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Fokofpolisiekar, A-King, Van Coke Cartel and Die Heuwels Fantasties
Take four top Afrikaans groups – Fokofpolisiekar, Van Coke Cartel, aKing and Die Heuwels Fantasties – and what do you get?
The eponymous studio reunion album: Vanfokkingtasties. It’s a serious boast. The question is, is it?
For those who don’t know anything about them, Van Coke Cartel, aKing and Die Heuwels Fantasties all emerged from legendary post-grunge rockers Fokofpolisiekar. On this album, they’re all back in the studio doing an acoustic stripped version of two of their best-known tracks each, plus a new one for the collection.
The 12-track collection ranges from haunting introspection with lyrics that cut you to the core, to hard-rocking electric guitars you want to head bang to.
And yes, the boast pays off in spades. It actually is f***ing fantastic. – Kevin Ritchie
¡Uno! and ¡Dos!
California punks Green Day are back with not one but three albums, all released with months of each other.
¡Uno!, Green Day’s ninth album, was released in September. It’s a punchy, driving album complete with angst-filled lyrics deserving of the parental advisory on the cover, but which will find fans across generations, especially those who cut their teeth on The Clash in the ’80s.
The stand out track is Kill the DJ, which probably won’t receive much airplay on radio because of the lyrics. The other 11 tracks are cut from the same cloth.
¡Dos! was released two months later, with the final instalment due next month.
Expect a slightly mellower feel to the album, but not much. The themes of lost love, impossible love and betrayed love all remain from ¡Uno!, topped on this album by a bittersweet salute to Amy Winehouse.
If you haven’t heard Green Day, you’re in for a treat; the lyrics don’t pull any punches, but the music’s far tighter and fuller than the old three-chord headbangers who first emerged in the ’70s then gained traction in the ’80s. – Kevin Ritchie
RJ Benjamin is back. After a five year hiatus, the virtuoso has once again used his creative magic to deliver a gem.
The vocalist, composer, songwriter, producer and teacher has effectively blended funk, soul, rock, flamenco, samba and jazz on this 15-track album which contains live reworked versions of his old and new house tracks.
Benjamin sets the tone with a soulful a capella in Slowly. If We Can Love Again fuses rock and |pop, giving it that electronic edge.
Feel good grooves blend with good vocal arrangements and instrumentation in Goodbye Baby. It’s his hit Change the World that Benjamin has impressively given a salsa spin to – and it kicks butt.
The album features two artist collaborations. Clint Brink on Free Your Mind is a hot a capella that sees Benjamin and Brink pull off some of the nicest melodies. The Jazz element is fused in with the sweet vocals of Aya on The Love.
A real live feel-good album, Benjamin can rest assured that his final craft, Inside, will be welcomed as a collector’s piece. – Tina George