As I, along with most of the planet, become obsessed with soccer (or futbol), it seems like expert timing that BLK JKS would release their latest EP, ZOL! this week. ZOL! is the Johannesburg-based group’s third release.
The group’s sound is difficult to describe. Their music will probably get lumped into the indie rock category but there are many more influences present in their music. Take the EP’s title track “Zol!” for example. The track’s beat is essentially a reggaetone beat that reminds me of M.I.A. or Major Lazer. The beat is accompanied by traditional African chanting vocals and some light electric guitar noodling underneath. This kind of world music-esque uproar is not typical of BLK JKS.
The album’s opening track “Iietys” is probably more representative of the group’s sound. It starts with a drum beat that I swear is lifted directly out of a Nine Inch Nails‘ song. The beat is quickly joined by guitars and various ambient beeps. Next the vocals kick in. The track’s vocals remind me of TV on the Radio. The song’s development is reminscent of The Mars Volta; the track goes through various movements almost like a symphony.
For me, I prefer the sound presented in “ZOL!” over “Iietys”. “Iietys” feels a little heavy handed while “ZOL!” both celebrates the band’s culture while still being fun. Unfortunately, “ZOL!” is one of the only tracks on the album with this feeling. The album’s closing track “Mzabalazo (Demo)” is the only track with the same feeling. So I feel a bit torn on the EP, while I recognize that the band has the ability to write great music that mixes traditional African music with modern rock and pop influence it does not seem like the band’s focus. In my eyes, that adds up to a fairly disappointing outing.
Rating: 6.3/10
Buy: iTunes or Insound!

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