The song builds up with Okereke spurting out the chorus in a vocal style very similar to that of System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian.
“We Are Not Good People” is another one of Bloc Party’s heavier songs. A frenzied, aggressive guitar solo delivers an angry punch to the stomach, leaving you breathless but wanting, like a hard-headed teenage boy, to pick yourself up only to go back for more. The track showcases some of the band’s more lacklustre lyrics such as, “With these five lines you will be reborn/ A superman or maybe a jock/ You can crush the whole world in your hand/ If you wanna.” But, then again, Bloc Party has never been known for their profound lyrics, a flaw that has always been masked by the band’s impeccable guitar work and Okereke’s vocal ability. Then, as if you’re listening to a completely different band, Four surprises with a selection of slower, more mellow pop songs. With jagged guitar riffs interspersed with Okereke’s sharp falsetto and a jaw-dropping guitar solo, “Octopus” is a stand-out song on the album.
“Real Talk” transports you to Venice Beach à la Red Hot Chili Peppers with its groove influences and yet another one of Okereke’s chilling falsettos. These two contrasts in Four make the album seem a bit all over the place, as if it lacks some sort of cohesion.
Nevertheless, Bloc Party is back and they are making sure that everyone knows it. Four is an album that grabs you by the shoulders, shakes you violently and then kisses you softly on the cheek, as if to apologise for the slightly confusing listening experience it provided.
Bloc Party will be performing in Johannesburg at Mary Fitzgerald Square on 5 October at the launch of In The City Jo’burg, an annual event bringing international acts to the City of Gold. They will also be headlining Rocking The Daisies in Cape Town between 4 and 7 October.

RATING: 7/10