Arno Carstens - The Hello Goodbye Boys

2006-03-30 02:47

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It's clear from the production on this album that Arno Carstens is headed more and more for the mainstream market. Some would say "adult contemporary market", whatever that means, with a slight sneer. These critics may prefer the old Nude Girls' sound.

With The Hello Goodbye Boys, Arno proves that hardcore is overrated, and that moving forward is more challenging than satisfying a small bunch of aging fans' established taste in music.

The new album is a balanced collection of passionate songs, with quite a few outstanding potential hit singles on it. Overall, the album showcases his talent for writing tunes, and for tapping in to what his potential audience is listening to, without resorting to imitation. His classic rock sound, instead of being flavoured Southern European as on Another Universe, takes tricks from REM, Pink Floyd and big stadium acts, keeping that hard to define but unique SA rock sound at its core.

Arno (always strong on collaboration) has drawn his new sound from his band members too - in particular from Brendan Jury (keyboards, strings) and top blues/rock guitarist Albert Frost. Albert adds space and soul. The classically proficient Brendan Jury (ex of Trans Sky, and of top Durban band Urban Creep) thicken the mix with the moodiness of sweeping violins. Concord Nkabinde and Barry Van Zyl, who played with Johnny Clegg, contribute what for argument's sake could be called "African" sounds to the album on tracks like "The man and the lion". This doesn't always work.

Brian O' Shea - the producerwho helped make Seether (then Saron Gas), puts a studio gloss on the sound, adding echo meat and an international slickness. These "Bon Jovi" tactics are what critics of Arno's new sound mostly object to. These elements are also what's most likely to push Hello Goodbye Boys onto overseas and local radio stations' playlists, which hardly favour the rough 'n ready, loveable old SA rock idiom that so many sentimentalise.

Themes of flight, travel, freedom and loss predominate in songs like "Bad city" "Kites", and "Hope to see you soon". Arno explores personal responsibility "Count to 10", "The act", always stepping back from gung ho polemics.

This is a grander, more populist sound than Another Universe. A great deal of subtlety and some amazing melodic and atmospheric moments are contained in, and occasionally a bit dominated by, the production and arrangements.

But aside from the rather lightweight "The birds and the bees" every track is worth returning to. "Hole Heart", which debuted at No 26 on 5fm, is climbing the charts. Others from the album are sure to follow.

- Jean Barker


"...not necessarily a poor attempt, but it reeks of over-production. Staid and radio friendly"
- Charles de Olim for Tonight

This album is to record company SonyBMG's South African division what Coldplay's X&Y was to EMI. They're betting everything on it doing really well, and putting millions behind its launch both here and to a million potential fans in the UK. The Hello Goodbye Boys is the second solo production from Arno Carstens, the former frontman of top SA rock band, Springbok Nude Girls.

arf 2005/09/12 8:38 PM
WTF...doesn't sound like arno to me? better check those clips....
Owl 2005/09/12 9:33 PM
More production, less musical value This album may represent a slick production of international standards, but unlike Carstens Another Universe, it lacks the quality of good songs. While AU strength was the power of one excellent melody with emotive lyrics, this new record fails to offer that many good songs. There are some excellent tracks in Hole Heart, we are satellites and Love The Whole world, the problem the vast majority of tracks are good but nothing more. Still it's worth the buy and captures that SA rock sound!
Roo! 2005/09/13 12:44 PM
Wake Up!!! What's a guy to do? Is he suppose to sell a mere 30K copies of his blood, sweat and tears and be happy with that while some talent less moron like Britney sells millions? I don't think so!!! For far too long SA musicians have had to release generally rough and raw renditions of their artwork. Although this untapped potential has it's place within our collective it is about time we started producing albums of international quality; not merely for the sake of making a bit of cash (which will finally start enabling the musicians to actually pay their bills) but also because we (the SA people) have something to say and we deserve to be heard for a change. Art resonates long after the lights go out. Arno Carstens - The Hello Goodbye Boys
Jean 2005/09/13 4:45 PM
familiarity factors Roo and Owl, I often find that people prefer the first album from someone... until they get used to the new sound. It's natural to love the familiar. I didn't find Another Universe nearly as exciting on first listen as I do now. And the more time goes by, the more Bad City sticks in my head, but also The act. And rough and ready works for some. Like the White Stripes. So I'm not sure who to agree with. The Brakes - Give Blood
Justine Wiese 2005/09/29 8:50 AM
new soul Amaizing! It renewed my soul, once again, just like his first solo album, and EVERY nude girls album did!! 4 sure
Mark Smith 2005/10/27 12:19 PM
The Hello Goodbye Boys I am a 46/47 year old guy who was given this album as a present and I thought that it was great! Some of those tracks brought the goose bumps - real quality sound and fantastic meaningful lyrics. I loved it.
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