1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Chris Letcher”

Sea Level – Urban Creep

Sea Level – Urban Creep

Sea Level – Urban Creep

With all the concern around climate change these days, I am sure that someone somewhere, when Googling ‘Sea Level’ accidentally came across the song and/or album by Urban Creep. They probably ignored the suggested result for their search and went off trying to find out how much the sea level has risen since 1900 or something. And while being concerned with the planet is undoubtedly a noble thing, those who glossed over the link to ‘Sea Level’ were missing out on something.

Urban Creep were a post-Voelvry, just about post-apartheid band that signed to the all important Shifty Record label. The band consisted of Brendan Jury (who went on to form Ohm), Chris Letcher (of Van der Want & Letcher fame) Ross Campbell and Didier Noblia, the latter 2 having been in Landscape Prayers. They played a Waterboys influenced punky-pop with an ethnic twist of which the title track to their debut album, ‘Sea Level’ is a good example.

Starting out with the thud of miners’ gumboots (complete with bottletops attached for that tambourine sound) these are quickly joined by Jury’s honky-tonk violin and the song begins to race along with Letcher’s vocals having that punky edge to it. The bass that underpins the song has a township feel and occasionally there is an interjection of township guitar which accompanies lines like ‘still got dust on my tekkies’ which firmly roots the song in South Africa.

It’s worth checking out more than just this song by The Creeps, they have 2 albums full of great tracks, but hopefully if you ended up here while looking up the effects of global warming, you may be tempted to take a few seconds out to enjoy what’s on offer with Urban Creep and ‘Sea Level’. You never know it might just be your mood that rises and your emotions that are warming.

Where to find it:
Sea Level – Urban Creep (1995), Shifty Records, BANGCD009

Video:

Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

‘Turn On You’ was Matthew van der Want’s debut album and the title track opened the album. And if this was your introduction to Mr van der Want, it’s not a bad one to start with. It has a sort of REM sound going on, which sounds uplifting and melancholic at the same time. It’s pop, but not pop. It’s rock, but not rock.

The song comes from that period in South African music where the big bands were no longer looking to local sounds like eVoid, Hotline and such like did in the 80’s, but were looking to the rock and grunge sounds coming out of the US. Bands such as Counting Crows, Hootie and the Blowfish and the Spin Doctors come to mind when listening to ‘Turn On You’.

But there is a dark side to the lyrics which talk of ‘rummaging through your private things’ and which go on to say ‘I’m not sure what’s wrong with me’ and ‘I turn you on, I turn on you’. Given van der Want’s history, its not too difficult to see why he is insecure. He’s had a tough life and, from what I read somewhere, was living in a tent at some stage. However, the boy come good and produced some seriously good music once he started recording. He would go on to make even more polished and probably more immediate music alongside Chris Letcher, but this track marked him as someone to watch.

Where to find it:
Turn On You – Matthew van der Want, Tic Tic Bang records

Buy:
https://shiftyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/turn-on-you

Video:

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