Release Date: Mar 10, 2009
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Pronounced Black Jacks, BLK JKS' first EP Mystery is a quick-paced, dub-heavy indie blast that mirrors the indie/Afro-pop chic of Vampire Weekend and adds the rambling psychedelia of Animal Collective. That's not to say that they're easily categorized, or even really comparable to any other bands out there, which is a big reason for the media buzz surrounding them. EPs rarely generate this much hype, but besides simply being the right sounding band at the right time, and having a cool Bad Brains look, they deserve the spotlight they're gaining on Secretly Canadian for their musicianship alone.
Unless I've grotesquely underestimated the average Western indie fan's knowledge of South Africa's alternative scene, it's kind of humbling/embarrassing to think that were it not for the moderately elaborate series of coincidences that brought BLK JKS to the attention of Secretly Canadian, the closest that most of us could come to naming a decent rock band from the country would be, I dunno, Seether. And Seether are just horrible. Anyway, as lore would have it, BLK JKS were formed in Johannesburg in 2000, but had to wait some seven years for their Western break, when a chance meeting with an on-tour Diplo set all sorts of balls rolling.
First championed by OMM last July, Blk Jks hail from South Africa but that's little help in trying to pinpoint their sound. Indeed with bands like Vampire Weekend so keen on appropriating the polyrhythmic thunder of their African peers, it's only fitting that these childhood friends should often sound like art rock sensations from Brooklyn. .
With a vowelless name and a genreless sound, the South African quartet BLK JKS (pronounced “Black Jacks”) forces a bit of reading between the lines. It isn’t just a matter of the music being too exotic for staid North American ears: These guys were too weird for most of South Africa to properly digest.So begins the highly bloggable back story: Sent to wander from their homeland, the nomadic Jacks find some love from Diplo’s Mad Decent label, and later Indiana’s Secretly Canadian, plus a FADER cover feature, an upcoming SXSW showcase and other such marks of indie prestige. Mystery, a four-song warning shot of an EP, completes the cycle of hype.
BLK JKS (pronounced "Black Jacks") are a handful of native South Africans who thrive as a collective whole, teaching themselves how to play their instruments, maintaining a healthy work ethic, and supporting their amorphous sound with a massive tour through South Africa. Recently signed to Secretly Canadian, their debut EP Mystery, out March 10th and produced by Brandon Curtis from Secret Machines, is a stunning whirlwind of sounds that are vaguely familiar, yet completely their own, all mashed into an EP of less than twenty minutes in length.Landslide seeps into gear with a spectral locomotive intro before blasting into a Bloc Party-esque percussion driven overdrive. And that's just the first 40 seconds.