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Five South African bands you need to hear right now

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South Africa is an incredibly diverse place. It has eleven official languages, different ethnicities and religions, and the sport is pretty great. Then there's the history; good and bad, as well as the rich culture of the nation.

Early HoursHowever, one thing is overlooked in the global eye. South Africa's music.

The first band that, in my recollection, came to prominence was Freshly Ground. I can’t say I was their biggest fan, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. However, these days, South African music has developed. No, it isn’t just drums and the like. It’s different. The music has a sound that is unique to the nation.

The bands don’t appear to just strive for commercial success like bands from the States or the UK (no offence intended). No, it’s so much more about playing music because it's enjoyed.

This becomes even clearer when you see a South African musician live. 

Now, the artists in question.

There are so many, but to keep it simple, I’m just going to give you a few of my personal favourites.

Off the bat, go and listen to Al Bairre. They’ve got a really distinct sound, somewhat similar to that of Vampire Weekend or Secret Weapons. Different enough though, that you don’t immediately think they’re a copycat band. Their go-to song is probably 'Bungalow'. They come from the hub that is Cape Town.

Next up, is Shortstraw. They’ve got a few bangers ('Bikini Weather' and 'Couch Potato'). Their sound is more of the indie-rock class, strong vocals and flirtatious guitar. Led by Alastair Thomas on vocals, the band hails from Johannesburg, and provide a rich sound to the music scene in South Africa.

Tom Revington on guitar is also a delight. They’ve won various MK Awards, and were nominated for an MTV Africa Award for Best Alternative in 2014. Think along the lines of The Plastics.


Grassy Spark present a sound that’s like a more lively version of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Not that I’m saying they’re reggae, they aren't. Adding trumpets into the mix, the noise formed is one that is wonderfully different and odd. They're a band that genuinely enjoys the pleasure of playing live, and fly under the radar in South Africa.

Early Hours are a band of twenty-year-olds from Cape Town. They won the 'Get Out The Garage' competition by Converse. They're also the first South African band to reach one million plays on one song (Smells Like Summer) on SoundCloud, as well as reaching number twelve in the Viral Top Fifty in the US last year.

They recently released their EP, 'First Light', which is the embodiment of summer. It makes you want to groove, to move, to dance along (you’ll get the pun if you look them up). The lead singer, Jake Bennett, is indeed English. However that’s only one third so they still go down as South African with members Benson Joubert and Adam Rothschild. 

Beatenberg, what a name. It’s got beat in it. The weirdest experience with this band was when I walked into a shop in Sitges, a seaside town outside of Barcelona, and heard their song 'Southern Suburbs'. Yeah, that was pretty damn weird. Their sound is just that. Sounds.

They come together to produce this melodic tune that makes you feel like swaying along to it.

There's plenty I haven't even mentioned on here. Jeremy Loops, Matthew Mole, Majozi... 

I’ve seen all of these people live. I’ve spent the last four years becoming very familiar with all their music. I strongly advise you to give them a listen and see if it’s your thing.

Naturally I can’t guarantee you’ll agree with me, and you may even dislike them. I can only promise that I’ve given my genuine opinion of some of the top bands South Africa has coming up.




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