You know a band is brilliant when you feel the urge to crank the volume on your stereo and pretend you can play guitar while fingering imaginary guitar strings. Yes, I am referring to the most sacred art of air guitar. The band in question are South African rockers Shadowclub. Hailing from the streets of Johannesburg, Shadowclub brings you proof that rock ‘n roll is far from being dead. Upon listening to them, you think you’re listening to one of those original rock ‘n roll bands that incorporates a very heavy blues feeling into their music. Bands that were post Elvis Presley but pre-The Beatles. In contemporary times, we refer to this as blues rock. Shadowclub delivers high-energy blues-infused rock ‘n roll, which is essentially what rock ‘n roll was all about.
Goodbye Wild Child opens with the track “Born in the City”. It is this fast and frantic slab of good and proper rock ‘n roll. The guitar riffs flow in rapid bursts while being backed up by a thundering bass line and a steady drum section. Jacques Moolman’s bluesy and drawling vocals burst out from behind this wall of aural seduction. “Born in the City” makes you want to strap up your combat boots, throw on your leather jacket and hit the streets like some rebellious punk.
“All Aboard” kicks it back a notch with a more mellow and blues-inspired track which keeps your head bobbing and feet tapping. It progresses back and forth between a laid-back blues sound and a high-energy rock ‘n roll sound. This is something they do often on other tracks like “Vegas” and “Back of the Road”.
“Pray for Me” and “The Troops” are both done in a similar style. That is, fusing blues and rock music to create tracks that sound both mellow and energetic. “Pray for Me” contains a more suppressed sense of energy and highlights the blues element within the track while maintaining that rock ‘n roll attitude. “The Troops” is a thundering, high-energy race from beginning to end. It is an in-your-face, no-nonsense rock ‘n roll track. Shadowclub does a similar style on “The Fix” as well.
“Melanielectriclove” begins with an intro that is sort of reminiscent of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. It features soaring guitar riffs and crashing drums. This all bursts into the massive tune that is the main body of the track. This is a rock ‘n roll track at heart with face-melting guitar riffs pouring out of it while Moolman’s vocals burst out with frantic energy. It is understandable why Shadowclub released this track as their first single. It embodies everything they are as a band: energetic, loud, and damn sexy.
“Dirt and Rubble” is my favourite track off Goodbye Wild Child. It is very different to the rest of the album as it strays from that blues rock formula and leans towards an indie rock sound. A thick bass riff accompanies the opening of this track as it progresses into a very laid-back tune that eventually builds up into soaring guitar riffs. Throughout the track Moolman croons out lyrics like “My heavy heart could burn a hole through the floor.”
The closing three tracks of Goodbye Wild Child reflect a much more bluesy sound than the rest of the album. These tracks are sort of a way to calm your excited nerves, letting you catch your breath and rest a bit. “Mockingbird” has a suppressed sense of energy that is reinforced by the drawling vocals. “Suddenly” is a very mellow track that relies on blues-inspired guitar strumming until it eventually progresses into a blues rock-inspired breakdown. “Magic Wand” is solid blues rock and is incredibly laid back. It forms such a stark contrast to the opening track “Born in the City”.
Overall, Shadowclub has produced a phenomenal and timeless record. If I didn’t know any better I’d say they were some old-school band from the ’50s or ’60s. It just amazes me to know that they’re an incredibly modern band that makes me proud to hail from South Africa. They manage to bring a new and refreshing sound to a genre that is difficult to do anything new in. The band desires to perform in arenas overseas; I honestly feel that their music is made for arenas and that they deserve to play to massive overseas crowds.