Featured Music Reviews

Underground acoustics: Joburg-based band, The Bad Ass Execs, is fusing psych pop, punk and garage rock to create a new sound

Johannesburg is a wild city. The people, the traffic and shiny city lights give the biggest city in Africa, the character that we all love. The hustle and bustle of the city of gold is what makes the city what it is. Due to the large amounts of people flocking to city in hopes to win big, graft for their families and fend for themselves, subcultures have formed and the main driver behind the creation of these subcultures is music. Every corner of Jozi moves at its own pace and sounds different.

Beyond the shiny city lights and city’s hustle-hungry dwellers, exists an underground rock scene that is home many young people in the city’s suburbs. A culture exists, where mostly white youth, get to live out their truth. Within this culture, spaces and platforms which house this rock talent exist, and these spaces and platforms are the breeding ground for creative experimentation. The Bad Ass Execs, a band established in 2016, is an example of that raw talent that you often find in these spaces. The band makes music that soundtracks a generation characterised by youthful rebellion and in the same breath, references and pays homage to a style of rock music that was prevalent in 60s.

The band draws inspiration from skate culture, contemporary art and marijuana culture. Upon listening to the band’s demo tape which was released in 2016, you get to hear a very rough and raw sound. The execution of the songs is unique, and the lyrical content is simple but effective in communicating the messages that band chooses to challenge – freedom, overcoming challenges, living in the moment and patience. They fuse psych pop, punk and rock to create an entirely new sound which represents their ideals. With Jimmy Hazard on the guitar and vocals, Bradley Donaldson on drums and vocals, Leigh Lobotomy on bass and vocals, and Steve van der Sluys on the guitar, the band curates a truly unique acoustic experience.

The band may be regarded as underground as many people may not know about it, but they regularly perform in and around Gauteng. Their music and sound travels through their performances. The Bad Ass Execs are a band that are using their music to capture the life and times of a culture of young, urban South Africans.

Stream The Bad Ass Execs’ Demo 2016.

Featured Music Reviews

Organic & alternative sounds from Jozi: Above Atlas is taking South African Alt rock to new heights

Above Atlas, a Johannesburg-based band, is fresh, raw and avant-garde. The band is fearlessly spearheading a new wave in the indie and alt rock scene in South Africa and it’s a beautiful sight to see. What they do artistically, places them in a position which allows them to showcase a different side of South Africa – a South Africa through the eyes of young white men. They are tasked with ushering in new schools of thought and communicating new ideas of what South Africa can be and offer to the world.

The band consists of four members, namely Ciaran Quinn who is the lead vocalist, Brogan Herron the lead guitarist, Brandon Manicom the drummer and Luke Wolfe-Coote the bass guitarist. The sounds they create are organic and one can tell that the band members are friends above all else, and it shows in the music. The sound can be described as addictively melodic, edgy and fresh. Acoustics are big with Above Atlas, as incorporating acoustic elements forms part of their formula for creating music. The songs alternate between slow alt rock undertones to very upbeat tunes carried by punchy bass lines more common in pop music. Above Atlas’ style is inspired by bands like Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Tame Impala, The Gorillaz and South African musical outfits like Desmond & the Tutus, Die Antwoord and Bye Beneco.

Above Atlas has performed at Rocking The Daisies and will be performing at this year’s Oppikoppi Festival. Expand your musical palette by including this band in your daily playlist, you will not regret it.

Featured Music Reviews

A review: Sir Rizio’s Walk With Me EP

Johannesburg based indie record label, Bodikela Recordings, puts their best foot forward with their first release of 2018. A scintillating three track EP from Vaal based marvel, Sir Rizio. The EP captures the essence of the current state of South Africa’s underground deep house scene – raw, pulsating and vibrant.

The EP earned a spot on Traxsource’s Weekend Weapons as Roses was charted No. 96 for the weekend of the 12th January. Sir Rizio adequately manages to entrance the listener on a journey through his well blended and progressive sounds. Though the title track’s sharp curved climax steals the show, Warmth remains my stand out favourite and is sure to be a dance floor filler.


Music Reviews

Sweet sounds from the southernmost tip of Africa: Enter Honey Molasses’ dark, indie sound where she builds worlds only she can inhabit

When an artist fully gives themselves up to their artistry, something shifts in the universe. A divine act that carries information of a force that is beyond human comprehension. Beauty could only be the only result when an artist delves deep within themselves to uncover intimate truths that have the power to draw people in – to connect with people. We live in times where commerce supersedes art, and as much as a workable balance is required for an artist to live and keep creating, many often fall for the trap on prioritizing monetary gains over building genuine connections with people.

When using a lens powered by capitalism, honest artistry is easily seen as something that does sell and move, something that is marketable. Unfortunate if you ask me, but genuine art has something that rushed, bubblegum music does not have – staying power. If an artist invests in their artistry in a way that enables them to create timeless work, they inadvertently start playing around with the concept of immortality. How you may ask? Think of a renaissance artist like Michelangelo, a man born in the late 1400s whose name still lives on in the postmodern times that we live in. One could assert that Michelangelo is may be seen as immortal, his creative work gifts him immortality. In more modern times, we can speak of Jean-Michel Basquiat, an artist who is now late but has impact that far exceeds the amount of time he spent on earth.

In 2017, we have artists that are making impactful art and what’s more interesting is that they exist in our own backyards. Take an artist like Honey Molasses, a singer who is bubbling under and building a sizable buzz in the growing independent and alternative music scene in South Africa. With only a few songs online, she has enough talent to have any music head halt in their tracks to give her music a listen – a rare trait to come from internet-based artists. The beauty about her work is that one can tell that she does not separate her art from who she truly is, she is the personification of the expression – art imitates life.

Honey Molasses builds universes with her voice, she creates spaces that only an artist of her ilk can inhabit. The universes and worlds she builds offer a spectrum of emotion and feeling, a glimpse into her life. Her music is a journey, a trip and an experience that you would not find in highly commercialised music. Staying power and timelessness is what her art possesses and that in itself affords her seat in a realm of greatness. If she keeps digging deep within herself and nurturing the skill of creating what truly connects with people, she will be remembered forever.

Stream her latest single “Jeffrey Dahmer” produced by Hungarian producer, Glott.

Culture Events Featured Music

A culture rooted in experimentation & difference: How Buli’s EP launch connected a community that thrives on the alternative side of music

Friday nights in Melville are quite a sight to see, the bohemian suburb located on the west side of the Johannesburg CBD is littered with young people. Young people who crave a break from their demanding school schedules and for some – the pressures of having to balance their professional lives with, well you know, being young. A night out in Melville serves as a much needed guilty pleasure or a form of distraction where the youth, of different races, backgrounds and class can mingle and connect.

Within Melville, you are offered a variety of different communities, music scenes and hangout spots which you can pick and choose from depending on your interests. Each community and scene has its own rules of engagement and operation, but what’s interesting the small, often ignored communities and scenes, attract me the most. The people that choose to live life on the fringes of society, the weird and unique bunch which lead interesting lives. Now as a person who is fascinated by culture and people, these communities fascinate me.

READ: A deep dive into the world of murky, atmospheric beats crafted by Buli

My fascination and sheer admiration of these alternative communities led me to attend Joburg-based indie label, I Suppose Ja’s EP launch event. The artist that was the center of attention that night was Pretoria-based producer, Buli, who was launching his EP titled Lost In The Void. I Suppose Ja is invested in cultivating a scene that nurtures talent in that primarily makes experimental and electronic music, and as much they are record label their work prompts them to be more involved in the scene. The launch event also doubled as a label night and a creative showcase, as the founders of the label offered other producers a platform to share their music and the sounds that inspire them.

The crowd was small, allowing the performing artists to build more meaningful and intimate connections with the attendees. A sense of familiarity and genuine love existed in the venue and a beautiful atmosphere was created. The attendees were genuinely there to support Buli and the supporting acts, a beautiful sight to see. Thick, trance-like experimental music filled the room which got the crowd zoning out while short cuts from anime series were being projected on the wall as the acts performed.

Each set carried the personality and character of the act that was DJing and the transitions were smooth and provocative at the same time. It was as if the performing acts were relaying a baton to each other moving from set to set – it was seamlessness personified.

At the end of the night, as much as Buli was the focus of the night, the people who came to support were the victors because they all came to construct something beautiful and much more bigger than them – the local electronic and experimental scene. The supporting acts, namely Micr. Pluto, FRNGE and Vox Portent also contributed to the event, and proved to us that they are truly invested in the health of the scene.

Stream Buli’s Lost In The Void EP here:

Featured Music Reviews

Sway.Ed: Rooted in creativity & pioneering experimentation in music

Cape Town based band, Sway.ed, is probably the most experimental band to come out of South Africa in 2017. The band’s genre-defying approach is what sets them apart as their music is a medley of jazz, boom bap, soul and rock. The group is composed of bassist Gumbo, guitarist Josh and RxSolo who doubles as the producer and the vocalist.

The band released a 6-track project titled SUMMER(TIME/LOVE) which serves as the perfect introduction to their music. In this project, the listener is thrust into a world of different sounds which are swathed in an effortless, nonchalant manner but still oddly knocks hard. RxSolo, who also happens to be part of another group called Stone Soup, adds a different dynamic to the tracks as he commands the listener to pay attention to not only the words but the musicality of the songs.

On the song called Worth, RxSolo kicks his verse off by saying:

And these days we just stuck blowin’ haze in the shade/
Showin’ that we ain’t afraid of this life

He carries the flow quite impressively while maintaining the theme of the song – which is about a person’s worth, an existential crisis and navigating through messy human relations. The chorus says it all. The project has other impactful songs like Sunset and Sunrise which have their own characters and identities which are not too far from the

The strong guitar riffs and bass rhythm patterns complement the more modern Hip Hop soundscapes. Sway.ed packs and mixes different musical influences into one and creates one big sonic experience for the listener.

Sway.ed is a band you need to familiarise yourself with.

Stream their project below: