A note to The Parlotones, as they jet off to America

Earlier today, Rolling Stone South Africa published an article reporting that South African rock band, The Parlotones (or, as Gareth Cliff calls them, The Par-lot-ones), are moving to Los Angeles, California, in an attempt to reach further into the international music market. While I’m not a Parlotones fan, I am a big lover of South African music, and wanted to mull over a few thoughts, here, regarding this latest move by The Parlotones.

South Africa met The Parlotones several years ago. Instantly, the nation saw something in these gents (I’ll bet even your great auntie knows who they are). Since their inception, they’ve played at the FIFA 2010 World Cup, featured on television & radio… hang, they even had their own KFC-sponsored meal. To many South Africans, this is common knowledge and The Parlotones are a household name.

When looking at the South African music scene, there seems to be an inherent divide between the independents and the major labels. Many fans of ska, punk, metal and other, less-commercially friendly genres tend to “rebel”, if you will, against commercial artists, slating them for being “same-y” or “poppy”. While I’m certainly not a fan of The Parlotones (all their songs sound much the same to me), I feel it’s important to say a few things about and to the band, as they jet off to further their careers (as a band, and most likely as musicians in general, I’d imagine) in Los Angeles:

South African bands and why they rock

I love South African music. There’s something unique about the South African music industry, the culture behind the bands and the unique dedication and passion with which musicians and industry folks go about things. I’ve been listening to some really excellent South African bands lately and the other way, while in the car, it occurred to me that the band I was listening to released the album almost 6 years ago. Despite having released subsequent albums and having grown astoundingly as a band, the album I had on still sounded amazing. This notion lead me to the topic of this blog post- bands I’ll most likely still be listening to in 10 years time and why.

A few months ago, I posed the question of “is it the bands or the musicians?“- this question repeats itself here. It is said that a song, when played in a particular context, can trigger memories and feelings from a point in your history. Below is a list of several South African bands, what they do and what they mean to me. These are just some of the bands that have fueled my love for South African music. If you haven’t heard of several of them, I recommend you try and check them out (well, those that are still around). Let’s kick things off, shall we? In no particular order…

5+ (more) South African bands you may (or may not) have heard

Following on from my first list, I’ve continued by compiling a list of a few more awesome South African bands, past and present.

We have so many amazingly talented bands and musicians in South Africa, it’s not easy to keep this list short. Here are a few South African bands that I’ve enjoyed listening to.

Rambling Bones

This acoustic project, staring Jay Bones (front man of Jo’burg ska/punk legends, Fuzigish) and Kustom Kev on congas, percussion and glokenspiel, these layed back tunes are perfect for a fun evening out or a relaxed evening at home by the fire. Elements of Bones’ ska/punk roots are audible in several tracks.

Check out Rambling Bones at: http://www.ramblingbones.com

4 South African albums to expect in 2009

How often have you heard that your favourite band is “in studio recording their upcoming album”? How many interviews have you read, heard or watched where the band has mentioned that they’re in studio recording an album? This phrase seems to be extremely common among bands in general, which begs the question; “Who is actually releasing their albums and is finished with the recording and production?”. This is who.

Below are several South African bands’ albums to keep an eye and ear out for in 2009. These guys have all been hard at work on their albums for the last year or so, at least. Having followed each of these bands for almost a decade now, I can assure you that they have each pulled out all the stops with their upcoming albums.

Red Five Point Star to tour South Africa

I love it when bands tour to South Africa. We get to show them an awesome time and share our uniquely beautiful landscape and our local musical talent with them. Over the last decade, we’ve hosted bands from all over the world, such as Mad Caddies, NOFX and Lagwagon from the USA, and Skaladdin, Drei Flaschen from Europe. Now Red Five Point Star (RFPS) from Slovenia are gracing our shores with their uniquely blended ska tunes.

RFPS  describe themselves as “dirty ska”. This 6-piece outfit have a unique approach to their sound. With a strong use of keyboards and brass over a backline of drums, bass and guitar, these Slovenians know how to do it! An excerpt from the press release reads as follows:

Coca Cola Zero Fest 2009 – South African Bands

There has been a lot of excitement recently over the band line-up for the 2009 Coca Cola Zero Fest, happening in April, both in Johannesburg and in Cape Town. Having run for several years now, organised by Big Concerts in association with 5FM, the festival  has become widely known for importing big name international recording artists and placing them on stage. side by side with top of the line South African bands. According to Musical Mover and MyCoke, this year’s bill is set to include Oasis, Snow Patrol, PANIC! At The Disco and Bullet for my Valentine, as well as South African bands, Zebra and Giraffe and The Dirty Skirts.

Ska in Scarbourgh with The Rudimentals

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking a drive out to Scarbourgh (aka. ska’bra) to visit the Cape Farmhouse. One of my favourite South African bands, The Rudimentals, were performing there that afternoon as a part of the “Farmhouse Rocks” summer concerts series. Having seen many Rudimentals concerts over the last almost-decade (since about 2001 or so) I have seen the band grow (in numbers) and evolve in ways I could only imagine. This concert was set to be nothing short of incredible.

After the long (and beautiful) drive out to the Farmhouse, I arrived to see a steady stream of families and friends arriving at the venue. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Scarbourgh, I felt instantly relaxed and rejuvenated. I saw friends, both old & new, and was glad to be able to sit down at a beautiful venue such as this.

The concert, as expected, was amazing. It was in fact better than amazing. The crowd was alive and enjoying the music, the venue was bustling with activity and the performance was in true Rudimental form- top class.

If you missed the concert, below is a video of The Rudimentals performing “Love Riddim” (to be released on their upcoming album) as well as a few links for more info and photographs. There will be plenty more concerts this year. I hope to see you at the next few. 🙂

The Rudimentals on Zoopy
The Rudimentals on Twitter
The Rudimentals on Myspace 

Were you at the concert? How did you find it? Share in the comments.