Last week I teased, this week we’re diving right in.
Obviously, there are some really great African bands you should be listening to, if you haven’t already. But first, I wanted to start with a caveat: this series is and will never be final. There are some cool bands worth checking out, however in the interest of relevance, I chose bands that have been active for the past three years.
So, without further ado…
When the eight members of Jano Band met their then manager, Addis Gesesse, during a nationwide talent search, they had no idea that they would be cast as heroes and architects behind the acceptance of rock music in Ethiopia. Their sound is a perfect union of Ethiopian folk music meets rock and roll. Their own definition of their sound is ‘music that transcends culture and time with a new rock edge’. It sounds like a humblebrag, but all it takes is one listen for you to realize that they mean every single word.
Dark Suburb is a mask-wearing alternative-rock band from Ghana with a unique backstory – they’re caught between the world of the seen and the unseen, the living and the dead, and have been brought back to the life by a priest disenchanted by the state of the music industry.
Dark Suburb is a welcome breath of fresh air on the Ghanaian and African music scene. They’ve earned support and criticism in equal measure, notably from a well-known religious leader who had this to say about them:
“If Ghana embraces them, doom will befall the country. It is dangerous for our youth. As an ordinary person, you will say their style is unique, artistic, creative etc., but spiritually, they are satanic.”
Rumours of Ghana’s doom have been greatly exaggerated, so if you’re looking for an introduction, you could start with their most recent album, ‘The Start Looks Like The End’.
In Oath is a self-described Kenyan death-metal band which has carved out a name for itself as one of Kenya’s heavy metal legends.
From its formation in early 2009, the band has moved beyond its metalcore roots and now infuses inspiration from other musical styles. Theirs is an art of progress and growth despite life’s changing circumstances. In Oath’s most recent offering is ‘Bread of Disposition’, a compulsively listenable and mostly instrumental EP. ‘Bread of Disposition’ is a sonic exploration through man’s core, a search for the answer to the question: Will man survive his own self-induced destruction?
From the very beginning, Taxi Violence has stuck to doing exactly it wanted to do. They turned down a recording contract, even after they won a battle of the bands’ contest because they didn’t want to lose creative and financial control of the band. In their quest to be authentic, they have pushed back against the rising tide of ‘indie sound’ in South Africa to maintain their style – ‘alternative retro rock, with a pinch of sleaze and bourbon’. For Cape Town natives who started jamming at a military base, this is perhaps no big deal.
With their guitars as their guide and the spirit of rock-and-roll in their hearts, they’ve become known as one of the best live rock bands in South Africa. ‘Shape and Form I’ is the most recent release in the band’s thirteen-year history.