The album that should be shaking SA rock: Make-Overs – ‘Centipede-sing-a-long’

By now the average South African music fan knows what to expect from this duo, but for those that haven't been paying attention, it's a sonic assault on the brain, dripping with pop hooks, ambient distraction and go-get-em' energy that makes your legs want to fire like Joe Strummer's, jackhammer style.

Also you can expect loads of low-end.

Centipede-sing-a-long is the band's third album in two years, and to exaggerate this level of productivity, the band went and released their fourth album, titled IV, before I could even get to grips with their third offering.

That review is on its way.

Having formed in June 2010, a few months before the demise of their previous band Sticky Antlers, the Make Overs home studio recording, along with independent label KRNGY and their DIY attitude, has meant that they are not limited by any form of release schedule and the band is pretty much free to follow their whims.

More power to them!

But getting back to Centipede-sing-a-long, there is a healthy dose of what I like to call the Make Overs' slow burners.

They are often driven by a chunky riff, layered over ambient soundscapes, with intricate higher register guitar snaking back and forth.

They generally also feature repeated lyrics.

These songs groove and groove – a menace in their strut.

Their violence is different to the manic punk assault of the band's other songs, it's not a club over the head from behind attack, more like a wearing down, they suck you in.

Track four Fang Base is a perfect example, as is the opener Be Afraid.

Retreat, C U in Hell and Dental Floss are all of a similar ilk, although the latter has a 90's Pavement slacker feel to it that gives it a light airy feel, augmented by some beautiful lilting guitar that shares an aesthetic with Congolese Rhumba.

It's these songs that hold the Make-Overs appeal for me and they are the backbone of this album as rockers and roarers tear it to shreds around them.

By comparison songs like Less and Less Appeal have a more straight-up Sonic Youth-esque quality to them with power riffs and disaffection.

This is the band's nineties punk rock influence, the slow burners are for me a signal as to where the band is taking their music, a new space, a terrain all of their own.

But they are not the only highlights, not by a long shot.

As way of example my favourite song on the album at the moment is Emergency, and its Crazy Horse rock feel is a million miles from the slow burners.

I Just Can Help Myself and You Were Wrong are wonderful examples of eighties jingle-jangle crossbred with nineties fuzz-rock.

They are dance-floor stompers for sure.

Blood stream is hammer-on-the-head punk, while The Lucky #1 Ones is a storming rock song that has a Led Zeppelin-esque swagger to it, channeled through a garage rock aesthetic.

One of the album's highlights is Counter Intuitive, a moment of messy bliss, a public service address.

"It's counter intuitive to go against the grain / it's counter intuitive / non-exclusive to go against the grain / to go against the grain," sing the duo. "We will destroy your brain / we will destroy / destroy your brain," scream the duo in tandem.

When it settles into a gentle rumble after the three minute mark, you realise this is the genius of the Make-Overs, they make you rock out, they expand your mind and they look like they are taking over the world when they own on stage, it's a sight to behold.

Pretoria should be proud, South Africa should be proud.

This band has arrived!

Without a doubt this album that should be shaking up South African rock, but because it's so many years ahead of its time, and the mainstream music market in South Africa doesn't have the stomach for something so abrasive and challenging, no matter how sweet the buried pop hooks are, it means that it will remain, for now, a cult classic.

But it is a high-water mark and one day our nation will be hailing it as a fundamental piece of art-rock.

For more in-depth album reviews, see our speciai report.

 

Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye is a freelance journalist and one of the founders of The Con.
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