Monday, March 15, 2010

New Holland

Google New Holland and you find a bunch of links for a company that manufactures agricultural equipment and machinery, such as heavy duty tractors. They even have some YouTube videos.

There is also a reference to a very old name for Australia. There is just one link to the band New Holland's 2009 album Exploded Views.

Strange, eh? In this day and age I would have expected the band to have a more prominent profile on the Internet. Anyhow, it does not matter, I guess. Exploded Views is a corker of an album and for my money one of the best local releases, along with the debut from Pretty Blue Guns, of the last year.

New Holland are lumped in with the "Bellville bands" that have been celebrated in a compilation of their own. Obviously the bands that do come from Bellville now completely disavow this kind of shorthand categorisation. On the one hand, belonging to a scene is good when the scene first gets attention, as the identification with what is perceived to be hip and happening can be of great assistance in making a breakthrough to commercial viability, but then it may become a millstone when the tide goes out and the attention moves to another scene. Then you are just stranded along with the driftwood of that faded scene and nobody is willing to accept you in any other context.

The first, and the best, always transcend whatever scene they come from and I believe that New Holland should easily be able to do so as well. This is just a great rock band with passion, intensity, excellent songs and inspired arrangements. New Holland is one more example among many of the kind of band that produces music that makes me believe South African rock need no longer stand back for anyone in the world. There may be internationally hugely successful bands New Holland would never be able to outdo purely and simply because of geographical limitations, but I cannot see many of those bands delivering a product that could surpass Exploded Views.

The joyous thing is that the guitars bounce and crunch in much more individual style than the modern rock bands that sound like cut-outs from the same base metal template. It is refreshing to hear a group with a different aural appeal, who are not scared to fly closer to the sun than the rest, or to jump sideways when everyone else try the slam dunk. The other wonderful thing is the odd washes of electronica that colour the rock with a vaguely ambient, uh, ambience.

Another odd thing is that the band members seem to be nice Afrikaans boys who have obviously decided that it is not their road to stardom to sing in Afrikaans. The Afrikaans rock scene seems pretty substantial, as large, if not larger, than the more internationalist scene where English is still the language of rock and roll. The 'taal' is now fully accepted and acceptable as a language in which all manner of local youth can express themselves from stupid pop to rap to death metal, not to mention Christian rock and roll, yet many of those bands are as unimaginative as their English singing peers and are as interchangeable. If singing in English, even if it is not the home language, helps New Holland gain a worldwide audience, more power to them.

Something To Believe In is the classic hit song: it's about putting your creative efforts out there and only being happy when you sing your song, and it sounds just like something you've heard before but never have. If that is not a sign of a world conquering hit, you can call me Meyer.


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