The Albany Museum frequently hosts the Rhodes University’s Fine Arts department and their exhibits. This is an audio review of the second year students’ exhibition.
Listen to the audio on Soundcloud here:
The lone bruised and bloody eye that stares out from the CD cover of aKing’s most recently released album, ‘Morning After’ reflects the haunting and sincere nature of their music. There is something terribly compassionate in the emotion present in that glittering indigo iris.
The Cape Town based melodic pop-rock band debuted with their album ‘Dutch Courage’ in February 2008 and have witnessed an ongoing climb since then. The CD received third position for Best Album in the March 2009 issue of FHM. They were only superseded by AC/DC and Metallica who claimed first and second places respectively.
Members from the hard rock Afrikaans band Fokofpolisiekar, Hunter Kennedy and Jaco Venter, united with Laudo Liebenberg and Hennie van Halen to deliver a softer and yet more intense music. Although all the members are Afrikaans, every song they have released so far has been in English. After aKing was born, they incurred vast fanbase who regularly worship at the band’s powerful lyrical altar.
Their next two albums ‘Against All Odds’ (2009) and ‘The Red-Blooded Years’ (2011) boosted the band’s popularity to even greater heights. Influenced by singer Bruce Springsteen and the American group the Foo Fighters, aKing have lived up to their role-models by producing music of a similar standard.
The first track on ‘Morning After’, Prey to the Birds flows through your veins, the words solidifying through your blood, the music pouring through your ears like liquid sound. “I really want to take you home, keep your head when your eyes roll”, lead singer, Laudo Liebenberg croons in the chorus.
The Rhodes University Chamber Choir (RUCC), in an attempt to raise funds for their tour to the USA, have co-ordinated and organised for aKing to perform at the 1820s Settler’s Monument on the 31st of July. Tickets for this event are only R100.
Piercing green eyes surrounded by splashes of bright blue, pink, purple and black are framed with almost grotesquely thick eyelashes centre the cover of Icon for Hire’s latest album. The leading singer’s face Ariel Bloomer is painted somewhat garishly but still appears quite attractive.
The Illinois-formed band’s second album was released last year in October by the recording company Tooth & Nail. Shawn Jump, Adam Kronshagen and Josh Kincheloe are the other members and play electric guitar, drums and bass guitar respectively.
Besides the pulsating beat behind the words, Icon for Hire’s specialty lie in their evocative and compelling lyrics. The edgy energy exuded from Icon For Hire’s latest album not only has you head-banging in your bedroom, but their catchy, emphatic lyrics, “we’re a copy of a copy, everything we swore we’d not be” (Cynics & Critics) convey quite a few pertinent messages for their listeners too.
This is not your usual run-of-the-mill rock ‘n roll with the female lead screeching ‘sexily’ into the mike about how much she wants to “put another dime in the Jukebox, baby” (Joan Jett & the Blackhearts). Instead audiences are subjected to lyrics that condemn and scorn certain societal norms and explore subjects that may be considered taboo.
Quite a few of the Icon For Hire’s songs reconnoitre depression and its many facets, “Wear my scars on my sleeve, for all the world to see/Like look what they did to me quick, lay on the sympathy thick” (Sorry About Your Parents).
The music itself cannot be simply limited to the genre of rock, there are elements of electronic, metal, Alternative, punk and even rap present as well even though Ariel has stated that it is “first and foremost just a rock band”.
The entire album is quite refreshing and the two more relaxed songs, “Slow Down” and “Fix Me” provide a soothing contrast the higher tempo of the other songs. It is difficult to determine the best song because quite frankly, they are all equally good.
With regards to live performance, Ariel is most definitely the star of the show. Her flamingo-pink hair, black, fingerless gloves, leather boots and ripped stockings immediately draws people’s attention. This image coupled with her strong, passionate vocals leaves audiences in awe.
The band is currently on tour and are set to perform thirteen concerts including the upcoming ones in Springfield (Illinois), Houston (Texas), Oslo (Norway) and Gothenberg (Sweden).
So, if you’re looking for something that packs the punch of the beat, lyrics and voice, Icon For Hire is definitely a worthwhile choice.