Tag Archives: aKING

aKING – Dutch Courage – My Last Words and Lonely Hands

My Last Words

Settle down, don’t fight, don’t cry
People tend to turn a blind eye
We don’t want to see a murder committed here tonight
With steel to my side I felt like a child
I will do anything you ask
Anything that you desire
You keep my life in your hands
The omens are always there
I’ve become numb to their
Constant warning signs
This miserable day-in-day-out
Everyone belongs to everyone else
My last words will fall on death’s ears
This rotten air I breathe
My nerves are like crystal to me
It is clear
The crime that we share
The initiation to celebrate despair
My contribution to statistics
A cracking veneer
The traumatic acceptance of my mortality
Although my existence doesn’t mean that much to me
All of my acquaintances will be missed
but I think of the ones that I hold dear
The ones I’ve been blessed with
Have you found what you looking for?
Can we please just get on with it?
It’s funny how it’s gotten down to this.
So what can we do?

Lonely Hands

I’ve pulled a few fast ones
This time I’ll stick around
Sister, I’ve shot my mouth off
I apologise
A disappointment repeatedly, I am well aware
That my observations lack insight
Much like my conversations
My motivations run dry
I break into the distance
I’ll wear my shame on my sleeve
I’m shaking in resistance
Trying not to make a scene
Only lonely hearts know where lonely hands go
I’ve played a few good hands
This long line of bad blood hangs like a noose I wear with pride
I apologise
The degradation of being meek
I am well aware
It’s suffice to say that a lack of foresight is debilitating
This beholder is blind
Excuse the mess, excuse the awkwardness
I know you’re not impressed
Regardless of my attempts to straighten-out a little
My absence of hope is second only to my absence of will

One of the attractions of aKING is the sheer manliness of the band. The image the band portrays is one of a fairly rough group of guys, the type you might find having a drink and a smoke at a not too clean venue somewhere around Stellenbosch.The Members of aKING Say what you like, but for any guy it’s important to in some way be associated with manliness. That feeling of manliness is conveyed in a very visceral way in the vocals of Laudo Liebenberg. For one thing, the man can sing exceptionally low. It’s always easier to sound like a man when you’re vibrating the floorboards with your voice. No offence to Chris Martin as I’m also a huge Coldplay fan, but falsetto crooning doesn’t affirm my masculinity nearly as much as the deep near growling of these two songs. Secondly, Laudo really does pack a lot of feeling into these songs. Martin achieves a similar effect, loading his lyrics with emotion, but where tracks like The Scientist, Fix You and Strawberry Swing become things of heart-breaking, fragile beauty, aKING manages to dabble in desperate isolation while leaving you in no doubt that they’re going to grab a beer or three after the recording session. 

“Everyone belongs to everyone else”

“My absence of hope is second only to my absence of will”

On a side note, Bernard shot an aKING gig a while back and swears that Laudo now looks exactly like Chris Martin.

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Guilty as Sin

Step into the night
Breathe into it life
Don’t want to be clean
But I’m keen to try
On an all night ride
A punched-ticket sunrise
Don’t want to be seen
I’m keen to survive
I’ve wasted opportunities and lost my grip
My overheating conscious lit my eyes on fire
A dawn chorus of silhouettes
The verdict is in
Guilty As Sin
Spread myself thin
I’ve always been
Guilty As Sin
Tell me, where do I begin?
We’re constantly repeating
I’m prone to forget
That all of this is merely feeding malignant regret
The ruthless pursuit
A symptom of our time
I’m happy paralised and dreaming
Treading on this thin line
Light my eyes on fire
I have fallen behind
My every step fuels my demise
A futile attempt to repent
I must’ve lost my mind
Seek and you shall find
A messiah to remind you
That deliverance is an open door
You can choose to go inside
A choice I’ve been postponing for the most of my young life
Ignorance is easy to ignore if you try
But it’s hard to come down from these visceral heights
Like a rolling tide I cannot be cleansed by

I have a special attachment to Guilty as Sin. There are three things that I really enjoy in a song. They are:

1)      Clapping.

Moments of clapping in songs really exemplify that sort of jubilant elation that music can inspire. There’s something about abandoning all forms of coolness and clapping along or embracing the inherent cheesiness of the quick two clap. It’s gotten to the point where even an enjoyable sokkie will be momentarily interrupted to acknowledge a moment of clappiness. Take a listen to Jimmy Eat World’s Here it Goes for some retro-clappy goodness. Yes, I am a big J.E.W fan.

 

2)      Made-Up or Pseudo-Words

Maybe it’s the deep-rooted silliness in me, but I love me some songs with ‘doo-wops’ and ‘la-la-la’s’ in them. Jack Johnson famously never got around to finishing the words to Bubbly Toes and the song ended up the better for it, but my all time favourite made-up words band has to be The Killers. Check out Read My Mind for some serious ‘ooo-wapping’

 

3)      Crowd Singing

Particularly in evidence in on those super-emotional tracks, the complete lack of music (or perhaps just the drums keeping the beat) and the crowd singing along. Guilty as Sin has one of my favourite crowd-singing moments of all time, probably enhanced by the fact that I’ve actually crowd-sung it myself a couple of times.

Guilty as Sin is a fantastic song. The issues of religion and the images of Christianity provide the song with a deep well of emotion from which to draw. From the first truly plaintive opening on the album there comes a build-up of passion and frustration that Laudo infuses into his voice so well, till we reach the crowd-singing moment and a realisation that a lot of the issues in life may be a result of your own issues more than any external forces. I get the feeling that the internal issues hinted at here may be a sense of guilt instilled by the church, but I think the point remains a valid one. Whatever the correct interpretation, Guilty as Sin remains one of my favourite tracks off the album.

“I’m prone to forget / That all of this is merely feeding malignant regret”

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Thirsty For Love

I have to cover my tracks
There’s a siren’s song singing up my neck
Never had much to offer
Still have stones to cast at the turning backs
The angels laugh
At this bastard chasing his better half
My heart’s in my lap
Have I murdered my time?
Can’t stop running now
The road is long and lonesome
I’ve got to keep my head down
When I get thirsty for love
A love that swallows my tongue
And wakes me slow
Never ready to go after the night has sung
Have I been here before?
Bite my fingers to the bone
Slowly ran myself into the ground
A juvenile delinquent’s throne
Never thought I’d be a King
No turning around
Ate the last bread crumbs two hours ago
I’ll sleep walk for now
To a place where I know
Can’t stop walking now
The road is hard and lonesome
Can’t help to keep my head down
I am thirsty for love
So thirsty for love

The fourth entry in what is increasingly becoming the overly ambitious project to look at every single song written by aKING. Hey, if there’s one thing I’m good at it’s over-thinking things. Thirsty for Love opens with a frenetic drumbeat, ominous guitar chords and Laudo really leaning in on the first line (“traaacks”). The whole mood is one of frantic desperation as the unfulfilled pursuit for love drives the protagonist forward. I want to use this post to highlight two of the aspects of aKING which attracts me to them.

I’ve expressed my complete and utter love of evocative and often enigmatic lyrics off of this album. There is a huge joy in listening to an album on and off for 5 months and suddenly connecting with a line which was there all the time. This is a regular aKING experience. For a band that is primarily Afrikaans their mastery of the English language is astounding. Heck, if they’d been Oxford English Honours Students I would have been impressed. That’s part of the reason I felt I could run a series looking at every song: there was a lot of substance hanging around on those CD’s. Metaphor, imagery, alliteration and pacing are all well in evidence.

While initially jarring, it is a hugely pleasing experience to hear a South African pronunciation of lyrics. There are a couple of moments where it’s really evident: “Let’s dance this dance of beauty” from The Dance and Thirsty’s “…after the night has come” both give a clear indication that this is most definitely a local outfit. Enough of those American accents, let’s hear some more South African syllables.

 “a love that swallows my tongue / and wakes me slow”

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The Dance – aKING CD 1 Track 3

We’re gonna be saved
Take your time, just don’t be late
I’m in love and I’m tamed
And it resonates through me
Lose some speed, baby
There’s little that I don’t want to know
I’ve got this feeling burning inside of me that don’t wanna go
Your naked body sings to the music in my backbone
Make me believe so you can kiss away the world that I used to know
Let’s dance this dance of beauty
Enslaved but so free
Surrendered Captivity
So little time to get the right words out
Don’t lose steam, baby
I’ll take you where you wanna go
We have been blessed, now angel
let me caress the heavy heart you own
I forget the ones I’ve loved
And I forget the ones I’ve lost

The first single released from the album, The Dance is step away from the usual misery so the kids don’t get scared off. The Dance is a little more upbeat and a lot less, you know…emo.  Not completely without emo, but they’re hiding it well. The Dance is about love. Happy happy love. It rolls from verse to verse, passion packed into every syllable. As always, the guitar solo provides some serious rocking and a Seriously Short Chorus makes for easy sing along opportunities. As the first single, it’s a little more accessible (read conforming to popular standards) than the rest of the album, but three songs in, this is some serious fun.

It’s the emotional excitement of a new relationship captured in 3:22, but (true to form) with a caveat attached: no matter how excited you feel, some time in the future, you will have forgotten all about this. Not so cheery anymore, is it? 

We have been blessed, now angel let me caress the heavy heart you own

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Holy Train – CD 1 Track 2

Get your hands off the children they’re fighting for air
Dig a grave and mourn about your culture instead
The world’s had its hand on the fire for years
While you judge and damn to hell
Without an eager ear
Social cancer! Man-made heathen! Queer!
There’s a holy train coming and it’s leaving you here
Well, buckle up. Go! We couldn’t make up our minds
Remember to leave anything earthly behind
We’ll make our way to the other side
There’s a Holy Train coming and it’s leaving you here
I’d rather be late than waiting
To see a liberated third world nation
Young man you’re a fool
Look where your impudence has lead you
Don’t expect forgiveness too soon
We chase our own tails for truth
Trying to keep our precious egos in use
We’ve lost our minds along the way

Now might not be the most appropriate time for the song that probably needs the most attention.  You see, Holy Train is about the church. About how we don’t like the church. Full disclosure: I quite like the church. I spent a year working in one. So I feel like I need a decent chunk of blog to deal with not only why I like this song, but why criticising the church is a good thing. Oi. Perhaps a little later. Right now let’s take a look at that song.

Holy Train puts on display some of key characteristics of an aKING song. Thematically, we’re dealing with a since of isolation and dissociation with a good deal of anger worked in. The vocals are the characteristically low, rumbling growl of manliness. The opening lyrics are the usual half-despairing, half-bizarre amalgam that ensures that listening to an aKING song for a month is likely to yield new lyrical gems almost daily. What knocks Holy Train up to the next level is that driving drumbeat and a spot on brilliant chorus. Short, no-where near sweet and you’ll be singing it for days. The song is essentially a scathing and sarcastic comment on Traditional Christian-Afrikaans Culture; the chorus a damning cry placed in the mouths of the aforementioned community. As a happy-little Christian, my view is this: I’m quite happy that people don’t like Christians who offer nothing but condemnation and denials of the realities of life. I don’t like Christians who offer nothing but condemnation. Let’s all sing along with aKING and make sure that our brand of Christianity offers something more than that.

Get your hands off the children they’re fighting for air.”

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Decomposing Lullaby – aKING CD 1 Track 1

Bad wind breathing in the streets tonight
A gunshot rhythm to a decomposing lullaby
I rest my head on the bosom of restless nights
Death is dining at our table
We feast on our nails
There is a bullet with my name on
Waiting to exhale inside of me
There’s not alot of sympathy
With the life I’m leading
If only I could begin again
But I’m not surprised it’s the end
I feel helpless
I can’t help it if I don’t need a lullaby
We need a miracle
If this is where our hearts lie
Where is our home?
I rest my head on the bosom of little faith
Still we keep hanging on for a saint
Barking serenade of panic
The moon is wailing
Quench your thirst my son
Make sure you lick the knife clean
Inside of me my life will be an offering
To those that I have failed
There’s a bottle with my name on
And I’m waiting to inhale
I rest my head on the bosom of restless heights
I rest my head on broken promises

The first track off of their debut album, Dutch Courage. If I’m being completely honest, this is probably the most skipped track on the CD for me. The early days saw me quickly moving on to the incredibly catchy Holy Trains more often than not. While still not one of my all time favourites, Lullaby has redeemed itself from an initially poor showing, not least because of a tasty guitar solo

With a name like Decomposing Lullaby you know you aren’t going to be spending the next 40 minutes listening to songs about summer days and good times. While not exactly an ‘angry’ band there isn’t a lot of happiness on this album. Helplessness, hopelessness and dispossession are the themes on display. A healthy dose of manliness puts a stop to this being classified as anything close to emo. These guys would punch sad emo kids in the liver and then have a smoke.

Lullaby opens the album at a decent pace, deftly displaying the major themes of the album.And of course, there’s the little matter of that guitar solo, preceded by a foreshadowing of just how low Laudo is willing to go with his vocals.

All in all, those opening guitar chords are enough to put me in the mood for what has become nothing less than an epic album.

there’s a bullet with my name on, waiting to exhale inside of me

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aKING Month!

(This is not a musical blog. I have no musical training. Production and whatnot is Bernard’s thing. But I love me some aKING…)

With the release of aKING’s new album I’ve been plunged back into my crazy obsessive love of this South African rock band. These guys have a number of entries on my mental Soundtrack of Stellenbosch (ooh, blog-idea). It’s something about the lyrical complexity of the songs, the ridiculous emo-vibes or the just plain old-school rockingness. I’ve bought the T-shirts, watched the music videos, got beer spilled on me at the concerts and now it’s time for the self-indulgent blog series. 25 Songs, listened to and over-analysed. Taking it more like a poetry anthology than two CDs (and an EP), I’m sure a lot of actual music people will disagree with my opinions, but in that case you can go get your own blog. aKING month is here!

From the first album, Dutch Courage

See what the fuss is about at www.rhythymonline.co.za

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