This time, draw the Shortstraw

  By Emily Corke


The up and coming local indie band, Shortstraw will have their songs sticking to your mind like peanut butter in a dog’s mouth (which is fitting because they clearly have a thing for dogs). If anything the songs on their debut album, You’re underfed, I’m Wonderful, is devoid of any complicated messages or chords, in fact it is devoid of a genre but rather blissful songs with arbitrary lyrics that will have you up and dancing from the first track, “One Long Day”.

It is difficult to put your thumb on what is so lovable about these five happy go lucky, (good looking) hipster boys in skinny jeans from Johannesburg. Mostly it is because their album is so refreshingly simple and easy for any student crowd to relate to.  The most prevalent feeling  that surges in when plugging in the  “thrash folk” album is happiness and positivity thanks to arbitrary lyrics and topics of hook-ups and let downs, boredom, secrets and crises, a tribute to dogs and most importantly an undying admiration for Keanu Reeves.

The band started as a two piece band in 2008 and since then has grown to a five piece band that consists of drums, vocals, guitar, keys, ukulele, synth and bass. Their recently released debut album was produced local and growing record label Howl Records owned by Desmond and the Tutus front man Shane Durrant and his wife Angela Durrant. It is this collaboration of local indie forerunners of this year that makes the sound of Shortstraw unique and local with tracks like “Tswiep Tswie” and its township jive. The band is currently on tour launching their album in all the most apt of student hangouts.

The boys call themselves a folky band because they have an acoustic guitar.

“But we’re not folk so we’re thrash folk!” says lead singer Alistair in an interview on Balcony TV.

Where they may lack understanding in what their unique band actually is, they make up for in their songs.

 “Keanu Reeves” is by far the most honey sticky track on the album. The track is a tribute to the Canadian actor Keanu Reeves. You’ll catch yourself singing things like “they all end with me wishing that I was on my knees giving it to Keanu Reeves” in public which some might find worrying. The simplicity of tracks like “One Long Day” and “Game Face” have that “out of the garage” feel and can be so easily applied to the life of any young adult. “Waterworks” is probably the only song that is sombre enough to break the positive vibes that flow from the cute chords and simple yet great solos from the guitar. The album also holds a hidden track, Dogs, which explains the band’s doggy fetish on the front cover.

As a student, the album is a definite favourite, one to go at the top of any playlist if you’re looking for an easy and casual mood. The band touches down in just about every province in South Africa and is sure to have the girls swooning and the guys jamming to their somewhat preppy, folky and indie music. It is easily available with a limited student budget and it is definitely worth drawing the Shortstraw out of the pack.

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