LUSANDA FUTSHANE: The world had almost given up on The Strokes. Their debut album Is This It seemed like a flash in the pan when all the albums that came after it didn’t impress as much. The band maintained a small cult following but never really grew its audience. And then, more than a decade after their meteoric rise to fame, The Strokes came back with a fifth release. Has Comedown Machine salvaged whatever was left of this New York outfit’s bruised fame?
The short answer is: sort of. The long answer starts with the band’s obstinate sound. Over ten years and four records, there’s been very little growth in The Strokes’ style. Sure, the groovy combination of garage rock with danceable indie beats was what got this band noticed in the first place. However, when that sound isn’t developed enough, what you end up with are five albums that sound almost completely the same.
HEIN PAPENFUS: The aching struggle with writers block coupled with a mildly serious bout of alcoholism that plagues the life of screen writer Marty Faranan is, funny enough, a slice of sanity amongst the mayhem conjured up in Seven Psychopaths. Marty, played by Colin Farrell, is a Hollywood screenwriter battling to write a screenplay entitled: “Seven Psychopaths”. Helping Marty out of his creative doldrums is his best friend, unemployed actor, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) who kidnaps dogs in order to receive reward money after pretending to have found the unfortunate wandering dog.
JOHAN SAAYMAN: After almost four years since their last album and the departure of two of the cofounders (Josh and Zac Farro), American rock band Paramore has returned with their new self-titled album.
If you expected another Brand New Eyes all-round masterpiece, this isn’t it – but the band must be commended on the versatility they attempted to bring to the new album. The sound still seems experimental and unsure, but it keeps the tracks unpredictable.
ERENE OBERHOLZER: : Tien jaar en vyf albums later, groet die bekende afrikaanse groep, Zinkplaat vir eers hulle bewonderaars. Zinkplaat het vanjaar op 11 April in Pretoria as deel van hulle laaste toer en bekendstelling van hulle nuwe album, Retrospekulasie opgetree. Bertie Coetzee, Beer Adriaanse, Basson Laubscher en Beitel van der Merwe het met Perdeby oor die afskeid gesels.
MELINA MELETAKOS: “You say drinking from my cup feeds your soul/ Fills you up/ If drinking from my cup makes you whole/ Then why did you stop?” croons Cape Town folk musician Jonathan Velthuysen gently on “Holly (You Gotta Wonder)”. His almost puzzled delivery of the last line is moving, as if through his subtle probing, he is trying to make sense of the unexpected end of a relationship.
MELINA MELETAKOS: There’s a biting chill in the air at Arcade Empire’s acoustic evening. As is starts raining, the few people who were sitting at tables outside flee indoors for cover. Those who were lucky enough to avoid the downpour are talking noisily over beer.
The chatter becomes an irritating buzz that competes with Jonathan Velthuysen’s soothing drone as he takes to the small, sparsely lit stage in the corner. The indifferent audience doesn’t seem to bother him as he moves his broad shoulders this way and that, tilting his head back slightly, feeling every note that he effortlessly strums on his guitar.
JOHAN SAAYMAN: English rapper and songwriter Wiley (dubbed as the “Godfather of Grime” and Roll Deep founder) has returned with his ninth studio album The Ascent, putting his spin on the grime genre once again.
This album features several artists, most of whom are also British. Among those featured are Tulisa, Tinchy Stryder and the LA-based group Far East Movement.
LUSANDA FUTSHANE: If you’re one of those people still scoffing and rolling their eyes at the recent popularity of EDM (electro/dance music: that’s what all the cool kids are calling it now) then there’s a possibility that the music industry has outpaced you.
Electronic music is turning out to be this decade’s punk rock. And at the helm of the electronic music movement is an axis of young musicians who were nobodies five years ago. One such musician is 24-year-old James Blake, who has returned with his second album Overgrown, which sounds like a murkier and more adult extension of his self-titled debut album.
JOHAN SAAYMAN: American pop-rock band OneRepublic released their third studio album, Native, in late March this year. It has been four years since their last album and the band has returned to the music scene to capture audiences with their melodic tumbles in this 12-track album.