SA rock veteran’s debut
aKing: Dutch Courage (2008)
aKing is a melodic indie rock band from Bellville in Cape Town, South Africa and some might say that this affects my opinion of their music. The truth is, it does. There is nothing I like more than to see South Africa and South Africans perform well at a global scale, and few have made it bigger than aKing. In later albums a clear folk sound was added to their music but in Dutch courage, which was their first studio album, they have a cleaner guitar sound and make use of traditional modern rock instruments.
On their debut studio album (Dutch Courage) they chose a theme that was closer to home and decided to orientate most of their songs around life in the suburbs and surviving the middle-class. The song titles and lyrical content reflect this is a more obvious manner than the album’s title. The band had a number of EP’s and a few songs on a self-titled album that they had recorded themselves before producing Dutch Courage. They were picked up by Rhythm Records after becoming popular in Cape Town bars and a number of other bars on the Garden route.
Overall the album relies heavily on its distinct guitar and clear vocals. Each song will leave you with a memorable guitar riff which in some cases is as good a measure for identifying a song as the lyrics. The guitar accompanied by each other instrument all come together into a clean and pleasant sound that any appreciator of good melodies and rhythm would be happy to listen to. Now, you’re already enjoying this melody but then added to that you now have some powerful lyrics that run almost in parallel with the harmonies being played. “I can’t help it if I don’t need a lullaby. We need a miracle” a simple two lines from just the first song already speak volumes about the state of our world. These lyrics can also dig deeper, like rejecting the exclusive “I”, in the first line, for the inclusive “we”. The album is definitely a lot darker than most South African music and aKing have chosen to adapt to the genre of music rather than their origin and culture. This doesn’t mean to say that South African issues don’t form part of their songs but rather that the music ties with the Indie/pop genre as opposed to something that would be given the superficial title of “African”. Overall it’s an intensely pleasant listening experience and offers an interesting contrast to their more recent albums.
Buy “Dutch Courage” on itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/za/artist/aking/id215953715
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