Son’s debut album gives the local scene a lesson in rockJune 19, 2013
I was raised in a rock and roll family. None of us could really play anything worth a damn, but most of us have been pretty heavily influenced by blues and rock and roll in some way. That’s possibly why it took the family a while to start putting stock in local bands. Few bands really heeded the blues like we had been raised to do.
Enter Son, a trio from Pretoria. I avoided forming an opinion about them for quite a while because I’ve known some of the band members for years. I knew they played an astoundingly good live gig but I didn’t want to approach their first album with a ridiculous amount of bias and risk being disappointed.
But it came down to it and I finally put on Son’s self-titled debut and I’ve finally got something that deserves to be written home about. The family will appreciate this.
I think comparisons to Shadowclub will be unavoidable (the first time I ever saw Shadowclub, they were actually opening for Son) as the two bands are definitely miles ahead of anything else I’ve heard recently in the world of local popular rock. But I feel like where Shadowclub mixes blues influence with pop hooks, Son channels an ardent mix of Delta blues and Seattle grunge, making their music sound more like personal expression than music for the sake of making a song. The comparison you draw should be something closer to Pearl Jam, in fact; if Pearl Jam had a penchant for going off on searing blues guitar solos, that is.
(I rewrote that paragraph a few times and couldn’t get it to sound entirely complimentary to Shadowclub – I still adore you guys, I promise.)
So the songs:
The 10 track record is both teasing, and fierce. It feels like a dance between the fear and the freedom of life. It knocks on the door to your brain, finds its footing, and then sets the whole thing on fire.
“Kitchen Tiles” opens the album with eerie southern calm and enchanting slide guitar. It’s easy to think you’ll look out the window to your left and see a dark Mississippi highway when listening to it – the same emotions come up again later on “Deep River”. But then Jack White’s influence comes to visit on “When I Need You” and things get loud.
This searing pace continues with “My Body” and “I Don’t Want To Hold Your Hand” rolling through the ’90s grunge that influenced the band members’ lives and comes full circle to “Reflection”, a more reserved, almost more grown up track that sounds more like rock as we know it today.
There’s something to be said for every track on this album, but I’ll add one more thing about the interesting closing song. Interesting not only because it’s called “Interesting Times”, but interesting because lead singer, Schulie van Heerden turns off the rock attitude and evokes his inner Leonard Cohen to sing quietly and intimately along to the acoustic song. Instead of knocking you out, it makes the album put you softly back in your place wondering “Did that all really just happen?”
Yes, it did. Welcome to the music scene, Son. May you live long and rock and roll.
Son are launching their album next week Saturday, the 29th, at UNISA’s Klein Teater in Pretoria in conjunction with Rolling Stone SA. Tickets are R120 on sale at Ticketbreak, and they include the debut album, a copy of the latest Rolling Stone and a R100 voucher to Stylemology.co.za, and, of course, attending the gig. Come to see them live and you’ll realise it’s the fierce guitar jam that the local scene’s been missing for so long.
Tags: album review, rock, south african