Top 15 Local Releases Of 2016

This year was probably one of the strongest years for South Africa music. There were so many consistently brilliant releases over the course of the year and there is a very good chance that we left many out by limiting it to 15, but we’ll never be completely right. Anyway, this is probably one of our final posts for the year and we just wanted to say thank you to all our readers for sticking by us throughout the year. It is because of all of you, and the love for music, that we keep doing what we are doing and we hope to do it even better next year. Have a fantastic festive season.

1. Grassy SparkPortal

I do this thing each year where I like to predict which local band will leap forward in terms of success, and it usually always comes true. Last year, I predicted that Al Bairre will leap into mainstream success, and they did. This year I predicted that Grassy Spark would have the same fate and with their headline local slot at Rocking The Daisies, their opening for UB40 and their stunning debut album Portal – I would like to think I was right once again. Craig Roxburgh

2. Past HauntsAfterthoughts

Past Haunts never fails to impress me with their stunning fusion of emo, punk and post-hardcore elements. Afterthoughts was an EP that I just kept coming back to for its rich lyrical content and its anguish-laden sonic landscape. Craig Roxburgh

 3PeasantIII: No Love

It seems to have been a universally brilliant year for hardcore releases. It is like the deities controlling the hardcore scene said “let there be more great hardcore then one could possibly handle”, and that just seemed to trickle down into South Africa with the release of Peasant’s vitriol-laden EP. Angular, snarling guitars, groovy bass riffs and pent-up aggression is the name of the game with this EP. Craig Roxburgh

Veladraco cover

 4. VeladracoVeladraco

Veladraco only just released their self-titled EP and they’ve already receive a shout-out from AKA and made it to the top of 5FM Indie Chart. The band skipped into my heart with their aloof pop-punk melodies, clever song-writing and repressed adolescent angst. Craig Roxburgh

5. Caroline LeisegangSimple Circles

Classical music isn’t exactly a booming genre in South Africa but Caroline Leisegang’s latest release managed to slip into my radar with her minimalistic approach to composing. Her simple yet beautiful melodies are steeped in emotional depth and I can guarantee that they shall improve your productivity immensely. Craig Roxburgh

6. Gavin and KrehanThe New Dope

Gavin and Krehan may be newcomers to the rap game, but as their EP title suggests: they are the new dope. The New Dope is a raw, honest exploration of anxiety and depression – something that many rap artists don’t do. Craig Roxburgh

7. Black MathDeath, Existing & Other Joys Of Life

Black Math only just released this and it already shot straight into my Top 20 with its chaotic fusion of punk and psych-rock. Black Math is just more proof that Durban is becoming a hotbed for local talent. Craig Roxburgh

The Liminals - Come Closer PNG

8. The LiminalsCome Closer

Infectious beats – check. Groovy basslines – check. Funky guitar work – check. The Liminals have everything you need to get through the blazing heat of summer and feel good about it. Come Closer radiates with talent.  Craig Roxburgh

9. Made For BroadwayLife Lessons

Pop punk is everything for me, and Made For Broadway managed to deliver the purest, most distilled version of pop punk possible with Life Lessons. Punchy four-chord riffs and semi-hardcore breakdowns dominate the album while the lyrics teeter between introspective musings and wild parodies. Craig Roxburgh

10. ISOPolydimension

2016 heralded the arrival of ISO’s Polydimension: An album of tasteful musical integrity and complexity. The album balances the difficult line between catchiness and progressiveness, complexity and memorability, technicality and atmosphere. This album speaks through all of its instrumentalists and the vocalist and gives us musical variety that does more than tick boxes- they make new ones. The band masterfully jumps from heavier to light tones in order to create atmospheres that are delicate and intimate, yet create riffs that are worthy of a heavy metal band and combine it with jazz-like drumming. ISO’s Polydimension is an album of the year because it brings intelligence, integrity, emotional depth and a fresh sound to South Africa’s growing music scene. Matthew Fuller

11. DangerfieldsEmbers

Embers is a gorgeous piece of post-punk with its angular guitar riffs and synth tones that ebb and flow like the tide of the ocean. It is an EP that is so easy to get lost in and is the perfect match for a hazy summer day. Craig Roxburgh


12. Hezron ChettyThe Fallacy of Composition

Hezron Chetty is possibly one the most unique and interesting artists to come out of South Africa in a long time. His ability to generate the aggression and energy of punk music with a violin captivated me upon the release of his debut album. Craig Roxburgh

13. The ShabeenFolk Is Dead

Folksy punk rock is the name of the game on The Shabeen’s new album. Rowdy punk singalongs are juxtaposed next to poetic musings that rival that of Frank Turner. The band even took a pretty socially conscious move by renaming themselves to The Shabs in light of the connotations carried by “The Shabeen”.

14. Ohgod!Forest Feuds

Without any vocals, Ohgod! managed to weave a complex tapestry of emotion through their use of intricate, needling guitar work layered over abrasive bass riffs and snarling licks of guitar. Their focus on the complexity and intricacies of their music is what allows them to elicit such deep emotional responses.

15. All We’ve Known – Human Nature

All We’ve Known is a young up-and-coming band from Port Elizabeth who are not afraid of hard work and it shows clearly in their debut EP release with their crisp sound and progressive tunes. Electronicore has not been around for that long nor has it been popular in South Africa, but
Human Nature is one of the first quality products to endorse this fun-loving, bouncing hardcore sound locally.With catchy, jumping techno beats, heartfelt lyrics and musical talent for days, this is well worth a listen. Turn it up to 11 and enjoy the rage! James Robert


EP REVIEW: Veladraco – Veladraco

The first time I encountered Veladraco was when they opened for Tweak’s 10 year reunion tour at The Assembly. I was exhausted after a long week at university and was probably only there because Tweak was a defining part of my childhood. I had arrived there just before Veladraco took to the stage and had plonked myself and my girlfriend on those leather couches that lined the back wall. Those couches were actually insanely comfortable and will be forever missed. As soon as Veladraco finished their first song, I said to myself: “this is my new favourite local band” and it was probably because they embodied everything that I love about pop-punk and more specifically a style of pop-punk that I lovingly call “shitty pop-punk” – a brilliant style of pop punk that abandons polished sounds in favour of authenticity, honesty and sheer rawness of emotion.

Continue reading EP REVIEW: Veladraco – Veladraco

EP REVIEW: Peasant – No Love

We live in a country that is teeming with corruption, inequality and sheer injustice, yet few artists or bands ever really write songs that comment on those issues. Granted, the vast majority of South African artists do adhere to pop formats when it comes to their lyrical themes and deliver songs that account for personal stories – which is perfectly normal and understandable. However, it is painstakingly obvious that there is a large gap in the market for artists that openly criticise the state of South African affairs. This is probably due to the fact that we have a rather small hardcore and punk scene – genres of music that are usually responsible for scathing social commentary.

However, the hardcore scene of South Africa is slowly on the rise again. New artists like FREExMONEY are pushing out fantastic material while promoters like NoiseFix are bringing in niche international hardcore- derivative bands to tour all over South Africa. There is one band in particular that is standing at the forefront of the hardcore movement in South Africa and that is Peasant – a band that has been steadily grafting their way up in the local industry since opening for Comeback Kid when they performed in South Africa.

They just dropped their third EP No Love with a new line-up and are setting the bar high for local hardcore with this EP. The EP adheres to traditional hardcore stereotypes with a listening time that clocks in at 14 minutes. The EP is longer than any of their previous releases which I think is a definite improvement as gives them much more room to show off their new found sound. Their previous sound was centred on being aggressive, blunt and incredibly fast-paced. No Love, on the other hand, is a lot slower in tempo, thanks to groove-laden bass riffs, but its fury is just as strong.

“Ties” opens the EP with a chugging melody and slow, lingering riffs that bristle with pent-up aggression. The song explodes into a barrage of high-tempo drumming, abrasive guitar riffs and Alain Marthezé delivering vocals laden with coarse gruffness. The kind that comes naturally for hardcore vocalists. Marthezé shows a versatile vocal style on No Love and proves that he knows how to do more than just deliver nasal pop-punk vocals for Veladraco – the other band he currently fronts. This gruff vocal style dominates the EP and ensures that Peasant still maintains their aggressive edge after shifting to the groovier and more melodic side of hardcore.

No Love is more than just a gruff hardcore album stacked full of angry guitar riffs and a lot of shouting. The EP is undercut by strong lyrical themes that lean towards criticising the state of affairs in South Africa. One of the most powerful songs is the title song which speaks towards people’s approach to poverty and more specifically – the view that many financially privileged people hold of those less fortunate than them. If Peasant continues down this path of fusing social conscious lyrics with aggressive hardcore riffs then I think the hardcore scene is definitely going to revive itself.

Stream the EP on Soundcloud and buy it on iTunes.

Peasant Release New Music Video “Heed The Will”

Cape Town hardcore outfit Peasant recently went through a line-up change in which they received a new vocalist and new bass player. Alain Marthezé (of Enmity and Veladraco fame) was brought in to handle the band’s vocals while Keagan Van Rooyen (of Fire Through The Window and Young Hands fame) assumed the position as the band’s new bassist. Line-up shake-ups can often be treacherous but luckily the reports regarding the band’s first live shows with their new members were promising and now they have released “Heed The Will” – the first single with the new line-up.

The verdict? This is one hell of a single. It clocks in at a mere 1 minute and 27 seconds and is a high-octane blast of ferocious hardcore. The song is crammed full of snarling guitar riffs that relentless hammer their way through your cerebral membrane as they are supported by drumming that is aggressive in nature without losing any kind of technical finesse. The great thing about hardcore music is that the bass riffs are often incredibly palpable and this is definitely the case with ‘Heed The Will”. The bass section is laden with the typical aggressive crunch of hardcore music, but they also take on a slight melodic quality that gives the song a crowd-moving groovy edge. The vocals are one of the stand-out points of the song. Marthezé’s vocals are aggressively coherent and ring-out with crystal clear clarity while still barking out socially conscious themes.

“Heed The Will” comes off the band’s forthcoming EP No Love which is being released next Tuesday. We are beyond keen to hear it.

Win Tickets To Bangers & m*a*s*h with Shortstraw, Grassy Spark, Veladraco and Young Hands

There some line-ups that make me happy. There are some line-ups that leave me rather surprised and intrigued, and there are some line-ups that make me squeal with utter joy. That is what happened when the Bangers & m*a*s*h line-up was announced and I learned that indie rock titans Shortstraw would be visiting Cape Town with Grassy Spark, Veladraco and Young Hands supporting them. I have an incredibly high level of fondness for all these acts especially Veladraco, with their angsty pop-punk stylings, and indie-punk newbies Young Hands.

Bangers & m*a*s*h promises to be an amazing show with this line-up and we are giving away two sets of double tickets so some of you can party your pretty faces on Friday, 29 July. To enter, you just need to comment below with which band you want to see on the night. Winners to be announced on Wednesday,  27 July. The rest can get pre-sold tickets for R80 or get them at the door for R100.

LIVE REVIEW: Tweak At The Assembly

Punk, in particular pop punk, is a misaligned genre in South Africa. It hovers somewhere between next-to-none support for local bands, and a fixated obsession with the various international bands that manage to find their way into the playlists of South African punks. However, ten years ago pop punk reigned supreme at the height of Tweak’s career. The band were trailblazers that bought a raw, authentic burst of fast-paced pop punk that left South African music fans in a state of shock and awe.

Ten years down the line, The Assembly is transformed from a mainstream indie rock and electronic music to a sweating, seething pit of teenage nostalgia and rebellion, as it bore witness to the final leg of Tweak’s ten year anniversary tour. It was an event unlike any I’ve seen, as a vast multitude of fans flocked to The Assembly for one purpose: to watch Tweak and remember the days gone by when they could be young and carefree, or if you were me then you would have gradually come to the realisation that you’re actually pretty young in comparison to the greater schemes of thing.

Who knew that one could have an epiphany at a punk rock show, but that is beside the point. The real point is that Saturday played host to a night where the spirit of pop punk in South Africa was revived by the explosive combination of Veladraco, Half Price, and Tweak. Veladraco is a band that makes me incredibly happy simply because they sound like early 2000s emo pop punk reimagined for the modern era. They’re rather like South Africa’s version of Neck Deep – except they have opened for All Time Low yet, but with such an authentic, catchy and raw sound they are bound to make it pretty far in their career. Also, the band consists of two members of Derick Watts and The Sunday Blues, so the banter between songs was sublime.

Veladraco was followed up by Half Price: one of the few South African bands that can get away with calling the crowd “motherfuckers”. They’re a rough and unkempt group of aggressive punk rockers that thundered through a set-list whose sole goal was to warm the crowd up for the upbeat pop-punk anthems of Tweak. Snarling guitar riffs, thundering bass riffs and crashing drums pumped out The Assembly’s sound system – one that managed to surprisingly cope with the abuse Half Price pumped into the system despite the technical difficulties that occurred during Veladraco’s set.

It was now time for Tweak, and the real question was whether the band had changed at all after morphing into CrashCarBurn for the past ten years. When they opened on “House Party”, and hit the chorus, it was apparent that Tweak still sounded like the band that we all fell in-love with over ten years ago. The entire night was a triumphant celebration of the fact that a band can remain incredibly relevant even after having not performed for ten years. They leaped from one height to another as they have powered through a set-list filled with all the classics like “Buy the World, “Girls Rule Da World”, “Britney Spears”, “Birthday Card” and more. They even decided to throw things back to the late 90s and early 2000s by launching into a melody that fused Green Day, Blink 182 and Bloodhound Gang, and eventually had the entire crowd singing “Basket Case”.

Saturday was a night for pop punk magic, and nothing could have been more magical than watching Tweak finish off their ten year anniversary tour. Here is to hoping that in another ten years, they shall decide to embark on a twenty year tour, because I’m sure the next generation of South African music fans shall be craving their pop punk melodies.

Win Tickets To See Tweak Live In Cape Town And Stellenbosch

Next week shall see Tweak heading to Cape Town on their 10 Year Anniversary tour. The band surprised the local music scene with the announcement of a sudden reunion to perform at Oppikoppi, and subsequently followed it up with the announcement of a Cape Town tour in partnership with The Assembly and Cape Town Music Scene.

Tweak shall be performing at Aandklas, Stellenbosch on Friday, 21 August and on Saturday, 22 August at The Assembly in Cape Town. The band shall be joined by Veladraco and a MFM Radio DJ Set at the Aandklas show, while the main event in Cape Town shall see support from Half Price, Veladraco, Loveglow Pyrotechnics, and the Roastin Records DJ’s.

In light of this tour, Cape Town Music Scene is offering three fans to win special “Gold Prizes” which includes the following elements:

All you have to do to enter is click the following Twitter link, and comment below with your Twitter handle and the show you would like to attend. Winners shall be announced on Wednesday, 19 August at noon. Furthermore, you can also get R200 off your first ride with Uber if you register with the promotional code: TweakZA

Uber Pic