[Francois Roux (left) and Storm Opperman (right). PHOTO: Supplied/The Stinging Rogers]

The Stinging Rogers emerged from Stellenbosch when high school friends Storm Opperman and Francois Roux began performing under the name in 2018. The pair’s latest single releases ‘Borderline’ and ‘Purgatory’ — 2021 and 2022 respectively — deliver skilful guitar work through dreamy verses and full-bodied choruses.

The duo’s first release was the three-track Flat Sessions EP in 2020. This included versions of Sticky Fingers’ ‘Liquorlip Loaded Gun’ and Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. Compared to their newest releases, the EP’s sound is far more subdued, with a focus on acoustic guitar.

The covers complimented their stripped-down two-person approach, but were missing the kind of bold, energetic guitar work that would later prove to be a strength of the band’s original songwriting.

Alongside The Stinging Rogers, Opperman and Roux also make music under the name Vrede. The Afrikaans parallel project takes a lighter, folk-influenced approach that incorporates harmonica and more sunny, buoyant rhythms. The two 2022 tracks released under Vrede are more reminiscent of The Stinging Rogers’ first original single, ‘Restless’.

Borderline

Before the release of ‘Borderline’, there was ‘Restless’ in 2020. ‘Restless’ seems like a transition between Flat Sessions and their later singles. The track holds on to the acoustic sound from their covers but injects the lively, playful guitar and vocal teamwork that shines through all of Roux and Opperman’s original songs.

But in contrast to the laid-back and danceable ‘Restless’, 2021’s ‘Borderline’ is a much more driven affair. The release last year in December marks the debut of a distinctly more rock-infused sound for The Rogers. The addition of drums makes for an immediately noticeable change from the uncluttered strings and vocals of their previous recordings.

The insistent bass line gives this track a lot of momentum from the get-go. While the lead guitar in the verses retains some of the band’s plucking style, the chorus sections trade this all in for brash riffs to match vocals that sound like they’re singing out from a stage rather than an intimate jam session.

Not to be a complete departure from their other work, ‘Borderline’ includes a groovy, guitar-picking build-up before turning up the pace again for the final stretch.

Purgatory

The Stinging Rogers’ latest single is ‘Purgatory’, released in September this year. This more contemplative track is a great marriage of the band’s gentler meandering guitar lines with an absolutely righteous chorus.

But before we get there, the mixing of the opening drums deserves mention. The drums are given plenty of space to breathe and the full sound really draws you in as the track picks up speed.

‘Purgatory’ deals with themes of being born into a situation that is not under your control but that will deeply shape who you become. The song speaks to the tension between accepting the influence that parents have on who we are and also taking up the responsibility of making ourselves who we want to be despite our upbringing.

“Given some time it might be us / And all that we can become / But we refuse to see it.”

The band released a music video for the song at the end of September. It sees Roux and Opperman blinking in and out, trapped inside the walls of a childhood home — the purgatory of birth circumstance that we must choose to outgrow.

“And I’ll try / I’ll try / To be the best me.”

‘Purgatory’ is a rock-tilted balance of the elements that make The Stinging Rogers great — intricately layered guitar and emotionally compelling vocal performances from both men erupting into a satisfying, high-energy chorus and closing riff that’s big enough to match the weighty lyrics.

Their next release is planned for early 2023 and will be a full band version of ‘Restless’.

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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