Tape decks and beating chests – A review of Frank Turner’s album, ‘Tape Deck Heart’

Frank Turner live in Mercury Live in Cape Town, South Africa

Frank Turner live in Mercury Live in Cape Town, South Africa. 2014

“We’re all broken girls and boys at heart,” Turner shouts above his melodic guitar riffs and foot tapping drum beats. 2013 saw Frank Turner produce his fifth and most sensational album, Tape Deck Heart. An album of recovery from ex-girlfriends, getting older, late nights in bars and scars refusing to heal. Lyrics that his loyal passionate fans will scream back at him with such reverence, the room will shake and hairs will stand on end.

Album cover of Frank Turner's 2014 album

Album cover of Frank Turner’s 2014 album

In Tape Deck Heart, Turner revels in truth and inner reflection through his thoughtful lyrics.  Turner’s words are related to real-life situations with a hint of tongue in cheek. For example, in “The way I tend to be,” the fourth song on the album, these lyrics are sung with powerful emotion:

“I catch myself catching your scent on someone else, in a crowded space, and it takes me somewhere I cannot quite place.”

On further inspection it appears that this ‘someone else’ was a cuddly koala bear he interacted with in Australia. The bear was eating eucalyptus leaves and the scent of the plant reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, who used to use eucalyptus shampoo to wash her hair.

There’s no mistaking the theme of Tape Deck Heart. With song titles such as “Recovery”, “Plain sailing weather”, “Anymore” and “Losing days,” you don’t have to be Carl Sagan to figure out he is singing about loss and grief. Yet Frank uses his positive, jubilant folk punk melodies to create an uplifting atmosphere, one that shouts recovery.

Turner has amalgamated his punk anthem style into his catchy folk songs from his front-man days singing for ‘Million Dead’, a hardcore punk band which split in 2005.

Tape Deck Heart is kitted out with themes of rejection and disappointment but balanced with ideas of growth and reflection. The type of album produced by an artist who is sifting through an experience filled life, fighting his way through politics, love and everything else that makes his heart race.

It seems we might all have tape deck hearts, and Turner allows us to play those old records at top volume through his unique style of heart-felt music in his finest album to date.



Why not recover with fabulous Frank Turner?

Tape Deck Heart hit the digital shelves in 2013. “Recovery,” the upbeat first song on the album, leads with the message of recovery from his latest emotional defeat. The remainder of the album tells tales of picking himself up off unknown apartment floors and dragging himself out of late night bars.

Turner however shy’s away from being too despondent and beaten up. Instead he looks for the positive. The song, “I want to dance” gives off his unmistakable punk background with a foot tapping, head banging melody which will no doubt create a stir with his passionately loyal fans.

Turner finds a way to lift his songs to epic proportions. His use of catchy rhythms and melodic sing-a-along is always present in his music and Tape Deck Heart is no exception. Through inward reflections and brutal honesty, Turner has formed a masterpiece out of the fire of despair.




Clark Kent of the Arts festival, Woordfees

Every year Tenswell Hector leaves his corporate job to work in an arts festival for 10 days.

It’s a story of metamorphosis from a dull rather average life adopted by so many, into a life that is closer to their real passion and originality –much like Clark Kent being given the chance to become Superman.

Tenswell Hector, a rousing man from Cloetesville, Stellenbosch, had studied drama and performed regularly at the Breughel Theatre Company, winning a number of best acting awards, before the cubicle world hijacked him from the stage.

After 35 years of working for an attorney group in Stellenbosch, “Tessie”, as he is affectionately known by those close to him, decided his creativity had been suppressed enough and strode out of his confining office job. This transition as a 53-year old man played a massive role in guiding him back to theatre.

In 2011, Woordfees received Tessie as a stage production manager and assistant at the book tent based on his charisma and skills in the industry. He shined, this time behind the scenes with the enthusiasm of his boyish grin and adaptability, winning hearts as he helped out wherever he could.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, I respect everyone attending. It doesn’t matter if they are a homeless person, President Zuma or ‘Malemakie’, they are our guests and that is what the Woordfees is all about.”

"After working at the festival, I don't even feel tired"

“After working at the festival, I don’t even feel tired”

A benefit of working at the Woordfees is the chance to see all types of live theatre and Tessie looks forward to a play by acclaimed director Adam Small called “Kanna, hy kô hystoe”. “This play was only performed by and for ‘brown’ people back in my acting days, so to see it portrayed on this scale and to such a diverse audience makes me proud.”

Tessie’s opinion of the predominantly Afrikaans festival is one of pride in his language. He believes Afrikaans as a language is under pressure. The internet and the overruling use of English and slang all contribute toward this. “If we don’t have festivals like Woordfees, we will lose something special about our language,” states Tessie.

After the ten days of creative, outdoor freedom, Tessie puts on his office suit again and returns to his job at Anglo American. When asked how this transition back into reality affects him, he describes his delight as being able to have charged his creative battery. The festival brings him back to life for 10 great days.

Tessie wants to become a household name in theatre management and his work at the Woordfees will no doubt set him up for his greatest passion in life. “I didn’t get what I wanted in the corporate world but what I get out of theatre, is more than money.”

Miracle baby into mended boat

Writing about an individual requires their claim to fame, a reason why they have been given attention. Dominique Oosthuizen’s claim would not be her birth right but just her birth. Prematurely born by 3 months, she faced a life and death situation the moment she took her first incubated breath.

There is no way for Dominique to remember those prayer-filled moments when she should still have been comforted by her mother’s womb. However, the true story of her own survival is like a robed cloak around her slender shoulders, a barrier against life’s hardships. She tells of her life and death experience not unlike a person who has been granted a second shot at life, except Dominique fought for just a shot at life.

The construction trucks roared past the casual wine drinkers on the corner, clad in expensive hats and lathered in fragranced sunscreen. These two extremes so commonly seen around the town of Stellenbosch on any given Thursday. At a hip and quaint café in the heart of this student town sat Dominique, dressed in a summery jean jacket, a functional blue dress and a glass of wine in hand.

Currently studying journalism at the University of Stellenbosch, Dominique is not sure of where the course will lead her but her background in finance will undoubtedly play a part in her future. A strong believer in careers and being fulfilled in a job you are passionate about, she states “I’m not the type of girl who is pinning wedding dresses on her wall.”

Her life has been shaped by the large amounts of testosterone encompassing her in her household. Growing up with five brothers contributed specifically to her skill in sports and the choice of “appropriate clothing” when she would attend a party or event.

A self-confessed daddy’s girl, Dominique holds the utmost respect for her father. “My dad is my hero.” A man described as larger than life and as tall as a lighthouse, guiding her through times of her possibly going adrift.

What about your mom, I asked. An immediate change came about. The confident, I-know-what-I’m-talking-about sureness flew out the window. A wafer thin answer is produced. I inquired further yet the shifting eyes and uncomfortable hand gestures pushed me back. It’s too soon into our talk for that.

Dominique has moved around a lot. She tells tales of strolling to school barefoot on the beach at Melkbosstrand, playing in the suburban streets of the Highveld until dark and zigzagging across the map of South Africa more times than Barry Ronge has watched ‘Titanic’. She has moved 34 times over her 23 years of life.

Earlier that day, Dominique had to present a 30 minute presentation to her 24 classmates. Like many, Dominique hates the spotlight. Observing her closely showed almost no sign of conflict with the glaring sets of eyes. Confident, well-prepared and able to handle the questions posed, I am taken aback by her statement now in this audience of one.

Hiding away at a cafe in Stellenbosch

Hiding away at a cafe in Stellenbosch

Dominique has figured out ways to deal with these uncomfortable situations. Learning to deal, I think, sums her up. She strikes me as a person who can learn to deal with anything. Accounting would be a perfect example, “I hated accounting – I used to pour a glass of wine to study for it.” She stated coyly, sipping on some wine in the midday, not quite autumn sun.

Her school track record shows distinctions and favourable results. A high school career any parent would be proud of. Her life then led to Stellenbosch. Her eyes light up every time she mentions her family and leaving them behind in Pretoria was rough. Yet a decision she says was one of the best she has ever made. A time to set sail for different shores. Strolling from class to the café through Stellenbosch, she points out locations and giggles at the memories she has acquired over the course of her 3 years.

Dominique’s life is steered by her will to discover and the confidence to overcome any bad weather. Her power to keep going comes from her brothers it seems, shoveling the coal into the furnace engine providing more steam. Her direction and guidance originates from the lighthouse operated by her ever present father and the boats exterior is made out of her will to fight and win.

Her hands seem to be shooing away imaginary flying critters as she explains her existence. She seems like the type who would shoo-away rather than destroy. “A constant change of scenery, friends and schools combined with time spent among a bunch of sibling brothers, makes you a varied person – girly yet sporty, creative yet logical – a life open to any avenue,” stated Dominique.

A caring individual and the longer I speak with her, I feel she would be a wonderful person to speak to in a time of need – a person who would understand, no matter what. A notion backed up by her close friend, Jolandi van Niekerk who adds, “You can trust her with your life. You will never EVER hear her speak badly about someone else.”

While describing her life of varied experience and the paradox of personality traits, she drew a cartoon type dog seemingly being attacked by a UFO. She has green chalk on her left cheek after touching her face at the delightful anguish of it all.

I wanted to find out more about her mother and prodded lightly at the topic. Her parents divorced when she was 3. Her dad won custody over the children straight after the parents break and Dominique hasn’t seen her mom since her third grade. A visibly uncomfortable Dominique tells of how her mom wasn’t in the right place to have a child. The effects are still palpable. Yet the other aspects of her life stay in place and cushion this blow. It seems like Dominique has taken this absence in her stride and let it lie behind her, much like the landscape she sails away from.

A miracle baby, who can get through anything it seems. Much adversity yet Dominique still stands, rudder in hand, brothers giving her the strength to push on and dad helping her find her way. She leaves behind the challenges of the past in her wake and using these lessons she has learnt as her sails, she directs life’s gale to her advantage and to her port of calling.

Standing Ovation for the Queen

A less than crowded venue welcomed the acclaimed “Beauty Queen” to the Stellenbosch High school stage.

Shuffling through the wine-sipping guests before the show, there were whisperings about Beauty Queen’s writer, Martin McDonagh, who has also written the highly successful “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths”.

The multiple awards the show had won abroad created high expectation but not many were sure what Beauty Queen had in store for them.

Maureen’s mom [Marga van Rooy] opens the proceedings bathed in the spot light, rocking away in her old wooden chair. Her left hand is crimson red, hair disheveled and her demeanor is one of helplessness. The play takes place in Maureen’s [Hanli Rolfes] living space as she cares for her malignantly pestering mother.

Daughter looks after sickly, hyper-critical mother, their relationship far from healthy. Both mother and daughter have their unforgiving tendencies and expect something that the other refuses to give.

Maureen’s life takes a turn for the better when she brings home a man from a party. As a 40-year old woman looking after her live-in mother, this is most likely her last chance at love.

This new relationship infringes on her mother’s living situation due to the old woman’s absolute dependency on her daughter. Mother takes matters into her own hands at this point, setting up the drama and drawing gasps from the crowd for the rest of the play right up to the shocking finale.

The characters were portrayed wonderfully and the entire cast was exceptional. The mother-daughter pair acted superbly together – the tension always palpable, the humor ever present. Rolfe’s portrayal of Maureen was spectacular and kudos must go to van Rooy, Maureen’s mother, for her self-pitying, and at times, humorous performance.

Beauty Queen grabs your attention and forces you to peer deep into the inner workings of a highly dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship. Hardship, regret, selfishness and passion are all brought to the forefront in this dark play that will leave you pondering and discussing its dark themes for days.

Beauty Queen deserves the acclaim it has received and promises to make for an exciting night out.

Leave lonely mothers home alone to your own peril.


Apartheid in Israel, states Israeli Peace Activist

A two-state solution between Israel and Palestine is impossible says Mike Peled, an Israeli peace activist, at his talk on the Israel-Palestine topic yesterday in Stellenbosch.

PSC Stellenbosch promoted the discussion as part of the Israel Apartheid week. Peled and PSC are striving to gain international support to eradicate the oppression against the Palestinian people and form a humanitarian solution in Israel.

Acclaimed poet, painter and committed opponent of apartheid, Breyton Breytenbach opened the proceedings. Breytenbach spoke of the Apartheid reign in South Africa and the oppression he believes to be occurring against the Palestinian people. “People in that part of the world have developed very brutal ways of disqualifying the discourse of the other.” said Breytenbach

Peled spoke of the injustices committed against the Palestinian people in their homeland. He depicts the Israeli forces as having one of the strongest armies in the world. The way the Israelis are using this power, in his belief, is tyrannical. Peled describes the Palestinian resistance as being an unarmed resistance. “There is no balance in this issue so you cannot present it in a balanced way.” Peled said of his talk.

Peled believes Zionists are responsible for the removal of Palestinians from their homeland. The terrorist government, as Peled calls the Zionists, incites fear in the people by portraying Palestinians as terrorists. He repeatedly refers to the Zionists as colonists and running a racist regime.

The Israeli-Palestinian topic is a highly contentious one and comments were fired at Peled after his presentation. “He doesn’t live in Israel, so he doesn’t even know what’s going on in Israel” states Rebecca Avera, an attendee of the talk who doesn’t buy everything Peled has been saying about the Israeli government’s motives.

Peled lives in San Diego and much of his criticism comes from this displacement from his birthplace, Israel.

The turning point for Peled and his family arrived when Peleds sister’s daughter was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in protest to their treatment by the Zionist government. This ignited a response from Peled, even though he is Israeli, and he blamed the Israeli government as being responsible for the death of the child due to their oppression of the Palestinian people.

Peled believes the Israeli army is the best fed terrorist organization in the world. Peled calls to remove the Zionist regime and create a democracy in Israel thereby living together in shared humanity. “I urge everyone to line up behind the banner of equality and freedom and democracy for everybody in Palestine with equal rights”.

Peled’s book, “The General’s Son; Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” was also promoted and sold on site.

“Forgotten Fatherland” by Ben MacIntyre Review

The name Fredriche Nietzsche is synonymous with intellect, philosophy and German history. A life justifiably well documented and researched. Fredriche’s sister, Elizabeth Nietzsche, is conversely less known yet some would say lived a spectacularly interesting, highly questionable and perhaps more remarkable life than her acclaimed brother.

Ben MacIntyre's fascinating book of Elizabeth Nietzsche, the famous Fredriche's sister.

Ben MacIntyre’s fascinating book of Elizabeth Nietzsche, the famous Fredriche’s sister.

Macintyre’s sensational book, ‘Forgotten Fatherland’ tells of Elizabeth Nietzsche’s past by intertwining his well researched story with his journey to Paraguay to find remnants of the racist colony known as Nueva Germania. Nueva Germania was the purist colony Elizabeth Nietzsche and her husband, Bernard Foster, a well known anti-Semite, attempted to erect in 1886.

MacIntyre documents his expedition through this strange yet exquisite Central South American land with sharp wit and a hilariously accurate portrayal of the characters who assist him along the way. Stories of native gods and local legends are brought to life by Macintyre’s flowing prose.

Nueva Germania by all accounts failed after their leader, Bernard Foster’s, suicide. Elizabeth returned to her beloved Germany leaving behind the families from Germany who had no way of returning to Europe as they had given up everything for the trek to South America.

Elizabeth began caring for her then mad brother, Fredriche Nietzsche. Elizabeth went on to use her brother’s works for her own bidding and self-centered attention. She accumulated and organized many volumes of his work for publication – some were fabricated and others were biased by her megalomania.

Elizabeth then aligned with the right winged party of Germany in the early twentieth century and supported Hitler and the Third Reich by using her brother’s works which had become popular, even famous after his passing.

Macintyre shows letters from Elizabeth adorning Hitler and Mussolini and curried favour with them using Fredriche’s works. Fredriche Nietzsche’s works would forever be tied to the European downfall instigated by the Third Reich. This supported Friedriche’s fears and predictions that his works would be used for their wrong interpretation after his death.

My score: 8 out of 10