Thursday, February 11, 2010

Welcome the Foreigners!

Raise your glass. We’re being invaded and the war cry is "SHUT UP AND DANCE".

In a beautifully irreverent display of honesty and attitude, Alexei, Kelly and Junior (and Lewes and Martin and Vicky) make an art of making a noise all the way from the UK.

What do we know about Birmingham? Not much. It was once the seat of the industrial revolution but that’s hardly sexy in a post-ozone age. The scorched skies have cleared now and biotech is on its way to integrate everything the same way those pipes are on their way down the coast of endless Africa to put the broad into band - slowly.

Figuratively speaking, the broad is already IN the band if you’re talking Birmingham music. Birthplace of British blues, its backwaters were the amniotic food that gave us the Moody Blues. And while its canals are not quite flowing with red, red wine either, popular reggae rulers, UB40, probably took some notes on its dole, seeing as they lived (and looked for work) there. Birmingham was home also to the eminence of Judas Priest, the pale faces of Black Sabbath and 2 lads of Led Zeppelin. Think hair and hair raising melodies.

Then think haircut, and rousing melodies. The Brummies have been given a bit of a makeover since the internet was porn. I mean born. And would you believe the new export is “Melodramatic Popular Song”? At least, it is, according to Johnny Foreigner.

Visually they’re a doodle pad gone bonkers, aurally they’re a mix n match patchwork of punk pop and indie rock (insert comma @ will). It's noisy, but it’s nice. It’s silly, with spice. It’ll go well with crushes and ice, and some of their one-liners are pop cult slogans in disguise. They sound like The Killers on ketamine and The Artic Monkeys on mandrax arguing with instruments (and each other) in a mosh pit. Thing is, they're totally into it, making their music all the more (irritatingly) infectious.

In Europe, the pick-up line for a band that wants to put their album in your pants is “come over to MySpace”. Nobody does anything without a profile on the proud, buggy music host, because that’s where everybody meets – industry, public, other ( i suspect, somehow, thatJO Fo falls into all of those categories). Perhaps it’s because the brassy city hosts the largest international jazz fest in the UK, perhaps they just got bored with the long, dark winter, but we invited them to our space (you know, the ones with bare breasted women and wild beasts in the backyard) and they said yes. Of course they’ll get here before those pipes do; they’ve got Rams and Larks urging them on, ushering them in for their slot at Nekkies. And what better way to say there’s more to Cape Town (or South Africa, for that matter) than a number you’re not allowed to print for profit? Summer 2010 at thirty four degrees south this Saturday (and next Wednesday) is already exploding with the twisted glytchers and their giggly guitars. In fact, seeing as they came so far, they decided to do a national tour to learn how to eat pHutu with their hands and pronounce "kak" properly ("drop your jaw") while they teach us grace and the bigger picture.

While we're on the subject, how about a bit of name dropping? Their debut album, ‘Waited Up Till It Was Light’, was produced by Machine, who also worked with King Crimson.

You’ll sulk if you miss out. Besides a banging dose of brit junk pop, Kidofdoom, She Man Lion, Yesterday’s Pupil, Bruce Willis, Sassquatch and Moe Joe are going to be there. Also, bopping and hopping and getting all sweaty while you smile is a much sexier way to say happy valentine’s day than you think. (Sunday is the 14th, and believe me, you’ll probably still be in the belly of the ass when the clock strikes mistletoe time.) (and this way it doesn’t matter if you don’t have someone to die for. Yet.)

Already busy that night? It's anyway going to be more fun next week in the 'bosch with Ashtray Electric, The Pretty Blue Guns, The Revelators, The Lottery Tickets, Bruce Willis, Sassquatch, El Gordo and the Fourie bros @ Klein Libertas (which is not actually so small). This gig is kissed with kismet. How do you know? Well, The Revelators cream a crowd, and The Guns already have a solution to any party problem which the Foreigners will probably agree with - 'all you got to do is .. dance.'

wherever you see them, buy them a drink, they’re human : lead vocalist and guitarist, Alexei, went to court in Birmingham a year ago exactly for unpaid Council Tax that had accumulated over 3 years.

What I like about Jo Fo : they’re gutsy (or garrulous) enough to post what must be one of the more desultory critical comments on Hey, they probably came up with it themselves after one of their relatives reacted. And their album art suits their sound.

It’s true that : when the girl sings, it sounds like Avril with PMS.

It’s also true that : it’d sound more authentic in their own accent.

But : so what, jezebel? It’s the kind of party music that brings the background and the underground into the same shiny, happy space. Which is.. in your face.

13th FEB – The Assembly, Cape Town - R80

dress code : bubblegum and wife beaters
bottom line : put on your uniform and face the music.
(and prove to our bipolar friends
that Africa is indeed teeming with wild life.)

tour deets for party peeps

13th FEB – Assembly - CAPE TOWN with Kidofdoom, yesterday’s Pupil, She Man Lion, Sassquatch, Bruce Willis and MoeJoe

17th FEB – Klein Libertas – STELLENBOSCH with Ashtray Electric, The Pretty Blue Guns, The Revelators, The Lottery Tickets, Bruce Willis, Sassquatch and El Gordo

19th FEB – Hotbox Studios – PRETORIA with Isochronous, Wrestlerish, Sticky Antlers, MoeJoe, Sassquatch, Nathan Scott Phillips and Kodiac

20th FEB – DYNAMO JOFO ”Attack of the Electric Ghosts” - JOHANNESBURG with Desmond & The Tutus, Yesterday’s Pupil, Us Kids Know, Eyes Like Mirrors, Sassquatch, Data Takashi, MoeJoe, Nathan Scott Phillips, Kodiac and That Girl

26th FEB - RAMFEST - MAIN STAGE - 21:00

p.s. hospitality is high on the list of “clever things to do in life” because you never know when you’ll be mucking around in the UK trying to find work, friends, a home, a party, a scene…


  1. Jess, you have a knack for writing paragraphs and paragraphs of words, never getting to the point. It's amazing how you always plug the same bands, and you write as if you can't believe you actually KNOW words. Be a bit more objective. Sure, in the long run you won't get as many comps to gigs because you are plugging your favourite bands, but people will start respecting you as a music journalist. As opposed to a groupie. Or just a lazy gonzo.

  2. Thanks, Andries. I'll give your comments due consideration.

    I'm not sure i understood "you write as if you can't believe you actually KNOW words"

  3. I don't get how Andries' comment is applicable here. This article is about Johnny Foreigner. When did Jess write about Johnny Foreigner before? And why does it sound as if he was offended somehow by the article? Could Andries perhaps be from a band, or a fan of a band, that Jess does NOT support?

  4. No as matter of fact I can't even play a musical instrument. I have a lot of friends in bands, and I'm quite aware of what's going on in the South African musical landscape at the moment.

    I don't know, maybe I'm being unfair towards Jess, but it feels as though local music journalists seem rather biased as they keep writing about the same bands.

    You can argue and say some journo's at international publications such as Rolling Stone, Q, Blender, Mojo etc have some sort of affiliation with some bands.

    Rolling Stone is going through a phase of Jonas Bros fever. Q will always be Radiohead groupies. Blender are about as schizophrenically indecisive as to what they like. Mojo lives in the past.

    Perhaps the local industry is too small. Or perhaps the journo's are too small minded. I don't know. I'm venting.