By Diane Coetzer
Given the city’s long association with the genre (Syd Kitchen, John Oakley-Smith, Nibs van der Spuy), it’s fitting that this wondrously modern take on folk music has emerged from Durban, which is not to say that the Hinds Brothers’ debut is revivalist, or even strictly Nu-Folk. It’s more a case of Aden and Wren Hinds locating, with the utmost care, the thread that joins Kitchen’s work to that of Sufjan Stevens and emerging with something entirely their own. It’s easily heard in their unconventional take on life – God is a woman in “Taking A Break” and there’s an Eastern mysticism at the heart of “Ishvara”. But it’s also there in the sporadically placed instruments that lift the sparse production in just the right places and the remarkable delicacy of songs like “The Drifter”, one of many that reveal the Hinds Brothers to be terrific lyricists in a country where words are frequently struggled for.
Mostly though, Ocean of Milk reminds us that the close expressive harmonies of two brothers doesn’t just belong in The Everly Brothers catalogue, but can be heard as powerfully in 21st century South Africa. Take a listen to the exquisite “Like A Stone”, or the wistful “Fool Of Me”. Ocean of Milk was years in the making as the Hinds Brothers attempted to capture what they heard in their heads. They struck gold when SAMA-winning producer Dan Roberts added the final layer to the sound through an intense mixing process. It’s just a matter of time before this remarkable debut gets the international acclaim it deserves.
Audio and Video Magazine
By Richard Haslop
It’s obviously in the genes. Four decades ago, the Hinds Brothers were a name in local folk music before brother Kevin pursued a solo career of some substance. More recently, his son Craig has fronted the very popular Watershed. Now it’s the Hinds Brothers again, though this time it’s Kevin Hinds’ younger sons, Aden and Wren, who have just released a fine debut album. The blend apparently only achievable by sibling vocals in perfect harmony is one of popular music’s most potent, although the sometimes fine line between soaring and saccharine can require some negotiating. Durban’s Hinds Brothers, whose voices are often so closely matched you couldn’t slip a credit card between them, effortlessly achieve this by the strength of their songwriting; the songs are always the focus, and the voices, gorgeous though they are, simply their vehicle.
What those songs, impressively varied within a broadly acoustic framework, have in common is an unerring and seemingly instinctive grasp of melody that immediately draws you in, but then keeps you there: whether it’s the spirited, country-tempered, banjo and steel –driven folk-rock of ‘Runaway Train’, the rolling, bluesy ‘Old Brick Road’, the thinly disguised soul of ‘Fool of Me’, the gently Beatlesque, ‘Moving Along’ or even ‘Blue Sky Meets Ganga’s imaginative and improbably symbiotic psychedelic mix of dobro, sitar, backwards tape and celtic flute.
By Claire Martens
Ocean of Milk is a celebration of music- and not just local music. It’s all about bringing people together and giving them the space to be part of a special journey. This debut album is neatly put together- perfectly and thoroughly produced- with no fewer than 19 top South African musicians featured. No doubt, this album is so much more than just about the Hinds Bothers.
This is a community’s album, into which immense amounts of time and effort have been poured. For this reason, It is also an exquisite mixing bowl of different flavours, some of them taken from the brothers’ travels, but most of them taken from the multitude of instruments that accompany their acoustic guitars. An undercurrent of country western pervades the album, yet the music offers so much more. It contains the spirit of knowing, of experience and of pure pleasure in sound. Ocean of Milk is a joyous and warm collaboration. Take a listen to ‘Like a Stone’ to experience the heart in it.
By Monica Davies
I don’t often give in to hype. In fact, if you press on about a new buzz band too much, I can be such a belligerent hag that I’m likely to find a reason not to like them before I’ll risk giving in. But something about the buzz that blew my way around Durban’s Hinds Brothers was too intriguing to fight. Marianne had fallen for them. My old boss, never one to send out spam, sent me an invite to their Joburg album launch that held some shining quotes from people who know good music. It was done — I had to hear for myself. So we hopped on over to the unusual-for-an-album-launch venue at 44 Stanley last week to hear them play a selection from their debut album, Ocean Of Milk.
What a winning decision that was. Well done, you charming Hinds Brothers, on creating an album that belies your newbie status on the scene, and weaves such beautiful melodies that, three days of repeated playing later, still transport us to the idyllic beach scene of our dreams every time they play.
The brothers grew up in Kwazulu Natal, basking in the musical influence of their father, but didn’t start making music together until 2009, when they recorded a live EP and started running the gamut of the local music circuit. Here is where Ocean Of Milk comes in – the record was two years in the making in seven different studios across the country, and features 17 musicians in total. You might think ‘they’re folk musicians, wouldn’t 17 musicians make it sound crazy and loud?’, but there’s not a thing out of place here. Each instrument, and each note sounds like it was made for this record.
A lot of listening later (remember that 3 day repeat?), I think I’ve found why I like this album so much – it doesn’t take anything from you. Pop tunes often leave you with a mental sugar crash, heavier music can leave you feeling drained and tired, but this album — it comes to where you are and sways you in a hammock of mellow beauty.
I had a lot of internal debate about the lead song off the album – “Like A Stone” – because it’s not my favourite one on the record, but I think it’s actually a really good place to start out if you’re new to the band. It’s subtle, and has a slow musical embrace heading towards the chorus. It’s got heavier lyrical content, but somehow manages to feel like a bit of a lullaby. If you are new to their music, this’ll also be the perfect place to realise just how great the Hinds Brothers’ vocal harmonies are.
So now that you’ve started off, you can listen to my favourite song on the record: “Wanderer”. Those of you who know the music I love will hear this and say “yes, obviously”, but the way HB go from an ‘under the palm trees at the beach’ feel, to an ‘I totally belong in the middle of Arkansas’ feel without overdoing the country twang is so great, and hints at all the musical influences they’ll be able to explore in their future work.
From the Deep South to Indian ashrams, to oscillating waves at the seaside, the Hinds Brothers have filled out the often bare-bones folk genre with so many stories to tell, and so many dreams to wander off into, and this is just the start.
Long may they strum, those wonderful Durban boys!