But The Parlotones are trying to change that and with "Journey Through the Shadows," their strong second disc in the U.S., and at least the quartet's third U.S. tour underway.
The Parlotones play pretty much straight ahead very melodic, catchy pop rock with a bit of folky sounds tossed into the mix.
Lead singer Kahn Morbee was the focal point front and center. He's a very strong vocalist - not belting it out necessarily - but mighty pleasant sounding. He has a bit of shtick with his lined black make-up on his face (he tends to have three lines next to his right eye and more lines on the other side). It sort of makes you think gothic, but The Parlotones music is a far cry from that and definitely a lot warmer.
Morbee played acoustic and electric, but was most effective as a front man when he had no instrument at all. He generated more energy by dancing around and kicking his leg about.
Drummer Neil Pauw set a steady beat throughout with brothers Paul and Glenn Hodgson manning guitar and bass respectively and both contributing keyboards. Glenn Hodgson added a lot of fills to flesh out the sound. However, the Hogsdons and Pauw came off as Morbee's backing band. More presence from them would have been welcome. In Paul Hodgson's defense, he sported a walking boot on his left, limiting mobility.
What set The Parlotones apart, though, were the songs. Morbee has a knack for writing songs that tend to percolate a bit and eventually soar into anthemic, singalong territory. That proved as true on the new disc with songs Suitcase for a Home (about life on the road), We Just Wanna Be Loved and Brave & Wild to older songs (Life Design, Should We Fight Back). The songs often started softer musically and vocally before hitting their stride at some point with a full sound and vocals.
The Parlotones were not one-trick ponies by throwing a bunch of softer songs into the mix as well (the lead-off song to the 80-minute show I'll Be There, and The Stars Fall Down), shining the light on Morbee's vocals.
It all culminated in the close of the regular set with the song that puts it all together, Push Me to the Floor.
Ladysmith, Clegg and company are certainly great acts. Add The Parlotones, billed as the best South African rock band out there, to the list.