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She Man Lion

Rhythm and Theft

by Roger Young, images Sydelle Willow Smith / 16.02.2011

Like some kind of low-grade MGMT cover band, She Man Lion hit the Mercury stage on Friday night, sonically resembling a mash up of The Plastics and Die Heuwels Fantasties. It’s not they’re bad per se, just average. The sparse crowd tried to get into the bouncy beat but the waves of synth and the indistinct vocals all seem to be coming from different places; the band itself just doesn’t coalesce into a solid unit; their lyrics and harmonies sounding like a high school band that still relies on the print media for its music news. I gotta admit though that I’m instantly prejudiced against any band that uses one of those 50s mics.

Mostly it feels that She Man Lion are taking the easy way out. Their sound is full, too full. It’s, as if for lack of better ideas, they decided to throw everything in. It’s a buzzy, plingey, short bass note, double time, synth smothered wave of murk. Lyrically, they also leave much to be desired; you need a lot more conviction and er, music to pull off a line like: “Don’t stop the music”. I also find suspect the idea of someone in their early twenties singing about: “Twenty five years ago” and “This is the sound of a generation, this is the voice on the radio waves”. I mean, who listens to the radio anymore? This is what I find ultimately false about She Man Lion; their ideas feel borrowed and they don’t seem to be borrowing with any real passion. Essentially, they’re too limp to even be whiney.

Halfway through the set the singer guy announces, referring to the fact that The Wild Eyes cancelled their support slot, “We hope that the drummer from the band that everyone came to see gets well soon”. Oh well, at least they know their place. And then just as I’ve given up on the waves of Owl City with the voice of She Wants Revenge coming off the stage; things change, not much but they do. They start to hold back on the synth, the harmonies start to make sense, the bass player ups his game, in short they start to sound less like a million derivative ideas and more like an actual band. They stop trying, they strip back, they rock out.

She Man Lion - Bouncing!

It’s at this moment that I stop seeing just kids dressing and playing like they think they’re expected to but rather a bunch of people who are enjoying the vibe, actually into it. It’s hard to describe what happened. Musically very little had changed, maybe their last three tracks are just better songs and maybe they just accepted where they are and went with it; but it was remarkably noticeable. The crowd feels it. The bass becomes throbbing, the drummer begins to really drive the set, the vocals separate from the background. Suddenly there is real dancing, suddenly She Man Lion become a band with promise.

All bands have influence, borrow ideas. It’s the nature of creation; everything has been done before. It’s how you own your theft that makes a difference.

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RESPONSES (40)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the alcohol and drugs you so love kicked in…

    We were somewhere around the Bar stool, on the edge of the creative desert, when the vibes began to take hold.

    I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should write….” And suddenly there was a preening and diving around the bar, which was spinning about a hundred miles an hour with the 10 tequilas down (Time to be leaving Las Vegas) And a voice was screaming “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”

    Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the pulling process. “What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the strobes with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to write.” I hit the bong and aimed the Great Red cock toward the dark corners of the mercury. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

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  2. gene woord says:

    Considering the post-Will_Mellor detritus that currently hovers over mahala like a pungent haze, could we please declare a moritorium on the word “v!be” for a while?

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  3. syd willow says:

    it was friday night.

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  4. Roger Young says:

    Apologies. My fuck up.

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  5. brandon edmonds says:

    Fucking Moratorium on Hunter S asides @anonymous et al, references, shout outs, allusions, pillories, quotes and reboots…the addled coot is dead, his moment is long gone, cease and desist!!! Own your theft.

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  6. Thishiwe says:

    Perhaps a moratorium on moratoriums?

    These comment boards are full of fascists.

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  7. dodger young says:

    get a life roger.you’ve been harassing Cape Town long enough (20 years at least)with your useless opinions.Why don’t you get a life and get on a stage and try to make some music yourself instead of criticising other peoples attempts at making us have some fun.Go back to Durban with your fat stomach and your cocaine nose job and go fuck some nazi bitch in the toilets of some crap rave club that you love so much…

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  8. Devon says:

    ” All bands have influence, borrow ideas. It’s the nature of creation; everything has been done before. It’s how you own your theft that makes a difference. ”

    BRILLIANT! I enjoyed that line.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    this is probably one of the best reviews ive ever read, everything has been done, that s the problemn, but owning youre theft is just brilliant
    i have the same problem roger
    i just dont beleive this band
    they try to come off all rock and roll
    but the sweat and blood and dirt just isnt there
    if i was really drunk id still pogo to them though
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Lay off the Walrus…he is doing a half decent impersonation of Lester Bangs…but who is his Lou Reed?

    PS

    8 (and counting) kaks for the drug swipe & HST rehash…tough crowd.

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  11. Koan Reiken says:

    I think She Man Lion have a sound so big and great.
    They are like a wall or train hitting you straight in the face always.
    I think it must be hard for venues to mix She Man Lions big sound.
    She Man Lion is quite different from other bands I have seen here.

    The last three songs were nice because they were more dark and they linked together which keeps the energy. They must also start with a big song and keep the softer songs for later.

    I like She Man Lion. I say they have new sound progressing on from older new wave, indie, and post-punk. I think they must come to Austria, and all around Europe is very close, you will be very much liked.

    Is there not a music blog for Cape Town that is liking the music and having interesting talks. I think this Malhala doesn’t know much. But still I cant help but write.

    I love the music.
    KReiken

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I don’t get why people have a problem with this article. I mean, yeah, I get pissed of at Mahala’s journos that think they are making some great intellectual or cultural statement, or think that gonzo is the be all and end all journalism.

    Or that Kavish Chetty guy, who sounds like he is a student studying journalism that once overheard the conversations of a group of kids studying sociology, yet doesn’t seem to look at the actual meanings of words when he looks up how to spell them.

    But this – he complains about the music, and gives reasons why he doesn’t like it, that have to do with the music. That is what I want from my music journalists.

    And I’ve read reviews of Roger’s where he does like what he went to review.

    If the music was crap do you want your journalists to lie.

    And to dicks saying “Why don’t you get a life and get on a stage and try to make some music yourself instead of criticising other peoples attempts” hmm, the guy is a music journalist, it is his job to criticize.

    @Roger, if these kids want you to stop writing bad things about bands I’ve got an idea. Why don’t me and you grab a couple of rifles and go to gigs and pick off the bands one at a time.

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  13. Roger Young says:

    There was a political cartoon in the early 90s’ of FW De Klerk flying a small aeroplane called Reform. He was turning over his shoulder and saying to Nelson Mandela, “If I go too fast the right wing rattles, if I go too slow the left wing rattles”.

    Point being if you’re doing something, anything, that most people do not do, someone, somewhere, who has not done the thing, is going to complain about your speed and methods. It’s often helpful to listen to what they’re saying but sometimes it is not.

    As to the rifles, that’s more a thing to fantasise about, I’d rather do something far more achievable. I’m talking paint ball guns.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    roger have you ever stuck youre paint balls in the freezer

    its way more fun

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  15. Murray says:

    Nice Roger

    This is how I like my reviews. Balanced and thought-out. To the haters, go read an article where all the critic says is ‘Oh, it was shit, the singer looked like a fat Axl Rose.’ That’s not a review, that’s just negative waste.

    If you don’t like a band, fine, we all have our tastes but you gotta spell it out. Give the reasons for why you dislike something and if possible give some constructive tips.

    Sometimes it seems the commenters are just as new to this whole game as the journos are. Criticising a critic whose criticising. An useless, infinite loop.

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  16. 1D10t says:

    I love the bit about using the vintage looking mic! (That’s a Shure 55 btw). I’ve only heard these guys on Myspace, but I think they miss the point drastically, especially seeing this photo of them and their Roland SH-201 POS keyboard. It’s a bit like building a plastic kit car Porsche onto a Beetle chasis, it looks like the real deal from far, but certainly isnt. These guys need to study what the great bands are doing. If you are going for that Arcade Fire/MGMT etc authentic indie sound, you have to first get real. Get real with your lyrics, say things that are truthful, meaningful, real and yours. Then look at your ethics of sonics very carefully. If you are going to use synths, then get a REAL one. Nothing sounds shittier than a digital piece of crap like a 201 through a live rig. Then don’t mix up the whole vintage mic thing. The Shure 55 is not the right sound you want for this type of music. If in doubt, use the 57/58 and stop trying to reinvent the wheel with your perception of things. Less is more kids. Remember that.

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  17. gene woord says:

    I couldn’t disagree more with the 1D10t. The gear doesn’t matter, the quality of the ideas and the conviction of the execution is far more important. Orginality and a resolve to move outside of the herd is far more engaging than pursuing that “authentic indie sound”.

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  18. All we're askin' you to do is drop trou and squeeze out says:

    “It doesn’t matter if it is good, It only matters if it rocks.”

    All bands need to do is rock with their cocks (or clits) out…oh wait…thats also been done before…oh well…”All bands have influence, borrow ideas. It’s the nature of creation; everything has been done before. It’s how you own your theft that makes a difference.”

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  19. 1D10t says:

    gene woord, the gross contradiction of your post leaves me wondering if it’s worth explaining to you. Ok, quickly..would Arcade Fire be as cool and sound as good if they adopted your approach? The way an idea is generated is often due to the tools being used. If they were not worried about the tools they used there’d be no need to try to look cool using a Shure 55. My point was that perhaps they miss the point? Each to their own. Your opinion of my opinion is worth as much to me as a turd flavoured sugar cone.

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  20. Lilly the Pink the Pink the Pink says:

    I am a whole lot more than ‘55% Shure’ that 1D10t is a total twat-brain. 1D10t should make his own turd flavoured sugar cone out of his own turd flavoured opinion and eat it. yum yum. God knows he’s got enough ingredients. dick.

    And if Roger Young took his head out of his own arse long enough to remove the shit from his ears, he might be able to hear what real ‘shit HOT’ music sounds like.

    Judging by the bands he compares She Man Lion to, he obviously has a very shallow pool of bands to draw reference from. Perhaps he should spend more time listening to music and less time knocking-off this sticky drivel. Or maybe Malhala is just one big wank, so he is actually doing his job. In that case. Well done Roger man, I think you’ve really reached a climax here. anus licker.

    Turd Cones: Made with real turds from real turds by real turds.

    super. okay. bye bye now.

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  21. Lilly the Pink the Pink the Pink says:

    P.S.

    She Man Lion are Capital RADICAL.
    Glad to see they’re getting some publicity.

    x

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  22. dodger young says:

    Kill the critic save the music.
    Roger you’re old enough now to go slumming in sad Salt River strip joints with sad whores.Stop hanging out in the kiddie student jols ou.You’re just making a fool/tool of yourself.One should be happy that there are some kids out there making noise. It looks like you’re jealous that some kids get all the attention and you just get to watch??Do Cape Town a flavour favour and take your bad taste back to Durbs!
    Maybe there, they haven’t had enough of you yet.

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  23. Alexander Nonymous. says:

    Mahala board commentators are a nasty bunch, myself included. But that means Mahala writers are doing something right – pissing off and provoking you retards.

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  24. gene woord says:

    @1D10t – Arcade Fire would be a better band if they followed the suggested approach. Your comment contains the insinuation that they are the apex of all that is cool and admirable in contemporary music today, but not everyone agrees with that. Why not try to embrace a greater diversity of opinion and taste for the growth of all music and art rather than hurling tasteless insults at anyone who critcises your view?

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  25. Lu says:

    Did you by any chance see She Man Lion at Assembly last month? Red Huxley performed that night as well and they rock! Just putting it out there..

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  26. Roger Young says:

    @dodger young

    I have been hanging out in those and other strip bars all my life but most of the whores are generally quite happy when I come along. You see I’m a terrible fuck but I have a shit ton of money.

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  27. I think we can all take a lesson from Cindarella here says:

    When I was a little girl, my father used to say, if troubles ever trouble you, just dream your cares away. A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you may lose your heartaches, whatever you wish for you keep. Have faith in your dreams and some day a rainbow will come shining through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, a dream that you wish will come true.

    Amen to that.

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  28. Urk says:

    @Roger Young – ahhhhh THAT’s where I recognise you from! Heheh. Dudes, engage the topic. Apart from that I’m with Thishiwe. Moratorium on moratoriums.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Interesting review.

    I was also present at the gig, and find this review a poor representation of the band and performance. She Man Lion offer something that few bands of this elk try to express… and that is passion. Far too often will you surf music venues in CT and stumble across expressionless cheap imitations of something I’ve heard before. This ‘London sound’ which so many bands strive after simply cannot be replicated in CT yet bands continue to plug away not really understanding why they are doing it. It’s like singing an Italian Opera, and not speaking Italian, just singing because it because it sounds good. London is diverse, slightly depressing and grey – the opposite of CT. Even rainy Seattle is renowned for producing bands of a more somber tone: Nirvana, Death Cab, Fleet Foxes and more bands from CT need to take a leap out of She Man Lion’s book embrace where they are from – sunny CT, where its OK to be happy because the sun shining and imitate what you’ve heard, and add your own style (a bit like CT generally… a train station with high tech barriers, yet you can’t buy a ticket from a machine, and you’re ticket gets checked by an actual person anyway).

    Bands in SA have created a culture of looking for influences outside before in – making it superficial, yet She Man Lion actually have a sound that yes, is internationally friendly, yet sounds like where it comes from – Like Blur sound like they are from the South and Oasis from the North, and finally SML are a band that sound like they’re from CT! They are one of a handful of bands that could actually break into the international market.

    The review is however very well written and I like that a lot.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Roger young is a Poes

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  31. Anonymous says:

    I agree, the guy is an absolute twat.

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  32. Nicci says:

    I think you’ll find that most ‘Anonymous’ comments slating Roger on Mahala are written by the band members/their mothers/their girlfriends//their stalkers anyway.

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  33. Roger Young says:

    @ Nicci
    My place or yours?I like bitches that think.

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  34. Roger Young says:

    Wow, now the haters are commenting as me. That’s just fucking pre-school.

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  35. Roger Young says:

    I might as well fuck myself.

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  36. Jet Black says:

    Freedom of speech is a powerful right, praise people who use it fearlessly for they are giving you the freedom and right to use yours how you please.

    Don’t knock a man down for having a different opinion to you, he’s just expressing his feelings and none of us choose how we feel.

    It is important to stir thought and emotion because that is how everybody’s intellect is propelled forward.

    I’m glad we’re not all the same because it gives me the opportunity to be what I wanna be… a little bit different and little bit unique.

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  37. Roger Young says:

    Who wants to lick my arse?

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  38. 1D10t says:

    to the asshole above called “Lilly the Pink the Pink the Pink” and of course, gene ‘the piel’ woord, must I mention every decent fucking indie band on the planet then? I mentioned Arcade Fire because their last record was produced with huge integrity and creativity, and they dont fuck around with trying to copy or stereotype ideas. I’d think ‘Best album of the year’ at the Grammys would be enough proof of that. Yeah sure, lets wank off over every obscure band out there then. Drop me a mail and we can go from there ( yourmothersfatassonmyface@gmail.com ).
    Lets get this straight though, the Cape town music scene is so ups its own ass it’s revolting. Can’t take some criticism? Go fuck yourself then

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  39. Roger Young says:

    I’m still a poes…

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  40. Roger Young says:

    i love glory holes in gay clubs…

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