Park Acoustics. Legendary vibe.

It was a beautiful day at our new venue, the Voortrekker Monument. There were people of all ages, shapes, sizes and colours and it was beautiful. Then the rain came down in buckets. After a frantic effort to get everyone inside and set up, Die Heuwels Fantasties finished their set with an incredible performance. All the excitement and energy of a hot African day listening to Rock was in the room. You had to be there, it was legendary.

Park Acoustics is ready to rock Pretoria!

I’ve just come back from the Voortrekker Monument and tomorrow’s gig is going to blow Pretoria’s hair back! There are awesome braai facilities, shady trees and a lot of lush green grass… This time around there will also be a full bar, food for sale as well as a loaded merch shop. All ages are welcome as this promises to be another brilliant family friendly Sunday picnic with good vibes, smiles and of course, excellent live music!

*The Line-up*
11:00 – 12:30 Gates open
12:30 – 13:30 Toby Benko
13:30 – 14:30 Tim Burns
14:30 – 15:30 Die Tuindwergies
15:30 -16:30 Die Heuwels Fantasties

Tickets will be sold at the gate:
R65 Adults, students, pensioners
R45 Scholars (valid ID needed)
Children 6 years and younger get in for free

Follow @parkacoustics on Twitter or check out more at facebook.com/park.acoustics

The Naked And Famous: 2011’s Sonic Boom!

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New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous are, so far, my favourite new band of 2011. Their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You pulls together everything that’s good about popular music at the moment, while at the same time not coming across as commercial. Whether you hear their first single “Young Blood” in a club, at a friend’s house or on 5FM, the track is the epitome of cool every time.

Their sound is a mixture of dreamy dance-pop, dark sonic psychedelia and ripping up-beat melodies, as well as a healthy dose of noise. There’s definitely a lot in common with MGMT and LCD Soundsystem, but also hints of Radiohead, Animal Collective, Portishead, The B52’s and NIN. Yes, really.

Each song on the album is alive with youth and party, colliding synth-rock with dirty, edgier grooves in amongst the many memorable hooks. From the opener “All Of This,” you know you’re in for a road trip. There are brilliant ups and introspective downs along the way until arriving at the triumphant “Girls Like You.”

My favourite track at the moment is “No Way.” It oscillates between delicate female vocals with a restrained drum beat and an agitated guitar held in a wall of sound that reverberates over your ears… A lot like when you’re driving a little fast with the car windows completely open:

You can find out more about this fantastic band at their official website. Do that after you’ve bought or ordered yourself the album though, because Passive Me, Aggressive You will go down in history as one of those truly brilliant debut albums.

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The Howlin’ Shibanski at Pandora

The Howlin’ Shibanski is a rootsy, energetic blues band, and one of the best I’ve ever seen. Check them out on Facebook: http://goo.gl/NwQA5

It was also my first time at Pandora Art House, and it’s a great venue. With a view out over the Pretoria city skyline, this big old house is the perfect place to have an intimate yet loud evening. Unfortunately, it seems as if they won’t be around after the end of this year, so check them out while you still have a chance. http://www.pan-dora.co.za/

Expect the unexpected: Iron & Wine’s “Kiss Each Other Clean”

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There’s no such thing as too much Iron & Wine” ~ myself, ages ago.

The new Iron & Wine album, Kiss Each Other Clean is brilliant. To follow up from 2007’s The Shepard’s Dog, an album that’s so refined and rich with wide open spaces (basically, one of mankind’s finest moments), would take super-human skills. Consider it done. This is a brave new sound, and although it’s been a logical progression there’s clearly been a huge advancement in the band’s confidence.

From the humble beginnings of a man with a golden voice and a guitar, Samuel Beam’s sound has steadily grown to include other musicians and studio wizardry. Kiss Each Other Clean continues in this vein whilst catapulting Iron & Wine right out of the indie-folk box. There’s a myriad of new instruments all clamouring for attention (including brass, synths and a flute) and they all want to play 70’s era rock, funk or reggae…or just make a noise. But don’t fear. Sam Beam’s voice has the ability to cut through anything.

The songwriting is braver than ever, and Kiss Each Other Clean is also beautifully constructed and produced. As with every Iron & Wine album, there is immense beauty in Sam Beam’s wounded and courageous poetry, but there’s also plenty of restrained anger. From the sublime “Cause a rabbit will run, and a pig has to lay in it’s piss” on ‘Rabbit Will Run’ (such a fine moment on the album) to the epic 7 minute closer ‘Your Fake Name Is Good Enough for Me’ describing what we have become, risks have been taken, and all of a sudden Iron & Wine are throwing punches on a different level. I never thought Iron & Wine was capable of an opus the magnitude of Your Fake Name, but I was wrong, and I’m amazed.

Traditional fans may not be too impressed with the new sound, but that would have more to do with what they expected to hear. Artists need to evolve if they’re any good, and to cling to a sound that is familiar is selfish. Nothing has changed in terms of Samuel Beam’s incredibly melodic songwriting skills, and if you’re in any doubt about that just head over to the Iron & Wine Daytrotter session to download a selection of these songs in all their naked, non-produced glory. Kiss Each Other Clean is a magnificent album of immense proportion, and with it they assert their place amongst musical nobility. Order it from Iron & Wine’s website.