[The Incidentals in Cape Town  PHOTO: Die Vetman]

Cape Town-based folk-rock group, The Incidentals, was formed in 2019 and includes former founding members of bands Chiaroscuro and The Swingsetters. Recently, this guitar, bass, and drum trio have performed at Cape Town venues such as Woodstock Brewery and café Roux.

They play original songs, as well as folk and blues covers. They shared the stage with The Hugo Veldsman Trio and Basson Laubscher & the Violent Free Peace back in September as part of Sit The Folk Down’s Roots Revival event.

The band recorded their debut EP, Coming in Hot, in March at Sunset Studios in Stellenbosch. The first single, ‘Trippin’ on Tar’, was released in June followed by ‘Twenty Something’ in August — both of which are still being played on local radio. The EP was finally rounded out on 5 November with the final track, ‘Coming in Hot’.

While their social media lacks any mention of it, the band’s first release on streaming platforms was on 17 March. The lack of fanfare is likely because of the more serious subject matter of a track titled ‘Brave Ukraine’, which features smooth bluesy guitar rolling over a finger-snapping rhythm.

Coming in Hot

The title track is bold and sexy, and feels like it’s sweating through its buttoned-down collared shirt. ‘Coming in Hot’ struts down to the bar counter to the beat of single-minded drums, swaying to a guitar rhythm that oozes swagger.

The track closes with a sharp flourish — the same double-time guitar lick that was teased just after the song’s second minute. It’s a bravado-filled opener that embodies the EP’s cover art and gets you warmed up for a much bouncier second track.

Trippin’ on Tar

The Incidentals brand themselves as having an authentic South African sound, and it’s on full display for the first single off the EP. The track’s syncopated rhythm focuses on 2’s and 4’s, with its shakers and tambourine texture, will feel instantly familiar to South Africans of all stripes.

Combined with its bouncy guitar, layered closing vocalisations, and optimistic tone, ‘Trippin’ on Tar’ has the classic South African folk-rock sound that’s sure to draw smiles around a braai. The upbeat sound is complemented by lyrics that take us out on the open road to escape cycles of dull habits and quickening days.

But, when we finally get out of the city and find a reprieve from expectation and stagnation, the narrator finds that spending too much time on the empty road becomes aimless and tiring. The track then takes us back home to pick up our responsibilities, with a final minute that’s hard not to move along to.

Twenty Something

The final song is a lilting tune about growing up and looking back. ‘Twenty Something’ sits around a fire reminiscing about the trials of youth and how things have changed but some scars remain. With its harmonica and 6/8 feel, the song nails the sentimental tone. However, overall, its effectiveness will probably vary with the age of the listener.

Coming in Hot gives you plenty to choose from — with three quite different-sounding songs. The title track brings some grungier blues rock, and ‘Trippin’ on Tar’ is a stand-out with its jubilant local sound. ‘Twenty Something’ provides a slower, stripped-back ending, though it may be a bit sweet for everyone’s tastes.

You can catch The Incidentals live for Hope on the Lawns in Stellenbosch on 26 November, at the Karoo Saloon in Barrydale on 1 December, or at the St Francis Brewing Co & Grill House out in St Francis Bay on 3 December.

Author

​​I write about the tech sector in hopes we can find human-centred alternatives to the mess we’ve made for ourselves. I get involved in the music scene because leaving passion unpursued is a sin. When my feet aren’t busy on the sokkie floor, you can find me chasing silver linings.

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