Picks from The Gig Guide | Game Day

March 2, 2005 Posted by admin

earth

The usual excuse to take recreational drugs and do silly things has arrived. A few interesting bands will be making an appearance as well so check it out.

Earthdance

15, 16 september

Cape Town

Coffee Bay

Deda Mountain

Howick

Johannesburg
Line Up:

Cape Town

Johannesburg

Coffee Bay

KZN
Other gigs of note…

Johannesburg
The Black Hotels

Friday 14th Sep: 88 Lounge Norwood

Saturday 15th Sep: German School Oktoberfest. Pretoria
Very little else from me on this front, the venues have shocking web pages, I hate myspace so this is it, put it in the comments if there are others.

Cape Town
Cabins In The Forest

Sep 18 2007 9:00pm

Armchair Theatre Cape Town
Ashtray Electric and New Loud Rockets

Fri 14 Sep

Armchair Theatre

21h00 R30
Taxi Violence

15 September 07

ZULA SOUND BAR – CAPE TOWN

with Just Sarah

R30

Durban
Japan and I

Burn

Saturday 15th September

8pm
Laura Levine

Date: Friday 14th September

Venue: Thunder Road Diner

Address: 136 Florida Road, Morningside, Durban

Time: 7 30pm

Cost: R20

Bookings: 031 303 3440
“2007 South African music award (SAMA) nominee, Laurie Levine is fast building a reputation in the South African industry as an artist with a fresh approach and a unique sound. She is a prolific songwriter and has a jazzy, soulful voice that breathes life into her songs and embodies the emotional core of her music. Laurie Levine’s music comes from the ‘heartspace’, the word poet Breyten Breytenbach uses to describe South Africa’s anguished beauty. Her lyrics touch our ‘unspoken’ corners; her sounds are a contemporary interpretation of true folk.”

Read Laura’s full profile here.
Listen:

Laura Levine – Stranger
As for me, my focus tonight is not exactly on music, I am sure you can guess how I will be entertaining myself. Lekker naweek all, go bokke.

Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

October 20, 2004 Posted by admin

Modest Mouse5

I don’t like Modest Mouse.

Now, I understand that this is tantamount to standing up at an atheist convention and screaming Halleluiah, especially in the realm of what has become our rather rarified taste here on the Muso. I also am fully aware that all the hype and praise that has been showered upon them since their ’96 debut is not just hot air and far more likely that something defunct in my musical taste has left me indifferent to one of the most established indie acts of our day. Albums have come and gone and never hooked me into the hyperbolic adoration that seems a signature of their fans. So perhaps I am not qualified to review their newest offering, but then again when have we ever worried about qualifications before offering an opinion?

With that rather verbose disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the topic at hand: We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. The reason I included some detail on my history with Modest Mouse is that I now feel profound regret at not giving them more of a chance. I have clearly missed out on a lot. We were dead is an exceptional example of the genre we call home and a front runner for my album of the year, it slots so sweetly into our obscure taste that it is a wonder I don’t own their entire back catalogue.

I am well aware that since their Sony music signing in 2000 they have garnered much popular success (although none in this country) and there might be an element of their attempt to master the billboard charts that has allowed the sound to be accessible to previous unbelievers like me. I do feel that MM have managed this feat without compromising their flair for experimentation and unusual composition. Whatever the reason, the result is compelling. With a varied mix of style, guitars that seemed to have been reigned in and a greater level of constraint on vocals Modest Mouse have cleaned up what I have always perceived to be messy band play (however inspired it may have been) into a crisp, tight album. The unfortunate result of this is that long time listeners will find many parts of the album slowing to a rather lacklustre tempo and a few phases of the album that tend towards the bland. Perhaps some of the colour has leaked out but it is a far cry from the monochrome attempts of some of their counterparts.

I always feel that hooks into an album (tracks that lead you easily into full album listening) are often a good measure of how accessible the album feels (something that is always a problem with the type of music we listen to). We Were Dead has more openings than a Mexican cave system with every song welcoming you and inviting you to explore the next few tracks; as a result I have listened to the album from different starting points over a dozen times and the experience is still improving. There is something here for everyone, a statement that is rarely made of a veteran band of indie rockers.

The Best of 2007…So Far (20-16)

October 13, 2004 Posted by admin

kurt-vonnegut

It’s always a masochistic affair trying to assimilate musical moments and then rank them. It’s also a grossly subjective and forgetful process that, for good or bad, tends to annihilate context in favour of a less emotive but lasting resonance.

Despite this, we do it, because in a sense it defines a period of our lives in a snapshot of creative expression. Alongside the smoother gradients of our continued musical education, it demonstrates what we have deemed as most relevant and consistent within an evolving musical identity. It also aids a process of discovery, helping elucidate much which we have yet to cover on the site.

Of the three such lists we’ve compiled, this was in many ways the least trying. For starters, we were unanimous in our choice of the number one and while the relative positions are ultimately completely irrelevant, we managed to achieve general agreement fairly quickly.

On reflection, the list consists of a satisfying mix of debuts, sophomore releases and more mature fare. What is a little surprising to me is the weighty contribution of the computer. The subduction zone that occurs where traditional instrumentation and electronic music collide is, I believe, one of the most intriguing areas of the musical landscape. The variety of ways in which this is achieved in this list is encouragingly diverse.

So who didn’t make it? Most notable is the absence The National’s Boxer and Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, though our respective reviews of the albums should highlight much of the reasoning. Another divisive exclusion is that of The White Stripes’ Icky Thump. In a positive sense, Vampire Weekend’s EP release nearly made it on the strength of its three tracks but ultimately didn’t. Likewise, EP releases from Caribou and Zookeeper proved exceptional yet ultimately unsubstantial enough to warrant inclusion and, though I first heard it this year, The Bang’s Shiny unfortunately predates 2007.

Anyway, here are the first five of our top 20 Best Albums of 2007…so far.

20. The Polyphonic Spree – The Fragile Army

Ignore the flowing robes and messianic haircuts that lend themselves to some sort of vague notion of apocalyptic dualism. The Polyphonic Spree’s choral euphoria is a cult worth falling for. While it may not be their best work, Fragile Army tones down the acid child imagery and succeeds in being more unashamedly enjoyable. Take whatever hypnotic sedatives they’re offering and settle in.

Listen:

The Polyphonic Spree – Running Away

19. Stars – In Our Bedroom After the War

While Stars usually puts even my tolerance for indie pop to the test there is something very seductive about the sound on this album. Surface appearances are often deceptive with bands like Stars and on first listen many songs can easily be passed on without further listening. To do so would be a shame, however, there is a lot more here than meets the eye. While it is not everyone’s cup of tea listening to the sweet sound of Amy Millan on a sunny day is certainly one of life’s true pleasures.

Listen:

Stars – My Favourite Book

18. White Rabbits – Fort Nightly

Fort Nightly was a big grower for me. While at first I didn’t really get what the fuss was about, this is a debut that is busting with potential. While the band doesn’t offer up anything uniquely creative their fundamentally solid sound is something that is quite rare for a debut release. Two vocalists, two drummers and two guitarists mean that while not revolutionary, White Rabbits deliver their music with a lovely richness and depth.

Listen:

White Rabbits – Kid On My Shoulders

17. Sam Skarstad – Serkus

Serkus is a wholly ambitious album and whilst it doesn’t always achieve what it sets out to, Skarstad must nevertheless be applauded for his efforts. At times and in places, the songs transcend their uncomplicated structures to convey truly rich impressions to the listener. Read our review here.

Listen:

Sam Skarstad – Boat

16. Linfinity – A Manual For Free Living: Installation

Of the entire list to follow, I view this release as the most under-appreciated. Linfinity does not seek to be new, but instead pays worthy and enthusiastic homage to half a century of rock memorabilia. Perhaps it is because I have heard much of the second instalment of this grand project, perhaps I give to much credence to an intriguing mixture of familiars, regardless, I recommend that you seek this out and listen. Read our review here.

The Best of 2007…So Far (15-11)

October 12, 2004 Posted by admin

virginia-tech-massacre

A little later than we had planned, but here is the second instalment of the best albums of the year to date.

15. Frog Eyes – Tears of the Valedictorian

The Canuck triumvirate of Krug, Behar and Mercer has done more to expand my musical landscape than many others in recent years. While previous Frog Eyes releases have seemed overly idiosyncratic and needlessly complex it is probably the education I have received at the hands of the Swan Lakers over the last two years that have opened my mind up to the beauty of Mercer’s music. Mercer’s ability to create phrases of lyrical splendor amongst a tumultuous backdrop of instrumental accompaniment will keep me hanging on his every word for years to come.

Listen:

Frog Eyes – Bushels

14. Battles – Mirrored

I never went through a math rock phase. The rigid structural conformity, seemingly staccato rhythms and asymmetrical beats always seemed too much like self-imposed strangulation for me to really enjoy it. With Mirrored though, Battles have returned me to a genre that seemed lost. I stumble knowingly toward a cliché when I say that John Stanier’s drums are the heart of what makes Battles exceptional, but it is the sunny melodies and hopelessly contorted lyrics that makes this album stand out from the math that I’ve heard before.

Listen:

Battles – Atlas

13. Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings

Spiderman of the Rings trades in few half measures and small steps. Deacon’s complete insanity prefers subtraction rather than the addition of layers and the result is an animated (literally) cacophony that unfolds with spectacular precision. Read our review here.

Listen:

Dan Deacon – Wham City

12. Sibot – In With The Old

The sole South African representative in the bunch; this veteran of the SA music scene I has finally made the album we have been waiting for. While his projects have varied from hip hop acts to the jazz kaleidoscope that is Closet Snare, Sibot’s solo work has always been teetering on the brink of true success. With a more restrained performance and some inspired sampling In With The Old may just be the album to make Sibot the house hold name we all know he should be. Read our review here.

Listen:

Sibot – Bang on the Drum (feat Spoek Mathambo)

11. Map of Africa – Map of Africa

Sweaty, jazzy, soulful, funky, grinding, psych- rock. However you want to classify this heaving monster, the adjectives are unlikely to reflect the fact that Map of Africa is DJ Harvey and Thomas Bullock, better known for their house and electroclash forays respectively. Rock will rule the dancefloor.

Out With The Old

October 8, 2004 Posted by admin

The more perceptive among you may have noticed that The Muso has, like a chameleon, changed it’s outer skin. As I hate the self-indulgence in posting endlessly on new site designs I will keep this necessarily brief. Firstly there will be many tweaks and changes coming over the next few weeks but mostly we are happy with how it turned out and I hope you will find it a comfortable place to rest your eyes for a few moments in your day. As neither of us are designers or knew the first thing about coding; the attempt to design our site ourselves (twice now) has been punctuated with more than a few disasters. If you have any constructive criticism about how we can change things please drop us a line.

New Pornographers Live @ Koko, 04/10

September 18, 2004 Posted by admin

new-pornographers-carl-newman

The venue is a labyrinthine theatre. Plum red walls extend skyward to a distant ceiling from which a gigantic mirror ball swings. From amongst the balconies, balustrades, stairwells, galleries and terraces, eager faces crane forward in expectation. A tangible sense of occasion hangs in the air.

With a crisp matter-of-factness, Carl Newman introduces his band, stating that they are in the midst of playing four countries in five days.

“Think of the most powerful drug you can and then cross it with narcolepsy.”

I’ve been heard to mention that the best thing about The New Pornographers is the unparalleled power pop platform that it gives Dan Bejar. It’s unfair and brazenly untrue, but the hint of honesty rests with the fact that Bejar’s contributions rank disproportionately highly in my ranking of the band’s material. Since this touring incarnation of The New Pornographers is shorn of Bejar and Neko Case, perhaps the two most celebrated individuals, this show made for an interesting insight into the group’s dynamic.

Despite the fact that the show then neglected all of Graceland, Stacked Crooked and The Jessica Numbers, among my favourite non-Bejar offerings, it was a fantastic set. In what proved to be a whirlwind tour of seven years of new pornography, five things became apparent, three positive, one somewhat negative, one downright negative.

The downright negative:

The sound was pretty poor. Newman’s vocals were mostly illegible and the melodic keyboard intricacy that sets The New Pornographers apart was often lost. As someone familiar with the group’s material, I was able to fill in the blanks with ease. The others with me were less successful though still positive. It seems that this disease is not endemic to South Africa.

The somewhat negative:

Dan Bejar is the cherry on the top. His presence in the band appears to be more that of shape shifting collaborator than bedrock member, but his absence removed much of eclectic visceral dimension that I’ve always thought the band has in spades. Not hearing Jackie and Myriad Harbour was particularly disappointing.

The positive:

Kathryn Calder’s voice is even more angelic in person. Simply stunning. It is high praise indeed to say that Neko Case was not really missed.

Challengers is an exceptional album, the quality of which stood out strongly in its complexity against the older material.

In the space of four albums The New Pornographers have amassed a stunning catalogue of material. It is only a very special group that could carry the above-mentioned absences with such ease.

Picks From The Gig Guide

September 3, 2004 Posted by admin

vio

Friday 7 September

Cape Town

Napalma
Armchair Theatre

Eat This Horse
Zula

Jozi

The Bang, The New Academics
The Bohemian

Magna Carta, Harris Tweed, Arlyn
Blues room

Saturday 8 September

Cape Town

MaxNormal.tv
Armchair Theatre

Jozi

Magna Carta, Harris Tweed, Arlyn
Blues room

Sunday 9 September

Durbs

Black Hotels
Botanical Gardens

…and that’s your lot. What have I missed?

Posted by The Muso on September 6th, 2007 filed in Gigs |

2 Responses to “Picks From The Gig Guide”

  1. doovatis Says:
    September 7th, 2007 at 10:44 amAlso Black Hotels at Botanical Gardens DBN on Sunday
  2. The Muso Says:
    September 7th, 2007 at 11:12 amThat was a typo, sorry. Black Hotels not Japan and I at the Botantical Gardens in Durbs

Blogosphere Beats

April 7, 2004 Posted by admin

colab

Every year we, at The Muso, like to take a piece of litmus paper to the South African blogosphere to try and determine what our esteemed blogger comrades are listening to. With a pretty broad brief (to write about the one song that they couldn’t stop listening to) this is what our fellow bloggers had to say…

The Muso

 

http://www.themuso.co.za

Contributor: The Don

Song: The Album Leaf – Over The Pond

While my current obsession with post rock has been a recent digression from my normal listening tastes that doesn’t at all diminish how addictive I have found this. The Album Leaf has been the newest addition to my ever expanding adoration list. There is something about the sweet simplicity in the music that is strangely alluring. While the bulk of the music I listen to steam rolls me with intricate and often messy vocals, experimental instruments and off beat timings the clear structure of this track provides me with an oasis in an expanding melee of auditory assaults. Music has always had the ability to inspire or motivate but it has been a long time since a track (or an album for that matter) has managed to relax me as well as the tender melodies of the Album Leaf.

So Close

 

http://www.teria.org

Contributor: Tertia

Song: Duke – So in love with you

This song was our (my girlfriends and I) dance anthem. If we weren’t already on the dance floor, this song would get us RUNNING to the floor to boogie. It reminds me of a time where we were at the height of our party lives. It was 1997 and we lived in a stunning flat right on the Waterfront. We had cool clothes, cool cars and we had lots of disposable income. We did some shit I hope my kids don’t do one day, but dammit, we had fun. Spyce, Farcyde, Funktion….. Damn, those were fun times.

Joblog

 

http://www.joblog.co.za

Contributor: Don

Song: The Sleeping – Don’t hold back

Again, this is a track that has me living by the lyrics. Late last year I was at a crossroads in terms of where I was headed in business, and unsure of making a drastic change. Basically, ‘don’t hold back’ is something that keeps me going. I decided to make the change. It’s been a year in the making, but that change is finally coming to a hopefully huge success. So much so that I, again, tattoo’d it onto my arm to remind me everyday to not hold back and give 100% in everything, always. Rad.

The Muso

 

http://www.themuso.co.za

Contributor: DJF

Song: Oxbow – A Winner Every Time

It’s strange how most of us embrace intensity, savagery and a guided tour of The Heart Of The Beast more readily in one artform than another. Edvard Munch’s Scream and Hannibal Lecter movies are far more widely, er, consumed than anything similar in the musical domain. And, while on the subject of Mr Lecter, ain’t that mix of urbane wit and depravity just the wrong side of seductive?

It is for similar reasons that I love Oxbow’s music – “A Winner Every Time” drifts effortlessly from wood-panelled refinement to divine annihilation in a way that even the most hardened Metalheaded derivative would never anticipate. It is by far the most exhilarating thing that I have heard so far this year.

Cherryflava

 

http://www.cherryflava.com

Contributor: Jon

Song: Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love

When we heard the sick rumour that Led Zeppelin were planning to reform and play a reunion concert at London’s O2 arena, we did what nearly 2 million other people did at the same time and tried to get tickets – promptly crashing and frying the ticket website’s server.

Ticketless and desperately wishing to relive our glory days of hedonistic reckless abandon as penniless Maties – we hauled out the old Zep CDs from their cotton wool beds and started replaying the classic sounds of a band that was frankly, years ahead of its time.

Do yourself a big favour – load up the all time killer Zep track ‘Whole lotta love’ on your fancy car system…open all the windows, crank it up as far as you can take it before the speakers blow and do a little cruising on the highway while drumming your fingers to that legendary drum solo. Or better yet – try get your grubby little mitts onto one of the very limited-edition live tickets, which are being carefully distributed for the November 26th show.

Now that’s rock ‘n roll baby, yeah!

Isolation.tv

 

http://isolation.tv

Contributor: Lloyd

Song: Sonic Youth – Unmade Bed

Ok I know this album is already over three years old, but it has probably been my most listened to track of 2007. From the opening jangle to the soaring guitar riffs that crunch Neil Young style; this song is just pure bliss. I really love the understated vocals of Thurston Moore, the beautiful clean guitar and his voice really establish this song as a bit of a slow groove and then all of a sudden at 1 minute and 40 sec, that great distorted guitar introduces itself bringing the song to life. I was driving in my car the other day listening to this and I couldn’t help thinking that if ever there was a song that was Sonic Youth doing Neil Young and Crazy Horse, then this is it. It’s in the way the song effortlessly moves from delicate beauty to snarling distortion and the way that distorted guitar rambles like a straggler, aggressive yet unsure of itself.

The connection between Sonic Youth and Young are well documented, it was the Youth who helped to revive Young’s career in the late eighties and early nineties when they were touring buddies, by introducing him to new audiences as ‘the Godfather of Grunge’ during the Ragged Glory era. This touring partnership also resulted in Arc, the feedback instrumental piece, which young released after being inspired by the Youth’s use of sound sculpting. Then there is the cover of Computer Age from the critically written-off eighties album Trans that Sonic Youth contributed to the Neil Young tribute album The Bridge.

Anyway getting back to Unmade Bed, it is the sheer beauty of a song like this that places Sonic Nurse right up there with my favourite Sonic Youth albums.

The Muso

 

http://www.themuso.co.za

Contributor: Vicky Plum

Song: The Catempire – Hello

“Hello” by The Catempire is just about the sexiest song I know. It’s a bit dated now, was released in 2003, but whenever I hear it I still have to jump out my chair and start shaking my ass. Felix Reibl’s cheeky lyrics, delivered with such a naughty glint and relaxed confidence, are backed by a tight band with spellbinding horns and a rock solid rhythm section. Happy music at it’s best.

Splattermail

 

http://www.splattermail.org

Contributor: Salami

Song: Doves – Pounding

My contribution is Pounding, by Doves. Reason I love it? “I just can´t get tired of this ditty. It starts out as a “pounding” anthem and builds constantly until it becomes difficult not to whip out the air drums. 60% of the time it makes me jizz my pants ALL the time. If the Doves were a woman, they´d be Jessica Alba.”

Peas On Toast

 

http://mushypeasontoast.blogspot.com

Contributor: Peas
Song: Jose Padilla – Adios Vaya

This is going to be unconventional. I’ve started working in town, right. The traffic’s a bitch, taxis have all but taken off my back bumper, 5:00pm is the time I come closest to buying a gun and raining bullets over everyone in a mass killing spree. I got Cafe Del Mar Seis for my birthday. What a fucking life saver. Honestly, thank fuck for chill out music, and not a moment too soon.

Jose Padilla’s Adios Vaya (Track 13) is on repeat to the point where the laser in my CD shuttle is Going. To. Break. But until then, the windows are closed, the air con is on – and the man croons aimlessly on about “thinking about tomorrow, so I have to say goodbye” and shit like that. He’s goofed, that’s for fucking certain, but damn, it’s soothing. With the slightly repetitive trill of the pianotic-infused panpipes – no seriously – drawn together with his the soothingly dreamy voice, I’m transported a place of rolling green fields and Super M that comes directly of the taps. He’s the only dude who can take me there right now, so I’ll be damned if I have to listen to something else. In the heat of urban congestion, and the familiar tingle of deranged lunacy is banging away at your synapses? Whack this on. Or don’t and just kill people then, whatever.

Ninja Monkeys

 

http://ninjamonkeys.co.za/

Contributor: Vaughn

Song: Korn – Coming Undone

“Keep holding on, when my brain’s ticking like a bomb.”

Heavy bass, a stomping rhythm, and Korn’s distinctive sound build into a great anthem about giving in to madness, when life’s pressure gets too much.

Some days, when the chaos is too great, you feel like you’re losing your grip and coming undone. This is the song that I thrash out at full volume on those days to remind me to hold it together.

BeastInsight

 

http://www.beastinsight.com

Contributor: James

Song: Wilco – Impossible Germany

Music Reviews. They’re a whole nother movie altogether.

Many so-called critics purport to be “music experts”, but are so far up their own arse that they show themselves to be nothing more than music fascists. Reading many critiques out there, you can’t help but imagine a frustrated guitarist or wedding singer with a pen and a dictionary, denigrating the reader with a spiteful, patronizing assessment that – they would have you believe – belongs in the universal constitution.

So allow me to break it down in a way that everyone will understand: Whether you’re a “music expert”, a music fascist or a music layman, you are formally invited to have your own opinion.

Wilco’s Impossible Germany is like that classic movie that you own on DVD. If not, then it’s the film that you’re too embarrassed to rent because the Mr. Video clerk will see that you’ve rented it 12 times already. Impossible Germany is quite possibly Casablanca. It’s The Shawshank Redemption or The Big Lebowski. It’s Jerry Maguire or Sideways and it’s certainly As Good As It Gets.

See what I did there…

Where this classic song might defy comparison with these titles is that it takes a few listens before you properly appreciate it. Perhaps it’s more like The Usual Suspects or Memento. More like Fight Club or The Sixth Sense.

A sixth sense would be recommended when you first hear the 3rd track on Sky Blue Sky. There is every chance you’ll experience a sensory overload as Nels Cline takes you on the journey that is his 3 minute guitar solo. Fear not though… you are permitted, nay, encouraged to hear it again. And again. And again. Even once you think you have it sussed, it continues to improve with every spin. Impossible Germany is Anchorman. It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Yes ladies… It’s Dirty Dancing (heck, I might as well come out and say it: yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s Dirty Dancing).

The funny thing is, I don’t think I will ever quite understand what Jeff Tweedy and the lads are on about in this song. In that sense, I guess Impossible Germany might be more aptly related to The Matrix.

Although not the 3rd instalment in the trilogy. I don’t care about your opinion – that was crap!

The Muso

 

http://www.themuso.co.za

Contributor: The Muso

Song: Patrick Wolf – Accident and Emergency

When it comes down to it, choosing one song from the many is a fairly brutal process. I’ve settled on Mr Wolf due to the fact that his latest album, The Magic Position, has resurrected itself in my estimations in recent months. Accident and Emergency represents the high point of the album, a lovely blend of analogue and digital and a tempo that I hope the band strives to achieve more often on future releases.

The Evolution of Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha

August 18, 2003 Posted by admin

ab

The designation of artist is conferred on a wide and varied collection of humanity these days. In most instances the description is a complete misnomer if not an outright fraud. Andrew Bird is not one of these instances. He is an artist in every detail of his work, and every note of his instrument. His canvass is the vast expanse of the human mind and the brush strokes of his auditory palette have become indelibly imposed on the souls of his many fans. Any review of his work needs to come with this explicit qualification lest I seem slightly arrogant in criticising one of the most complete musicians of our age.

Armchair Apocrypha is Bird’s third solo studio release since the disbanding of his band Bowl of Fire in 2003; although his continued dialogue with the audience has been continued through three live recordings Fingerlings, Fingerlings 2 and the 2006 release of Fingerlings 3. It is through these live recordings I have followed the work of Bird and it has provided a unique insight into the evolution of his musical style and the progression of his songs towards studio release. The 2005 release of The Mysterious Production Of Eggs was the culmination of continuous live performing and meticulous perfection of his sound. It was quite simply, a masterpiece, so it was with souring expectations that I embarked on Armchair Apocrypha.

Armchair Apocrypha is a vastly different album from its predecessors. Bird has introduces a much stronger electronic element to the sound, surely a testament to the influence of collaborator, electronic musician Martin Dosh. The production of the album has also been tweaked under the microscope with many of the raw edges, of previous albums, being ironed out. The, surely unexpected, result of this polishing is, quite surprisingly, to diminish the quality of the music. The focus on perfect sound has leaked much of the passion from the music. What has replaced it is an album that for large parts sounds empty and sterile, in stark contrast the warmth and comfort of TMPOE and the raw edged passion of his Fingerlings recordings. Bird’s ability to revive an emotive response in the listener is diminished by the cold, distant sound of the album and not even the lyrical complexity or the beautiful voice of Bird can save this in most cases.

Again this criticism has to be coupled with the regard I have for the work and on selected tracks the addition of electronic elements and a richer, band like complexity has dramatically added to the appeal. Plasticities and Dark Matter stand out as highlights of the album and remind me why Andrew Bird has become the closest thing I have to a musical prophet. My concern is that perhaps the brilliance of these tracks is only emphasised even more by the lack of distinguishable peaks throughout the remaining musical landscape of the album.

Daisy vs Dassie

January 4, 2002 Posted by admin

Can a Cape Town Rock Festival stand up to big guns like Oppikoppi?

I’ve been to two rock festivals in the last couple of months, and at Rocking the Daisies I started to wonder: what would all the dassies from Oppikoppi think if they had made it to Rocking the Daisies. Who would win if you put Heavyweight Dusty Dassie into the ring with the Delicate Daisies of Darling? Well, there’s a couple of things to consider in any comparison of festivals:

Round 1: Setting

Dassie steps into the ring with a show of force: 4 stages, 3 bars, a huge campsite; part of which has electric lighting. But then there’s the thorn trees and dust. Rocking the Daisies had no dust. It did have pretty hills, pretty grass, haybales to frolick in, a pretty dam for swimming, and wine-tasting. Also lots of larny stalls that look nice. Daisy comes out of that round having avoided most of Dassie’s power punches and Dassie looks hot and frustrated.

Round 2: Line-Up

Dassie has recovered his cool, and looks focussed and intent. With 4 stages of non-stop music over 3 days, not just two, it’s clear to the Dusty Dassie that Darling Daisy doesn’t stand a chance. At Oppikoppi there was a smorgasbord of music, electro, hiphop, ska, pop, folk, jazz, African. At Rocking the Daisies there was rock. Oh, and a jazz band. No, that’s a lie, there were a few styles represented, electro, rock, folk, jazz; and some really good acts. Goldfish, Rudimentals, Taxi Violence. But nothing to compare to the international acts, and range of music at Oppikoppi. Daisy steps out with a few petals knocked off, wondering what on earth possessed her to book Flat Stanley. Dassie is still focussed and intent.

Round 3: Ethos and General Vibe

Because Dassie is so focussed on the music, he misses a bit on things like social consciousness and happy vibes. I don’t remember seeing a single free condom at Oppikoppi, but there was a whole lot of trash, and the festivalgoers all thought it was a great idea to adorn the thorn trees with beer cans. Big Up to Daisies for giving out plenty of free condoms, and planting trees to offset their carbon footprint. There were a lot of kids (the human kind) and people had their dogs there, creating a friendly atmosphere. However, the awareness of the environmental angle was minimal. It took me two days to find out that the bins were labelled (I don’t read bins unless someone draws my attention to the fact that they have writing) and the tent screening environmental videos just seemed like the kind of place people would go sleep when they were too drunk to party. They should have had leaflets or briefed people at the gate – the claim to be environmentally friendly rings completely hollow to me.

Round 4: Cost

This is where it really comes to the crunch. Was it worth it? Daisy and Dassie circle each other. Daisy is looking run down, Dassie is tired but determined. Darling is slightly closer to Cape Town than Oppikoppi is to Joburg, and when you’re catering for 2 nights instead of 3 you save money. But then the fact that we couldn’t braai cost money. You had to bring extra equipment for gas cooking if you wanted to self-cater, and you ended up just buying food anyway because your gas kept going out in the wind. Buying food was not cheap. Whoever heard of a Gourmet Burger at a festival? Oppikoppi definitely had better cheap food, and more choices of food that wasn’t going to kill your pocket. And this business at Daisies of buying R100 vouchers for booze! How is that going to discourage binge-drinking? The only way you could get a programme was by buying a R100 drinks voucher. To be fair, at Oppikoppi you had to buy a tequila, but one tequila is only R10. So with food, and booze, and tickets, you got a better range of music and better music at Oppikoppi.

Daisy limps out the ring, defeated, but knowing that she put on a good show. She may have lost to the heavyweight, but she has plenty of time to grow, and a nice patch of sun to do it in. Dassie retires to his kopje, where he chews grass in the sun and waits for the next rampaging horde.

[Don: Thanks to Vicky for the insight, not going to bother with a gig guide this weekend as I think most of the country will be buried in front of the TV praying the electricity stays on. For a break from the oval ball you could always check out the gigs below:]