Ruff Majik Tease New Single “What a Time to Be a Knife”; European Tour Starts Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

With just a bit less than a month to go before it’s released, no one will be able to say they weren’t warned about the new Ruff Majik single, “What a Time to Be a Knife.” The South African heavy rockers will release the new track on June 7 — it’s available now to pre-save through the usual-suspect digital outlets — and no, there isn’t even a snippet of audio to go on yet, but one assumes that will follow.

Why put word out early? Maybe it’s because the band are gearing up to travel from South Africa to Europe for a second tour supporting their most righteous 2023 long-player, Elektrik Ram (review here), and wanted to be sure they got the news out before the run started May 16, not the least since they’re on the continent until the song actually arrives. One more thing to tick off your to-do list ahead of getting on the plane. There’s a lot to be said for that.

And a lot to be said about “What a Time to Be a Knife” as well. I’ll skip playing coy and tell you outright I’ve had the chance to hear the song, and if the middle-fingery vibe of “Hillbilly Fight Song” from Elektrik Ram or the charge of “All You Need is Speed” from 2020’s The Devil’s Cattle (review here) did you right, you’ll probably want to keep an eye out. As one would both expect and hope, attitude abounds in the song, which also features a guest spot from Reegan du Buisson (Facing the Gallows, Evergloom), and by the time you feel like you can keep up with the first listen, it’s already over.

The European dates (yeah, I already posted them; bite me) follow here, as well as the knife-emoji-heavy save-the-date note and link they put out on socials. Have at it:

ruff majik what a time to be a knife

RUFF MAJIK – 🔪What A Time To Be A Knife🔪

⚔️07.06.2024⚔️

feat. Reegan du Buisson

Pre-save: https://orcd.co/xqy6d0b

Illustration by Llewellyn Van Eeden
Design by Johni Holiday
Mix and master by Justin Bernardo
via Sound of Liberation

Ruff Majik :

16.5 – Cottbus (DE) @comicaze_cb , HEADLINE
17.5 – Dresden (DE) Gockelscream Festival
18.5 – Cologne (DE) @clubvolta_cologne , Siena Root + Dirty Sound Magnet
19.5 – Den Bosch (NL) W2, Monkey3
20.5 – Ede (NL) @astrant_ede , HEADLINE
21.5 – TBA
22.5 – Luxembourg (LUX) @mkbarbelval , with @uncle.leaf.band
23.5 – Aarau, @kiffaarau (CH), Brant Bjork
24.5 – München (DE), @feierwerk_ , Brant Bjork
25.5 – Erfurt (DE), VEB Kultur , Brant Bjork
26.5 – @desertfest_berlin (DE)
28.5 – Prague (CZ), @underdogsprague , Headline
29.5 – Nürnberg (DE), @musikzentrale_nuernberg , Headline
30.5 – TBA
31.5 – Esbjerg (DK), @esbjerg_fuzztival
1.6 – TBA
2.6 – Düsseldorf (DE), @pitcherrocknrollhq , Headline
4.6 – Lille (FR), @labullecafe
5.6 – Würzburg (DE), @immerhin.wuerzburg , Monkey3
6.6 – Biberach (DE), @abdera.bc , Monkey3
7.6 – Münster (DE), @rare_guitar , Headline
8.6 – TBA

Ruff Majik are:
Johni Holiday (vocals & guitar)
Cowboy Bez (guitar & vocals)
Jimmy Glass (bass)
Steven Bosman (drums)

http://www.ruffmajik.com
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089579216305&mibextid=ZbWKwL
http://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik
https://www.tiktok.com/@ruffmajik

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

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Ruff Majik Announce European Tour Starting May 16

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

This tour marks the second time in the last year that South African heavy rockers Ruff Majik have hit Europe for shows. I was lucky enough to see them at SonicBlast Fest 2023 (review here) in Portugal last August, and they were set to be back on the continent for a Fall run alongside heavy riffing Israeli party-in-a-can trio The Great Machine before war — as it apparently will unceasingly until we’ve finally eradicated our own species, no doubt to the planet’s general benefit — broke out. Thus ‘the second coming’ on the poster below, which also serves as a lyrical reference to the moment where the title-track of their 2023 album, Elektrik Ram (review here), turns downerism into a willful triumph.

I was doing a bit of travel myself last week and as I have everywhere I’ve gone for well over a year now — admittedly easier to do in the digital age — I brought that record along for the journey. No, I’m still not quite over it, even as the four-piece have threatened multiple outings to follow this and perhaps more realistically next year. As Elektrik Ram so deftly paired stylistic scope with pinpoint efficiency in its songwriting across a succession of memorable, varied tracks, I’ll go ahead and count their next anything among my most anticipated whatevers of whenever. Screw you, I’m allowed to have favorites.

The tour below finds them meeting up with desert rock pioneer/ambassador Brant Bjork, as well as Monkey3Siena Root and others, along with appearances at Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark, Desertfest Berlin 2024 and, the first of them, Gockelscream in Dresden, which as I understand it is somewhere between a heavyfest and a birthday party. Either way, sounds like a rad time.

From socials:

Ruff Majik euro tour

Here it is folks, our wildest tour announcement to date!

We’re hitting Gockelscream, Desertfest Berlin and Esbjerg Fuzztival!

More surprises in store too, with four more dates left to fill up!

All this brought to you by the good folks at @soundofliberation !

Artwork by the amazing @llewellynvaneeden !

Schedule:

16.5 – Cottbus (DE) @comicaze_cb , HEADLINE
17.5 – Dresden (DE) Gockelscream Festival
18.5 – Cologne (DE) @clubvolta_cologne , Siena Root + Dirty Sound Magnet
19.5 – Den Bosch (NL) W2, Monkey3
20.5 – Ede (NL) @astrant_ede , HEADLINE
21.5 – TBA
22.5 – Luxembourg (LUX) @mkbarbelval , with @uncle.leaf.band
23.5 – Aarau, @kiffaarau (CH), Brant Bjork
24.5 – München (DE), @feierwerk_ , Brant Bjork
25.5 – Erfurt (DE), VEB Kultur , Brant Bjork
26.5 – @desertfest_berlin (DE)
28.5 – Prague (CZ), @underdogsprague , Headline
29.5 – Nürnberg (DE), @musikzentrale_nuernberg , Headline
30.5 – TBA
31.5 – Esbjerg (DK), @esbjerg_fuzztival
1.6 – TBA
2.6 – Düsseldorf (DE), @pitcherrocknrollhq , Headline
4.6 – Lille (FR), @labullecafe
5.6 – Würzburg (DE), @immerhin.wuerzburg , Monkey3
6.6 – Biberach (DE), @abdera.bc , Monkey3
7.6 – Münster (DE), @rare_guitar , Headline
8.6 – TBA

See you there!

Ruff Majik are:
Johni Holiday (vocals & guitar)
Cowboy Bez (guitar & vocals)
Jimmy Glass (bass)
Steven Bosman (drums)

http://www.ruffmajik.com
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089579216305&mibextid=ZbWKwL
http://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik
https://www.tiktok.com/@ruffmajik

http://mongrelrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/mongrelrecords
http://www.instagram.com/mongrel_records

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

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Ruff Majik Post “Delirium Tremors” Video; European Tour on Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 14th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Ruff Majik at SonicBlast 2023 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

How good were Ruff Majik at SonicBlast this past weekend? Well, I could tell you they were pretty good, and that would be true. I could do a swan dive (again) into grandiose, lavish plaudits about the soul of heavy rock and roll, stupidly long run-on sentences about the songs, the band’s energy, and so on. That would be true too.

But I’ll tell you what, today is Monday. I originally had no posts planned for today. I was traveling all day yesterday, and since I generally work a day ahead at least on reviews and as much as I can overall, there just wasn’t space to put anything together — that’s aside from giving myself a god damned day off from this every now and then, not that I’d ever admit to myself that I might need or even want one let alone actually benefit from it in some way — and then along came this Ruff Majik video. And you know what? They were so fucking awesome at SonicBlast that I’m posting this today instead of tomorrow.

“Delirium Tremors,” free of that triangle ting-ting-ting in its live presentation — you’ll hear it in the video — closed their set at the pre-party for the fest (review here), and the singalong to the ending riff is among the memories I’ll carry with me in the years to come from the weekend, not the least because it kept going after the song was over, after the set was over, and while they were taking the ceremonial post-show pic in front of the crowd (which ended up being a video), finally dying out as they left the stage.

They posted that video — as one would hope, honestly — on the ol’ socials, and that’s down near the bottom of this post, where you’ll also find the stream of Elektrik Ram, because if I haven’t gotten the point across yet this year, I think this is an album that should be heard. A testament to the quality of the songs, “Delirium Tremors” is the fifth single from the record, and you’ll note the guest appearance from All This for Nothing‘s Paul Gioia in the corporate-riff-rock spoken intro. You know the type. Big plans. Guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday talked about that and a whole bunch of stuff in this interview.

From the thing, to the thing. They should put this out as a cassingle with a live version or an outtake for a B-side like it’s 1992. Here’s hoping. Happy Monday:

Ruff Majik, “Delirium Tremors” official video

STREAM ➤ https://orcd.co/elektrik_ram
BANDCAMP ➤ https://ruffmajik.bandcamp.com/album/elektrik-ram

Delirium Tremors serves as a testament to Ruff Majik’s unyielding dedication to their craft and their distinctive ability to push the boundaries of stoner rock. The track encapsulates the raw energy, captivating riffs, and evocative lyrics that have earned the band widespread acclaim and a devoted global following. With its hypnotic groove and powerful melodies, Delirium Tremors promises to be an anthem that resonates deeply with both longtime fans and new listeners alike.

The accompanying music video showcases the band’s live energy and elevates the song’s impact to new heights.

Ruff Majik Europe Tour 1500x1200Ruff Majik European tour (remaining dates):
15/8 DE Berlin – Urban Spree with Sasquatch
17/8 DE Hannover – Faust with Sasquatch
18/8 DE Cottbus – Blue Moon
19/8 PL Kozmin Wielkopolski – Rifffields
20/8 CZ Prague – Nová libeňská Synagoga
22/8 DE Frankfurt – Zoom with Greenleaf
23/8 NL EDE – Astrant
24/8 NL Eindhoven – Effenaar with Acid King
25/8 DE Dresden – Ostpol
26/8 DE Siegen – Vortex

PHOTOGRAPHERS
Christelle Duvenage Photography
By Evan Captures
Shutterbug Photography
Schutte
Henry Engelbrecht
Anika De Lange
Iggy Band Pics

VIDEOGRAPHERS
Slade Durandt
Schutte
Thugnifficent Tattoo Tucker

Ruff Majik:
Johni Holiday – guitar/vocals
Cowboy Bez – guitar/backing vocals
Jimmy Glass – bass
Steven Bosman – drums

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ruff Majik (@ruffmajik)

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

Ruff Majik website

Ruff Majik on Facebook

Ruff Majik on Instagram

Mongrel Records website

Mongrel Records on Facebook

Mongrel Records on Instagram

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Ruff Majik Announce August European Tour Dates

Posted in The Obelisk Presents, Whathaveyou on June 5th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik

In April, not so terribly long ago, Ruff Majik released their fourth LP, Elektrik Ram (review here), and though I find I have a hard time talking about the record without hyperbole, the absolute very least one might say about it is it’s their finest effort to-date. Sharp in songwriting and humor, emotive without trying to sell itself as such, groovy as the day is long and with each track hitting like another side of a multiple personality, it’s a front-to-back listening experience that, at least for me, sums up the appeal of the band and, more broadly, demonstrates how heavy rock doesn’t have to be all-the-time-miserable to be meaningful.

I was asked to be a ‘media sponsor’ for this tour. I never really know what that means other than I probably share some links or posters, post about something I would definitely be posting about anyway. Whatever. Let me be clear: I’m honored that this stupid little blog that I started the better part of 15 years ago might ever asked to be involved in something like this. That someone thinks enough of what I do here to put an Obelisk logo on their tour poster. I don’t even have to pay for that; it just happens. Silly cool. It’s this site, Sound of Liberation, which booked the tour, and Mongrel Records, which put out the album. One of these things is not like the others in that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the actual proceedings. I feel lucky to be in that company.

Ruff Majik have also been confirmed for Desertfest Belgium 2023 in Antwerp, so these tour dates may not be the last — the name of the tour comes from a line in Elektrik Ram‘s title-track — but they’ve got fests lined up including SonicBlast Fest, where I’ll see them for the first time, as well as Moosenmättle Open Air and Blue Moon Fest in Germany, and dates with Acid King, Greenleaf and Sasquatch peppered throughout.

Poster and dates follow. “Arsenic on the rocks”:

Ruff Majik Europe Tour 1500x1200

Ruff Majik Set to Ignite European Stages on Long-Awaited Tour

Prepare for an explosive journey as South Africa’s leading stoner rock band, Ruff Majik, embarks on their highly anticipated We’ve Come To Lay Waste European tour brought to you by the good people at Sound Of Liberation. With their hard-hitting sound and electrifying performances, Ruff Majik is set to captivate audiences across the continent.

Fresh off the release of their critically acclaimed album, Elektrik Ram, the band is eager to share their powerful and introspective compositions with fans around the world. Known for their signature blend of heavy riffs, hypnotic melodies, and captivating lyrics, Ruff Majik has established themselves as torchbearers of the stoner rock genre.

The European tour will see them gracing renowned festivals, including Sonic Blast, Blue Moon Festival, Trafostation 61, Moosenmättle Open Air and Rifffields. Their dynamic live shows, characterized by intense energy and an undeniable stage presence, will leave audiences craving for more. In addition to their festival appearances, the guys will also have the privilege of sharing the stage with prominent bands such as Acid King and Sasquatch, further solidifying their position in the global stoner rock community while expanding their fan base to new horizons.

Lead vocalist and guitarist, Johni Holiday expresses their enthusiasm, stating “After a 3-year absence we’re finally making it back! With two new albums to tour as well. We’re bringing fire and baptising.”

With a loyal fan base in their home country and growing international recognition, Ruff Majik is poised to make a significant impact during the tour. Their evocative music speaks to the human experience, transcending boundaries and resonating with listeners from all walks of life.

Tour Dates
5/8 DE Wolfach – Moosenmättle Open Air
9/8 PO Ancora – SonicBlast
12/8 DE Lichtenstein – JUST Riot / Voice Of Art
13/8 DE Frechen – Trafostation 61
15/8 DE Berlin – Urban Spree with Sasquatch
17/8 DE Hannover – Faust with Sasquatch
18/8 DE Cottbus – Blue Moon
19/8 PL Kozmin Wielkopolski – Rifffields
20/8 CZ Prague – Nová libeňská Synagoga
22/8 DE Frankfurt – Zoom with Greenleaf
23/8 NL EDE – Astrant
24/8 NL Eindhoven – Effenaar with Acid King
25/8 DE Dresden – Ostpol
26/8 DE Siegen – Vortex

Buy / Stream Elektrik Ram on all digital platforms – https://orcd.co/elektrik_ram

Order Elektrik Ram on 180g black vinyl with gatefold sleeve.
South Africa / Africa – https://www.mpiremusic.co.za/products/riff-majik-elektrik-ram-180g-gatefold-lp
Rest of World – https://mongrelrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/elektrik-ram

Ruff Majik is Johni Holiday (vocals & guitar), Cowboy Bez (guitar & vocals), Jimmy Glass (bass), and Steven Bosman (drums), four horsemen of the feedback apocalypse who know what they want to say and do it without apology.

Rock ‘n roll is dead – LONG LIVE RUFF MAJIK.

http://www.ruffmajik.com
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089579216305&mibextid=ZbWKwL
http://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik
https://www.tiktok.com/@ruffmajik

http://mongrelrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/mongrelrecords
http://www.instagram.com/mongrel_records

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

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Full Album Premiere & Review: Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 27th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik elektrik ram

[Click play above to stream Ruff Majik’s Elektrik Ram in its entirety. Album is out tomorrow, April 28, through Mongrel Records and available to order here: https://orcd.co/elektrik_ram]

A career album, and the sort that not every career gets to feature. If you’ve never given Ruff Majik a shot, maybe because of their silly name, or someone told you they sound like Queens of the Stone Age — not unfair; never less so than now, if that’s to be the measure — or whatever, hearing Elektrik Ram is the reason you should. If you’ve dug in before and weren’t feeling it, you should try again now. I don’t want to get into superlatives, but both for Ruff Majik as a band — the four-piece led by guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday and here boasting bassist Jimmy Glass, guitarist/backing vocalist Cowboy Bez and drummer Steven Bosman in the lineup, plus guests — and for South African heavy rock in general, it should be considered a landmark in addition to being one of 2023’s best albums. The latter designation pales.

There’s a narrative across the unflinchingly tight 11 songs/37 minutes that goes from kicking ass (“Hillbilly Fight Song”) and making love (“She’s Still a Goth”) to loss and grief (“Mourning Wood”), burnout and breakdown (“Delirium Tremors”) and the sense of exhaustion that goes with being in that state (“Cement Brain”), to a turnaround of momentary triumph (“Elektrik Ram” and “Queen of the Gorgons”) to the new low-low: bad-time self-destruction [“A Song About Drugs (With a Clever Title)], disaffection and disgust both (“Shangrilah Inc.”) on the way to being medicated, subdued, and wanting to die (“Chemically Humanized”).

It’s Holiday‘s story and he asserts the presence to tell it in a dynamic tour de force performance, in terms of using his voice across a range of modes, and of the arrangements and layers; the extra backup in “Hillbilly Fight Song,” the higher-register flourish as the verse of “Elektrik Ram” readies to turn to the chorus, the lower swagger in “Mourning Wood” to play up the goth, the robot voice that “wants that techno” in “Rave to the Grave,” the duet with Bez (who sings lead initially) in “Chemically Humanized,” on and on with these moments, sometimes on a more-than-one-per-song basis.

The instrumentation behind, sometimes in front, sometimes alongside him is no less impeccable in its detail. Handclaps in “Rave to the Grave” and the playfully bopping earlier-Beatles lead in the second half, a tambourine shaking lazily but steadily amid the hip-hop piano in the centerpiece “Cement Brain,” an actual box of small percussion instruments being jostled in “Shangrilah Inc.,” that god damned triangle in “Delirium Tremors” that is so correctly placed to be maddening? As addled and pained as so much of this record is, it is exquisite.

Ruff Majik have always been capable songwriters; it was what made The Devil’s Cattle (review here) a highlight of 2020 along with the elaborate and varied presentation. Elektrik Ram is more crafted than anything the band has released to-date, and that’s true in the shifts in tempo from the initial ragers to the mid-tempo “Cement Brain,” picking back up into “Elektrik Ram” and “Queen of the Gorgons” then on the downswing for “A Song About Drugs (With a Clever Title)” and marching the declining nod of “Shangilah Inc.” into the acoustic-led “Chemically Humanized.”

Where the last album found Holiday collaborating with producer/multi-instrumentalist Evert Snyman even to the degree of sharing lead vocal duties, Elektrik Ram internalizes the lessons of that methodology and moves forward on its own (Snyman was involved in some of this record but not nearly as much so as last time). Holiday, then, becomes a uniting factor. Individual songs go where they will, but between the sharpness of their execution, the storyline they’re making, and Holiday at the center of that storm — not at all the calm eye of a hurricane; he’s in it — there’s never a point at which Ruff Majik step so far out as to lose momentum or make a transition seem disjointed.

The samples are another tie together. Sometimes absurd and mostly from 1959’s The House on Haunted Hill — Vincent Price’s recognizable voice gives just the right amount of kitsch to tracks about addiction, paranoia and suicidal ideation — they speak either directly or not to the themes of the songs they’re about to start: “Hillbilly Fight Song,” “Cement Brain,” “Elektrik Ram,” “Queen of the Gorgons,” “Shangrilah Inc.” and “Chemically Humanized,” while adding to the persona of Elektrik Ram as a whole. Short, sometimes backed by piano as on “Cement Brain” — the timing of the drunkard’s croon first lyric “It’s all coming back to me slowly…” as the start of the song proper is an on-rhythm highlight of timing.

Elsewhere the work is done by the quick feedback of “She’s Still a Goth” or the right-in guitar line of “A Song About Drugs (With a Clever Title),” as no moment of Elektrik Ram seems unconsidered, while at the same time the album effectively and somewhat ironically recounts what it’s like to be an absolute mess in one’s own life. You could sit and do this all day. It’s everything here. Every level. All the detail, all the acuity. It’s not just one element, one stretch or one track, it’s not even just one player, though the perspective from which the songs are speaking is in Holiday‘s voice.

The way desert rock kind of blows wide after “Mourning Wood” starts the comedown after “Hillbilly Fight Song” and “She’s Still a Goth.” The sort of playful cynicism of including a voicemail from All This for Nothing‘s Paul Gioia as an executive in the “high-flying world of riff management” going on to list the cities that will be blown away by the riffs he’s just heard. All of these things become characters in the play that’s happening in the songs, the lyrics themselves not directly telling a narrative in the first-this-happened-then-this-happened sense, but stepping into new perspectives as they go — in the case of “Elektrik Ram,” that’s a shift from defeat to triumph in the span of a verse. Everything is what and where it needs to be. Even the “Delirium Tremors” triangle. You don’t like it, but you’re not supposed to like it. You’re supposed to pay attention.

ruff majik (Photo by Christelle Duvenage Photography)

Structures are spare to the point that “A Song About Drugs (With a Clever Title)” is twice through a verse and chorus and that’s it, and the likes of “Hillbilly Fight Song” isn’t much more than that with an instrumental break and another chorus after. Likewise, “She’s Still a Goth” is the same minus the last hook. The album pivots, smoothly. Every song has an identity of its own, and the story — music and lyrics — is told as much in the mood as in the actual content of the track in question. And it gets dark. “Rave to the Grave” is nigh on manic, and that’s a whole separate issue, but “Shangrilah Inc.” is looking around and justly bitter almost as a mask for the underlying misery that comes forward in “Chemically Humanized.”

And the lyrics that turn self-awareness into strength. Looking at a song like “Delirium Tremors” — the play on ‘delirium tremens’ emblematic of the wit throughout — there’s a distance between the narrative voice of the lyrics and the unfolding plot that feels literary. Holiday refers to poetry twice in “Chemically Humanized” and Edgar Allen Poe comes up (as he would) in “She’s Still a Goth,” and if these are clues to the mindset from which the lyrics were approached, that allows the material to move more deftly within and between pieces as well while signaling to the listener that the narrator is trustworthy. The sub-three-minute bang-bang-bang of “She’s Still a Goth” into “Mourning Wood” into “Rave to the Grave” after “Hillbilly Fight Song” launches at just over that same mark guides the audience across per-track changes of mood before slamming into “Delirium/I’m spinning out of control again…” and “I need an icepick lobotomy” in “Delirium Tremors.”

That’s a hard crash, existentially speaking. Elektrik Ram makes it fun so that the chorus of “You found me in a coma/Naked on the floor/You said ‘I’ve had enough’/I said I’d have one more/You probably should’ve cut me off/But I wouldn’t listen to you anyway,” becomes a sing-along as much as a confession acknowledging the narcissism of addiction — that “you” is accusatory; it casts blame even if the next line redirects that blame toward the self. The first chorus on this album could not possibly be more swaggering as Holiday in a faux-Southern accent intones, “Sit your ass down when grown folks is talking,” heading into, “And I don’t give a fuck/About the mess I made/And I don’t recall/Asking you a god damned thing.” Meanwhile, at the other end, the last lyric in “Chemically Humanized,” pleading, is “I wish I was dead.”

It is a remarkable journey between those two ends, meeting inwardly- and outwardly-imposed difficult times with cleverness, honesty and humor, unflinching as that examination is supposed to be in “Cement Brain” for the chorus lines, “Please don’t let me fall off/The fucking wagon,” and perhaps most importantly, sounding no less sincere in that than in the wife-worship of “Queen of the Gorgons” or the allusion to poker in “A Song About Drugs (With a Clever Title)” that asks, “Are you all in?/In on the joke,” after references to alcohol and other abuse, admonitions of choking on pride, and so on. The second verse of “A Song About Drugs (With a Clever Title)” does some particularly heavy lifting: “I told you/I need to know/I need to see where this tunnel goes/Will there be a light?/Probably/There’ll be a light/Just not for me.” Ditto “Plug me out/Plug me back in/See if that does anything” from the start of “Elektrik Ram.”

However embellished those lines might be for the purpose of telling the story, that doesn’t make it less true as an experience, and Elektrik Ram is brave in laying it out in plain-but-not-stale terms while also serving as Ruff Majik‘s boldest sonic reach yet. Considerations of genre are by no means absent, but “Cement Brain,” “Shangrilah Inc.,” “Chemically Humanized,” even “Delirium Tremors” with its thematic confusion and disorder, careening groove, are mindful in their rule-breaking, and the album accordingly transcends style while pushing the band forward into new, individualized ground for the band.

I said as much at the outset, but it’s not the kind of accomplishment that happens every year or to every act, and there is not one song among the 11 included that couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be a single. Each serves to enhance the whole while offering something of its own musically, vocally, thematically, to stand out from the rest. Even “She’s Still a Goth” and “Queen of the Gorgons,” which are close in sound and substance and perhaps separated so as to mirror each other on sides A and B of the vinyl, feel purposeful in that and follow different structures. Not unflawed, Elektrik Ram is nonetheless flawless in being what it needs to be, and it places Ruff Majik even more at the forefront of South African heavy, which is a spot that suits them well. Recommended.

[This review contains factual information gleaned in this interview, which is also posted here.]

Ruff Majik, Interview with Johni Holiday, March 17, 2023

Ruff Majik website

Ruff Majik on Facebook

Ruff Majik on Instagram

Mongrel Records website

Mongrel Records on Facebook

Mongrel Records on Instagram

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Ruff Majik Interview: Johni Holiday Talks Elektrik Ram, Mental Health and Much More

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on April 19th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik

Next Friday, South African fuzz rock luminaries Ruff Majik issue their new album, Elektrik Ram, through Mongrel Records. It’s slated to stream here in its entirety on Thursday the 27th with a full review, and in the interest of honesty and in keeping with what I feel is the spirit of the release — so, again, honesty — I’ll confess I’m a little nervous to write about it.

Rest assured, I’ve heard it enough. Can’t stop listening, actually. But that’s only part of the point. I’m addition to being maddening in its catchiness and setting a standard for memorable songcraft that nothing I’ve heard so far this year comes close to touching, the album follows in brutally upfront and sometimes hilarious fashion a narrative of mental health crisis on the part of guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday — also responsible for the odd bit of percussion; like, say, a whole box of instruments being shaken at once.

This story plays out as Elektrik Ram engages the fullness of real life in love songs, the odd bit of triumph as in the second verse of its title-track (“I come to lay waste”) and good fun mined from tales of terror and paranoia like “Delirium Tremors” or the brash-as-fuck-and-it-knows-it leadoff “Hillbilly Fight Song,” which is enough to make you believe Waffle House opened a franchise in Lydenburg. I’ll save the review for the review (too late), but through it all, the songwriting recounts the tale without losing a beat or giving up any of its immediacy for the sake of narrative. It’s not the kind of record that comes along every year, and for the band, a high point of their career to-date.

Among its other strengths in structure, melody, performance, variety, and so on, Elektrik Ram is rife with minute aural details, be it the continuity thread of samples as they relate to the material itself or the or that triangle in “Delirium Tremors” that’s soruff majik elektrik ram purposefully obnoxious. Or maybe it’s just that part where the corporate boss from the “high-flying world of riff management” comes on with the many big plans for Zurich, Budapest, Shanghai, speculating that Philadelphia will be tough, whereas New York and Chicago are pushovers in what’s obviously a joke, but probably a fair assessment nonetheless.

All of these moments are collected throughout the album, and so in setting up this interview, there was a TON of shit that I wanted to discuss with Holiday. To wit, the interview runs over an hour and I didn’t even get to ask if he was tempted to fade the end of closer “Chemically Humanized” after including “I’ve seen the end/It fades out slow” in the lyrics of the earlier “Mourning Wood.” There are a bunch of those kinds of things that are discussed, however, so part of my hesitation here as well comes from the fact that, if you’re reading or watching this today, right now, you probably haven’t heard the full record yet.

I could’ve waited to run this until after Elektrik Ram is out, but at the same time, it’s a pickle since I already know I’ll want to refer to information from this interview in the album review, so having it here helps that. I’d tell you to check it out maybe after the release but how fucking likely is that not fucking likely at all thank you very much. So here we are.

It’s a good chat though, either way, and Holiday goes deep on the state he was in when some of this material was being written and recorded. It’s worth a watch or I wouldn’t be posting it, is what I’m saying, but no question you’ll have more context for it after next week when the album stream goes live. We make the most of what we have when we have it.

So please, enjoy:

Ruff Majik, Interview with Johni Holiday, March 17, 2023

Ruff Majik release Elektrik Ram April 28 through Mongrel Records. Initial singles can be heard on the player below, and more info is at the links that follow.

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

Ruff Majik website

Ruff Majik on Facebook

Ruff Majik on Instagram

Mongrel Records website

Mongrel Records on Facebook

Mongrel Records on Instagram

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Ruff Majik Post “Queen of the Gorgons”; Elektrik Ram LP Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik (photo by Christelle Duvenage Photography)

Last time I posted about the upcoming Ruff Majik LP, Elektrik Ram, I said I needed to dig into it more. Well, I’ve done that and it’s stellar. A can’t-put-it-down album, and even when I do manage to stop listening, I still hear the songs playing in my head because they’re that infectious. And it’s different songs on different days, because they’re all up to the standard. In the boldness of their arrangements, the no-holds-barred lyrics and the way they break out of heavy rock genre limitations, it’s a triumph of a record. Earlier this week I did a video interview with vocalist/guitarist Johni Holiday, and we went pretty deep into what was going on with him as it was coming together — spoiler: a lot — as well as the love songs that appear throughout, one of which is the latest single, “Queen of the Gorgons.”

There are 11 cuts on the album and “Queen of the Gorgons” is the fourth to stream. They’ve gamified it accordingly with all sorts of shenanigans in the lyric video. You might find the song a fitting complement to “She’s Still a Goth” on side A, and while I’d love to go on a long, long rant about the work outdoing themselves with this record, I’m slated to stream Elektrik Ram in full on April 27, and I honestly don’t care if they release every song from it beforehand, I’m fucking honored to have it on the schedule. It’s an adventure. Don’t skip.

Preorders are up, so have at that if you will, and you can see the rules of the game below along with everything they’ve put out from the record this far. If there’s more I’ll post more because it’s that kind of thing. From the PR wire:

ruff majik queen of the gorgons

Ruff Majik shares new single from upcoming album Elektrik Ram and announces vinyl pre-orders.

Pre-order Elektrik Ram on all digital platforms:
https://orcd.co/elektrik_ram

Pre-order Elektrik Ram on 180g black vinyl with gatefold sleeve.
Rest of World – https://mongrelrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/elektrik-ram
South Africa / Africa – https://www.mpiremusic.co.za/products/riff-majik-elektrik-ram-180g-gatefold-lp

With iconic music press buzzing over Ruff Majik’s new album Elektrik Ram, set for release on the 28th April 2023 via Mongrel Records the band release fiery new single Queen of The Gorgons.

A rewatching of the classic 1981 ‘Clash Of The Titans’ set Johni Holiday’s brain gears into motion, somewhere during a delirious recovery state. Basically, we all know the story of the gorgon Medusa, and how she was slain at the hands of Perseus. In this version of the story, the tables have turned, and Perseus (the speaker) finds himself head over heels in-love with Medusa, and fairly close to worshipping her, singing about admiring her ‘serpentine locks of hair’ and ’emerald eyes set to stun’. Of course, Johni also delves into biblical references when he asks the serpentine woman to build him ‘a church from my ribs’ so he can sing her hymns every day.

“It’s about admiring a woman for her fierce attitude and way of life. She has no care about the speaker and has no need to care about him. The story revolves around his maniacal worship of her, and her indifference to his existence.” – comments Johni

If you’ve been wanting to get your hands on an Elektrik Ram vinyl – here’s your chance. Watch the lyric video for Queen Of The Gorgons and as you will notice it’s full of Easter eggs. Whoever finds all the Easter eggs first wins a copy of Elektrik Ram and a one of a kind, never to be printed again t-shirt.

Rules:
1. Take screenshots of all the Easter eggs you find.
2. Post them as a story, reel or a regular post in order, and remember to tag the band.
Watch the official lyric video
Buy / Stream Queen Of The Gorgons: https://orcd.co/queenofthegorgons

The horned infant known as Ruff Majik emerged from the primordial ooze when the band moved from the historical town of Lydenburg in 2012 to the capital city of Pretoria, where they honed their craft for a few years before finally entering the studio to record for the first time. Now, with a number of EP’s and two lauded albums under their belt, not to mention a megaton of local and international touring, they return with what might be their defining work in the shape of ‘Elektrik Ram’.

Current lineup:
Johni Holiday
Jimmy Glass
Cowboy Bez
Steven Bosman

http://www.ruffmajik.com
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089579216305&mibextid=ZbWKwL
http://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik
https://www.tiktok.com/@ruffmajik

http://mongrelrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/mongrelrecords
http://www.instagram.com/mongrel_records

Ruff Majik, “Queen of the Gorgons” lyric video

Ruff Majik, “Cement Brain”

Ruff Majik, “Elektrik Ram”

Ruff Majik, “She’s Still a Goth” official video

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

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Ruff Majik Post Third Single “Cement Brain” From Elektrik Ram LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik (Photo by Christelle Duvenage Photography)

I still need to dig into the new Ruff Majik album, Elektrik Ram — I’ve had the record for a bit but I’m backlogged and there’s time — but their new single “Cement Brain” emphasizes so much of what I appreciate about the band’s work to this point. There’s a solid underpinning of heavy rock, desert-ish but less fuzz-soaked than they’ve been at other times (not a complaint), and the swagger with which they commune outside genre is wonderfully brazen. Instrumentally, “Cement Brain” has a current almost of hip-hop to it, and the vocal arrangement they put over top manages to sound like an absolute toss-off, casual Friday show up and see what happens, but reveals the depth and consideration that is truly such an asset to their approach.

With tongue-in-cheek all the while and songwriting and production sharp enough to cut glass, Ruff Majik are an act with a genuinely individual point of view, in South Africa or otherwise. Yeah, you’ll hear some Queens of the Stone Age sometimes and those vocals remind me every now and again of Guns ‘n’ Roses if Axl hadn’t tragically bought into his own purported genius, but what Ruff Majik bring in terms of craft and persona is their own, and I’ll gladly put them against any of the best bands Europe has on offer in heavy rock. I very, very much hope someday to see them live.

I’ve got a lineup listed below that I’m pretty sure corresponds to the four dudes pictured above — cheers to Johni Holiday on the 1991 mullet, and I mean that unironically — but before I review the album, which I certainly will, I need to get my hands on a lyric sheet and complete list of personnel involved, who, what, where and when (the why is generally answered with “because the song wants it”). That’s a note to myself, but I’ll tell you that the more I hear of Elektrik Ram, the more I feel like I need to hear. Singles working as singles should. Fair enough.

The PR wire takes it from here:

ruff majik cement brain

Ruff Majik releases new single Cement Brain from upcoming album Elektrik Ram

DOWNLOAD / STREAM ‘CEMENT BRAIN’
https://orcd.co/cementbrain
https://mongrelrecords1.bandcamp.com/

Ruff Majik returns with the low-slung boogie of Cement Brain taken from the band’s forthcoming long-player Elektrik Ram out 28th April 2023 on Mongrel Records.

As with previous single Elektrik Ram (and album title track), Cement Brain was once again inspired by and written in a mental health facility. Vocalist Johni Holiday had gone in for treatment of severe agoraphobia and a crippling panic disorder, which he self-medicated with alcohol and many other substances. In the window of time that he became well and had a clear head, he penned this number as a plea to his friends and family to never let him slip back into his old ways again.

“On the surface, it’s about escaping an abusive relationship. But deep down, the relationship in question is my relationship with substances such as alcohol The song pleads with the listener to not let me go back.” Explains Johni on the message behind the track.

Current lineup:
Johni Holiday
Jimmy Glass
Cowboy Bez
Steven Bosman

http://www.ruffmajik.com
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089579216305&mibextid=ZbWKwL
http://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik
https://www.tiktok.com/@ruffmajik

http://mongrelrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/mongrelrecords
http://www.instagram.com/mongrel_records

Ruff Majik, “Cement Brain”

Ruff Majik, “Elektrik Ram”

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