Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Beast releases 'Smoke Swig Swear'

Beast have released "Smoke Swig Swear", a little taste of what's to come when they release their debut album in January 2013. I can just picture Inge Beckmann brooding through town in her Doc Martins with a cigarette in her mouth and a bottle of something potent like gin in her hand, spitting out profanities at anyone who gets in her way. The best part is that she won't give a damn about any of it. Ah, it's just brilliant. I can't wait to hear the rest of the album. Roll on 2013.

  • Catch Beast at Brickfields Fest in Jozi this Saturday. I'll be at a wedding. Jealous.

Waldo The Movie. No, not really.

I remember plowing through Where's Wally? books with my cousins every Saturday when we went for lunch to my grandparents in Joburg. There's no storyline to Where's Wally? so it's no surprise that it hasn't been made into a film yet. That's where the genius of Alex Goyette lies though. He's written, directed, produced and starred in (he's Waldo) a mock action trailer parodying the book series by Martin Handford. After seeing the mock trailer I'm convinced that someone has to do Wally justice and make a movie out of his non-story. And it should star Alex Goyette too. He's quite on the eyes. Pretty please?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Lucy Kruger- Heart of Stone (Official Video)


Lucy Kruger has released her music video for "Heart of Stone", taken off her debut album Cut Those Strings. You can read the review I wrote on her album over here.

Review: The Last of the Haussmans at the National Theatre

First time writer balances dry punchy humour with moments of blatant honesty and pathos, writes Stephanie Makhlouf.

Helen McCrory as Libby, Julie Walters as Judy and Rory Kinnear as Nick.                             PHOTO: Alastair Muir

CAST: Julie Walters, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory
DIRECTOR: Howard Davies
WRITER: Steven Beresford
RATING: 8/10

It could be said, most likely, that on our life time, the majority of us will not have the opportunity to witness a stage play on grand stages such as West End or Broadway. Luckily, we have an alternative. National Theatre Live gives audiences the opportunity to watch some of the top actors of our time performing in plays recorded and screened in cinemas around the world. If the thought of watching a play on a cinema screen overwhelms you, then The Last of the Haussmans should put your mind at ease.

A feisty, free-spirited and mildly inappropriate woman, Judy Haussman (the incomparable Julie Walters), who's stuck on her memories of days gone by, creates an almost forced reunion between herself and her two enstranged children when, after falling ill, she needs to be nursed by hard as nails Libby (Helen McCrory) and the gay drug-addicted Nick (Rory Kinnear). 

Both are forced to confront and come to terms with Judy's abandonment of them as children as old wounds are opened and discussed. To complicate matters further, we are introduced to Peter, a local doctor who has a romantic history with both mother and daughter. We also encounter three colourful generations of women as we meet Libby's daughter, uncharacteristically named Summer. Clearly Summer has inherited her mother and grandmother's habits and threatens for the cycle of self-destruction to continue. 

First time writer Steven Beresford's script portrays a universal story of a dysfunctional family and the extreme ups and downs they are capable of having. There as as many laugh out loud moments as there are deeply sad ones which give the story an authentic, yet brutally honest edge/ 

Walters delivers a particularly brilliant performance. From the minute she appears on screen she captures our attention as she lives and breathes every inch of her troubled character. 

We don't get a sense of absolute closure by the ending. Yet, perhaps and even more satisfying, we get the sense that each character has a brighter future ahead of them now that they have confronted the ghosts of their pasts.

A strong ensemble cast along with an outstanding script make The Last of the Haussmans a worthwhile night out.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

"Kerkorrel se snorcity, Pretoria in my hart."

When I walked into Arcade Empire last night and saw the blue and red lit up arrows on the stage, I just knew it was going to be a good one. First up was MiNNAAR, the sibling collaboration that is Magdalene and Louis Minnaar. They were launching their EP, Volcano, which is a spine-tingling combination of electro and opera. Magdalene, who has lended her incredible soprano voice to roles like Christine in Phantom of the Opera, slipped into the role of the enigmatic, unearthly siren effortlessly.  The duo's set was short, what with their repertoire currently only consisting of five songs, but I look forward to seeing the expanded set that they are working on. Then we waited for Bittereinder for what felt like forever. It was so long, in fact, that new dance moves (like The Wave and The Bumper Car) were invented, shameless grooving to "Play That Funky Music" happened, and trips to the bar became more frequent. Somewhere between all of this, Louis Minnaar and Peach van Pletzen walked onto the stage in clinical white lab coats and lit up goggles. The batty beat-making scientists had arrived, with rhyme master Jaco van der Merwe not far behind. "Pretoria, is julle reg om te boogie?" he asked the crowd with his extended arm waving up and down, commanding the audience to join him. They couldn't have been more ready with their arms following the motion of his. The trio played a couple of old favourites but for the most part, their set consisted of brilliant new material. There are a lot of stellar collaborations on Bittereinder's second offering, with the likes of Shane Durrant, Hunter Kennedy, Chris Chameleon, Magdalene Minnaar and Andries Bezuidenhout all making an appearance on Die Dinkdansmasjien. I understand logistics can be tricky but it would have been mother flippin' cool to have seen some of these people on stage. It didn't take away from an amazing performance, though. Peach and Louis swapped their mad scientist look, for a gigantic eyeball that they wore on their heads and later they hopped onto the stage as bunnies. The best part is that all three of them looked like they were having the time of the lives, and it made all the difference.  "My naam is Riaan Cruywagen en ek lewe vir ewig," Jaco told the audience after their last song. He may not have found the Elixir of Life that Riaan Cruywagen has, but Bittereinder's performance was something that will be remembered for a long, long time.

Take a look at "Volcano", the first music video off MiNNAAR's debut release. You can also download their EP here.

"It don't mean a thing, if you ain't got that swing"

Some '50s-inspired outfits for the next time you find yourself at a swing party.

Miso short sleeve shirt
$16 - republic.co.uk

Jil Sander pleated skirt
$1,005 - farfetch.com

Sergio Rossi stiletto heels
$665 - farfetch.com

Leather oxford shoes
$220 - wall-london.com

On Friday I went to a swing party. No, not a swinger party.

I say 'swing' and you think 'swinger', right? Wrong. The men didn't put their watches into a bowl. The ladies didn't have to choose the one that would decide their fate for the night. Random couples didn't disappear into rooms together. Thank goodness. Still not sure what a swing party is? Take some jazz and accelerate the pace, add a dollop of groove and some dangerous dance moves and you have swing music à la 1950s.

I was transported to this era on Friday night when Arcade Empire hosted their first swing party. It was all feather boas, flapper dresses, high-waisted skirts, suspenders and brogues. My favourite, though, had to be the three guys who looked like they had walked off the set of Pearl Harbour in their old army uniforms. It was quite brilliant. Michael Lesar (a man who has the longest, coolest dreads I have ever seen) played an incredible three-hour set with Greg Georgiades on the ukelele. And then, just after midnight, when we thought that our poor, worn feet couldn't possibly take any more boogieing, a dancer came onto the stage and started doing a tasteful striptease type of thing. It was more like a burlesque number than anything else and was as kinky as this party got, I promise. I haven't been this excited about a party since I roamed the halls of Capitol Theatre when Cyberpunkers came to South Africa. Please, please, please Arcade Empire, let's do it again soon. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Favourite Instagrams of late

Two of my favourite people: Claudi and Zain going wild at an electro party.

A slippery slide of Jacarandas on campus.

It's been seven years since my grandpa passed away, so we went to visit his grave in Joburg.

Dried roses on someone's tombstone.

I discovered Polyvore. Joy.

I want round sunglasses. Yes, I do. Here's some inspiration thanks to what will soon become my latest tool in procrastination: Polyvore.

I made a radio documentary. You should listen to it.

One of my assignments this year was creating a radio documentary. I teamed up with my friends Claudi and Zain and we put this little baby together. It's about how music piracy is now being used to benefit musicians, with the incredibly talented Mr Tim Bland doing the voice overs for us. I think we took a bit of a risk with this assignment because it isn't something you would normally hear on the radio but it turns out that the risk paid off. Our documentary ended up winning third place at our department's graduation function. Yay us!

Take a listen and let me know what you think.

[Oh, and if you want to hear more of Tim Bland's work, visit his Soundcloud page here. There's a showcase of all the voices he can do. I suspect he's a bit of a genius. Ha.]

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Toodaloo, Perdeby

This is one of those self-indulgent posts. It won't mean all that much to you but it's something that I really wanted to write because I'm feeling a bit sad and nostalgic about leaving Perdeby. We had our dinee on Saturday night. Here's the photos. 

The first event I covered for Perdeby was Rag, right at the beginning of the year. It was pretty much a catastrophe. The event was badly organized, with no such thing as an interview schedule. I also had a really crappy dictaphone which later made transcribing an absolute nightmare (there may have even been tears). On top of it all, it was pouring with rain. Nadine and I found ourselves wading through gigantic puddles and sinking into wet grass while running after musicians who didn’t even know they were going to be interviewed. We had pages to fill, man. Something had to give. Turns out it was our perfectly straightened hair. Covering Rag wasn’t really the ideal way to ease into a new job. A sane person would have ran away as fast as their water-filled shoes could take them. But, I was hooked. 

My year at Perdeby has been a series of drama-filled episodes much like this one. I’ve waited for musicians for hours on end only to hear that they have cancelled all interviews. I’ve had to deal with divas who slouch in their seats while giving barely audible one-word answers. I’ve been on the verge of a panic attack when there was no signal in the middle of the thorn-filled, dust-laden bush. 

But, my adventures over the past year have also allowed me to meet some incredible people. There’s something very addictive about being around people who are astoundingly passionate about what they do. It motivates you to do better, to be better. I learned this not only through the people I interviewed week in and week out but also through the people I worked with. Thank you to all of you. I didn’t ever think that I could possibly get so much out of writing for a student newspaper. I’m quite heartbroken that my time at Perdeby has come to an end. I could, of course, stay on for another year, but I am leaving having learned a tremendous amount about my craft, and even more about myself. For that, I am forever grateful.

The Plastics: Pyramid album review

“I’ll guess you’re a king for a day if you can take me back to nineteen sixty eight,” announces lead singer Pascal Righini on “Stereo Kids”, The Plastics’ highly contagious single that’s been doing the rounds for over a year now. A fairy godfather in the form of John Lennon isn’t going to cure The Plastics’ longing for a bygone era, so they’re doing the job themselves with Pyramid, their second full-length offering of retro rock and roll.
On Pyramid, the kooky quartet up the psychedelic ante, thanks to their new-found interest in experimenting with effects pedals. The best example of this is on “Mud and Money”, the impressive 10-minute spectacular that’s almost like a paean to The Beatles as it winds through different moods. They may not be doing the psychedelic thing throughout the album, but when they do it, especially on “Mud and Money”, The Plastics go all out.
There’s the trippy, filthy fuzz of the electric guitar and different effects that one minute sound like an alien landing is taking place and the next, like a ballerina sweetly prancing on the moon. And then there are the surreal, seemingly disjointed lyrics (“Plasticine scheme team cooked up on roofis that make orange people see into the hearts and the minds and the dreams in your bed”) which do a good job of reminding you of The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”. Lennon composed the song by combining three songs that he had been working on, which is rather fitting as The Plastics also combined what they had come up with after numerous lengthy jam sessions to form “Mud and Money”.  
“Rat”, easily the heaviest song on the album, has a slightly dark tone with Pascal’s drawn out vocals and menacing lyrics. It brings to mind Oasis, with its gargantuan stadium rock sound and fiery acid guitar solos.
The psychedelic-infused tracks aside, Pyramid offers more of what The Plastics are also good at: melodious pop rock tunes that make it okay to whip out your freakish dance moves in public. 
“Out of This Town” is a song about inevitable change and the yearning to escape, and has hints of the glockenspiel, while “Sooner Than Later” speaks of anguish thanks to a girlfriend that’s now a girl fiend. There’s also “Best Pretenders”, which is currently sailing the airwaves smoothly with it’s simple but altogether charming chorus of “I’m 45 minutes too late/ I’m 45 minutes too early”.
Still sounding like themselves, The Plastics have taken a step forward in the way of experimentation but thankfully, it’s not a whopping leap that will leave fans behind in a state of perplexed turmoil. In fact, it might even earn them some new ones.  

The Plastics: graduating with a bigger sound

This is the last interview that I did for Perdeby. Yes, I have decided that it's time to move on to my next adventure. The days leading up to the interview had me desperately wishing that The Plastics weren't going to be douchebags. Squeezing answers out of them would have been the worst way to say goodbye to what has been an incredible year. Thankfully, they were awesome. Better than what I hoped for. 

So, here it is, my final interview. 
The lights have switched off and the curtains have closed. 
For now. 

 For Pyramid's album art design, The Plastics got 15 creative minds together to paint/draw/design a piece of art based on a song on the album.  This was all done in a single day and was sponsored by Art Jamming in Cape Quarter, Sea Point. Below are some of the artworks. 

When Cape Town’s quirky retro indie rock and rollers, The Plastics, decided to call their second full length album Pyramid, they weren’t quite sure why. 
“What’s in a name, really?” asks bassist Karl Rohloff, quoting Shakespeare. “I guess afterwards you do think of ways in which it can work,” he says.
While the quartet initially liked the symbology behind the ancient mysterious structures, they later thought of it as a good way to describe their music. “Our band kind of has three sides to it. Rock, then we’ve got the more melodic, softer stuff, and then we’ve got the part where we experiment and play around, the indie stuff,” explains drummer Sasha Righini.
Either way, they are wholly content with not having a clear-cut answer. “Pyramids, themselves, are completely unexplained. Us not being able to explain the name is fitting,” says lead singer Pascal Righini laughing.  

Best Pretenders by Roann Louw
Underwater Kite by Baden Moir
The Plastics’ vague, laid back approach to the name of their latest offering may seem slightly ironic but they are really far more focused on the actual music, something that’s evident as they sit down with Perdeby to chat about Pyramid before getting on stage to launch the album at Arcade Empire.
Pyramid was recorded in two parts at Dreamspace Recording Studios. Four songs were recorded at various stages in 2011, while 2012 saw The Plastics going back into studio to record the rest of it. Over the last two years, the band ended up writing over 30 songs for the album. They intended on writing a surplus of songs so that they could be brutal at the end and scrap anything they didn’t think was good enough to make the cut, with the long gap in between giving them the time to do this. “I think because it took such a long time, it gives the album a bit more depth. We had a lot more time to actually think about it. Going in for three weeks and tracking it all and getting it all done, it has that sound of three weeks of our lives as opposed to the sound of two years of our lives,” says Sasha.
Another advantage of having the luxury of time is that the band got to ease into working with producer Shai Hirchson, whom they have never worked with before. “I think we figured out our dynamic with him better by the time we went back to it, so we felt the relationship was a bit stronger,” says Pascal. 

Underwater Kite by Cassandra Leigh Johnson
Hallway of Mirrors by Lauren Waller
 On The Plastics debut album, Sharks, the sentimental love song “Caroline” was one of the slower, ballad-like tunes on the album. With Pyramid, they are careful not to veer in that direction, choosing instead to stick to their concoction of “dancepopfun”.
“Personally, I wish that ballad music was bigger but I don’t think people are that into it. I love soppy, old, super-slow songs and as a singer, there’s something very inviting about putting a performance together like that, but it’s not something that’s worked for us. Our sound is more modern than that,” says Pascal.
They have, instead, used Pyramid to explore more psychedelic influences, courtesy of the use of different effects pedals. Self-proclaimed devotees of The Beatles, The Plastics say that they like the way in which the iconic band used the studio as an instrument to make music that sounded different. “Music is one of the few art forms that you can conjure up feelings in people. It’s the interesting thing about how you can use the studio to change the mood of things so dramatically. We tried to use that as best as possible,” says Pascal. “The psychedelic influence is just trying to be experimental because you want to keep it fresh for yourself as a band as well,” adds Karl. 

Girl, You're Nothing Like A Woman by Hanno Van Zyl
Sooner Than Later by Jade Doreen Waller

The album also sees The Plastics’ first attempt at an ambitious 10-minute long song, “Mud and Money”. The song came about after cleverly putting together what the band came up with after numerous lengthy jam sessions. “Recording it was the biggest challenge but when we wrote it, it actually came together quite quickly,” says Karl. How difficult was it to record a song of this nature? “Different time signatures and tempo changes was a big thing because you’ve got maybe five different tempos in the song and we wanted to jam as much of it to the click track as possible but we didn’t know how long each part was going to be because we were still working it all out in the studio, so Sasha had the tough job of drumming to 10 different tempos,” says Pascal, looking at nodding Sasha whose half-smile invites commiseration.
Does the band consider the song their magnum opus? “Not at all. We’re very proud of it and we love it but I think from doing it, we’re excited to try and do another one or two, or even longer songs,” says Pascal quickly, making sure to clarify his point. “My dad is into long songs and I was really excited to show him and when I asked him what he thought, he said, ‘Ja, not a bad first attempt’, says Karl to an explosion of laughter from the other band members.   
Mud and Money by Inka Kendzia
Out of This Town by Swain Hoogervorst
Earlier this year, the MK Music Video Project announced that The Plastics were one of 12 artists who will get the chance to make a music video commissioned by MK. With a penchant for videos based on school hall dance-a-ramas showing gawky teens busting even gawkier dance moves, it will be interesting to see what the band has to offer.
“We can tell you that we are not really in it, and its got animation in it, and it’s going to be rad,” says Sasha.
“We haven’t found another school hall,” says Karl.
“No, we’ve graduated. Prom is over,” adds Pascal.
You get the sense that, with the release of Pyramid, the band has done just that. They still sound like The Plastics, but with their more mature, layered sound, they have graduated into a class of their own. 
Rat by Lorraine Loots
Rat by Peter Crafford
Stereo Kids by Gary Cool