Ladies and gentlemen, the legends over at Rocking the Daisies have announced the first international act of this year’s installment and it’s a big one. Having already won two BRIT awards this year, one for best British album and one for best group, The 1975 are bringing their own brand of English pop-rock to our shores for the first time ever.
The band, consisting of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Matthew Healy, lead guitarist Adam Hann, bassist Ross MacDonald and drummer George Daniel hit the big time after the release of their self-titled debut album which included three UK chart-toppers, ‘Sex,’ ‘Chocolate,’ and ‘Robbers.’ The 2018 release ‘A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ was their third UK chart topping album and they’ll be looking to make it four out of four with ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’ which is expected to drop in May.
So if that’s enough to convince you – and why wouldn’t it be – head over to www.RockingtheDaisies.com on the 26th of March to book your tickets to the three day festival happening from the 4th to the 6th of October at the Cloof Wine Estate in Darling. If it’s not then stay tuned because the 14th edition of this epic festival is shaping up to be something truly special.
“Beware the Ides of March” wrote Shakespeare in a play about the ill-fated Julius Caesar. Fast-forward to this past Friday and the only thing we had to beware of was the inevitable hang-over we’d all be feeling the next day. With Androgenius, Apollo, and Julia Robert lighting up the stage, Mercury Live played host to a night of diversity and debauchery.
Opening act Androgenius had a quiet confidence about them as they treated the gathering crowd to their unique mix of old school RnB, funk, jazz, hip hop, and soul. A concoction they call Soul Hop. Front-man Al Clapper was on top form as he moved around the stage with the certainty of a man living completely in the moment. His presence was mirrored by his band-mates and together they had the kind of on-stage chemistry that musicians dream about and that should make their single release on the 22nd of March an absolute treat.
For Apollo, the gig held a special significance. It marked the end of one era, as it was their drummer Daniel Nambassi’s final gig behind the kit with them, and the beginning of a new era as they became Son of Leto, and no that’s not a reference to Jared or Shannon Leto, but rather to the Greek Goddess Leto, mother of Apollo. Their set on Friday can only be described as four individuals finding each other’s groove and setting the stage on fire. The combination of flamboyant guitarist, live-wire front-man, chilled-out keyboardist, and so-stoked-with-life drummer created a performance fitting of that moment in their history.
And then it was Julia Robert’s turn to do their thing and they did it the only way they know how: with jokes, laughter, and a kick-ass performance. Their musicianship was impeccable and their rapport with the crowd was wonderful throughout as they made everyone feel as comfortable as old friends at a braai by the pool. The foursome’s disco-funk was nothing short of infectious and guaranteed that all eyes were on them, and that Mercury became the only place anybody wanted to be as we partied our way into Saturday morning.
While times may have changed the best parts of the Ides of March have lived on and they were embraced with abandon on Friday night. It was a night of drinking and dancing and living in the revelry of the moment, a middle-finger to anything and everything that doesn’t bring us happiness.
The thing about David Gray is that we’ve probably seen the best of him already. His fourth album, ‘White Ladder,’ is the benchmark to which the rest of his catalogue will always be compared. So how does ‘Gold in a Brass Age’ stack up? If anything, the album is a microcosm for Gray’s career as a whole. ‘White Ladder’ aside, everything else he’s done has been hit or miss and ‘Gold in a Brass Age’ is no different.
The first few songs find Gray experimenting and playing with different arrangements as he tries to find originality in today’s ever-changing musical landscape. As with any musical experimentation there’s always the chance that it could go horribly wrong but there are a few songs that charm their way to success such as the title track, ‘Gold in a Brass Age.’ With a fantasy-filled, light-hearted accompaniment Gray tries to figure out what’s going on in his mind, his husky voice contrasting beautifully with the light, happy-go-lucky melody lines.
Then there’s ‘Furthering,’ perhaps the most experimental track on the album which goes more in the direction of dream-pop, but takes all conventional song-writing wisdom and throws it out the window. Rhythmically it’s all over the place as new verses start in the most unexpected places, but that’s by no means a bad thing. The abnormal rhythms create a very unique kind of tension that holds the listener’s attention throughout.
Apart from one or two other songs, there’s not much else to write home about. The second half of the album gives way to less imaginative, more repetitive tracks like the monotonous ‘It’s Late,’ and ‘If 8 Were 9’ which, in an attempt to be experimental, ends up sounding as forced as an introvert trying to have a good time at a night-club.
David Gray has to be applauded for being brave enough to try new things in his songs, a few of which pay off and lead to some lovely moments. But on the whole, ‘Gold in a Brass Age’ finds itself missing as many times as it hits.
We’ve all been there. It’s something-o’clock in the morning and the end credits roll on the final episode of your Netflix binge. You look around with bleary eyes, unsure of what’s real and what’s not, unsure of how you ended up on the couch in the first place. It’s this dark moment in the cycle of escapism that is perfectly captured by self-proclaimed Capetonian bedroom musician Bonbonvillon in his darkly ethereal debut single ‘Television’s on but There’s Nobody Home.’
Bonbonvillon’s effect-laden voice oozes out, calm and strangely reassuring, like a mad preacher comforting a congregation of heart-broken, sleep-deprived souls as the melodies dance around each other, always flirting with the edge of insanity but never taking the plunge. Notes that appear seemingly out of nowhere and unexpected breaks only add to the underlying sense of madness and keep stagnation at bay in this ode to insomnia.
Bonbonvillon’s first offering is unique in its soundscape and excellent in its delivery, turning a sensation experienced by so many into a comforting sonic journey.
The Grammy Awards ceremony has always had its fair share of controversy, from the best rap artist category being introduced but not televised in 1989, to Recording Academy president Neil Portnow telling female artists they need to “step up” if they want to be recognised. This year’s ceremony was set for its own share of drama as the spotlight was on the Recording Academy’s rocky relationship with hip-hop and rap.
In the lead up to the ceremony Childish Gambino, who ended up winning Song of the Year for ‘This is America,’ Kendrick Lamar, and Drake all threatened to stay away from the event. Drake, however, did show up and while accepting the Best Rap Song award for ‘God’s Plan’ inadvertently, or perhaps deliberately, became the centre of the night’s drama. In his speech, that will be remembered for many years to come, the rapper said that winning a Grammy wasn’t the epitome of success in the industry and in the process had his mic switched off as the broadcast cut to a commercial.
That wasn’t the only talking point, though. After Portnow’s tasteless comments at last year’s ceremony there was a definite focus on women at the ceremony. Alicia Keys hosted this year’s event which included a surprise appearance from Michelle Obama as well as an all-star tribute to Dolly Parton. When all was said and done, out of the 17 performances that filled up the ceremony, only four of them were male. Women also featured heavily in the awards count with Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and St. Vincent among others taking homethe golden gramophone.
In a moment of tenderness that would have brought tears to even the hardest of souls, the late Chris Cornell’s children Christopher and Toni accepted the award for Best Rock Performance for ‘When Bad Does Good,’ a posthumous release off ‘Chris Cornell’ which was compiled and released by the grunge icon’s wife Vicky Cornell. It was a beautiful moment that would surely have brought a smile to the face of one of the best vocalists the rock world has ever seen.
Lastly, the South African flag was flown high as the Soweto Gospel Choir won the Best World Music Album for the third time. They received the award for ‘Freedom,’ a collection of struggle songs they released last year as part of their 100 Years of Mandela Celebrations.
Friday night was a night of debauchery, head-banging, and mosh-pits as the die-hard rock ‘n’ roll community united to celebrate the launch of The Medicine Dolls’ latest offering in their ever-growing catalogue of EPs, ‘A Compulsion to Ruin.’ Naturally they weren’t the only the only band lighting up the stage as The Dodgy Odds, Elle E, and Julia Robert were on hand to turn the night into a party while DJ Swamp Girl kept the good times going between sets.
The sex-funk rock ‘n’ roll of The Dodgy Odds got the ever-growing crowd in the mood with the opening set of the night. As their epic bass-lines and impossible-to-ignore rhythms spread through the air so the energy levels lifted until everyone was dancing, no matter how many left feet they had. By the time Elle E took to the stage with her sultry garage-rock wizardry the fuse had been lit and her electric performance made it burn harder and faster, bringing it close to detonation before Julia Robert got to have their bit of fun.
Resplendent in white and perfect in synchronicity Julia Robert calmly and confidently navigated their way through their set without compromising on intensity as they held the crowd’s undivided attention from beginning to end and set the perfect platform for The Medicine Dolls to blow the roof off the place.
And that’s exactly what they did. As they blitzed their way through songs old and new, each as brilliantly executed as the next, the dance-floor became a sea of indiscernible bodies as people head-banged and moshed as though their lives depended on it. By the time they left the stage there wasn’t a single body free of sweat and smiles as everyone tried to catch their breath enough to order yet another drink from the bar.
The masters of staying relevant, Weezer, dropped a surprise cover-album earlier today called ‘the Teal Album.’ Presumably in response to the immense popularity of their cover of Toto’s ‘Africa,’ the album consists of versions of everything from The Turtles 1968 hit ‘Happy together’ to TLC’s 1999 chart topping ‘No Scrubs.’
The album opens, predictably, with a cover of the internet’s favourite song ever, ‘Africa,’ before moving on to a delicately balanced, powerful rendition of Tears for Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World.’ Staying true to the source material with some additions here and there Weezer’s final product packs a harder rhythmic punch and is embellished with some tasteful guitar work.
There’s also a treat for all you metal-heads. Hidden in the middle of this nostalgic bliss is a faster, more manic version of Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ which feels like it could go flying off the tracks at any second. With its angrier riffs and screaming guitar solo Weezer have taken the song to a whole new level that I’m sure will bring a smile to Ozzy’s face.
Perhaps the only blemish on the album is their cover of ‘Billie Jean.’ From the jump it lacks the punch of the original as the drawn out vocals and riffs give you the feeling that it would rather be in a warm, comfy bed.
‘The Teal Album’ is the surprise that no one knew they needed. Not only is it a beautiful nostalgia trip, it proves that Weezer are musicians of the highest caliber as they find a balance between respecting the original songs and making them their own.