South Africa has been the birthplace of many brilliant rock ‘n’ roll bands.
We’ve produced Pretoria’s Rabbitt, a great band who sadly disbanded in 1978. Still, frontman Trevor Rabin went on to join Yes_ _and co-wrote classics such as their 1983 hit Owner Of A Lonely Heart.
We also can’t forget artists such as Johnny Clegg OBE and his bands Juluka and Savuka, who had the ability to either inspire you to get up and dance or sit down and contemplate your place in this world. Another stand out musician from Johannesburg is Johnny Kongos who topped the charts in the UK with He’s Gonna Step On You and my personal favourite Tokoloshe Man. Johnny’s sons continue to fly the South African flag high with their band, KONGOS, who most of you may know for their worldwide hit (which was featured on numerous adverts and on WWE), Come With Me Now.
There have been so many bands who have help mould South African rock into the promising genre it is today. In the late 70s and for the duration of the 80s, we had bands such as éVoid, Asylum Kids, Dog Detachment, No friends of Harry, Bright Blue and Voëlvry. In my opinion, the 90’s was a decade which produced a plethora of some of South Africa’s greatest bands such as; The Springbok Nude girls, Wonderboom, Fuzigish, Just Jinjer , Hog Hoggidy Hog, BOO!, Bed On Bricks and Squeal. We also can’t forget about the noughties bands like The Narrow, Lark, Kobus!, aKING,16Stitch and not forgetting Afrikaans rock pioneers, Fokofpolisiekar.
It’s important to remember those bands that helped build a strong foundation that the new South African bands of today are built upon. With that in mind, let’s look at the country’s 10 best new bands…
Don’t let Hellcats’ dirty old school rock ‘n’ roll fool you, this band is so new the bubble wrap is still lying on the floor. This Johannnesburg duo – Alessandro Benigno (drums, vocals) and Warwick Rautenbach (guitar) – deliver mammoth distorted riffs shot through with a Burke Shelley-esque wail.
This hardworking hardcore quartet from Cape Town are quickly building a strong cult following in the underground scene on the Southern Tip of Africa. Peasant are currently in the recording studio finishing up 10 brand new tracks for release later this month. I’m sure Team Rock will get that sought after first spin.
Already hailed as the new Queen of South African blues and psych rock, Sannie is a South African who grew up in London and obviously soaked up the wide array of musical influences the city has to offer. Sannie has been on the scene for a while, which is why most will argue the fact that she is not a new artist. Sannie was a member of the trio Machineri from 2010 but she released her debut album last year, which is why she deserves inclusion on this list.
ONE EIGHT SEVEN
One Eight Seven describe themselves as a punk band born from the ashes of what once was a thriving scene in Cape Town. Much like US hardcore luminaries Black Flag and the Misfits, this band are not out to set new trends, they’re simply making music with a loud, powerful and meaningful message.
Thomas Krane is perhaps one of the most promising solo artists I’ve heard in many years. In a time where artists and bands are trying to mimic the next trending artist, along comes a musician like Krane who effortlessly sets himself apart from the pack.
After a heady mix of layered shoegaze and slabs of bold, alternative rock? This Cape Town quartet offer the best of both worlds. They can deliver high energy rock songs as well as the sort of song that can soundtrack the end of a date as you both overlook a sunset from the front seat of your father’s champagne Volvo.
Medicine Boy describe themselves as a two-piece ‘dream noise’ band comprising of two well-respected, Capetonian musicians, Andre Leo and Lucy Kruger who’ve been involved in numerous projects throughout the years. The pair were part of The Very Wicked and eventually released Medicine Boy’s debut EP in late 2014. They’re currently in the studio working on a new album.
The old saying, ‘quality before quantity’ is very true in the case of Johannesburg’s Sol Gems. The band, who feature former members of The Stella’s, released a single early last year –the solitary ’sungaze’ one-two of Standing With the Sun and _Under The Palms_ – and later opened for Los Angeles psychedelic rock four-piece Allah-Las. The band are currently preparing for a series of club and festival dates across South Africa.
MEN OF MOUNTAINS
This alt-rock quartet are one of the newest bands on this list and one of the most promising. Their songwriting chops and individual talents are of the highest caliber and have many fans within the South African music industry.
Here are a two-piece blues rock ‘n’ roll band consisting of siblings Cara and Yuri, who hail from my hometown of Durban. This coastal city was a hub for many quality bands in the 90s and most recently has returned to its old ways of producing some of the best bands this country has to offer. The Govender home probably had a few knocks on the door from neighbours while raising two multi instrumentalists under the same roof. I was instantly captured by Cara’s wide vocal range and the band’s unique yet familiar rock ‘n’ roll sound. I see nothing but a bright future for them.
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