No holds barred music reviews and the musings of a rock 'n' roll fanatic. If you have a song or an album you'd like me to review pop an email to email@example.com with the songs/album and some background info.
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.
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.
I was a Raconteurs virgin before ‘Sunday Driver’ and ‘Now That You’re Gone’ came out, and to be honest I didn’t think much of them after the first listen, but I figured I should listen to their older stuff for some context. Listening to them again I realised that maybe I had been a bit harsh first time around. Maybe there’s some subliminal hypnosis at work?
‘Sunday Driver’ is riff-heavy and chugs along with that unmistakable energy that comes from anything Jack White related. As you can tell from the title it has something to do with the open road and escaping and blah blah blah, but as with all good cliches it’s given an original spin, mind the pun. Just when you think you have a grasp of the song a Beatles-esque bridge comes and goes so smoothly you barely notice how out of place it is, like a motel on Route 66 that fits in so well you think it’s been there since the dawn of time.
‘Now That You’re Gone’ has a more romantic feel to it. Once again it relies on a thematic cliche – a lost love – and once again, Jack White and co. give it its own identity. The contrast between gentle chorus and punchy verse is striking without being obnoxious and there’s a flow between sections that keeps it alive and interesting.
‘Sunday Driver’ and ‘Now That You’re Gone’ give us a little glimmer of hope that what’s to come from The Raconteurs might be able to hold a candle up to what’s come before.
The Medicine Dolls have released the fourth EP in their ever-growing discography. ‘A Good Chance Of Bad Weather’ signifies a step in a somewhat new direction for a band known for their edgy, post-punk sound.
This small step into the new is evident from the jump as the title-track comes to life with an single note from an electronic organ that marches on through the opening bars, soon being joined by Greg Allan’s voice. A surprise for seasoned fans will be the increased use of the bass. As it forays into unexplored territory it brings a new dimension into the band’s sonic universe. It becomes evident that this EP is going to fall on the more romantic section of their spectrum as Allan says “I want to love you darling creature, I want to kiss your fucking soul.”
The organ finds more footing in ‘Careful Affection’ creating an eerie, carnival-for-the-disturbed feeling. The mood of the song is heightened by tempo named lethargy and a voice fighting to remain calm in the midst of turmoil. The song sounds like the beginning of the fourth stage of grief. There’s a sense of pain and restraint that’s brought across well by the aural landscape. The final track brings us back to the familiar ground that fans have come to love and know.
It’s the familiar with just a hint of experimentation. As if it went on holiday and came back with a new perspective on things. ‘Sick Little Cynics’ has the same old, born-from- experience cynicism that their previous offerings introduced. The energy, driving rhythms, moody guitar, and the dynamics that keep it interesting and alive are there. The only down-side is that you can almost hear a few of their older songs in it, but it’s still the strongest track on offer.
‘A Good Chance Of Bad Weather’ has an experimental feel as The Medicine Dolls try to find new dynamics to add to their arsenal. For the most part it strays from the sound that made them a name on the Cape Town scene but it was a calculated risk that paid off.
Muse, A band known for their epic, dystopian sound have taken a step into the intimate unknown. Coming off the back of their mammoth ‘Drones’ world tour they have released a new single called ‘Something Human’ with an accompanying video that could be mistaken as a trailer for a video game (Link below.)
Taking a step away from the dystopian currents that have always run through their music, ‘Something Human’ shows us a more vulnerable side to the band. It’s known by now that extensive touring can take a lot out of musicians and Muse are no exception. It’s a song filled with the exhaustion that can only come after spending months on the road and performing night after night. In that exhaustion is a sense of calm that comes from knowing that soon you’ll be able to rest. “My circuits are blown” says Matt Bellamy matter-of-factly as a gentle pop riff flows around him with the soft strains of a guitar gliding gently on top.
Sounding like a down-played homage to The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take,’ the song is set on the last stretch back home as the band accepts their “self-imposed” exhaustion while travelling the “ten thousand miles left on the road.” The last ten thousand miles before they can be back with their loved ones. Matt Bellamy and co. manage to create a sonic landscape that perfectly describes the feeling behind the song. Delicacy runs throughout, even in the second verse where the energy picks up it’s still expertly handled before calming down as the song enters the last leg of its journey. A weight gets lifted and replaced by serenity. The long journey is almost over.
Muse took a chance by moving away from their usual landscape and it paid off. What we have here is something that’s honest and affective. It’s not the best song in the world but it achieved what it set out to do. It let us look into a very vulnerable side of the performing world that few people ever really get to see.
The Smashing Pumpkins are back with their classic line-up. Well, almost. There’s still the small issue of the ongoing feud with ex-bassist D’arcy Wretzky. Regardless of that the band have released a brand new track called ‘Solara’ ahead of a tour which begins next month. They have also said that there are seven more tracks which have been recorded and will be released at some during the next year. Whether they are released together or separately remains to be seen. If ‘Solara’ is anything to go by then we are in for a treat.
The song starts with a driving kick-drum beat that lays the platform for a riff that brings images of a post-apocalyptic standoff between rival surviving tribes to mind. There’s tension in the air and it could explode at any moment if there’s no one to regulate it. Billy Corgan comes in with the opening verse like a slightly psychotic general. There’s menace in the opening lines as he orders his legion to ‘burn down the sun.’ The opening guitar riff finds aid in a second guitar that plays the same thing but with more volume and power. The tension rises. A snare drum is added and the tension eases a little bit all before it opens into a sea of power chords peppered with barely restrained drum fills that sound super-human.
This is the way the rest of the song goes as it moves in and out of the apocalypse with acid rain pouring down in some sections. Anger pulsates throughout as it motors to the conclusion. It sounds like something that’s been locked away for way too long and now that it’s free it wants answers. Billy Corgan is on top vocal form as he tries to fight through the fog of unease and pressure-induced entrapment. His voice even holds out as he yells self-affirming mantras at himself near the end of the song. The end chorus feels like it’s even bigger than it was earlier in the song as it revels in the freedom that this reunion has allowed it before ending abruptly. It’s in control and it doesn’t care what you think.
If this is what they sound like as a group of people that hasn’t played a note together in eighteen years then I think we need to hold on to our seats because they may just be warming up to deliver something other-worldly.