So I’m sitting in this local Mexican restaurant with some friends, chowing down on tacos and fake margaritas, and in the background is this low level buzzing sound. A bad fluorescent light? Someone hammer drilling in the next shop over? After a while, I figure out it’s the soccer game on TV, and those damn vuvuzelas. Here I am, safely ensconced in Florida, and some yo-yos half a world away have figured out how to annoy me.
But I’m very happy to report that Blk Jks will have none of that. They come from Johannesburg and Soweto and have integrated an infectious South African sound with cool jazz and upbeat blues grooves. They played the World Cup opening ceremony, and you might want to catch them on this spacey yet well-grounded EP. “I can roll and I can shoot at the same time” is the only English lyric on “Zol!” It occupies a center space surrounded by the exotic bush of call and response hand claps, and you wonder what they are bragging about in their native tongue. “Paradise” takes a progressive rock sound as its key; the drums might support a really great lounge act while the guitars head into a King Crimson space with vocals sung in a flat Midwestern American accent. Anti-apartheid anthem “Mzabalazo” adds rock trappings and screamed vocals to what sounds like a spiritual. I’m not sure this song would end racism, buts it’s fun to sing while you’re trying. These guys are worth a listen; they do NOT hoe the regular “world music” sound field, but head out in unexpected directions with excellent results.
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