Thursday, 29 September 2011

aKING- Dutch Courage

With the obvious exception of Ice Hockey, I am by no means a hardcore sports fan. Football has never done anything for me and Rugby is only fun to watch occasionally. But when any international sporting event like a world cup comes around I'm filled with this immense feeling of patriotism and I even occasionally watch a game! So in celebration of the 2011 Rugby World Cup and my very rare patriotism I recommend to you all on this Plug in Your Head Thursday, South African Melodic Rock outfit, aKING with Dutch Courage.

In 2009 at the Jo'burg Day music festival I was at the front of the crowd embarrassing myself to SA bands like Prime Circle, Just Jinjer, Freshly Ground and Zebra and Giraffe. I squeeze through the hordes of drunk Afrikaners in their deck chairs and braais to ensure my place in front for Zebra and Giraffe a band I have never heard of walks on stage shaggy looking with road worn instruments and jeans. (as opposed to the sequins worn by the shitty pop acts of the day.) The drummer has a joint in between his teeth and their look definitely tainted the family friendly vibe of the day.

But when they started playing no-one in the crowd cared about what they were wearing because they played the kinda music that makes me proud to say I'm South African! 

aKING is made up of Fokofpolisiekar member, Jaco 'Snakehead' Venter, Laudo Liebenberg and Hennie van Halen with their latest member Andrew Davenport who joined in 2010 after the departure of Hunter Kennedy.
I wouldn't say that aKING bring anything new to the music industry but what they do, they do well! I can't really compare this band to anyone, they kinda have a little bit of influence from everything in the rock music industry.

The album starts out strong with Decomposing Lullaby. A delayed, palm muted guitar and Laudo's... Grizzly voice. (I can't think of another way to describe it but that's how I've always thought of his voice.) The bass in this song is very prominent, but not very noticeable. For example, in the pre-chorus there is a little bass lick that I never really noticed until now. It isn't quiet either, it's just kinda uninteresting. I love how in the second pre-chorus, however, the Snare drum is struck on "Gunshot." Very cheesy, but very cool. I also like the Galloping guitar in the chorus. It sounds different to most galloping pieces because it's done with very low distortion.

I love the drumming in this album. It shows indefinitely that simple can be better! Snakehead isn't an amazing drummer, but he is very tight and knows how to play with his band. I always say that a good drummer knows when not to play and can make the quieter parts brilliant with a simple tapping on the rim of the drum. A perfect example of this is in Track 2, Holy Train.
His Clickety-Clack Train sounding drumming in the intro is also quite effective without sounding cheesy, (Due to the Song being called Holy Train.) He can also bring it right down and build it up again instantly and seamlessly!

My favourite thing about this band is the lyrics. I don't wanna say they're arty for the sake of being arty, because I know that lyrics can often make no sense to anyone other than the lyricist. But in this case the lyrics can really make no sense! However they are beautiful. Beautiful lyrics and an absolutely beautiful voice. aKING will also double track the voice at parts to give it more thickness and depth but not like John Lennon who will do an entire song with a double track. The backing vocals also create a great atmosphere in many songs. Laudo's brilliant vocals and lyrics are beautifully showcased in songs like Lonely Hands and Thirsty for Love.

My Favourite song on this album is Track 9, Safe as Houses. It its a duet with Laudo and Inge Beckmann. This is such a beautiful song. Beautiful Lyrics, Beautiful Voices and an AMAZING feeling this song leaves me with. It really captures you and almost hypnotises you. This is the only song I have ever seen my best friend sing along to (Other than Eluvietie.) The lyrics in this song paint a beautiful picture in my mind and I love the simple instrumentals. The guitar piece is really... Pretty! There I said it! Now I gotta get my masculinity back by means of driving fast cars and talking about girls! But I got a busy day tomorrow so forget that.

This is really a brilliant album and as far as SA bands go, aKING are possibly the best. Go check them out and support South African music! 
After I saw them at Jo'burg Day I went directly to the Look 'n Listen tent and bought both their albums! And then Laudo came out and had a conversation with me! He signed my CD along with the rest of the band and was really cool. Until my Step Dad shouted out, 
"I LOVE YOU ARNO CASTENS!" to which Laudo flipped him off and walked away. So unless you mistake Laudo for another South African Rock musician, you should have no problems with aKING!

Here's a Link to aKING- Dutch Courage on Grooveshark.com Go check it out and tell me what you think! You can leave a comment, tweet me @Xtianzzyzx or email me at xtianzzyzx@gmail.com. You can also recommend me an album or ask me to review something!

Finally, please can you guys all go to www.sosbrunodebbie.co.zaBruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were kidnapped by Somalian Pirates in October last year and a ransom of US $4 million (ZA R28-million) has been demanded by their captors. I know that their families would love to see them safe again but they are unable to pay this sum. So please go to www.sosbrunodebbie.co.za and make a donation! Ontop of that, for every new follower Plug in Your Head gets between now and their safe return I will contribute R10. If everyone works together we can bring them home.

I'll be back next week with another Recommendation, so until then, Turn Up the Volume and Plug in Your Head!

Go Bokke

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

No Plug in Your Head Today

I apologise to all my readers but something came up and so I have to postpone the new Plug in Your Head until tomorrow (Thursday.)

It will definitely be up tomorrow but until then, Check out an album, Makers of High Grade Suites by The Upholsterers. It's only 3 songs unfortunately, but it is brilliant none the less.

Try to figure out who the lead singer is (Without using Google) and comment on this post or on Twitter @Xtianzzyzx or email me at xtianzzyzx@gmail.com. There aren't any prizes, I'm just testing your ear and music knowledge.

OK so until tomorrow Turn up the Volume and Plug in Your Head!

Xtian Zzyzx

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Sage Francis- Li(f)e

Xtian Zzyzx, the infamous metal head has quite frankly gotten over being angry, and has also gotten over talking about himself in the third person. I am not as angry as I was a couple months ago, so I don't listen to metal as much as I used to. And because I don't listen to metal as much as I used to, a whole music genre is kinda gone! So I've been exploring new genres. And one of them is Rap.


I was introduced initially to only two rappers, and one of them was Sage Francis. Now I was so surprised when I heard Sage at first, he just seemed so different and I couldn't place why. But them I figured it out! He isn't talking about all the bitches and brands he got up in his crib! Or his mic skills. He talks about the kinda things that a rock band would talk about and this is one of the the things that has always kept me away from rap. It is RAP, Rhythm And Poetry and so, no matter how good the Rhythm part of the song is, if the poetry sucks then I can't listen to it. And Sage Francis is primarily a poet, in fact he is actually a poet.


Track 1, Little Houdini was the first Sage Francis song I ever heard, a friend played it to me. I loved it, it was so beautiful. The song is about a man trying to escape from prison so that he could see his mother one last time on her death bed. This song moved me because I had never heard a rap song that had this much emotion and sadness in it. The only emotion I had ever heard in a rap song was anger, and quite frankly, I don't need any more anger in my life. And while sadness might suck, a sad song always makes me feel better afterwards. This song is beautifully written, the lyrics are moving and his flow is brilliant. What I was most surprised about was that this song is a true story! Christopher Gay really did escape from prison to see his mother on her death bed. And the fact that an artist chooses to immortalise such a person in a song is quite different, but quite inspiring.
The song starts out almost as a narrative, where Sage speaks his rhymes rather than rapping. But then there is a breakdown of sorts where he speeds up and starts rapping. I loved that part. That was what kept me interested in the song, because no matter how good the rhymes are, it's all about presentation.


And that's where Sage lacks quite alot. His lyrics are some of the best I've ever heard and for that I respect him immensely, but some of his songs are very underwhelming or kinda bad. And that is sad because his lyrics are always BRILLIANT.
For example, Track 3, I was Zero. It starts out really well with the line,
"If it wasn't for the bass, I wouldn't need these hearing aids.
If it wasn't for mistakes, I probably wouldn't be here today."
But then it kinda goes down hill when he starts going,
"When I came out my momma I was zero.
When I came out my momma I was zero.
When I came out my momma I was zero.
I was zero when I came out my momma, and now everybody knows."
Those lines, quite honestly ruin the song for me. This is my least favourite song on the album purely because of that part. But besides that part, the beat is good and so are the lyrics


One of the things I love about this album is the fact that, unlike normal Rappers, Sage Francis uses a live band! And you can really hear that on Track 2, Three Sheets to the Wind. This is my favourite song on the album! The flow in this song is the smoothest I have ever heard and the instrumentals are pretty sick. It starts out with this bass part and some of the craziest rhymes I've ever heard. If you listen to this song, have a copy of the lyrics infront of you, they are really brilliant and unlike most of his songs, the Chorus is really good. You really get the feeling that Sage is having alot of fun in this song.


Track 5, Diamonds and Pearls, is another case of the really crappy choruses that Sage Francis has in his songs,
"Surprising the world, with diamonds and pearls
But a song about a girl, ain't really about a girl"

That isn't a very good line... But after that the good lines come in! For example
"Got a two-way vanity mirror, I'm an amity villain
With a peeping tom complex"
Besides the chorus, I love the song!

I'm not quite sure what I think of the  chorus of Track 6, Polterzeitgeist, is... erm... Interesting. I can't say it's bad but I'm not sure if it's good? 
"Maybe he's the ghost, and maybe I'm the host
The polterzietgeist who knows the right price
To pay the priest to release me from these ropes."
It's good I guess, but what I really love about that song is the slide guitar in the beginning. It fits the mood of the song so well and the song is kinda where the song slows down and chills out and the slide fits this mood the album goes into so well too.

Finally Track 12, The Best of Times. This song is a brilliant representation of teenage life and I think it is a brilliant way to end this album. This song may not represent your childhood and teenage years precisely but at least some of it will. This song has the best lyrics on this album and I guess that is possibly because I can relate to this song more than most on the album. But everyone should be able to relate to this song somehow, young or old. So I guess this song is, in a way a representation of life in general.

I love this album, and no matter how closed minded or anti-rap some one is, everyone will certainly find at least ONE song they like on this album. If you are (like me) new to rap, then this is a great album to get you into the genre. If you are a rap aficionado of sorts, then this is a great album for you too!

Here's a link to Sage Francis- Li(f)e on Grooveshark.com

So tell me what you think of Sage Francis. You can leave a comment, you can e-mail me at Xtianzzyzx@gmail.com you can Tweet me on @Xtianzzyzx You can ALSO leave a comment on the Plug in Your Head, Facebook page.


Please +1 my blog, and follow it. And if you think it's worth a mention, tell your friends. And don't forget that you can recommend me new music as well! I'll be sure to review it!


I'll be back next week with another Recommendation, so until then, Turn Up the Volume and Plug in Your Head!
Xtian Zzyzx 


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tell Me?

Tell me, what's your favourite album/song/artist and why? Leave a comment, email me xtianzzyzx@gmail.com tweet me @xtianzzyzx or leave a comment on the Plug in Your Head facebook page

Xtian Zzyzx

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Wolfmother- Wolfmother

Yes. I will admit it, I am a hypocrite. Every week I give you guys recommendations, but a couple of months ago, a friend recommended ME Wolfmother, and I kept putting it off. But this last weekend I decided to give this band a listen and... wow. I loved it! Alot! There are so many brilliant things about this band... And some shit ones.


Most of Wolfmother's impact and power comes from their singer, Andrew Stockdale. He has an incredibly unique voice. As opposed to all the generic Nickle Back/ Daughtry sound-a-likes out there these days. I hear Stockdale mostly being compared to Jack White and I while can definitely pick up on the resemblance. For example the iconic distorted scream that Jack White does, often with the help of a Harmonica Mick. But they are so different.


Jack White and Stockdale both have that high voice, but when White hits the much higher octaves, he struggles. Listen, for example, to the live version of Blue Orchid on the DVD, Under Great White Northern Lights. He can't hit those notes. But I do believe that in the studio version he was able to hit those notes without technological help. But Stockdale goes higher than White and stay there. And he does it more confidently with more power.
I think he shares alot of vocal traits with Iron Maiden's lead singer, Bruce Dickinson.


I think the most powerful part of this album is the first line of Track 1, Colossal.
"I saw the colossal landscape
Of which I never was a part"
The lyrics aren't one's to shake the music world to it's foundations, in fact Wolfmother's lyrics are very average. But what really wows me is his voice and the vocal melody. There's also an effect put over his voice which kinda muffles it. But the way he sings that part makes me think he was trying to overpower the effect. And I think he did a good job cuz that part is SO powerful.

This album really starts out so strong. Now I'm not saying it loses it's strength, cuz it doesn't. But about halfway through the album you get a little desensitised to it's impact. But I think that if you were to listen to a song, take a 5 minute break and listen to the next song. Each song would blow you away. You just get too used to it, kinda like AC/DC. As the guy who introduced me to Wolfmother said, "There is not ONE shit song on that album!" And he was right!

Now the instrumentals in this album are good, very good, but when I hear alot of their riffs I think, "I'm sure I've heard this somewhere before?" But there is one instrumental part I love SO MUCH! The cheesy-ass guitar riff in the intro to Track 3, White Unicorn. It is so, so, so cheesy! But I love it. On the topic of White Unicorn, about halfway through the song after the second chorus the singer goes,
"We could live together
We could live together
We could live together."
The last "Live together" is so, so brilliant! The Double tracking, the harmonies with the guitar... Wow I really can't tell you how much I love that part. His voice is amazing.
But then there's this stupid little slow section round the 3:20 mark. It sounds like... erm... An underwater Acid trip. That part annoys me. Alot. It is so generic.

Another thing that annoys me about this album is the drummer. He is really good, but so underwhelming. Not because his playing is boring, but because everything else Overwhelms the drumming. You really have to listen to notice the drumming.
What happened to the days when Rock bands used drums as an instrument and not just a time keeping utensil!? Did that die along with John Bonham? Even Hip-Hop and House appreciate drummers more. They use beats as part of the music and not just to fill a hole. Not even Green Day have that iconic drumming anymore.
I think the most noticable drumming on this album is the Kick, Floor Tom, Kick Kick, Snare part in the beginning of Track 5, Mind's Eye. I don't particularly like that song, it's not bad but it's my least favourite song on the album. It's like every rock band now-a-days has to have that token slow song and they all sound like that! Not Even Stockdale's vocals can redeem it's clich├ęd-ness, and those vocals are really good.

The Intro to Track 4, Pyramid, is a very debated topic in my head. I don't know if I hate it or love it. On one hand, it's impressive, but on the other... It's fucking annoying! Sound's like more of that underwater acid trip shit. Actually, come to think of it, I don' like it. It's impressive but it simply doesn't sound very good! But I'd love to know how the guitarist got that sustain. However playing guitar and singing exactly the same thing has never worked well. Ever.

Now everyone RAVES about the intro guitar piece to Track 5, The Joker and The Thief, But. Meh. It's good but it's very clumsy. But I really do love this song! It's possibly my favourite song on the album and it's once again made by Stockdale's EPIC vocals.

I think this is definitely one of the best albums I've come across recently. This band has scary resemblance to The Raconteurs. So much so that I Googled it just to make sure they weren't the same people + Jack White. If haven't heard The Raconteurs, go check out my review on them, The Raconteurs- Consolers of the Lonely and give them a listen. If you love the White Stripes, The Raconteurs and even Led Zep, you'll love Wolfmother.

Here's a link to Wolfmother- Wolfmother on Grooveshark.com

So please leave a comment telling me what you think of Plug in Your Head. What you think of Wolfmother and to give me a recommendation. (I have learnt my lesson and I will listen to whatever you throw at me.) Tell me what you want to see me review! You can also E-mail me at xtianzzyzx@gmail.com. Tweet me @Xtianzzyzx and comment on the Plug in Your Head Facebook group!

I'll be back next week with another Recommendation, so until then, Turn Up the Volume and Plug in Your Head!

Xtian Zzyzx

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers- I'm With You

So from reading other music blogs I've realized that I kinda write about mainstream music... Well. Yeah, I'm sorry, I do and well I guess there has to one or two of us sickening degenerates. And with that in mind today I talk about one of the biggest bands of all time... Again.


So... The album cover is cool... I like the whole thing with the fly and the pill. And then in the inside cover the fly is sitting on all these other pills and then on like the last page the fly is dead... So yeah, that's cool... Flies. They're cool.


Oh! And they got a new guitarist! In erm... (Wiki says) 2009 they're old guitarist, John Frusciante left the band! How about that! So... Yeah, they got this new guy, Josh Klinghoffer. He isn't bad.


So... The album art is good and erm, they got a new guitarist! Ooh! And ahh, flea dyed his hair green and Anthony Kiedis grew a mustache that kinda makes him look like a mix between Freddy Mercury and some guy from a porno movie. Speaking of Freddy, it was his birthday recently, this week or last week I think.


So yeah, Plug in your head, see ya next time, I'm now gonna wallow in the remnants of the RHCP's career...








...






Fine, I'll talk about the freaking album!


Ok so before I start, I never had high hopes for this album. I always thought it was gonna be bad and well, it was. But lets not look only at the bad! Flea's hair is green! And well I guess some songs are pretty cool.


So it starts off with, Track 1, Monarchy of Roses. It kinda sounds like some crappy garage band that's only in it for  the "Bitches" and the partying. The kinda band that only does Sum 41 and Blink-182 covers. And then the vocals come in and it sounds like the lead singer of The Mars Volta came to play! But then BAM! The Chorus comes in and it's all ORGANISED and OVER PRODUCED! YAY! And of course in usual RHCP fashion the lyrics make no sense but... Lyrics- Good! This song honestly sounds like they're trying to go back to how they sounded before Stadium Arcadium. But eh.


Ok now I feel kinda hypocritical cuz Track 2, Factory of Faith isn't just ok. It's actually fuckin' awesome! I love the bass and the lyrics are really cool. I love his voice and the vocal melody is pretty badass. But then that generic piece of shit that they call a chorus comes in and I automatically think, Hey! I've heard this before! IN THE LAST FUCKING SONG! Now they aren't exactly the same, but for both songs it kinda seems like they put in a chorus because they thought that it's too unconventional to not have a chorus. But still, that bass is really cool! 
My Girl Friend bought the album and played it to me and my friend who's a bassist, (You know who you are!) and the next day he goes to learn how to play it and he's like, damn... This is hard. And it may not sound it but if you listen carefully, every barre is different. But I don't like the guitar AT ALL! It sounds like they recorded one guitar part and used Ctrl+C Ctrl+V throughout the entire song where they felt a guitar part should be seriously! Every part is identical.


On to Track 3, Brendan's Death Song, Eh.


Ok then there's like 4 songs until you get the next note worthy song. Track 7, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie. This was the first single off the album and I instantly thought Ooh! I like this! Then of course the dreaded Chorus. God, just... Just stop it guys. And I know that all they're lyrics make no sense and that's excusable. But really! 


"Tic toc I want to 
Rock you like the 80's
Cock Blockin' isn't Allowed."


And then it goes on with some other crappy lyrics I can't bare to convey to you due to respect in you, me and the music industry. He then starts doing that thing he did in Around the World where he starts replacing all words with random syllables. It kinda worked in Around the World, but not in this song. So Lyrics- Bad


Finally I think that Track 12, Even You Brutus? is interesting. Not great, but interesting. It bugs me that he says, 
"God is Good and Fate is Great." Not because I am anti-religion, Not at all, in fact earlier this year I was filling in as a guitarist at a church. But I don't like it when bands flaunt their religious views in their music. I feel like it alienates a large portion of their listeners who don't have the same view points as them. That's why I try to avoid listening to Religious bands, (With exception of Die Straatligkinders (An Afrikaans Punk Metal Band) and Daemon Hunter, because they either scream so I can't understand them or it's in a different language so I can't understand them.)
The thing I find interesting about this Track is that they kinda do this Hip-Hop thing and He, well, Raps? It was weird when I first heard it because it was different, but it wasn't necessarily bad.


I feel like this whole album is like a step backwards to what they used to have and what they used to be. Like they felt that Stadium Arcadium was a mistake and that it shouldn't be repeated. But Track 12 is certainly a step forward. I've always loved it when bands try to combine genres because it shows that they aren't close minded. For instance I loved the Track KoRn did with Skrillex! That fusion between Metal and Dubstep was genius! And The RHCP have always had this combination of Rock and Funk, but a band shouldn't get comfortable with their music, it must always challenge them and I think that this song must have been quite tricky to wrap their brains around cuz they aren't Hip Hop at all!


So yes, there are, as someone said to me (You know who you are!) a few gems in this album and the other songs are kinda just there. They aren't really something special. But it's not that they are bad songs, it's just that a band of this calibre is almost expected to create master pieces. So I am not in any way saying don't listen to this album, Hell! Even buy it if you like! Just it isn't their best. But then again, at least it isn't as bad as One Hot Minute. That album isn't even just boring, it's actually bad! I find it hard to listen to. But that's all I will say on that.


I hate to say this and it may upset many people, but I feel that perhaps RHCP should have broken up after Stadium. Because all to often, bands try to keep going on and they just tarnish their reputation and keep making bad albums. ACDC for instance, does anyone REALLY like Black Ice? It has a few good songs but it just isn't great. Bands should start following the example of The White Stripes. I was sad when they broke up because they were and still are one of my all time favourite bands, but I feel they ended on a high note and if they carried on, they would have made disappointing records.


So Yeah. Here's a Link to The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie on YouTube. Unfortunately, it isn't up on Grooveshark yet.


So tell me what you think of I'm With You. You can leave a comment, you can e-mail me at Xtianzzyzx@gmail.com you can Tweet me on @Xtianzzyzx You can ALSO leave a comment on the Plug in Your Head, Facebook page.


Please +1 my blog, and follow it. And if you think it's worth a mention, tell your friends. And don't forget that you can recommend me new music as well! I'll be sure to review it!


I'll be back next week with another Recommendation, so until then, Turn Up the Volume and Plug in Your Head!

Xtian Zzyzx
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