Skallabrak is really more about keeping up with the alternative Afrikaans music traditions popularised by the likes of The Gereformeerde Blues Band, Koos Kombuis, and Valiant Swart in particular. Throughout the album, lyrics reflect an attempt to be reasonable and forward-thinking when dealing with religion, politics and even, gasp, girls, or reasonable facsimile thereof.
But it's a hard act to hold together, and Skallabrak are also far from being (as their record company claims) a completely new sound on the scene.
On the plus side, they do write their own songs, and it's nice to see so much original new Afrikaans music on one album, sung by South African men who maintain their senses of humour, while being aware of the problems in the world. And who have a small chip on their shoulders for a change, not an entire potato farm!
But some of their attitudes do seem a bit thoughtless. Sure, dagga makes people high, sleepy and exceptionally annoying to talk to. And yes, it causes brain damage. But it's not the biggest problem the average "Bergie" has to contend with. It's also not the kind of drug that has people like "Daisy" rocking up at your house begging for more, as their lyrics would have it.
And why the reggae beat, then the metalish choruses, then the straightforward rock? At times the eclectic set of influences they draw into their songs is intriguing, but at others it's just unpleasantly lumpy. Where they should be making soup, they're making stew. Or bad mash.
And the lyrics are a touch cringe-inducing at moments. Try "Ek sien haar in die wind / ek sien haar in die weer". It's not all bad, though. In the same song you'll hear "This woman is far too fine / vir 'n' dronkman se pick up line", which just works, in a simple sort of way.
Tonewise? Overall? Hard to say - it's a choppy ride. If you already have Valiant Swart's entire catalogue, this newer band's sound and sentiments will amuse you, even if it's a poor distant relative of what seems to have inspired it.- Jean Barker
Skallabrak? Their name's a bit confusing until you find that the band was named for the key members, whose nicknames are Brakwater and Skallamari. The album title, translated literally, means "International keeping your head together". It's not very "rock" sounding, is it?
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